((This is simply the background I had listed in my MRP when I first joined the KMG.))
Grazzug was born into the Blackrock Clan shortly before the united clans of the Horde crossed into Azeroth, and was fortunate never to see the warlock' forced aging process. The majority of his early life was spent growing up in the human-built internment camps, and facing the rather typical abuse of his captors. While in the camps he met someone who would later act as a sort of mentor and de facto father figure for him; a former shaman from before the Horde’s formation who educated Grazzug about the Orc’s early history and traditions. These ideals became very important to the young Orc.
Upon liberation from the camps, Grazzug quickly learned the basics of combat and joined the forces of the elderly Doomhammer. He grew up learning that Doomhammer was a figure to idolize, who embodied strength, honour, and leadership. He was not present at the sight of Doomhammer's death during the seizing of Hammerfall, but nonetheless Grazzug fell into mourning at the death of his warchief… his clan chieftain. However, with the leadership of the young new warchief, Thrall, Grazzug stood once more and embraced the developing New Horde. He became a raider. Thrall's adaptation of guerilla tactics emboldened Grazzug, allowing him to learn the ways of the raider, and effectively shattered his youthful insecurities.
When the prophet sent Thrall a vision of a land to the long forgotten lands of Kalimdor, Grazzug leapt at the opportunity to lend his blade to his warchief. His adventures in the early settling on Kalimdor are many, including battles with the humans, the indigenous races, and even engagements against traitorous Orcs. But after the 'Battle of Mount Hyjal', he settled down with his mate in the Barrens, where he spent years starting a family and learning more about himself and his heritage. He also continued the very fights he first started upon his landing on Kalimdor. He helped defend the frontiers of the Barrens, and on occasion was deployed to Ashenvale to assist the efforts there.
During the events of the Horde’s Outland campaign, Grazzug stayed to defend the Barrens from both the indigenous and Alliance threats. It was not until the Lich King brought forth a plague that decimated hundreds of lives and invaded Orgrimmar itself that Grazzug was called on once again to leave his home. He left his mate and young son and ventured to Northrend, where he was stationed at the imposing Warsong Hold and, later, Agmar’s Hammer for the early months of the campaign. In this time he faced the Scourge and their Nerubian forces. A short time after the horrific events at the Wrath Gate he was redeployed to the Grizzly Hills, where he faced Worgen, maddened Furbolg, and Alliance forces.
After the war he had witnessed only a short time of peace. When the human forces invaded the Barrens, Grazzug brought his family to Orgrimmar to keep them safe. Between his ventures in service to the Horde, he occasionally takes smithing contracts from his home or takes freelance jobs... that do not conflict with his loyalties.
#8026449 Jun 23, 2013 at 03:19 AM · Edited 2 years ago
((This was the upgraded MRP backstory I had developed. Updated for Legion! ))
Name: Grazzug, son of Togrum Outside Affiliations: The Horde military, the Blackrock Clan
Skills: Martial combat, military tactics, knowledge of multiple orcish dialects and Common, and proficiency in blacksmithing
Appearance: Typically seen wearing a full set of Blackrock plate armor and carrying multiple weapons, which may include the axe of his predecessor or a flaming Blackrock iron great axe, a one-handed axe, a shield, and, on occasion, a bow. When not in this armor Grazzug is almost never seen without his wolf-pelt hood, which he wears almost religiously.
Who he is: Grazzug was born to Togrum (son of Gorath) and his mate Basha (daughter of Garyah) as a member of the Blackrock Clan. He was only a toddler when the Old Horde crossed into Azeroth and began the slaughter of the human kingdoms. This constant war ended with Doomhammer’s defeat and Grazzug was one of the many Orcs to be locked away in the Lordaeron internment camps. By this point he was roughly a decade old and unprepared for the horrors of war. While in the camps, he watched his entire people slowly descend into lethargy and was forced to accept the brutality of his captors. While damned to menial labour and inability to do anything but sulk, Grazzug could only find comfort in the nights when one of the elders sat by the fire and told tales of the Orcish race before its corruption under fel influences, as well as some tales of strength and honor from the First and Second wars. Because of nights like those, Grazzug became obsessed with the old traditions, which ranged from an Orc’s first solo hunt, the Om’riggor, to the Orcish funeral rites.
Spending a little over a decade in captivity nearly destroyed Grazzug’s spirits, but information started going around camp, allegedly from a new captive, that the Horde was reforming under the great Orgrim Doomhammer. Not only that, but the spirits had returned to Orcish kind. Soon after these rumors began to circulate, the camp was stormed by the New Horde, and Grazzug was free. Grazzug quickly joined the Horde’s arm of war, becoming first a grunt and later a raider.
Time passed quickly as the Horde was assembled, and in this time Grazzug learned many of the rites of the old clans and honored them as best he could, even taking up some rites that would not be properly re-established for years to come. This lasted some time, until the Horde moved to the West. Grazzug relished in his early days in Kalimdor (and the Maelstrom detour with the Darkspear) because it was very action oriented. He felt he was aiding the Horde when he cut down each Murloc, quillboar and harpy, and felt even greater pleasure when aiding the honorable Tauren. He joined in battle against the demonic forces assailing Nordrassil and after that settled in the red land of Durotar. Not long after that great battle, Grazzug resettled in the Barrens for the quiet and began to learn about the trade of smithing, and though he continuously leant his aid to the Horde war machine, he had made a home with his mate and settled. Over the next several years his time was mostly spent against foes in, and born in, Kalimdor. His conflicts were primarily in the Barrens and Durotar, though he had been called more than once to assist his allies in the forests of Ashenvale. He was uninvolved in Nazgrel’s efforts during the “Burning Crusade”, instead continuing his services on the home front. Eventually that conflict ended and the Lich King woke. Grazzug was sent to Northrend early in the war, where he initially served as a guard at Warsong Hold for several weeks before being deployed to his position at Agmar’s Hammer. During this part of his lengthily Northrend tour, Grazzug mainly faced the foul Nerubians, which crawled forth from the Pit of Nar’jun. When the Nerubian threat was neutralized, and the tragedy of the Wrathgate was in the past, he was redeployed to the Grizzly Hills, where he spent the rest of the war’s duration in conflict with the savage Worgen of Arugal. He also faced both the Venture Company and Westfall Brigade over the land’s natural resources.
After the war in Northrend had ended, Grazzug returned home to the Barrens, but was soon forced to change his home to Durotar when the Alliance invaded the Barrens under orders of Jaina Proudmoore. His family now lives in Orgrimmar. Post-Shattering he has seen no end to battle. He aided some early militia forces in the Northern Barrens to stem the Alliance advances in the wake of the Shattering, but was soon summoned to the Stonetalon Mountains to serve in active duty.
When he returned from active duty in Stonetalon, as the forces there were to be reorganized after the dismissal of Krom’gar, he finally settled down in his Orgrimmar home. He is rarely inclined to speak of his tour in Stonetalon.
For a short time he simply lived peacefully with his mate and son, which caused him to become restless. Soon he started taking some minor freelance mercenary work. After a series of very generous payments from an anonymous contractor, he was requested in Azshara… where he met the Kalimdor Mercenaries. With his military career at a temporary halt, he joined them eagerly to continue aiding the Horde. He has joined the group on several contracts and was even sent to aid the Dragonmaw Clan, at the behest of the mercenaries’ leader Dagulauga. He forged a bond with the Old Horde clan by proving his quality as a representative of the Horde.
Grazzug was eventually recalled back to Kalimdor. Daguluaga had grown weary of battle and sought a life of wealth and spoils. He sold the KMG to his long-time friend, Dargeth Armbreaker, who wanted the KMG to be an autonomous arm of the Horde military. Grazzug was pleased to see the mercenaries become increasingly bound to the Horde as a military body, and even took advantage of his rank and the group’s strong connections to secure a place in official military campaigns. Dargeth recognized he and Grazzug’s similar values and promoted him to serve as one of his lieutenants.
As the Pandaria campaign readied, the members of the K.M.G set out once again, but Grazzug was, unfortunately, recalled to active duty in the early days of the campaign. In his absence, on what was supposed to be a simple operation to earn the mainland pandarens’ trust, Dargeth vanished into the wilderness. Taking advantage of their leader’s disappearance, the goblins Kezzik, Prazz and Dacks took over the mercenaries in secret and formed what they came to call the Council of Three Goblins. They led the mercenaries disastrously for weeks, all of them acting on self-interest to the degree that it caused the mercenaries harm. Upon hearing what was occurring back home, Grazzug requested and was granted leave to return to Kalimdor and seize control of the Kalimdor Mercenaries. Kezzik was subjugated while the fates of Prazz and Dacks are unknown.
Grazzug spent many months repairing the damage caused by his goblin predecessors and capitalized on the positive reputation the mercenaries had within the Horde to secure work with the Kor'kron. Through these ties, Grazzug brought the mercenaries new and challenging contracts, piles of gold and their insignia imprinted on 'Warchief's Command' boards throughout the cities of the Horde.
Unfortunately, the strong ties formed with the Kor'kron led the mercenaries against former allies. Grazzug was put into a delicate situation, where he was loyal to the True Horde and its warchief, but was also unwilling to outright slaughter those who were until recently allies or sell out the trolls who served under him. Grazzug did what he could to stay out of the battles relating to the Darkspear Rebellion whenever he could.
Because of this reluctance the mercenaries' ties to the Kor'kron began to falter.
The scales tipped when news reached Grazzug of the fact the Kor'kron were bringing the beating heart of Y'shaarj, a befouled 'Old God' into Ogrimmar. Misled to believe this was treachery by the Kor’kron, Grazzug led the mercenaries to the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. There in he rrealized that he and the mercenaries had been betrayed by his lieutenant, Ral’trok Bloodseeker, and the Kor'kron they once considered allies.
Grazzug returned home to Orgrimmar after narrowly escaping the Kor’kron and did what he could to sneak his family out of the city… only to end up in a refugee camp outside of Razor Hill. He was discovered there and was put on trial for his participation in the Kor’kron’s war against the Darkspear. In the end the trial was settled in a Trial by Combat between Grazzug and the recently re-appeared Dargeth Armbreaker. Grazzug killed his former friend and commander, but, in doing so, pledged to fight for the united Horde… not just Garrosh’s “True Horde.” Eventually he joined in the brutal and bloody siege of Orgrimmar.
After wars against the pseudo-military forces of the Korriban Company in Uldum and the fiendish Brotherhood of the Corrupted Blood across two worlds, Grazzug was approached with orders from the new warchief to cross into Draenor and pursue the disgraced former warchief, Garrosh Hellscream. Grazzug was deeply reluctant, knowing the planned operation was a suicide mission, but joined regardless.
After surviving what he expected to be his demise, Grazzug spent months in the new-but-old world alongside his allies in the Warforged Pact. He led battles against Thunderlord orcs, massive gronn, legions of ogres and the might of the Iron Horde. But over time the Horde won the day and both the Iron and Fel Hordes fell before the one true Horde.
Grazzug did not see the end of the campaign against Gul’dan’s Fel Iron Horde. Half way through the campaign he was captured by the death knight, Daalis Vile. The death knight – an orc warlock’s spirit in the rotting visage of an ancient draenei cleric – led an army of the dead to Tanaan and captured Grazzug and many of his allies. He spent a week being tortured by the Legion’s followers and once he was freed, Grazzug was sent back to Orgrimmar to recover.
Grazzug has, since recovering, taken up arms once again to lead the mercenaries into battle against the Burning Legion.
Grazzug claims he is a traditionalist, and he consistently honors traditions of the Orcish people. He is proud of his people and their origins (at least how they overcame their origins) and honors the old legends and heroes of the Horde. Though his clan of birth, the Blackrock Clan, has fallen out of favour with the New Horde, he honors their history as the clan of Doomhammer, Saurfang (and even Blackhand the Destroyer, though he is not as quick to mention him). He believes strength and honor are vital to living a truly fulfilling life and is rather gruff with those who he considers dishonorable. If a poor first impression is made, it is likely to infect further interactions. He believes in natural hierarchies, placing Orcish kind high above other races, and though he usually gives respect that is warranted, he usually makes his feelings known.
((This occurs during the early days of the events of 'The Burning Crusade' and tells of one of Grazzug's proudest moments.))
Grazzug trudged up the Gold Road with his dire wolf at his side. The warrior glared upward at the cloudless sky and grumbled to himself in annoyance. He had never been overly fond of the hot, dry air of the barrens, but it seemed all the more obnoxious this day. Patrols along the full length of the infamous Gold Road were nothing short of a nuisance. Especially now when the actual conflicts were not even upon Kalimdor… but the orcish home world of Draenor. There the Horde battled the demonic masses of both the demon Illidan Stormrage and the Burning Legion itself.
Meanwhile, in the barrens, even the harassment of the harpies had stopped. The Kolkar centaur hadn’t acted up in weeks, the Quillboar threat was far to the South… more the problem of the dwarves of Bael Modan, the insects in the Field of Giants were nowhere in sight, and the Alliance stayed in Dustwallow where they belonged. Yet here Grazzug was, on patrol as Thork had instructed.
Thork, a seasoned veteran and commander of the defense of the Crossroads, had asked specifically for a seasoned raider to take the route that day. Grazzug was volunteered for the job and he accepted ‘gratefully.’ It was an honor to help out, of course, and the son of Durotan acknowledged all those who aided in the Horde’s safeguarding equally, but it was still a long and unrewarding trek… especially compared to the potential glory he could have found in battle against the Legion on his people’s home world.
Grazzug’s thoughts began to wander back toward his youth. He struggled to remember what Draenor as he had once known it. He remembered the red lands, the blistering heat and acrid smell of corruption. He remembered Hellfire Citadel lingering high above the bases of the clans. The black metal spires raising out from the dead soil and towers crowned with great spikes upon the rooftops. He had been a pup then, a child… hardly more than a toddler; one that quivered in fear at his own shadow when his father brought him into a Hall of the Fathers. It had been there that he saw the great orcs of the past. It remained even to that day one of Grazzug’s earliest memories… and one of the few where his true of blood father had been present.
The orc only came back to the present when his loyal hound nudged him. Grazzug shook his head lightly, recalling where he was and what he was doing. He was encroaching on the Crossroads. His long trip was nearly completed.
Grazzug passed through the southern entrance of the post, saluting the honorable tauren guards as he did so, and headed right for the inn. He was going to need something to drink before he passed out. Just before he could reach the doorway, however, he heard a familiar voice.
“Warrior!” it called. Grazzug looked over and saw the outpost’s commander looking right at him.
Thork stood just outside the doorway, leaning against the mailbox. He wore a focused glare as if he had heard someone slander the warchief’s name, and his eyes were locked on Grazzug.
Grazzug pounded his arm against his breast, the orcish salute, and stepped over to his commander. The orc looked him over, then pointed accusingly, “ Did you finish the trip?”
“Yes, commander.” Grazzug replied.
“From the Crossroads to the Lift!? Am I to believe you’ve made record timing, warrior?” He was now wagging his finger inches away from Grazzug’s face.
Fighting the strong urge to plunge his blade into Thork’s forehead, Grazzug held fast. “No, commander. But my report is clear and shall be in your hands within the hour.”
Thork waved off the offer dismissively. “Forget it. You live out here on the frontier, yes?”
Grazzug nodded, hoping his confusion was not decorating his expression too clearly.
Thork let out a sinister chuckle, “Very well, warrior. Return to your home immediately.”
Grazzug blinked in confusion. What had he done wrong? “Commander, I—“
“This was not a request. Get back to your hut immediately.” His tone gave no room for argument.
Grazzug watched Thork storm away, then looked to his wolf as she drank from the nearby trough. “Rest your legs a moment, my friend. I shall fill this skin and I guess we’re off for home.”
And it progressed just as so. After filling his stein with simple spring water, Grazzug mounted his loyal wolf and headed into the frontier. He did not live terribly far from the Crossroads, so it was only a matter of time before his hut came into view.
Soon he was encroaching upon his home. The light of fire within illuminating in the twilight hour…
From the confines of the hut came a scream.
Grazzug’s eyes widened ad he ushered the reins of his dire wolf, who was already gaining speed. As they enclosed the screaming only grew louder... and abruptly stopped. Grazzug dismounted by the door, drew his blade and threw aside the furs that were acting as doorway since the ‘incident’ with his last door.
Grazzug’s eyes widened. “No….”
His mate, Ralka, was lying on a cot beset by exhaustion. She looked at him, smiled weakly, and looked again to the fire. Across the chamber was the Old Wolf, Fenrosh, who had placed his four totems about the makeshift table. In the center of the table, wrapped in old linen was a mewling newborn infant. Fenrosh’s aid smiled at Grazzug, speaking her congratulations, as she cleaned up.
Grazzug dropped his blade and went to his mate’s side. He cupped her chin and locked his eyes upon hers. “Are you alright?” he asked with concern.
She nodded, but it was Fenrosh who answered. “She is well enough for a new mother.”
The Old Wolf scooped up the bundled infant and turned to face the couple. He approached Ralka, handing her the newborn “As is the child, Grazzug. Do not fret…”
Grazzug could nor help smile from ear to ear. It was a boy. He would teach him the ways of the world: the hunt, the use of an axe and perhaps even a craft. He swelled with pride knowing that he had a child to his name. He would honor his child and his mate by giving them something to be proud of. He would be the shining beacon of the Horde that he prayed his son would grow to be.
He looked upon his son. He was so small…
Fenrosh smirked. Grazzug had never looked so scared and uncomfortable, yet eager, excited and proud. Fenrosh knew exactly what he was feeling. He too was a father… in another time.
The next morning Grazzug and Ralka met Fenrosh in the Crossroads. Ralka had not let her new boy out of her sights for even a moment since she first held him, and Grazzug could not sleep the night before. He had already studied the infant’s every feature from his teal-blue eyes, inherited from his father, to his little tusks…
Grazzug and Ralka were now to carry out a long lived orcish ritual. He was to present his boy to his people. As the Blackrock Clan were now counted amongst the Dark Horde, enemies of the True Horde under Thrall, he decided to present his boy to those he knew the best.
Stepping up to the base of the Crossroads watch tower, Grazzug looked to Thork. The orc winked at Grazzug knowingly. It seemed that he had known that Ralka was to give birth and sent Grazzug home that he may meet his boy. Grazzug nodded his thanks to the other orc and turned to see the crowd before him.
Grazzug looked into the crowd and spotted his long known friends and his mentor.
Fenrosh nodded to him, then raised his hands. Grazzug mimicked him exactly. He cleared his throat and, after a brief moment of hesitation, spoke the words: “This is my son, Garen, son of Grazzug, grandson of Togrum! I present him to my people, the Horde, and to the spirits for their blessing.”
Though the normal custom during the days of the clans dictated that children receive their blessings from shaman and chieftains of their own clans, for Grazzug this was no option. Instead he waited until Thork and Fenrosh came to his boy’s side and whispered few words of blessing. Fenrosh then took the infant and held him up for the small crowd to see.
“On behalf of Thrall, son of Durotan and warchief of the Horde, I, Fenrosh, do declare that Garen is under the protection of the elements and of the Horde! May he bring his clan and his warchief honor and glory. May he live… For the Horde!”
The proud father led the crowd in their thunderous reply;
“For the Horde!”
#8028491 Jun 23, 2013 at 02:32 PM · Edited 6 years ago
((Wrote this a LONG time ago. Not 100% certain of what the time frame was))
*An Orc sits by the nighttime fire, prodding it slowly and tiredly with a simple branch. The embers flicker, brightening the dark site and illuminating the red soil. The fire also reveals the Orc tending to it... his armor light scalemail, his tabard red and decorated with the symbol of the Orcish Horde, his worn but well cared for runed blade strung over his shoulder, and his face concealed by a black lupine mask, emblazoned with several Orcish runes*
Aka'Magosh, brothers and sisters. Welcome to my camp... as small and pitiful as it may be. If it pleases you, you may have a brief sojourn here. It's good to see one of our kind here in Durotar braving these red, barren lands in the night.
I had been thinking, before you arrived, of my youth. Yes, I know it is foolish to look back on the days of misery and suffering in the wretched human camps, but something else came to mind... the Om'riggor. I had many nights in my youth hearing from the elders of the great first hunt. The rite of adulthood. The elders told of how every Orc, whether male or female, hunter or shaman, would seek out and slay a great horned beast in the wilderness of Nagrand after their twentieth year. That they could do this with no armor or provisions and just a simple weapon... I longed for that reconnection to who we Orcs were, and a way to distance myself from the lethargic wretches locked away in human prisons.
When I was in perhaps my twenty-first year, I joined the many who were freed from the miserable internment camp. I immediately joined the forming New Horde under the son of Durotan, and helped to liberate others from their captivity. Despite this I knew I was no closer to my true adulthood... to true belonging. So for this I sought out one of the elders I had known from the camp, and, I feel no shame in admitting this, I begged to be allowed my hunt... my Om'riggor! The half-blind elder told me he had once been a shaman and that he knew the rites, but with the humans abound and hunting for our people, I had to be patient. And I did wait, but my heart weighed heavily on me. It was little over a year later that the elder returned to me, but he and I were changed Orcs. I had felt bitter and clanless, miserable that I wasn't able to be a true adult or member of the Horde as I knew it... he had rediscovered the spirits who long ago stopped hearing his calls. He arrived in our camp in the mountains just north of Hillsbrad and handed me a dull axe of wood and stone. He gave me his blessing to leave, but told me the ritual was not entirely what it had been... that it may not have the effect it once had. I do not think its formal practice started again until we had settled in Kalimdor after the siege of Theramore. Now pups hunt the earthborer below Orgrimmar.
*The Orc pauses, looking up at the White Lady and Blue Child. He smiles contentedly as his mind retreats into memory*
It was the nights in the mountains that remind me of this night. There's a chill to the air that doesn't come out in the daytime hours. I would camp in the dark hours at the base of the Alterac Mountains, near the ‘fingers’. Those days I survived on berries from the bushes and nothing else, as I couldn't bring provisions... it was part of the original rite. I was alone. It was me and my weapon.
I decided quickly on the animal I sought. A great bear of Hillsbrad was a worthy offering to the spirits. I could've taken a mountain lion or a stag, or traveled far East for a raptor or spider of Arathi, but I chose the bear for its strength and ferocity.
I found the creature around midday after searching for nearly six. The beast was grizzled, showing its age, and was scarred by old battles. I greatly respected that, and I was sure the Spirit of Life would be content allowing the wounded but proud beast to rest in peace. I was young still, and foolhardy, so I stepped into the open and bellowed to the beast.
*The Orc shakes his head, looking toward the East.*
I was foolish and the beast knew that. It charged with speed I had not expected and I was forced to retreat. I had shed human blood before! I had hacked into the great horses they rode and held my own against a full charge of an armored knight! … yet I cowered from the grizzled bear. I told myself it was my lack of armor. I swore to myself I would slay the beast, so I resumed tracking for another day. When next we met I issued my challenge once more. The creature, in some respect for my tenacity, roared back its own challenge. Once more it charged me, but this time I had steeled myself. I ducked to the side and brought up the axe, cleaving into the beast’s chest. The fatal blow was struck. Within a few short minutes the beast toppled over sideways and was no more. In the final moments of its life the beast was calm. I felt it as well and to this day, I believe that… that sensation was the Spirit of Life coming to the creature in its final moments to soothe it and let it know it died for a noble reason.
*The Orc sighs.*
I took the beast’s blood, which continued to pulse out of its dead form. I smeared it over my face and honored the bear for its noble sacrifice. Some of its teeth were taken and used to help form a new necklace. The necklace was a Warsong tradition, I later learned… but I kept it nonetheless.
*The Orc holds up his necklace, which is decorated by charms and ursine teeth.*
It took days for me to return to the Horde camp. It had been moved, you see. It was a sad reality that our combined might in the early days of the struggles against the Durnholde internment system was far from enough to defeat the forces of Lordaeron, Stromgarde and the other kingdoms. The orcs had to be careful and often moved campsites to dodge human patrols and scouting parties. But return I did.
The old shaman who had sent me out in the first place – who had taught me of our people’s old traditions – came out and sampled the blood. No longer being truly of the clans, and with my own people, the Blackrock Clan, being far apart from the New Horde, the traditional induction ceremony was altered. I was sworn in as a full ‘member’ of the Horde and I swore myself to honor the Horde and the warchief.
*The Orc prods the fire.*
Well, that’s my tale. What is yours?
#8223382 Jul 31, 2013 at 10:14 PM · Edited over 5 years ago
((This can count as my July entry, but it's a tad too short and general.))
Grazzug was not a sailor.
It was a thought that crossed his mind dozens of times over the last several weeks. Now, as the wretched vessel he was stuck upon continued to rock on the chaotic waves, he could not help but let the thought come to mind yet again. For several days... weeks even... the Horde had sailed westward through the Great Sea.
It had happened so quickly. Messengers from the warchief arrived in the camp one day, summoning them to Hillsbrad. A vision had come to the son of Durotan. A vision of the future. He spoke of a new land across the sea and had let it be known that it was the Horde’s destiny that awaited on those distant shores. The clans mobilized and gathered in the forests of Lordaeron. As the shoreline was the land of humans, it took some time for the Horde to begin a true effort to depart. Warchief Thrall had been content to wait out the gathering of the clans. This changed when news reached the Horde that the Warsong Clan was ambushed and abducted by the cowardly humans.
After the Horde liberated Grommash Hellscream and his clan, the wise Warsong chieftain suggested that the Horde seize the human navy to venture westward in. It had fit together so perfectly that many of the Orcs swore it to be the intervention of the ancestors.
They no longer thought this.
The Horde had never excelled in naval affairs as a whole. It was even said that during what was now called the Second War that the Horde only used a series of boats propelled by oars, which served as canon fodder to superior Alliance armament. The current situation of the Horde was no better… for within a week of navigating the human vessels, one ship was lost. It had run aground on an island. As time passed and the gallant crews continued their journey, the storms came. Drawing near the infamous Malestrom was a foolhardy act. The Horde fleet was separated in a terrible storm. Grazzug was fortunate, or at least that is what his mate insisted, in crashing on a mysterious island. It was on this isle that the Horde came to meet the Darkspear Trolls. Though monstrous and savage, these lanky beings proved strong enough to earn the Horde’s aid. Even now the Trolls wandered unfamiliar grounds... they were aboard the same vessels the Orcs had commandeered.
Together they fought against the murloc threat. Together they faced the dreaded sea witch. Together they escaped the crumbling Darkspear Isle, and now -together- they ventured to Kalimdor.
...as blood brothers.
((Oh how times change))
#8535216 Oct 05, 2013 at 02:08 AM · Edited over 5 years ago
Grazzug frowned. The trolls had moved into the Southfury Watershed since he had left and now had built a makeshift barricade on the road towards Razor Hill; a road which now stood in his way. He would have circled around it, but the trolls had already taken notice of the seemingly stray orc. So Grazzug approached the barricade. As he drew closer, Grazzug could see the piercing stares of the trolls from behind their skull-like masks of wood and war paint. Over a dozen arrows were notched and a dozen bowstrings were wound back. The trolls watched Grazzug, their arrows trained on him…
Grazzug’s life had become complicated of late. Forced by circumstance, he had been turned against his own people. In fleeing Orgrimmar with his family, he became a prisoner in a crude town built of tents and makeshift walls just outside of Razor Hill. While, by sheer luck, he convinced the trolls to let him leave for the southern continent of Pandaria, where he re-established ties between his warriors and the forces of the Scythe of Sylvanas and Selama Ashal’anore, he now returned to the rank hole in the ground the trolls had placed all Orcish refugees within. Grazzug was not about to abandon his family. The one thing he hadn’t even considered was the idea that the trolls would not let him back in.
A voice sounded from across the makeshift construct, “Who you be?”
The orc looked to his sword, which rested on his back. He would have no need of it. “I come in peace, troll. I have already turned my back from the warchief and only return here now from important business. My family awaits me at Razor Hill.”
There was some murmuring before a large troll propelled itself over the blockade. “I tink I know why you don’t answer, mon.” He approached Grazzug, watching him with vibrant amber eyes that held thinly veiled disdain. “Ya… I know ya wolf mask. I seen it before.”
Grazzug did not respond.
The troll’s features had a bestial quality, his beady amber eyes and whiskered beard made Grazzug realize he might be communing with someone who had been in the wilds too long. He eyed Grazzug as prey. “Ya. You served de Kor’s in de Nordern Barrens. Ya killed some of ma kin.” It started, “Whatchu tinkin’ gonna happen now, huh?”
Grazzug met the troll’s gaze, “You will let me pass to my family.” Feeling the need to explain a bit more thoroughly, he continued. “I served the Horde, yes. I killed those of your rebellion, yes. But I never sought such battle out. I merely followed the orders I was given. I--” The troll had started to cackle, but Grazzug continued undeterred “I followed my orders because they came from the same Horde I have served for my entire life. And even then I kept casualties few. I --”
“I know ya name! I seen it, mon! On ya warchief’s little boards! Ya Grazzug! Some call ya a champion! A Stone Guard! Some even say ya a hero of de Theramore siege! One of de Kor’s boot lickers!” The troll stepped back, calling out; “’e be Grazzug! A servant of de ‘great and illustrious’ warchief! A butcher and a killa! ‘e ordered de deaths of our people!” Trolls on the barricade began to draw back their bowstrings once more. “And ‘e gonna be dead by ma claws.”
The troll dropped to his hands and knees, rapidly taking on the form of a large tiger with a tall and ornate crest and warbraids of strange patterns and colors. The once-troll-now-beast began to stalk towards Grazzug, its teeth bared and its eyes wide in excitement. Grazzug watched it, studying its moves. He did not expect things to deteriorate so quickly… and now it seemed he was in a fight to the death. Grazzug placed his hand on the hilt of his blade and began to draw it.
“Wait!” came another troll’s voice.
The tiger reluctantly halted just short of Grazzug and looked back to the barricade. Another troll had stepped out, a female with long hair bound into three warrior’s braids. Her blue face was painted with a crimson skull and she looked stern at the tiger as she approached. “Vol’jin ain’t Garrosh. We ain’t de Kor’kron. We won’t just kill dis one, regardless ‘is past.” Her gaze fell on Grazzug next, “You be our prisoner now. If what Dazza be sayin’ be true, ya been a Kor’kron yesmon and done deir biddin’ for too long. We Darkspear gonna hold ya accountable. We gonna do dis fairly… ya getting’ word from a council of elders. A trial, maybe.”
Grazzug wasn’t sure what to think of any of this. He was to be tried? For nothing short of loyal service? Fate was proving to be a cruel thing. Ever since the moment he agreed to act against the Kor’kron, his life had been falling apart. Now…
“Dazza. See to it ‘e ain’t gonna struggle.”
Grazzug stared at the troll woman, unsure of what she meant. There was rustling behind him, so he turned to the druid… and quickly understood. A great tusked bear barreled towards him.
Grazzug woke in a daze. He sat up and assessed where he was. As his vision cleared, Grazzug realized he was back in the crude refugee camp. Nearby the Old Wolf was speaking to two figures… Ralka and the troll, Braktar. Upon seeing that Grazzug had awoken, he old shaman’s brow quirked. “You’re awake.”
Ralka and Braktar turned and saw Grazzug had awakened. Within moments Ralka was at Grazzug’s side, helping him up. Braktar sauntered over after Grazzug had gotten to his feet.
“Commandah,” the shadow hunter said with a curt nod.
“What’s happening, Braktar?”
“Looks like ya did some tings ya never told us about. Sendin’ mercenaries into da fields ta guard Kor’kron installations and killin’ ma people.”
So the troll knew. There was no point in lying about it now. “Yes. I deployed token forces of mercenaries into the Northern Barrens. They secured the land for the Kor’kron and destroyed caravans of materials being shipped to the rebellion. Now answer my question, shadow hunter.”
Ralka’s expression turned to one of frustration. “Yes. Answer him or I start tearing out your tusks.”
Braktar stared at Ralka and then looked to Grazzug, his eyes glowing faintly through his mask. The threat was ignored; “De rebellion be plannin’ to siege de city soon. Dey will need more men den what de got and ya got de benefit of ya reputation as a warrior. Dey be debatin’ keeping you alive ta redeem yaself in battle.”
“They wish to conscript me.”
Braktar raised a silencing hand, “No, mon. Dey decidin’ whether ya gonna just get executed or if ya gonna be joinin’ us.” With that the troll turned to leave. “Wish ya de best, mon…. Know if dey choose to take ya life, Bwonsamedi shall have ya soul.”
Grazzug felt the hair on the back of his neck stand on end. Bwonsamedi. He had heard the name before… a troll god of death that curses and imprisons souls in the afterlife. Souls that he may one day find himself joining.
His situation, one he already felt was dire enough, suddenly seemed much… much worse.
#8535283 Oct 05, 2013 at 02:49 AM · Edited over 5 years ago
((When I wrote this one I was challenged to write several cameos from NPCs in the Twilight Highlands. I think I managed to get a few in there. This is set back to when Grazzug did his mentorship quests. They just happened to feature building Horde ties with the Dragonmaw. This was an older draft, as I switched out most of the named NPCs for some of my own creations in later drafts. I just... well can't find the newest drafts. Might have lost them in my last computer format.))
A solitary figure moved slowly through the foul quagmire.
Grazzug had been traveling for days in the chill of the wetlands of Khaz Modan and now knew had had been far from prepared. He had decided to travel light to seek out the Dragonmaw on behalf of his company, the Kalimdor Mercenaries, and now deeply regretted it. His armour was light leathers that were coloured as vibrant oranges and more solemn browns. His helmet had been left behind in favour of his wolf’s pelt hood. Slung over his shoulder was a large bow and quiver, guarded by his shield, and resting in his right hand was his trusted blade. The runes etched upon the surface of his blade shimmered like firelight. He knew that the fog that enshrouded the area was not to his benefit, but to others. It would not have surprised him to find he had been tracked for hours by the local Dwarves.
Grazzug had opted to stay off the roads, hoping that the crocolisk were not hard to avoid and the water wasn’t chilled. The blood on his axe was testament to the former being of ill fortune. One beast thus far bold enough to approach him for its meal. The creature had been large and its maw was no doubt capable of sundering through Grazzug’s weaker armour, but Orc was victorious in the end. The second hope was met with even greater disappointment. The water had been colder than any Grazzug had ever felt... let alone walked waist deep in. His legs were stiff and his arms tired. He knew he had to set up camp and create a fire soon, lest he die of hypothermia or get hacked or mauled to death while too weary to impede an enemy’s attack.
It was near sundown and the hills Grazzug sought seemed like a mirage protruding through the fog. “Perhaps this is it”, the Orc mused. “Perhaps I shall die a dishonourable death in the middle of this wretched swa- -”
There was a sound of splashing water, of footsteps across the damp soil and of someone... or something... coming nearer. Grazzug reached for his shield, taking it in his left. Though not entirely adept with using his large runeblade along with his shield, he would have to manage. The Orc ducked down into a defensive crouch and held his shield at the ready. The forces around him were silent now. Grazzug would not tolerate such cowardice. He stood at his full height and roared “Come forth, cowards! Face the might of the Horde and know your end. Lok’tar Ogar!”
And they did. Tall figures enshrouded by the mist stepped forward. They were not entirely visible, but the shapes of swords, of axes, and of spears were ample evidence enough that they sought to do him harm. They were armed and advancing now. Grazzug stepped back away from their advance, tallying their numbers and dreading the inevitable end. Ambushed in the middle of Alliance lands... what honour was there in that?
There was a sound... a familiar twang. An arrow had just been fired from behind him. Before the warrior could turn and perhaps block in the incoming arrow with his great shield, it struck the back of his shoulder. Grazzug stumbled forward, dropping to his knees. They had hit the nerves and he knew it. No longer could he hold his shield. Even worse, the stabbing pain or the arrow was not all he felt. There was a feeling creeping from the wound, enveloping his body. Poison... Grazzug’s eyes began to water, his vision began to blur; no longer could he even control his own body. He fell forward with a violent thud and everything went black.
“Horde dogs. Mor'Ghor will want to see this one. Get a move on! We need a cart ready so we get this wretch over to the port!” echoed a gruff voice... then Grazzug heard no more.
The blurred image of what appeared to be bones greeted Grazzug as he regained consciousness. He was alive, but unsure if that were any better than the alternative. It was a grave dishonour to be captured by an opponent as he had. An opponent he still knew nothing of. His enemies had not removed his armour but his weapons were gone. And despite their dishonourable greeting, the strange and mysterious opposition had bandaged his shoulder. As his eyes improved, his original guess was proven true. Massive bones surrounded him, forming the bars of a cage. The wood he lied upon was weathered and stained with blood of different variants, though mainly black and red. By the rumbling under him, Grazzug knew he was moving. He was to be delivered somewhere then. “So be it,” he sneered, sitting up and looking around. The leather tarp that covered his cage was ragged and torn in several spots. Grazzug would use this to his advantage. He inched over to a tear and took in his surroundings.
What he beheld was not the Wetlands of Khaz Modan. Instead the Orc had a glimpse of what seemed to be a new world entirely. Vibrant grasses, high hills, leonine gryphons taking flight above him, and the echoes of hostile bellowing in the distance.
“Dragons,” came a voice from the front of the cart, as if sensing Grazzug’s curiosity. It was a familiar voice. The gruff voice he had heard before he lost consciousness. Grazzug peered forward to see the leather tarp lifted to reveal to ashen skinned Orcs. On the driver’s back Grazzug saw a large black mark literally burned into the his flesh, but what it was could not be told as it was covered by the gray Orc’s shirt. The other stared cautiously at Grazzug with yellowed eyes. He looked bitter, tired and altogether unpleasant. “You are in the highlands, Greenskin. You are in the domain of the Dragonmaw.”
Grazzug was confounded. Here were allies of the Horde imprisoning him and dragging him off to some undisclosed location. There was clearly some sort of miscommunication amidst. “This land is the Twilight Highlands? If you are truly Dragonmaw, then I am your ally! I was sent here by my commander to lend you my aid. To earn your people’s respect!”
The two Orcs at the head of the cart looked at each other in mutual confusion. The driver murmured something and the other nodded. “Mor’Ghor would never bow his head to the Horde. Nor shall your Horde ever see our respect. The warchief rules our forces and our people. He shall be the one who brings us glory!”
Grazzug was awed by the uninformed fools. He had heard of Mor’Ghor’s death in lands across the Great Sea, yet these two had heard of nothing? Perhaps the Dwarves prevented communication. Perhaps the great Dragonmaw Gate had been closed too long. Grazzug knew what to do. He inched toward his captors and with a wily grin proclaimed “Your ‘warchief’ lies dead. Horde blades, arrows and spells saw to that. Your clan is now pure of blood. The demon taint is long gone, and you should rejoice it!”
Once more the Orcs looked to one another for something... some confirmation neither had. The second turned back to Grazzug, quickly masking his confusion with an expression of stern annoyance. “You lie! Our master, Gorfax Angerfang, would’ve heard of the warchief’s death! If you want us to believe for even a second all this filth, then tell me, wretch, who has taken the place of Mor’Ghor?”
“The one they now call their battle-maiden is Zaela of the Dragonmaw. She is a warlord of the Horde and your chieftain.” Grazzug replied, his tone boisterous.
“Zaela? That miserable thing? Never.” the ash-skin hesitantly growled. “Never.” He repeated more confidently. The Orc shook his head, taking the tarp once more and covering Grazzug’s cell.
Grazzug sat in his cage for what seemed to be hours. The only encouraging things he heard were the unsettled murmurs of his captors. Perhaps they would come to believe his words. They were true after all. It had been weeks – months, even – since the fel-blood Dragonmaw were purged and the Dragonmaw secured as allies of the Horde. However, until his two captors realized that Grazzug was no foe... he would remain in their custody weaponless and bitter.
Time passed by slowly and the two at the head of the cart continued to whisper to one another. Now and then Grazzug could hear little remarks but most were idle gossip. The driver, who Grazzug now knew was called Tavorr, was eager to see family again and to speak to someone named Narkrall. The Orc who had actually spoken to Grazzug was Roglut, and he continually mentioned a chain of some sort. At some point the group had reached a downward slant and the terrain became rocky. Grazzug could hear the flows of water nearby and moved to the edge of the cage. Glancing through a tear in the sheeting he saw that they had dropped into what must have been a river.
“We shouldn’t be down in the Verrall like this, Tavorr. You know Thundermar is just northeast. They might see us! If I die because of you I swear gol’kosh that I shall be the one to end your miserable life!” Grazzug judged by the Orc’s worried tone and by the name ‘Thundermar’ that they had ended the fringes of a Dwarven settlement. If the Dwarves attacked they’d find him unarmed and unprepared for battle. It would be a dishonourable end if there ever was one. This could not come to pass.
Grazzug rose into a crouch and assessed his situation. One of his legs was manacled into the cart. That was all the ash-skins thought of his strength? Grazzug seized the chain holding him down and put as much force as he possibly could into pulling it upward, hoping to dislodge it. He had no such luck. Perhaps he was wrong about the... another tug. This time the nails rose, the metal plate loosened.
“Quiet back there!” sounded Roglut’s voice.
Grazzug was indeed quiet. He moved in silence now, pulling out each of the four nails that held his chain in position. Now that he was free, Grazzug began to study the construction of his cage. It was lax in its construction. Dragon bones tied vertically to form a largely lidless cage and covered in a leather tarp, which was likely made from the same beast as the bones of the cage. The cart below was old and weathered wood, which would only add to the ease of escape.
“Look there, Roglut!” called Tavorr. “ It’s the Drakeflayer. Do you not see him? Right there! It is Torg.” He continued.
Next came Roglut’s voice. “That is him. Is he coming toward us? Slow us down, Tavorr.” And he did. The cart came to a gradual halt.
Grazzug heard the beating of great wings and a menacing roar. Moving quickly, the orc began to push against one of the bones acting as his prison. A dragon was here and he knew he could do little to face such a foe in his current state. It would not budge. Wind began to pick up from the outside and the tarp over Grazzug’s cell began to flutter. Not to compromise himself, Grazzug yielded in his attempts to escape and sat down where he had before. He tucked the chain against the wall and waited for the inevitable.
Within moments the tarp had blown off of the cage. Before the three Orcs was a true horror. Tattered webbed wings folded onto the ebon scaled body of the black drake. Its elongated neck stretched out within feet of Tavorr, baring its teeth in a snarl and slavering acrid saliva. Its spiked tail thrashed behind it in a sign of anger. Saddled on its back was a massive Orc. He was ashen skinned like the Dragonmaw and bore their mark on both of his visible arms. The rest of the Orc was covered in Dark Iron armour trimmed with red plating. His helm was pointed and bound to his belt was a great spined whip. This Orc, Torg Drakeflayer he was called, sneered at his allies. “You shame the Dragonmaw, whelps. Six couriers were sent to that foul bog you call home and Angerfang only sends the two of you? And what in the ancestor’s name is that one doing in the cage?”
Tavorr stood and saluted his comrade. “Angerfang has not received word from any such courier, great one. We are here to deliver this Horde prisoner to Mor’Ghor at the port. We – “The thunderous roar of Torg’s drake silenced Grazzug’s captor. The Orc himself looked no more amused. “You took a Horde prisoner, did you? Damned fools! Mor’Ghor’s taint is gone. He’s little more than a bloated corpse cast outside the walls of the new port and our people live in the service of Hellscream and his Horde for better or worse. I should damn well feed you to this wretched lizard for your insolence!” The large Orc dismounted from his drake, which stayed still and silent. The new arrival calmly strolled over to Grazzug’s prison. “Greetings, Horde brother. I am Torg Drakeflayer ofthe true Dragonmaw. I trust these two did not inconvenience you too greatly?”
Grazzug pulled himself up to his feet and stepped over to the edge of his cage. “They brought me here so I cannot say it was all that terrible. I did seek the leadership of the Dragonmaw Clan to offer my blade.” He gestured to his sword, which now rested in a sheath over Torgut’s shoulder. The gray Orc darkened. He quickly untied the sheath and shoved it between the bones of the cage before looking back to Torg Drakeflayer.
“You are free then, brother. I am sure Zaela wouldn’t mind your timely aid... even if your blood is not Dragonmaw. At least your blood seems pure.” The Orc drew up his whip and pointed it toward his drake. The creature drew closer and tore free two of the bones that forged Grazzug’s cage. It then stepped back with a glare on its features.
Grazzug leapt out of his cage and stretched. In scanning the area he confirmed that he was in the drying remains of a formerly large river. To the North was the charred remains of a township and to the South East was what seemed to be a fortress. The fort was surrounded by a wooden palisade and coated with dragon scales. It was likely a Dragonmaw base of operations.
“Bloodgultch. That is your destination, brother. Gregorr, our clan healer, is there tending to the wounded of a recent attack. He has the ear of Warlord Zaela and may have tasks for you. I shall be taking these miserable wretches to the Crucible of Carnage. Perhaps they can honour the Dragonmaw with their demise.”
Tavorr and Roglut looked astounded, terrified and about ready to flee the scene. Perhaps they would have by now had a large drake not been staring them down. It was no matter. Grazzug now had been given his opening into the lines of the Dragonmaw and soon would bring honour to his fellows and the Horde. ***
Grazzug sat on the step while Gregorr examined the arrow wound. “It was not properly cared for. It looks to be in the early stages of infection.” The Orc reached into his ragged brown robe and pulled out some bandaging. “Nothing that cannot be mended.” The Dragonmaw’s medicine man tossed the bandages to another ash-skinned Orc that stood near the door. The Orc rushed out of the building only to return mere moments later with similar bandages. The new bandages were damp and looked unlike any fresh bandage Grazzug had ever seen. Seeing this confused expression, Gregorr smirked. “These are unused bandages. I assure you that. These types of bandages have seen great use over the last twenty or so years. We ran out of our supply at the port and these are some of our last ones here.” Gregorr took the bandages from the Dragonmaw guard, who then moved to gate where he had been prior. “These bandages were steeped in the blood of red dragons long ago when our clan was proud and dwelled within Grim Batol. The reds were naturally attuned to life and this gift went down to their very blood. The healing property of these bandages is greater than any other kind.”
Grazzug stared at the bandaging, “The Horde are allies of that same flight. I would say by my honour that they would never approve of this.”
“Of course not. But I am not about to tell them. Gol’kosh, you Horde are timid. The fact you even survived the your venture here is a wonder.” As he began to apply a salve to Grazzug’s wound his jaundiced eyes met Grazzug’s. “Do you want to be cured or not? If you have a damn mind just stay still and let me work.”
Grazzug would not contest the other Orc’s point. He wanted his arm to recover, obviously, and the sooner, the better. With this in mind he nodded, “Dabu.”
Gregorr worked quickly and effectively. By the time his wound was fully covered by the blood-infused bandaging, Grazzug felt eerily relaxed and yet elated. He could swear he felt the wound healing. Grazzug lied back against the steps and sighed. Gregorr looked knowingly at him before leaving the main structure to tend to the other wounded once more.
It had been hours, perhaps even days, since Grazzug had stood. But he could remain still no longer. The warrior rolled out of his cot, rubbed at his neck and stood to his full height. Nearby an ashen skinned child smiled around his tusks at the sight of the waking warrior. The boy had been polishing the warrior’s armor. For what purpose Grazzug did not know, but he was not going to tolerate someone handling his armor in such a manner. He looked to the child and bared his teeth in a snarl. The child startled, dropped the gauntlet he had been holding, and fled the hut.
As he equipped his armor, Grazzug noticed that he no longer felt any of his earlier injuries. The blood-steeped bandages were no doubt an asset to the Dragonmaw and Grazzug actually felt faint regret knowing that they were limited. Now that he felt no pain aside from the pangs of hunger and thirst, and now that he had his armaments on his person once again, he knew he could continue on his journey to the port. He stepped down the stairs and into the main chamber of the building. All around him were more ashen gray orcs, watching his movements and studying his appearance. Grazzug supposed that these Dragonmaw orcs had rarely, if ever, seen someone like him by their apparent fascination. A green-skinned orc with a lupine mask and heavy plated armor... a far change from the gray flesh and scaled armor of the Dragonmaw.
Before he could make it to the exit of the inn, a voice called out. “You are of the Horde.” It was a female. “I have seen the opening of a great and terrible maw, the rise of hellish fires, shapeless horrors coming forth, and the tides of change coming forth. All of this... and you are from the Horde.”
Grazzug turned around to behold a woman. She was paler then her kin, with a shaved head aside from a long braided ponytail. Her features were sharp with deepening wrinkles. She was leaning on her staff, eying Grazzug with her one good eye. Grazzug narrowed his eyes at the speaker; “And you have a point, woman? I am from the Horde. Let that be known. And let it be known that I am also of the Kalimdor Mercenaries, serving under the command of the honorable Daguluaga.”
She snorted. “I know who you are, Grazzug of the Horde. I have seen all that the spirits permit. I am called Mallia, seer of the Dragonmaw. Many of my clan come before me for my words, yet you shirk them.”
Grazzug cleared his throat, taken aback by the revelation of the orc’s station. Before he could utter his apology, she raised a hand to silence him. “You have shirked my words, but they are no less true. The great maw has opened and the shadows creep to the surface. But you... these things are not your most notable concerns, are they? You seek to earn station amongst us. You seek the Battle-Maiden of the Dragonmaw. She is riding back from The Gullet. The greatest warrior of our vanguard, Narkal, has fallen in a foolish skirmish in the Dwarven city of Thundermar. He and his riders have fallen, and Narkal’s mighty drake, Torth, had taken up arms against the Dragonmaw in the wake of this.
The seer extended her hand, causing the outside air to surge into the hut. She grinned a cruel grin and eyed the warrior. “She makes her ‘triumphant’ return even now. Be ready, for she is cross right now. Her intent was forcing the drake back into our services, but she has failed. Torth’s corpse accompanies her from the Bloodgultch to the Gullet.”
Grazzug knew that soon he would bring honor to the Kalimdor Mercenaries and to the Horde. He only needed to meet with the battle-maiden of the Dragonmaw and survive whatever trials were laid before him.
((Set not terribly long after Grazzug was locked up in the shantytown to await the trolls’ decision. He takes a moment to think about his situation and what he is thankful for. My November contest entry.))
Grazzug watched the other orcs of the ‘New Orgrimmar’ shantytown. What he saw, in many cases, was hauntingly familiar. Sour expressions, slumped shoulders and weariness.
He pondered for a moment why it was so familiar. It did not long for him to realize how he had known. He had not only seen it in his youth within the internment camps of Lordaeron, but now as well in the reflection off of his current bottle of bourbon.
Grazzug too felt… tired. He felt as though the weight on his shoulders had gotten become even greater. He felt he could no longer stand to live with the burden. But that was exactly what he would do. He would live with it. It was not like the Darkspear would release him any time soon. Instead they debated. Would Grazzug be armed and thrust into battle to die against the True Horde he once served or would he have his head mounted outside Razor Hill for his services to that same Horde?
The only strength he found in the maddeningly monotonous days was dredged up for his family. Garen was a child now, but he had yet to be hardened by life. At first he was excited by the journey south (aside from the parts where he had been transformed into a frog) and had thought he was on an adventure. But that would only last the first few days. Now he often begged and pled to go back to Orgrimmar… back home. He wanted to see his things again and wanted to sleep in his cot rather than on a bedroll on the hard terrain of Durotar. That was not going to happen any time in the near future, Grazzug knew, so he concocted ways to keep the boy distracted. He gave Garen a dull wooden ‘sword’ he had fashioned from sticks and sent him against the 'monstrous' beetles and wild lizards that would stray into the camp. Grazzug would also send the boy to the Old Wolf, who would tell Garen the old stories that Grazzug himself spent many years hearing. It was a joy to see the same enthusiasm he once felt reflected in his son’s eyes.
The Old Wolf was stoic as always. He acted as a sort of spiritual leader for the refugees, calling on the spirits to aid the poor misbegotten lot and the elements to keep them safe. The shaman only ever seemed to have his resolve diminish when he sensed dark powers at work, for it meant many shaman yet acted against the path that shaman were to follow.
As for Ralka…
Aside from the pleasant company she provided, Ralka also managed to assuage his doubts and despair from time to time. Grazzug often reciprocated when she was feeling at a loss. It was a strange quid pro quo, but it was working for them. Ralka kept Grazzug from slipping too far into the depths of his lethargy and he did the same for her.
Last of all, the orc commander felt some inkling of pride for his warriors that survived. They performed their contracts honorably and well… even the goblins (other than Strakk, he reminded himself). The trolls especially did their tribe a great honor. They performed well at arms and served well. Yanzal, Huuza, Braktar… even that moronic chatterer, Truzzak, had been serving not only the Kalimdor Mercenaries, but the Horde as well. Not Hellscream’s “True Horde” but the true and honorable one built on the tenets that Thrall had laid forth alongside Ogrim Doomhammer. Grazzug could see that now…
The trolls re-affirmed every day that Grazzug had made the right call. He kept his own safe from the Kor’kron’s firing lines to the best of his ability. Did that mean he had to cause rebel blood to be shed in the Kor’kron’s service for a time? Yes. Did he have to guard installations commanded by the Kor’kron? Yes. And Grazzug knew that he would do so again if it would keep the warriors in his service safe. He wondered to himself if this was how a chieftain felt about his clan… if Blackhand or Grommash or Kilrogg had ever felt this same protective impulse. He almost found himself smiling at the thought. Chieftain...
Grazzug glanced toward the nearby hill that oversaw the camp. There sat the white-crested tiger, Dazza, the feral troll and supposed ‘druid,’ who watched and waited.
...and like every other time that wretched cat perched itself there Grazzug found himself thankful for one last thing…
#8752695 Nov 23, 2013 at 04:34 PM · Edited over 5 years ago
Grazzug laughed, “You think you can defeat me? Even now? There’s confidence, goblin, and then there’s stupidity.”
Kezzik was undeterred. “Lord of the Arena.”
Grazzug glanced downward, assessing the situation. “You think that will save you? The Black Knight.”
The goblin winced. “Well, uh….”
Grazzug was altogether pleased with how things were unfolding. He reached down to snatch up his ale and took a drink. As he returned his attention to the situation at hand he blinked. “What just – ?”
“Sylvanas, boyo. And ya know what? A fireball for extra effect.”
Grazzug blinked. It couldn’t be… the only way he could… “Arcanite Reaper and battle axe. I kill the witch. Kor’kron elite kills my damn Black Knight, and the champion strikes you for seven.”
The goblin’s lips parted, revealing rows of long sharp teeth. “Sure about that boss?”
Grazzug snorted. “I’m always sure.”
“Okay, boss. Now here’s where ya get schooled.”
The orc looked up, regarding his foe.
“Ya activated my trap card. Ya got nothin’ to taunt me with now, do ya? And yer hit with yer reaper? Totally shattered your armor.”
Grazzug glanced down and frowned. The goblin was right… he should have struck Kezzik personally, not left it to the human. Maybe he’d been drinking too much to think clearly?
The goblin regarded the situation before looking at Grazzug with that obnoxious goblin grin. “Fireball.”
“Yer dead boss. Eesh… if only the real Garrosh was so easy to beat.”
Grazzug looked down at the Hearthstone table. He had lost.
“Shouldn’t beat yerself up too much, boss. This is your second game and I may or may not rig the decks…”
Kezzik would regret that statement when he woke hours later with a sizeable lump on his forehead and the shattered table resting around him. His first thought upon waking up was, ‘That table cost my ten gold.’
#8890017 Dec 27, 2013 at 04:57 PM · Edited over 5 years ago
Grazzug’s eyes wandered the large open hall of the Razor Hill Barracks. He stood within the central ring, while the crowds stood around it, separated only by simple fencing. The crowd was surprisingly large… which left Grazzug feeling very exposed under their gazes. Trolls, elves, goblins, tauren and other orcs surrounded him. Some he recognized, like Corrag, Kezzik Nitris, who sat next to Harpo Horrowitz on a tarp hanging above the crowd, or Agrol Scarblade – he was clearly recognized as others in the crowd had recoiled from him – and even the Old Wolf. Grazzug was sure Ralka was in the crowd as well, but he could not catch sight of her. As for the others? He knew few of them.
By the roars and jeers spouted from some of the crowd and the calls for acquittal from the others, Grazzug knew that they had known him well enough.
The orc remained silent, thankful for the presence of his armor and weapon. If anyone decided he should not live, Grazzug would be defended against their onslaught. It would even be a glorious death to be vanquished by a such a charge. Surrounded… unmanned…. Yes, there was potential for glory.
The crowd fell silent. A series of trolls, armored in dark red leathers and with eyes glowing faintly, entered the room and encircled the orc. Following them were two Revantusk laborers who carried in a lengthily stone bench.
The sounds of beating drums began to echo from the city outside. Another regiment was departing for the front lines, the orc concluded… but was proven wrong when the drummer entered the hall, where he positioned himself a short distance behind the bench. Next came Grazzug’s judges…
First to enter was an ancient, gangly troll with patches of pockmarked skin made clear by his scant dress. The troll was garbed solely in an ornate loincloth and waistband, from which dangled a series of what appeared to be shrunken human heads, as well as a long, but tattered poncho. His mouth was covered by a cloth, which his tusks unceremoniously protruded from, and on the elders back were a series of strange totems dangling from a large knapsack, which was otherwise filled with skulls and strange icons. The troll positioned itself in the center of the bench and nodded to the orc. This weathered troll was the witch doctor, Al’takkish.
Second to enter was a taller and far broader troll. This one, a warrior, was garbed in heavy plate armor of troll make and positioned himself at the left hand of the witch doctor. He issued Grazzug an orcish salute. A sign of a warrior’s respect.
The third of the council entered in a long green robe, adorned with skulls and wearing a hood… and a wooden mask that covered much of his face. The troll grasped an ornate staff, a serpent ward of sorts by its cobra design. This troll did not acknowledge Grazzug as he sat at the witch doctor’s right hand.
Dazza’jal entered next. How the troll managed to get onto this council, Grazzug was still unsure… but it was damning to see. The now-scarred savage druid trudged into the room and practically collapsed onto the bench. He had not yet fully recovered from his battle with Grazzug nearly a fortnight before.
The drummer finished and the elderly witch doctor stood. After a long proclamation – spoken in Zandali – he looked to Grazzug, “Ya be de orc, Grazzug. Ya been ‘ere for some time, ya? Ya waitin’ fa de judgement of de Darkspear? De council be speakin’ long time about ya, orc. Any last ting ta say?”
Grazzug shook his head, “I live and I die for the Horde and for my men. I enacted Hellscream’s will because I was oathbound to him and my warriors, those of Darkspear blood, were in his hands. I was once proud of my warchief, but he must be stopped. I would help to mete out justice upon him for his crimes.”
The warrior elder nodded, but the others remained still.
The witch doctor rose his hand, “One of de original council now be on de field, aidin’ de cause by sheddin’ Kor’kron blood. ‘er vote be known ta de council. She’d have ya dead. Now I be callin’ on de uddas ta vote!”
The warrior stood, “You be fightin’ for ya people. Ya lived to de oaths ya swore and only knew to break ‘em when de “warchief” went too far. You wouldn’t sacrifice ya own to Hellscream’s lust for troll blood, so I be knowin’ ya have honor. HE LIVES!”
The witch doctor nodded, “We spoke much, Grazzug. I like ya… but dere be too much troll blood on ya hands, mon. HE DIES!”
The robed troll stood and regarded Grazzug. After a moment’s hesitation, he turned to the crowd; “HE LIVESsss!”
Grazzug could practically feel his head parting from his shoulders when he saw Dazza’jal stand. The troll glared at him as he made his way to his feet, “I be de one who put dis troll killa ‘ere. I would have his ‘ead for what he did to de Darkspear Tribe… but he spared my life. He saw me to de healers at his risk. I cannot issue for his death, but I won’t let ‘im just walk away... I ABSTAIN! I AIN’T VOTING!”
The crowd broke into commotion quickly and the council looked between one another in apparent disbelief. Grazzug felt completely taken aback at the revelation, but… the vote was tied. What was going to happen now?
It took quite some time for the trolls to get the crowd under control. As the guards did so, the witch doctor approached Grazzug and only stopped mere steps away. The troll was so close that Grazzug could make out his milky yellow eyes. Not letting his unease show, Grazzug regarded the old troll. “Well? What happens now?”
The old with doctor broke out into a squawking laugh. “Well, mon, we gonna have ta do anudda vote… and it gonna be after de siege be finished.”
Grazzug would have no more of it, “No. There must be another way to settle this!”
Al’takkish looked around the chaos of the hall, “Yes… yes, de docta has an alternative for ya. Trial by combat. An’ we got someone already waitin’ for ya if you so choose it.”
Grazzug’s first instinct was to hoist up his axe and roar for battle, but something gave him pause. They already had someone who had volunteered for engage him? He glanced towards ‘Dazza’… was the druid the one? Had he not already learned not to challenge Grazzug’s strength? The warrior cast those thoughts from his mind, “I will take trial by combat.”
Al’takkish nodded, “I see. Gonna go out in de orcish way, den. Well, ‘e gonna be happy ta know ya choice.”
The witch doctor moved to the center of the room and raised his hands into the air, “Bruddas! Sistahs! Dere be a change o’ plans! De council ‘as proved unable ta reach deir decision… but dis don’t mean de trial be ova! No, no! Grazzug be issuin’ for a trial by combat!
There was a commotion at the entrance.
The witch doctor continued, “And de Darkspear be thankful dat great Bwonsamedi has spared dis challenger for so long ‘gainst treachery and de dark plots of dis world…”
The commotion grew louder.
“Dis challenger who has a grudge ta bear, whedda for true cause or not….”
A call sounded from the parting crowd in a voice Grazzug had not heard in nearly a year, “MAK’GORA!”
Though the arrival looked thinner and more battle-scarred than he had remembered him, Grazzug would recognize Dargeth Armbreaker anywhere.
**** Dargeth had clearly known exactly what he was doing. It was nearly an hour after what should have been Grazzug’s sentencing that he arrived back at the Razor Hill Barracks. There the crowd was reforming. As he entered the center ring of the room, he saw that Dargeth had shed his armor in favor of a few ceremonial trappings.
Grazzug glanced downward. Since this was a Mak’gora, he too shed his armor in favor of a simple harness, his cowl, a loincloth, some simple leather straps, and his axe. No, he corrected himself… it was Dargeth’s axe. He had held the weapon in the other orc’s honor, thinking him dead. Now Grazzug stood opposite of him, the orc he succeeded as commander of the Kalimdor Mercenaries, and who he had once thought of as a friend. It was a disconcerting thought. Grazzug remembered Dargeth’s strength, his severity and his skill at arms. Even if he looked a bit lighter, this didn’t mean he was any less formidable. That Grazzug had been, until recently, stuck in a camp with little opportunity to train only worried him more.
Dargeth finished a series of practice swings before looking in Grazzug’s direction. “Are you so surprised, son of Togrum? To see me living?”
“I-I-I am,” Grazzug caught himself stammering, “Kerorn delivered to me your rent armor and this axe. He t—“
Dargeth burst into laughter, “Still holding to your little ruse, Grazzug? I always thought deceit was below you… but I guess I’m still learning who you truly are.”
Grazzug snarled, “What are you going on about!?”
Dargeth looked to the forming crowd outside the ring; “Grazzug!” he roared, “Did you not think I’d learn of your treachery eventually?” The burgeoning crowd went quiet. Many present, some of the mercenaries included, looked at Dargeth and waited for him to continue. The former commander grinned, knowing he now had an enraptured audience. “Grazzug! You arranged for me to be abducted from the Jade Forest! You arranged it so I would be out of the picture… just so you could swoop in and take my position!”
Grazzug was taken aback. What was happening… “What are you talking about!?” he repeated.
Dargeth swung his blade in a wide, dramatic arc, pointing it in Grazzug’s direction. “You then turned on Dacks Farshot! You attacked him and his companions and forced them away… hell, you may have killed them!”
“Nope! Still alive” came a call from the crowd. Some of the Horde parted to reveal Kezzik Nitris. “Yeah… it was just a pretty thorough beating, and we kinda had it coming. Admittedly, we were destroying the K.M.G. and I was sorta robbing the coffers and I’m pretty sure Dacks was skimming off the top too.”
Dargeth ignored the interruption, “And after I was gone, he sold out – MY – Mercenaries to the Kor’kron!” Boos and jeers sounded from the crowd; “He sat at their boots and wagged his tail like a pup begging for scraps!
Grazzug had enough, “You are lying! I did not arrange for you to be attacked and I did not sell out! I served the Horde! They told me you had been reported as being seen amongst the Alliance. They called you traitor!”
Dargeth roared, “You call ME a traitor!?”
Grazzug had no time to reply nor explain, for Dargeth was already on him. The former commander had swung his blade right at Grazzug’s neck, but Grazzug barely managed to duck the blow. He then parried when Dargeth thrust his blade forward. The two closed distance again, striking their blades together time and time again. Neither could lay a hit.
The crowd had filed in completely by this point. Grazzug could feel dozens of eyes on him, but had no time to react. He was fighting for his life and, apparently, his position. “Dargeth! I did not betray you! I would never have!”
Dargeth’s reply came through his blade arcing down towards Grazzug’s head. He clearly meant for a brutal death… but Grazzug had no intention of dying. He ducked aside and thrust his axe forward and the spiked tips he augmented into the weapon struck Dargeth’s unarmored flesh. If he had not recoiled so quickly, Grazzug would have completely incapacitated him. Dargeth observed his former ally’s handiwork, “Not bad. Not bad… but lets see how you handle this!” He lunged forward, going for a horizontal arc. Grazzug moved his axe to parry the wound, only for Dargeth to drop his feint and punch Grazzug dead in the face.
Grazzug stumbled back. His vision was blurred, but he could make out just enough to know to leap aside. He next found himself on the matted floor, hearing the shattering of the nearby fencing under the force of Dargeth’s strike. Grazzug quickly got to his feet and turned quickly, only to parry another blow.
“For every day I languished under your torturer’s hands, I will cut you a dozen times. For every prodding! For every burn! I will carve you apart!” Dargeth rushed forward again, this time dropping low and swinging in a wide arc for Grazzug’s legs.
Grazzug recoiled further, “Dargeth. I would never have done that to you!”
Dargeth pressed again, striking at Grazzug’s chest only to be parried and kicked back. “What?” he rasped. “Would you have just killed me and taken my head?”
“Yes!” Grazzug roared. “I would never had you killed through subterfuge! No warrior with a semblance of honor would!”
Dargeth swung again. This time Grazzug dodged too slowly and Dargeth’s blade made a long, superficial gash along Grazzug’s upper arm. “You LIE!!!”
Grazzug assessed his wound briefly before striking back. His vision was becoming clouded with blood fury, “You vanished and your fool goblin was destroying us! I only returned from active duty to save the mercenaries! To salvage our organization! I waited for you to return!”
Dargeth would have none of it. He resumed his increasingly wild charge, arcing his blade back and forth. Grazzug parried the third strike and riposted, striking Dargeth’s ribs and biting in deep. This only fueled the other orc’s rage and the next onslaught set Grazzug on the retreat once more.
The two traded blows for several long minutes before Grazzug stumbled backwards and crashed onto his back. Looking downcast, he realized that he had tripped on a fragment of the broken fence… and he cursed his miserable luck. Before he could stand, Dargeth was upon him. The former commander’s blade rested against Grazzug’s chest.
Dargeth looked exultant, “And now, Grazzug… for all you have done… for good or ill…. You meet your end!” He raised his blade high and brought it down! Acting quickly, Grazzug spun onto his side, bringing up his axe and… striking Dargeth’s hand as it brought down the blade that would have ended Grazzug’s life.
The crowd fell silent.
Grazzug staggered to his feet and looked to see Dargeth’s blade lying on the matted floor… his bloody fingers trailing toward it. Dargeth clutched his hand, cursing his ancestors for his now severed digits. Grazzug took a moment to catch his breath, but Dargeth would not be stopped. The orc rushed to his weapon and knelt to collect it.
“STOP!” called a voice from the audience.
Fenrosh stepped forward, up to the ring. “No, son of Gar’thek. You issued this mak’gora. You shall adhere to its rules. Your weapon is lost.”
Dargeth looked momentarily confused, but then nodded. It was his challenge. He dictated it would be a battle in the old way. He accepted it.
Grazzug and Dargeth returned to the positions from which they started. “Tell me truthfully, Grazzug. Did you?”
Grazzug shook his head, “No. By my honor I would never have betrayed you.”
Dargeth nodded… before charging. Grazzug moved to swing his axe, but Dargeth caught it by the haft. Dargeth tugged at the weapon, but Grazzug held his grip and tugged back. As Dargeth was thrust forward, Grazzug kneed him in the stomach. He then brought back the axe and thrust it forward.
The blades of the axe head struck into Dargeth’s chest and he was sent stumbling backwards. He fell back, grasping at one of the wounds. Grazzug approached his comrade, “You are an honorable orc, Dargeth. A mighty warrior who did his ancestors proud. I am sorry it had to be this way.”
Dargeth looked to him, “W-will… you… will you fight?”
Grazzug nodded, “Hellscream will fall. The Kalimdor Mercenaries stand with the revolution.”
Dargeth smiled, blood leaking down from his mouth. He used what seemed to be the remainder of his energy to pound his chest in an orcish salute. “F-f-f… for... the Hor-Horde.” he rasped.
Grazzug inclined his head. “For the Horde.”
Grazzug raised his axe into the air, his grip holding firm despite the black blood coating the axe haft. Dargeth retracted his arm from his chest and roared as the axe fell and cleaved into his chest.
When Grazzug pulled the blade free, he nearly lost his balance. He dropped the axe aside and collected Dargeth’s sword, which he rested next to his old friend. He then sat next to the body, sitting and breathing raggedly. Ralka approached him first and held him, keeping him from collapsing entirely. Next to come over was Corrag and the Old Wolf, the latter of which began to heal his wounds.
Though his world was spinning Grazzug recognized a strange goblin in a dusty brown robe as he approached Dargeth and placed a gold piece over each of his eyes. The goblin had known Dargeth and was saying his farewells. He then turned to Grazzug and nodded respectfully before talking away.
Al’takkish was next to approach from the crowd. “De grudge between ya and de fallen son of Gar’thek be settled. A shame ‘e fell.” The witch doctor then turned to the audience around them, “As deir grudge be settled, so it ours! De Darkspear release Grazzug o’ de Blackrock Clan! An’ we welcome de blades of ‘is mercenaries ta de cause!”
Grazzug’s head dipped. His imprisonment was over. His trial was over and he stood triumphant, but so much was lost. The Kor’kron killed many of his men in their betrayal, many more died in battle against the Kor’kron while fighting to aid the revolution… now even Dargeth lay dead. The war meted out death and destruction on a wide and bloody scale… and Grazzug would see it end.
There would be blood for blood.
Life for life…
#8890023 Dec 27, 2013 at 04:59 PM · Edited over 5 years ago
The axe of Dargeth Armbreaker sang as it rent armor and flesh and bone. Each swing drenching it in thick, black and bloody gore.
Grazzug had told his allies and his mercenaries that this was no joyous day, and he had meant it. But as a warrior his heart sang with each blow he delivered against the Kor’kron of Orgrimmar. Each blow delivered yet another to their ancestors. They were heroes of the Horde, but foes to it at the same time.
It was a paradox Grazzug had no time for. He was here to end a war and that’s what he would do.
Grazzug heard a voice coming from the ahead. “Press on! For de revolution! Push dese orcs back furda inta de caves!”
They had recently entered the ‘Underhold.’ It was a massive, secret fortress constructed under the city. It was here that Hellscream had made evident his true power. He had hundreds… no, thousands… of orcs at his beck and call. He had new technologies the like the world had never seen and he had the power of the Old God Y’shaarj at his disposal as well. Despite these horrors, Grazzug could hardly believe the majesty of the place…
The Underhold was massive. Large stone walls, great spikes and spires adorning them; massive gateways leading into the long winding halls of the subterranean fortress’ many hidden chambers; massive furnaces and metal grates emitting blazing fires… it was possibly more astonishing a sight than Warsong Hold had been when Grazzug first beheld it when he first strode upon the shores of Northrend.
…and it was all a testament to Garrosh Hellscream. He had such potential as the warchief. He did much for his people. But he lost himself to hubris, forgot his own oaths as warchief and became as much a monster as the mogu of Pandaria. Part of Grazzug still hoped that Garrosh would change his ways and do the right thing, surrender his position and accept a just punishment… perhaps he could once more become a champion of the Horde…
No. The trolls would kill the warchief, remove his head and mount it on a pike for all to see… before shrinking it and conjuring dark magics upon it. He couldn’t truly blame them. The siege was blood for blood. It was justice, and Garrosh’s tale was to end as one of squandered potential.
And it was not Garrosh alone that would fall. Many good orcs had already fallen in glorious battle. Grazzug’s own weapon claimed many of them…. Heroes like Nazgrimm and Runthak had been cut down in their prime. For that Grazzug felt a pang of regret, but he knew they died for the same cause as he would proudly. They died for the Horde.
“Commander!” Grazzug looked over to spot Talgar Goreblade approaching him alongside the death knight Agrol Scarblade, who was supporting a very wounded Torygg Mangleclaw.
“Get Mangleclaw out of here.” Grazzug barked.
“No, commander. I ca- I can still fight,” the battered warrior rasped. Torygg’s mail had been split open by an enemy blade and a deep cut crossed his chest. The orc’s arm and bladefist hung limp at his side.
Grazzug snorted, “You can’t even lift your weapon, warrior. I’d prefer you be useful later than dead today.” He turned to his second, “Goreblade. Get Marauder Mangleclaw to the Ragefire entrance. He can join the ranks of those dispatching the stragglers.”
Talgar nodded and took Torygg from the death knight’s chilled grip. He then led the other warrior away.
The death knight watched the two limp away, “Unlike you.”
Grazzug nodded. “Ironhorn’s been missing since we battered down the gate. I may be down a marauder already… I would prefer not to lose all of them in one battle.”
Agrol simply nodded, hoisting up his blade. “Then let us proceed. Let us finish this battle before more of our own perish.”
Grazzug watched the death knight rush ahead and into the fray. With a sigh, he sprinted after him. Hellscream was waiting.
#9317765 Mar 31, 2014 at 02:46 PM · Edited 5 years ago
((March writing prompt: The story of Grazzug and his former and current wolf mounts. His wyvern's a whole other story.))
Grazzug looked out into the majesty of Domination Point. He held his saddle in hand while a grunt rushed to him with Blackclaw, the black war wolf Grazzug had called his mount for nearly a decade.
The grunt proudly saluted Grazzug, “Blood Guard. Your mount.”
Grazzug offered a salute in return, “ You have my thanks, but it’s time to get back to your post, warrior.”
As the other orc drifted away, Grazzug placed his saddle on Blackclaw’s back. Her coat was almost greyer than it was black these days and Grazzug knew she did not have many years left in her. Her barding was getting too heavy for her, so Grazzug only gave her the saddle these days. He long thought of retiring her, bringing her home to Kalimdor and letting her pass peacefully in the coming months… but she was a war wolf and a loyal one at that. He would not dishonor her by allowing her to die old and decrepit.
Grazzug climbed onto Blackclaw’s back and with a slight movement in his feet, she knew to advance.
They rode across the Bilgewater-held beach and towards Lion’s Landing. As he traversed the jungle and beach lands, leading in a large contingent of reinforcements for the front lines, Grazzug mused on the past. Blackclaw had two litters of pups of the last ten years. All of those pups had since vanished into thin air. Ralka had done what she could to keep track of them and knew that some were sold into the Kor’kron’s service or were given to friends and allies for their use. Some already fell in battle as warhounds, while others lived as glorified pets. Blackclaw, Grazzug suspected, would be proud to know her children lived for the Horde.
“Commander!” Talgar Goreblade called.
Grazzug regarded his ally before looking at the field ahead.
The Alliance and Horde were already engaged along the beach.
Grazzug raised his blade and roared his war cry. The force behind him did the same before beginning the charge.
The sizable force of orcs, tauren and blood elves thundered into the Alliance before they knew what was coming. Blades whirled through the air, arrows were released and guns were fired. Dwarven mortar teams in the distance were likely preparing to fire, but would do so reluctantly with the Horde and Alliance forces so close together.
Grazzug rode across the field with his blade arcing through the air. He cut into night elves and humans and dwarves alike with ease. At one point Blackclaw even scooped up a gnome in her maw and bit down, killing the little wretch with ease. Blood and gore and death followed their path as Alliance fell.
The battle was glorious.
It took some hours, but the Alliance started to falter back towards the barricades guarding Lion’s Landing. The Horde pressed their advantage and broke through the first line, cutting into the stationary mortars and gutting the Draenei that had rushed into position in an effort to stem the attack.
Grazzug rode towards one said vindicator and roared as he went to rend into the paladin. He swung and was promptly dismounted by the Draenei’s own hammer, which had been swung – hard – into the orc’s chest.
Grazzug was thrown free of Blackclaw’s saddle and crashed onto the ground. He was breathless and in pain. Ribs were likely cracked… broken even. This draenei was good.
Grazzug forced himself to stand and cut down a human footman that had attempted to rush a killing blow against the disoriented orc. He spun around and saw the draenei was in the thick of it, his hammer crunching a black armored blood elven warrior’s head into his shoulders. Grazzug roared and lumbered forward, cutting down another human and then a kaldorei who sought to ambush him. Nearby, Blackclaw was rending her teeth and claws into a dead dwarven rifleman.
Grazzug felt a wave of relief that she was alright. He may have wanted her to have a glorious death in battle, but he still had a hard time imagining what he would do with her dead. Blackclaw was a longtime friend of the orc and he was not about to part with her…
But such musings were not for the battlefield.
The warrior rushed towards the vindicator, who turned to face him. The stalwart draenei leapt aside with what Grazzug felt to be unnatural speed and dodged his blade. Grazzug then barely succeeded in avoiding the draenei’s mighty crystal hammer as it came crashing down. Grazzug snorted and rushed the draenei again, but this time turned his shoulder to the vindicator and tackled into him. Grazzug’s weight – and the massive spikes upon his shoulders – thundered into the draenei. This time it was he who stumbled back, now ridden with holes in his battleplate… and bleeding blue blood.
Grazzug felt a grim satisfaction that the mighty vindicator could be defeated so easi—
A blinding light shone in Grazzug’s eyes and he howled, faltering back. In his temporary blindness, he heard the draenei standing and the hum of magic. He heard the draenei utter something in his eerily musical tongue. He heard what he knew was the hammer arcing down upon him to issue the final killing blow…
And felt a thundering force against his chest that knocked him from his feet. Blackclaw had knocked him out of the way.
Grazzug’s senses were finally returning to him. The sounds of the snarling wolf engaged against the draenei brought pride to the orc as he collected himself. He took up his blade and turned, raising his guard for battle.
The draenei’s armor was rent and adorned with his own blue blood. Blackclaw looked bruised, beaten and surely tired. Grazzug rushed to the wolf’s aid.
The battle seemed to go on for hours. The draenei was able to keep both Grazzug and his wolf at arm’s reach while whirling his own massive hammer about with ease. Neither Grazzug or Blackclaw could make a step towards the vindicator without being thrown back.
All around them the battle turned sour for the Horde. Alliance reinforcements arrived from the northwest and were flanking the Horde attack force. Grazzug knew that if this battle didn’t finish soon, he was going to be flanked and killed.
Blackclaw regarded her master and saw his unease. Grazzug looked at her and suddenly knew how the battle would end.
The wolf charged toward the draenei, going to bite at its shins. The vindicator faltered a step before bringing his hammer down, instantly severing the wolf’s spine in a single swing of the hammer.
The last thing he’d hear was Grazzug’s mournful war cry. The warrior’s blade fell down upon the draenei’s crested forehead, cutting down through his head and into his chest.
The great vindicator toppled over backwards and lay twitching.
Grazzug turned to Blackclaw and, despite all rational thought telling him to retreat, did his best to hoist her up and drag her from the field.
Blackclaw was as great a warrior as any orc. She deserved a burial pyre.
The Underhold was intimidating to behold; a glorious testament to a glorious but foolish warchief. Even now Garrosh’ s last lieutenants were being corralled and the defeated warchief was likely being dragged through Orgrimmar in chains.
Grazzug wandered through the Kor’kron kennel, sparing glances at the wolves… so beaten down and rendered nearly mindless killers. It was sad to see such a thing had happened to them. Grazzug remembered his Blackclaw and her litters and his heart sank. He knew that her pups had probably gone through this pain if any had survived over the years.
A pair of eyes from within the cages seemed to follow Grazzug. The orc, noticing this, approached the kennel. Sitting and observing him was a massive grey wolf with familiar amber eyes. It took a moment, but Grazzug placed the wolf. “It can’t be…” he thought aloud.
The wolf sat up and approached the edge of the cage, looking up at Grazzug with similar recognition. It was Shagrath, the youngest of Blackclaw’s second litter. The ‘runt’ was a runt no longer. Grazzug dared think he had become bigger than he mother had been. Shagrath… who was named after old Shagral, who instructed Grazzug as a raider.
Grazzug reached out towards the cage. The wolf did not respond with a savage teeth and claw, but placed its muzzle against Grazzug’s hand.
Grazzug pet the wolf, “I think it’s time for you to come home, Shagrath.”
The wolf stared at him... and slowly nodded.
#9936458 Aug 28, 2014 at 12:28 AM · Edited over 4 years ago
((Sometimes I get stupid ideas. When I do, talking to Horrowitz doesn't help.))
Corrag: Hey! Grazzug! Don't you wanna kill a Quilboar? Come, let's go and kill! I never see you anymore. Come out the door! It's time you've got a kill! We used to best buddies and now we're not. I wish I could have your wife....
((Had a conversation earlier where I mentioned a side character I had made. I, coincidentally, found my old USB that has the short story that introduced the character on it. I made a tiny alteration and figured I'd post it. The setting is last Winter Veil... (Made with heavy consultation from Harpo.)))
Grazzug trekked across the Drag. All around him were orcs and tauren and trolls... all walking to and fro, going about their day. Some carried skins while others had food. It was a strange sight… as the brutal and bloody Siege of Orgrimmar had rocked the city mere weeks earlier.
The blood was mostly cleaned up, the spikes once adorned with corpses of Garrosh’s foes were dismantled and many were set aflame in the bonfires of the city... but even then... death still hung over the city.
At least it was Winter Veil.
It was a distraction, at least. Fewer folks scowled or sneered as they went about their days... the bright lights distracted those Horde who had been struggling since Hellscream was taken in chains. Grazzug’s eyes dropped down to his parcel.
He had spent weeks at the forge. This package he intended to deliver to the mailbox was for Torygg. This parcel carried a suit of mail to replace the one Torygg had seen damaged during the war. He would see his battered marauder have at least one highlight in the winter months.
Grazzug approached the mailbox, nodding to the nearby vendors.
A voice sounded from across the mailbox, “ ’cuse me, elder!”
Grazzug circled around the box. Standing there idly was a dirty, raggedly dressed youth. He looked a bit bruised and underfed... and Grazzug couldn’t help wonder what he was doing out in the middle of the city. Grazzug also snorted at the label of elder, but since the satyr had enacted his spell… the orc had looked the part of an elder. “What do you want, pup?”
“C-can you... can you help me with somefin?”
Grazzug took an exasperated breath, “Get back to your parents, little one.”
The child’s shoulders sank and his eyes began to water. “I...they... th-they... they’re gone.”
Grazzug twitched. Of course the child was an orphan. There were scores of them now that the siege was over and the Kor’kron largely put to the axe, “I... what do you need, pup?”
The child rushed around the mailbox and stood right up to Grazzug’s knee. “I’m Rukk an’ I need help! Somefin’ bad happened!”
Grazzug nodded along within the child’s rambling.
Eventually the little pest managed to get it out; “The mother at the orphanage told us the big mean ol’ Greench stoled all our presents from Great Father Winner.”
Grazzug crouched down to be face to face with the child. It was absurd really. There was no such thing as the ‘Greench.’ It was just a story made up by lazy parents who refused to care for their families… an invention of the Smokeywood Pastures group. But he wasn’t going to further beat the child down with the realities of adulthood. “And what can I do about that, Rukk?”
The child looked on in disbelief. “Y-yer a... a big strong warrior!”
The child’s expression turned to one of annoyance, “You can go kill the big mean ol’ monster!”
Grazzug stared at the child. He had, admittedly, heard stories of a large green coated yeti that stole children’s presents... but, he reaffirmed, they were just that… stories. The commander opened his mouth to speak and, he knew, to crush the child’s every hope.
“Rukk! Get back here!”
The child winced, looking back to see the approaching orphan matron. “Please! Please! You hafta help me!” Without another word, the child retreated.
Grazzug watched the child rush into the not-too-distant orphanage. He stood there for a long while, thinking to himself...
What just happened? Was there actually anything he could do for this runt? This parentless, miserable child?
Grazzug rode through the high hills of the Alterac Mountains. On either side of him were great mounds and within them were far reaching cave networks. The supposed Greench had dwelt in this desolate, snow-drowned landscape.
What had driven him to make the venture? To spend the gold to arrange transport for himself, his ravenous new wolf, Shagrath, and several members of Gorath’s Hammer across an entire continent?
The whole idea had been that of Harpo Horrowitz. The goblin had seen Grazzug’s interaction with the young orphan and he used that truesilver tongue of his to convince Grazzug that it wasn’t just necessary… but essential that Grazzug make the journey to Alterac. To at least verify that the fact that…
…it…was not… real….
Grazzug blinked. "What in the ancestors’ blessed names….”
Near the edge of a high rising mountain was a massive cave opening. It was overflowing with gifts and Winter Veil trees and cackling leper gnomes. They were rushing about, tearing the presents open and discarding them… leaving them to spoil in the dirt and snow.
Grazzug looked to his companions.
Az’ghul Deadfang, once an orc of the Old Horde’s Shattered Hand, now a death knight, watched the gnomes with a glower. “There are eight leper gnomes. They probably won’t scream as I tear them apart. They may not even feel it.”
The horribly scarred ex-Kor’kron and now once again devout Frostwolf, Bolg Boneflayer, shook his head. “What do you think this is, commander? Some sort of…”
Kezzik, who followed the three against direct orders, cut him off. “Publicity stunt. Gotta be. If I have presents in that pile, I swear on Greed I will drop a bomb on Gnomeregan.”
Horrowitz, who rode at Kezzik’s side, batted at Kezzik’s head. “Shut it, Nitris. Don’t be so jaded! This is clearly your standard tale of heroism. Our chance to save the day!”
Az’ghul rode up to Grazzug’s side, ignoring the goblins. “Let them tender their souls to me. I have not fed my blade in so long. Even these pathetic souls should be enough to assuage my appetites.”
Grazzug gave the death knight a nod of approval. Az’ghul dismounted from his half-skeletonized wolf and discarded his cloak… leaving his bare, scarred, black-veined torso exposed. He raised his left arm by the elbow. The blade that in ages past replaced his left hand began to glow with the cold chill of the grave.
Those gnomes were about to be tortured and butchered only to persist in eternal suffering as their souls were fed to the death knight’s blade.
And, frankly, Grazzug didn’t care.
Grazzug and the remainder of his retinue rode up to the site once Az’ghul finished. The death knight had left one to interrogate. After a brief conversation, in which the gnome professed the Greench was real and that the presents were indeed stolen from the two factions, Grazzug told Az’ghul to do with the gnome as he pleased.
Once the gnome’s arms were cut from his body, he was punted off the mountain side. It was… intriguing. Grazzug never actually saw a gnome punted before.
The team dismounted before the pile of gifts and they began to examine the many boxes. It took hours but they found very few names that they actually recognized. One such gift was that suit of mail that Grazzug had sent to Torygg. The mail must have been where the gifts had come from….
Grazzug sighed. What an annoyance. He turned to his party, “Looks like this was probably the Smokeywood goblins. They must’ve raided the mailboxes throughout the capitals and took the gifts. Send word to the orcs in Undercity.”
Horrowitz glowered, “So there’s nothin’ for the kid?”
Grazzug shook his head. “Nothing. Looks like the runt will have to learn the hard way just what Winter Veil really is.”
The goblin was exasperated and had thrown his hat to the ground. Grazzug looked over at Horrowitz. “No?”
“This is Winter Freakin’ Veil! You can’t do this to the kid! This kid’s parents were probably killed, like, a month ago! AT MOST! And now you're going to take away this last little bit of hope and happiness from him? ON WINTER VEIL!? Boss boss boss..."
Grazzug raised a silencing hand, “Horrowitz!”
But the goblin was not about to give up, "No! This is -Winter Veil-! I don't care what else the Smokeywood Pastures idiots say, but they are right when they say this is a time where we should think of others! Where we should work hard to bring happiness to others! What good comes out of crushing the last little happiness this kid has?”
Grazzug backhanded the goblin, knocking him into the snow. “Silence!” The goblin leered back up at him, but Grazzug ignored it. “We’re going back to Kalimdor. Someone else can clean this up.”
**** It was Winter Veil at the Orgrimmar Orphanage.
The sun was falling and moons were rising and whatever gifts Matron Battlewail could muster were already given out. Rukk was now the ‘lucky’ recipient of a straw-made doll. He knew this was not the work of Greatfather Winter. He had spied Tosamina making a few of the dolls earlier in the month.
When he had asked Tosamina where Greatfather Winter’s gifts were for the orphans, she told him to stop trying to rile up the other children and forced him to sit in the back corner while the others played.
He couldn’t believe it. Maybe Greatfather Winter had forgotten him....
Maybe he just didn’t care about the orphans.
Rukk’s eyes had begun to water at the realization when he heard the commotion.
The others had rushed to the door only to be pushed aside by a goblin that had a rifle holstered over his shoulder. He entered pushing a cart topped with the biggest tallstrider Rukk had ever seen! It was almost twice the size of the goblin and it looked as if it were cooked to perfection. Surrounding it were dressings, candies and fruits.
Following him in was the elder! He came in pushing a cart full of intricately wrapped presents and a rack of foam swords and axes into the building. He set down the weapon rack for the children and then rolled the cart to the nearby tree.
“Sorry we’re late!” the goblin called out.
The mighty warrior must’ve done it. He must have! He killed the Greench! He saved Winter Veil for all the children of Azeroth!
Rukk catapulted across the room…
Matron Battlewail and her assistant Tosamina somehow seemed to be both the happiest and most infuriated orcs Grazzug had ever seen at one time. Apparently it was almost time for the orphans to be put to bed and the mercenary commander came battering into the building with a feast and presents for the children the likes of which were usually only ever seen during Children’s Week. On the other hand, he had brought them a feast and presents the likes of which the children normally only ever saw one week a year!
They were in the middle of their thanks to him and Harpo Horrowitz when young Rukk barreled into Grazzug’s leg, latching on tighter than a kobold who found a new candle.
Grazzug tried to shake the child free and the matrons tried to pry him free, but Rukk wouldn’t disengage until he said his piece.
“Thank you so much, elder! I knew you could kill that nasty Greench! Thank you, thank you and thank you! Fer all the kids on Azeroth! Thank you!”
And from that day forth Grazzug became as good a friend, as good a father and as good a master as Rukk would ever know… and whether Grazzug liked it or not, and he did not, he now had a new agent in his ranks. One who would steal his mail so he can be the one who delivered it, who would steal contracts from the Warchief’s Command Boards and bring them to him…
One who would feel forever indebted to him for saving Winter Veil for the children of all of Azeroth...
((If my other post in the 'First Day' thread doesn't count as my month entry for October, this should be it!))
Braktar had appeared in the Swamp of Sorrows late in the night and had come to the Stonard inn, which had been packed full of warriors and mercenaries of the Horde who had joined in the war effort against the mysterious Ironmarch. There he had woken Grazzug and requested he come to the KMG’s makeshift command table in Stonard’s main hall. While Grazzug had half a mind to send the shadow hunter away until morning… he figured Braktar wouldn’t have rushed through the night if the business was not important.
When he arrived a few moments later, having taken a moment to don his breastplate and cowl, he found a very tired-looking and disheveled Talgar waiting. Grazzug asked the troll if they should wait and summon Bauron Ironhorn and Gak’ara Thunderspear… for they were in Stonard as well for the time as well, but Braktar had shaken his head and said they would hear the news soon enough.
Grazzug’s growing sense of apprehension was finally given cause when the troll uttered the news.
“Bossmon, Goreblade. De warchief be beginnin de proceedings of –– he be callin’ Azeroth’s greatest champions to de Horde cause and he be plannin’ to have ‘em cross de portal.”
Grazzug bristled and asked the question he already knew the answer to. “And what does that have to do with us?”
Braktar looked between the two orcs and sighed. “Da druid splinter, da Razorfen Downs, Pandaria, Uldum... even de work wit' de revolution and ya participatin' in da siege of Orgrimmar. Dese battles, dese campaigns….”
“No! What you’re saying is insanity!” Talgar roared.
Braktar looked to the Frostwolf orc, unfazed by his outburst. “It be de warchief’s will.” He then returned his gaze to Grazzug, “Dese campaigns you fought, da loyalty ya hold and inspire, ya rank in de Horde… dese things have set both you and de mercenaries for dis undertaking! Ya know it to be true. It’s why I gave dem your name.”
Grazzug stared right through the troll. He did not envision the glorious battle that doubtlessly lied ahead. For a moment all he saw was a quiet grave, much like that of Torygg Mangleclaw, and a mourning wife and child. “What are you asking me to do, Braktar? If we cross through that portal, we’ll be going into an unknown world where we’ll be surrounded by a threat unlike any we’ve faced. Are you asking me to go to my death? To lead all the others to theirs?”
Braktar removed his Rush'kah helmet and nodded. "Yeah, mon. Dat's exactly what I'm asking ya. We need warriors on de udda side of de Dark Portal. Only dere can we sever de Iron Horde’s link to Azeroth. Once de portal closes….”
“We’d be stranded and left to face the wrath of the Iron Horde,” Grazzug interrupted.
Braktar sighed but did not deny it, “You would be saviours of Azeroth. Da mercenaries would join de ranks of those who killed da Lich King or Deathwing. Dey’d be honored as heroes. Honored like Broxigar de Red.”
Talgar had taken a seat on a nearby bench and buried his face in his hands. Grazzug merely stood, arms folded, watching the troll before him. “I will not lead my mercenaries to their deaths knowing that is all that lies ahead.”
Braktar nodded, "I don't blame ya for bein' doubtful or for not wantin' ta do dis." The troll reached down to his belt and removed a rolled-up scroll.
“But if ya gonna refuse de warchief… ya can do it yourself.”
Grazzug took the scroll and broke the seal. He read through the parchment’s contents and then regarded Braktar again. “Send word back that Vol’jin will have my blade.”
Talgar looked up at him, initially uncomprehending, “Commander?” But as the full realization struck him he stood, “What are you saying!?”
Grazzug motioned for Talgar’s silence, “But I will not blindly lead my men to their deaths. I will only take those who volunteer their services. Glorious sacrifice or not, they deserve the choice”
Talgar was clearly taken aback. “Commander….”
Grazzug turned to his Second. “I will not cower while the world’s falling to chaos and I will not resign myself to fate. I will lead whatever able bodied mercenaries I will have… and whoever amongst our allies who are willing to cross can join us. We will cross the Dark Portal and we will fight. If the ancestors are willing, we can survive for a time.”
“And your family?”
Grazzug looked from Talgar to Braktar, “There’s always some chance we’ll be able to re-establish contact. If not the Horde will care for them.”
The troll nodded. “I’ll be seein’ it done.”
Talgar straightened his posture and took a deep breath. His resolve seemed to strengthen. “How long do we have plan or to organize, Braktar?”
“Little under two weeks.”
Grazzug could feel himself tense at the troll’s response. Two weeks!? That was nothing! He had to settle his personal affairs, collect payments, see all remaining contracts finished and say good bye to family and friends! But he voiced none of these concerns. He knew he might later - once properly inebriated - but for now he had to stay strong and appear stoic. “Very well. Talgar! You will send out the call to muster the companies in the coming days! See to the peons are organized for the day we cross. If we are to survive out there….”
Talgar nodded, “Say no more, commander. Shall I tell the other marauders?”
“I will handle that.”
Talgar nodded once more and left the hall.
Grazzug watched him leave before turning back to Braktar. The troll met his gaze evenly, “You should get some sleep, bossmon. Maybe go back to Orgrimmar if ya gonna be crossin.’”
Grazzug shook his head, “No. You take my cot in the inn.” He reached under the table and retrieved on the maps of Old Draenor and laid it on the table. “I have much work ahead of me.”
The troll offered Grazzug a respectful salute before he left the room. Once he was gone, Grazzug allowed himself a moment to breathe. Ralka would not approve. There was no doubt of that. Garen wouldn’t understand either….
He was just a child.
But this was not the time to brood. That would be later. When he had alcohol. For now he looked down at the map of Draenor. It was so much like the shattered realm of Outland… but so different. He placed his finger onto the map.
Onto the site of the original Dark Portal.
#13469289 Oct 05, 2017 at 12:10 AM · Edited over 1 year ago
((Was going through my reports and found this one. Apparently I never posted it. Figure I may as well now. It's set in the middle of Operation Felclash, while Zelch and the KMG's other warlocks were helping to train us against demons))
* A week before the sky rained fire *
Grazzug breathed in the salty air of the Great Sea. Sitting on a sitting fur under a makeshift pavilion, which was little more than four iron poles and a tarp, he observed his warriors training.
Zelch had taken the mercenaries into battle against a satyr he called Xalsin. Though the demon was defeated, it won in the end by possessing a dryad guardian of Ashenvale. Suspecting that things were only going to get worse, Zelch had asked Grazzug to organize training bouts between the mercenaries and summoned demons. At the first of these, Grazzug had been in attendance. He had only intended to observe but was eventually drawn into battle as the training session went on.
It had been a debacle. The felguard, doomguard and infernals wreaked havoc… and even the initial swarm of imps had proven too much for some who had attended. They danced around Huuza and Urgarok’s axes, the elf apprentice’s arcane bolts… and the succubus. Grazzug had initially walked away from that round. He had spent far too much time in the company of the demon Herelia to not remember the fear, the dread, and the sensation of the lash against his skin. He had come back to participate after what he could’ve only assumed was meant to be a pep-talk by Invar Marris, but the succubus had already been slain by the time he had come back. Now he made a point of attending the training sessions as different teams of mercenaries battled against the hordes of summoned demons.
Grazzug looked to his open and upturned hand. Within it was cradled a squirming infant in weathered swaddling clothes. He waved a finger before the little one, who weakly tried and failed to grasp at his nail. The infant was his second child. He had named her Fenra after the Old Wolf. His mate had heartily agreed to the name, as Fenrosh had become important to her as well over the years. It was he who showed Ralka the path to shamanism after the mercenaries’ campaign in Uldum.
Grazzug had been a broken orc when he returned from Draenor. The campaign was still underway but he could not participate any longer. The demon had broken his body and his much of his will. Between the weeks of torture and Azgrimm’s blood magic ritual… Grazzug was left comatose and, later, fragile. It was a shock to wake up in Orgrimmar and, for an all too brief moment, he had believed Tanaan to have been a nightmare. His relief was smothered by the reality of his body. The demon’s whip had left him horrifically scarred. While the marks had faded somewhat since, Grazzug doubted would ever vanish entirely. They would forever serve as a reminder….
He had since recovered in both body and mind. He once again honed his body for battle as he trained at the Hall of the Brave, which, in recognition of his service in Draenor, was made available to him and the mercenaries once more. He also had begun to work the forge again. His mind improved simply by being with Ralka and his children. They kept him grounded and helped him remember who he was and for whom he fought. He and his marauders kept the mercenaries busy with contract work and assigned them to designated training days. He even visited Felpik and the peons at the kungaloosh distillery. Grazzug had once deferred such things to his Second, Talgar Goreblade, to manage, but as Talgar met his end in the Spires of Arakk and now rested with the Spirits, Grazzug took the responsibility on. He was pleased to see things kept running without much difficulty and that profits had continued long after the mercenaries left en masse for Draenor.
Grazzug blinked, realizing he had lost himself in his own mind. Fenra now lay sleeping in his hand. He smiled weakly at the young one and then regarded the other.
Garen had been born in the early days of the invasion of Outland and was now old enough to learn the orcish ways of battle. Even now he bludgeoned a combat dummy – a saddle stand with a centaur pelt draped over it – with a dull stone axe. He lacked any and all form to his strikes and swung clumsily, but he had only recently begun training properly. Grazzug could see his son one day being a great warrior. His smile grew more pronounced as in that moment he swelled with pride. He had two children, a strong and beautiful life-mate….
He looked out to the mercenaries in training.
Erad Ragetotem was the first he saw. The massive tauren brought down his totem down, narrowly missing an imp. He roared in frustration, bringing it down again and again as if he were playing Whack-a-Gnoll. That is… until an arrow pierced the little fiend and it toppled over, igniting into flame and dissipating. Braktar nodded to the tauren, who returned the gesture. The peon and once Grazzug’s fellow prisoner in Tanaan, Derp, was chasing his own target… but the imp proved too fast. The peon was gritting his obscenely large – stone – teeth. After his teeth were pried out during his torture at the hands of the Bleeding Hollow, one of the grunts in Grazza’kar suggested Derp wear a set of stone dentures as some ogres had. Naturally, they were oversized for the former peon. The one-eyed goblin priestess, Cashly Rightgear, observed from behind the other fighters. She channeled the Light to heal any wounds they took in battle. And there was Ralka, charging and calling on bolts of lightning to strike the imps. Though she had successfully killed one, the others were proving too evasive. Grazzug watched, somewhat amused, as she became impatient and drew her mace… chasing down the stubbornly fast imp and caving in its head with one solid blow. For all of her shamanistic training, Ralka was still much the warrior at heart.
Feeling a pair of eyes on him, Grazzug turned away from his son and saw the ghost wolf form of his longtime mentor. The wolf took its time maneuvering itself to Ralka’s sitting furs before assuming his true orcish form. Fenrosh took a weary breath and nodded in greeting.
“You look well,” the old wolf rumbled.
Grazzug accepted the compliment with a grunt. “Some scars will probably never fully heal. How about you, old one? You take on your spirit wolf form more and more as the days pass. Are you….”
“I am fine. My body is simply giving way to age. Draenor may have been the last time I could properly fight with axes in my hands instead of a walking staff. The chill of Frostfire Ridge, the battle against those Pale; they have worn me down further than even the Shattering had managed.” The old orc sighed, “I’m old, Grazzug. I don’t know how much life is left in me. I simply wish to spend the remainder of my days tending to the wounded and teaching the next generations the old ways.”
Grazzug nodded before extending his hand to the elder orc. Fenrosh took the infant into his hands and looked upon her. He muttered a blessing from the Spirits, waving his other hand over the child’s forehead, and set her down. Fenra continued to doze.
The Old Wolf then looked at Grazzug. His expression hardened as he reached into his robes and recovered a folded piece of paper. “Have you noticed them walking our streets again?”
Grazzug snorted. “The doomsayers? Aye, I’ve seen them. Don't even bother trying to make me read their deranged rambling. I’m not interested in the words of mad men. This is one of the rare situations where Warchief Vol’jin should be following Hellscream’s methods. Rally them up in the Ring of Valor and feed them to the wolves.”
The old orc ignored Grazzug’s proclimations. He unfolded the page and read over the text before commenting. “It is called the 'Prophecy of the Three Signs.'" Grazzug began to object, but the old orc continued. "These are teh three signs of our doom." He gave Grazzug a stern look. "When all of these events have come to pass, we will know the Burning Legion has won and our oblivion is at hand."
When he saw Grazzug’s incredulous expression Fenrosh looked at Grazzug to once again affirm the seriousness of the letter. "The first one is the important one. 'The king below will cast away his diamond crown.'"
Grazzug could think of only one entity on all of Azeroth who the line could be referencing. “Bronzebeard? He’s been frozen in Ironforge ever since the days leading up to the Shatterng. I don’t see him going anywhere n----“
Fenrosh cut him off. “Magni Bronzebeard left Ironforge.”
Grazzug’s head turned sharply to the other orc. “He… left? They broke his curse?”
Grazzug’s eyes lingered on the old shaman. “What do the spirits tell you, Old Wolf?
Fenrosh’s reply was simple. “You should be ready.”
Grazzug looked out to the training mercenaries again. They were now facing off against a small group of felguard and were holding their own. Was this small group the first of many many more? Of the unending Legion's descent on Azeroth? Ralka's omens, the doomsayers, and this Xalsin's activities of late....
Grazzug glanced over at Fenra. She still slept. Not a care in her world.
Fenrosh didn't say anything.
The two simply sat in silence until the training session before them ended.
((This one was meant to be released when I did the report for the Battle of Lordaeron. Well, I still haven't done that...))
Grazzug trudged through the chaos that was Lordaeron Keep’s courtyard. The Scythe rushed by him to reach the elevators into the Undercity before they were sealed off. They were to join Braktar in helping with the evacuation. Grazzug had sent Wrokk with them. He had to make sure things went according to plan. No civilians would die on his watch. Too many had died already.
The image of Teldrassil pierced through the back of his mind as it had every night since the burning.
Grazzug glowered and dismissed the thought. Now was not the time to wallow on past mistakes.
The orc, his thoughts having returned to the present, eyed his surroundings. More goblins hard at work, setting up stockpiles of explosives and arming them; apothecaries scattered about the courtyard and walking the ramparts above with their plague canisters. Grazzug knew they were up to something but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. For hours now they had been setting up all throughout the city. When the orc tried to find out what was going on he was confronted by apothecaries who simply told him to mind his own business. Grazzug would not be stopped so easily. He had then summoned a party to help determine what the Banshee Queen’s agents were up to but only the Scythe had shown up. They tried to assuage Grazzug’s worries, tell him that nothing was happening….
‘Do they know something I don’t?’ he wondered, and not for the first time.
The Scythe of Sylvanas always had their own agendas. Grazzug never doubted that. Vaalis had always kept his schemes hidden from Dargeth’s sights. Hedva had been more forward with Grazzug but over time he had learned of things such as the massacre of refugees at Fenris Keep, the Scythe’s helping their Dark Lady’s selfish crusade in Stormheim while the mercenaries worked to fight the Legion, and their involvement in the creation of the rogue ‘sporemound’ that the mercenaries eventually had to assist in destroying. They were always trying to keep things – horrible things – from the mercenaries’ attention. Was this another such case?
“You’re distracted.” sounded a gruff voice. Grazzug looked to Sarr Raketalon. The Dragonmaw rogue had been an asset of the K.M.G. since shortly after Hellscream’s regime fell. It was through his intel that the Horde were able to track down and kill his Hellscream-loyal sister, Lourja Raketalon. Sarr’s only ask in turn for joining the mercenaries as a spy and decryption expert was that he would have the killing blow against his sister. Grazzug had granted him just that.
“What do you think is going on?” Grazzug replied, nodding sidelong to a goblin sapper team as they were setting up more explosives.
The Dragonmaw shrugged, “She’s going to make them fight for every scrap of territory in this city. She doesn’t care about what is above, only what’s below.”
‘Then why are there just as many explosives being planted below the city’ Grazzug thought to himself.
The two orcs made their way to the gatehouse to rendezvous with the others.
The battle had raged for days. Every inch of land that the Alliance claimed in Tirisfal was once held by the Kalimdor Mercenaries. Grazzug and his men were outmatched every step of the way, losing territory, taking casualties, and the only solace they had was Brill. The city’s walls held for a few hours before the steam tanks and the Alliance’s blasted siege towers arrived. Grazzug looked at his battle weary warriors and recognized many of their faces from Brill. Cashly, Gorthok, Az’ghul, Shoshone, Arga, Kerg, Gizzits, Mardug, Grumsh, and Jin’tha, among many others. Their armor was dented and robes torn, their flesh stitched and bandaged. Grazzug hated to ask more of them in their condition but the city had to hold.
Grazzug cleared his throat. The mercenaries rose to the sound, though for a few it took some effort, and they turned to their commander in unison. Az’ghul nodded to Grazzug, “Lok-regar, commander.”
Grazzug placed a hand on the death knight’s cold shoulder and eyed the others. “This city will hold so long as warriors such as you are at its gates.” Sarr took his place among the others as the mercenary commander continued, “Once we’ve secured the gates again I’m going to have some of the others fall back. I’m sure there are many among them that need to be fed and stitched up if they’re going to stay on their feet for tomorrow.”
An older pandaren in a dark leather breastplate emblazoned with the crossbow of Daguluaga looked around, “Where are Braktar and the others?”
Grazzug eyed Hei-Hachi and then glanced back into the city. “Helping evacuate civilians. Don’t worry. They’ll have plenty of time to catch up.”
Grazzug hoisted up his warhammer and made his way to the city gates as the others followed closely behind. The Forsaken at the gates nodded respectfully and unsealed the doors, throwing them open. Grazzug raised his warhammer and barreled forward. A chorus sounded behind him, “FOR THE HORDE!”
Grazzug’s every muscle was afire.
His hammer rose and fell, crushing man and elf and dwarf and gnome with increasing effort. The humans were well armed. Their armor was stronger and more durable than ever before. Luckily, Grazzug’s armor was more potent as well. The vrykul who helped him forge this armor would be proud to see it used as such.
Still, it wasn’t perfect, and the Darnassian arrow lodged in the orc’s thigh was a testament to that.
The fighting had continued for hours. The Alliance offensive was renewed and in that moment the Banshee Queen called on her ‘azerite war machine’ to be rolled out from the depths of the Undercity. It had been destroying the boy king’s siege towers effortlessly but the tanks defenders were falling one by one.
Grazzug’s own mercenaries were faltering. Many had been wounded or even killed while others lay surrounded by their fallen foes, panting and crying out in pain. Grazzug was one of the few frontal defenders still on their feet as the Alliance closed in around the war machine. They had to fall back to the walls.
“Damn it!” he growled. “At least they won’t be able to press the damn walls without their towers.” Grazzug gestured to Arga and Kerg to form up around him. He took advantage of the cover they provided to take up his communicator. “All wounded pull back to the gates! Signal them to let you in. Those of you that can fight – especially our air support – I need you to get that damn Wrynn boy off the war machine!”
Grazzug felt Arga’s hand on his shoulder. “Commander, it’s too late.”
Grazzug looked back to the great tank only to see it crumbling. He grit his teeth, “Ancestors damn that boy!” The orcish commander thought quickly and then hefted up his warhammer. “You two need to gather the others. We need to get back inside the city walls if we’re to survive the day. Rally to the gates before the Alliance redouble their advances.”
The two orcs nodded and rushed into the fray. Grazzug turned towards the gates and started limping over as quickly as he could. As he limped along, grunting every second step, he saw a shadow take form over the ramparts of Lordaeron Keep. The shadow gave him pause.
“It couldn’t be….”
Grazzug slowly came to a halt as he looked to the walls. There he saw a line of skeletal catapults forming up. He could hear the cranks as the arms of the catapults wound back. He saw the apothecaries setting the blight canisters into position. Even seeing it the orc couldn’t quite register what was happening. He turned and saw the ranks of Horde and Alliance battering into one another. ‘No,’ he realized. ‘Most of the Horde’s forces have already pulled back.’
Grazzug felt the color drain from his face. “No….”
He limped several steps back towards his men but it was too late. He could hear the catapults fire overhead. Moments later explosions rocked the battlefield, leaving foul green clouds in their wake. Forms staggered out from the smoke before collapsing.
Grazzug gripped his leg and forced himself back towards the ramparts. He waved his good hand, “STOP! STOP! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? YOU’RE KILLING THEM!”
The doors of the keep creaked as they opened. Grazzug turned to the gates to see a torrent of liquefied blight burst out from the gates as heavily armored and masked Forsaken stepped out, dousing all those who stood by the gates with the foul plague. The mercenaries present staggered back, collapsing and clutching at their throats and wherever the blight had poured onto them… melting through their armor and flesh alike.
Grazzug was gripped by sheer disbelief. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing, what was happening. He struggled for a moment to find the words before calling out “RETREAT! Get away from the gate!”
But it was well too late.
A thud sounded behind Grazzug. He turned and looked into the dirt, seeing where the plague canister had landed.
Time seemed to slow around him. Cracks formed around the canister and in a moment it would detonate. Grazzug would die by the hands of the same honorless witch who, without a second thought, had massacred his men.
They who had fought since the Cataclysm; across the fields of Pandaria; sacrificed themselves in battle against the Iron Horde, and held the line against the Legion, were now dying at the hands of their own….
‘No.’ Grazzug concluded. ‘Not their own.’ It didn’t matter to Sylvanas Windrunner. She did not care whether or not Horde or Alliance died. Her war was not just against the Alliance. It was against all of life on Azeroth.
Grazzug thanked his ancestors that he was going to die before seeing the Banshee Queen bring ruin to the Horde he loved. The orc closed his eyes, ignoring the faint echoes of laughter from the walls, and thought of his family.
Grazzug’s eyes fluttered open.
His vision was a blur, all he could hear was ringing in his ears.
This wasn’t death.
Grazzug tried to rise but felt a great weight upon him. He looked down and saw Mardug laying over him. The orc’s leather armor was melted through, as was his flesh, which slowly slid down his face and revealed the sinew and bone below it. The grunt had, it seemed, used his final moments alive to get between his commander and the detonating canister. Grazzug was thankful for the loyalty his warriors had known for him but this was a pointless sacrifice. The green clouds that surrounded him would be his death the moment he took one last breath.
For a long moment Grazzug remained there. He considered pulling himself to safety, dragging his wounded leg across the blighted ground, but he knew there was no way he would make it to safety before needing to take a breath. His eyes stung, his skin burned as his weary muscles did….
One breath and it would be over.
…but Grazzug was still alive. So long as he was alive he had to at least try. He pushed the nearly-skeletal orc off and rolled onto his stomach. He heard sizzling as his tabard touched the blighted ground and he started to drag himself away from the seemingly-formless walls of Lordaeron Keep behind him.
Grazzug dragged his failing body inch by inch over the blighted ground before collapsing again.
The sights and sounds of the world around him were replaced by darkness.
Again Grazzug woke.
His eyes blinked open to the sight of his legs being dragged across the blighted landscape. He heard cries in the distance and glanced up at his surroundings. There was a shimmering golden orb surrounding him. He reached up, seeing his half-melted armor, and felt that the hands gripping him were armored as well.
As his senses returned he realized he was inside a magical barrier erected by a tauren priest in a stained white robe. Another tauren was dragging him with the help of a troll. The trio had come for survivors and Grazzug, it seemed, was cursed to survive the battle.
A few others were in the barrier. Rai Splinterscrew was without his mount and Luo’kiki looked utterly traumatized.
The mercenaries finally set Grazzug down after they passed through the blight cloud and into the withered lands of Tirisfal. They took a moment to catch their breaths and checked Grazzug’s vitals. He simply lied there, still wondering how he had survived.
“How many did she kill..?” he heard Jin’tha ask, her living armor chittering in fear.
Grazzug then heard a grunt followed by Kerg’s voice, “We can’t wait here for long. She has raised our dead as skeletons and ghouls and set them against all those outside the walls.”
“How many!?” the troll repeated.
“It doesn’t matter how many. One was too many!” Shoshone shouted back.
Horrowitz walked over to Grazzug and checked his vitals. Grazug looked at the goblin and blinked slowly, acknowledging he was still among the living. Horrowitz smiled weakly and then looked to the others. “Guys. There’s a lot of people still in the city. How are we supposed to help them?”
Grazzug mustered what strength he had to force himself into a seated position. The others rushed to his side to help but he shooed their hands away. “We aren’t going to help them. We’re leaving.”
Horrowitz looked to the city walls and back to his commander, “But, boss, we can’t just—“
Grazzug stood, putting his weight on his good leg. “The decision has been made. Get all the survivors you can reach and bring them east. We are leaving these cursed forests to fire and blight.”
Kerg helped to steady Grazzug where he stood. He, like Grazzug, saw the worry on the mercenaries’ faces, and leaned in. “Commander, are we… deserting?”
Grazzug looked to the other orc and shook his head. “No. The battle is lost but we are not going to die here. We are going back to Kalimdor to defend our people and the Horde as a whole to our dying breaths.”
The others seemed to take solace in Grazzug’s words.
He took a deep breath, “Any who wish to remain here and fight may do so. Any mercenary who contests my orders may do so. Until further notice I am putting into place the Broken Quiver Contingency. My marauders – Agrol Scarblade, Azgrimm, Bauron Ironhorn, and Gak’ara Thunderspear – have free rein over their respective units. I will be taking Gorath’s Hammer to Kalimdor and we shall hold the line there. Enjoy your independence… and bring honor to the Horde.”
With that Grazzug left for Alterac. Many who followed close behind were battered, limping and bloody, and, worst of all, unsure of the future.
((In case anyone's been curious what he's been up to so far this expac))
Grazzug stood on the walls of Desolation Hold and stared out into the Battlescar. From his place near the brazier he could see Ralka’s outline in the darkness. She was leaning against the parapet nearby. Her faintly illuminated eyes moved from the old battlefield to shoot a glance in his direction. “I don’t need the insights of a shaman to sense you’re troubled. Are you alright?”
Grazzug grunted, “Can’t sleep.”
Ralka frowned at her husband’s reply and pushed off the wall. She made her way to his side and slipped her hand in around his waist, “The Old Wolf can give you something that will help you with that.”
Grazzug shook his head. “No. It’s better this way.”
Ralka leaned her head against Grazzug’s chest. “You can’t just torment yourself like this, husband. The deaths of all those at Teldrassil and Lordaeron….”
Grazzug pulled her closer, “How are the children?”
Ralka sighed, “Better now. Garen still misses his friends from the city and Fenra sleeps nearly as poorly as you do. All of this movement is hard on them but they’re getting used to their new home here.”
“I miss the Barrens as they once were. Large and empty but for the roaming kodo and gazelle. The biggest threat were the raptors or harpies or quilboar. The days when this was a frontier. Things were simpler then. We always knew our enemies….”
The two stared out into valley until the two moons started to give way to the sunrise. Grazzug saw Vora wake before the others. She took meat and vegetables to the central fire and started preparing a stew for the men as they woke. He saw Gorthok Ripshred leave his tent, stretch, and head to a target dummy, and he saw Vaegar leave his tent and start polishing his armor. Gak’ara and his Thunderspears headed up the hill to tend to their wyverns while the peons resumed their work repairing the damage done to the walls in the recent Alliance attacks.
Grazzug saw a shadow move in the corner of his eye. Bad news. He heaved a heavy sigh and kissed his mate on the forehead. “Help the Old Wolf with the children. They’ll be up soon. I’ll be fine.”
Ralka looked at Grazzug. She had no doubt felt his heartbeat hasten and her cautious expression gave her doubt away. She did not give voice to these doubts. Instead, she listened and departed the ramparts. Grazzug smiled weakly at her as she left. She knew to trust him.
Grazzug then steeled himself. His expression hardened and he turned to see Sarr Raketalon materialize out of the shadows… followed shortly after by a younger, wiry rogue. They offered Grazzug a salute, which he returned.
“I wasn’t expecting your return for several days. Are the Alliance moving in from the north? News from Warlord Crawgol? If it’s about that silithid hive I---”
The Dragonmaw rogue shook his head and nudged his companion forward. The younger rogue – Rukk – approached Grazzug and offered him a sealed parchment. Raketalon glowered at the page and, without waiting for Grazzug to open it, began to explain; “The warlord sends word that a dark ranger arrived in the Crossroads yesterday. She’s looking for you.”
Grazzug felt his heartbeat hasten again and looked to his agents. “Why?”
“She didn’t say. The warlord believes she aims to accuse you – and the men – of desertion.”
“Desertion?” The fringes of his sight reddened. His blood thrummed in his ears. “Did they expect us to wade through the damn blight they poured on us from the walls?! Were we to come back and beg for more after that banshee witch murdered my men!?”
Grazzug ripped open the seal and read the letter. He breathed deeply to try and calm himself as he did so. There was little use making a scene, attracting unwanted attention.
Crawgol indeed suspected the dark ranger’s intentions were… unfairly set against Grazzug and his mercenaries. He expected she had come to see them arrested, possibly executed as traitors to the Horde, and Grazzug could barely keep himself from guffawing at the absurdity.
The letter ended with Crawgol acknowledging Grazzug’s honor. He had assisted the now warlord before he was anyone of rank, back when Grazzug was a grunt and he was a disgruntled warrior who sought to put the torch to local silithid hives. He knew Grazzug was no deserter and because of that he offered a second letter. This one read:
By the order Warlord Crawgol you are to aid in securing the South Seas from the Alliance threat. Azerite is tearing through the landscape all across Azeroth and these uncharted islands are no exception. Assist us, Champion Grazzug, by claiming these lands for the Horde.
The Horde looks forward to hearing of your initiative.
Grazzug tore Crawgol’s personal message to shreds and dropped it into the brazier before turning to the others, flashing the remaining document. “We have our orders.”
The two rogues blinked.
Grazzug took his cowl from the wall and tugged it on, “Get all the men on their feet. We leave in an hour. We will be marching day and night until we reach Ratchet. Our ships will be waiting there.”
Rukk took a step forward, “We’re leaving Kalimdor?”
Grazzug nodded back to the youth, “Each and every warrior in this company is to accompany our ships on an operation of the utmost importance to the Horde’s war effort. We are to go to the South Seas, where there are many unknown or uncharted islands. We have hereby been ordered to secure islands of these sorts for the Horde.” He looked to the two rogues, who needed in silent acknowledgement of Grazzug’s underlying message. The mercenary commander then lowered his voice, “We will make sure that our forces will be out of here long before that elven husk arrives.”
The two rogues departed to let Grazzug’s officers know the new orders. Grazzug stared over the wall into Desolation Hold one last time before heading back inside. He made his way to his hut and found a chest he had kept under his and Ralka’s bed. He unlocked the chest and found within the axe of Dargeth Armbreaker.
Grazzug knelt down and retrieved the axe. “I will return."
He held Dargeth's axe for a long moment, looking into the blade and seeing, for just a moment, the reflections of all those who had lost. "We will have our Horde back.”