Blackscar: Ruin (Part 2)Edit
The forest was alive.
It moved like a seething carpet of maggots, heaving and convulsing. War machines rose up like apocalyptic monoliths, creaking ominously, a mournful, braying keen. Forges illuminated parts of this roiling mass, points of fiery, hateful light. The air swirled and moaned as sorcerous power was drawn irresistibly to pulsating, purple glows, making the air resonate with nauseating menace. Trees came crashing to the ground, groaning their anguish, hewn asunder by hungry axes to fuel ravenous fires. A tumult of voices struck out at nervous ears. Angry, hateful voices that called for blood. And the drums. Oh the drums.
Exarch Maaldir stood stock still, his pale eyes wide, too nervous even to shake. Atop the Terrace of Light he was positioned. He could see the whole thing. Shattrath City was sprawled out before him, like an elegant cobweb. Hasty fortifications prevented the Horde from spilling out into the Lower City, but no one was under any illusions that they would hold. They were here to die. A diversion. A trick, even. The Orcs needed to believe that the Draenei were done, and that this was a last stand. Maaldir nearly wept right there and then. Children. Children had volunteered to stay behind. It had to look genuine. And now this.
He closed his eyes and shuddered, his lips fumbling over a silent prayer.
Light deliver us from this evil and send it back to the abyss. Save our children and our loved ones. S-strike with righteous fury at the ones who would do harm against the f-faithful. In the name of the three v-virtues , Light be praised.
A terrible roar echoed over the city. Ogres from the mountains had come. His courage quailed. He looked to the Vindicator next to him. The poor sod had pissed himself. Turning his back to the nightmarish scene before him, Exarch Maaldir doubled over and vomited out what little he had eaten that day. He straightened up at once and felt better immediately. If he was going to die, so be it. He’d do it with dignity, and so would his men. He turned around with renewed courage.
“Vindicators! Hear me!” Maaldir, roared. His eyes were set with fierce conviction and his teeth were bared in righteous anger. He thrust his mace high into the air, and it shone like a holy beacon. “Each and every one of you are heroes! True champions of the Holy Light! Where you walk, judgement shall follow! Wherever you fix your gaze, retribution shall be swift! The Light is our guiding beacon! With it we shall never falter! Death to the Horde! Death to the Horde!”
Maaldir worked himself into a zealous frenzy. By the time he had finished his morale rousing speech, spittle was flying from his furiously working mouth, and his features were mottled with rage. On either side of him, stretched a long, long line of Vindicators. His fanaticism was infectious. Every one of them took up his chant, and it echoed over the city in response to the mindless howls and bellows of the Horde.
Let them come, he thought.
Let them come.
The air was foul.
It smelled of war. It smelled of filth, sweat, blood, smoke and anguish. It was impossible to hear anything but the primal, savage pounding of the wardrums. Draenei skins stretched taut over tortured wood boomed their damnation to the uncaring mass of bloodthirsty green skinned devils, beat by snarling, dark figures. The air rippled with shimmering malice as warlocks whispered incantations that would drive a sane man to madness. The section of forest surrounding Shattrath had been all but devastated. The Orcs had torn down trees to fuel forges and construct crude siege weapons, and it was as if the land withered and died as their boots marched upon the soil. The air hung thick with a choking smog, a mixture of the blazing forges, the smouldering bonfires, and the thickly incensed ritual circles of the warlocks.
The whole thing infected Junka with a contagious anticipation. But he was uneasy, too.
He and his nine men successfully rejoined the Horde as the sun hung low in the stormy sky. They had trudged relentlessly through the dreaded Zangarmarsh, chasing after a band of refugee Draenei. The endeavour had been far too costly. Ten men were taken by the marsh itself, sucked under the cold mud as if the land was a hungry creature. Another five were bitten by chittering insects. All of them swelled and bloated to hideous proportions and died within the hour. A final three were taken by the desperate Draenei themselves. Junka hated to admit it, but the Vindicators were fearsome warriors. They fought with such conviction that he’d seen Orcs fall to their knees when a Vindicator fixed them in their fiery gaze.
But it was not a complete disaster. Using what little men were left, Junka had seized control of the small group and drove them onwards with sheer iron will. They caught up with the Draenei a day from Shattrath and utterly destroyed them. Word of Junka’s savagery had spread and he was beginning to make a name for himself. His love for collecting trophies may not have rivalled the gruesome Bonechewers, who decorated themselves with entrails, but the select few he picked marked him out as an Orc with a keen eye for detail.
Woven into his beard were the finger bones of slain Draenei children, and his left ear was pierced by the talon of an Arakkoa hatchling. His hair had been slicked back by a foul mix of fat and gore and he had filed his pronounced tusks to a needle sharp point. When they reached the outskirts of Shattrath, Junka wasted no time in threatening the lives of the blacksmiths so that they would provide Junka and his men with suits of heavy plate armour. The smiths provided only scraps of wicked black plate, and so Junka broke their legs for the insult. Nevertheless he made good use of what he had been given. To his right shoulder was strapped a large, spiked pauldron. To his lower torso he buckled a huge girdle, which looked more like a small Ogre’s belly plate. His right fist was encased in an iron gauntlet, the knuckles tipped with vicious, sharp studs. No longer walking barefoot, Junka wore thick, iron boots. All the better for breaking their bones, he had said. He intended to use them for that exact purpose. Junka left his chest bare, smugly boasting that if any blueskin blade found its way past his guard then he’d tear out his beard.
With his axe in a sling over his back, Junka bared his teeth at “Lo’gosh”. Lo’gosh was an old Orc. His tangled hair was greying and his muddy green skin was calloused and hardened like old leather. Old scars crisscrossed his arms and face as if he was born with them. He sat cradling his face in both hands, shivering from a fever. The right hand side of his jaw had all but been decimated by a Vindicator’s hammer earlier that day. It remained attached to his face by a crude stitching job which he had performed himself. In any other circumstance, Junka would have killed him outright for being such a damned liability. But he needed Lo’gosh. The old bastard was dour and unpleasant, but he was as wise as an old wolf and could hold his own better than any of Junka’s men in a fight.
“I don’t care if you have to bargain away your pathetic soul to get your ugly face fixed! You’re no use to me in that condition! Look at you! You’re weakening by the minute! That’s a fever if I ever saw one. What are you going to do to the blueskins, Lo’gosh? Whimper at them?” Junka snarled, jabbing at Lo’gosh’s pride.
They sat at a small fire surrounded by war machines and shelters. Men nearby were too busy bellowing orders and preparing their weapons to notice them. A single tent of mottled hide flapped in an unnatural breeze to their left. It seemed to jut from the ground like an unearthed obsidian crystal. Through the entrance flap, one could only see darkness. It housed a warlock, and this set Junka’s nerves on edge. Lo’gosh would go in there and pay any price the warlock asked to fix his jaw, or Junka would make him. Lo’gosh could only groan in response. Junka didn’t doubt the old swine was delirious from the pain by now.
“That’s it. You’ve been told and you’ve disobeyed.” Junka hissed, standing up and striding over to Log’osh. Ignoring his grunts of protest, Junka’ grabbed Lo’gosh by the shoulder and hauled him to his feet. He shoved him in the direction of the tent and followed him closely. He was filled with a superstitious dread that even his fierce pride could not overcome as they got closer. There was a pike driven into the ground nearby with a Draenei head mounted upon it. It wasn’t the fact that there was a grisly trophy outside this tent that made Junka’s heart skip a beat. It was the expression of sheer ecstasy upon it’s dead face that made him shiver with uneasy anticipation. He didn’t like the idea of it. It was as if it had been damned and made to enjoy it.
Pushing aside the tent flap they entered. Junka’s nostrils were assaulted by an overwhelming odour of smouldering incense and burning animal fat. Tables of tortured wood groaned and creaked under the weight of volumes of blasphemous texts and bizarre fetishes. Shamanic totems littered the floor, but they had been defiled beyond all use. They were charred and blackened, and runic etchings shone with fiery intensity. There were few sources of light in the tent, and Junka was struck by how much bigger this place was on the inside. Ethereal flames burned within mounted trophy skulls in corners, and he spied a pair of narrowed eyes watching him from a dark corner. Dominating the view was a large, stone slab in the centre. There was a body laid upon it. A Draenei. Still alive, Junka noted, as his head turned to face the Orcs with a delirious smile upon its face. A hunched figure busied himself over the Draenei. The figure had its back to Junka and Lo’gosh and it obscured the Draenei’s torso from their vision. Junka’s expression hardened as he noted the obscene ritual scarification present on the Warlock’s shoulders and upper back. It looked recent, the open wounds glistening with fresh blood and sore flesh.
“We come for your aid” Junka said, keeping his voice steady and devoid of any telltale emotion. Inwardly he was raging at Lo’gosh for his incessant groaning.
“You ask me to mend flesh” The warlock said. He spoke with two voices. One an ancient Orc, old and wise beyond imagining, the other a malevolent demon, eerily quiet and utterly menacing. “Yet I am a sunderer. A destroyer of flesh. You wish me to bend my powers to restoration? Dear, dear me.” His warped vocal chords produced the bizarre effect of a harmony.
“The warlocks are renowned for their wisdom. I have little doubt it is within your great power. I do not, of course, ask for this without expecting a price to be paid.” Junka said, inclining his head a little.
His anger at bowing his head to the Warlock knew no bounds. But it had to be done. He valued his life.
The warlock took a minute or two to respond. He was intent on what he was doing to the Draenei. Although Junka’s vision of the Draenei’s chest was obscured, the sickening squelch of internal organs and the heart stopping sound of snapping bone still reached his ears and it made even his black heart quail. The warlock radiated a menace that made him feel physically sick.
“The path of the warlock is an infernal one, Junka the Bastard.” The warlock half spoke half hissed. His words were so soft and silky, yet they were positively dripping with malice. Junka’s heart skipped a beat when he heard his name and title mentioned. “Our power shines like a blaze. But fire needs fuel. It needs something to consume. Why? Because it can. Power and sacrifice are synonymous with one another. Its needs are particular. Sometimes blood is demanded. Sometimes souls, crystallised shards, are needed. But that is when our powers are called upon to destroy. You ask me to renew this man’s flesh. Something else is required.” The warlock crooned, his words as venomous as a poison tipped dagger.
Junka fought back a snarl of impatience. He was fast growing bored with what the warlock had to say and just wanted to be out of here. He caught sight of a clump of foul soil, suspended over a tiny podium by Fel magicks. It symbolised earth, one of the elements. This warlock’s shamanic past made Junka feel uncomfortable. For the briefest of moments he felt a sudden sense of loss. We were once so proud, he thought. As if by impulse, his heart began beating furious and a surge of irrational hatred made him clench his fists. Idealist nonsense, he thought viciously. The world is a far darker place than that and I am far darker. Take what you want and take it through any means possible.
“Speak then, warlock. I will pay any price. The soul of his firstborn child, the severed head of his mate, even his flayed hide when this battle is over. Make it quick. I have preparations to make and can’t tarry bargaining with the likes of you.” He said, genuinely believing that these things were his to give, not caring if he had crossed the line.
The warlock’s shoulders heaved up and down in silent laughter.
“Such a black heart you have, Junka Blackscar. It is a shame you lack the mental intuition to grasp the ephemeral power of the Nether. You possess no ability, but your will is more than adequate.” The warlock wheezed. By his tone of voice, Junka could tell that the warlock’s face was twisted into a cruel grin. The Draenei laughed soundlessly and nodded in blind agreement. Junka eyed the expression on his face. What was that? Adoration?
Finally, the warlock turned around. His hands were slick with blue blood and his naked chest bore the same ritual scarring as his back. His face, too, was scarred. The pattern resembled the visage of a leering demon and his eyes smouldered like Fel green orbs of flame. With his face thrown into the light, Junka noticed that the Warlock’s skin was not green, brown, nor red. It was just simply grey. It was as if colour was drained around the warlock’s body. Had this warlock offered up even the hue of his skin in his hunger for power? Idiot, Junka thought. He would gain everything and sacrifice nothing. This fellow was just slowly shutting potions of his soul in a furnace. A surge of superiority welled up within him and he met the Warlock’s withering gaze with a dark smile.
But the Draenei’s body was revealed. Junka had once heard of an Orc who made sport of slowly opening Draenei ribcages and pinning back their insides with twigs. The warlock had taken this idea to a new level. The Draenei’s straining heart was suspended a foot above his chest, the arteries drawn taut, still attached to the body. Organs squirmed and spasmed. It looked as if they had been rearranged and put in the wrong place. His ribs, splayed as if they were wood from a fire pit, twitched and moved as if they were the teeth of some hideous maw. Junka could handle this. He had seen and committed horrific acts of torture in his time, but never had his victims had that look of giddy pleasure on their faces. He thought back to the head mounted outside. This warlock wanted to be adored and respected by everyone, including his enemies. His sick fantasies were being re-enacted in his methods of torture. This was too much, thought Junka. As much as the Orcs harboured that ever burning hatred, Junka believed that to inspire hatred in another was a calling, even a duty for all Orcs to perform. They were a warrior people. Theirs was not to be adored. Hatred all round, Junka thought.
“Get on with it. What is it that you require?” Junka growled, no longer bothering to keep the contempt from his voice.
“As you wish then. I will mend your comrade’s flesh, Junka the Bastard. I’ll even do more. I’ll fill him with a vigour he possessed in his prime. His soul, naturally, shall become mine when he dies. I require something that’s not of the…physical world, let’s say. Something symbolic. An act, even. The act of sealing a deal. Yes, that’s it.” The warlock sneered, as if tasting every word he spoke. He toyed with his speech as if he was experimenting with something new.
It was just then that Junka realised there was something drastically wrong with the warlock’s frame. It wasn’t obvious, and the room was heavily shadowed, but Junka could have sworn that the warlock’s legs were reverse jointed like a Talbuk’s rear legs. His kilt covered most of his lower body, but it was as if the warlock had outgrown it. Junka noticed spiny crests growing from the warlock’s elbows, a telltale sign of Fel mutation. Two bumps formed at his temples, as if his skull was beginning to grow a set of horns. For the first time in his life, Junka realised just how far some of his kin had fallen. The warlock was gradually becoming more demon than Orc.
“Sealing a deal? Aren’t we sealing a deal now? I don’t like what you’re saying. It sounds very complicated for the simple act of making this old bastard’s jaw work again.” Junka snarled maliciously. He knew the warlock liked the sound of his own voice and began to suspect that he was being toyed with.
“No, no. That’s not enough. Something more significant I think. Yes, that will do. I‘ll tell you what it is later, maybe. Yes. Yes, I‘ll fix his face.” The warlock replied, his warped voice twisting syllables into sounds that Junka never knew were possible.
Baffled by the warlock’s words, Junka shoved Lo’gosh forward. He stumbled more than walked, and Junka began to doubt whether the whole thing was really worth it. He hoped that Lo’gosh snapped out of his delirium. Or he’d break his neck with his bare hands. The warlock reached forward almost paternally. Holding Lo’gosh’s face in both hands, the warlock’s began muttering blasphemous incantations, smiling warmly. His hands began to glow a sickly green as he lashed forgotten shamanic magicks into submission with his mind. Lo’gosh roared in pain as the shards of his jaw began to snap and fuse back into place. Lo’gosh thrashed wildly and twisted out of the Warlock’s grasp. With a bellow of primal rage his hand automatically reached for the axe at his hip. He reminded Junka of a caged beast, tormented by onlookers with sharp sticks and blunt stones. The old Orc’s delirium had faded and Junka nodded with grim satisfaction. Log’osh didn’t take long to calm down and he felt his jaw with an experimental hand. Everything seemed intact. Junka nodded at the warlock and fixed him in a baleful gaze.
“Whatever it is you’re after can wait until Shattrath has become rubble and bone. Come and find me after. If you fail to do so then it is your own fault. I guarantee nothing.” Junka said, his eyes narrowed with hostility.
“As you wish, Junka the Bastard. I have a gift for you.” The warlock replied in an almost dreamy voice. The Draenei laughed, a high pitched desperate sound. He was certain the Draenei didn’t understand a word of Orcish. It looked as if it was desperate for the warlock to turn his attentions back to him. “I slit a sergeant’s throat for this.”
Junka scowled. The only rank he was used to was through deeds and the natural order of things. The biggest and the most cunning claimed leadership. Official titles and ranks were foreign to him. The warlock limped over towards a darkened corner in the tent as if his legs protested to being used. He stooped over and picked up something heavy and metallic from the ground. A great battleaxe was revealed. Its very existence appalled Junka, and for that reason alone he was filled with an obsessive longing. He wanted that axe.
Its haft was made from the bone of an Ogre god. Wrapped in the tortured hide of a notorious Clefthoof, it’s grip was firm and allowed an unparalleled mastery of the wondrous weapon. Glyphs and inscriptions skittered across its surface, illegible runic text that Junka knew was not of this world. Ornamenting the head of the axe was the skull of a creature Junka half remembered from old folklore. It looked like the skull of an ancient basilisk, horned and imposing. A headdress of Arakkoa quills decorated the skull, sticking out like the crest of some monstrous bird of prey. It had leonine fangs which flanked the axes side by side blades. It looked like a fossil of ancient times. The blades themselves were curved and tantalisingly sharp. The metal was black like obsidian yet it held the honest quality of Orcish iron. He could only guess at what horrific rituals had been performed when this metal was forged. But he didn’t care. At the back of his mind, he greatly suspected this to be some trick, some double edged sword. Accepting this axe would not be in his best interests. This instinctive tugging had nothing to do with some petty sense of honour or pride, and it had everything to do with survival. None of this mattered. It was all washed away by Junka’s hungering greed.
“I like this axe.” The warlock chimed, his lips curling into a lopsided grin. “My five brothers and I made this.”
Junka was well aware of the fact that the warlock had only moments before told him that he had ‘slit a sergeant’s throat for this’.
“I had to kill them all after the deed was done though. They didn’t understand. I wanted it more than them, so I deserved it. They’d have done the same to me, you understand.” The warlock said, justifying his supposed action like a child would after stealing a toy.
Junka’s impatience got the better of him.
“Give it to me. Now.” He said, his eyes never leaving the perfection of this tool of war.
The warlock took a few steps forward, towering over Junka. He presented the axe to him, cradling it in both hand. Junka’s hands shook as he reached for it, knowing as he touched it that he had crossed some unknown threshold. When his hands touched the immaculately formed weapon, the warlock leaned forward and whispered something into his ear. It was something he would not forget until the end of his days.
“Alright. I don’t know about you boys but I want some bloodshed.” Junka barked at his men.
Nine of them stood at attention, something which Junka insisted upon. Straight backs and puffed out chests. It was a strange thing to be doing but he relished the irony of a disciplined Horde.
“The warlocks are preparing something big. See them standing on their podiums? No, don’t answer Nazgrin. Speak out of turn and I’ll break your jaw. Do you see them standing on their podiums? They’ve been whispering incantations for the whole day, I heard. Softening the place up, that’s obvious. Whatever they do, we have to be ready. So what I want you ogresons to do is keep an eye on the Bladespire heavies that came down from the mountains. Those are gonna be the ones who break down the walls. Those are our only key into the city. I have picked out one Ogre in particular, he’s the brute over there. Stick close to him and storm through the breach he makes like an angry ocean! Are we clear?” Junka growled, pacing up and down in front of his line of men. His new axe was safely in his possessive grip.
“Aye, sergeant!” They chorused in reply.
Sergeant. It was a nickname they had given him. His odd sense of military discipline and sharp tongue had earned him it. He didn’t mind. He briefly mused over the thought of gaining a multitude of titles over the course of his life until his gaze fell upon Lo’gosh. His lip curled into a snarl.
“Lo’gosh. Step forward.” He barked.
Lo’gosh held his head high as he strode forward to face ‘Sergeant’. He was met by Junka’s gauntleted fist cannoning into his face. It was probably only the warlock’s magic that kept Lo’gosh’s jaw intact. He hit the deck with a heavy thud, and snarled with suppressed rage.
“Lo’gosh is an old bastard and I hate his damned guts.” Junka spat. “But he’s more Orc than all of you put together. That’s not saying much mind you. You’re all pretty much worthless. But he has seen many winters and knows how to lead a squad. Should I die, which I damn well won’t, but if I do then you’ll defer to this bag of leather and bones. Do I have your oaths on this?”
His men exchanged looks.
“I’ll put my oath on it, sergeant. I was hoping to kill you in your sleep, but now you’ve gone and made me swear to someone else. You’re a cunning one, sergeant!” Joked an Orc named Threlk, his guttural laughter echoing over the clearing.
The other men joined in, and even Junka and Lo’gosh laughed along with them. It was not a pleasant sound. It sounded wicked and depraved. It was as if they laughed for the sake of being an affront to everything they knew deep down was good.
“Get up, Lo’gosh. You’re making us look like savages, getting all dirty on the floor like that.” Junka said, with a mocking grin.
Lo’gosh grunted and stood up, dusting himself off and delicately feeling his tender jaw for any permanent damage.
“What’s your damned name, anyway? We can’t be calling you Lo’gosh all the time. That’s some shamanic nonsense.” Junka said, absent mindedly admiring the feel of his beautiful axe on his hand.
Lo’gosh grinned and spat out a stream of blood.
“My name is Nazthril.”
Looked at the axe as if in a dream. He didn’t believe in beauty or perfection. But this. This wonderful creation. This amazing tool of war. This exceptional work of art. Well, it still wasn’t beautiful or perfect but it was damn close, he thought. He began to muse over names for the axe. What could he call it?
No, no. That was too pretentious.
No, definitely not. This thing would break more than just dreams.
No. This blade would cleave through more than just flesh. The plans he had were far grander. He would sunder entire philosophies with this weapon!
His was shaken from his contemplative mood by a deafening noise like angry thunder. He looked up to see the skies roiling as if in agony. Points of ill green light illuminated the sky, growing larger by the moment. Junka marvelled. The warlocks had outdone themselves. A legion of infernals were hurtling towards Shattrath from the sky. It was time.
“Brace yourselves! Stand fast! With your courage you cannot fail! Let your undying resolve sustain you throughout this barrage, warriors of the Light!” Exarch Maaldir bellowed, his voice carrying over the deafening tumult. Great rocks, ablaze with fel green fire were fast approaching the city from the skies.
Uttering a prayer, the unwavering Exarch cast a holy seal upon his war mace. Judgement, he thought. Now is the time for judgement. His body was surrounded by a brilliant light as his body became infused with the Light’s power, and every Vindicator standing upon that Terrace did the same. He heard other Exarches shouting oaths of Vindication and his resolve doubled. He and his brother Exarches would see them through this. For a moment, hope dawned upon him. Maybe they would stave of the Horde’s assault?
How the gods laugh when men dare hope.
The rumble of the meteors gave way to a piercing, keening wail. The blazing boulders screamed through the air getting closer, closer…
The first one hit.
It struck the ground like the fist of an angry god. It struck the paved ground with a deafening bang which sent waves of pain through Exarch Maaldir’s body. To his immense relief he noted that there was no fallout, no debris. The meteors destroyed what they hit directly, but that was it. If the defenders had their wits about them they could be dodged. He could help but smile.
It vanished when he realised the boulders were alive.
From the intense heat of the impact crater, a massive creature emerged. It’s body was comprised entirely of clumps of stone, wreathed in fel fire. The monstrous golem tested out its stone limbs and raised what was supposedly its head to the sky. Two rough chunks of stone, its mouthpiece, parted and it let forth a metallic, embryonic wail. Exarch Maaldir looked back up at the sky. He couldn’t begin to count how many more demonic constructs were approaching the ground.
The second one hit.
How the gods laugh when men dare hope.
Junka’s bloodcurdling bellow was lost amidst the countless thousands of other Orcs baying for blood. As planned, Junka and his men stood ready by a gigantic Ogre who held a battering ram ready. The first infernal had struck the City of Light.
The assault had begun.
Catapults roared into life, hurling balls of screaming death over the walls. Ogres pounded the ramparts with tree trunks, rams, and even their fists. It wouldn’t take long. These ramparts weren’t built to last. Raising his axe to the sky, Junka roared a wordless litany of blasphemies into the night. Liquid splashed against his face. It might have been rain, it might have been blood, it might have been anything. It didn’t matter. Conquest was so tantalisingly close. It made his tongue tingle and his lips quiver with anticipation. The howling Horde began eventually began to chant one word in unison, along with the deafening thunder of wardrums.
Lok’tar! Lok’tar! Lok’tar! Lok’tar!
The first of the Ogres made a breach in the defences. The Orcs poured in within seconds. Another breach. Another, and another. Junka’s marked Ogre made his breach. He lost all semblance of discipline. He sprinted in full tilt, along with everyone else.
He was met by a row of defenders, standing tall and proud, their armour shining with a Light that came from within. Orcish iron met Draenei steel. The slaughter that followed would be remembered for years to come.
Vindicator hammers rained down upon him as he recklessly charged into the fray. His armour was battered and dented beyond repair, and his bones were in danger of breaking. But he was sustained by a vile hatred of everything. A hatred so strong that his mind felt like it would tear itself asunder. Ignoring blow after blow that threatened to dash him to the ground, he let his axe sing. It parted steel and flesh alike with horrifying efficiency. The whispers he thought he heard had risen to moans of anguish as Vindicators died with prayers on their lips.
“No mercy!” He thought he heard himself say. “No mercy! Kill! Destroy! Everything must die!”
By sheer numbers, the Orcs decimated the initial Draenei line. Ducking under a Vindicator who had caught an Orc in the stomach mid leap, Junka tore into him. His axe split the shimmering breastplate and he shivered with delight as he felt ribs snap beneath. He relished every moment of the slaughter. From the Draenei’s sharp intake of breath to the blood gurgling from his open wound. As he fell, Junka aimed a vicious kick at the dying vindicator’s face. His head snapped back as Junka’s heavy boot connected. It might have broken his neck. It certainly broke his face.
Another Vindicator came at him. As swift as a demon, Junka leapt past his enemy’s guard and head butted him, aiming for the nose. He felt bone breaking and hope fading, and it lent him even more strength. Ruthlessly shoving the Draenei to the ground, Junka held his axe over his head in a two handed grip and put all his strength into a downward sweep. The Draenei’s chest and breastplate caved in. In his rush to find another foe, Junka stood in the gaping hole his axe had created and never even noticed.
Then the mist came.
A creeping, scarlet fog poured through the breaches in the walls. It hugged the ground and billowed outwards, enveloping everyone in its choking embrace. To the Draenei it was a poison that drove the Light from their bodies. It is the thing that would cause them to become Krokul. Broken. But to the Orcs it was like nectar. Junka dropped to his knees, sucking in lungful after lungful of the coppery mist. His mind burned. He could no longer think. It was beautiful. His whole body trembled and shook.
“More…” He gasped.
Junka doubted there was a single Orc there who didn’t feel the same way he did. For the first time he felt as if he had truly connected with his kin. Now they were all part of a true horde. The Lower City had fallen and the Orcs rallied to take the higher ground. Swarming over ramshackle barricades, the ramps leading up to the Terrace of Light were alive with red and green warriors. Defenders had the higher ground and a bottleneck to their advantage. As Vindicators held the entrances leading to the Terrace of Light for ten minutes, Orcs had to clamber over their own dead to reach them. It was a valiant defence. Hundreds of Orcs died trying to claim that last portion of the city. It was Junka’s turn. Using the bodies of his fallen comrades for purchase, Junka leapt through the air, taking the head clean off a roaring Draenei defender. His body hit the ground with a metallic thud, his armour clunking off of the hard ground. It was only one kill, but it was enough. Junka exploited the gap without mercy, and he had a thousand Orcs behind him to back him up. Taken down by sheer numbers, the way was clear. Junka saw that the other entrances had fallen too. His eyes darted in their sockets, like a starving wolf seeking out soft prey. He spied buildings that were barricaded, no doubt holed up, defenceless Draenei city folk. Seeing a Draenei trying to crawl away, Junka started towards him. But the stone ground was slick with spilled blood and sloppy innards. He slipped and fell forwards, landing on top of the fellow’s back.
The Draenei’s desperate screams were all he could hear. He lost his grip on his precious axe and howled in anger. He reached for the first thing his could find. It was slippery and slick with blood, but it was like a sinewy rope. It would do, whatever it was. Without paying attention he looped it around the Draenei’s neck and began to strangle him. He began to laugh uncontrollably when he realised he was throttling the Draenei with its own innards. Whispering mindless obscenities into the dying Draenei’s ear, he finished the job and immediately picked up his axe. He looked around, paranoia tugging at his mind, but no one was paying attention. The battle was over. His comrades were already seeking trophies. Two were flaying the hide from the back of a Draenei who cried in anguish.
He noticed that eight of his men stood behind him. Like him, they were covered in blood from head to toe. One had probably fallen. He didn’t care.
“We will begin a sweep of the barricaded buildings.” Junka panted, motioning to the mobs of Orcs that were already beginning to rape and plunder their way through the rest of the city. “There will no doubt be schools and orphanages. You’ll like that, Krun. Children are easy kills. Easy trophies.”
His small group of men nodded eagerly, gazing around at the ruined city with unconcealed glee. Junka glanced down at his axe. He began laugh. Taking in the scene of devastation before him, he beamed. The dead were piled high. Screams of hysterical fear and pain permeated the air. Buildings were beginning to burn. The city was theirs. He continued laughing.
“What’s so funny, sergeant?” Nazthril asked, laughing as well.
“I’ve just thought up a name for my axe.” Junka replied.