In the foothills outside Durotar a fire burned low in a small hut.
Two figures sat beside the fire, neither speaking.
The first was an orc, grey skin marking him as one of the Blackrock Clan, he wore no armour but aged skin and wrinkled face showed the harsh life of a warrior and campaigner. He was Saurfang, general and master of many warriors, none of them able to fight the enemy that had so wounded his friend.
The other figure looked into the fire as well, staring blankly. He was larger than Saurfang, standing head and shoulders above him. He was Tagar of the Mok'Nathal, half-ogre, like Saurfang a warrior and hero, but despite his might his son was still dead. His eye were unfocused, his limbs flecked with the red dust of Durotar. He had been digging a grave.
"Rage is a weapon" the statement was a sigh of exhaustion. Anger had always served Tagar, from his youth as a slave of the ogres on Draenor, to the campaigns of the Horde, up to the Battle of Hyjal. Now his weapon had failed him and nothing he could do had been able to save his son. Rage had only helped him dig the grave for the wasted, tiny body.
The Blackrock orc extended a hand, laying it on the shoulder of his companion. "You did all you could."
"And it wasn't enough." Replied the larger orc.
"Tomorrow the shaman will come again, we will learn what happened, I swear it."
Vark had been young, too young to be taken like he had, wasting away in the night, half dead by the time Tagar even knew of the sickness.
They stared into the fire and Tagar was glad of the company, even if it didn't bring his son back.
If all had gone as it should the pair would have sat there for the rest of the night, perhaps sharing old stories. If all had gone as it would Vark, son of Tagar would have still been alive and gone on to a fine military career making his father proud.
But all wasn't as it should be and the hut was suddenly shaken by an explosion and a flash of green fire. The explosion came with an accompanying stench of sulphur and death.
The orcs and leapt to their feet in an instant as the smell reached them Saurfang growled, "The Fel." He said simply, turning to his companion, "Do you have weapons?"
"Not here." Replied Tagar, reaching for a woodsman's axe in the corner, Saurfang drawing a knife from his belt. The Mok'Nathal looked to the window. "Better to face them outside?"
Saurfang nodded, accepting that Tagar couldn't accept demons trampling his son's grave. They bundled out the door, weapons high.
"Not as smooth as we're used to. You're losing your touch!" remarked a deep voice from a cloud of dust and smoke.
The reply came but was too muffled for the orcs to hear, but as soon as the cloud started to clear the orcs stalked forward.
"I'll distract the larger." Saurfang said under his breath, "Deal with the smaller first, then help me."
Tagar leant forward, breaking into a sprint, two figures, as Saurfang had said one larger and the other smaller emerging in the darkness.
But then he felt something around his legs, pulling him up short, his axe flying from his hand. Coils of shadow wrapped themselves around his limbs, ephemeral yet stronger than steel manacles.
"Clear the air." Ordered the larger figure, the same deep voice as before.
At his command the smaller seemed to make a gesture and the air did indeed clear, but both Saurfang and Tagar were still bound, floating upright, slightly above the ground.
"Good catch." Came a remark in accented Orcish from a voice much higher than the previous one.
"Get us some light." Rumbled the larger figure, "I want them to see it."
The smaller looked up at the larger, "What? You think Go'el wouldn't set anyone right?"
"I'm not worried about him; I just don't want to have to fight everyone."
The smaller figure moved slightly, perhaps a shrug. Then he turned to the farm and the air crackled, green fire shrouding the demon, dark power flowing from his hands over the outbuildings and crushing them, pulling them across the ground, already swathed in green flames.
This spell, something to the level Saurfang and Tagar had only ever seen worked by Gul'dan or the higher levels of the Shadow Council, was used so casually but the smaller figure… The demonic magic of the Burning Legion… used to make a bonfire.
The warlock pushed the fel into the ruined material, pushing the fire higher, then abruptly stopped.
The fire still blazed but now it was lower, a natural fire with all the colours a fire was supposed to have and a steady, though intense light radiated across the clearing now.
The smaller of the figures came closer, peering at his prisoners. Saurfang struggled in his shadowy bonds but Tagar waited for the opportunity.
The smaller figure was an elf, and a High Elf at that. Tagar remembered their sort from the wars in the Eastern Kingdoms. Arrogant but with the power to back it he'd heard their power had been broken by the undead several years ago. Clearly in this case it wasn't so.
The elf was tall and slender like they all were, his face finely boned without being sharp, his eyes glowing with a green fire, his robes magnificent reds and golds, clearly enchanted and as powerful as he was. A staff floated through the air beside him, following him along as he advanced, that too was clearly powerful and stank of the Fel.
"The Staff of Ner'zul." Whispered Saurfang out of the corner of his mouth.
Tagar frowned, he'd known the elf was a powerful warlock from his spellwork but that was something else. He also noticed that as the elf walked the sound of his steps didn't match his movements, and when he spoke neither did his voice. It was an illusion.
"Saurfang." The elf greeted the orc snidely. "I can't say it's a particular pleasure to see you again."
Saurfang just glared at him.
The elf turned to Tagar, tilted his head and bowed very low, slowly placing his hand over his heart. "Tagar, son of Darmok, I've always regretted that we've never met, but I've benefited from your wisdom many times. I greet you with honour."
From an elvish warlock, a powerful one at that, the statement baffled Tagar, but clearly the elf had no particular desire to elaborate and he turned to return to his larger companion.
The larger figure had been shrouded in darkness before but now the bonfire lit him up plainly. He was immense, larger than Tagar had suspected, tall, or taller than an ogre, certainly as broad. He was completely covered in pale, blocky armour, with his harness giving the impression of solidity and strength rather than elegance. Several parts were slightly damaged, notably the pauldrons and vambraces where the pale giant had defended himself. His helm was as magnificent as the rest of his armour, a stern face wrought in the strange pale metal with a sort of crown circling his head. Light seemed to fill the figure from within and his armour looked more like stone than metal.
In his hand was the largest axe Tagar had ever seen, a wicked black blade with a wailing skull set into its side.
The half-ogre considered that either of the arrivals might ordinarily appear as noble, whether the elf's elegance or the giant's strength, yet they were shifted in a way, the elf's illusion clear under close examination and the giant looked more sinister than it did noble, like a spectre of the ancient past, a memory of buried rage.
"Alright let's get on with it." The elf said, looking at the bound pair.
The giant nodded and the shadow-bonds around Saurfang faded into the night air.
But as soon as his feet touched the ground the orc leapt forward, a hidden knife in his hand, plunging down toward the elf's neck.
The pale giant was there, he caught the strike and struck Saurfang in the chest sending him flying through the air, landing heavily and rolling before springing to his feet.
"Rage is a weapon." The giant told him, "But it is not enough."
Tagar's eyes flicked between Saurfang and the giant. The words couldn't have been a coincidence, had the pair been watching them before they'd shown themselves? He looked at Saurfang, processing the short attack. Saurfang hadn't been struck he realised, he'd been thrown, caught and thrown. Why? The giant was clearly fast and strong enough to kill an orc in a single blow and Tagar suspected he was as dangerous as the less well armoured warlock.
The elf raised a hand, pointing west toward Orgrimmar, "Saurfang, powerful agents of the Burning Legion have emerged and threaten the city, surely Go'el should be warned? He should even bring his advisors and his most powerful warriors!" he said slowly, as if impressing an order on a simpleton.
Saurfang looked at them suspiciously.
"Thrall." The pale giant corrected after a moment.
"What?" the elf asked.
"He's still called 'Thrall'."
"Oh." The elf remarked, his intimidating aura and the nimbus of felfire that danced around his head and shoulders like a mantle rather contrasting with his obvious confusion. "Well yes him in any case."
Saurfang was still suspicious. "Why should I lead the Warchief into a trap?"
"What makes you think you've got a choice?" asked the elf, then with a wave of his hand Saurfang fell downward, not to the red dirt of Durotar but into the ground, green fire engulfing him, then fading as soon as the orc was out of sight.
"Taelan…" this time the giant sounded exasperated. It was an intimate grumble rather than the stoic restraint of his previous statements.
"Va-" The elf, 'Taelan', Tagar supposed was his name, replied, but then stopped and looked again at Tagar, then continued, "We've got a lot to do and I don't fancy standing around in the dark for half the night."
The pale giant looked down, shrugged and sat down on a rock, carefully laying his axe down so the edge of the blade didn't touch anything and Tagar noted the move, was the weapon truly that dangerous?
"If you swear not to attack us we'll let you down. You're quite safe I assure you."
"Swear it on the spirit of your son." Said the pale giant, its head tilted in an emotion Targar couldn't interpret.
Could he swear it? From the elf's actions they seemed to have send Saurfang to fetch the might of Orgrimmar, which was certainly an unusual way for servants of the Legion to behave, but then again the paid were utterly transparent, clearly they wanted the Warchief to come.
"I swear it." Tagar admitted after thinking and before the words were even out he felt himself drop to the floor, landing on all fours and standing quickly.
The pair seemed to disregard him after that, though he felt the giant's head turn toward him, then away as soon as he caught Tagar's returned look.
Their behaviour was baffling. The warlock was powerful and the giant likely just as powerful, both their gear was clearly enchanted and he didn't doubt the giant could wrestle a dragon if he wanted to.
The elf was walking about, hand extended, eyes closed and fingers splayed, mumbling to himself. "We're going to have to get used to this, even the leylines are different, a lot's changed."
"Or hasn't." the giant replied.
"I meant for us."
The giant grunted noncommittally.
The elf had neared Vark's grave and Tagar felt his hand clench as Taelan walked over, then knelt hand over the freshly turned soil.
"Get away from him!" the Mok'Nathal roared, stepping forward.
The shout interrupted the two arrivals, but after looking Tagar they ignored him and turned back to the grave. "It's the interchomatic resonance. Like with Geya'rah." The elf said, still holding a hand over the grave. He looked at Tagar again, "A wasting sickness, starting yesterday?"
Tagar could feel his heart thundering in his ears, "Yes." He admitted, did they know something of it? Did they know why his son's flesh had dissolved as he carried the boy to his grave? "Did you do this?" he spat the demand.
"Not exactly." Remarked the elf, his hand still hovering over the grave.
Tagar restrained himself. Before his anger had simmered, purposeless and ignorant, now it grew, if these strangers knew what had killed his son he had to make them tell him. "What caused his death then?"
"It's complicated," the elf continued, "Mostly a human and some dragons, but it was overall beneficial."
Tagar's lip curled, his knuckled white and fists clenched. "How exactly was my son's death beneficial elf?"
The elf looked up at him, then to the pale giant who stirred and spoke, "Death is only the beginning."
The elf paused and extended a hand to the west, a flat plane of green fire opening in front of him, his greenfire eyes narrowed and looked into the fire, then he called over his shoulder to his companion, "A large party, worg riders in the vanguard, infantry following behind. Many magically powerful figures, I assume shaman."
"How many?" the pale giant replied.
"I said 'many' didn't I? All perhaps, I wouldn't be surprised."
The giant nodded. "It'll save convincing them later."
The strangers conferred among themselves, the elf Taelan sticking his hand into the air and pulling out a piece of paper from seemingly nowhere. Tagar edged closer, hearing them convey about a number of different locations and individuals, only some of which he recognised from Blackrock Mountain to something called the 'Ghost Wolf'.
Could these be the strangers' plans? It seemed likely, yet they also seemed not to care about him eavesdropping.
Soon enough though Tagar heard the horn calls of the approaching riders. The came in with a torrent of fur and steel, riding in a grand circle around the strangers, some dismounting and sending their wargs away, others remaining mounted, mounts ready to pounce, axes gripped in readiness. It was a grand assemblage, likely everything Orgrimmar could spare at short notice. As the elf had said there were indeed several shaman, as well as other magic users from the Trolls and Tauren in the city. As they approached Tagar backed away from the strangers, fading into the swirling soldiery, Saurfang finding him quickly and handing over an axe. They led him straight to the Warchief who was dismounting his massive white wolf, the black and brass armour of Doomhammer clinking and his weapon clutched in his hand. The spirits swirled about him and blue eyes narrowed at Tagar's approach.
"Who are they and what do they want?" Thrall, son of Durotan, asked simply.
"You, or so it seems, they act strangely." Replied Tagar.
Thrall nodded once and held up a hand. A long horncall sounded and he strode forward, his warriors parting around him.
The strangers seemed utterly unimpressed by the military display and the warriors surrounding them. The pale giant was still sitting on his rock and the elf merely looked around in benign interest.
The Warchief called out a challenge, but before he could finish demanding an explanation for their presence the
Thrall paused, stopping his advance and raising the Doomhammer.
The giant rolled its shoulders, its masked face giving no impression of its thoughts. Then it spoke:
The word was simple, but it set the worg riders shouting and their worgs growling. Some yelled abuse and refusals at the challenge but a few of the others bellowed the warcries of their clans as was tradition when a such a challenge was issued.
Thrall looked to his advisors in confusion, he'd never faced such a challenge.
Drek'Thar, chief of the Frostwolves came forward, "Beware young Thrall, the elements surround this one, the spirits… be careful."
"He must have standing." Insisted Nazgrel, riding up on his warg, "Only a chief can call the Mak'gora."
Thrall nodded and turned back to the pale giant, "You must be a chief of a clan to challenge me in Mak'gora." He repeated, "Who are you and what clan do you claim?"
The elf was grinning as the giant reached slowly up and removed his helm.
"I am the Breaker, I am Kingkiller and Deathlord, Avenger of the Titans and High Marshal of the Legionfall."
The face that was revealed was pale, white and hard as alabaster, hairless with strong jaw and heavy brow, his eyes were blue and glowed with an inner light.
"I am Vark, son of Tagar," he continued, looking his father in the eye "And I have come to lead you."
Several years ago I started my first story, 'Liberation' which admittedly wasn't very good, but dealt with the consequences of disruption between different cultures and interestingly seems to have predicted the Iron Horde to an extent. I've developed since as a writer and I'd like to have another go at the themes with an idea I came up with recently.
I want to write a 'Peggy Sue' story, where a character time travels into the past and tries to 'fix' things. However, I want to explore the disruption and chaos this causes to the more primitive society, and want to revive my old characters, Vark and Taelan to do this in the Warcraft universe.
I've recently started a Warcraft quest on SufficientVelocity entitled "Orc Quest; or, A Critical Examination of Agency Through in Interactive Fiction" and I'd actually planned to write this story before I started that one, but I've ended up doing it the other way around. When voting or similar is going on in that quest I plan to write this story to continue enjoying my interest in the Warcraft universe, but so that I don't rush through the quest on SV too quickly. You're welcome to check that one out, though it focuses on agency as the title suggests whereas this one will deal more with development. Both will have plenty of worldbuilding, battles and so forth, but they focus on different things.