He remembered how strong he once was, how happy he was and how he damned himself for reaching to far. Where once he had strong and muscular arms as brown as rich dark soil, the rain that fell on his hand was scrawny, not skeletal yet….and green.
Drak’Thul let the puddle of water fill the cup in his hand before he brought it to his mouth and drank it deeply. The taste of the water made him close his eyes and brought memories to him, to his youth in Nagrand where he swam and drank in nourishing and ice cold water. To the face of his mate who smiled widely as she helped dry him off afterward. And most importantly…the spirit of water who kindly lend it’s aid when Drak’thul needed it the most, when the spirit granted it’s soothing healing spells to help deliver two healthy pups onto the world, his two sons. For a brief moment, a smile appeared on the old orc’s lips.
“Reminiscing again, old man?” the Imp creature chuckled.
Drak’Thul opened his eyes and found himself back in the present. Exiled on the Broken Isles, a lone hermit save for the company of some goblins who sought (and failed) at trying to find a fortune in the nearby Kaldorei ruins and the Imp who both served as his ally and constant tormentor. But after decades of living together in the harsh jungles of the Broken Isles, constantly attacked by Naga and scavenging off carion to stay fed, even the Imp had downed with it’s harnesses years ago. Not because of a sense of respect for his 'Master' per se, but because of the constant routine having sucked out most of the vileness out of it. Most of it.
“Zug zug…” the old orcish warlock replied before he sat back down on the pelt of a catlike creature with spots the local goblins named as a “Jaguar”. This weathered orc wore a tattered wolf pelt and a pair of tarnished bracers sprouting wolf hair. The wolf’s head covered his face, which obscured his eyes. His long gray hair moved with his head as it moved with the careful waddling of the old orc.
“What are you sulking about again, Master?” The Imp was laid down lazily on the skull of an Orc as it’s tail swung back and forth.
“It’s been twenty five years since that day, Retsnom.” Drak’Thul sighed as his thin green hands grasped his staff tightly. The staff was etched with runes with a skull of a goat on it, held together by leather straps. The skull was free of skin for some time but a strange green glow eradiated from it’s center. “Twenty-five years since we raised this…miserable island chain from the ocean floor.”
“You should be cheering!” Retsnom jumped up.” It’s been decades since Gul’dan was ripped apart by demons, nine since that Night elf appeared and solved that undead issue for us! You no longer have to stay here! I’ve been telling you this for YEARS.”
“And you will do so for more years to come.” Drak’Thul replied.” This is an self-imposed exile. I am here to suffer for my sins and you for yours.”
“I will burn regardless when you pass away, old man.” The Imp inspected his dark nails.” Us 'enslaved' demons don’t have an easy time in the nether from those who serve the Legion.” It threw it’s feral eyes at it’s master.” You think your time here doing nothing but feel sorry for yourself will bring back the Draenei you killed? The humans’ bodies you helped defile to bring about the Death Knights…” It jumped down from the skull and landed near Drak’Thul’s pelt.” Or the family you lost?”
Years before the warlock would’ve used his powers to inflict horrible pains upon his tormentor for those words. But those words were said countless times since then and the meaning of them still hurt, but were not worth the effort to raise his hand anymore to silence the Imp.
“Gul’Dan once told me a riddle.” The warlock lifted his head and smiled to his minion.” Three powerful men sit in a Great Hall. A Warchief, A Far Seer and a Goblin trade prince. Before them stands a Grunt and each of them asks the Grunt to kill the other two. The Warchief promises he would make the Grunt an Chieftain of his own clan, the Far Seer promises that when the Grunt dies he will join the Ancestors and many Lok’Va Nods will be sung in his memory and the Trade Prince promises gold, weapons, harems and everything else money can buy. Who do you think the Grunt will kill?”
The Imp pondered as he rubbed his chin.” Personally I would kill them all and be the powerful man in that room.”
Drak’Thul chuckeld.” That is what I told Gul’Dan all those years ago and he agreed, to some degree. Instead of killing the Warchief, he would control him. Instead of tricking the Farseer, he would tempt him to his teachings. Instead of buying out the Trade Prince he would sate their greed with more riches then he can imagine.” The Warlock leaned back.” Power resides where men believe it resides. Power is a trick, a shadow on the wall. And even a small man can cast a large shadow.”
“Is that why we are here doing nothing?” The imp frowned
“Not nothing…waiting, purging our sins.” The Warlock smiled.” Biding our time.”
Lightning struck as both Master and minion fell silent. They felt the same sensation as one of their wards reported something. As one, Drak’Thul and Retsnom got up and left the hut and faced the rain. Despite the muddy track and the vines that obscured his vision, Drak’thul made his way to the cliff swiftly. The greens of the jungle gave way to the ocean ahead, and the struggling ship that alerted the ward. The ship was strangely made. It was not made as sturdy like an human ship nor as flimsy thrown together like a goblin vessel. The ship was made from lighter wood and the sail had an square shape and sported an unknown sigil. The design of the ship was like a crescent moon, with the tips aimed for the sky, with two smaller stabilizers on each side.
“That ship looks much like the ones the trolls used back in the day when we invaded Quel’Thalas.” Retsnom leaped on Drak’Thul’ shoulder.
“Zug zug.” Drak’Thul agreed.” But that sigil is not Amani or Frostmane in origin. This must be a Zandalari vessel.”
Drak’thul held out his hand and muttered words under his breath. The runes of his staff shone sickly green as a small green sphere with an iris appeared before him and darted off immediately to the vessel. The Warlock’s eyes turned white as his vision was now linked to the green eye. Through said eye, he saw the sailors of the ship did not just combat the storm but also serpent like creatures armed with tridents that crawled aboard the ship. The trolls on the ship were an odd mixture. Some of them had pale, white skin and were quite tall and had haunting glowing eyes. Others were smaller but more muscular and had green skin while some were actually blue. They fought well but it was obvious that the serpent naga would overwhelm them unless they were chased off.
Drak’Thul severed the connection with the eye and prepared his spell. A feral grin cracked on the Imp’s lips as it jumped down from his master’ shoulder and prepared it’s own spell. As one, both Master and minion threw orbs of darkness and fire respectively which hit two naga warriors. Despite the rain, the one hit by the fireball burned up and leaped back into the water while the one hit by the orb of darkness fell to the deck, dead. The remaining Naga turned their heads to where the spells came from when a new volley came. More dark orbs and fireballs reigned down upon them which claimed more of their number.
A loud hiss stopped the fighting as the attackers made way to the water. The trolls, eager for revenge, threw their own spells and axes which claimed even more casualties. One female held up her own staff as she summoned a wall of ice to stop the oncoming projectiles. The spell stopped halfway as she grasped her own throat as if some unknown force made her choke while a series of fireballs melted the half frozen wall of ice. The invisible hand that choked her throat disappeared as a sickly line of green energy seemed to suck the colour out of her. She let out a brief but loud scream which nearly deafend the trolls as her skin disappeared from her bones. In a matter of seconds those bones collapsed and turned into dust as what was left of her remains were washed away with the wind and the rain.
As the trolls stood confused on the remains of the battle, a purple gateway opened as Drak’Thul stepped through with his Imp on his shoulder.
“Lok Tar.” Drak’Thul held up his hand.” I am Drak’Thul, formerly of the Shadowreaver Clan. I mean you no harm. It would make the effort of saving you pointless in fact.”
“Dat it would be.” A female troll stepped forward. She wore a heavy cloak and beneath purple robe as a monocle covered her right eye.” I be Chronicler Bah'Kini o’ da Zandalari tribe. Dis be Captain Jin’Zar-“ she motioned to the other Zandalari troll who was covered in naga blood as he cleaned his cutlass on his cloak, not paying much attention to Drak’Thul nor his Imp.” And Katoom da Angler of da Revantusk.” She motioned to the Forest Troll who held his battered fishing pole who nodded at the warlock.” We thank ya for ta rescue.”
“An honour to meet you.” Drak’thul bowed his head.” And you are welcome. But I have to ask…why are you here? The Goblin shipyard is on the other side of the island and why do you risk coming here during the monsoon season?”
“Tis a long story.” Captain Jin’Zar said.” May we invite ya to ma cabin and offer ya some refreshments?”
“Fell, yes! Retsnom agreed in his Master’s stead. Before anyone could react the creature jumped off Drak’Thul’s shoulder and ran inside the ship. Several trolls had their weapons at the ready and it took a word in the troll tongue from the Captain to call them off.
“It hates being in the rain.” Drek’Thul chuckled as he waddled inside. The captain barked some more orders as the crew began moving the ship toward a more secure location in the nearby cove for shelter before he followed Bah’Kini and Katoom to his cabin.
Inside, a female servant offered a glass of wine to Drak’thul. The Warlock took the goblet, made out of pure gold he noticed, as he took a brief glance around the room. The room was decorated with diverse ancient troll artifacts. From statues to busts to tablets that hung on the wall. A large mask which reminded Drak’Thul of a Gronn back on Draenor, was the centerpiece above the fireplace. The Imp lay snoring in another goblet. It seemed even demons had problems consuming alcohol, Drek’Thar mused.
“Ya saved our lives, so we owe you some answers.” Bah’Kini said.” Ya know what’s happening ta Zuldazar, our home?” Drak’thul shook his head. “Before ta Cataclysm, us Zandalari recorded ta history of troll kind. We were scholars. We helped ta Horde an’ Alliance fight ta Scourge and Hakkar. After Deathwing broke ta world our home started ta sink and King Rastakhan been dancin’ to ta dark Prophets pipes ever since!” She spat on the floor, much to Captain Jin’zar’s annoyance. The servant girl from before quickly came down and wiped the spittle away with some cloth before she returned to the corner of the room.
“Zul, dat be the dark prophet’s name, had predicted Deathwing's arrival. When ta King granted Zul every tool and resource he needed, Zul had called all ta tribes together to unite under King Rastakhan and begin rebuilding ta troll empire.” Katoom said as he was mending his fishing pole.” An’ nearly all the tribes did. Save for mine, the Shatterspears and the Darkspears. We stayed loyal to the Horde.”
“I heard of Garrosh’s Horde.” Drak’Thul drank from the goblet. The taste was a mix of sweet grapes and blood, he noticed.” I heard from the goblins he is fighting a civil war now.”
“It be Vol’jin’s Horde now.” Katoom said.
“But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.” Bah’Kini interrupted.” Like Katoom said, only three tribes declined. Vol’jin led a rebellion of sorts to stop the Zandalari in Zul’Aman an’ Zul’Gurub along with ta Alliance and the Horde. And he also stopped ta invasion on Pandaria where our kin allied with the Mogu.”
Drak’Thul raised his brow at the term “Mogu” but did not stop Bah’Kini from continuing.
“Thing is, the Zandalari have become something….else.” she said.” Most of our tribe have became war hungry zealots who long for the old days of ta empire and have enslaved the Amani, Drakkari and all other troll tribes who joined us. Dey be usin’ dem as cannon fodder an’ worse.” She took a moment to collect herself.” A few of us were opposed to dis, including ma father. For da first time in his life, my weak spined father went to ta King and said the slavery and aggressive attitude had to stop. We were making more enemies then allies and it would cause our decline even sooner. For those words he was killed…..and fed to da crabs.”
Drak’Thul saw the sadness in her eyes but saw she kept herself calm and in control of her emotions. Though she did seem grateful when the Revantusk took over.
“When Vol’jin took control of the Horde, what was left of the Shatterspear sought asylum from the Night elves, which he permitted. Soon afterward, some Frostmanes have fled from Khaz Modan after the attack on Ironforge failed and also asked sanctuary. Soon, more an’ more troll tribes who either fled from the Alliance or who displeased ta Zandalari have begun sailing to Orgrimmar. That is why Bah’Kini be here and why I be here. I am their guide ta Orgrimmar, having been dere myself to sell ma wares.”
“Not all of us agree with Zul or our King’s calls as of late.” She agreed.” We be sailin’ to Vol’jin to seek aid against ta Dark Prophet an’ have him lead troll kind to a new future. Da Loa’s obviously favour him more den da King!”
“Are you certain that is wise?” Drak’Thul asked.” From what I heard from the goblins, there was a large civil war. No doubt Orgrimmar is still being rebuild and the last thing they need is more hungry mouths.”
“Da Horde be a family.” The Revantusk fishermen said.” It be lookin’ aftah each other. The Zandalari be closer ta the Darkspear den ta Orcs or Tauren are, by blood at least.”
“And besides, after losing so many people during the war and the rebellion, Vol’jin could use the extra numbers.” Bah’Kini said.
“Do your people mind switching one slave master for another?” the warlock finished his drink. His eyes fell upon the servant girl who dutifully kept her eyes on the floor.
“Better to ‘ave someone mourn his pawns and think carefully before sacrificing them den one who doesn’t.” she replied.
“I wonder if your brothers think that as well.” The three trolls looked to the goblet to the side as the Imp stretched. Drak’thul shook his head before he stood up.” In that case I wish you good-“
He was interrupted by the captain who said something in the troll tongue, to which both Bah’Kini and Katoom agreed with.
“Captain Jin’Zar reminded us dat Garrosh burned the Warlock trainers in Orgrimmar before the Siege.” Katoom said.” Why do you not come with us?”
” You are a great Warlock and you used your powers to save us! Da Horde could use more Warlocks like you. To train da new generation properly. To use ta powers of the Fell for good.” Retsnom snickered which made her frown. “It be better to stay ‘ere and be attacked by Naga for the rest of your life.” The Chronicler said before she quickly added a ‘no offense’ at the end.
Drak’Thul was about to decline when he caught his Imp’s eyes. Both had known each other for decades and sometimes they had long conversations where no words were said. The Imp gave a big grin and nodded at Drak’Thul who in turn agreed.
“Dabu.” Drak’Thul smiled.” Very well, I will join you. To Orgrimmar”