Chapter One: A New Man
And so it had come to this. The hut was dark and smoky but by the flickering light of the fire the eyes and tusks of the witch doctor seemed to glow an unearthly hue. Her eyes were milky with age but she saw him well enough, sitting pathetically on a pile of bear furs, naked but for the ash smeared through his hair and in concentric circles on his chest. He had woken like this, and now could not control his shivering though the air was hot from the fire. The ash seemed to burn his skin.
It is the essence of souls...
She had not spoken, but there was no doubt it was the old troll who spoke. Her eyes glowed brighter than before.
Ash from the bones of your slain enemies, taken fresh from the field.. the fires of enmity burn hot.. heat is what brings life from death, like the phoenix- and there is no flame fiercer than that between two who once were one.. And in that manner the forging of one who once were two.. requires the burning pain of great sacrifice..
He did not know what she meant. Had he not tried to sacrifice all? He seemed unable to move, though he would not have known where to go, as he had no idea where he was. High in the mountains above Winterspring, he had abandoned his clothes so that he might more quickly abandon himself. She must have found him, unconscious in the snow, soon after, for the spirits in the icy winds were not known for being generous with lives, especially when they were freely offered. Were they still in Winterspring? He had heard of tribes of trolls around there. Or were they taken somewhere else? Or was this his final judgement in death? His mind could not make sense of it.
You were a fierce warrior.. and arrogant, as are so many of your kind. The assets of this world are not for the taking, unless you will give. It was the request of another that I give you a second chance, though I do not see that you deserve it. You must learn of the nature of the land, so I will ask you to choose a path- Druid, Shaman, or Hunter?
If he could have drawn breath to laugh, he would have laughed at the crone then. The sudden realisation that he was not breathing at all was alarming only in that he recognised the fact that he wasn't as disturbed by it as he surely should have been. It seemed then that the smoke in the hut dissipated, and suddenly his vision was clear. Yet where his surroundings should have been illuminated, in his clarity he could see nothing but a pair of eyes, as green as forest moss. He thrashed wildly against the invisible bonds that held him, seemingly torn in two by guilt and regret. His people were guilty of such sins as demons would be proud of! And were demons not now their lords and masters? He himself had committed murder in the thousands and never questioned it until the last. But he was a warrior, trained from birth to pit his brute force against any quantity of quivering flesh before him. He could slash with a sword and kick and punch and tear apart a throat with his hands if need be. What was this foolishness of Druids and Shamans and Hunters. He was not one for magical mumbo jumbo. He was a man for cold steel, as much a weapon as the tools he used to kill. Hunter's seemed less into that magical nonsense, but yet- So be it.
His voice suddenly issuing forth, surprising himself even as there was a blinding flash of light. He blinked and collapsed, feeling suddenly cool, dewy blades of grass under his hands and knees. He looked up at the building before him.
A rough wooden bow was slung across his shoulders and a dagger hung from his belt. Whose clothes these were he did not know, they were cheap and tacky and fit him nothing at all like his own beautifully crafted set of armor. He grabbed the dagger from its sheath and cried out as his hands fumbled with the weapon like they had when he was a boy, given leave to pick up a mans weapon for the first time. Turning he saw a small lynx and threw himself upon it in a rage. They battled for a few minutes, and Galeian struggled like he had against seasoned Alliance warriors time and again. After the struggle he fell again to his knees beside the body of the cat, his dagger falling to the crushed and bloodied grass, and wept. His long years of training were for nothing, then, for he was as unseasoned as any youth. His power, expertise, skill with weapons, all gone. He felt exhausted despite his lack of armor, and depleted as if he had not drunk from a sweet stream of mana for years.
He could not return to Kael'thas' army like this, he was no longer the warrior Galeian. He was nobody, with no skills, no money, and no possession worth showing off to a beggar.
He was nothing.
Far away, an old troll hag gave a gapped tooth smile, for she knew what he was. Not an absence of substance, but merely an absence of form. His story had been erased, and though he retained much of his memory, the slate was once again, blank.
Chapter Two: A New Beginning
He sat for a long time on the grass, and watched the sun until it set, then rose again. When it was near to setting again, the dull ache of his hunger began to grow more insistent. He now felt numb to the strange circumstances that had brought him here, but he was still very confused. The sounds and smells of the battlefield were fading, though. The crone had said he was to have a second chance. This was, indeed, a great sacrifice, a fate worse than death. Now he had truly lost everything. He thought back over everything he had had, not for the first time, and found that it was getting harder to grasp. His memory was fading. But he had no desire to fight it for the memories were mostly of bloodshed and carnage. Was that what she meant by a new chance? The chance to craft a life based on other motives than greed and cruelty? Sunstrider was Horde territory. These had been his enemies too, though he never fought them as fiercely or frequently as he did the Alliance.
She had mentioned great sacrifice, and indeed it would be painful on his part to start again.. to train, fight, practice for days upon days to regain some measure of his previous skill. But what suffering was that compared to what he had inflicted?
He could sense the animals moving around him, and felt a little magic within him- no great amount, but more than he had previously felt. Perhaps this was indeed a chance for a new calling. Time passed until he could no long ignore his primal urges, and he eventually approached the building in search of food. Approaching the guard warily, what was left of his soldiers instinct caused him to snap to attention when addressed.
“You there! No loitering. Every man and woman must do their part. Where is your equipment? If you've left it lying around for rats to steal you'll be beaten for your wastefulness!”
He cleared his throat, feeling more at home now that he had been threatened with reprimand like any soldier.
“I've.. just arrived... sir.”
Well, that was more or less the truth, wasn't it? The guard regarded him through narrowed eyes.
“You're a little old for a new recruit, aren't you? Have you any existing skills?”
Awkwardly, embarrassed and angry, he responded that he had not. A lady had joined the first guard now and seemed to be staring right through him, her gaze unfocused though her eyes were directed at a level around his forehead. After a moment, she blinked, whispered something to the guard, and went on her way again. The guard gave him a disgusted look, and waved him past.
“Collect a backpack and your starter rations. You'll be given a few odd jobs to help keep the wildlife population of the island at a manageable level, and once you've pulled your weight some, go see Ranger Sallina inside. You'll serve the horde best as a hunter.”
Chapter Three: Humility
Once he would have been furious to be given such menial tasks, but now he didn't seem to mind. It required little thought, but he could gradually feel himself getting stronger again. The events of his past life as a warrior were fading every day, but at night he still dreamed of being watched- sometimes the eyes were clouded with cataracts, sometimes green as the forest and clear as a deep spring.
He didn't mind his humble new station as a hunter in training. He worked hard, received his pay, protected the vendors and other non combatant citizens, and grew skilled at using the bow. His skill had improved rapidly at first, and he'd moved on from Sunstrider to Silvermoon. He'd run into frustration a few times, dying helplessly at the hands of enemies he should have easily dispensed with, the pain of feeling his spirit ripped from his body, the weightlessness of it as he returned and the burn as they melded back together- but the pain only reminded him that he had many more crimes to pay for.
He'd been pained when he'd had to kill a night elf spy, and barely felt justified when he found the incriminating documents on its corpse. He dug a hasty grave and wondered why it had come to this before getting on with his job, and he was soon into the Eversong Woods. He did feel a slight sense of satisfaction though- he was still far from his previous skill and strength but slowly, slowly he was getting there.
- * *
Silvermoon City. The home town of his people. He'd never seen it and now that he was here... he wanted to be sick. It was opulent and the guards strictly enforced the law even where disobedience was only implied and not a fact. The first thing he saw on entering was a citizen being interrogated, obviously terrified, and unable to defend himself.
Up until now, what he'd seen of his people who'd allied themselves with the horde had lifted his hopes, but now.. This reminded him too much of another group of blood elves in a far away place, a more brutal but inherently similar gathering of fighting men and women... but those were only dreams and not true memories, weren't they? It seemed not to matter either way, but he knew this city was not what he had hoped it would be. Not a single person spoke to him, and indeed he saw few around other than the guards and a handful of traders: Silvermoon had the surface appearance of a bustling city but it was empty. Hollowed out like a man without a soul. It seemed introverted despite the very near threat of the scourge just outside its gates. The soldiers outside the city seemed to have their eyes open- they were alert, ready to defend, determined to serve their cause- people with soul that Galeian could relate to, but inside the city it was like a veil was pulled over everyones eyes, and they would continue on, unchanging, forever regardless of what was going on in the wider world. It was clear to see how this stagnant culture had led some of it's own people to look every further inwards rather than outwards and become selfish and twisted. How easily he could have been one of them... it sent a shiver down his spine.
- * *
He was looking for a minor lord named Saltheril, whose home should be somewhere near the contested docks at Sunsail Harborage. As he culled another lynx, keeping the woodland paths safe for travellers, he heard the drifting sounds of laughter and music. Turning in the direction of, he presumed, a residence, he jogged along, completely unprepared for the sight of more people in one place than he had yet seen. Dressed in fine robes they drank and ate and not one even wore a weapon.
“Excuse me, do you know where I might find one Lord Saltheril?”
The pretty, dark haired elf looked him over disdainfully.
“Sorry, I don't speak with the help.”
Could she really be that rude, or was it a misunderstanding? But no, she only glared at him and continued to talk to her friend. Flabbergasted, Galeian headed towards what looked like the main building.
“Ah, good of Magistrix Dawnstrider to finally respond to my simple requests. I should take up the matter of her attitude with the regent lord in Silvermoon. She's quite rude! Nothing for you to concern yourself with though. Now that you're here, maybe I'll finally be able to get those party supplies that I've been waiting for?”
“Party supplies. I've been telling her for ages to send some help, there's just too much for my own servants to handle.”
“Pardon me lord, but the Magistrix is in charge of the local defense, when she said you needed a hand I supposed your lands might be in danger of enemy possession, or perhaps the wildlife was growing too abundant...”
He trailed off, completely at a loss.
Lord Saltheril scoffed.
“As if I would dirty my hands on mere... beasts. No, I am an artiste, a conoisseur of fine wines... foods...women.”
“But you see, the guests are constantly hankering for refreshments, and they must be provided, and so that is where you come in!”
Lord Saltheril beamed, evidently pleased. Galeian stared at him in open shock. He had thought Silvermoon City was bad. But here, right in front of him, could he have found a man who embodied everything wrong with his race? On the edge of his lands, twisted wretched were scavenging the bodies of ships whose crews had fled... and he was worried about party food? And from what he'd seen, the guests were no better! Galeian flushed with rage, and threw the missive down on the ground.
“Find somebody else do do your worthless chores. And if I were you, I'd stop bothering the Magistrix. I'll be sure to inform her on my return just what sort of 'help' you've been after. She has far more pressing things to worry about, and a dozen soldiers beside me who'd be quick to back her up should you seek to press the matter.”
Her turned away, an indignant Lord Saltheril spluttering behind him.
“But.. I .. well don't you expect an invitation to my party after speaking to me like that!”
But Galeian was already out of his house and striding away, tense with anger, and did not care to hear.
Chapter Four: A Good Start
His training was paying off, slowly but surely. He could feel a growing strength in his grip on his bow, increasing ease with which he drew back the string, a firm surety when he swung a blade. His new trainer seemed pleased with him too.
“You have undoubtedly hunted and slain beasts for both your defense and sustenance, yet to befriend them and harness their strengths is only now within your grasp. This I can teach you.”
Galeian felt a burst of excitement. How much more effective his training would be with a beast to guard his back! This must be what it meant to be a hunter! Hunting down the requested beasts was a grueling task, but he was certain it would prove rewarding.
Three beasts and a significant investment in travel time later, he stood before his trainer again and bowed deeply.
“Lady, under your instruction I have learned of the ways of the beast.”
The lieutenant gave a low chuckle and smiled at him in a way that he could not help but feel was somewhat ironic.
“Very well. I deem you ready enough, although I am not sure if you have quite learned the lesson I set out to teach. Your attunement to the wild things of this land is complete- you may now seek an ally from the beasts around us.”
Elated, Galeian performed another brief bow, barely concealing his haste as he took his leave. A fine beast he would have to fight for him.. on his way back to the city, he saw a fine dragonhawk a short way from the road, looking like it performed an erratic dance as it sometimes darted then floated more gently between the trees. It's wingspan at full length was greater than his own height. He stepped in front of it and closed his eyes, hands held out towards it, channeling- he still could not believe he was doing any sort of magic- the energy as he had been taught to draw the beast to him.
It struggled at first, uncomfortable and wary of a threat, used only to being attacked and confused by this humanoid who was not brandishing weapons. Eventually it calmed, and he stroked it's long scaly muzzle. Smooth like skin, but harder, the scales were warmed from within. It shook its head and let out a burst of flame that shot over his shoulder, searing his eyebrows lightly. He laughed with joy, and patted it on the nose once more.
“You are a fine beast indeed... I will call you Rojash.”
The creature seemed pleased enough with its new name and master, but fidgeted at its side, and looked at him with surprisingly readable expression.
“Very well... lets go find you some food.”
I do not pvp. This is an alt. I have a 70 Rogue, Holy Priest, and Prot Pally (all alliance) on Aman'thul. Lots of other alts scattered around that I don't really play.