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Zeth'ugram [Orc Elder]
#1
In advance, I didn't mean for it to get this big. I'm sorry.

Reasons this character is 'special' for easier access:
  • Currently the leader of a guild supported by official shamanic/communal groups in Orgrimmar and Thunder Bluff.
  • Currently a respected elder within Orgrimmar, has a large audience and is friends with other elders in the city.
  • Has minor ties to the ruling group of the city due to running an 'official' society.
  • Has the ability to direct and order peons and to a minor, situational extent, grunts, should it be needed.
  • Was a moderately significant warlord during the Second War (150 subordinates maximum)
  • Was a minor overseer during the Third War (20-30 subordinates maximum)
  • Commanded a small camp and warband during the battle for Mt. Hyjal (15-20 subordinates maximum)


Player: Maulbane

Character Full Name: Zeth'ugram Mok-Gol’rand (translates to 'descendant of the axe of the winds').

Character In-Game Name: Ugram

Nickname(s): Variations of ‘scarred’. ‘Dark Scar’. Optional but highly encouraged honorifics for venerability, eldership and standing in Orcish society.

Association(s): Dark Scar clan (birth), Bleeding Hollow clan (former), Dark Horde (former), New Horde (current), Orgrimmar (elder, resident), The Earthworks (current).

Race: Orc

Class: Warrior

Age: 64

Sex: Male

Hair: Has whitened with his age. He currently double-braids what would otherwise be an impressive beard, and a chunk of the hair on his dome’s put into a topknot. The rest sits, scraggly and limp, down his back.

Eyes: Gamboge orange.

Scale/Height: 1.04

Appearance: Zeth’ugram has a body between an ageing scholar and a former warlord. His frame is large, and one can imagine he was once in peak physical condition for an Orc. Today, he has large portions of muscle remaining, but much of it is diminishing as he ages. His complexion is interesting - you can imagine his skin was dark before the Blood Haze, but it now has a pale greenness to it. More distinctly, the scars on his body - most of them criss-crossing his legs, with long ones across his shoulders and chest - have been chemically dyed coal-black, contrasting his skin. Taking after his clan’s heritage as Nagrand-born Orcs, he is stocky, with broad shoulders, shorter and denser legs, and a proclivity to more weight around his midsection. As he is less active due to age, he has grown fatter, which shows in his belly particularly.

Usual Garments/Armor: Generally, he wears a very typical outfit - comfortable cloth leggings for mobility in his legs and a metal-and-leather-strapped harness around the front and back of his body, leaving his sides and shoulders bare and wrapping around his neck. He wears loose-fitting boots, armored with a malleable layer of iron on the shins. Both his belt and gauntlets are large, mostly leather and cloth, but with iron insignias of the Horde affixed to them in the same manner as his boots. He eschews helmets or headgear of most kinds.

Other: Zeth’ugram’s gait is slow and deliberate - he suffers from arthritis and many old injuries. He carries a cane of carefully carved wood with a simple iron implement bolted at the end - ostensibly for counterweighting, but he usually uses it to hit impudent younger Orcs. As he bathes often with herbs he’s hand-picked, he generally smells pleasant.

Personality: Zeth’ugram is a stalwart traditionalist. While not agreeing with the more militaristic Orcs in the Horde, he believes that Orcs must come first and that a unified state for their people is the ideal which all should look to. Despite his strong convictions, he is riddled with self-doubt, stemming originally from his failure to meet his tribe’s impossible expectations. These feelings were further being agitated by an intense need to justify his existence to others as they were assimilated into the Bleeding Hollow; this justification generally takes the form of being as productive as possible, be it in the form of physical labour or (in his late years) being a pillar of the community and teaching others. As part of this desire to prove himself, he has learned huge amounts of information in his later years, having a tight grasp on a sweeping amount of disciplines including agriculture, herbalism, craftsmanship of many types and a great deal more. Having served in both Hordes as a leader of moderate significance, he also has first-hand knowledge of tactics and logistics, and he spent a huge amount of his life as a hunter - adept at but not mastering the trade. He has an extremely keen memory and an aptitude for learning, but these abilities have historically been impaired by his lack of initiative.

He is fearful of many things - he has become accustomed to physical danger, but he is terrified of more esoteric ideas like failure before his peers, the loss of those close to him - in the past and as a possibility - and the uncertain future of the alien world he resides in. He is haunted by his actions during the Blood Haze’s influence over him, and has feelings of both interminable horror and sympathy for both the Kingdom of Azeroth and the Draenei that most-times he dares not utter for fear of rebuke. However, he has no good will towards other nations of man. To mask these fears, he has a strong bark - not being afraid to shout or beat others to show he’s not a target for ridicule. He feels he has lost much of his life to the Blood Pact, a deep resentment he must constantly find ways to allay.

Growing up in extremely traditional Orc society, he respects tradition and Draenic culture more than the new additions by Thrall and Garrosh - neither of whom he believes are old enough to truly understand their culture. He believes that there is an acceptable level of violence that can be casually dealt out; having been regularly beaten as a child, be believes corporal punishment is required for personal development. Despite failing to become one and being cut off from the elements permanently, he values shaman higher than any other calling in Orcish culture, and has a one-sided respect towards the elements and spirits. He has a particularly strong superiority complex towards certain clans - he views the Bonechewer as barely-Orc, for example, and sees the Frostwolves as unworthy of their numerous accolades - being the descendants of mass-murderers and only surviving the Second War through cowardice. Despite this, he is most comfortable when their race is united - despite the perceived flaws, the superior clans will balance out the inferior. Despite advocating violence, he only advocates war if it’s required for their survival - which he views many of the wars they’re in as being so. To him, war must be both a passionate and a solemn undertaking, and he has issues with the flippancy in which many have been resorting to war in recent years. In matters of personal conflict, he will attempt to avoid blows - he knows he is old and unable to stand in a true fight. In a matter of honor, he will fight despite the possible injury.

His speech and actions are practical and when he does something, he tries to do it correctly the first time. Enjoying linguistics and having learned the dialects of many clans, he enjoys being able to say what he can with as much efficiency as possible, avoiding small-talk unless with someone he trusts and is relaxed with. Due to his inklings of inadequacy lingering even to the present, such people are few. He is quick to correct people on their mistakes, understanding it to be a role of an elder, and he often gives the impression of irritability when he’s with the young or inexperienced - often, that may be true, though he genuinely works to help them.

Towards the other races, he has assorted views. He has deep respect and interest in both the Tauren and Trolls, having many friends in the races. He distrusts the Goblins, but won’t refuse to talk with the Bilgewater. Where his true passions lie are the Forsaken and Blood Elves - two blights on the world and lingering remnants of the past he believes would be better cleaned out. To their enemies, his opinions are also mixed - he will align himself against any who show themselves to be an enemy of the Horde, but his passion depends on which race they are. His empathy towards the Draenei is crippling, and his memories of Elwynn forest leave him unable to hate Stormwind - towards the other nations he is far less reserved in his dislike. Having fought a protracted war with the Ironforge Dwarves he views them as cowards - understanding little more about them - and from what he’s heard of the Gnomes he can only understand them as some kind of joke that somehow populated - both of their recent instrusions on Horde land and their upsetting of the elements has sealed his dislike of them. He would fight Night Elves and disagrees with their decisions as a people, but holds no personal dislike of them. He believes that if they were more sensible, they could become friendlier. The Worgen are a matter of vague interest to him.

His goals are simple - he wishes to further Orcish society primarily. Through this and other means, he also desires to redeem himself for his actions in Shattrath and the Kingdom of Stormwind. Not so much as an aim so much as a repressed desire, he would one day like to reunite with or, at the least, know what happened to his family and tribe, who he became separated from in the crowd during the drinking of the Blood of Mannoroth.

History: Even before his birth, fate had lofty designs for this particular Orc. Not only would he become the first Shaman of his lineage in two generations, he would come to single-handedly raise his people from their torment. The starving would end, he would throw off the shackles of their oppressors. They’d unify the Orcish tribes in their disarray and restore the culture and civilisation of their people once and for all. Then, they would finally be able to destroy the Frostwolves.

At least, these were the ultimately false predictions that the few surviving elders of the Dark Scar clan had envisioned for the son of Keth’nar Mok-Gol’rand - himself the son of Torg’drek Mok-Gol’rand, who came after the powerful Dark Scar Shaman, Sar’telok Gol’rand - the axe of the winds. However, even he, with all his fabled tales of squalls coming to his aid, he wasn’t able to stop - or win - the Blood River War. Disagreements between the two clans turned into violence, ending in total warfare. Unfortunately, that ending was dictated by the Frostwolves in the Blood River War - the axe of the winds being one of the many casualties of the Dark Scar, his body lost among the innumerable dead.

Two generations later, the ones who survived - whelps, children, or simply the ones unlucky enough to have missed the battle - held on to survival through nomadism, their people splintering into different, miniscule tribes, one of which Zeth'ugram’s line now called family. Many considered the once-proud clan to now be sport, and Zeth'ugram’s group was constantly hunted by the Arakkoa and the more feral Orc clans. The spirits had turned on them with the destruction of their lands - rejecting all the meager tributes of Zeth'ugram’s predecessors, and leaving them without shamanic ability. The shame they’d suffered as a people, coupled with their new-found weakness, meant they had only been able to attend a handful of Kosh’harg gatherings in the previous decades, now avoiding them altogether as they retreated further from Nagrand. They numbered less than thirty, and so they had tentatively decided to be without a chieftain - a controversial decision.

Zeth'ugram’s future was dictated for him out of this desperation. Born into a small, squalid village on the edges of Skettis territory, he was expected to break the cycle, as they’d expected of his father and his father’s father, and he was the third descendant to carry his great-grandfather’s name. Keth’nar’s partner was a stalwart, powerfully built herbalist named Trellok. Unlike her mate, she didn’t carry the burden of an inherited honorific, and she never wasted an opportunity in using her keen eye to spot curative plants. Once she birthed the healthy Zeth’ugram, she kept within sight of their nomadic camp in case she was needed - which was regularly enough. Because of his importance, he was given treatment better than any of the other children - he had to be strong and agile of mind to work to his full potential, after all, and that needed good food. Four years of pampering and spoiling by the small community was to ease him into the hardships he had no idea he’d face - by his sixth birthday he was already being groomed into becoming the master shaman they knew he’d become. He was relentlessly coached on the history of the clan they’d once been, as well as the curse that his genealogy had suffered. When the elders taught the children how to speak in their ancient dialect, they focused on him above the others.

Once he was taught, he was expected to attend simple ceremonies - as many times as possible. Healthy and propped up by the family around him, he was able to perform the occasionally physically strenuous activity, and he forced himself to work with dedication - if only to avoid the beatings. Far too young to understand the forces he’d been flung into contact with, he worked out of self-preservation rather than understanding, feverishly abiding by his instructions. No matter how many times he drew runes in the mud, or built childish contraptions to chime in the wind, he wouldn’t get a response. It was that he was too young, of course - a few years, and he’d blossom into his true potential.

Their people no longer hunted like their ancestors, and if they did it was in large parties. Whenever one strayed alone from the safety of their camps, they inevitably became prey to the Arakkoa, or the cannibals, or even the animals themselves. Despite this, Zeth'ugram was young and impudent, even after the fear of being hit - of course he wanted to experience the thrill of the hunt. He was foolish enough to broach this desire to his mother, and the next day he’d nurse a split lip even while attempting to contact the spirits of air.

For all his small wishes of hunting and of being a warrior - as all Orcish children harbour in them - he began to learn his place. He was important - he knew it, and he had to work harder. Three years passed, and when he was nine not much had changed - the runes became more complex, the wind chimes made of brittle copper now, but their tribe was still on the precipice of slipping into barbarism. He tried to understand his parents’ reprisals. He hadn’t done anything wrong yet, and he was trying his best, even after so many days. The atmosphere in the camp - stifling at the best of times - had become volatile. The elders blamed Keth’nar and his wife for failing to raise him properly, and in turn Zeth'ugram’s parents believed it was the elders’ hubris that quashed their child’s potential. They had survived two generations without shamanic magic, but only on the hope that they could rekindle the connection. Zeth'ugram continued to spend every day trying - in his youth he was both inarticulate and unwise, but he started to become tempered. It was logical that if his parents were upset enough to beat him, he had to work to be less of a disgrace. Most of the other children his age - of which there were only a handful already - avoided him because of the ominous presence about him, except a child of one of the tanners, Vertok Gnashbelt. Their friendship would become close, if unpredictable - she was terrifyingly aggressive in comparison to the timid shaman-in-training, and was the only Orc outside of his parents who was brave enough to hit him. He didn’t enjoy being hit, but it was better than being lonely.

Around his tenth birthday was the closest they’d ever been to slipping into the degeneracy shown by the feral Orc clans. When he was younger, Trellok told him the vileness some were capable of - cannibalism of kinsmen, assassination, genocide - and that the cost of losing your dignity and loyalty was more than what they could bear. So, he worked harder still. having grown old enough to search for mushrooms and herbs found within the deep forests between his foreordained duties. When he returned from one of these trips, he was faced with the news that yet another hunting party had been torn apart - by either Bonechewers or Arakkoa. The able-bodied men in the village could be counted on two hands, the women slightly less. Three factions emerged - those who wished to retreat west towards the unknown frontiers of the Draenei, others who wanted to seek out the Bleeding Hollow - an island of culture and strength among what they saw as savages - and the traditionalists who wanted to hold on to hope and stay put, who were lead by Keth’nar and the elders, who had reconciled. Proud to the end, the three groups would neither compromise nor let each-other leave, lest they fracture they tribe even more. Conversations around meals became more hostile, especially as the meals were smaller and smaller.

Zeth'ugram needed to invoke a miracle, and no miracle came. Something - anything - to prove that he had a destiny, just to raise their spirits. Somehow, just with a little more effort, he knew he could succeed. There was a reason, after all, he had been chosen to take this position above all else. He was important. But it didn’t matter if he chanted until his throat was hoarse, or if he transcribed litanies into the damp soil, or hewed mounds of idols in tribute to the spirits. Soon enough, he’d worn himself out even beyond his dedication. The elders and the other children, Vertok included, all watched quietly as he threw his idols at the ground, screaming petulantly at them as he crushed them under his boots, one after the other, until they were all destroyed. Before his father could find him, he ran, far into the undergrowth and the forest, where he couldn’t be beaten or have to face his failure. He managed to escape his punishment for almost two days before returning, and that only made it more hard-hearted and unrelenting when it arrived. And of all the indignities they’d suffered, it was surprising that something as menial as a childish outburst from the shaman-to-be was what caused the group to come so close to losing themselves to violence.

It was one thing for the adults to argue, but the elders said this boy was supposed to rekindle their connection to the spirits, now third in a grand line of failures. When it was utterly clear to the tribe that Zeth'ugram, nor any of his descendants, would ever be able to earn their great-grandfather’s name or redeem them, acrid whispers and quiet challenges escalated. Even in his old age, the events of the coming day would remain completely lucid to him. Tennok Stoutarm was the leader of those who wished to leave for the Bleeding Hollow clan - and the most vocal against those who disagreed with him. As Tennok’s words grew more sinister, Keth’nar stepped in, chastising him for actions ‘barely fitting of a child, let alone-...’

After the first fist to his jaw, the discussion ended. It would be branded into his memory - seeing two grown men staggering in the mud.

As fog rolled in and turned the fire in their minds to steam and ash, the tribe became listless. Trellok told him to stop his shamanic attempts, that they could only serve to upset the tribe further. The fight had scared them into a weak, fearful peace, and as soon as they had risen, the factions fell back together. They were beleaguered and their spirits were crushed, but they had to stick together. Each of them knew what happened when a tribe descended into mindless anger and violence. Zeth'ugram, believing himself the cause of all this, started to adopt more responsibility - learning metallurgic concepts by quietly observing the craftsmen; simple herblore by testing the leaves he found on short trips out of the village and returning his results to Trellok. As an unintended benefit, he had more time to spent with Vertok - quickly becoming an impish and dominant figure among the other children - and even though his mother thought the one-sided nature of their friendship was worrying, she was wise enough to know he was toughening each day he returned with a swollen cheek, or a welt across his shoulder. As the months passed, the deep wounds from from his punishment healed into scars and he became more comfortable in this new, undemanding existence, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that the tribe was watching him with disdain. Those months soon turned to years as he learned and worked.

Insignificant changes happened in the nine years leading up to his om’riggor. There were two more deaths, a new child was born and they had slowly drifted even further west, inadvertently passing into Shattered Hand territory at least twice. Both times they escaped without harm, likely because they had taken mocking pity on the group, which was the hardest of all things for them to bear. In the years, Zeth'ugram had become physically powerful, at the least - in no small amount because of the preferential treatment in his childhood and Vertok’s merciless teasing of how how he’d become stringier and weaker. The others’ resentment had mellowed in the years, especially as he threw himself at his work. His continued failure to connect to the elements would haunt him, however, and over the years he had been relegated to an everyman, none expecting nor encouraging anything spectacular from the child who would soon become an adult. Even his parents became complacent, letting him wander and perform whatever jobs were needed of him at the time. His initiative had grown, even if his self-esteem hadn’t, as he went out of his way to aid the others in hunting and crafting.

No matter how Zeth'ugram or his tribe had fallen from grace, the om’riggor was perhaps the most important ceremony of their kind. In their fleeing from their ancient lands, they had made it impossible to return to Oshu’gun. Even if they were able to return to Nagrand with a shortage of capable hunters and warriors, now half way across the continent, they would have to once again face the Frostwolves. To stand before that clan - as inferiors, no less - and assume humility would be out of the question. The kosh’harg was a period of peace among all clans, but when it was concluded they would once again be fair game, and the Frostwolves’ motivations were harder to read than any other clan on Draenor. Instead, Zeth'ugram would perform his ceremony in the shadow of the Torokk’gaar (a foreign dialect none of them recognised) mountain ranges that separated the Bleeding Hollow and Shattered Hand territories. That was what the elders had told him he would be doing - the area resonated well with the spirits, and had produced many shamans for both clans around it. He didn’t protest, which had become common as he’d begun to tentatively gain respect in the others’ eyes. There had been times he had wanted nothing more than to scream at the elders for taking them so close to the Shattered Hand, but it wasn’t his place to challenge.

Instead, he worked tirelessly. Instead of carvings for the elemental spirits and complex runic equations, he learned to whittle spears and tan hide for himself. When they left Terokkar forest, the plains were less dangerous to hunt upon, and so he’d help in hunting parties of three or four. He thought - and hoped - he was prepared for his om’riggor after years of this training. If he failed, he’d be considered worthless and face severe punishment one more.

There were no talbuk here, but this wasn’t the first or last time they would be forced to betray tradition. Instead, the elders ordered him to find a crag worg, the most powerful of which bred in the basalt caves at the base of the mountains. Finding them would be pitifully easy - but they would put up more of a fight than a talbuk. The three remaining elders, having lost their shamanic magic, would have to rely on their own senses and Zeth'ugram’s word once he returned, something that terrified him more than the worg.

His parents equipped him. His great-grandfather’s axe had been lost as they fled, which would traditionally have been used in the ceremony. Instead, he was given a spear his father had carefully crafted in the months before, engraved with runes. Wearing nothing but his ordinary village garb - a breechcloth and a strap of leather which crossed his body - he went out. The camp was exactly two days from the closest worg sighting, and this was no accident - he would be given six days to return with fresh worg blood, and then they would search for him - or his corpse. Their group had kept close together, and his hunting trips were short and communal - he wasn’t prepared for isolation like this. He didn’t make a fire on the first night, hiding in a gully with his spear gripped tight in fist. On the second he dug a fire pit with his bare hands, cooking small rodents to avoid attracting anything larger. On the third night, he lay in a ditch, listening to the baying from the nearby caves, unable to force himself to move, and he’d only gather his courage by noon the next day.

His face was caked in blood when he returned to his tribe’s camp, half a day shy of the limit. He had to use his father’s spear as a crutch, his leg torn and crudely coated in leaves to stave off infection. Tennok oversaw the elders as they examined the blood, and assumed the role of chieftain for the ceremony. They managed to find enough worg blood between his own, and so he was proclaimed a full member of the Dark Scar clan the next night, surrounded by his family and his people. Tradition dictated, as part of their clan’s namesake, that the wounds he had been granted during the hunt would be immortalised on his body with an acrid paste. As it seeped into his cuts it dyed the flesh within, turning them as dark as coal - both permanent proof of his initiation and, as his father said proudly in the meeting hall, ‘a reminder - we are shaped by our scars as much as our destiny. The difference between us and savages is --- that we learn from our wounds.’ After both of his parents spoke in the ceremony and night begun to claim all but the nightwatchman, Tennok Stoutarm thumped him on the back, giving him words he’d hold close in the coming years: “There’s promise in you yet, Gol’Rand.”

He entered adulthood and the years passed. His confidence grew as his place among the others became legitimate, taking part in communal discussions - small as they were - and beginning to hunt more often. The terror he felt during his om’riggor was a distant memory as the years lapsed, and he would occasionally hunt worgs if they were close to them - but always within a group. The elders carefully plotted their movements as their village traveled across the plains - neither the Shattered Hand nor the Bleeding Hollow appreciated squatters on their lands, and their power was immense. Despite this, they were happy, and Zeth'ugram became a functioning, appreciated member of the tribe - something he didn’t even believe was possible a decade ago. As food stocks grew and they kept out of reach of the Bonechewers, who viewed killing them as ‘putting them out of their misery’, they only fought about insignificant things. His parents would soon be seen as elders, and Vertok Gnashbelt had reached the age of her own om’riggor a couple of years after his - she’d succeeded with only a jagged scratch down her leg and a web of bruises on her back, and when Zeth'ugram confessed to her of his fear by the crags, she laughed at him - then returned after the next day’s hunt to say that she’d been just as afraid. There were times he’d felt at peace, but feeling secure was new - he tentatively relished the opportunities he had to leave the camp and be without fear of reproach, but he never put more value on these days more than those where he worked for the tribe. The coastal strip they lived on undulated - the higher ground was craggy, the lower ground was vast plains. On some days he would hunt across the plains, others he would just lie prostrate on the rocks, letting the sun warm him and, if he were bold enough, try to commune with the spirits within. Their silence would open old wounds. Occasionally, he even brought Vertok with him, and she didn’t laugh - though, as he lied with his ear to the rock, grumbling plaintively, she often wanted to.

Two months after Zeth'ugram’s turning twenty-seven, they’d have their third encounter with the Shattered Hand. Only the larger clans on Draenor had the knowledge to form their own maps, and those maps would always conflict with others. Thus, the stretch of land Zeth'ugram’s fragment of the Dark Scar inhabited was recognised as the land of the Bonechewer, Bleeding Hollow and the Shattered Hand simultaneously, but only the latter ever put force to the claim. It was already evening, and the sun was setting, as they were set upon by the other group. They each had a party of four Orcs - with Zeth'ugram was Tennok Stoutarm and Vertok, equipped for ordinary hunting. The Shattered Hand scouting party, however, was much more fearsome, axe and spearheads gleaming even as it was overcast. As they surrounded Zeth'ugram and his companions, they seemed content with simply humiliating the group - they knew the sordid history of the Dark Scar as well as any. They likely would have left without harming any of them as they mocked them for running, for becoming no more than animals, until Tennok, the proudest and least patient of their group, stabbed the closest of them with his hunting spear. Zeth'ugram and the others were still as they fought in turn - subduing and stabbing him straight through the chest. The three of them didn’t resist as the Shattered Hand tied them, upside down, to the few trees in the plain, splashing a volatile mixture of ground talbuk horn and saps onto the ropes that restrained them. It was hours before they lost consciousness and the entire night after that before the morning sun ignited the oil and send them plummeting back to earth. Neither the spirits of earth or air cushioned his fall.

The loss of Tennok weakened the community - between him and Keth’nar, they were the seen as the most reliable hunters and warriors, and Tennok had the advantage of an unbesmirched family history. Zeth'ugram and Vertok Gnashbelt returned to the camp two days later, carrying his body. Two days after that and he was cremated according to tradition. In the time of mourning and gentle worry among the tribe, nothing was said of leadership, but Keth’nar would slowly adapt to the role of leading the hunts, perhaps without even noticing himself. Zeth'ugram was used to being ordered by his father, but the rest of the group was uncomfortable to begin with - just like the son, Keth’nar’s failure as a shaman had never been truly forgotten. They quickly returned to the flow of normal life on the surface, but Zeth'ugram would carry this with him - it was the first time he’d seen someone killed before him, someone he respected. And now, as a precedent was set, Tennok Stoutarm wouldn’t be the last.

A year passed. The tribe carefully avoided the clans around them and peace reigned once more. Zeth'ugram was now an accomplished member of the tribe, and he had taken Vertok as his mate. The jokes seemed legion - hat she was the one who made the decision for both of them; that she’d ‘beaten him not to death, but love’, but they’d concede there was no fakery in their love for eachother. Over the years, two more of their elders had died from old age, and Zeth'ugram’s parents had grown old enough to be given the title themselves - they were ten years younger than what was considered ‘venerable’ in the more powerful clans, but in such an unpredictable life they hardly had the time to wait. Vertok, a far more experienced hunter than her mate, would take the role of leading the tribe’s hunts from then on as Keth’nar began to suffer from arthritis in his shoulders and slowly relegated himself to services and rites of passage. Zeth'ugram didn’t quite fit into any station properly - he was physically in his prime, but he didn’t have the skills to hunt as well as the others - his eyesight was average, his footfalls were calamitously loud and his hand-eye coordination left many of his spears missing their targets. Despite this, he assisted Vertok and, while she and the other hunters did most of the work, they came home content. The encounter with the Shattered Hand didn’t get a sequel - they set up a careful system of sentries when they were nearer to the Shattered Hand border, they outright avoided the outskirts of the Bonechewer and the Bleeding Hollow regarded them with little more than vague interest - they had occasionally traded in the years that passed. From their perspective, they had little to worry about - cut off from the politics of Draenor once their clan was annihilated - but there would be rising tensions among the clans. The Whiteclaw and Frostwolves disagreed with the Shattered Hand and Bleeding Hollow on matters of tradition and the Bonechewers had different ideas altogether.. Distrust was rife, chaos and violence were increasing in the feral clans - even more than what was considered normal - and the latest Kosh’harg was spent shouting more than discussing. Of course, Zeth’ugram’s group only saw fragments of this - Bleeding Hollow scouts took armor onto the plains, now, and the Bonechewers had reportedly devoured a handful of Shattered Hand hunters and shamans just a week ago. Somehow, throughout all this, they remained peaceful.

A year later, shortly after Zeth’ugram turned twenty-eight, the Bleeding Hollow approached their camp. Their scouts - Vertok and another, younger woman of the tribe - had noticed them days in advance, and they had no choice but to let them pass. When they brought neither war nor threats, he was thankful. He could recall a surprising amount of minutiae about them. They numbered exactly nineteen. He’d never seen the huge, umber-furred breed of worg they ride before. Their spears and axes had been carefully prepared, the leaders’ encrusted with an immense green tourmaline. Most importantly, they wouldn’t demand anything of them as they stayed - in fact, they withheld their purpose for almost a day as they enjoyed the tribe’s hospitality. The warrior who led the others, calling himself ‘Endrok Stoneflayer’, tethered his men to their camp - far away enough to allow the tribe dignity and peace of mind, but close enough to run them all down should he want - and approached as the sun crested the dividing mountains the following morning. Zeth’ugram’s memory was just as keen when it came to the discussion between all the remaining elders - his mother and father included in a circle of six. The raider-commander talked to them for an hour, with carefully broached phrases like ‘... Devices larger than any of us are at work...’ ‘... The Frostwolves will founder, provided that...’ ‘... Your legendary strength in the past has not been forgotten, Dark Scar, and if you...’ And more honeyed words. The commander withheld his true meaning, but even so he spoke candidly - he could only have been more clear by saying it out loud. The Dark Scar clan, or this remnant of it, would become assimilated by the Bleeding Hollow. Their culture would be stripped and they would become devoid of identity, but in exchange they would get many benefits. Safety, security, strength in numbers, and the ability to exact revenge on the Frostwolf clan and their sycophants, the Whiteclaws. Even so, they had not decided yet. They were still the descendents of the Dark Scar, and carried their honor and heritage - no matter how small they now were. Endrok was asked to return tomorrow, at the setting of the sun, to receive his answer on their terms. After all, it may be the last decision they’d ever make.

The next morning, the entire clan was assembled. For such an important meeting of their people, nobody was excluded - even those who hadn’t performed their om’riggor were expected to speak freely. Of the twenty-eight within the tribe, the nine voices that wished to stick to tradition and retain their dignity - dominated by the elders, including Keth’nar Mok-Gol’rand - were ultimately drowned out by the other fifteen. Zeth’ugram and Vertok did what may have been unthinkable in the past - siding against their own parents, arguing for pragmatism and survival. The meeting tent could barely hold everyone within it, and the air was too stifling for heated words, but the intensity was unmistakable. The speeches were concluded and the decision was made in almost four hours, and Zeth’ugram’s father, standing as chieftain, ruled in favor of his son. The elders lamented their future and cursed the young’s lack of foresight as others celebrated.

The wait was excruciating for Zeth’ugram. Animals had pilfered food and damaged tents while the tribe was gathered, but he didn’t want to eat or rest. He sat in the dust, thinking about his childhood - for some reason, this uncertain period of limbo made him feel closer to his past. He drew symbols in the dust as Vertok watched, simple things - ideograms for a squall hitting the shore, the sound of world-plates colliding, soil carried by wind. She was quiet as he drew with such useless preciseness - the earth and wind would just devour the runes without response, like all the other times. As she said that, he nodded. He didn’t feel any calmer as the sun touched the horizon and the wind cleared his work away.

Endrok Stoneflayer left with his raiders shortly afterwards, content with the decision that had been made and trusting enough to allow them free travel, and so the tribe began working. Now that their fate was determined, they worked with expediency - three days to pack up their camp, a week to make it into Bleeding Hollow lands, twice that to reach their new home. The town of Vendak’var was on the frontier; it would have been the first settlement they’d entered, had they sought the Bleeding Hollows’ protection all those years ago. Despite being far smaller than the great permanent towns of the Bleeding Hollow lands, deep in the forests they had long retreated from, it still supported Orcs in the hundreds - even though the clan had calm relations and often traded with the Shattered Hand, the town was recognised for two things - its enviable bands of raiders (of which Endrok was only one of many) and the strong gemstones that lay ripe under the gullies and gulches of the otherwise flat, sparse land in all directions. As the tree-dwarfing, adobe-bricked structures popped up on the horizon one by one, the elders and the young were awed for different reasons. For the old, this was the closest their tribe had been to civilisation - true Orcish lands - in almost three generations. For Zeth’ugram, it was how he imagined all Orcish civilisation should be - and he truly was impressed. As they approached, Endrok approached them unaccompanied and welcomed them to their new home - and their new clan. He was candid as he relayed the Bleeding Hollows’ expectations of them - they would rebuild their homes in the south-eastern reaches of the settlement and help hunt, craft, build; anything that was needed. The schism that had formed between Zeth’ugram and his father was little, but neither of them would discuss their misgivings, deeming it either too insignificant or a ‘waste of time’. Instead, they spent their time guiding the tribe into their new homes and lives the best they could - alongside Vertok and the elders.

And so, they settled into life. There was no trickery, nor were they turned into a servile underclass as some had feared back during the meeting - Endrok had told the truth. However, there were difficulties. Used to subsistence working for so long, they could hardly keep up with the almost constant requirements for crafting and fresh meat. They looked different from the wiry, forest-hailing Orcs; the blackened scars across their bodies; their bulkier frames made them stand out, and their position in the town degraded in small enough degrees to be recognised as fair game for the local rumor-mill. Zeth’ugram, among a handful of others, escaped from gossip by working as hard as he could - most days he went on communal hunting expeditions with Vertok, but in others he tutored the younger Bleeding Hollows in Dark Scar crafts, which ingratiated him further. Growing pains were to be expected - one on occasion one of the Bleeding Hollow hunters found out about Zeth’ugram abortive life as a shaman and jeered at him, and Vertok defended his honor by giving the Orc a broken elbow - to the ire of everyone around her. On another, a group of drunken raiders decided they’d ‘borrow’ the Dark Scar tents and sleep there, laughing that they ‘lay about enough already’. Keth’nar and Vertok intervened before it became a brawl and they would escape reprisals, slowly integrating.

Half a year later, friction between the clans had reached levels unlike ever before, and Zeth’ugram’s people finally were able to hear what was happening in the world. The Frostwolves, the Whiteclaws and many of the smaller Nagrand tribes (‘no doubt they were coerced after the genocide committed against us’, Keth’nar would say quietly) had formed against the Shadowmoon and Bleeding Hollow, with more distant clans either uninvolved or following their own agendas. The patriotism - a shared enemy - brought them closer to the Bleeding Hollows. The fact that they’d brought no shaman to the clan was still a continued point of mocking, and one that particularly injured Zeth’ugram’s family, but they’d become accustomed to the rhythm of city life. Violence would no longer work against the amused glances and stifled words, especially as Vertok had been warned by one of the most revered shamans of the town to, in simple words ‘stop it - or else’. More importantly, the Autumn equinox, and the second Kosh’harg of the year, was about to happen. They didn’t have the equipment to bring the entire town to Nagrand, and they couldn’t just leave it emptied, so many Orcs stayed back - mostly ones who had no interest in the festivities, or no kin they wished to meet. The Dark Scar group, however, burned with curiosity, and with the protection of their new clan they felt more confident. So, all of them joined the group heading to Nagrand - Zeth’ugram, his parents, Vertok and all of the elders just some of them. With powerful warriors guarding them, the travel to the plains was almost a parody of their former weakness - where they once cowered from the animals and Arakkoa, now they didn’t even dare tread nearby. They carefully avoided the strange Draenei tracts of land - trade or no, they were still odd. They passed through the forest without issue - then made their way across the grand plains. They tried to hold their heads high, but they were all aware - here thousands of their kind were killed. Legends held the cataclysm to its namesake - so many died in the Blood River War that it polluted the earth, water and air with their blood - so thick that it formed a mist, oral tradition told. Zeth’ugram tried his best to remain confident, but he wasn’t confident. He didn’t have to do much on the journey, as the Bleeding Hollow warriors were just as good at hunting as they were fighting, but this just made him feel even more inadequate among his kind. Oshu’gun towered on the horizon as they made their last campfire on a long journey.

All the clans were there or arriving - all the clans that mattered. The Frostwolves and Whiteclaws didn’t have to move at all; the Bonechewer, Shattered Hand and the rest of the Bleeding Hollow arrived before ; the others were all still traveling - Warsong, Shadowmoon, Laughing Skull and Thunderlord all had sent riders ahead of them. Even with the sparse attendance, thousands of tents dotted the plains. The first night was uncomfortable - surrounded by other tribes who’d once heaped scorn on them and in the shadow of the stuff of legends, their traditionalist instincts kicked in and they quickly resolved to keep to themselves, practically huddled around the fire. They were hiding from the festivities - even shut off from their own clan - but it seemed perfectly reasonable to them. Oral tradition had turned the Frostwolves from simply ‘annihilators’ to something far more monstrous, and as they talked quietly to themselves, surrounded by the revelry around and about, they all had different ideas - Zeth’ugram’s first night was plagued with migraines plastered with the images of Orcs wearing the skulls of his ancestors. As he slept with Vertok, he wondered what the spirits - what fate - had in store for him the next day.

The morning revealed nothing. The clear skies of Nagrand seemed to make their fears seem trivial, cowardly - Zeth’ugram would soon be one of the few reticent left in their group, dragged along by his parents and his mate - literally, in the case of Vertok Gnashbelt. This was how much of their first day would progress - being taken from tent to tent, being coerced into exploration by those close to him. He facetiously complained, but it was the push he needed. They went from group to group - avoiding the scarier ones - and from meeting, to council, to competition. They would occasionally have trouble speaking to the more foreign clans, but body language was the same between all Orcs - especially after Vertok organised arm-wrestling between Zeth’ugram and one of the hunters from a marshland clan. Between their exploration and the endless slew of new things to learn, Zeth’ugram didn’t get any rest in days - or felt so. It took four of these revelry-filled days until the last of the clans - including the revered Shadowmoon - arrived at Oshu’gun. Their arrival only exacerbated the tensions that had begun when the Bleeding Hollow arrived, particularly with those accursed Frostwolves and Whiteclaws. And though Zeth’ugram’s curiosity was not enough to tempt him to seek out such genocidal peoples, he would spy them occasionally and manage to unsettle himself with thoughts of death and butchering. All, however, made attempts to see eye-to-eye, even between ancient enemies - such was the power of this ceremony. Neither Zeth’ugram nor his tribe-fellows had been able to find any others of their lineage under the shadow of Oshu’gun - his mother would privately wonder whether they were truly the last of their clan. To Zeth’ugram and Vertok, though, this was a chance to learn and to meet Orcs from far-away places, and that would continue until the end of the ceremony. And, soon enough, he gathered his bravery and approached the mountain itself in order to speak with his ancestors. He wasn’t a shaman, and so he would have to speak through a proxy, but it was something he was determined to do. He talked with his ancestors - despite being there for many hours, they were only able to say little to each-other, but he was still emboldened by whatever happened within the pools.

When the Kosh’harg finally ended, the Bleeding Hollow left in larger groups than they came, and Zeth’ugram’s group was delegated as scouts for a slower-moving caravan of Orcs. Vertok, covered in trinkets from almost a dozen clans, had been far more successful than him in making friends, and she’d also prove the better hunter as they trekked through the forest. When they returned to Vendak’var, they had expected - the elders especially - to be able to resume normal life, perhaps a degree of appreciation. What happened shortly afterwards was not what they expected. A single day after returning, Zeth’ugram and Vertok were awoken by drums and raised voices. Together, they left their tent to see Endrok Stoneflayer, speaking to their group. “They --- the Draenei, they’ve declared war on us; even after our hospitality, they scheme against us! This way. Now!”

The entire town was tightly gathered in and around the grand hall - it reminded Zeth’ugram of their own meeting, but far more imposing. Unlike the meeting almost two years ago, there was no debate. Those who demanded proof of such powerful allegations were told that the information had come from the Shadowmoon Clan themselves. Immediately, there was a consensus - they had to be proud and fight back. In a show of decisiveness, all but one of the town’s raider groups agreed to head west to aid their clan - the rest would stay, work and look after the town until they were needed elsewhere. Keth’nar’s group was relegated strictly to leatherworking and hunting without consultation - they were angry, but they wouldn’t get in the others’ way. As Endrok and most of the other raiders left, Zeth’ugram and the others consoled their injured pride by working as hard as they could, making armor and new tents for what would be an fight like no other. Just a handful of days later, Keth’nar would tell his son “Our people have been shattered once - it will not happen again.”

So far from the war, they were only able to vicariously experience the Bleeding Hollow victories - for the past two years, every six months an envoy would return to tell them how things were going, and they were going extremely well. The raider would devour meat in front of the fire, regaling his own victories against Draenei hunting parties and warbands. Zeth’ugram, and much of the Bleeding Hollow remaining in Vendak’var had less honorable roles, but no less important. He was reminded of his childhood as he nursed blistered hands, spending entire half-days stitching armor and tents to be sent to the warfront. Food, too, was sent out of Vendak’var - some of the Bleeding Hollow would complain as they went hungry, but Vertok Gnashbelt and her mate knew starvation far worse than this and shouted sense into them - as a matter of appreciation for their diligent work, they were silently allowed such small liberties. They’d grown more accustomed to town life and mingled more often since the Kosh’harg, especially as two of their group’s children had their om’riggor. Word from Karabor became infrequent, diluted to simple phrases by messenger - “Continue working”, “Await word” were popular. Zeth’ugram would rationalise the war with the Draenei much easier than Vertok, who left her complaints hidden to all but her mate.

The next two years would see only decline. Food shortages were tackled with stoicism - each year animals became more scarce; crops stringy and thinned out. Wolf-pelts were harder to find, so less leather could be sent to the raiders at the front. Zeth’ugram’s group did what they could - they revived old, tribal methods which were well suited to this, but no amount of fastidiousness could bring supplies from thin air. His father had become bedridden just weeks ago - an omen to the rest of them. They couldn’t keep this pace up for much longer, and if their empty stomachs didn’t claim them, the tiredness would. The dull fire most of them felt under their eyelids would transcend any remnants of prejudice that was felt towards the former Dark Scar. As Vertok drove the hunters to exhaustion to find game and Zeth’ugram worked until his skin blistered, they wouldn’t find the time to appreciate this. Their wishes became to simply to survive until tomorrow, and it was surprising they’d survived as long as they did when the Shadowmoon emissary arrived at Vendak’var. A near-venerable Orc, adorned with carefully shaped elekk bones across his chest, riding atop an armored worg. Zeth’ugram had never seen a more imposing figure in his life. His voice was unbecomingly gentle as he gave their orders.

They would go to Karabor.

They had no time to prepare, most didn’t know where Karabor was, they were still out of food, and yet none complained. Nobody would risk the ire of the shaman - purported to be sent by Kilrogg Deadeye himself. The elders of the entire town communed - two eldest of Zeth’ugram’s group joined - and they decided how to march. They took all of their supplies and most of the tents of the large town. For Zeth’ugram, the arrival of the ancient shaman would quell the fear of starvation and replace it with uncertainty. His words were unhoneyed, and they were only told as much as they needed to be convinced to abandon their home. For their group, it was a much easier decision than that made so many years ago. They would have to dismantle their homes, have adequate food for a long journey east, create an apparatus for carrying their sick and be organised enough to gather food on the move. Unlike many in the town, they were well prepared for this. Three days after being ordered, they pooled their supplies into the Vendak’var expedition and left.

Having been directed to (what he’d learn was) a Draenei temple on the edge of the continent and being forced to evacuate their home of some six years, Zeth’ugram felt like he shouldn’t feel at peace - unfortunately, he did. He rationalised that it wasn’t just him becoming feeble, it was the fact that they now had direction and purpose, be it a murky one. Unlike their distant past, they knew where they were moving and they were safe; unlike their recent past they were respected. Many of the Bleeding Hollow appreciated their work in holding the town together, despite it having been for nothing with the arrival of the terrifying shaman Hag’jal Dreamgrasper. He headed the procession, which all of them - Zeth’ugram’s parents, his mate, himself - saw as a distinct show of distrust. The shaman spoke little to even the respected elders from the town, and it was evident in Zeth’ugram’s mind that he’d been sent to ensure their arrival. For what reason, he was absolutely unsure.

They reached Shadowmoon Valley. Immediately he fell in love with the region. It was beautiful - the trees unlike anything else on Draenor, the air had a mythical quality to it and the ground was compromisingly soft to tread. The landscape and its wonder allowed him to ignore the slowly growing question of what was exactly happening - to the point where he’d careful craft idols for the elements. It was an art he’d bitterly shunned for a long time, but the clay-and-wood contraptions both served to distract him and to serve as a token of his lack of resentment towards earth and air. As each idol had been before, they were ignored. He had long passed the point of indignation, however, and as the children of the Bleeding Hollow caravan took particular joy in his creations he found a calling of sorts - dragging his family into craftsmanship to allow them the same distractions, when they were able (or strong enough, in his father’s case). The further they broached into Shadowmoon territory, the more they realised how many other caravans like theirs they’d been coming across. In the first week there were six, almost colliding with each-other in the twilight. They were Bleeding Hollow, too - but they had seen Bonechewer and even Frostwolf travelers less than half a month ago, on the same path. Zeth’ugram was perplexed, but he had respect. He would not question.

The closer they treaded, the more Orcs they saw. If each convoy and camp of Orcs they’d passed so far was the size of theirs, they had passed at least two thousand Orcs already. Vertok was vocal to Zeth’ugram in her worries, and he wasn’t able to comfort her - the wistful, calming feeling he invoked when he observed the elements, in spite of their spite, seemed to be alien to his mate. She was at peace when she was sure of her surroundings and herself - neither of those things were certain as they traveled deeper into the valley, passing immolated Draenei villages and camps.

Even as the once-called Temple of Karabor was just a dot on the horizon, Orcs were camped as far as the eye could see. There were more Orcs in this dark, winding valley than Zeth’ugram thought there were Orcs in existence - so many that the ancient dialect of the Dark Scar had no method of counting them all, all with flags he’d never seen before. It was only when the wolf-drawn cart ahead of theirs abruptly turned into a gully that they realised their journey was over. The scene in front of him reminded of the Kosh’harg - his anxiety diminished as he heard his father speak from his makeshift bed. “I didn’t think I’d see our race together like this---... Not in my lifetime.” It was true, this was the solution to their problems. Unity.

Hag’jal Dreamgrasper stood atop a platform.

“You are the people of Vendak’var. You see yourselves as Bleeding Hollow. The chosen descendents of Kilrogg Deadeye. Your accomplishments run long enough to exhaust any story-teller. And yet you are in peril. We are in peril. None of your intricate poisons and carved leather will defend you, none of your armor will protect you, and none of your pride will shield you. Who are our enemies? Which people seek to undo us?”

The Draenei.

“Wrong! The blue-skins are a false enemy - a test for you, your family, your clan - your people. You will soon understand. You all know of the planning the outsiders have made against us, the disgusting rituals they have performed even in the face of us, the inheritors of this land. Our ancestors tell of how we overcame the filth that are the Ogre. Even the Gronn came to fear us. Why is it, then, that an alien people, bearing themselves like talbuk - befitting as they are animals in all but their insidious cunning - was allowed by your clan to grow so far?”

They traded with them.

“They built cities of crystal taken from Orcs, made armor from game that the Orc first learned to hunt, then they decided we weren’t needed. We were only saved by a message from our ancestors. How is this acceptable from us?! The Orcs, who subjugated the Ogre?! No! Our enemy is ourselves - a disease of our minds!”

They were weak.

“A disease that let us fall into weak pride, long before now. We, a people who once knew nothing but survival, forgot how to survive. We set up comfortable borders; became content with little. We let the Ogre repopulate, hid on perches to avoid the Gronn. Fought among ourselves, destroying entire clans. Even when our people began breeding with Ogres we were not alarmed!”

They were warned.

“The Draenei saved us! Without their feeble plots to rouse us, we would have slipped further! Our pride becomes more deceitful with each new child, each om’riggor easier and more futile. No longer do we discuss the tribulations of our people at our meetings, we speak with friends and become docile. We hid behind our safe boundaries, pretending that other Orcs weren’t even Orcs.”

They distrusted each-other.

“This disease has gone on unchecked for too long. Some of you jeer at me - I hear you now. Why is it, then, you let me take you from your homes? Your static bricks? You had let yourselves starve! An Orc of the most vile, dishonored clan would not allow himself the humiliation of staving, yet you - Vendak’var, Bleeding Hollow - let yourselves. Hiding in the plains with nobody to aid you. What is a clan without their people? Ha! Nothing!”

They were fragmented.

“And what is a clan without other clans to guide them? To kick them when they are insolent? To chastise when they have fallen? What use is this disunity? None! This is why you are here, surrounded by more of your kind than have ever been. We - not the Shadowmoon, all Orcs - have learned how to remove this blight, how to bring our people together, to destroy the Draenei, to kneecap the Ogre and the Gronn! Why do we fight each-other when we are stronger united? In the shadow of Karabor, a fortress of the enemy, we sign a covenant of ”

One Horde.

Zeth’ugram was not the only one enthralled by the words of the shaman. His was not the only voice that rose up. He screamed in testament to the shaman, and even when his throat burned he couldn’t rise above the hundreds more surrounding him. Even so far from Karabor itself, as they marched he was crushed by the throng of Orcs. He couldn’t look anywhere but ahead, he couldn’t see any familiar faces and it sounded as if his footfalls were crushing brittle things underfoot, but he couldn’t worry about such trivialities as they went on. He didn’t even feel tired.

When they came to the pools of meditation, he had to wait his turn. Thousands ahead of him were sealing the covenant of unification already. It was minutes before he could even see the surface of the pool, and when he finally reached it he drank until his stomach wouldn’t allow any more. The shaman’s words were not lies. In just the first sip, he felt more capable - his strength no longer simply passable, all the self-flagellating in his mind diminishing until it was just a hiss of steam under the roaring of the bellows. Once all the other pesky, unnecessary faculties in his mind were quietened, everything became so simple to him.

The Horde did not linger in Karabor for long. Once the furious celebration dimmed, their marching turned to the first of many - the Draenei. The blue-skins put up a comical resistance - one deserving of traitors and whelps like themselves - and it wouldn’t stand against the might of the Orcs, not now that they had found their strength. Much of them, Zeth’ugram, had lost their place in the crowd once the rites had begun, and now in the fervor of forced marching it was almost impossible to find his group. He fell in with other Bleeding Hollow from the forests, unworried by the lack of any recognisable Orcs, or by the fact that he was unable to find any of his former possessions. After all, he was strong now, that was all he required. The caravan was different, this time - most of them walked, their legs sustained for hundreds of leagues by means that surely couldn’t be natural. The young and the old were missing - left at Karabor or on the carts, Zeth’ugram would muse to himself. They wouldn’t be able to help them, anyway. He now wielded a great-axe to destroy trees when they dared obstruct their path - the elements had never listened to him, why would he kowtow to them now? Cleaving a path through the valley, the coastal plains were trivial to cross. There were so many footfalls that they packed the earth with their movement.

Perhaps before, they would have thinned their caravan and used the ancient, spirit-abiding paths to make their way to Shattrath through the forest. Now, they understood how laughable that was - the haze in his mind dictated that these trees must favor the Draenei, hiding them so they could plot in safety. Now, that was no issue - these trees, which once shrouded him from those who would harm his people, were now in the way. The Arakkoa they passed cowered in their covens as they slashed and burned a path to the Draenei’s sordid capital. For the first time, Zeth’ugram actually saw the war as it had been fought before the pact - brave, but ineffective and weak. They passed countless corpses of Orcs and Draenei, crumbled villages pigmented crimson, until they could see - once the trees were dealt with - the city of Shattrath, in all its stolen glory. The sacking had begun. Zeth’ugram couldn’t see the Blackrock’s engines of war, but he heard them pealing in the distance. The outer walls were a pathetic assemblage of rocks and lumber, they’d fall quickly. He could see forest Ogres in the distance, marching to the tune of Orcish drums - how it should be. The walls fell, and he would charge alongside his people.

While the Blood of Mannoroth had dampened his conscience and awareness, it only sharpened his memory, and he would remember what happened here in explicit detail. He found an opening in a shattered wall segment. His vision was constantly burned with flashes of unnatural light, but he could do nothing but charge. He didn’t even pause to think when he faced the first living Draenei he’d ever seen, pitifully small compared to the countless corpses they’d trampled as they passed the ruins of Telmor. He didn’t even get a chance to kill it - half a dozen Bleeding Hollow overtook him, slaying the small paladin immediately. They ran through the streets of the Lower City, and the light-wielders were overwhelmed. Zeth’ugram killed four - two female, two male; one armed, one a child.

The comical alacrity with which they’d destroyed the final ‘bastion’ of their civilisation was the last proof his mind needed that fate was on their side. Even after they had won, many of them, including himself prowled the forests for more to kill as the clans banded together once again. As they lingered in the ruins of the city and days turned to more days, they became restless. Zeth’ugram volunteered to help dump the bodies to give himself something to do - the blood coursing in him agitated him to find something to fight and kill, but there was nothing left. After he tossed the twenty-third body into the pit, he could find no more, and the restlessness began. The Orcs began to bicker - they weren’t moving! The Ogre were slaves! Their enemies had all fled! How was this honorable for a Horde? It only took two weeks after the sacking for them to start biting at eachothers’ heels. First they grunted, then they yelled, then they fought. Zeth’ugram dislocated the arm of some insolent Bonechewer, and as their skin grew greener, the scars across his body became more pronounced; he used them to intimidate any who’d approach him. After all, he was important - more than these whelps.

The Horde began to lash out against itself, brawling becoming commonplace in increasingly vile camps through Terokkar. It was at the point where clans began to side against each-other that the Shadowmoon finally arrived to order them. Zeth’ugram had come to see them in an almost deific light. Just like their prophetic ancestors, the shaman saved them from devouring themselves - sending them on to march once more. He was so enamored with growing clout - both in his callusing fists and in the eyes of those he broke in single combat - that he didn’t even ask where the Shadowmoon had been, or why they were now moving East - towards the Shattered Hand lands. There were no enemies there. He would still have the utmost faith in the shamans. After all, they saved their race and their wisdom was renowned.
As they passed the Shattered Hand’s Hellfire Citadel, surely there could be nothing ahead of them. The Shadowmoon had been selective with their information, but now they rallied the Horde - talk of ‘an enemy like no other’ filled the patchwork Bleeding Hollow march. Immediately after, word was circulated by the shamans that ‘The Frostwolves had been utterly crushed for their betrayal of the Horde’. The knowledge lifted his spirits - he didn’t wonder why they hadn’t told them of this long before, and any around him who dared complain of anything would have faced his increasingly fierce disposition. The Draenei were destroyed, the Frostwolves and the Whiteclaws were slaughtered, the Ogres were little more than equipment - and now they were being herded to the end of the world! Nothing could be better.

He didn’t expect the Dark Portal to be as large as it was. This, Zeth’ugram reasoned as it towered above, this must be where the Blackrock were ferreted away when they - the Bleeding Hollow - were actually fighting! He kept his mouth shut, though, when he saw the work of Blackhand - their new chief, to whom they were now blood-bound. He didn’t mind. The closer he got, the more fevered he became - Shadowmoon soothsayers goading them towards it with words of ‘a gate between worlds’ and ‘a new future for our people’. He didn’t need convincing. He stepped through - along with the tide all around him.

The feeling of going through the portal was a horrifying one - his body felt lacerated at every point. Even with the cloud in his mind, he’d momentarily fear for his life. Then, it stopped. This swamp-world was alien, but the demon blood seized him before he could fear how unnatural it truly was. The scouts had already given them a path, and they began to work. There were no enemies in this pit - only disgusting animals. Any world that harboured a six-legged snake-beast deserved nothing but the torch. Zeth’ugram was tasked with the Bleeding Hollow as one of many advanced groups, working through the undergrowth to find their foes. The few Shadowmoon who’d entered the Black Morass were esoteric to the end, ensuring them ‘they would know their enemy when they saw them’, that the ‘small, pasty creatures’ were ripe for slaughter. Zeth’ugram camped alongside twenty other Bleeding Hollow as they pored through the trees of the swamp.

When they saw the pale dogs for the first time, all hell broke loose. They were deep in the jungle, so the only option was to kill - as if there were any other! The four pale, weedy scouts didn’t even attempt to fight the Bleeding Hollow charge. Once he had broken them - these tiny, insignificant things - his stomach rumbled for it. The Bleeding Hollow followed the rest of the Horde - one step ahead, scouring the jungles - from the Dark Portal to the fort of Kyross, to the Borderlands. They were an unstoppable war machine - and he was a part of it. They ambushed; cut down all that this pitiful ‘humanity’ had to offer - unprepared, pallid little groups of men. He didn’t bother putting the numbers of their corpses to memory, as he had no anger against them like the Draenei - they were just prey. It was an appropriate term once Blackhand’s victory at the Borderlands sent them running - and the forest-versed Bleeding Hollow were perfectly equipped to destroy them. Zeth’ugram may have been less effective at traversing the bogs and haphazard foliage, but his larger build and the jagged, darkened scars across his body - things that once made him an outcast - endeared and elevated him among the leaner-built Orcs all around him
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The Deadwind pass was difficult to traverse for them. Worse still, when they emerged from it they were faced with the unwithheld force of Stormwind - Zeth’ugram led his increasingly loyal group with the rest of the Horde at Azeroth’s bulwarks. The first true experience of slaughter to him was at Grand Hamlet - since the teasing at Shattrath, the blood latched to his mind demanded more. Grand Hamlet didn’t disappoint. He didn’t do the brunt of the killing - that was what the other clans were for. Instead, once their fancy lines were broken, they broke from the other clans and slaughtered farmsteads, one after the other. These sedentary Humans drew his pity like animals should - their buildings all at meticulous angles, their roads precisely straight, all to become rubble. They - he and his warriors - feasted on alien meat in their homes, laughing at their irrelevance in this world that would soon be theirs.

It continued that way for months. They hunted, they ate, they laughed. While the main Horde pushed through Southern Elwynn, they cleaned up the routed and the weak - if he cared, Zeth’ugram could have counted more than a hundred deaths to his band of warriors. They didn’t mind that they missed the slaughter of the fattened den of Sunnyglade - they became more and more comfortable in these foreign woods, avoiding the large packs of this interesting animal - then cutting them down when they were small. They were Orc - adaptable. The Horde’s victories in the mountains around Lakeshire meant more of the Bleeding Hollow could bolster his own forces - the Orcs who’d grown to respect him doubled, and together they helped cull Elwynn, stead by stead. They had not kept abreast of news from other clans; they were often remote.

The Horde had been split into so many pieces that he felt it a waste of time to track them. This is why he hadn’t noticed much of the Horde - many of those in Elwynn - march away, up to the mountains. It was the work of Orgrim Doomhammer - as was the subsequent crippling of Blackhand’s armies and the execution of their warchief. He was confused initially - for a moment, he was angry. The untainted Orc within him was angry - this was not unity. The tainted Orc within him quickly rectified it with apathy. As he turned to indifference over the death of his leader - who, admittedly, he never really knew - his warband would follow suit. Any who clamoured for revenge - or, worst of all, called him a coward - would get their own scars to decorate. Then, they simply continued to kill, eat, sleep and burn. He preferred cattle farms.

They had a lot to fear from the Brotherhood of the Horse. Zeth’ugram, at the least, was tentative of them. They moved in circles around the ‘Horde’ with impunity. Under Doomhammer’s banner, they moved deeper into Elwynn. When the Brotherhood of the Horse was crushed, Zeth’ugram would feel impunity. When Orgrim crushed Goldshire, there was nothing in their way - they marched to Stormwind as if they owned this world. As the kingdom evacuated - ‘ran, like animals’ - there would be an agitating lack of things to kill.

Stormwind had many things to kill. The siege was not like Shattrath, no. This time, he had Orcs at his call, and the defense was even more pitiful. When they broke through, they ran through the streets, howling, killing. He didn’t differentiate between the young, the old or what he assumed were females - one did not discriminate such things in cattle and game, after all. The blood in him made him happy; they had crushed a kingdom in the bat of an eye. In the throes of celebration, Zeth’ugram took a dagger and tar to the few wounds he’d taken during the slaughter of Stormwind, memorising them into his flesh.

There was a brief time of respite, but the lust to keep moving and fighting took hold of Zeth’ugram like all those around him. The Horde had become organised, and the Kilrogg Deadeye collected his clan; Zeth’ugram’s ‘exploits’ in the forests had been deemed important enough to give him an official position of command, with ninety warriors to his name. It was just as well, as he’d lose almost fifteen during the brutal march north to Khaz Modan.

The Dwarves had no chance - if these small things didn’t believe it, the Orcs definitely did, and it showed. Once they broke through the defenses of the Valley of Kings, the rest of Khaz Modan fell in the same way. Zeth’ugram’s fought alongside the rest of Kilrogg’s forces, and he distinguished himself due to luck and a lack of self-preservation, charging directly into musket columns. As Khaz Modan was conquered and settled - all except the towering Dwarf capital, which Zeth’ugram rationalised they would topple once the rest of this sordid continent was dealt with - he was given thirty grunts more and command over a long, narrow stretch of land in Dun Morogh, to defend and administrate the crucial refineries and mines with the rest of the Bleeding Hollow.

That was how things would for many months. Dozens of iron-and-leather tents along a winding ice cliff marked his new home, with his personal quarters dwarfing the others by far. Zeth’ugram’s command left much to be expected - he was not a tactician. However, the Dwarves routed and the snowy wastes empty, he had little chance to make a mistake even if he wanted. His warband would befriend the Frostmane tribe of Trolls, who had one of their many holdings within his allocation. When Cho’gall inspected the region’s refineries, he only gave a cursory glance to those within Zeth’ugram’s land, but the Bleeding Hollow commander was astonished by the leader of the Twilight Hammer - he wondered if this two-headed Ogre was one of Gul’dan’s fabled experiments, now leading an entire clan. The otherwise uneventful charge, combined with the needle-like blanket of cold which covered this vile land, caused his mind to wander to intrusive thoughts. He thought about existence before the Horde - little more than a quagmire, but he believed that he may have had a family before. He couldn’t quite remember.

This path spiralled on for some two years. As he found himself increasingly unable to dredge memories, he’d only grow angrier and - as the blood’s hold diminished slightly and couldn’t induce the apathy - fearful. He grew violent as an outlet; once he’d nearly beaten a peon to death, he realised he had to distract himself. Constant work would prove to be a solution to his worries, even if it meant hours in the frost, almost killing himself by hypothermia on six instances. His warriors saw his terror as bravery and initiative, and were only made more loyal by it.

Zeth’ugram had kept himself knowledgeable towards the war in the north, one of many distractions. Unlike before, now he knew of Gul’dan’s treachery - how he and Cho’gall had taken their forces, seeking useless artifacts. He’d have been angry, were he not so tired. As the Horde was pushed out of Lordaeron, Dalaran and Stromgarde, things were dire. The armies of man had not squandered their opportunity, and in a short time messengers were telling him the Alliance of the Humans and the rumored “Elves” Was gaining momentum. Kilrogg Deadeye was gathering his forces in case the Blackrock faltered, and that would include all Zeth’ugram had to offer. His hundred-and-a-half warriors and labourers gathered with the rest of the clan, prepared to hold the Ironforge Dwarves within their coward’s-mountain for as long as possible.

The longer they waited, the worse things appeared. The Alliance of Lordaeron had sent the Blackrock and the Warsong fleeing south - far past the Bleeding Hollow who had gathered into the heart of Khaz Modan. They were surrounded, and as their supplies were cut Zeth’ugram’s men had to survive on less. Boxed-in, hungry, besieged by self-doubt and having gone so long without battle, Zeth’ugram grew timorous; he was unable to order his troops, leaving them under the eye of another stripling of a commander as he withdrew to his quarters. He did little more than eat and drink, hoping to somehow preserve the fury and violence he’d once been able to conjure so effortlessly in the past. It didn’t work. Kilrogg made the order to fall back south before it was too late.

Hiding and moving one-hundred-and-a-quarter men with equipment through steep hills was not easy, much less an entire clan. Zeth’ugram had gathered his mettle as much as he could, walking alongside his men. They made it over the unpopulated mountains with acceptable deaths, back to the lands North of Blackrock Spire. The heat of the land rejuvenated him, giving him more control over his movements and mind - letting him conjure some passion and commit directionless violence upon his own tired warriors. They passed thousands of fellow Orcs, many from smaller clans, all retreating to the same place. When they reached the safety of the mountain, they were thrust into preparations for battle that lasted little over a week. Zeth’ugram’s apparent good fortune in becoming important and being promoted would now come to hurt him - late and of low rank, he was assigned with advanced guard, within sight of the front lines and far from the rest of his clan. In his mind, he he tried to calm himself despite inevitable death. As it wasn’t time for postulation, he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with his men and waited on the precipice of the Horde’s ranks, boosting each-other into a frenzy.

The Alliance did not waste time. Some part of Zeth’ugram’s rage-riddled mind subconsciously noted how many and how organised they were, and how dissimilar their forces were to the Kingdom of Azeroth or the Ironforge Dwarves. Their knights and their archers tore through ranks, peeling line after line of Orcs away, until finally Zeth’ugram’s forces were face-to-face with the Alliance, lasting pitifully. Zeth’ugram saw his first High Elf before being immediately impaled and felled on the creature’s spear, passing out and being covered by yet more bodies. He was spared the sight of the rest of his troops being slaughtered as he bled and slumbered.

He woke in the same place. Crawling, he found they had lost - Humans methodically picked through the remains of the Orcish front line, dragging the living and appearing to mark the dead. There were far fewer corpses than he’d thought there should be. When he was spotted, he was taken - too weak to resist, they dragged him to a line of thousands, all restrained, most of them wounded as he was - some of them dying immediately. He had not prepared for this machination of humanity - imprisonment.

He tried to struggle, but they had brought chains. They marched north days later, retracing the steps he had proudly taken years earlier, now humiliated. He was too delirious from blood-loss to truly comprehend his situation, and he patiently waited for the return of the Horde - they must have fallen into the mountain, or scattered to ambush the Alliance further north as they moved back. As the days rolled on and his increasingly thinning form was made to survive on impossibly small rations, he unsuccessfully tried to find any of his former warriors in the crowd. This was not how an Orc should be - he somehow knew that, and he felt very angry about it. With nothing but the back of the next Orc in front of him to concentrate his impotent rage on, his mind inevitably focused to the memories that had been dragged to the periphery of his mind. He was trapped in the hell of his own mind for so long, with no idea how long it would last, that he’d begun to consider ways to ‘accidentally’ fall onto the jagged rocks that occasionally presented themselves on the side of these vile, orderly roads. His first and only attempt only gave him a fracture in his skull.

The internment camps were much worse than the walking. Walking kept the blood flowing - let him think, feel. When the Alliance dumped him a camp in the Arathi Highlands, he became like all the others around him - aimless. The highland cold slowed him, the lack of food weakened him and the withdrawal of the demon-blood slew any chance of true action the Orc might’ve had. Only the fortunate received quarters inside the Human’s wooden, neat buildings, and he was not lucky. He eked out an existence sleeping in dirt - most-times mud, occasionally worse. As lethargy inevitably began to sink into his mind, he became free from thoughts of guilt or culpability for his actions, which he would have been thankful for, had he not dedicated the little volition he had remaining to simply surviving into the next day. Months dragged into years in a stasis-like fashion. News outside of their bubble was impossible to find, not that he was interested anymore, content by the meager fact that the guards rarely hit them anymore. He had new friends - a circle of half-emaciated Orcs who pooled their food together. When they did have the drive to talk to each-other, it was to discuss things of importance - who needed the most food today - and little else at all.

The weeks leading to their freedom at the final internment camp were full of agitation from his guards - they became less languid, preparing for something. He only cared because he thought it meant more food - more survival for tomorrow, and the day after that. On the day before, the guards seemed afraid - they indiscriminately shoved the Orcs into their cages and quarters, shouting at each-other hurriedly. He couldn’t see outside, but he heard many footsteps. The part of him he’d come to loathe shortly would have hoped it wasn’t more Orcs - it would have meant less food for him, more filth to sleep in. The sounds of Orcish war-drums in the distance was the first step; the sounds of battle was the second; the sight of Orcs smashing the gates down was the third. He was drawn from his languid confusion, self-awareness taking root at the first possible moment. All he wanted to do was run from this place, but his legs wouldn’t allow him to. His saviors had food and water, and they weaned him back to health along with the rest of Hammerfall’s occupants. He began to learn what had happened - the true scope of Gul’dan’s treachery, demons, the blood - all of it. In his state he was unable to even be furious, the right of indignation stripped from him. Instead, he just held his head in his hands, thinking; unable to deal with such confronting thoughts, he forced them away, focusing on keeping his hands busy rather than his mind.

Despite working his hardest, Zeth’ugram was too weak to help. He was surprised at how these Orcs didn’t mock him for it, and they moved across the highlands. They avoided the Alliance all the way into Lordaeron, reaching towards the coast. He soon grew strong enough to assist with work on the move. Along the way, he’d learned about his saviors - more importantly, about the fate of the Frostwolves. He knew he hated them, but he didn’t know exactly why - he felt he should be more angry that he’d been saved by these whelps, hiding in the mountains while all his men had been slain around him. Unlike Drek’thar and his ‘project’ Thrall, he had stood at Blackrock Mountain. He kept his complaints to himself out of fear of reprisal, but part of him wished this impudent boy - daring to lead the Horde without even reaching adulthood - had taken the place of Orgrim, a true Orc.

When they reached the coast of Lordaeron, he was awed. He hadn’t seen an ocean in almost twenty years - he had to be dragged back from the beach by two others, screaming hoarsely about his home - if he could just swim far enough, if they’d just let go of him. After they’d beaten a couple of kicks worth of sense into him, he calmed enough to be productive again. When they assailed the docked fleet, he had little part in it - he helped ferry equipment to the best of his atrophied abilities. He didn’t understand why they were taking boats - it felt wrong. He knew they had to rally, but he had been drawn too far into this New Horde and lost too much of his dignity already to flee now. When they set sail, his misery reached new bounds - he learned quickly that he had serious seasickness. His strength had grown but he was more confident working on the ships. He only learned of the Darkspear - Forest Trolls but blue, he scoffed - when they stepped onto his ship, and he kept to his business rather than fighting on islands with all the kinds of fish-people the world threw at them. He grew used to work on the ship, and managed to cope somewhat with the constant nausea, gaining a circle of galley-Orcs as friends for the journey.

Landfall on Kalimdor was a blessing. He’d managed to learn the ‘reasons’ the Thrall boy had sent them across the ocean, that they had to ‘make a new world’ or something equally delirious to him. He’d grown to respect the Trolls bunking on his ship for their fighting power and strong culture, if alien. He helped unload cargo - not confident to do much else - and waited. He held behind with the infirm and otherwise unhelpful Orcs, regaining some of his authority to help organise the supplies for the army marching inland. When the riders came back and sent word that they were marching - as well as tall tales of fur-covered giants and horse-men. He helped gather the rest of them, and they caught back up with Thrall’s Horde to begin the long march. Having recovered fully now, he was able to help fight - just as well, as bird-people, horse-people and pig-people all descended upon them. He’d come to hate marching, and broke up the monotony as much as he could - trading blows and stories of the Second War with the Warsong, sparring and anything else that caught his interest on the long, dangerous journey. Along the way, his dislike of the Frostwolves stuck despite not quite being able to remember why he hated them - just that it was natural. His scorn towards Thrall, however, diminished to careful amounts - he may have tarnished Orgrim’s name by taking his armor, but he was fighting among them honorably.

Crossing the wasteland and the plains, they reached closer to the place of the boy-shaman’s quest - an oracle, it was said. They occupied a large mining camp in the northeast of the ranges, named after the elder of the Frostwolves - Valok-Drek’thar. He grew accustomed to shooting down and gutting feral Harpies - as if bovine, porcine and equine people were not enough. As the Warsong moved to the forests on the horizon, Zeth’ugram’s growing circle of labourers and grunts gathered and dug in. He did not intend on being eaten by any of the disgusting things that lived on this continent - yet, he felt it was already better than the one he’d fled from. Life would go quietly - he heard of the Night Elves, but he didn’t care all too much; they were just another alien species to drop into the pail. What affected him was when he learned Hellscream - a figure he’d looked up to since the freeing of the internment camps - had somehow revived the covenant of unification. He was furious, and not only due to the remnants of the demon-blood. He was afraid their treachery would bleed into him, leading him to become recalcitrant towards the others among the Orcs among him. The hostilities in Ashenvale continued without much of a care from him.

Thrall and Grom’s exodus deep into the forest held most of the Horde’s attention undividedly, to the point where the camp of Valok-Drek’thar had ceased production completely. Zeth’ugram waited for days with a group of friends he trusted.

They all knew and felt the moment Mannoroth the Destructor was slain. Zeth’ugram was inundated with the memories relegated to the back of his mind by the blood curse. Places, names and people all came back to him, and it was a revelation he couldn’t handle. It had been so many years that he could hardly remember his own mate’s face - nor his mother or father. Images of innumerable dead by his hand. Not even the fear of dishonor could hold back his wailing among the freed Orcs. The severance of the curse left him without the most simple of coping mechanisms - fury. All throughout the camp, intense sadness occurred next to intense joy. For some, these feelings consumed them for days.

He picked himself up and forced himself to work. Much had to be done, and honest work was good for the soul. The death of Hellscream only strengthened his need for distraction.

He didn’t pretend to understand the Human-Orc alliance. He felt ill-will towards man, especially as they’d followed them even to their new, untainted home - but he didn’t hate them. The Theramore Humans that came to their camp were well-behaved and friendly - if strained - and they made uncomfortable conversation. Much time passed like this - they were needed to supply the rest of the war effort, so they stayed. He was important in the camp and his position increased, managing to save face and become a respected overseer within the mines. He was told by messengers about demons and dead Humans deeper in the forest - just more to have to deal with. He had faith in Thrall to lead them.

As things grew dire, the races of Azeroth formed the Great Alliance and moved towards Hyjal. Zeth’ugram was not one of them, and instead, they guarded the base of the mountain from any who’d try to flank them. He was given command of a small warband, managing to destroy half a dozen rogue demons with their help before Malfurion’s trap sprung. He’d been holding a Felguard at bay with his spear while a shaman prepared to destroy it when the light of Archimonde’s death flooded the treetops.

There wasn’t much to say for some time. The Horde parted ways with the other races, founding their homeland in the names of Durotan and Orgrim. When his mind was cleansed, he also gained the memories of the Frostwolves’ ill-doings, but he was too excited about the idea of an Orcish capital - the thoughts of his childhood, of a unified race, were finally coming to fruition. The building of the city was taxing on his body, which had been through incredible wear already. He had been given an honorable position in the growing city in recognition of his work during the Third War, gaining a large group of labourers who he increasingly had to delegate work to. Life was peaceful, and he used the time to ease the worries in his mind. Despite a lack of shamanic ability he dedicated himself to the community of Orgrimmar, gaining the trust of the people around his home and befriending many of the elders - having become one himself, to his own ire. Having felt robbed of the prime of his life’s prime to senseless violence, he pursued development of his mind so that he could pay amends for what he’d done in the past.

And so the years passed. He studied everything others would teach him - alchemy, metallurgy, agriculture, architecture, cooking, rare customs and the works of Urok Scratcher, among other things. The more he learned, the more proactive he was in helping the people, becoming a pillar of his section of the city. While he honed his brain, the strain of war never truly left his body; combined with various infections, wounds and atrophies, rheumatism made it difficult for him to stay physically active. In his advancing age, his thoughts increasingly lingered to the life he’d once had; he thought of going out and trying to find what had happened to his family, but he was weak in body and fearful in mind. He kept informed of, but didn’t let outside events sway his judgment, though he calmed worries about tensions with the new Alliance as well as leading protests against the Forsaken joining the Horde. When war finally broke out, he wasn’t surprised. He was only glad he didn’t have to fight in it. From the safety of his home, he followed the events in Ahn’qiraj and overseas.

Little changed in the city, though he received word of much that happened out in the world. The reopening of the Dark Portal distressed him, ripping up old wounds and fears. He did not go to Draenor, unable to bear the thought of what had happened to his home. His duties kept him in Durotar; he was important here, he told himself. He would grit his teeth and tolerate the existence of the Blood Elves, though he wished those vile things would disappear off the face of the world. Most importantly, though, it was the rumored - then confirmed - return of the Draenei that horrified him the most. He didn’t have the fortitude to deal with what he’d done and what he’d seen, and he was infuriated by younger Orcs as they mocked and laughed about the ‘goat-people’, drawing surprise and silence by knocking one of the ‘arrogant striplings’ to the ground.

The acts of the Lich King would have been ignored by him if not for the Horde’s part in his downfall. He had sympathy for his actions in Stormwind, but the Kingdom of Lordaeron had made him into little more than an animal - he could not forgive those stolen years. He was glad when Arthas fell, but he had no connection or care in the conflict. He continued tutoring, teaching and learning. Towards the end of the campaign in Northrend - as many of the Horde’s soldiers began to return home to their families - he was approached by a group of shaman and elders to help them form a society; to take their knowledge and ability and apply it practically, to solve the problems that faced their lands. He immediately agreed.

As they were still founding their group, Deathwing attacked. During his indiscriminate attacks, Zeth’ugram lost a handful of friends, most of them accomplished shaman, to either the fire of the dragon or the fury of the elements. He didn’t allow it to stop his work, stomping throughout the city on a cane to collect new materials - fixing the damage to their new buildings with the help of the populace. As the world recovers from the shattering, Zeth’ugram’s institute slowly prepares to open for new members, slowed but determined.

In his old age, he has found methods of dealing with the horrors in his memory, as well as the uncertainty of his family’s fate. He has reconciled with the elements, and though the feeling is not reciprocated he no longer resents their silence. A pillar of the community, he strives to be productive, translating ancient and recovered texts to the New Horde’s dialect of Orcish so that all may learn from them. To this day, he has not seen a Draenei since Shattrath, and part of him intends to keep it that way.




Move him into the sun—
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields half-sown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.

Think how it wakes the seeds,—
Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides,
Full-nerved—still warm—too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
—O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth’s sleep at all?
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  • Dilly
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#2
TL:DR - torn between just automatically denying because of length or approving because of orc...
I Am the Sea



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Try to never just say, "My character isn't interested in that adventure." A lot of people mistake this for good roleplaying, because you are asserting your character's personality. Wrong. Good roleplaying should never bring the game to a screeching halt. One of your jobs as a player is to come up with a reason why your character would be interested in a plot. After all, your personality is entirely in your hands, not the DM's. Come up with a reason why the adventure (or the reward) might appeal to you, no matter how esoteric or roundabout the reasoning. -(Source)
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#3
Whatthecrap.
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#4
I have not read the entire profile yet. Because it's long. Really, really long. Like, "Ow, my eyes hurt from reading so much". I'm gonna need you to cut down the profile's length. As well, though the character is a special profile, and you brought up the character before in one of your other PD threads, he seems very 'special'. I'm worried about what you mean when you say he is connected to Orgrimmar's ruling group (which would be Garrosh and his advisers).
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#5
(12-15-2013, 08:43 PM)Mathias Wrote: I have not read the entire profile yet. Because it's long. Really, really long. Like, "Ow, my eyes hurt from reading so much". I'm gonna need you to cut down the profile's length.


I will work on this! Is it acceptable to create an abridged version which mirrors the events in a shorter format, just without the detail? I don't think there's any issue with grammar, spelling that could be missed by doing the profile in that manner. If that's not allowed, I'll need some guidelines on how you want it to be trimmed.

(12-15-2013, 08:43 PM)Mathias Wrote: As well, though the character is a special profile, and you brought up the character before in one of your other PD threads, he seems very 'special'. I'm worried about what you mean when you say he is connected to Orgrimmar's ruling group (which would be Garrosh and his advisers).

No connection to Garrosh / advisers. He'd be popular in Orgimmar (an off-screen section of the community, rather than one of the existing OOC areas) and would have contact with many elders (who, in a communal society, I imagine help a lot with decision-making). He'd have to go through the same hoops as everyone else to talk to Garrosh's weird posse, but they knew he exists. He doesn't get any authority out of it, it's more to signify the group is accepted in Orgrimmar and won't be a surprise when it actually goes IC, if that makes sense.




Move him into the sun—
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields half-sown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.

Think how it wakes the seeds,—
Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides,
Full-nerved—still warm—too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
—O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth’s sleep at all?
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#6
Abridged version is fine. Really, profiles are supposed to be an abridged version of a character's life story.
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  • JVNemesis
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#7
Any progress, @Maulbane?

I admit I have concerns over the amount of specialness the character has, but I'll address those after you address Mathias' concern over the length.
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#8
Sorry! I've been juggling other things, but I intend to get it sorted. I suggest not coming around this dark, dangerous part of CotH 'till next I post.




Move him into the sun—
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields half-sown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.

Think how it wakes the seeds,—
Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides,
Full-nerved—still warm—too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
—O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth’s sleep at all?
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#9
Moved back, as requested!
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#10
Are you still planning to make that abridged version of events, Maulbane?
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#11
Here it is!

Year Event
-34
  • Zeth’ugram was born into a nomadic, fractional splinter of the Dark Scar within Eastern Terokkar forest, roughly three generations after the destruction of the clan by the Frostwolves. Food was short and they often the target of wild animals and even other orcs who saw them as ‘ferals’.
     
  • Since the Blood River War which almost completely annihilated their clan, the group had had no connection to the elemental spirits for reasons unknown and had not produced a shaman since the war.
     
  • Prior to the war, Zeth’ugram’s line bred a powerful shaman by the name of Sar’telok Gol’rand, where Zeth’ugram inherits his name.
     
  • Attempts to rekindle their family’s potential through preferential treatment had failed with Zeth’ugram’s father (Keth’nar, mate of Trellok) and his grandfather, and desperation to produce a shaman was mounting more than ever before.
-33
-32
-31
-30
-29
-28
  • Zeth’ugram’s training begins roughly around his sixth birthday. He was taught all the knowledge they’d retained after the clan’s defeat - culture, language and shamanic principles - to prepare him. This process would continue for more than a year.
-27
-26
  • From his eighth birthday he would begin having to apply his knowledge, performing minor shamanic ceremonies for the group and performing rituals to appease the spirits.
-25
  • His duties become more extensive and advanced, though he continues to fail to make any connection with the elements, causing his parents to beat him more frequently.
     
  • He becomes friends with Vertok Gnashbelt, a brazen and aggressive daughter of one of the group’s tanners.
-24
  • As Zeth’ugram’s inability to connect with the elements becomes more evident, three factions arise within the group, each with different ideas for their future. The atmosphere becomes increasingly hostile, but not violent.
     
  • Overworked and unable to help the situation despite his best efforts, Zeth’ugram has a tantrum which results in him destroying the shamanic idols he’d made and fleeing from the camp, returning two days later.
     
  • As the rest of the group saw his outburst as ‘giving up’, leaving them with little hope for their future, the clan became even more desperate and hostile to each other, culminating a brawl between Zeth’ugram’s father and a respected hunter. Shocking themselves, the violence was replaced by listlessness.
-23
-22
-21
-20
  • At this point, Zeth’ugram’s tribe would have left the Skettis / Terokkar region and entered the coastal plains on the eastern coast of Draenor, living around a set of mountains roughly between the Bleeding Hollow, Shattered Hand and Bonechewer clans.
     
  • Food became more abundant during these times and the tribe were on friendlier terms, with Zeth’ugram becoming an everyman, mostly hunting and crafting, after his failure as a shaman. He would slowly continue to ingratiate himself in the tribe through the same work ethic he had as a child, enough to be seen as an equal.
-19
-18
-17
-16
-15
-14
  • Zeth’ugram reaches age of om’riggor. Unable to reach Nagrand, he had to instead hunt a worg in the crags. He returned home successful and painted with both his and its blood, where his wounds were permanently dyed black as part of their tradition.
     
  • Having become a full member of the group, he would then take up further responsibility - mostly taking part in group discussions from that point on.
-13
-12
  • Vertok Gnashbelt’s om’riggor would take place two years after Zeth’ugram’s.
     
  • The two hunted together more frequently from that point on, with Zeth’ugram using what spare time he had to relax on the rocks along the coast. His tribe would become more sedentary around this point.
-11
-10
-9
-8
-7
  • An encounter with a Shattered Hand scouting party turned violent, leaving Tennok Stoutarm dead and both Zeth’ugram and Vertok wounded.
-6
  • Zeth’ugram would continue to hone his hunting and crafting as best he could, becoming an accomplished member of the tribe in the eyes of most of his peers. He also took Vertok as his mate (or vice-versa).
     
  • They manage to avoid the growing friction between the orcish clans due to their isolation.
-5
  • The Bleeding Hollow clan approached their tribe for the first time, offering them protection and strength provided they assimilate into their clan.
      
  • They are allowed a vote to decide their fate, with all members of the group participating - even the uninitiated. Zeth’ugram and Vertok argued against their own more traditionalist parents, winning with a significant majority. They would move to a large mining town called Vendak’var, in which they became members of the Bleeding Hollow - in name, at least, as they were targets of jeering by many others.
     
  • Zeth’ugram responded to the prejudice through hard work - Vertok responded with casual violence.
     
  • Later in the year, distrust between the tribes reached its highest point yet. The assimilated Dark Scar now had access to the technology and knowledge of the world the Bleeding Hollow possessed.
     
  • Most importantly, they would go to a Kosh’harg, considering themselves all but barred from Nagrand for the past few generations. When they arrived Zeth’ugram met individuals from many clans (at the behest of his mate) and picked up unique artisanry and traditions. None of their group met with the Frostwolves.
     
  • Upon returning to Vendak’var, Zeth’ugram was surprised - along with the rest of his people - with the knowledge that the Draenei had been plotting against them. After an immediate session of the town (with the few-hundred occupants), they decided to go to war along with the rest of their people.
     
  • The Dark Scar stayed to make equipment for the rising Horde war machine - Zeth’ugram used it as a chance to ingratiate himself with those in the Bleeding Hollow who’d otherwise have seen him as a ‘layabout’, tutoring the younger ones in Dark Scar techniques as well as taking part in communal hunting expeditions (headed by Vertok) on top of his ordinary duties.
-4
-3
  • The war effort continued - those who stayed behind were expected to work just as hard as when the war started with lower supplies. Vertok would confide her lack of confidence in the war - at least, its effect on them.
-2
-1
  • Low on supplies and with the ‘war’ stalling, Zeth’ugram’s family was suffering - his father was bed-ridden, the entire town was overworked and food was rare, despite being as frugal as possible.
      
  • A gentle-spoken shaman from the Shadowmoon would come before they were allowed to starve or succumb to fatigue, taking the entire population towards Karabor.
     
  • With the rest of the Horde, Zeth’ugram became enthralled by the promises of unity and strength for the orcish people, drinking the blood as willingly as most of the others around him. In the sheer mass of bodies, he became detached from Vertok and his parents.
      
  • Following the blood pact, they immediately marched to the sacking of Shattrath - Zeth’ugram played a particularly minor role, killing only four Draenei. More significant was his impact on the orcs around him, and as he become less timid and more aggressive he earned or coerced the respect of those he fought alongside.
     
  • As they finished off the supposedly exterminated Draenei, they turned to bickering amongst themselves - earning Zeth’ugram more chances to subjugate those who disagreed with him.

  • The completion of the dark portal came just in time, giving Zeth’ugram something to put his mind to - promises of ‘new worlds to conquer’.
0
  • After going through the dark portal, the Bleeding Hollow - including Zeth’ugram - were sent ahead to scout the forests, leading to his first conflicts with humans (though he viewed them only as prey). He grew in status among the warband he was assigned to starting from this point.
      
  • Zeth’ugram took only brief part in the siege at Grand Hamlet, and after their victory he would break off with the loyal orcs he had, flanking alongside the greater mass of the Horde to hunt down smaller farmsteads and any retreating enemies.
     
  • With the victories at Lakeshire, more orcs were available in Elwynn, lending Zeth’ugram almost two-dozen warriors to his unofficial warband.
      
  • Responding apathetically to Doomhammer’s betrayal, he followed the rest of the Horde into Stormwind and took part in the slaughter of whoever remained in the capital city.
1
2
  • In the time leading up to the official outbreak of the Second War, Zeth’ugram had been recognised for his ‘exploits’ during the First War - being allowed a warband of some ninety labourers and warriors to maintain the Khaz Modan refineries. Fifteen of them would die before even reaching the ice fields, however.
3
4
  • When control of Dun Morogh and his camp was solidified, he’d be sent thirty grunts more to bolster defenses.
     
  • They’d befriend a group of the Frostmane clan of Trolls during their stay, a cordial relationship based on trade.
     
  • Zeth’ugram would have become aware that his memories prior to the blood pact had become hazy, leading him to become increasingly anxious and irritable in the coming years.
5
6
  • Cho’gall would have inspected his refineries just like all the others, though with no direct communication and he would have stayed for less than an hour at most.
     
  • He would begin to distract himself from the worries of his mind through fastidious and dangerous amounts of work.
     
  • As the tide suddenly turned due to the betrayal of Gul’dan and the routing of the Blackrock and Warsong, Zeth’ugram and many of the other Bleeding Hollow found themselves trapped and surrounded in Dun Morogh for some time. Kilrogg gathered the Bleeding Hollow and sent them to retreat before it was too late, however.
     
  • When they reached Blackrock Mountain, Zeth’ugram was put close to the front lines with his minor warband. When the siege begun, they were almost immediately crushed - Zeth’ugram being impaled and passing out early into the battle.
     
  • Along with all the others that survived the battle, Zeth’ugram was dragged out of the corpse-pile and chained, then forced to march to the Arathi Highlands. He attempted to end his life during the grueling trip, but failed with only a minor skull fracture.
     
  • Zeth’ugram was quicker than most to succumb to listlessness, even before the effects of Durnholde syndrome began. He lost most of his perception of time and, to a large degree, self-awareness - he lived from day-to-day, forming a small group to share food with.
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
  • When he was saved from the internment camp that would eventually be named Hammerfall, he fell in with the rest of the New Horde, too weak to leave on his own. Only now was he able to truly understand the scope of both his actions in Stormwind and Gul’dan’s betrayal of their people, both of which sickened him.
19
  • He found it difficult to acclimate to the Frostwolf-controlled New Horde, seeing Drek’thar as a vile coward who hid while the rest of their clan died and Thrall as little more than a pet project, unworthy to hold Orgrim’s hammer. However, he still worked to aid them as best he could, with no other alternative.
20
  • When the New Horde reached the coast, intangible thoughts of his past overwhelmed him at the first sight of a proper ocean in almost two decades, completely losing composure.
     
  • As they traversed the oceans, he stayed on the ships as part of the crew, despite his proclivity to sea-sickness. He gained friends among the galley-crew and grew a tenuous respect for the jungle trolls.
     
  • When they reached land, he stayed back to help unload the ships rather than go off with Thrall’s cohort, gaining some insignificant clout as he helped organise the huge amount of provisions. Soon enough they would all continue inland, where he would be able to confirm the existence of Tauren and Centaur with his own eyes.
     
  • Having shared stories of their exploits in the second war and bouts of strength and honor together, he gathered a small group of like-minded grunts and labourers as friends.
     
  • While Thrall consulted with the oracle, Zeth’ugram stayed behind the Warsong clan, staying at a mining camp in the Stonetalon ranges named after Drek’thar.
     
  • The knowledge of Grom’s betrayal in drinking the blood of Mannoroth was particularly appalling to him, as he’d looked up the Warsong clan for much of his life.
     
  • When Mannoroth the Destructor was slain, the memories that had been quashed by the curse of blood returned to him, leaving him debilitatingly miserable for some time as he coped with the memories of his lost clan and family - and his own legion of evils committed.
     
  • During the period of the Human-Horde alliance he did his best to stay civil with the humans, being promoted to overseer within the mines themselves due to his dedicated work in aiding / overseeing the peons.
     
  • With the formation of the Great Alliance, Zeth’ugram and the rest of the races moved to stop Archimonde. He was given a particularly small warband of only a dozen warriors, staying at the base of the mountain to stop any straggler demons (killing just six with their combined efforts before the battle was won)
21
  • Along with a group of peons delegated to him, he took an active role in the construction of the city despite his advancing age, exacerbating his growing arthritis and strain while moving in the process. He grew into the role of elder, earned in part through his efforts during the Third War.
     
  • At this point he begins dedicatedly learning - studying everything he’d not had a chance to as well as anything else. History, culture, metallurgy, alchemy, agriculture and cooking are all things he learned to a respectable proficiency, among others.
     
  • He would become a respected elder in the part of Orgrimmar he resided in, performing much of the roles a shaman normally would and generally assisting the community he was part of using his knowledge, which distracted him from thoughts of his past and of his perceived crimes. He would stay within Durotar for almost all of the following years.
22
23
24
  • He didn’t take part in any of the events during the cycle of hatred - although he lead protests against the Forsaken joining the Horde.
25
  • The world breaking into war again scared him, and he worked his best to calm the people of his community, but he didn’t leave Orgrimmar during the period.
26
  • The inexplicable arrival of the Draenei on Azeroth would have forced back uncomfortable memories for Zeth’ugram, unsettling him even into the coming years. Otherwise, he just barely tolerated the existence of the Blood Elves.
27
  • The initial arrival of the Lich King in the form of his assault on Orgrimmar would have struck fear into Zeth'ugram - but outside of that, he would have had little care for the affairs of humans, not aware of the true fate of Ner'zhul.
28
29
  • The demise of the Lich King would have passed him by without much interest, despite what it meant for his peoples' security.
     
  • Around this point, the unofficial ties and friendships he’d have built with other elders and shaman would have concreted in the offer to form a group dedicated to the teaching of practical applications of knowledge for the betterment of the Horde.
30
  • The arrival of Deathwing would have damaged much of their work - losing Zeth’ugram a handful of friends as well as the buildings they’d constructed for their institute. The repairs would have been completed only a month or two into the year. He continues his duties, including teaching, performing ceremonies and translating ancient texts, awaiting the time he can unveil his new group to Orgrimmar.
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#12
Quote:During the period of the Theramore-Horde alliance

More proper term would be Alliance-Horde, since Theramore did not exist yet. Theramore would have been built after the Third War, around the same time as Orgrimmar.

Quote:he utterly disregarded the events of the Lich King’s demise - except for the threat he posed to their people.

I remember asking a question about the Lich King when I was a wee little grunt, and I believe that I was told the Lich King was killed on year 29 instead of year 27. Time to talk to the rest of the GM team.
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#13
Lookin' at the official timeline I see no reason not to have it like that!

I turned the Theramore-Horde Alliance to the Human-Horde Alliance to avoid confusion, since it's a pretty obscure thing.

Pulled the actual death of the Lich King to year 29.
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#14
As tired as my eyes are, over reading this entire profile, it was a good read - your storytelling talent is apparent here.

Lore-wise, it checks out at this point.

However, I'm going to ask that you give us some sort of a purpose for these following points of his special-status (what you plan on doing with it):

Quote:
  • Currently the leader of a guild supported by official shamanic/communal groups in Orgrimmar and Thunder Bluff.
  • Currently a respected elder within Orgrimmar, has a large audience and is friends with other elders in the city.
  • Has minor ties to the ruling group of the city due to running an 'official' society.
  • Has the ability to direct and order peons and to a minor, situational extent, grunts, should it be needed.

Giving us some insight as to what you plan to do with this will better enable us to decide on whether or not a character with this level of power should be approved. Took out the bullet points about the past, since what I want to know is what you're doing with the character in his present state.
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#15
Currently the leader of a guild supported by official shamanic/communal groups in Orgrimmar and Thunder Bluff.
Currently a respected elder within Orgrimmar, has a large audience and is friends with other elders in the city.
Has minor ties to the ruling group of the city due to running an 'official' society.
Has the ability to direct and order peons and to a minor, situational extent, grunts, should it be needed.

The first three are mostly just different strains of the same motive - to give legitimacy to the guild I'm planning to make. I may have been a bit excessive with the dot points, especially #3, but I'll try to explain my rationale 'ere.

              #1 is to give the guild, when it's made, a certain degree of legitimacy within the Horde. Enough to have access to materials and supplies, communication between different areas of Kalimdor (particularly with shamans and elders) for the purpose of future events. I would rank this as fairly important for both the guild and character's interactions in the future, but I'm open to discussion!
              #2 is more of a result of his history as an elder, and I do think that I may have overblown his influence with that dot-point. I intend for his 'congregation' to be an off-screen area of Orgrimmar in which I'd have to deliberately bring players, rather than walking down the street of the Valley of Strength and giving the thumbs-up to random passers-by. While this is primarily a required offshoot of his actions in the past, particularly the 'being friends with other elders', it also gives some justification to his guild's presence in Orgrimmar (as the guild HQ would presumably either be in this section of Orgrimmar or close-by). However, I'd be willing to reword it to be less worrying, since 'large audience' probably sets alarm-bells off, I'm guessing.
              #3 is a bit exaggerated too - I don't want to give impressions of Zethy meeting with giant warlords and Garrosh. I meant it more to tie in with #1 and #2 in that he knows quite a few elders on good terms, and elders would presumably be a significant portion of those who keep Orgrimmar running smoothly (outside of chieftains, warchiefs and the like). So, in that sentiment I meant more of a 'he knows elders who are on the periphery of those who administrate Orgrimmar, meaning he has communication with others on the periphery as well. The purpose for this is to give the guild some autonomy in its actions - being able to chat with higher-up elders and get events approved that way. I'm willing to budge on this one as it's not essential.
              #4 is another remnant of his history, and it's the one I'd be most okay with doing away with. I envisioned it as a social authority kind of thing - he'd likely have the respect of those within his little neck of Orgrimmar as well as being a prominent elder there, so I feel he'd be able to give some impromptu, minor orders to those working there if he needed them. The 'grunt' thing would be more for conflict resolution should anything wacky happen during RPs as well as roping in some protection for future events. I'm okay with droppin' this if it's needed.

Hope that clears things up and I didn't talk anybody's ear off!
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