Riiight then. Boo, dammit!

“A while” is apparently a very relative term when it comes to my writing lately.

I’ve been itching to write this out in a while though, sooo… let’s get to that horror attempt thing I’ve been mumbling about. And if it ain’t horror, it’s at least very, very hopeless and helpless.

I’m amazed that Dor’ash haven’t said “Screw this, I’ve had enough!” and moved in with Grema long ago.

Well, in this one we get some creepiness, some action AND some character building. WOHOO!

The world was white. Heavy snowflakes made their flurry dance in the wind, always sinking lower and lower to join with the stark white ground beneath the pale sky. Only the darkness of icy boulders and rocks peeking out of the cover made any difference. The snowflakes themselves could really only be seen because shadows painted them in flashes of soft grey.

Coran trudged on, no longer daring to ride on Valhi’s back but leading her by the reins. The deep snow hid many dangers and he felt more confident about catching himself, than he felt about letting the elekk find the natural traps the hard way. For each step the snow closed up around his hooves, swallowing his ankles and legs almost all the way up to his knees.

He should go back to the others, he had long since scouted the area enough – not that he had been able to see much. In all honesty, anything white enough could hide here and he would never know until it took a sweep at him. That was why he scouted in the first place, to secure the area and hopefully get some idea of how he and his friends could make it safely down from this mountain. The heavy snowfall did not show any signs of letting up, and they had lost their bearings two days ago.

There was, however, one kind of creature that could never hide from him, and Coran’s whole being demanded of him to seek it out. He could not see it yet, but it was a blemish in the very air; the very existence of one or a few undead nearby. From this distance he could not tell how many there were, or even how powerful they might be, but he could not simply turn and walk away when he knew they were there.

Luckily the Light could simply guide him towards the dark blotch, leaving him able to focus on the surroundings even as he made his way towards his mark. The hand not holding Valhi’s reins remained half raised, ready to reach over his shoulder for the hilt of his broadsword. Though he and his friends had been lucky so far, they very well knew that the Alterac mountains were a dangerous area. 

Cold, too. Coran hoped that his limbs would not be stiff when he needed to fight. He had kept moving to avoid freezing too badly, but he had never seen the likes of this snow or cold before he came to Azeroth. As soft and calming as the snow seemed, he figured that those descriptions fitted it best when watched through a window, from inside a warm inn. He could allow himself that thought, childish as it was – he was not made for this kind of climate. Every time he accidentally brushed his chin tendrils or cheeks against his helmet he winced from the burning chill. It did not make him feel any more kindly inclined towards the undead he was tracking. Though he liked to think himself a cheerful one normally, even a vindicator deserve to be in a foul mood every now and then – especially when he’s freezing his tail off. 

His thoughts were cut off when he heard a roar in a distance. The snow muffled and distorted it, but he could tell from where it came – just the direction he was going in. Valhi nervously snorted, but followed him without hesitating as Coran struggled to speed up through the deep snow. 

The roar continued, it was more than one voice. He recognized the sound from a battle just three days before, when he and the rest of the group were attacked by several yetis. But mingling with those howls was another roar, one he knew from much farther back, from before he even knew what a yeti was. It chilled his bones more than the cold could, with memories of burning red eyes and green skin splattered with blue blood.

He had not actually come to blows with orcs since the flight from Draenor, and people here on Azeroth said that the green-skinned ones claimed to no longer be under the influence of demons. Yet the war was still going on, all over this world. It could not be the Alliance’s fault, well, there were surely hotheads on both sides, but… 

As much as he knew that he and his people were regarded with some suspicion, alien as they were, it would certainly pass-

He reached the top of a hillside and saw the battle below. The snow turned everything to dark silhouettes, but he could still make out the events. His eyes, thinned at first as he spotted the undead one, widened in disbelief as he watched the scene unfold.

The orc and the Forsaken – Coran assumed – were back to back, with two yetis coming at them from both directions. The watching draenei spotted one unmoving, white shadow on the ground, but despite that victory it seemed like the battle was almost over for the defenders.

Crouching, the orc sluggishly raised his war hammer. What had to be a shield stuck out of the snow a little ways away, but the arm that would have held it dangled. Probably broken. 

A flare of blue shot from the Forsaken’s hand, blasting the ground before one yeti’s feet. The large beast came to a rough halt as the ice caught its lower legs, roaring furiously as it struggled to free itself. 

The undead looked around, seeing the other yeti’s arm raised to swing its club sideways, aiming to crush the orc’s ribs. He saw it too, and stumbled, but could not move quick enough.

In a flash the undead disappeared and reappeared on the other side of the orc, reaching backwards clumsily to brace its skeletal, robed body against his chest. With a sickening crunch the club slammed into the thin form, the impact continuing and sending both members of the Horde to the ground. 

For a moment Coran stood dumbfounded, hardly able to believe what he had seen.

Roaring, the orc got back up on his feet, the remains of the sacrificial Forsaken crumbling away from him. The yeti was unprepared for this last burst of rage, and the war hammer smashed its arm. It staggered backwards, suffering a blow to the chest. It tumbled backwards.

However, its friend had gotten one foot loose from the ice – it would only be seconds until it was completely free. 

Snarling at Valhi to stay put, Coran dashed down the slope, grasping the hilt of his sword. He slid precariously on ice and rocks hidden below the snow, but his hooves were as hard as diamond and he suffered no injury. Gritting his teeth Coran called upon the Light. A golden whip immediately crackled across the wounded yeti’s chest, and it roared in surprised pain – it was enough for the orc to smash its head in. The orc crumbled with the yeti, half turning with a dazed look on his face. Then his eyes glazed over and he heavily thumped into the snow before the fallen yeti.

Coran took it in but didn’t have time to stop. His sword flashed, as cold as the rocks, and the trapped yeti turned towards him furiously. Shaking the air with its roar it aimed a sweep of its arm at him. He ducked, and used his momentum to run the beast through with his sword.

The yeti’s roar turned into a gurgle as it tumbled, blood running over its pristine fur from the wound and from its mouth. It tumbled over, wrenching Coran’s sword out of his grip with its weight. The ice broke as the yeti fell, and the beast writhed for a few moments before slumping.

Jaw set tight, Coran pulled his sword out and wiped the blood from it on the yeti’s fur. He felt a short burst of guilt – they were monstrous things but also beautiful in a way, and it had been trapped as he attacked. But then again, hardly helpless. He pushed those thoughts away and looked around.

Walking over, he bent down and checked the orc’s pulse. The frightening jaw with its tusks, and cruel fangs – much bigger than Coran’s own – hung open and the eyes were closed, but the orc was still alive, just out cold. Just to make sure he would not die, Coran cast a healing spell. Not enough to wake up the orc, though.

As the glow faded, the draenei paused. He had acted instinctively, and he could not quite explain to himself why he had done as he did. Just a few days ago he and his friends had also fought yetis, and perhaps that had been enough for his protective nature. But this was an orc and a…

He straightened, squaring his jaw even harder. Straightening up, he moved towards the thin outline in the snow just a few steps away.

The undead was still moving – it was a woman, he saw now, even if most of her features were gone. Though her eyes were covered by two leather straps, her twisting grimace and weak growl let him know that she saw him when she should have been blind. Her robe sagged against her chest – ribs not only broken but caved in by the blow she had… taken for the orc. And still she moved, struggling to push herself up but every kittenish attempt ending with her falling back.

The sheer unnaturalness of her, the darkness filling her entire being nearly made Coran retch. A wheezing hiss left her disgusting mouth as he raised his sword. 

Forcing himself not to look away Coran called upon the Light again, to empower his sword and drive the impure life out of that poor body forever.

“Hold! By the Light and Prophet, hold!”

Coran looked around in surprise at hearing words in his own language. The first and last word was Common, but the others were definitely, if badly pronounced, Draenei. 

The orc had awoken, struggling to hold himself up on his good arm. His dark eyes were filled with agony, but not only that. Where there should have logically been rage and hatred, there was worry, fear even. Coran hesitated, glancing down at the hissing, scowling [i]thing[/i] on the ground.

For that?

“You speak our language?” he slowly said in his own tongue, not knowing where else to begin.

“I don’t understand,” the orc replied in Common. He managed to sit up on his knees, cradling his broken arm. “Those were all the Draenei words I ever learned.”

The voice was hoarse, exhausted and full of pain. Still the orc’s gaze was steady.

“Is it your way, to slaughter women who can’t defend themselves?” he asked.

Coran’s grip of his sword tightened.

“I am a servant of the Light,” he said with some cold, “she is a demonic creation.”

“If she had lived she would have been one of your allies.”

The draenei met the orc’s gaze for a moment.

Again, Coran might not have been blind to the suspicion the natives of this world treated him and his people with, but at least the humans and their allies were – overall, save for some stray souls – lead by the Light. They shunned the terrifying creations of the Burning Legion, those very creations that the orcs had embraced as allies. 

This woman was no longer human…

“She was murdered to become like that,” the orc hoarsely said, as if he could read Coran’s mind.

It gave the vindicator some pause.

True, he had known that sad fact, but pushed it from his mind almost instantly. Tragedy turned to bloody tragedy, that was the picture painted. Yes, they had been victims, but now they pillaged and murdered blindly. What could be more frightening than those who broke away from the controlling darkness and then made it their own? Nobody ever said anything pleasant about those called Forsaken.

But as he looked down at the broken, twitching [i]thing[/i] on the ground, snow softening her twisted body and hiding some of her more frightening features… he could see that small woman she must have been, fading helplessly from artificial sickness. Or perhaps frightened, fleeing desperately until she could no longer run from the untiring mass of decaying, hungry hands.

She coughed, some dark liquid dripping from the corner of her mouth. Straining, she lifted her head on a shaking neck.

“If you… hurt him I’ll…” another cough, she grit her teeth and rasped out a few more words, “haunt you ‘til the day… you die.”

Coran stared down at her as her head thumped back into the snow. No, this had to be some kind of elaborate trick, no undead or orc could possibly act like these two were. Still, his logical side was strong enough to tell him that that paranoia was pure nonsense. They could not possibly have known that he was there, nor that he would act as he had.

Was the Light trying to show him something? It had guided him here, drawn by this very undead’s presence, and now he found himself hesitating whether to finish what he had come here to do. But the Light did not work like a directly guiding force just like that – such was rather the way of a shaman’s guiding spirits.

His duty was to end suffering and protect those in need. And… but…

He scowled, uncertain and uneasy, suddenly wishing Malo had come with him. [i]He[/i] would have been able to sort through this philosophical mess. 

Trying to make up his mind, Coran looked at the orc again. He had not moved, still crumpled on his knees and cradling his broken arm. It was as they had said, after all. No red eyes anymore. 

“You didn’t come rushing in to kill that yeti just to save my life or get to kill her on your own, did you?” the orc said through clenched teeth. It was more of a statement than a question.

Coran pursed his mouth, otherwise unmoving.

“I was perhaps acting on a spur of the moment,” he said, slowly, “but it is true that me and my companions require information about the area.”

He saw the orc’s fingers move slightly against the wounded arm, and the wince that crossed the monstrous features at the unwise movement.

“Very well,” the orc said, face settling in determination. “I can help you with that. Leave her be and I will not put up a fight.”

“With all due respect,” Coran said, raising an eyebrow in disbelief, “you do not look like you could put up a fight even if you wanted to.”

“Your kind knows mine better than to underestimate me,” the orc said, but the weary note in his tone kept Coran from growling.

They both knew that what the draenei had said was true.

“She will die anyway if we leave her like this,” Coran pointed out, but even as he said so he was raising his sword to sheathe it.

The orc started to shake his head, but the rude growl from below caught the vindicator’s attention much quicker and with more force. The Forsaken woman pulled a face at him. Even so, she looked too pathetic for him to get riled up.

“She will have a chance,” the orc said.

Snorting, Coran hung his sword on his back and turned to whistle for Valhi. As he saw her scramble down the hillside he moved towards the orc and hunched down beside him, watching him closely the entire time. 

“I have nothing to set your arm with,” Coran said and raised a hand. “I will numb the pain so it won’t hurt so much when I bind you.”

He only got a grunt in reply, and the orc looked the other way.

Just as he had promised though, the green-skinned man did not move a muscle or make a sound as Coran spread healing light into the broken arm. The orc kept his word after that as well, letting his arms be tied and himself loaded onto Valhi’s back. The elekk nervously swung her trunk, spooked by the smell of blood and the odd burden.

Only when Coran started forwards, leading Valhi once again, did the orc speak. 

“Sarah,” he said, looking at the dark hole in the snow. “Get out of here.”

A trembling arm rose from the white, and the hand formed a vulgar gesture towards his general direction before flopping down. 

Shaking his head in disbelief, Coran continued on. Soon, the white swallowed him, the orc and Valhi, leaving only fading hoof prints behind.

Apart from the chilly howl of the wind, all was quiet. 

After a while, the snow moved. Slow, silent, Sarah crept through the white, blindly searching for what she knew had to be somewhere nearby. It took long, agonizing minutes, and the cold fury powering her was just about to give in when her outstretched, fumbling hand made contact with something soft and warm. 

The inclination to cry in relief had long since been purged from her. She growled instead, and dragged herself forwards the last little way.

Her jaw felt stiff, half frozen, but she forced it open and bit thick fur and hide. She didn’t manage much in her state, not at once. It took several chews before she managed to gnaw through and could spit out a patch of the yeti’s fuzzy, leathery skin. 

The blood flowed heavily, the body was already cooling and the heart no longer beat – but it was there. Sarah slumped, face buried in the white fur, tongue lapping sluggishly.

She wasn’t sure if it would be enough to recover. Her body was so badly damaged. Even so, the blood finally gave her the strength to take another bite, out of the cooling flesh, then another and another. She reached bone, growled in annoyance, tore at the fur with her hands. Her strength returned somewhat, she tore out strips of raw meat which she stuffed into her mouth. Blood and freezing meat juice dripped over her lips, the yeti’s fur and the snow.

All thoughts melted away, she dug her fingers and face into the dead body before her, chewing bloody meat right off the arm. She didn’t even have to stop for breath.

Snow clung to her as she finally straightened up. She was already covered in the white, apart from where the fading body heat of the yeti had momentarily melted it. New flakes soon stuck on the ice forming on her face and arms, on the coagulating blood smeared over her. 

She tried to breathe, only to find that her chest was still in a just as bad condition. She wasn’t sure how badly that was for her physically – but it would be difficult to cast spells if she could not gather the breath to chant.

At least, she could move now.

After some digging she found her staff and stood for a moment, leaning on it and turning her head back and forth.

The snow had not yet erased the deep tracks in the snow.

Dor’ash’s last words hung in her mind for a moment. She knew what he had meant. In one of her bags were several runes of teleportation and of portals.

The thought was there, and then it was gone as if it had never existed.

Had she had mind enough at that point, she might have noticed how strange that went and fought against the amnesia. However, already something was happening in her dying body at that point. 


She started forwards through the twirling white, sinking up to her thighs for every other step. Every little bit forwards was a struggle. She thought, slowly, that it may be quicker if she just led down and crawled through it instead. But then, she finally concluded after thinking about it for several steps, she would not see the tracks.

Some vague plan formed in her head that she ought to just play dead if anything found her. If she fell down, she would just get up again. She had to.


She could not feel exhaust, and yet she moved more awkwardly for each passing minute. Oh… right.

”Hold up, handsome, my limbs are freezing. I have to thaw them.”

Yes, that’s the problem, she realized. No body heat. It didn’t help to keep moving, not for her.

She tried to focus enough to start chanting a fire spell, but almost fell over.

Straightening, she clutched the staff in both hands, hanging on it. Then she stepped forwards again, straining through the enclosing white, forgetting all about her stiffening joints.

Deep inside, part of her realized that her brain had begun to freeze, and that simply could not be good. Dark magic kept her up. That doesn’t freeze. But what will dark magic do when the body breaks down, when gravity pulls the unresponsive limbs down into the soft, inviting whiteness?

“Dor… ash…”

Just one more step. Just one.

She wasn’t even sure, anymore, if she was going in the right direction. She couldn’t even make out the tracks with her failing sight. 

The snow rose up to meet her, pillowing her thin body as she fell.

After a while, she managed to turn over, staring up at the white sky which spread its delicate little flakes over her.

She was going to be buried in the fluttering snow, unable to move. Unable to help him. The realization covered her like a muffling blanket. Somewhere, her hard fingers idly scratched at the snow around them. Useless.

The white nothingness pressed on, and it was cold, so cold she could actually feel it. She figured, sluggishly, that this second death was not so bad as her first one. No fever, no aching pain, no mother crying…

And then something rose up from deep, deep inside her mind and reached its snaring tendrils towards the rest of her.

[b]Wayward little sister. [/b]

It was a whisper, and it ripped through her, leaving her weakly gasping for breath she did not physically need. Familiar, always with her since years back, but it had been annoying, merely annoying and she could ignore it before.

Before, when she had been strong enough to fight it.

[b]Look at you. [/b]

When she first woke up, years ago, one of her teachers had said that she would feel corruption like the caress of an old lover. She tried to hold on to that memory now. Hold on to anything.

[b]So cold. [/b]

Cold, cold yes, but that was colder, and darker, than anything else, anything anything…

[b]Come back to me. [/b]

She wished that she had eyes, so that she could have pinched them shut. But she could not, and there was nowhere to turn away. The dancing snow faded from her vision, leaving only a shadow, a towering shadow holding a sword. 

Oh no, no, no, I’m nothing, I’m dying, I’m not worth the trouble you don’t need me you don’t want me no no NO

A broken whimper left her stiff, freezing lips, proving that she still had a body somewhere.


He should have been there for her in this moment. He should have promised her it would be alright and then stopped it all with one clean blow. But he wasn’t. There was only that cold hand, sifting through her mind at its steady leisure, wrapping around her little screams and snuffing them out one by one.

[b]Fighting me is pain, little sister. Only pain. [/b]

“… ash…”

Gods he’d left her – no he didn’t – then why was she alone – she had to find him – find who?

[b]Look at you, you’ve grown so strong. I’m so proud of you. [/b]

“… a…”

[b]Your brothers and sisters will find you. Come back to me. [/b]

In a final act of defiance she forced her last strength into a blast of fire from her rigid fingers, flaring up through the snow. Praying something would find her and finish her off. Anything. She didn’t even feel the violently melted snow dripping around her arm, slowly freezing again.

The flare left a white imprint in her vision, but that too faded too soon. Unperturbed, the cold hand plunged deeper into her mind, forcing apart any shred of willpower she weakly tried to hold against it. 

[b]Serve me again. [/b]


The voice was in her soul, around it, everywhere and she trembled to the core. It caressed, invaded, drowned, but she didn’t open up, struggled even when it had her in every sense but that last scrap of will.

[b]I owned you once. [/b]

She couldn’t scream anymore. Why had she ever tried to?

[b]Give in. Now. [/b]

The final splinter of self shrieked, flickering desperately beneath the hand and the voice, trying to remember a precious name that was odd and harsh and growled and-



[b]Indeed. [/b]

The voice was different, but she’d heard it before, when she was faithful, when she was loyal, moving slowly but steadily at his command with a thousand others. When had she gone astray? But she had found power while lost, power to serve him better and he was proud, he was forgiving…

Skeletal hands ripped through the snow and hauled her out, rough and uncaring. 

“Huh, what a pretty little mess this is.”

Hoarse voices spoke, but she couldn’t see, couldn’t move. Then a soft light rose before her eyes, melting warmth into her freezing being. Her head cleared just a little bit, enough to let her groan, to let her know how close she dangled above a mental abyss.

A bony hand stroke her cheek, scratching off flakes of blood.

“Are you with us, little sister?”

The voice was silent, but she could feel it still. Waiting.

No escape.

Desperate rage wavered inside of her. Didn’t matter what she did, the grip was there and it would only grow stronger now, especially when his servants could bring her closer to him. But not yet, not yet, she still had a little bit of will left.

“V-vict’ry… for… Syl… nas…” she gasped out, tongue and lips hardly obeying.

“Good enough for me,” somebody close to her said, in a tone of grim relief. “Say, aren’t you late Master Nebula’s sister?”

She could no more blink than pinch her eyes shut. The light returned, white fingers spreading it over her battered form with steady, sweeping motions. It lit up the darkness and the snow, revealing armored men and women in various states of decay standing around her.

Only then did she realize that they had spoken Gutterspeak.


Not Scourge.

[b]Not yet.[/b]

“No!” Gasping, Sarah clumsily slapped the priest’s hand away and he raised his eyebrows at her, then frowned.

“What is it?” he asked

“Don’t heal… Lich King…”

His scowl faltered to a look of pity, out of place on a sunken face such as his. But that same expression rose on the other rotting, cruel features all around. The grip of her changed, and a sword scraped its sheath. She was about to weakly protest that that wasn’t the way she wanted it, though doubting that they would care. However, the priest raised his hand at someone standing to the side of Sarah.

“Wait,” he said, “she’s still not lost if she can say so.”

Sarah shook her head. No, no… but there was something she just had to do. 

“Help me find my orc,” she croaked.

“Your orc?” the one holding her said.

It was difficult to remember what had happened, and she grappled for the brittle threads of memory.

“Draenei took him,” she muttered.

This caused some murmurs, many of them sounding intrigued. Straightening her neck Sarah looked at the priest, who thoughtfully regarded her.

“Dor’ash. My orc. Not you,” she said in a papery voice. “I want him to kill me.”

In the immortal words of Mortal Kombat: “Excellent!”. I wouldn’t call it horror, but you have control of the imagery and its descriptions, Coran (you Scandinavians really like provoking Muslims) and his outsider’s impressions are handled successfully and personality-based stuff happens. I don’t know how long it took you compared to the other stories, but there’s palpable progress here. :toast::biggrin:

Haha, thanks :slight_smile:

Coran doesn’t have anything to do with muslims, I’m gonna go ahead and say XD His friends are named Malo, Valenia, and one more though I haven’t managed to change one letter in the name “Subotai” to make it look somewhat decent ;D

Buut I suppose I better rename Coran to Conar then, so that I don’t end up on the hit list.

You’re welcome.

Names constantly escape and as I thought that Coran sounded like Corannos, one of the two gods in A Song for Arbonne, I didn’t catch the reference. That is, till my hair became golden and I used my innate google superpower.

Coran sounds better than Conar btw. (Sarah O) Conar would make it seem like a Terminator reference.

Yeah, I tried calling him Conar for a bit in the next part and it just looked silly. I’ll just add an author’s note that it has nothing to do with that Coran XD No worries about not catching the reference, it’s funnier to have people just go along and then give it away at the end. Would have been funnier if I’d gotten this done closer to the launch of Age of Conan, of course, but ah well.

I was pulling your leg, the name is fine.

Ya mon, but I thought you had a point to. Buuut yeah, Coran stays Coran the Vindicator. :smiley:

Or Coran the Dealer of Salty Death when he gets to piratin’. How does your essay go?

I’ve set out to write one page of essay a day. It’s working alright, and though not everything comes out smoothly when I do that, I’ll just focus on tying things neatly together afterwards. :slight_smile:

This, Dor’ash reflected, had to be the most bizarre moment of his life.

He could hardly recall how they had gotten to the rather large cave, as exhaust and pain coursing through his battered body had weaved him in and out of unconsciousness. Shouting had finally woken him, and he’d blinked his cold, stiff eyelids upwards to see Coran arguing with another draenei vindicator standing by an opening in the cliff. A female, bundled up in thick robes against the cold hovered in the background, glowing eyes flitting back and forth nervously. Snow whirled around, all the white painful to Dor’ash’s eyes and he had closed them again, sagging. He could have spoken up, but he didn’t see what good that could possibly do. 

Then finally the elekk moved again, and they all headed into the cave. Three more elekks stood further inside, huddling together with blankets hung over their backs against the cold. There was also yet another male draenei, gazing at the entering group curiously. A fire crackled behind him, casting his body in shadow as he slowly swung his tail back and forth. 

More talking in draenei, as Coran half helped, half dragged Dor’ash off of the elekk. The orc quickly found that he could barely stand. Despite the fact that Coran’s grip was the only thing keeping Dor’ash from crashing on his knees, the other draenei still watched him warily.

“He spared my friend’s life,” Dor’ash tiredly said then in Common, nodding at Coran. “I am honor bound.”

Coran spoke in Draenei again, and the discussion went on for a little while. There was disbelief in the others’ voices, but they seemed to reach a verdict in the end.

Which brought Dor’ash back to his current situation. Laying flat on his back with one vindicator watching him with guarded concern and another with unveiled disgust, a third male draenei in an impressive armor standing by with an unreadable expression on his face – and this, while the one female draenei (introduced as Valenia in a sheepish mutter from Coran) wrapped her hands around Dor’ash’s broken arm in a firm hold. Her hands glowed, and he couldn’t even feel his arm anymore, which was a pleasant change. Until she began the healing, the pain had been rising with a  vengeance after Coran’s quick spell. 

“This is going to sting,” she said, voice even.

They were all so riled up that what she said caught him off guard.

“Sting?” Dor’ash repeated, giving her a disbelieving look.

She bit her lip and then set her jaw tight. Without another word she pulled hard at his arm, aligning the broken bone. Dor’ash grunted, but it was of surprise. It did not hurt at all, apart from a slight, indeed, sting. He had broken both arms and legs before and even with skilled priests using their spells to dull the pain before setting the fractures, it was always more painful than this.

It said a lot about draenei and the Light.

The priestess swiftly bandaged his arm, tightly wrapping in a finger-thick, short wooden pole for support. Each movement was quick and stiff, but she kept herself admirably calm considering. Dor’ash didn’t speak, and only moved when she told him to carefully sit up. As soon as she had hung his arm in a sling she backed off, relief to get away from him evident in her movements.

Dor’ash muttered a thanks, and she looked away. Though he was grateful for the help, he was no more at ease with the situation than they were. Coran had proved that he had a good sense of morals when choosing to spare Sarah, but Dor’ash still wondered how this would end.

At least, Sarah had to be alright now, as long as she did the logical thing and teleported to the Undercity or anywhere else where she could get the help she needed. It should not have been a problem if she just gathered her strength. If nothing else, there was a nearby source of food, and he knew she would not waste it. The thought of her chewing on raw yeti flesh made his stomach turn, but if it was needed for her to survive he could forgive it.

A bad feeling nagged him, though. He hoped that it was only because of the tense, odd overall situation. 

The sound of hoofs against stone brought him out of his thoughts and he looked up as Coran hunched down in front of him. A rolled up parchment was in the vindicator’s hand, and a look of determination had taken over his face. 

“You said you could help us with information about this mountain,” Coran said.

“Are you lost?” Dor’ash asked, gathering his legs under himself so he could sit more comfortably.

Coran nodded.

“The snowfall got so heavy that we-” he glanced up at the other vindicator and snapped his mouth shut. Looking back at Dor’ash, he spread out the parchment between them, revealing it as a map of the mountains. When he spoke, it was with a stricter voice. “Can you tell where we are?”

Dor’ash reached out with his good hand and turned the map the other way to study it better. 

“I lost my bearings when you brought me here,” he said, then circled a spot on the map using his fingertip. “But we were about here when you found us, that I know. Have you any idea which direction this cave would be in from there?”

“The compass we had was destroyed when we fought yetis a few days ago, otherwise we would not have this much trouble.”

For a moment Dor’ash hesitated. He could wing it, he could even try to fool them – faction loyalty said that he ought to. Really, he had no idea why they were even in the area. However, the draenei vindicator in front of him had spared Sarah’s life despite obviously intending to finish her off. These people had never proven to be his personal enemies, and that was disregarding what his own people had done to theirs in the demon-induced rage.

There really was no question, when it got down to it.

“There’s a compass in one of my bags,” he said, pointing at the heap where his items had been dumped. “The small one, with a red patch.”

Coran moved to get up, then hesitated and looked at his friends. The other vindicator just narrowed his softly glowing eyes, and Valenia looked at the third male draenei. After a moment, he was the one who walked over and picked up the bag. Carefully opening it, he looked inside before reaching in and picking out a round object. He set the bag down and crossed the empty space, handing over the compass without a word. Then he too sat down, watching as Dor’ash checked on the small arrow pointing northwards. The orc glanced at the cave opening, thinking back on the journey there, then turned the map again to match the compass’ information.

“Near as I can tell we are here somewhere,” he said, pointing at a carefully drawn ridge of mountains. “If you want to travel to safety from here, you should best take this route,” he moved his fingers westwards on the map, “avoiding these ruins. Those are of the old Alterac stronghold. Only ogres live there now, and they kill anybody getting close.”

The second vindicator let hear an expressive snort, but didn’t comment. Dor’ash didn’t react.

“What of this settlement? Is it true that the humans there are violent towards everyone?” Coran asked, pointing at the simply drawn huts marked as Strahnbad.

“That belongs to the Syndicate,” Dor’ash said. “They are at war with everything.”

“Sounds like a sad existence,” the unnamed, sitting draenei commented.

Dor’ash glanced at him, half-suspecting that that was something intended as an insult to the orcish race. But the draenei looked back as calmly as he had spoken, thoughtfully pulling at his chin tendrils. 

Though he had two of them sitting right in front of him, Dor’ash could not tell which draenei was older. He found that all of them had something of an ageless look to their faces.

Unsure how to respond, Dor’ash simply nodded and looked back to the map.

“You should try to make it down from the mountains here,” he said, drawing a straight line across the mountainside to the southwest of the ruins. “Once you get to Dalaran, the mages living in the ruins there can help you further. If you take this road,” he followed it southwards with his fingertip, “you’ll have to make it past both the Syndicate outposts and Tarren Mill, which belongs to the Forsaken.”

Coran nodded and started to say a polite thanks, when the other vindicator spoke in Draenei. A short exchange followed, the tight tones making the subject apparent. Valenia joined in, and Coran looked between the two of them, until the third male spoke up. After finishing speaking to them, he turned back to Dor’ash.

“You understand, I’m sure, that we can’t quite trust you,” he said, calmly.

Dor’ash shook his head. He had not expected it.

“Yes, but I do owe him for sparing my friend’s life.” He motioned at Coran, who winced.

The reason for the pained look became apparent when the other vindicator barked out a few more, much harsher words. Coran started to speak, only to be cut off by yet more of the same.

If the second vindicator was not older, then he had to be superior in rank judging from the tone and hounded look on Coran’s face. Finally the third male got in between again. The riled up vindicator glared at Dor’ash and angrily shook his head, muttering a few more words.

Dor’ash’s eyes narrowed at the tone. He may have promised not to put up a fight, but he would not take apparent, verbal abuse sitting down in silence.

“If you’re going to insult me, at least do it in a language I can understand,” he coldly said.

“I see no reason to speak with you,” the vindicator snapped. His annoyance muddled his Common, smoothing it with the soft consonants of the Draenei tongue. That language was not well suited for anger, and that only underscored the rage.

“What have I done?” Dor’ash replied, forcing himself not to speak harshly. This was the kind of battle where the loser was he who first lost his temper. “I’ve never had any of your blood on my hands.”

He forcefully bit back “but I believe you have had mine on yours.”

The vindicator gave him a sharp look and then snorted. He did not need to speak a word of contemptuous disbelief. Dor’ash pushed back a growl.

“I know what you think about that,” he said, “but I was eight years old when the Dark Portal opened.”

“Not back then, perhaps. But I’ve seen nothing on this world to prove that your kind has changed at all,” the vindicator replied. One of his hands left its perch in the opposite’s arm’s elbow, to aim a blue, clawed finger at Dor’ash. “What does it say about you that you ally with the undead?”

“Only what you already knew, I’m sure,” Dor’ash said, rolling his eyes, “just what a blood-drinking, baby killing demon worshipper I am.”

It was a childish thing to say – but so is judging a whole race, even those who had no part, by actions long since painfully retributed and regretted. 

The vindicator only snorted again.

“That proves more to me than any fool singing blind praise to your Warchief,” he said.

Dor’ash’s good hand clenched until it would have shook, had he not pressed it against the ground to control himself. If that vindicator said [i]one single word[/i] about Thrall-

“Subonai, please,” the third male said, but his tone was distracted.

Glancing at him, Dor’ash noted that the draenei had turned his face upwards, head tilted to the side as if listening. It was a familiar motion, very familiar.

Until now, Dor’ash had been to confused, too ragged and exhausted to speak with the spirits. Now they whispered in the wind, their voices in this land so much part of his childhood that his heart leapt everytime he stopped to listen when he traveled in these mountains. That was the main reason that he and Sarah travelled here in the first place, several days ago. Not because they were ordered somewhere, for once, but just because he wanted to. And she came along, just as always.

For a moment he wondered about her again, and the spirits mumbled anxiously. He could not tell if they simply did not like her or if it was something else. Usually it was simply the former though. He tried to hang on to that.

His attention was brought back when the draenei in front of him straightened his neck.

“Pardon my manners,” he said. “I am Malo.”

“You are a shaman.” Dor’ash stated it calmly.

“And so are you,” Malo replied, just as at ease.

The others, however, visibly tensed. Judging from their reactions, they must have assumed that Dor’ash was just a warrior or grunt, as he had not used any magic. He had no intention to do so either, unless he was forced to – and even then he did not know if it would do any good. In his state he could be easily overpowered.

Yet he felt calmer now, when the spirits soothingly mumbled to him. They did not seem to believe he had anything to fear. 

“The spirits of this land knows you well,” Malo said, and the guarded look on his face was softening even as he spoke. “You grew up here?”

“Alterac Valley,” Dor’ash said, though carefully. Now what?

[STRIKE]Watch out Dor’ash, he’s gonna get your personal information and sell it in the action house in Darnassus![/STRIKE]

I was wondering today what had happened to the Weiilaan (nifty adjective) writings. If you’ve been following this pace for some time, you will probably have enough material to edit later. (edit: latter sentence, wrt to the essay)

I’ve set out to write one page of essay a day. It’s working alright, and though not everything comes out smoothly when I do that, I’ll just focus on tying things neatly together afterwards. :slight_smile:

This, Dor’ash reflected, had to be the most bizarre moment of his life.

Nice juxtaposition :wink:

The other vindicator just narrowed his softly glowing eyes,

I don’t know why, but the active voice here bothers me. You can narrow your eyes, sure, but on this occasion it’s a byproduct of his disbelief, not a deliberate action to protect himself from the sun or make a sekkrit signal to Dor’ash.

“Sounds like a sad existence,” the unnamed, sitting draenei commented.

Dor’ash glanced at him, half-suspecting that that was something intended as an insult to the orcish race.

Seems Dor’ash is getting touchy.

It seems stuck up people (2nd draenei) always wind up becoming officers.

It was a childish thing to say – but so is judging a whole race, even those who had no part, by actions long since painfully retributed and regretted.

Unless you mean to enter your authorial voice here, is>>was.

This one moved a bit slower, but it was also smaller, so the comparison doesn’t really stand. You are still doing a fine job with descriptions and there is an impression that there are people, not cardboards in the room. Even if one of them appears to be a stuck up guy (cue The Fall of Draeneilandplacekingdom, an elegy in 16 parts, to make him appear more [strike]human[/strike] draenei).

Stupidly enough, I’m almost done with this story save a fight scene, but this discussion between Dor’ash and Malo just wouldn’t come together. The scene is still not quite done, but eh.

Malo waved his hand in a pacifying manner.

“Worry not, I don’t intend to interrogate you. I am curious about your behavior, however. Beg your pardon, but we have learned that orcs fight to the death rather than allowing themselves to be taken prisoner.”

Dor’ash shrugged with his unwounded shoulder and shook his head. An image of Grema and Karg flashed in his mind. Not his mate, not yet, and not his son. But those were such flitting details.

I want to come back alive.

Yet, even more than that…

“I saw no other way to protect my friend,” he said.

He could tell that the others exchanged disbelieving and suspicious looks, but he kept watching Malo lest he wouldn’t be able to hold back a snarl. Who were they to judge Sarah without knowing a single thing about who she actual was, beyond her sad state?

Although he threw a glance towards Coran, Malo’s expression remained mildly curious.

“I don’t expect you to understand,” Dor’ash added. He shook his head again. “But she’s done far more dangerous things to save my life. I’m not sure if he told you,” he motioned at Coran, “back there, she cushioned a yeti’s attack with her own body to protect me.”

Slowly, Malo nodded.

“He did mention that,” he said. “I admit I wouldn’t have believed it if you alone claimed it. It doesn’t sound like something an undead would do.”

“No,” Dor’ash admitted. “I wouldn’t expect many of them to do anything of the sort. Most of them are absolutely vile, I won’t deny that.”

“Then why…?” Malo asked, and he actually both looked and sounded genuinely curious.

It wasn’t the first time a similar question was asked. Even Grema had questioned him about his friendship with Sarah. Dor’ash himself, too, wondered sometimes. The state of her body allowed Sarah to get back up after blows that should have killed her. However, that did not answer the question of [i]why[/i] she willingly set herself on fire, or let her chest be smashed in, or risked unlife and soul in defiance of two powerful warlocks – her own brother even, disregarding the fact that she hated him. 

If he was honest with himself, Dor’ash could not really pinpoint what he had done for her to deserve such devotion. They had travelled and fought together for a long time, complementing each other in battle and juggling jokes in more peaceful moments. True that he had protected her at times, but nothing truly measured up to what she had done for him. 

Her jokes about calling dibs on killing him herself came to mind, but it was obvious to him that she never meant that seriously.

Dor’ash shook his head again.

“Spirits know her reasons,” he said, then pursed his lips. The lower lip brushed higher up against his tusks at the motion, and he drew back again from the chill of the protruding teeth. “I couldn’t say what she thinks. But she’s like a little sister to me, I could not let her be killed like that.”

Coran shifted in the background. Dor’ash got the feeling that he felt either sheepish or guilty, but didn’t look up to study the vindicator closer. He still watched the calm face of the draenei shaman. 

“One must admire your devotion, I admit that,” Malo said, pausing and tilting his head slightly to the side. “Pardon, I do not believe Coran told us your name.”

“He didn’t ask, and I couldn’t have responded on the way here anyway.” Dor’ash didn’t really mean to seem gruff, but instead of answering at once he spent a moment listening to the gentle murmur only he and Malo could hear. Then he looked back to the glowing eyes watching him. “It’s Dor’ash.”

Malo nodded. He did not really smile, but there was no enmity to find in his expression – hadn’t really been from the start. Despite the circumstances, Dor’ash found himself carefully beginning to relax even more. It was an odd situation, but he was not too worried for his own safety. Still…

“The spirits don’t seem to think that I have anything to fear from you,” he said, eyebrows lowering slightly. “But, the main question for me is what you will do with me now.”

No matter what the spirits said, for all intents and purposes Dor’ash was still their prisoner – if nothing else then because of his own condition.

“That, we will have to discuss,” Malo said with a glance at his companions.

Valenia looked away, squaring her jaw. Coran looked uncertain. Only Subonai seemed to have formed an opinion, glaring coldly back at the shaman. Shaking his head firmly at the angry vindicator, Malo looked back to Dor’ash.

“It would not be safe for you to leave here, considering the storm and your arm,” the draenei shaman said. “But I see no reason why we would harm you, so for now, perhaps we should simply wait out the storm.”

Dor’ash did not really like that idea, but what Malo said about the orc’s safety outside of the cave was true. He would have to wait.

In the background, Subonai snorted and muttered under his breath. Malo looked around, eyes narrowing.

“I remember the war on Draenor too,” Malo said. “But, naïve as it may sound, we only play into the Legion’s hands if we keep judging. He-“ he motioned at Dor’ash, “has done nothing to earn our aversion, and you are far from so foolish as you are making yourself out to be, now.”

When Subonai growled, Malo gave him a stern look and tapped one finger against one of his own ears. 

“Trust them or no, the spirits tell me he has no ill intents,” he said.

“Even if I had, what could I do right now anyway?” Dor’ash pointed out. He kept the dry tone out of his voice – if he had to stay here for ancestors knew how long, he certainly did not want to rile up any support for the already antagonistic vindicator.

“If you are a shaman, you are far from helpless,” Valenia said, speaking up for the first time since she had healed his arm.

“So is he,” Dor’ash said and pointed to Malo. “And you know full well the condition of my arm. I’m no berserker. I don’t want to fight, but even if I did I know I am no match for all of you.”

She looked away again, shaking her head so that the tendrils growing from behind her ears swept over the thick furs wrapped about her shoulders.

“I trust him, especially if Malo says so,” Coran said suddenly, folding his arms when Valenia looked at him sharply and Subonai narrowed his eyes. “So far I’ve seen no reason not to.”

There was definitely a tone of rebelliousness in the last sentence. Dor’ash wondered if Coran was actually young for a draenei, despite their seeming agelessness. The shadow of a smile tugged at his lips though, as he had to admit that the vindicator’s defensiveness was rather touching. However, he did not comment, not sure that he could say anything that would not be written off as condescending or suspicious by at least Subonai.  

The second vindicator shook his head in disgust.

“Very well, if you are both so certain that he is not dangerous,” he said, coldly, “but name one time there has been any lasting, peaceful connection between us and orcs.”

Coran looked at Malo, who opened his mouth, hesitated, and closed it again.

Dor’ash would just have sighed and said nothing on the matter, but a memory struck, and though he had no desire to rile up Subonai, he still spoke.

“I heard a story a while ago,” he slowly said, “about a youngster of my people, of the Thunderlord clan, if I remember correctly, marrying a woman of your kind.”

“Ah yes, that’s quite true,” Malo said, scratching his neck, with a small, confused frown on his forehead. Behind him, the other three exchanged glances. The subject was certainly not a simple matter. “They live in Nagrand, I believe.”

“Huh, and I thought the guy who told me had just had a few too many drinks.”

(Lolotea is probably the only one here who’ll get the reference, which sorta kills the purpose… buuut that orc and draenei couple that got mentioned is from another WoWfic author’s, Nara Bluestar, series. I don’t like to link to M-rated stuff here so I’ll just drop her name.)

Posting a four-page teaser is just mean. It keeps the tone of the rest, but what will happen after the snow storm? Will they eat one of them to sustain themselves in the merciless cold? Oh, the suspense.

without knowing a single thing about who she actual was, beyond her sad state?

but it was obvious to him that she never meant that seriously.

He seems too certain:mwahaha:

No matter what the spirits said, for all intents and purposes Dor’ash was still their prisoner – if nothing else then because of his own condition.

Is then necessary here?

wink wink :wink:

Oh, but Rig… you know us Europeans, we don’t censor sexy stuff, we censor violence. However, them Americuns dun censor violence but are such prudes about the stork business. And there are much more Americuns around here than Europeans, so I’m writing for the majority ;D

But what about art! It doesn’t pay the rent you say? k.

I still think we get the better deal (though I got to play the normal versions of Mortal Kombat 2 and Carmageddon, so I wasn’t traumatised at a young age.). The sexy must be better than a boot stamping on a human face - forever.

I am once again mystified—or at least, that’s the polite way to put it—by my own country of origin and residence.

Rig: I got traumatized enough by the two first episodes of My Little Pony. They’re pretty vicious in compare to all the others. Don’t believe me? How about: big honking centaur devil sitting around talking to and carressing a pulsating bag for half an episode.

Lolotea: Yeah, it IS pretty silly, eh?

Right then, Christmas break over, time to party again. XD

“Huh, and I thought the guy who told me had just had a few too many drinks.” Dor’ash watched them for a moment, wondering if he should push the subject. “Is that disturbing to you?”

Again Malo thoughtfully pulled at his chin tendrils, and finally opened his mouth. It was Coran who spoke, however. 

“It’s hard to tell what to think,” he said, glancing away. “If they are- but it’s a bit difficult to, hm…” He sought for words, then shook his head and looked back to Dor’ash. “Wouldn’t you find it odd if you heard about an orc woman married a draenei?”

Dor’ash very nearly laughed, and lifted his good hand to press it lightly to his lips to remain calm.

“I would be worried about him, truth to be told,” he said. “Our women are rather vicious with their affections.”

In orcish terms, Grema was to be considered gentle. Most of the time, Dor’ash ended up with nothing worse than a black eye, a couple of bruises and less than a dozen scratches. Well, less than a dozen deep enough to draw blood, anyway. 

One should note, of course, that orcs don’t bruise easily. Those kind of things he didn’t mind at all – though he preferred to heal himself to spare Karg the sight of those lovingly given wounds. Still, the boy had been a little more open since the alst time they met… there was also Sarah’s smirk to deal with, of course, another reason for healing.

His thoughts slipped over to her again, and his smile died. She had to be fine by now, though. Clearing his throat, he lowered his hand. The draenei were giving him mildly to disapprovingly disbelieving looks, due to his earlier statement.

“In all seriousness,” Dor’ash said, looking at Coran, “I’m probably as confused about this male orc as I would be about a female doing the same thing.” He shrugged with his good arm, carefully. “The first reaction is of course to suspect something foul. But I don’t know either of them.”

In truth, as an orc he had just as much reason to suspect foul play in seduction – but the draenei would in this case suspect foul play of the carnal sort, while Dor’ash might suspect a spy. Still, if the story was true, the odd couple lived in a backwater village of Broken. That didn’t sound like something a spying woman would agree to.

“I suppose one must agree with your last sentiment,” Malo agreed.

Coran looked like he was about to say something more, but didn’t. Judging by the uncertain look on his face, he didn’t know what he wanted to express. 

“It’s still a very strange-” Dor’ash started, but fell silent abruptly. The spirits surged, the wind howling like frightened, living voices in a distance. It was something more than the storm, something worse.

He tilted his head with a frown, absentmindedly noting that Malo did the same.

And then he heard her scream.

It almost sent him to the floor by its force, blasting through his mind and he would have pressed his hands to his ears, would have roared trying to drown it out, but he never made a move to do so.

“What is that-?” Malo croaked, his eyes wide and staring towards the cave opening.

Dor’ash hardly even remembered that the draenei shaman or any of the others were there. He had not thought her capable of such fear.


He was on his feet, blind and deaf to everything else, but something held him back, wouldn’t let him take another step, and that grip was stronger than he was. Snarling he cast his gaze forwards, through the opening to the whirling white world and onwards. Spirits cried and howled warnings all around, but he ignored them and just leapt and leapt onwards. The white never seemed to end, like her scream that rose and fell in between incoherent babbling cut off in new, desperate shrieks. 

Something bright flashed in the corner of his magical vision but he didn’t look around, only cast himself on and on towards her. Had to find her, quicker, quicker.

Not quick enough. 

In a distance a cloud of darkness flared against the snow, and he took one last leap without thinking. Foul energies slammed against him and sent him reeling backwards, but he still caught sight of the pale soul writhing and screaming in the middle of the consuming black. Smoky ropes enveloped her ethereal body, twisting her this and that way as she struggled and tore but only sunk deeper and deeper in by the second. Beneath her pathetically kicking feet laid her unmoving body, deep into the snow.

Dor’ash cried out, reaching towards her but the darkness reared up and pure dread forced him backwards. That thing could consume his soul too, and gladly would if it reached him. 

The bright flash appeared again and he glanced to the side, seeing a bright outline of Malo floating there. The draenei hung frozen as snowflakes fluttered right through him, eyes wide in horror as he watched Sarah’s soul being consumed alive by the darkness.

Suddenly a bright red flame burnt through the white, blasting away the snow just around Sarah’s bony hand. The soul cried out again, fading fury mixing with the despair. What little hope it lit in Dor’ash, it died as she just sunk deeper and deeper, the blackness swallowing her legs up to her waist and rapidly spinning further upwards.

The darkness spun outwards suddenly, tendrils lashing out towards the two watching, horror-stricken spirits. Fear beyond that for physical harm and life ripped through Dor’ash and he heard Malo shriek, but he was already jolting backwards.

He shuddered violently, staggering on his feet as he suddenly returned to his body. Coran’s grip of his good arm was the only thing keeping him up until he found his balance again. The draenei was shouting, asking what was going on, but Dor’ash shook his head and blindly tried to move forwards again. Coran held him back.

Hooves and armor clattered, and Malo groaned as he got to his hooves in the background. More questions. Dor’ash shook his head, staring at the confused vindicator trying to hold him back.

“Your word, you have a word for something-” Dor’ash could not make his speech make sense, could hardly breathe. Just had to make them understand.

“Man’ari,” Malo hoarsely said, pressing a hand to his throat. “I believe… you mean man’ari.”

It was probably right, judging by the couple of gasps from behind – although Coran and the others could not understand just what was going on. Dor’ash hardly cared enough to notice, however. 

“But one isn’t-” Malo shook his head hard, staring at the exit. “Man’ari is a choice, not…”

“Let go of me!”

Dor’ash wrenched his arm out of Coran’s grip and took a step forwards, but Malo stumbled up to block his way. Though the draenei shaman’s face was paler than before, he held up his hands and bared his fangs with determination.

“Going out there is madness, you can’t help her if you get yourself killed in the storm,” he snarled, reaching for Dor’ash’s shoulder.

Then he recoiled when the orc snarled, familiar fear blazing in Malo’s eyes. Yet it was as with as much despair as rage that Dor’ash growled.

“No! Spirits, I can’t let her-” he started, voice cracking.

Deep down he knew that it was already too late, he wouldn’t make it. But that part of him was so far off, drowning in the need to find Sarah and save her. There had to be-

“I’m sorry,” Coran said and struck the back of Dor’ash’s head with the side of his hand.

It is not so easy to knock orcs unconscious, but there was a jolt of pure white energy in the blow to create the desired effect. The Light could also hurt.

Dor’ash’s world went black. 

Verily, I am a tease and loving it.

I got traumatized enough by the two first episodes of My Little Pony. They’re pretty vicious in compare to all the others.

My Little Pony was vicious overall.

Malo thoughtfully pulled at his chin tendrils

Chin tendrils. I like that image.

She had to be fine by now, though

This sentence works. And it works not because of what follows -I couldn’t have thought that before reading the rest-, but because while Sarah’s in trouble you’ve put her situation aside for the last couple of updates. So this isn’t a “what could possibly go wrong/be worse?”, but it highlights the general uneasiness about Sarah.

The draenei were giving him mildly to disapprovingly disbelieving looks, due to his earlier statement.
Musing doesn’t happen in dead time? Good.

It almost sent him to the floor by its force, blasting through his mind and he would have pressed his hands to his ears, would have roared trying to drown it out, but he never made a move to do so.

“What is that-?” Malo croaked, his eyes wide and staring towards the cave opening.

Dor’ash hardly even remembered that the draenei shaman or any of the others were there. He had not thought her capable of such fear.


He was on his feet, blind and deaf to everything else, but something held him back, wouldn’t let him take another step, and that grip was stronger than he was. Snarling he cast his gaze forwards, through the opening to the whirling white world and onwards. Spirits cried and howled warnings all around, but he ignored them and just leapt and leapt onwards.

Is it magic that holds him back? And then a different kind of magic that later slams him with unholy energies of however that went? I like the first part with the "would"s, it’s compelling as a natural reaction, but after pausing for Malo and the part up till “Sarah!”, it feels like you’re describing a new restrainment even though it’s the same (in)action of Dor’ash. Think this one over.

“Going out there is madness, you can’t help her if you get yourself killed in the storm,” he snarled, reaching for Dor’ash’s shoulder.

Then he recoiled when the orc snarled,

“Going out there is madness, [sentence]” doesn’t sound like something you’d say in a hurry to hold someone back. This is [STRIKE]movie speak[/STRIKE] Sparta. I’d favor something to the other end of the spectrum, like “Don’t!”, but I think something shorter than the original would work better. You can delete “then” in the next sentence, the line break shows clearly enough that the “end Turn” button has been pressed.

Dor’ash’s world went black.

You mean white :stuck_out_tongue:

Verily, I am a tease and loving it.

Action! Adventure! Excitement! Will our hero come to before being devoured? Will he save the Mysterious Woman? And which are the dark plans of the Society? Read the next chapter if you’d know!

Ahem. You should have such blurbs inbetween every chapter.

This has a different, more pulpy tone than the others, but I won’t be the one to complain about pulp. Especially when it keeps the overall quality.

I made some changes as per your suggestions, as usual :slight_smile: It was Coran who held Dor’ash back, for example.

About the black or white, there’s enough white in this one already. Sheezus! XD Ah, but I’m a bit sad that the more spiritual or whatever one would call it, the sense of that is giving away for more pulpy style again. Oh, I like writing it like this, but that start definitely was something else. Well, Sarah will have an unusual moment in a while, though…

Okay, a bit longer this time, we’re reaching one of those parts I’ve had written down for quite a while and just been trying to reach for the whole story. Enh!

He came to slowly, consciousness simmering painfully. There was some resistance, a feeling that there was something waiting for him when he woke up, something he did not want to face. Still he plunged upwards, driven past the anxiety by worry – the stronger knowledge that it was important, that he had to wake up.

His eyes fluttered open and he blinked at the green glow hovering above him. It faded, revealing a blue, clawed hand which carefully moved away. Dor’ash moved his eyes only, blinking again until the mostly blue blur became Malo.

The draenei shaman watched him with concern, a hesitant scowl twisting the skin above his glowing eyes. The confusion shattered, and the memory did not stay away for a moment longer.

“How long was I gone?” Dor’ash croaked, clearing his throat and grimacing.

Sarah was gone.

He knew that once and for all. The anger failed to flare up again. No use.

“Just a few minutes,” Malo said, his voice low.

Dor’ash pushed himself up, finding that they had placed him on the blanket again. Thoughtful. 

The other draenei sat around the fire, but only Coran glanced at Dor’ash – then quickly turned to look into the dancing flames, shoulders hunched. Nobody spoke, but Malo silently offered Dor’ash the orc’s own water sack. He just waved it away, and Malo didn’t insist.

“What was that darkness?” the draenei shaman wondered after a moment.

“The Lich King, I believe,” Dor’ash said in a dull voice.

He stared towards the exit of the cave, even though the crack of white stung his eyes. There was so much dark stone around the opening that the snow outside turned a sharp, painful shade. Taking in a deep breath, he shook his head.

“All Forsaken once broke free of his mind control,” he muttered, “but as I understand it, they start losing control to him again when they age or die slowly.”

Even though he kept watching the exit, part of him noticed how the silence grew heavy. Malo slowly shook his head, rubbing his cheek. The sound of Coran’s hoofs scratching the hard ground was unnaturally loud in that atmosphere. The young vindicator looked to Valenia, who met his eyes briefly and then looked away. For a moment Coran’s gaze wandered towards Subonai, but stopped. 

“I’m-” Coran finally said, turning towards Dor’ash. “I’m sorry, I truly am.”

Dor’ash met his gaze for a second, but didn’t make a sound or movement to reply. The vindicator could be as sorry as he wanted, he was still the one who separated the two friends. Right then, Dor’ash couldn’t find a splinter of forgivance in his soul.  

He couldn’t stand being there, but he could not really leave either. However…

Narrowing his eyes at the exit, Dor’ash took in a deep breath and forced his mind to focus. In the next moment his sight leapt outside again, rushing through the landscape. Again the spirits called around him, in sadness rather than fear this time.

It would be torture to see what she was now, he knew that, but he could not just sit there. Right now, he still knew roughly where she was – if he lost her, there would be no hope at all.

There had to be something he could do for her, some way to save her. She had freed herself from that mind control before, he’d said so himself just a minute ago. But was that something that could be done again?

He tried to push that thought away, but even as he did so, part of him knew that she might be lost. Then what, if he found her?

She wouldn’t want to be another mindless slave. Then-

His painful line of thoughts snapped when he spotted the patch of darkness. But it seemed so much smaller than before…

Unsure what to think, he swept in that direction, and then saw a group of thin shadows trudging through the white. Forsaken, some in robes and some in armor – and Sarah in their midst, half dragged, half carried along between two of them. She staggered, her were movements slow and weak, but lacked the singleminded march of a Scourge zombie.

A wild hope flared up in him as he stared at the scene. No Forsaken would have let her live if she was a slave to the Lich King. Yet, the darkness was still thick around her. For a second he wondered if they could see it. 

Then, his mind clicked from being numbed by surprise, and he realized that they might be searching for him and Coran. Mentally swearing he drew backwards, towards the pull of his body, and concluded that they were heading in the same direction. Not straight, no, but there was no guarantee they could not find the cave. He couldn’t see any tracks in the snow, but couldn’t be sure that there were none. The storm should have eradicated a lot of them, but perhaps not all.

He turned and sped back, catching sight of something large and red in all the white, but the world was flashing past him and his spirit slammed back into his body. A half-strangled sound left his lips and he tried to stand. Malo was there in an instant, trying to settle him down again.

“Some Forsaken found her, but they’re coming this way,” Dor’ash snarled at the confused shaman. Malo blinked, staring at him. “You have to flee, now!”

The others got to their hooves, speaking quickly in Draenei. Malo waved a hand in a sharp motion, glaring at the white crack in the cliff. A hesitant lull fell as his hand sunk and his face slackened. Seconds snailed by, but then he straightened up with a  shudder.

“He’s right, there are undead coming this way,” Malo hissed, standing up with a loud clatter. “We must leave here!”

Setting her jaw, Valenia hurried towards the elekks.

“But can we make it in the storm?” Coran asked, eyes narrowing at the crack in the wall.

“Believe me, we will have a better chance-” Malo started.

Dor’ash opened his mouth, knowing he could give them some advice to give them a bit of a chance. However, he never got so far as to share that before they were all interrupted.

The rock, partly and badly blocking the exit, exploded. Heat seared through the air momentarily, and the elekks let out shrieking trumpeting sounds. Luckily they didn’t stampede in their panic, but stumbled against each other in their corner. 

Valenia cried out in Draenei, a single word. Even though he didn’t understand, Dor’ash could brave a guess. Hooves clopped hard against the ground as Coran and Subonai rushed towards the entrance to the cave, drawing their weapons. Malo took a few steps forwards, then cautiously stopped and reached for a pouch on his belt. He paused, casting a tense glance at Dor’ash.

“I’ll try-” the orc started in a growl, but the familiar sound of a demon’s roar cut him off. Cursing, he hurried towards the exit. Nobody tried to stop him, both Coran and Subonai far too busy squinting at what was just a few steps outside.

The snow whirled around the huge, armored form of a felguard, but it seemed perfectly at ease with the onslaught of wind and cold as it raised its huge axe, grinning down and showing off rows of uneven, pointy teeth. The vindicators bristled, but they were not looking at the demon’s face but a little bit to the left. 

A Forsaken woman in a dark robe, like a stain of oil against the white in the air, hung over the felguard’s shoulder. Her smirk was very much reminiscent of the demon’s expression.

“Oh no, no, no, let’s not get violent,” the warlock cooed in her hoarse voice, speaking Common. “You might frighten my little baby.” She tapped a finger against the demon’s shoulder plate, causing a hard ticking sound for each rap.

“What do you want, wretch?” Subonai demanded.

For what it was worth, the felguard was far too big to easily make it through the cave opening, but that wouldn’t stop the warlock’s spells. Still, it was only one of her. Considering the circumstances, she and her pet were not a great danger on their own – but the demon would have leverage on anybody trying to burst out of the cave. Its axe was already raised and just waiting for one of the vindicators to try.

Tilting her elbows against the huge shoulder pad beneath her, the warlock daintily pressed her raw-bone fingertips against each other and smiled. 

“You wouldn’t possibly be the bad, bad draenei who abducted our little sister Sarah’s orc friend, would you?” she asked.

Both Coran and Subonai tensed, but didn’t reply. After a moment, the warlock tilted her head.

“I’ll take that as a yes.” Her mouth pursed and stretched in a sweet smile. “I do hope he’s in one piece, boys. You wouldn’t want to live with the knowledge that you denied a dying woman her final wish, would you?”

She grinned at the word “live.” Not very subtle. However, Dor’ash hardly even noticed, as the words coming after that grin tore into his soul.

He stepped forwards, to get within sight from outside. Subonai threw a glare at him, but didn’t try to stop him as he moved up beside the two vindicators. 

“I’m here,” Dor’ash said in Common, lightly touching the fingers of his good hand to his bandaged arm. “I’m Dor’ash.”

Half of him, the half not preoccupied with fearing for Sarah’s sake, silently prayed for some possibility to save the draenei. If the group of Forsaken reached the cave, Malo and the others would be lucky if they were simply killed. After all that had taken place here, Dor’ash couldn’t allow that. 

“Ah, that’s a relief,” the warlock said and ducked her head, muttering under her breath. In a flare of felfire, a floating eyeball appeared above her head and zoomed off into the snow storm, away from the cliffs. Dor’ash tensely watched it disappear amongst the whirling, white flakes. It had to be a sign for the others to come.

Already he wanted to protest, but knew very well that it would also put him in danger to try to defend a group of Alliance soldiers. He would have to look for some opportunity. 

She waved her hand, and the felguard reached up. It gripped her around the middle and set her down not too gently, but she didn’t seem rattled as she straightened her slouching back after being more shoved at the ground than anything else. 

“How is Sarah?” Dor’ash asked, his jaw clenching.

The pleased smile faded from the woman’s lips and she shook her head.

“Almost gone,” she said, lifting her head to look straight at him. “She wants to see you.”

He had known that she was fading. That didn’t make the words hurt any less, and he pinched his eyes shut. She had needed him, desperately, and he hadn’t been there. 

“Isn’t there any way to stop it?” he asked, looking back at the warlock.

In a stark contrast to what he expected, the sneer did not return to her expression. It dawned on him, then, although he had always known it in theory. Yet, not until this moment did he see simple, undeniable proof of just how greatly the Forsaken hated the Lich King.

“I don’t want to call it impossible. We’ve all done it once,” the woman said in a voice that seemed oddly soft for a Forsaken, doubly so for a warlock. “But, it might be her time.”

He wanted to shake his head, but, who was he to say? As a shaman, and a warrior of the Horde, he was well aware of what death was. It never even touched his mind how ironic this all was – Sarah had already died years ago. Still, she was so full of life that it had been ages since he saw an undead when he looked at her. He saw only Sarah.  

Action! Romance! An epic triangle drama that will be remembered forever! Will our hero manage to save all his friends? Whose brain will get eaten?

I made some changes as per your suggestions, as usual :slight_smile: It was Coran who held Dor’ash back, for example.

Ah, that makes sense.

He tried to push that thought away, but even as he did so, part of him knew that she might be lost. Then what, if he found her?

The phrasing becomes too lax and meandering here. Redo?

She staggered, her were movements slow and weak, but lacked the singleminded march of a Scourge zombie.

You could delete “were” and use “lacking” in lieu of “lacked”. Make it more staccato.

as it raised its huge axe, grinning down and showing off rows of uneven, pointy teeth. The vindicators bristled, but they were not looking at the demon’s face but a little bit to the left.

I’m not sure “showing off” fits (it implies action, whereas it seems to me more like a side effect), but “displaying” seems a bit plain. Perhaps “flashing”, though it isn’t exactly an original verb. “A little bit to the left” seems a bit casual compared to the rest of the word choices you’ve made.

“You wouldn’t possibly be the bad, bad draenei who abducted our little sister Sarah’s orc friend, would you?” she asked.

“I’ll take that as a yes.” Her mouth pursed and stretched in a sweet smile. “I do hope he’s in one piece, boys. You wouldn’t want to live with the knowledge that you denied a dying woman her final wish, would you?”

Uh oh, the dialogue here points to your old romps and is incongruent with all the previous dialogue in this story, even with the parts where the undead speak. Rethink it.

Already he wanted to protest, but knew very well that it would also put him in danger to try to defend a group of Alliance soldiers. He would have to look for some opportunity.

I like the last sentence -so adventury!-, but the first one is slightly messy :wink:

About the black or white, there’s enough white in this one already. Sheezus! XD Ah, but I’m a bit sad that the more spiritual or whatever one would call it, the sense of that is giving away for more pulpy style again. Oh, I like writing it like this, but that start definitely was something else.

You could rewrite the 12-27 part and it’d keep the feel of the rest consistent. Perhaps add a few more descriptions of the environment, as when you’ve got a bunch of strangers seeking cover from a snowstorm and then a swirling darkness thing comes from the snow, you could do worse than show a bit of the visuals.

Oh, and nice blurb :wink:

Brain a bit fried, but as usual thanks for your input Rig. Now to make this sliiightly less cliffhangery. The second half is one of those things I’ve had written down since forever.

Armor sharply clanged as Coran shifted, and it rustled Dor’ash out of his daze. There was far more lives at stake here. Looking at the warlock and her hungrily smirking demon pet, though, he wondered if it was at all possible to talk them into backing off. The draenei could try to send the demon off balance with magic and make a run for it, but they wouldn’t be able to run outside more than one at a time – the opening in the cliff wasn’t wide enough.

His experiences with Forsaken warlocks did not make him feel any more confident about being able to reason with this woman. Yet, he had to do something or Malo and the others would be slaughtered.

Deep down he reflected how ironic it was for an orc to be so desperate to save a few draenei. Or, perhaps, it was a tiny act of penance for his people. Still, he knew well that chances were great that the warlock would brand him a traitor if he wasn’t careful. Up here, the only witnesses would be the other Forsaken – and Sarah was not in a state where she could help him against her own people, now. 

He tried not to think about the fact that even if the draenei managed to flee, they would leave tracks in the snow. The Forsaken had been able to find them now, when the traces Coran and his elekk had left behind must have been almost gone thanks to the storm. 

“Listen,” he started, still speaking Common so that the draenei wouldn’t have to suspect foul play, “Sarah and I were almost killed by yetis. This one here,” he nodded sideways at Coran, “probably saved our lives.”

The warlock’s lips quirked in an amused smile. 

“Ah yes, she did try to mumble something of the sort,” she said. One of her hands swept to her hip, where a wicked-looking wand set with a darkly glowing crystal was fastened. “I understand, you are honor bound to not kill them. Don’t worry though.” Her smile widened. “We’re not.”

Coran and Subonai both bristled, and from inside came the sound of Malo and Valenia exchanging sharp whispers.

“I’m no lover of the Alliance,” Dor’ash said, clenching his teeth, “but there’s a question of decency. He could have killed Sarah as well.”

For a moment she steadily watched him, unmoving. Not knowing what else to do, Dor’ash grasped for straws by pointedly rolling his eyes to look towards the draenei, then back towards her. If she took it as him trying to unsuccessfully convey some kind of silent message, she didn’t show it. 

“Very sweet of him,” she said with a disinterested shrug. “The fact of the matter is, though, that Sarah is almost Scourge. That is all we care about for the moment.” Her face never turned away from Dor’ash, eyes glowing steadily under her sagging mask.

He looked back, scowling. There was probably nothing he could say to convince her, and- Sarah, spirits, Sarah. He could hardly concentrate.

The only chance for the draenei would be to try to get past her – if they tried distracting her and the demon with magic it might…

Thin grey shadows grew out of the wall of twirling white, with a few steps fully emerging behind the felguard’s back. Subonai growled, and Coran nervously shifted. A cold hand grasped Dor’ash’s heart. More and more Forsaken kept stepping out of the snowstorm, worn, rusty armors strapped to their bodies and snow piled up in the crevasses between equipment and body – sometimes in crevasses in the bodies.

They stopped within sight, lined up and gazing towards the draenei and the orc that could be seen just a bit in the opening in the cliff. Strangely, none of them grinned, all silent and grim.

The warlock turned and scurried over to her brethren, starting a conversation utterly torn away in the wind. After a few moments she scurried back, absently clapping her hands. With an annoyed growl, the felguard disappeared in a flare of felfire. The snow where it had stood melted from the heat, creating a patch of sizzling grey.

“Shane says we don’t have time for this nonsense,” she said, folding her arms. “You draenei, you can get out of the way and hope we’ll think about being nice, or we’ll storm in. You might have a good defensive point but there are a lot more of us.”

In the tense silence Dor’ash could feel Coran give him an uncertain look and Subonai glare at him. He looked over his shoulder, only to have the feeling confirmed.

“They won’t listen to me,” he muttered. “I can’t tell you what to do.”

Letting out a growl, Subonai turned around and spoke to Malo and Valenia. A quick discussion followed.

“I’m counting to ten!” the warlock called.

A few more words, harsh in the draenei mouths, flew through the air. Then Subonai looked around, lips drawn back from his sharp teeth.

“Very well, we- yield,” he snarled and started to back off.

Looking rather dazed, Coran followed him, sheathing his sword with numb hands. Dor’ash stepped back as well, looking between the draenei as all four of them retreated to the back of the cave with stiff steps. Malo met his gaze, tension apparent on the other shaman’s face. However, he made an upwards motion with a clawed hand, as if motioning towards the spirits that had told him that he could trust Dor’ash. 

“I’ll try,” the orc murmured, adding hardly no voice to the movement of his dry lips. He truly had no idea if he could live up to that remain of brittle trust.

 He looked around at the sound of clattering armor and bone, seeing the Forsaken make their way towards the entrance. With a heavy heart he moved towards the middle of the cave, watching as the undead entered. They continued inside, spreading out in an uneven half-circle. 

“What are-”

Dor’ash’s question faltered on his lips as the Forsaken moved aside to let Sarah pass. She staggered blindly, leaning on a decaying swordsman. Although her arm lay slung around his neck, she didn’t seem to draw any support from it herself – his hand holding her wrist looked like the only thing keeping her up. His other arm curled around Sarah’s waist to further steady her.

It looked gentle, the way he walked slowly to accommodate to her insecure steps. Snow clung to her, smeared on her robe and sticking in her hair, making her look even more miserable. 

They had removed her bags, leaving only the severely stained, pale robe around her small form. Dor’ash took note of those details only vaguely. What he stared at, and wasn’t sure that the others saw, were the shadows flitting around Sarah’s thin neck, slithering down her arms like living, ethereal chains. The spirits moaned, and the shades spun around, lashing out – then settled back when the elements growled, but the dark aura never went away. It seemed to flow out of the back of her head in a slow, but steady stream. 

Had he been in a proper state of mind, Dor’ash might have cast a glance at Malo to silently question if he also saw the darkness. But he hardly even remembered that the four draenei were even there, now. 

When the swordsman hunched down, Sarah just slumped onto her knees. Still oddly gentle, he ducked to get her arm away from his neck, and then laid her hand to rest in her lap. With a murmur of Gutterspeak he straightened and turned to Dor’ash.

Metal scraped sharply as the Forsaken man drew his sword. Dor’ash’s breath stuck in his throat, but the undead didn’t move to use the weapon.

“The Lich King has taken a hold of her,” the swordsman grimly said, aiming his hand, not his sword, at Sarah. He spoke the Orcish words in a monotone voice, stating a matter of fact. “You have travelled with her for a long time. You understand, don’t you?”

Dor’ash grit his teeth, understanding perfectly well what the man meant. But…

“You haven’t finished her off yet,” he said.

Several of the Forsaken shook their heads. The swordsman spoke again.

“We don’t kill our own happily, and she isn’t completely gone. But she’s very weak.”

Sarah made a strange sight, sitting there with her hands folded in her lap with the other Forsaken standing in a crescent behind her. The calm curve of her lips revealed nothing.

“She insisted on finding you,” the swordsman said, stating a fact – not hope.

They were prepared to kill her. She was prepared. Oblivion was a far more pleasant master to serve. How odd, really. The Forsaken knew no compassion, except for this – mercy killing their kin rather than letting them fade back into slavery.

“Are you more powerful than the Lich King, Dor’ash?” Sarah asked, sounding mildly curious through her strained voice. Not much lung capacity to work with. Her head rolled, causing a creaking sound in her stiff, frozen neck. The twitchy motion gave him a chilling hint before the words sealed the truth. “I called for you in the snow but you didn’t answer. There’s something out there now, something that wants me. Wants them.”

She nodded at the Forsaken behind her, and they actually tensed. Under Dor’ash’s scowl she chuckled hoarsely, more of a giggle. Her grip of sanity, and herself, was slipping.

“Wants you. Wants them, too.” The draenei growled uneasily when her face briefly turned towards them. “Wants everyone and everything. We’re pawns, less than pawns, far less, but he still wants all of us even though we’re useless, just a mass of hands and claws and and and he’s so loud…”

Her hands crept up her arms. 

Behind her, the swordsman silently shifted. Not raising his sword, but preparing for when he would do so. Sarah shook her head. 

“He says he’s proud of all this power I’ve found but it means nothing, does it? Nothing, he doesn’t care, he’s mocking, I still know that, I know it-! No!” She looked around suddenly, finger whipping out towards the swordsman. “Don’t you dare! He’s the only one who can kill me!” The arm swept in the other direction, until she pointed straight at Dor’ash.

The hand holding the sword sunk back to the man’s side as he nodded. 

“As you wish, little sister,” he said, in an impossibly soft voice for one such as he.

“Hell no!” Dor’ash snarled, his foot slamming into the hard ground.

He stepped forwards and Sarah shrunk back, staring up at him as he glowered at her.

“Are you out of your mind?” he growled. “What question is that, if I’m stronger than the Lich King? Of course I’m not! You have to be!”

People broke out of mind control for loyalty, for love, for friendship. He could have called to her and spoken of her Dark Lady, of her undead lover Jonathan, or himself and of Grema and Karg. Yet, she was a Forsaken, and was she able to feel any such things strongly enough, as mortals could? Forsaken only ever admitted to feeling rage and hatred. 

But no, none of those things had saved her when she first woke up, with no memory to drag her out of the mental clutches of the Lich King. If she had no memory, she had no reason to love or hate. That wasn’t what made her break free in the first place.

“Are you going to let him have all that power you’ve gained?” Dor’ash snapped. “Do you want to tumble down from this mountain and roam Andorhal until you fall apart?”

No reply. She remained impassive, as if she didn’t even hear him. 

“Maybe you do, if you want me to fight your battles for you.” He spat on the ground, managing somehow although his mouth felt dry as a desert. He had to focus on the anger, had to share it with her, even if he only really wanted to fall down on his knees and pull her close. That wouldn’t save her. He couldn’t shield her from the Lich King no matter how strong his arms were. “You’re pathetic.”

At the last word, she moved. Her arms twitched, and she straightened up from her half recoil. Without a sound, grey green lips moved to form silent words.

“Well?” Dor’ash snapped, amazed that his voice held up.

And Sarah spoke. 

“You- blasted- asshole!”

Not for hate, not for love, or friendship. For herself only, because it was all she had back then. Her hands shot away from her arms, clawing instead at the remains of her ears before pressing down hard.

“Shut up!” she snarled, clutching her head. “I’m not your- not your- not yours!” Her voice rose to a shriek at the last word, so sharp that it actually hurt Dor’ash’s ears.

Family drama! Tension! A horrible truth revealed! Alliances tested! Will our hero and heroine finally reveal their feelings for each other? (Oh bull!)