Talgar had missed the cold. If there was one thing that Orgrimmar and, more recently, Uldum, had been lacking… it was the bitter cold.
The orc tugged at his wolf’s reins. It was a gentle reminder for the wolf to remain focused. Frosthowl, not one to be supplicated, snapped at the reins.
“It’s good to see you’ve still got that fight in you. You may just need it. The valley is a dangerous place.”
The wolf growled in agreement.
Talgar and his faithful companion crossed through the cave network and into the wide, snow-laden Alterac Valley. For the first time in years… Talgar was home.
The last time Talgar was in his clan’s ‘homeland,’ the Lich King still ruled over the northern wastes. Go’el, son of Durotan and Frostwolf of blood, was still warchief. Back then Talgar was no stone guard. He was but a defender of his clan and its rights to the region. His hair was slightly greyer now… the gunshot wound he took while defending Tower Point against a Stormpike raid would flare with pain now and then… and he was now partially responsible for the outright slaughter of his own allies amongst the Darkspear tribe. Guilty by association mostly…
The more he thought about it, the more Talgar realized he was a different orc. He was no longer all that jovial… nor was he much of a Frostwolf. Grazzug sometimes joked that Talgar was a greater Blackrock than he was. Keeping his hair and face cleanly shaven was uncommon amongst the Frostwolves, but largely endorsed by the Blackrocks. Talgar had liked the uniformity and, honestly, wished the others in the Company would be more like him. He even raised the idea of uniforms with his commander on occasion. Grazzug refused every time, reminding Talgar that the Company was not (at least any longer) a true regiment within the Horde military. They worked by contract but were organized. They were better than those loot-crazed adventurers out there… but were still largely mercenary.
“Who approaches!?” came a voice from a nearby palisade.
Talgar blinked. Had he already passed that far into Frostwolf territory? In all his musing, he’d done as Frosthowl had earlier and was caught distracted. He was lucky that he encroached upon a Frostwolf barricade and not a Stormpike ambush. His distraction could have gotten him killed.
“I am Talgar! Son of Rallek! Called Goreblade! Enemy of Whitewhisker, Wildpaw and Winteraxe!”
After a moment the orcs called out again, “Welcome back, Talgar Goreblade. He’s waiting for you.”
Talgar rode through the gates of Frostwolf Village.
Orcs, trolls and tauren moved to and fro throughout the village. They went about their daily affairs with no regard for the bitter cold. Many of the faces were familiar, albeit more wrinkled and grey. They too recognized him. Some waved… others merely nodded in acknowledgement.
Eventually he came upon a familiar dwelling. An old tent coated in hides to keep its inhabitants from the mountain cold. He dismounted and brushed the thick hide flap that acted as a door.
Inside were several orcs. His father lay on a bedding of furs, pale and breathing hoarsely. A shaman stood over the old orc, communing with the elements… praying to the ancestors. His mother – Geta – sat by her life mate. Upon noticing Talgar’s presence Geta stood and moved quickly to her son, hugging him close.
“It is good you could come, Talgar. He has little time left.”
Talgar merely nodded. He did not have the heart to tell her the truth. He only came because he had been part of a unit that was temporarily set in the Arathi Highlands. Had he not been sent to the Eastern Kingdoms, he may not have made it to see his father off to his ancestors.
She continued, “Rallek has been unconscious for days. This illness has taken a good huntsman and turned him sickly. The shaman insist he shall soon meet his death. Before he died he wanted to bestow you with his axe and his battleplate that he wore into the field against the foes of our clan.”
Talgar looked at the dying orc. “He would do that for me?”
Geta nodded, “He has but one surviving child. You are your family’s legacy and I have already spoken to Regzar. He will resize your father’s armor for you. His axe is with the shaman… being blessed for your use.”
Talgar pulled away and approached his father’s unconscious form. “He has never been so generous. I… I can hardly believe he’d do this. I half expected him to wear his armor as he burned on his pyre.”
Geta shook her head, “He has been blessed with the wisdom that comes with death. He knows you have your own path to take, Talgar. He gives you his blessing and asks only one thing in return.” She crossed the room to a nearby chest.
Talgar’s gaze followed her. “What?”
Geta stood and turned to face her son. In he hands was a white fur cowl, which rested on the tabard of the Frostwolf clan. “Honor your heritage.”
Talgar stared at the tabard. His hands slowly reached out as if by their own accord.
“I will,” he swore.
It would be an agonizing few days, watching his father deteriorate and die a death with no glory or honor… but Talgar would be there for his father’s final moments.
And once Talgar left, he would – for the first time in years – at least look like a Frostwolf orc once again. Maybe in time he could find his way back to the traditions of his clan.
He owed his father that.