Just a story I have bouncing around in my head right now. I'm not thrilled with the title, but it was all I could think up. There is much more to come, however the forward is all I've got finished at the moment. :)

Oh, and the characters have names, they are just revealed at a later time. ;P


It was another muggy, misty Stranglethorn morning. Water seemed to drip from the foliage slower then normal, as if the humidity itself was just awakening. A few birds chirruped, the opening score to what will soon be a full chorus of birdsong as the day would wear on. The sound of equine hooves clopping on a dirt road grew near, and from a bend in the small path came a warhorse. The large, armored animal moved slowly along the road, his rider, an equally large and armored draenei, sat quiescently watching his surroundings. It was far to early, the paladin had thought, for any strenuous activities. Though he had a full workload of various jobs he'd been commissioned to for that day, he'd taken this time to simply ride, and enjoy the Vale.

The jungle was usually a very dangerous place, and the mounted figure, knowing this, had a large mace at hand, strapped to his belt, and a shield slung across his back. However, the morning thus far had been peaceful, so despite his preparedness the paladin was caught slightly unaware when his mount suddenly stopped short, nostrils flaring, and one great hoof pawing the ground.

"What is it Glory?"

The draenei's voice was deep and mellow. He patted the silver dappled horse with one hand as he searched his surroundings, his other hand on the mace at his side. His eyes fell on a prone form just off the side of the road several yards from them, and as he made out the figure, the mace came away from his belt with a quick snap. It was a troll. Female from what he could tell at this distance. She was laying halfway in the bushes, as if she had just emerged from the jungle.

There were many trolls in Stranglethorn, almost none of them were friendly. So despite the fact that this one had yet to move, nor even shown signs of life, the paladin kept his mace griped tightly in his hand as he dismounted. The form didn't so much as twitch even as he approached, and the draenei felt more sure as he looked down on her from a closer vantage that she was dead.

She was covered from head to foot in innumerable bruises, and lacerations. Some of the deeper ones seemed to be partially healed, and he was reminded of stories he'd heard about the dreaded trolls regenerative abilities. The troll before him wore leather armor that had been torn and disheveled. Very different from the garments of the native trolls he'd seen. Realization struck him as he spotted a marking on the leather. A small, red, Horde symbol.

So, this was a Darkspear troll then. The difference to him in the various tribes and species seemed almost nonexistent. The paladin shrugged slightly as he looked down at the troll. Why should he be any more concerned with the fate of this troll then if she were any other type? Perhaps he should be even more pleased to have discovered her remains because she was Horde. However, despite his reasoning he still could not help but look down upon the troll with pity.

He examined her face more closely. There was a large dark bruise that covered the half that he could see, and one of her smallish tusk's was missing on that side of her mouth. As he watched an unnerving feeling crept over him, and he abruptly realized that the small blades of grass next to the trolls mouth were flickering ever so slightly. She was alive! Her breathing was weak and shallow, but she was alive.

There was no doubt that, in her condition, she would not be alive for much longer, however. The draenei knew that it would be much more honorable to give the troll a quick and painless end. He looked down at the mace clenched in his fist, and frowned. He also knew he could not bring himself to raise it. The thought of striking out at a defenseless female did not sit well with him. He stood there indecisively for a moment more. His expression was unchanging, though his eyes betrayed the uncertainty he felt.

Finally, with a sigh, he reattached his weapon to his belt, and knelt to gently shift the troll onto her back. A soft groan escaped her mouth, and her eyelids fluttered open. As he propped her up on one of his arms, she stared up at him with a glazed look, probably not even fully aware of what was going on. The Paladin took in a deep breath, closing his eyes and concentrating on his gift of the Naaru. He slowly exhaled, feeling the warmth gather in his right hand. Opening his eyes again, he brought his hand, now glowing with the life giving gift, up to the young trolls forehead. She reflexively flinched away, confusion and fear now evident on her face.

He frowned slightly speaking quiet words of encouragement, though he knew she would not understand them, and once again brought his hand, and the gift, to the trolls forehead. This time she did not move away, whether it was because she trusted him, or more likely, because she lacked the energy to do so, he did not know. As the warm healing power left his hand, the familiar glowing glyph lighted up above his brow. The troll sat very still, staring up at the symbol with still much confusion, but now wonder replacing the glint of fear that was once in her pain glazed eyes.

The draenei watched closely as the larger wounds began to seal themselves. He knew the gift would not heal everything, but he did know it would take care of the more life-threatening conditions. His gaze moved back to her face, and he noticed she had passed out again. Privately he approved, because he knew he'd have to move her after this, and he'd rather she stayed complaint for that. She still had much healing to do, and if he left her out here in the middle of nowhere now, he'd have wasted his gift, as any passing predator would find an easy meal.

Carefully he lifted her off the earth, and laid her on Glory's back. The warhorse's ears pinned to the back of his head, his eyes rolling in fear, and he stamped his hoof in complaint.

"Come now Glory, she is unconscious and will not harm you." he said reprovingly and smiled as he patted the dappled stallion.

Though the horse did not look mollified, he stayed still while his master turned back to the troll to be sure she was balanced well and would not fall as they walked. As the paladin lifted the reins from the saddle horn he noticed on the trolls face two small, glistening trails where fresh tears made their way down her cheeks. He paused and watched the tears, concern worn plainly in his frown, and for the first time wondered what could have possibly happened to her. Moved in a way he did not fully understand, the Paladin placed a gentle hand on her head, stroking her coarse blue hair as if to comfort her. A thought appeared in his eyes, and he reached for his neck, pulling out a delicate silver chain from under his plate armor. On the chain was a small green leaf cut from crystal. Engraved inside the crystal was the glyph that appears over ones forehead when the Naaru's gift is cast. He unfastened the necklace and placed it on the troll, tucking it under her ruined leather armor.

His war steed's reins in hand, the young paladin headed south. He knew where he needed to take the troll, however, he'd been spending much of his time thus far in Stranglethorn avoiding the place. The guards of the Horde camp, Grom'gol, would not be so friendly to him as he has been to the troll. Emerging from the treeline, just within sight of the large wall of the camp, the draenei paused. The guards had not seen him yet, which was good. Gritting his teeth decisively, he struck on down the trail leading to the camp. Reaching a point mere yards from the entrance to the camp where he would be more easily seen by the inhabitants, he stopped and lifted the troll from Glory's back. He placed her gently on the ground and looked back up at the Horde camp. Sure enough he'd been seen, and solders where already running out of the gate.

The paladin mounted quickly, and with one last glance at the troll, turned the large dappled warhorse, and charged back into the treeline, getting as much distance from the camp as possible. Several of the guards attempted to give chase but soon gave up and turned back to examine the unconscious figure left on the ground. Slowing to a brisk trot some distance from the danger, the young draenei sighed.

"Perhaps it is time we left Stranglethorn behind us Glory." he announced with a wry smile, steering the horse back down the once more quiet and empty trail.