Wildheart Chapter 2 – "Before the Dawn"
Disclaimer: World of Warcraft and all associated aspects belong to Blizzard. Chapter title inspiration stems from "Before the Dawn" by Judas Priest, 1979.
Large scavenger birds are the janitors of death in the wasteland, an ominous sign to the living about the mortality of their lives, a constant reminder of the fate in store for any who die in the desert.
Their senses are drawn towards the smell of blood and flesh, the sounds of conflict, and the sight of carnage; their instincts allow them to find those who have recently died or are on the verge of dying.
The raspy screech of a carrion bird soaring above resonates in the air as the distinctly cerulean feather of a Dread Swoop flutters down to the earth, landing in front of a figure collapsed prone on the ground.
Blinking wearily as his vision fixates on the brightly pale feather lying in front of him, Mingan slowly chuckles as he begins to hallucinate and reminisce, "This looks familiar…it's just like that incident a year ago…"
Mingan stumbles through the thick walls of smoke and fumes as he escapes the burning building located in the industrial district of Orgrimmar, the Valley of Honor.
Chaos ensues around him as confused Horde residents, merchants, and tradesmen flee for their lives. Vendors' stalls and peddlers' carts abandoned and destroyed as the crowd tramples through. In panic, the burning forges of smiths were left abandoned, the braziers that lit the streets knocked over, adding more fuel to the fire. Oil spills into the fishing lake located in the middle of the district, allowing the flames to extend into the murky waters and spreading where they should've stopped.
The inferno continues to grow, forcing evacuation of the entire Valley of Honor as the homes and livelihoods of many are destroyed in the short span of a single morning.
Help finally arrives in the form of shamans living on the other side of the city, calling the elemental spirits of wind, water, and earth to quell the fires before they could spread any further.
Circling around a figure collapsed prone on the ground, a mob of disgruntled denizens gathers at the gate between the Valley of Honor and the rest of the city. They chatter angrily amongst themselves, creating quite a commotion; the only thing preventing them from closing in is the circle of Orgrimmar Grunts that flank the fallen warrior. Even then, the armored city guards were having trouble preventing a riot from occurring.
An imposing orc of olive green skin, wearing armor forged of blackened metal plates bordered by dark red, pushes his way through the mob.
He makes his way towards the circle of orc guards as he shouts over the din of the masses for them to move out of the way and let him through.
The Orgrimmar Grunts stand at attention as the clamor of the crowd is reduced to a series of hushed whispers.
Finally, a voice in the crowd speaks up, "Overlord Runthak, we demand justice!" The commotion flares up again immediately.
"SILENCE! I am he that carries out the Warchief's commands without question. I am Horde." The armored orc booms with an authoritative voice that echoes through the city. "Before you get your ropes to lynch him as if he was some monster or traitorous dog…consider this, Mingan's accomplishments for the Horde have been positive. Justice will be served, but in a manner that does not shame the honor and glory of the Horde."
Overlord Runthak pauses for a moment, stroking the black hair of his braided beard before he continues addressing the denizens of Orgrimmar. "He will be allowed to live. But his rank within the Horde will be stripped. His estate and assets will be seized to cover the damages he has caused. And he shall be exiled from any Horde city until otherwise stated."
There is a low murmur amongst the crowd, but the majority nod in agreement. Satisfied with the results, most of them return to the extinguished ruins of the Valley of Honor to retrieve and scavenge what they can.
Moments later after the crowd has dispersed, the Grunts carry Mingan's unconscious form towards the outer gates of Orgrimmar. Several stares follow them, but none interfere.
"Wait!" A single cry breaks the somber quiet. A female blood elf whose flowing vermillion locks wave behind and her tall elfin ears twitch slightly as she chases after the procession of guards.
"You're not actually doing this?" Her voice is aghast as she stands in front of the procession, her svelte figure seeming so fragile in comparison to the taller and stronger orcs as they shove her aside with ease. She blinks away tears from her icy green glowing eyes as she brushes the dirt off the silken fabric of her intricately woven magic robes of fuchsia and violet.
The Orgrimmar Grunts drop the tauren warrior face down into the ground outside of Orgrimmar's exterior gate. The impact rouses him slightly as he slowly comprehends his situation. He hears voices yelling, a distressed yet siren-like voice arguing against a deep and harsh voice.
Recognition comes to mind as he identifies the first voice as that of his lover, Eldalin Sunmourn, and the other voice being that of an orc guard. Mingan's vision slowly comes into focus as he gazes at the sight before him, the guards closing the barricade to the outer gate of Orgrimmar as the elf dejectedly walks towards him.
A few tear droplets splash against his face as the elf crouches before him. "This is too much for me to handle. I'm leaving. Please don't try to find me." She places a fine golden ring encrusted with a lustrous blue sapphire on the ground in front of him. It was the wedding ring that he had given to her a month earlier. Just like that, she was gone.
Mingan stares at the blue feather lying on the ground in front of his face; it was like a déjà vu of that moment where he felt alone and helpless. The image frozen in his mind, the moment when the blue sapphire-encrusted ring lay in the dirt in front of him, discarded and unwanted.
Though it was only a few months, the time he spent with Eldalin, a fellow misfit soul with odd tendencies, was the time of his life.
The pain of the arrowheads penetrating his shoulders and biceps is nothing compared to the pain of his memories piercing his soul. For a moment he snaps out of the illusion, realizing that it wasn't just the physical feelings paling in comparison to the emotional feelings; the poison was probably numbing and paralyzing his body.
His gaze shifts away from the blue feather and towards his right hand. In his mind, he wills his body to wiggle his thumb, to ensure that his muscles had not gone numb and become paralyzed.
As his efforts prove to be futile, his glances towards the blue feather again and sighs, regret on his mind as the scene replays. He wishes he would've said something to her before she left; he wishes he would've prevented the tragedy in the first place that caused his exile and threw both of their lives into chaos.
"Don't let all this be for naught." Those words, spoken by a low, gruff voice echoed in her mind. Unbeknownst to the one who spoke them, the words were heard and understood.
The sound of a firearm discharging that followed, the sound of a booming battlecry, the sound of the town guard shouting in alarm, all of those sounds were mere ambient noise compared to the voice she heard as she regained consciousness.
Pale eyelashes flutter as orchid eyelids open and reveal a pair of silvery-blue eyes that emanate a soft white glow characteristic of night elf eyes. She blinks and stares for a moment at the dancing shadows on the ceiling caused by the flicker of the enchanted lantern mounted on the wall.
The "room" she woke up in consisted of a tall white curtain sectioning off the back corner of the hospital building. Besides the lantern mounted on the wall, the only other furnishings consisted of the simple bed, a shelf with various medical supplies, a wooden chair, and a bedside table. Atop the bedside table sits a folded white linen gown.
Her gaze travels down to her ample bosom, transfixed by the slowly fading glow of the spherical gem resting there at the base of a silver chain necklace.
As she inhales, she takes in the foreign scent of the necklace, a musky one that smelled of dirt, sweat, and blood, causing her to wrinkle her nose slightly. One of her long elven eyebrows raises up in question as she wonders where the trinket came from.
The sound of commotion outside her hospital curtain causes her large elven ears to twitch slightly; it seems that the town guard had just returned from chasing out an intruder. She suddenly realizes that the intruder is the same one who brought her here after attacking her, the same one who left her the odd necklace.
In all the chaos that followed, the overrun hospital could not spare any healers to look after her and her presence in the back corner was completely ignored.
As ironic as it seems, Mingan's efforts had been in vain. Not because she didn't receive healing, but because she didn't need it.
Most druids can wield some amount of healing magic. Priests and paladins heal through utilizing their faith in the holy light's power of creation. Shamans call upon the power of the elements to aid the injured. Druids heal by empowering the natural life force within an organism to overcome ailments that one normally would not be able to or ones that would take long periods of time to heal.
The healing magic this druidess possessed far surpassed that of most other druids.
If she had the ability to regenerate limbs, she would be a troll. If she had the ability to cheat death, she would be a necromancer.
Her body's innate regeneration of non-fatal wounds would make both a troll and necromancer envious.
This was different though. This was the first time in her life when someone else took care of her injuries. To add to her amazement, the one who cared for her was the same one who had attacked her. He risked his life coming into this town to bring her to safety.
She knew it from the way her green linen robe had been torn by hand. She knew it from the distinct smell of leather lingering on her bandage, indicating that it had come from a traveler's pack rather than a hospital shelf. She knew it from the small traces of black fur on the bed.
Despite the lack of pain or dizziness from her attack, however, something felt wrong. Sitting up from the bed, she deftly unravels the bandage around her waist and strips it away. Her toned midriff is completely exposed, as the lower portion of her torn robe was like a skirt wrapped around her waist while the upper portion covered from her neck to just under her bust.
A tattoo of a serpentine emerald dragon encircling her navel is the first of several markings that come into view.
The design inscribed on her lower back is one of vines twisting around roots, forming a curved line that traces across the small of her back, extending up her abdomen on both sides in unique designs.
On the left side of her abdomen, the roots grow into the form of a gnarled tree with an oddly feminine shape; the branches extending out and upwards and blooming with red flowers as they follow her side cleavage towards the under curve of her left breast.
Opposite to that, the vines crawl up her right side into an elegant, twisting ivy plant, the upper portion following the exquisite shape of her body, mirroring the other tattoo in shape.
She reaches down and shakily traces her finger across the long diagonal scar from the lower right portion of her abdomen to the upper left. Biting her lip, she realizes the source of her suspicion. Normally any of her wounds would heal without leaving scars; it was part of her blessing.
Standing up from the bed, she seizes the white linen gown from the bedside table, quickly throwing it over her head, letting the open neck of it engulf and cover her waist-length silver hair.
There was a reason her linen robe had long sleeves and covered from neck to feet before it was torn; she was very self-conscious of letting others see the markings on her body.
Besides, it would be much easier to sneak away from the hospital if she weren't recognizable by the torn green robes.
Pushing open the window, she cautiously extends her head out and glances side to side. She climbs out the ground floor window with ease and closes the shutters behind her. Sneaking towards the back of the hospital, she avoids the front entrance that surely would be crowded.
It takes her a few more minutes than using the direct route out of Nijel's Point, but she is able to avoid running into other denizens; most had retreated to the safety of their homes if they weren't at the hospital.
As she circles back around to the front of the town, she notices distinct hoof prints leading out of town and runs towards them; the soft leather moccasins she wears make no noise to attract attention.
Up close, she spies a faint trail of blood behind the hoof prints; it seems the intruder had been wounded during his escape. "All the easier to find him" she remarks as she removes the amulet from her neck and clutches the gem in her hand.
The hoof prints are deep, the stride distance between each one changing erratically, rather than a consistent pace from normal walking or running. "Walking like that, he can't be too far off" she considers.
With a sotto voice, she mutters a cantrip underneath her breath and waves her right hand behind her in a short, sweeping gesture, causing a glow of green light to briefly flash at her fingertips.
Vines much like the ones she summoned earlier break the surface of the ground, except this time instead of entangling anyone, they till the soil behind her before submerging back into the dirt.
This erases the hoof prints and blood stains from the ground, preventing anyone from following them once the chaos back in Nijel's Point settles.
Every step forward she takes results in another set of footprints being obscured behind her. She never cared for excess attention, especially since she considered the upcoming confrontation to be between her and the tauren only.
Her luscious purple lips open as she begins to hum a tune, her voice so sweet and rich that one might mistake her for a hallucination in the wasteland of Desolace; it is a voice that evokes images of a cool spring breeze whispering through a meadow of flowers.
The trek as she follows the trail is relatively uneventful. She occasionally glances up at the sky and notices a cerulean-feathered Dread Swoop soaring overhead in the same direction she is traveling.
A gentle smile crosses her face as the prone form of a familiar figure lying several yards away comes into view. Silently she mouths the words, "I found you."
She waves her right hand behind her again and the enchantment that followed in her footsteps ceases. Enough of the trail leading away from Nijel's Point had been covered that it would be impossible for someone to follow her and she wanted to have all her magical energy available.
As she continues walking forward with a briskly gait, she raises her hands up behind her head, brushing them through her lengthy hair and letting it spill back out behind her. Her long silvery tresses flow behind her as her shapely hips sway side to side in an alluring manner.
The enchantingly dulcet tone of a woman's singing voice rouses him into consciousness again. His eyes slowly open, trying to focus on the sight before him despite his blurred vision.
He peers at an eerily familiar character approaching him. He sees the visage of a beautiful night elf female; her flawless orchid skin unmarked by any facial tattoos.
With her glowing eyes, pale silvery locks of hair, and white robe, she looks like a ghost; "It seems like she has come to haunt me" he thinks to himself.
Mingan didn't believe it was possible for her to be standing before him alive; surely she must be an illusion caused by delirium or a vengeful apparition.
She sings to him with a mellifluous voice. In disbelief, he understands the words to the song; it was a song he often heard tauren druids humming in his youth. Somehow the fact that she was fluent in Taur-ahe, the language of the tauren, only seemed to be a minor detail at that very moment.
It wasn't a song he cared for much; growing up, he wasn't fond of the druids. "And what better way to haunt me than with that damn song? A lovely voice wasted on that tired old melody." Of course, he didn't say it out loud. At least the ghost didn't seem malicious. Then again, she may be trying to slowly torture him.
"I must be dreaming…" he mumbles as his eyes slowly close. Once again, she hears his words and understands them. The last thing he sees as his sight fades to black is the image of her purple lips pursing into a smile as she crouches over him.
Author's Note: I definitely prefer this version over my initial work. The original, though it had some humorous moments, had way too many reveals, plot holes, and purposeful fourth-wall breaking. It went something along the lines of this…
She wakes up in an inn surrounded by several Alliance denizens who start speaking at the same time.
"Are you feeling better?"
"Did that bastard hurt you!?"
"Did he rape you?!"
"Will you go out with me?"
"It's amazing that you survived that"
"Nice leather armor, are you a rogue?"
"Are we asking too many questions?"
Overwhelmed by the onslaught of noobish questions, the druid shadowmelds and disappears.
She jumps out a broken window from the second floor, same one Mingan jumped out of earlier (the original version had him doing that).
She suddenly has a flashback that explains her name and intentions in one paragraph followed by a vision of the Great Kodo Spirit (yes, it does exist in game) who tells her to seek out the one known as…
Also he somehow stumbles halfway across Desolace all the way to the Kodo Graveyard, trips forward on a bone and falls on his back.
And that's the gist of my writing several years ago! Thanks for reading Chapter 2, look forward to the next, all commentary/reviews are welcome.