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Loose Pages Amidst Supplies
. . . in a leather knapsack on a traveler's back, upon which are scribed orcish runes in a steady hand.

Quote:I have never written something as this before. Uncle Tarakh has told me that it would be wise to record my thoughts as I begin my journey. Uncle Tarakh is wise, and so I have done so.

I do not like this paper. I am better to speak words than I am to scribble them, and so I feel constrained in my expression. I cannot tell as I truly feel, but I shall try. It is the best I can do.

I am writing this because I have done it. I have completed Om'riggor. I am a man.

My journey begins today.

Quote:I have spent the day walking in the sun. It turns out that walking is a far more tiresome way to spend a day than tending to the swine in mother's farm.

I huddle in the shade now, breathing deep. I have not exerted my arms in all the day's walking and yet I can barely lift them to write this page. It is a good feeling.

I rest in the Crossroads. Despite what I've been informed, my father, it appears, is not here.

I will find him. He must know that his son is not a failure as he predicted.

Quote:Splintertree Post. That is where I am headed.

The days become cooler the further north I go. It is pleasant up here, and I am not so tired. I see the forests beyond the hills ahead of me and I will reach them soon.

I have eaten from the body of a plainstrider. It struggled as I felled it. It died a good death.

The Rampart awaits.

Quote:I have passed out of the safety of the Horde's borders. I am in this strange woodland of eternal moonlight. It is not as frightening as I thought it would be. Rather, it is serene.

I quite like it here. I have not yet seen an elf, but then the grunts at the rampart told me that if they were to kill me, I would not see them.

I am watching my back, as I have been told to. It is exhilerating.

Splintertree Post cannot be far away.

Quote:Perhaps it can be. Or perhaps I have taken the wrong way. I have begun to fear that I have become lost in these woods, for I have lost sight of the road and am wandering without aid.

It is impossible to navigate here. The trees are too densely packed, and the eternal dusk means I cannot look to the placement of the sun to deduce the time of day, or tell east from west by the hour.

Moreover, I sense that I am being watched. Perhaps it is a predator. Perhaps it is an elf. Regardless, I will sleep lightly and with my bow and my arrow in easy reach.

I met a warband of my Horde-brothers today. Warsong, like my father. I asked them of his location and they told me they did not know him. It is odd - I had assumed they were a closely-knit group.

They were moving on the tree elf settlement called Astranaar. They invited me to join them, but changed their minds when they realised that I was unseasoned in battle.

I wished them luck and parted their company.

Quote:Today has been strange. It was a nightsaber, not an elf. I should be relieved. I suppose I am.

The nightsaber chased me directly into a small gathering of the creatures in the woods. This was not as lethal as I expected it to be.

When I was an inch away from besting it, the plants at my feet sprung up to envelope my ankles, my shins, my calves, thick vines acting as shackles. They watched the beast as it tried to tear my throat out and healed it as I did the same in turn.

I spoke to them, tersely at first, but then more freely. They were three - one of their Sentinel warriors, who threatened me throughout, a walking ancestor who spoke much wisdom and one of their tree-shamans.

I did not fight them, but I think I handled myself honourably. I told them to kill me if they wished and gave them every opportunity to do so. But they did not.

Perhaps they treated me honourably, as well. I had not thought the elves were capable of it.

The tree-shaman told me that the Warsong brothers I had ate and rested with yesterday had perished in their assault. I carry this news with me to Splintertree.

The walking ancestor spoke much wisdom to his colleagues.

The Sentinel escorted me back to the road and put me on the way to Splintertree. We spoke of battle and our peoples and I promised her a good death in honourable combat if we were to meet again.

My father would disapprove. Part of me hopes he is not at Splintertree so I will not have to tell him, but that part is weak and immature. I will silence it. When I find him, he will hear of my success in Om'riggor and of my travels so far.

Quote:Again, I have been disappointed. My father is not here. It is beginning to frustrate me.

The Warsongs here know of my father, but they do not speak particularly highly of him. Strange - mother had always told me he was an orc of great repute. Perhaps something recent has befallen him. Something that has besmirched his honour.

They have given me supplies and have arranged for a windrider to take me back to Orgimmmar.

It is an annoyance. My journey so far has been fruitless.

Quote:I met two brothers today, in the service of a Red Vanguard. Gok'tar Wolfson and Grazmot Windseeker. They are honourable, and they think me honourable. They commended me on my adherence to tradition and they believe that many honours await me in my future.

I told them I will not grow complacent in their praise, however. I will ensure that these honours are well-earned. I will make a good name for myself, one that my father will be proud of.

. . . I still don't know where he is.

Quote:It has been a curious day.

I met a sister by the name of Juna of the Wildhunt Clan. She is a farseer, and yet she is scarcely ten summers older than I. She is very wise. She spoke to me of our people's past and shared much wisdom with me, but she faced me with a difficult choice.

She invited me to fight alongside her in Nagrand against cultists who seek to defile what is left of our homeland. She claims that the broken Scourge and the beaten-back Legion are greater threats to our survival than the Alliance which encroaches upon our borders by the day.

We finished our chat with me inclined to believe her. It is an odd feeling to have one's beliefs challenged in such a way, but I learn from it.

She has given me money for supplies and told her to meet her in Nagrand. I will make the journey by foot. It will be difficult. I had told her that I feared that I would not be much of a boon to her cause.

If I survive this journey, I will have proven - perhaps to her, but definitely to myself - able to help.

Quote:Today, I booked passage on one of those goblin-made zeppelins. It is a curious contraption of wood and iron that stays afloat with air.

I make no pretensions of understanding it. But perhaps one day, I would like to. There is much wisdom to be found in those little creatures, I believe, despite their reputation.

My mother was visiting Razor Hill today for market and we spoke. She is impressed already by how I have grown on my journey.

I am not. I feel I have grown little. I yearn to know more and to experience more, and I yearn to fight alongside this Wildhunt Clan in the homeland.

The zeppelin leaves at dawn. The sunrise cannot come sooner.

Quote:I have just crossed the ocean in a boat that sails over air. I have arrived in Grom'gol.

I cannot stop laughing. The Grunts here regard me as a madman, I believe, and I cannot blame them. It is the simple absurdity of how I have reached this place that amuses me. I like these zeppelins.

I rest well and I eat well on the money Juna lent me. I have supplies enough to last for two weeks of travel.

Quote:This jungle is incredible. I have never seen anything like it, and perhaps outside of this jungle, I never will.

I killed a cat today. It was big and furry and powerful like the nightsaber that pursued me in Ashenvale, or the lion I slew for Om'riggor, but it was orange, striped with black. A tiger, I believe.

The trolls have a tiger god, one of their Loa spirits. This does not surprise me. It is a majestic creature and deserving of worship.

It tastes good, too, and the blanket I have made of its fur keeps the rain out well.

There is an arena not far from here. I will visit on my travels.

Quote:I have visited this arena. Interesting place.

I met one of the city elves today, one of those who drank of demons as we once did. I did not find her as dishonourable as I had anticipated. We did battle and she fought well. She fought as an orc fights, and I do not write that lightly. Celleste Whitegale was her name. I am pleased to have met her, and her shu'halo brother, and I was surprised to hear that their stated intention was to vanquish the Horde's enemies no matter what. Perhaps there is honour to be found in her kind yet.

Later, I encountered another of her kind while he and I were being harassed by this strange human. He touched my face and gave me strange meat and spoke in utter riddles before attacking the elf. With Whitegale's honour in mind, I stood up in defence of her kinsman, but this human's trickery bested me in the arena.

Later, I spoke with yet another of Whitegale's kinsman, one known as Zerkor Lightgiver. He spoke of a most curious goal - 'cleaning up Booty Bay'. I have not seen that place for myself, but he appeared honourable, if naive, so I pledged my aid to him if we crossed paths once more.

My defeat was a humbling experience. Perhaps it was necessary. I will not grow complacent again.

Quote:I have continued to walk through this Vale, and I continue to be astounded by it. It is truly remarkable. I could spend a lifetime between its trees and it would never cease to interest me.

However, I am feeling strange. It is hot and humid, and yet my body is cold and my throat is dry. My head and my stomach aches, and the places where the healers touched me yesterday tingle.

I have decided to set up camp early and rest. Perhaps meal and water and tiger's fur will stave off this feeling.

Quote:Infection. The wounds I sustained in the arena have become infected.

Healers useless. This damnable jungle will be the death of me.

I will continue to walk. If I am to die, I will die on my feet.

Quote:Symptoms worsened. Saw humans today. They did not see me. I think I saw them, at least. They may have been within my head.

Patrolling the jungle, cutting away at it with thick blades. Grunts, I believe. Lightly armoured in old mail and leather with one in robes amongst them. He walked with them. I am yet unfamiliar with their tongue, but I believe he spoke of salves and remedies while picking herbs. Perhaps he is their shaman? Their farseer? Hah, farseer . . .

Tell me, Juna of Wildhunt. Did you see this coming when you asked for my aid?

Heard trolls in the jungle this evening. They gave war cries and bellows. It unsettled me. More so, they did not leave tracks as the humans did. The only proof I have that they were not a trick of the brain is the shrunken head I found hanging from a tree in their wake. Perhaps they will eat me. Perhaps my head will be shrunken. Perhaps not.

I need to lie down. My strength is going as my mind is. I wish there was someone I could apologise to.

Quote:I will not die without honour.
((A warning for mild adult content in the form of some of Colonel Kurzen's troops making an appearance and acting like they're in a Vietnam War film (so, swearing). Apart from that, enjoy!))

Dhorgun breathed heavily, and the jungle breathed with him. The air seemed to rise and fall, to expand and contract, and the warm moisture it carried mingled unpleasantly with the cold sweat on his skin. More than anything, he tried to regulate his temperature – so why was he fanning himself so fervently with his hands if he was so damned cold? He didn't know, he didn't care and damn if he couldn't stop shaking. The way the air moved (he became gradually aware that it had something to do with the gentle breeze) and the cacophony of animal calls and hoots from all over assailed him hellishly. Everything was so acute; he was hypersensitive to the slightest of movements, and here there were plenty enough of those. He couldn't string thoughts together but for the occasional byte of self-pity. In spite of his insistence otherwise, he found himself rather dying, and doing so rather without honour, to boot.

This is what dying must feel like.
The sensation of skittering legs on every inch of his skin was not subsiding, and neither were the tremors that shook him uncontrollably. Images flashed up in his head, memories. The camps, old warriors settling down to rest for the last time, pestilence and disease . . . Ancestors, elements, whoever may hear me . . . help. Help. Please.

It seemed that nobody heard him, for nobody did. Some time ago he'd fallen to slump against a tree, and some time after that the burning defiance within him that urged him to get back up had been snuffed out by the sheer, burdening weight his limbs now presented.

Harder than tending the swine on mother's farm. It is a good feeling,
words came back to him vaguely, and he found himself, between wheezes, laughing.

Mother is already proud of how much I have grown . . .

The laughter didn't stop. His knapsack was in his lap; he was rather curled up around it, all told, holding it between his knees, hugging it with his arms, burying the side of his face into its cool leather surface for some minute comfort. With a trembling hand, he eased it open.

Pages spilled out with immediacy, loose, scattered by the breeze, exploding outwards like a whirlwind of paper knives. He started, breath catching, trying to prevent their escape. Through his blurry eyes, he caught glimpses of the writing on them. My father . . . must know that his son is not a failure as he predicted . . .

He gathered what he could in his arms and stuffed them back in his bag. Something approaching a bitter sigh came out amidst his struggling breathing. His father, it appeared, had been right about Dhorgun. It seemed that he would remain a disappointment indefinitely. After all, he couldn't make his father proud if he was dead.

It occurred to the young orc very suddenly and very acutely that he was very, very far away from home. Somehow, that seemed to make the prospect of dying unnamed and unknown even worse – he didn't even have the dignity of a proper burial, because he doubted the jungle would show much respect for orcish custom.

He shifted his weight against the tree and leaned deeper into it, half-choking as he felt bile rise in his throat. Here is my glorious death. Here is my honourable demise. He wanted to close his hand into a fist and break the bark of the tree with it, but even at the peak of his normal health he knew that was far beyond him. Now, he doubted he could squeeze the juices out of a fly between his fingers.

He looked at those guilty fingers for a long while before he noticed that they were still gently holding onto a scrap of paper that had been torn loose from a page in the flurry just prior. He turned it over, read what it said to him.

Tiger, I believe . . .
Smudged with the dirt of his fingers. Majestic. Worship.

His head lulled back suddenly, knocking against the bark, and he let his eyes flutter shut amongst that jolt of pain. He thought of tigers, unsurprisingly, and particularly the one he'd killed a few nights before. He pulled the crude sheath of its fur he had draped over his legs further up about himself as he felt the evening further encroaching.

It was truly an incredible beast. His first inkling of its presence had been a padding and a rustling, and then a distinct and threatening growl from behind. It should have heightened his defences, but the animal's wit had turned the ensuing act of caution into a dropping of them. By the time he'd turned around to investigate, it, in turn, had darted around to his now-exposed back while he searched for any sign of his mysterious foe.

He wondered how in all the worlds he had managed to kill it. He, an insignificant whelp with no name and no honour, putting such a magnificent beast to death . . . it almost seemed unjust. If he was to die, he figured, he would happily serve as a meal for a tiger.

His eyes snapped open at sounds in the jungle. Footsteps. Voices. Speaking in a language he couldn't immediately recognise. Arguing? Common. They're speaking Common. And they were familiar, too.

“ . . . just why the hell are we back here?”

His breath quickened, his pulse quickened, his thoughts quickened. The humans. The grunts and their shaman.

“Colonel's orders.”

He felt something that could barely be described as life returning to his limbs. He flexed them, moved them, tried to return to them a semblance of feeling.

“When was the last time Kurzen said anything smart? Told us to do anything productive?”

They were getting closer. He'd face them, he thought as his fingers snaked around the linen-wrapped grip of his bowstave. He'd face them, numb and addled as he was, and he'd find an honourable way out through their blades. It was a better death than sickness.

“Watch it!”

Dhorgun found himself grinning. He had lived all his life as a whelp, a youth, a weakling. He had lived without honour, but now, he would die with it.

“As long as our boys keep coming down with the jungle fever, we need to keep making this sapta-salve-thing.”

Dhorgun let his eyes fall over the small, indiscreet camp before him. Particular focus fell upon the shrunken head he'd recovered a night or two before, and inside his own, considerably larger one, something fell into place. Those trolls had made a fairly distinctive racket as they passed through the jungle . . .

“The hell is this?”
Jackson asked. Alex furrowed his brow and squinted to get a look at what his comrade was talking about, and when he saw it through the blur, he realised what it was.

“It's tiger fur,”
he croaked, throat still hoarse with the sickness. Lukas, the medicine man, settled a hand on his shoulder as he attempted to speak, but otherwise remained in his typical pensive, passive silence.

Jackson said, rising to his feet and casting it aside as though the animal from which it was derived was a mangy, flea-ridden freak. “But what's it doing here?”

“I don't know,”
Roger said as he sent a boot into a nearby knapsack. To Alex's surprise, it was full of supplies as well as a few loose pages, and they splashed out over the jungle with the kick like water from a ruptured skin. The burly man gestured towards it with his machete. “Maybe this is a poacher's camp or some shit. Nesingwary's got his boys combing the area, right?”

Jackson lumbered over to the spilled belongings and snatched up a one piece of paper among many. “Hell does this say? Looks like squiggles.”

Alex knew the youngest of their group to be illiterate in Common, let alone other languages. He'd a habit of describing anything that remotely resembled script – like that found on Gurubashi tablets, for an example – as 'squiggles'. What began as an amusing quirk soon became frustrating, however.

He knew Lukas to share his feelings, and the medicine man demonstrated it by stepping forwards and snatching the scrap rudely from Jackson's fingers. He watched the cocksure bastard square his shoulders, saw a hand tighten around a machete, but he ultimately did nothing as Lukas quietly looked the paper over.

“It's Orcish,”
he eventually said.

“What's it say?”

“'I will not die without honour.'”

“So some jumped-up greenskin poacher thinks he's worth shit,”
Jackson snorted, stabbing a piece of fruit that'd fallen from the bag on his machete and holding it up. “Realises the end's comin'.” He stuck out his tongue and let leaking juice drip onto it, and Alex found himself quietly disgusted. The man cut throats with that blade, after all. “I'm thinkin' he maybe ended up food for the trolls. Let's keep moving.”

“Should we have a look through his gear, see if there's anything--”

In Stranglethorn, Alex knew that one grows so accustomed to the gentle jungle ambience that sounds that aren't part of it, even if they're muffled by the business of beasts all around, stick out like sore thumbs. He heard a sound, now, and so did they. An ear-splitting screech, and then the pounding, the rattling, of wood against wood. A few bellows. Close, too.

“ . . . Sounds like we got trolls,”
Jackson eventually said, suddenly breathless. He flicked the fruit off his knife and twirled it in his hands. “Maybe we should go up to 'em, ask 'em politely where we'd find our Mister Poacher.”

“Hell with that,”
Roger spat, gesticulating eagerly with his wicked blade, “let's cut some heads off.”

Jackson paused, pursed his lips, licked them. “ . . . That's what I meant.”

“Oh. Oh, 'course, uh,”
Roger cleared his throat, “sounded like they were coming from north, right?” Alex shot a glance skywards to see the setting sun and the rising moon facing one another off amidst the fiery pink clouds. Knowing where west was, he decided that Roger was right.

Jackson said, and he jabbed a finger at Lukas and then Alex. “Doc, keep an eye on Mister Sick here, alright? Me and Rog are gonna go and check it out.”

Lukas gave a curt nod in response and no words, as per usual. Alex permitted himself the luxury of sinking back against a tree under the doctor's watchful, scrutinising gaze. He allowed his eyes to shut for a brief moment as he heard Jackson and Roger stomping and cutting their way through the brush off northwards. He was facing east, last he checked, and Lukas was facing west, leaning back against a tree as he was but remaining standing.

It couldn't have been more than ten seconds later that he heard another of those unfamiliar sounds. A whoosh of air and a wet thudding, and shortly thereafter, a gurgle.

Alex opened one eye, and then the other, and it was only after a moment of squinting and staring that he realised there was something incredibly wrong with how Lukas looked. The front of his robe was turning red, and there was something sticking out of his . . . oh, Light. There was something sticking out of his windpipe. A spike. An arrow?

Another such thing appeared as a blur crossed the air between them, this time landing under Lukas' ribs. Recognition barely shone in his eyes as blood flowed with enthusiasm from the corners of his mouth. He took a few strangled, watery breaths before he sank to the floor without ceremony.

He heard the rustling again, and now it was in horrifyingly close proximity. It was getting closer, still, too, and it came from behind. It came behind the tree he was in, so at least Alex could find comfort in the fact that there was a good few feet of solid wood between him and the troll that had murdered his doctor. He craned his neck to see, but only saw a twitching in the bushes beside him.

Then a brief moment of fire exploded across his side and rapidly situated itself inside his guts. Across his belly, warmth and wet began to spread, and Alex became distinctly aware that there was an arrow in him, now, too.

was all he could say, almost laughing. He pushed himself over onto his other side and heaved for weary breath.

He watched a shape cut out of the bushes and move silently across the camp, tap Lukas to check if he was dead (by all accounts, he was), and then take the satchel that hung on his shoulders. He observed it like a dream, his vision blackening at random intervals and clearing to show the scene had changed. Soon, he was sorting through the mess Roger had kicked and piling it all back into the sack it belonged in.

An orc.
Alex suddenly knew it was an orc. The orc, who Jackson had called Mister Poacher, in fact, its eyes brick red as his were glassy green. There was understanding in them, recognition . . . perhaps a little desperation, too. Maybe his mind was making that up. “Hey,” he started. “Hey, look at me.” Eventually, it obliged, and Alex couldn't stop himself from grinning.

“How's the whole dying with honour thing coming along?”

The orc paused, stared at him, and then swung the knapsack onto its back. “I think,” it said in clear, clipped intonation, with a voice just as hoarse, he imagined, as strained as his own, “you are doing a better job of it than I.”

With that, Alex began to laugh. He laughed until he died a few seconds later with a tomahawk in the neck, and the last thing he saw was bloodsoaked dirt. Then he was quiet, still, and looked oddly content.

Dhorgun left his axe in the human's neck and the shrunken head at its side. He slung his bow across his shoulders and ran until the sickness demanded his knees give out, ignoring the sounds of panic behind him as the other two human grunts returned to their camp.

Then he drank deep of his stolen shaman's sapta, spat half of the foul-smelling stuff out, and fell asleep wearing a tiger as he often found himself doing nowadays.
Quote:It appears I have succeeded. I do not know if I am still without honour, but either way, I am still alive. I owe two things thanks for this.

Firstly, I have obtained some of the sapta that was spoken of by the human grunts. It appears it is a remedy for a jungle illness that commonly afflicts those whose wounds remain improperly treated in these lands. I have several waterskins' worth of it, and drank from one last night. I woke up feeling my symptoms alleviated.

Secondly, I slew some of the humans I heard some nights prior. One of the grunts and their shaman, I believe. It was from he I obtained the sapta. I killed them, however, through trickery and deceit from afar and through the jungle. The grunt, at least, I executed with my axe. I wonder if I have done myself dishonour, however. The bow and arrow is well enough to kill game with, but never before have I slew a being of thought and feeling with it.

I will ask for the wisdom of an elder when I next encounter one. In the mean time, I survive.

Quote:I woke up this morning to a splitting headache and shivers. Symptoms have reappeared. It appears survival is not so easy as I would like.

I have taken a gulp of sapta and walked from morn till evening. Only now do I feel them returning to me. At an estimate, rationing what of the sapta I have left, I will be able to persist for another four or five days before the symptoms can take me without mercy.

I am almost out of this jungle, however, and I remain far away from home. I will have to endeavour towards a more permanent solution soon.

Spirits, I am open to suggestions.

Quote:I approached a bridge this morning and the world almost seemed to have changed around me. The trees vanished and the warmth and the wetness in the air seemed to trickle away with each step I took. Crossing it, I could see little but the darkness of dusk ahead of me, even if the sun had only risen behind me in the Vale.

The trees soon reappeared after a few minutes of walking, but they were black trees. Dead trees. Trees with branches that clawed out like the groping, skeletal hands of the dishonourable dead. I believe I have entered Duskwood. These lands, I have heard, are cursed.

I know I am entering the territory of the Alliance now, and as such I am wary of the roads. But it is what lies off them that I am more concerned about. I have been walking all day and I have been blessed to see little more than shapes, but intimidating shapes they are. Spiders the size of wolves, wolves the size of bears, bears the size of . . . I cannot even say.

It is cold. It is also raining. I have taken shelter under the branches of the biggest tree I have yet to encounter, am wrapped in my tiger-fur and my walking cloak, and spirits only know how I have kept this paper dry enough to write upon.

Sleeping will be a challenge tonight.

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