Greetings readers. For those who are new to this fic, it is my first published on FF and I hope you enjoy it. I am no Warcraft scholar, but I've done my best to keep the story accurate and the timeline correct. For returning readers, as of 7/9/14, the first 10 chapters of the story have been revised, and lightly expanded. It isn't necessary to reread the whole thing, but certainly worth it. I'm sure it goes without mentioning that Warcraft belongs to Blizzard, and only my OC's to me. Alas.
Chapter 1: The Attack
How did it all go wrong? One moment Alathdrus is conversing with the leader of the furbolg clan, leading negotiations as the chief envoy, and the next he's holding his throat as his lifeblood gushes forth, a huge gash opened by the sweep of a bear-man's claws. This was supposed to be a diplomatic mission, not a battle! I hear shrieking, so close, yet strangely muffled, like sound waves passing through water, and wonder who is making all the noise. It's me. I gather my wits, shooting a wave of healing energy toward my fallen lover as Sanalea yanks me back. I can see in the fading glow of his amber eyes that it's too little, too late. He crumbles to the earth in a bloody heap. "No!" I scream over and over, struggling to return to his side. I call on the power of Elune and shift my form. Now I am the one who slashes and claws. I am the one who rends flesh and draws blood. I will be vengeance incarnate. But there are so many of them. Were there this many before? They're coming out of the forest from all directions. They are huge and vicious. The stench of Fel blood fills the air, floods my mouth. I see members of my party, blue and purple skin, ivory and green hair, now stained crimson. Sanalea disappears beneath a furry brown body. I roar my battle cry and leap in her direction. I'm coming, my friend. I never see the mace as it meets my skull. I never feel the ground as it rises to meet me.
This had just not been his week. First he broke his favorite skinning knife, then he got shafted at the auction house, and now it was pouring down rain and he was being randomly set upon by a pack of fucking drug-addled furbolgs. Zen'jakar was not a happy troll. At least the dumb beasts were proving an excellent outlet to vent his frustrations. Thank the Loa for small mercies.
"Lar'ja, take down the big one," Zen yelled to his raptor, as he ducked the clawed swing of another, spinning to ram a dagger between the ribs of a third. The bear-man howled and stumbled back, giving him an opening to dash to the nearest tree and swing himself up to a reasonably safe height. While the big black and green lizard tore at his assigned enemy, the troll peppered the fel-tainted furbolgs with arrows. One down, shaft through the eye, next one foot pinned to the ground before two to the throat. Yet another screamed and clutched the wooden shaft protruding from his newly feathered face. All in all, the battle lasted less than ten minutes with six dead for the effort, and no survivors to run off for reinforcements. That's if the brutes would even think to do so. Never know now.
Zen's lips widened in a feral grin and he tossed his tusks, an F-you at the dead bodies. Battle always made him feel energized, bloodlust singing in his veins, and leaving the normal burgundy of his eyes glowing like coals. Pity they were no where near an outpost as he would gladly welcome some female assistance is coming down from his high. Such is life, he sighed. Lar'ja was looking quite pleased with himself as he stomped his flattened foe into the muck. "Good boy," Zen praised, hopping down from his perch and strolling over to pat the raptor on the neck. This earned him a few happy chirps and a nuzzle. "Gah! Enough with the bloody nose already," Zen pushed the affectionate reptile off, wiping at the newly applied red smears. "So, shall we see if their camp is around here and get out of the rain? Maybe we'll find something worth…well, something." Not that he expected corrupted furbolgs to have anything of particular value, but it would be nice to get dry, maybe have a fire. It was getting on into the evening anyway.
As much as it offended Zen's hunter creed to just leave kills to rot, there wasn't a market for furbolg skins and he wasn't about to go eating the damn things. The scavengers of Ashenvale could have at them. Circle of life and all that. A quick sweep for tracks found the trail back to the beasts' camp. It wasn't a long trek. The rain began to let up as the light waned, leaving a fine mist swirling around the shadows. The camp, if you could even call it that, was little more than a hovel of two mud and thatch huts with a central firepit. Bones and waste were scattered all about. "Foul creatures," Zen muttered, stepping around piles of refuse. Lar'ja parked himself quite merrily under the patchy roof of one hut, munching on the jerky Zen tossed him. The main firepit was drenched and useless, but there was a room for a small fire in the corner of the other hut, and thankfully some dry kindling inside. Steeling himself against the pervading stench, he swept out the worst debris with a handful of rushes.
The blue-gray troll striped out of his soaked mail and leather, laying them out to dry, and wiped the still damp blood from his skin. Wearing soggy leather was just never comfortable, no matter how you looked at it. Sitting beside the flames, Zen carefully cleaned his dagger and the arrows he'd pulled from the dead furbolgs, absently munching on provisions. He and Lar'ja had made this long looping trip before, though not recently. Usually they stuck to the east side of Ashenvale, near Splintertree. This trip however, they were travelling from Orgrimmar across Ashenvale, east to west, then south skirting the Stonetalons and on into the Barrens and Mulgore. From there he planned to catch the Zepplin out of Thunderbluff back to Orgrimmar. The whole trip would take a couple months, by which time he'd have a full load of skins to sell and hopefully a few new stories to tell. Afterwards, it would be time to visit Sen'jin Village for a bit of vacation. Well, to be honest, his everyday life was more vacation than being at home. It never really felt like a home to him. With a wide, sharp-toothed yawn, Zen put away his polished weapons. Setting a trap across the doorway, he climbed into his bedroll to fell quickly into a dreamless sleep.