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Messages - Tagrok

The Campfire / Oathbreaker
April 18, 2020, 06:27:19 PM
“I'm quite sure something broke in your mind after that time then, Tagrok. I never expected you to betray me. And especially not with something like this.”

Tagrok wakes by noon, lying on the floor whilst Smoke has curled up on his back. Not quite awake, the ever present dust causes him to sneeze - with the wolf jumping up in alarm before she notices that her idiotic companion is at fault. She stretches lazily and begins to pad outside, having smelled something. The orc gets up much slower, grunting in confusion at his whereabouts before the previous night comes back to him. "So much for asking..."

He could still remember her vividly. Armored. Proud. Stalwart. Just as the day he had met her. Often had he appreciated her direct, no-nonsense way of speaking - until she confronted him on his wrongdoings that night. She would not give them her blessing, would not accept his wish. And why would she? She died, angry and scared and probably cursing his name as she watched her only son die in her arms while he was away on another continent.

He stands with some difficulty, wiping away tears before he pats along his clothing before following Smoke outside. The area was still with the exception of a herd of clefthoof grazing in the distance. To the west were the ancestral ground, and merely looking at them seemed to darken the day around him. Before long, the trio of orc, wolf and boar make their way north towards the busy roads, passing by the ruins of Sunspring Post and the ogre grounds in the distance. He half expected one or two stray ogres to ambush him, but the trip was quiet, deserted even.

By the time Garadar comes into view, noon has given way to afternoon - the shade of the sky changing ever so subtly over the hours. Tagrok doesn't enter at once, instead turning to the right at the western gate to follow the way downstream. Cleaning himself up, he remains there for a few hours, looking over the plains of Nagrand. He eventually fiddles with his belt pouch, looking at a fang he had kept carrying with him for a few days. Near the top, an opening had been carved, with much of the tooth hollowed out in the process. He keeps looking at the fang, brooding over something until at last he sighs before lying down in the grass.

“You put that on yourself. You made the choice, break your oath and spend eternity with her, and never see me again, nor your son.”

"That's that, then. We tried and failed, Smoke." The wolf looks up for a moment, but still busies herself with something else while the orc continues speaking. "She will not give me her blessing and she'll make sure I don't see him ever again." He rubs his temples, grimacing all the while. "I was ready for the first, but... Not like this." Turning to his side, Tagrok looks at Smoke as he rests his head on his arm.

What now? The spirit of his former mate declared him an oathbreaker and Windwatcher was there to witness it. What would happen now? His oath to the clan… The oath he wanted to swear to Tahara. Would he even be allowed to take it? Or would they shun him for his decision to move on with his life together with another woman? Fel, would she even want to, or did Lokara’s words… Shuddering for a moment, he sits up and holds his head as he presses his eyes shut.

His eyes open in horror as he hears war drums.

“N… No, no… Nonononono…” He shakes his head almost violently, the sound stopping as soon as it came. “I’m done being that… That thing!” He spits the words out. “The potion worked. Meri told me so… This is just… Panic. Yes. I’m panicking.” Crawling over to the stream, he begins splashing water onto his face. As he does so, he stares at his hand - scarred many times, but with two distinct cuts across it - faded enough by now to just look like discoloured lines.

“And if she doesn’t agree, then I’ll take you anyway.”

Calming his breathing, he remembers the discussion of a few days ago, at the Throne of the Elements. The fire in those sandy eyes of hers, so completely unlike the rage he witnessed months ago. The clear worry on her face and determination as she tried to make herself believe in her own words.

With a growl, Tagrok gets up on his feet and wipes off the remaining droplets of water with his hands. “I didn’t even try to stop her when she spoke to you the way she did... What a failure. Oathbreaker and spineless, bah!”

The spirit of his love long gone was right with much of what she said. He was broken deep down, for a long, long time now. He might’ve picked up one or two shards and put them together to continue onwards these past few months. Even a clay bowl mended with mud will not return to the way it was before.

“I’m not the same orc that left for Northrend back then, Lokara. I meant everything I said before you and Karthok died… Before that part of me died with you, years later.”

But there was someone else who tried frantically to put him back together. There were others, trying to fill in the little cracks of melancholy, madness and self-doubt. All of them who put up while he tried to push them further away.

“I hope your shaman brings this back to your clan. The word of an oathbreaker means nothing anymore.”

No more words then, only actions. Isn’t that what Tahara asked of him? With that he turns to the two beasts, whistling shortly. “Smoke, Bacon! Get up, we’re heading into the village.”
The Campfire / Better
April 15, 2020, 07:18:16 PM
-Not all stories end on a glorious note. Some simply end, while the world moves on.-

Tagrok paced uneasily in his tower. Despite the hurt, exhaustion and sleepless night, he continued pacing. “Return tomorrow at dawn.”, Bloodmoon had said. He knew that he shouldn’t have ambushed the sorcerer at this hour, but he could not wait. Finally, all three ingredients had been collected and it now hinged on the sorcerer’s preparations.

He thought about Feathers, who had been injured the previous night - his wing crushed in the maws of the enormous darkwolf. Tahara sent him away, despite the bruising slowly darkening her skin from the impact of being smashed against a tree by the beast’s tail. He looked down at himself, hands balling into fists with an angry growl. Of course he had gotten away without so much as a scratch. This was his hunt, to save his own sorry hide… And yet everyone else but him had to suffer for it. Sighing, he made his way outside. Perhaps the fresh air would help calm him down.

Arriving at the bonfire, Tagrok spotted an orc in a curious getup walking away. The way of walking, how the other orc held himself… “Bloodmoon.”

“Valorwind.  Just the Orc. I've just finished speaking with the Varog'gor.”, Gashuk answered as he turned after being called out. Tagrok looked at the garb, nodding after a short explanation before Gashuk continued with what mattered. The only thing that mattered.

“As for you. I've finished. You brought me the core of a fire elemental. That was to purge your body from all remaining corruption and filth. You brought me a wolf heart slain under a full moon no less. That was to reinvigorate your orcish spirit and return you to your roots. And finally, you brought me holy water. An important addition to cleanse what is left, and to keep you pure in your new revived being.”

Tagrok could only nod as the other orc continued, voicing his own doubt to the potency of the concoction that he would have to drink.

“Your situation is delicate and unique. I cannot be certain, but for all the research I have done, I believe this to be the best course of action. You will never be the same after this. Do you understand?”

The thought sent icewater down his spine. He could feel the blood pumping in his ears, his hands trembling subtly as he voiced his question. “W-What do you mean... Is it going to mess with my head?! I had enough of tha-..."

The other orc was quick to alleviate his fears. “No, no. It will cleanse, purify and renew your spirit. You will reconnect with what it means to be an Orc again. A new Tagrok. A better one.”

Better. Who could possibly argue with that? He’d give anything to be free of this dark feeling. If he were to become someone better… What could possibly be said against that? He followed Bloodmoon to a lone hut near the river, looking towards central Nagrand. Another sunny day, a light breeze. Quiet and serene, it still took his breath away.

“This spot is special to me. Do you know why?” Of course he did not know. He knew next to nothing about Bloodmoon until he spoke to him because of his condition. But the other orc quickly continued. “This is where I first met Rhonya and when I first fell in love with her.”

He could understand that. Although for him, it wasn’t quite the first meeting. For him it was a solitary log, precariously sitting over a small lake in Sunrock Retreat. It was a night filled with words, with awkward silences and remembering the past. Of listening endlessly and wondering why some orcs have to suffer.

Tagrok shook himself to cast the memory away as Gashuk continued. “Now. Two of the reagents you have given me need to be consumed raw. The Elemental Core however would burn you through, so I've concocted a potion to help you consume it. “ he stated matter-of-factly as he drew out three items. A small bright orange potion. A linen package seeping the faintest hint of red and a small vial of water. “First. The Fire Potion. Ingest it, withstand the pain, and feel all of your anguish burn away.”

He looked at the potion before grabbing hold of it.  Raising it to eye-level, he peered at the bright orange liquid. One more look at Bloodmoon and he uncorked it to down the contents. "Well that wasn't so ba-..."

Fire. No, molten slag crawled down his throat, searing and cauterizing at once as he felt the concoction wreak havoc on his insides. A cough rattled him, he began to uselessly fan at his maw before dropping the potion vial. Grabbing his own neck, he sunk to his knees soon after. "S-Sears my.... Insides...!"

Once again, the blood in his ears rose to beat like war drums - but the rhythm was off, as if the drummers could not keep pace with one another. He thought he heard hissing and the clattering of mandibles somewhere - before he was pulled back to reality by the agony.

Groaning in pain and gasping for breath, he stared at the ground through bloodshot eyes. He could hear Bloodmoon begin some incantation, the liquid seemingly combusting anew as he did so. “Now consume the heart! Take it all in! Become the Wolf you were born to be!”

He managed a short, cut-off roar as the incantation was performed before his shoulders began slumping - drawing in air through rattling breaths, reaching out for the heart with a trembling hand.  Squinting at it through tear-glazed eyes, Tagrok didn’t waste time complaining and began chomping on the raw darkwolf heart with a frown, tearing pieces away. "Ugh... B-urgh... Ancest-..." The texture wasn’t the worst. Nor was it the fat coating parts of its surface. The smell. Darkwolf really wasn’t something any sane orc would want to consume. And yet he continued until the whole of it had been consumed and trying his hardest not to throw up - mostly because the thought of the vile potion going up again terrified him.

Something was happening however: He felt hungry, not just for food. For everything. He wanted to yell, to laugh, to eat and drink. To track and hunt. To stalk prey. To kill. To…

Bloodmoon continued without waiting for the kneeling orc, shouting: “Perfect! I can see the purification taking place! Quickly, finish the cycle with the holy water whilst the magic holds!”

Tagroks eyes widened as he looked down at himself, staring down at his... Paws? He looked up at  Gashuk, still trembling from the course of fiery liquid and wolfheart before nodding vigorously. "R-Right..."  He paused for another moment before realizing his new form was but a glamour. His hand tightened around the vial, removing the top and downing the liquid like an orc dying of thirst… The effect was almost immediate. Like a flood crashing into a burning village, the vile taste of the heart and the searing lava in his stomach ceased to be, with only a cool, refreshing feeling being present. Bloodmoon continued to incant, sweat beading at his brow, as the fatigue began to kick in. He fell to his knees as the final soft words of power were uttered; Tagrok shimmered in the light of his ritual.

He breathed heavily, blinking as his illusionary snout rose to catch sight of the ritual-light - the glamour fading as he did so. "D-Did this w-work..? Ancestors, I'm thirsty..." Still on his knees, Bloodmoon managed to ask him how he felt. Tagrok lifted his hands, looking down at them and remaining quiet for a moment. "I... " Balling his fists, he nodded slowly. "I feel... Rested. At my peak... By Sharguul, has the day always been this..." He squinted, looking around. "Vibrant..?" The robed orc chuckled at that. “Like you could run for a week?”

“... I think I could manage two…”
The Campfire / All that glimmers
December 07, 2019, 09:50:11 AM
“Bones mend. Regret stays with you forever.”
- The Name of the Wind -

The idea had come to him when he led the little group up towards the Shado-Pan monastery. There in the distance, still a ways below the ancient Pandaren structure - and past the Serpent's Spine - were the Townlong Steppes. He had looked at them, eyes widening in realization, knowing what he had to do.

A few hours after helping out the obnoxious Pandaren farmer, Tagrok settled down in Halfhill - opting to pay for a room at the Inn instead of bothering with the tent. The following night went by quietly, other than the occasional itching of his healing buttocks. A few hours before dawn, he stole out of the building, leaving a note with several heavily scratched passages. He finally opted for "Gon to hunt. Tag.", which would likely suffice for the recipient - if she’d notice the note tucked near his pillow. With that, he made his way westward, towards the great wall. With the Sha threat quelled, most of the mantid returned to their cycle while the rest were exterminated below Orgrimmar, making travel about as safe as it was in the rest of the known lands.

He finally reached to nearest access tower to the wall itself, convincing the garrison leader that he had no ill intentions, merely traveling through the area for the sights and occasional hunt. After that it was hour-long walks to the north, until the Steppes finally came to view once more. Standing there, frozen by the sight of the great Kypari tree, he wished he had taken her with him. Perhaps some other time, when he had finally fixed himself. He shook his head and dared to peer towards the southwest, where the Dread Wastes were lying. Shuddering in spite of himself, he seemed to still see the eerie glow of Sha corruption. There were more trees there. More mantid. More things that might influence him. No, he would give the Wastes a wide berth and stay on the Steppes. A few mantid or yaungol were nothing and he didn't plan on fighting unless entirely necessary.

Even here he took Smoke with him. The young wolf had barely left his side, except for the night of his Gul'thauk task. They had slowly become inseparable, although mostly due to Tagrok worrying about anything happening to her while he wasn't around. Now she was a pup no more, slowly growing more daring and, at times, aggressive. She would need an outlet and the quicker they'd hunt, the better for the both of them.

Grunting, he descended the stairs and stepped onto the westernmost area of the continent, keeping the humongous tree always in front of him as he and Smoke made their way towards it. He was fairly certain that he'd find the thing he was looking for. Perhaps it wasn't exactly the 'real thing', but this would be the best he could come up with before returning home to Kalimdor. The sun was above them by now, shining on top of the Steppes on this clear day. Away from the darkness of the Wastes and the writhing jungle of Krasarang, this was how he kept Pandaria in his memories. Reaching the base of the hill the tree sat on, he realized that it wasn't a hill, but merely the hints of the roots burrowing through the area surrounding the main trunk. He grunted and began turning his attention to the ground, narrowing his eyes as he searched for the barest of glimmers among the dirt and fallen leaves. "Just one… It doesn't even have to be that big. Something." There should be remains, rubble from the ruined mantid structures. He only required a sliver, a shard. A mere drop.

He froze as he heard an unfamiliar sound, dropping close to the ground and pulling the curious wolf with him. He waited, holding his breath as he scanned the area around him. A few meters from where he hid, it was standing. One of the yaungol, searching through the rubble of collapsed stonework. The yak-tauren didn’t notice him, merely grunting as it shoved aside boulders and, to Tagrok’s surprise… Sheets of what seemed to be orange glass, although they were too big to carry for a lone orc - and he clearly lacked the tools to render them down or break a piece off. He must’ve stayed there for about an hour, practically clutching the impatient Smoke to himself as the yaungol finally retreated. When the thing was finally out of sight, he let go of the wolf, who jumped around in her newfound freedom while the orc shook his head. “That’s it. First thing we do on Kalimdor… We train. You’re not a pup anymore!” A bark answered him, carefree as they come. “Fel me...”

With that, he approached the spot where the yaungol looked for things to scavenge, rolling some rocks away and looking beneath broken sheets the size of his companion. He knelt there, among the rubble, as he swiped his hands once again over the debris. “Come on… This won’t do… Too big… Too sharp. Ugly!” He growled, smashing his fist in frustration against one of the sheets - quickly shaking it in pain as he cursed at the hard material.

He remembered two flashes of red in the darkness of Kun-lai, followed by her face twisting from anger to exhaustion and guilt as she threw the consequences of his idleness straight at his face. <Can you just picture for a moment, us standing around your funeral and learn…> His jaw clenched, painfully revisiting the moment. It all went so well in Stranglethorn, after the suffering and doubts. <... and nothing else. Not until you’re better…> Smirking without humour, he shook his head slowly. “Hmph. As if… Over my dea-...”

He didn’t know why. Perhaps it was Smoke’s sudden jerk of movement out of the corner of his eye. Perhaps the growing shadow above him, or the rushing wind. Tagrok simply dove to the side, turning around in time to see a bright orange-coloured, crude blade dig into the spot he was just kneeling in. The yaungol roared in frustration, pulling the blade from the ground and pointing it straight at the orc. It didn’t speak, merely glaring at Tagrok as the orc considered his next move. He stared straight at the hostile warrior, his eyes eventually dropping lower as something glimmered near its neck. Nestled on top of fur and wrapped in a crude string of tanned leather, was a sphere of ginting orange. The orc’s eyes grew wide for a moment before the yaungol charged once more, with Tagrok diving past it as he drew Gul’nathor. Sudden calm washed over him, the barest of whispers hushing his panic as he dropped into a combat stance with the dagger in a reverse grip. Smoke was barking all the while, but the young wolf was likely too scared to attack the beastman.

They circled each other for a few moments, the yaungol charging again as Tagrok dropped to the side. One swipe of that blade and he’d die, he knew that much. But this wasn’t like the last few times. No ogre sorcerers. No old god minions. No plants with whipping roots. He smiled to himself. This was just some aggressive tribal warrior. He might die, but for once he was sure he could take on the enemy without worrying over the result. He ducked down, the sword cutting over his ponytail and he thought he heard it scraping across one of the bone beads. Anger flashed through him for a moment before he drowned it out, facing the brute head on. This time, he charged at the warrior in lockstep, waiting until the final moment to practically stumble to the side as the blade almost cut his side, scraping over the tabard and chainmail below. With a grunt, he whirled the dagger around and brought the pommel down with all his might on the back of the yaungol’s neck - and was rewarded with a sickening crack.

The thing collapsed then and there, with Tagrok breathing heavily for a few moments before he approached hesitantly, kicking the large warrior’s flank only to be rewarded with a gasp. “Still alive… Good…” He bent down and tore the necklace away from the yaungol’s neck, pulling the gemstone up to eye level as the warrior protested weakly. Smirking, he twisted the precious teardrop of amber out of the leather bondage and stuffed it into one of his belt pouches before he turned to Smoke. “Come girl, time to head back.”
The Campfire / Streaks of Silver
November 08, 2019, 10:04:06 PM
-- Roughly a week ago --

She had stirred next to him, barely a moment before he wanted to leave the furs. Quiet and unmoving, he just kept listening to her breathing and the flutter of wings. Hushed words he couldn’t really make out - at some point she did return however, lying down next to him. In the end, he simply rose some time later, put on his armor and left the watchtower. If she noticed, she gave no sign, no question asked.

Thinking back on it as he rode close to the Ashenvale border, Tagrok wondered why she didn’t stop him. He scratched idly through his beard as Bacon trudged along, squealing quietly as they entered the shade beneath the trees. “Quiet as ever…” he whispered to himself, eyes darting from bush to treetop and everything in between. Night elf presence had increased in the last few months after the attack on Teldrassil and the knife-ears’ newly found tricks, which turned their eyes black as tar. With any luck, they wouldn’t patrol the area or at least not notice him and the boar.

A few hours later the duo finally reached Splintertree Post, one of the few safe havens remaining for members of the Horde. He exchanged a few terse words with the grunts, stabling Bacon afterwards before heading into the Inn to inspect his gear. His bow had seen better days, especially after they were stranded on the hozen island - he would have to visit a bowyer at some point for some maintenance, but it would do for this hunt.

The daggers were ready for anything, although with the prey he was looking for he’d rather not find himself in a situation where he’d have to use them. Holding the black knife, he turned it in his hands, frowning as he remembered the last time he had used it. It was easy to say that something beyond his control made him strike Nakobu, but he still felt the impact in his arm - the moment he gutted the young mag’har without hesitation. He had spent hours by himself, wiping the weapon clean after Skint had left him alone. To his eyes the red tinge never really faded, the blade seemingly glistening from time to time. With a tired sigh he pushed the weapon back into place at his belt, checking his backpack and supplies once more before making his way towards the gate. Passing the guards, he pushed a folded note into the troll’s hands, muttering “If I don’t return by noon tomorrow.” and headed westward, deeper into the forest.

Time passed as Tagrok ventured off the clear pathways and into the undergrowth, looking for a particular set of tracks - something that seemed increasingly unlikely. Nothing around him suggested his quarry was in this area. Others of its kind were close, that much he could make out. The smell reminded him of Smoke. He heard them in the distance as the sun began to set, hidden above the trees. Unfortunately all the fur he was able to track down was silver. 

“That’s why I keep telling her, hunting isn’t something I… Hm..?” Something caught his attention and he approached a tree on his left, reaching out to pull some hair off the bark. “Black… Although this one seems to be getting on in years, going by the gray strands.” Frowning, he discarded the fur and thought the situation over. There might not be another opportunity before the clan returned to Razor Hill, and he had waited long enough. His mind went back to the day they left the Swamp of Sorrows. While the clan was rescuing Tahara, Urzoga had worked on the task without anyone noticing. With a frown, he realized the sting of annoyance at the thought of the quiet orc completing the tasks ahead of him. No, this was going to be his prey, just like the Wind Serpent he hunted for his Om’riggor - he could almost feel it.

He crouched down moments later, clearing away debris and leaves to get a better look at the ground. No tracks, at least none that would suggest where this particular wolf might’ve gone. Almost grunting in frustration, he stopped himself - instead taking a breath before crawling a little further. Some droppings, practically filled with deer fur. More hair on bark. Broken branches on a shrub, leading further south west. “This might actually be the correct way...” Those were the last words he spoke for a long while, instead following the tracks one by one, hopefully coming closer to his prey. The sun slowly vanished from the sky and with it, most of the visible tracks as Tagrok strained his eyes against the gloom.

And then he saw it, in a clearing near one of the lakes reflecting the dim moonlight. It was by no means anywhere near the size of a garn or even some of the bigger wolves he saw over the years. But Tagrok crouched there, almost captivated by the grizzled hunter. There were streaks of silver in his fur, which was otherwise completely black. The wolf sat there, drinking from the lake for a moment before it turned, its eyes locking on Tagrok’s own despite the orc remaining where he was.

With a grunt, the orc rose, knocking an arrow in one swift motion before letting it sail through the air. It missed the beast by a wide margin as it charged him - the distance between them shrinking rapidly. Tagrok stepped forward and out of the undergrowth as he aimed once again, the arrow finding its mark in the wolf’s back. Unfortunately for the orc, the beast was almost upon him and he had to drop the bow as he dodged to the side, scrambling along the ground as the black shadow darted past him.

Looking up while turning around, he noticed that the old hunter stared at him curiously, its head tilted to the right ever so slightly. Thinking about it, its maw should have gotten his arm at the very least as he dodged to its right. Blind, or at the very least impaired enough to favor his left eye instead. With a wry grin, he rose and grabbed his daggers. “Suits me just fine…” Standing sideways, as some of the knife-ears would, to throw the wolf’s aim off, trying to calm himself. To charge would just give his adversary a bigger target - and so he waited. Circling the orc as much as the clearing around them would allow it, the beast watched wearily. Surely it had come across orcs before, Tagrok thought to himself, but unlikely just a single one stumbling through the woods.

It was too fast for him, even with one lazy eye. One moment it circled him, several meters away and the next he felt sharp pain flare up on his right biceps as its teeth sank into him. He cried out in pain and reflexively bashed its head sideways with the pommel of his dagger, the wolf whining and dashing away into the undergrowth. Tagrok breathed heavily, squinting at his arm, but the darkness settling around the forest made it hard to make out anything. His eyes darted upwards, following the rustling of leaves as the wolf surely prepared another attack. This would have to end soon, one or two more bites and he wouldn’t be able to lift his weapons in defense, much less kill the hulking animal.

He straightened his back, standing normally now as he gave the wolf plenty of targets. Growling through clenched teeth, he yelled into the night. “Come on! Right there!” Silence answered him, the rustling of the leaves stopped and he felt a prickling sensation on the back of his neck. Then it broke through the vegetation, snarling as ran towards him with its fangs bared. The orc braced himself, raising his left arm protectively - and almost fainted as the beast crushed his gauntlet, piercing the flesh below. The sheer weight of the wolf took him down, head thrashing around as it tried to tear at his arm. He stabbed upwards, again and again, blinded by fear and panic. Finally, the thrashing started to slow down, stopping as the animal sunk down, wounds near its throat oozing hot blood. With great difficulty, he dragged himself away from beneath the lifeless body.

He sat before the old wolf’s corpse, leaning back and panting heavily as he wiped his mouth with the knuckles of his right hand. It came away bloody and he winced, the adrenaline fading as fast as it had hit him. And with that came more pain.

The next hours became a blur, bits and moments of clear thought before he finally found himself at the gates of Splintertree Post during the early noon. He still wondered how he had managed to haul the corpse onto the makeshift sled, dragging it through the undergrowth with a rope tied around his chest. Thanking the shaman that took care of the worst of his wounds, he prepared Bacon as best as he could before swinging himself onto the saddle.

Riding up to the Crossroads as the sun set, Tagrok immediately approached the leatherworker’s tent. He nodded to the orc and spoke a few hushed words before dropping a bag of coins into his hand. Leaving Bacon at the stables, he sighed, rolling his shoulder as he spotted Nakobu, Skint and a shady undead…

He remembers this as he sits quietly in the dark tower hut. She was sleeping, just the way she did when he had left. There had been a little wrapped-up bundle on his pillow. Carefully unfurling it, he reveals some sort of baked goods, perhaps cake. He smiles mildly as he looks down at her face before taking a bite. The taste reminds him of a star-lit sky, a beautiful forest at the crown of the world.
The Campfire / Prelude - Voyage
October 14, 2019, 11:41:55 PM
He felt his legs losing strength. The wet rope slipped out of his fingers as the world spun. He caught glimpses of the struggling Suzy, of Nakobu lying unconsciously on the deck, rattled by the waves. There, far away near the entrance to the lower deck was…

It began the moment they stepped through the Dark Portal. Clutching Smoke to his chest, Tagrok looked away from the rest of the orcs, one hand moving to cover his mouth. He squeezed his eyes shut, grunting quietly in pain as the familiar sensation returned. It was as if somebody raked the inside of his head with a dull knife.

Once everybody was accounted for, Vraxxar gave the signal to continue down the portal's stairs.
"I'll never get used to this'' said Okiba. Tagrok could merely grunt in reply as he tried to stay in the saddle. Hopefully they would assume simple teleportation sickness. Smoke looked up at his face, squished as she was against his chest. The pup whimpered, clearly feeling that something was amiss with the orc.

Wardrums sounded in the distance, slow and steady like the heartbeat of a mountain-sized predator. There was something wrong about the sound, something he couldn't quite pin down. He looked at the other orcs, yet none of them seemed fazed. Nodding to himself, he soon let go of the pup to have her sit on the boar's head. Smoke, lying prone, was looking at Tagrok with… Concern? The orc realized that the pup couldn't possibly understand what was happening but the sinking feeling in his stomach only increased as he watched his young companion.

Thankfully they had decided on letting Tahara ride alongside Kyrazha on Uurekh's spacious back. She had suffered enough in the past weeks and needn't see what happened at this moment. Tagrok recalled how he had felt the moment she was taken way, the rage at seeing her tormentors… The arrow she aimed at him without hesitation. No, she wouldn't be made to watch if he turned back into whatever he had been in Nazmir - at least if he had a say in it.

He had been naive. After everything that happened in Northend, he had scrambled to Bloodmoon for help, taking up the sorcerer's time in order to find a cure. Sitting around idly in Garadar during Kosh'harg and afterwards, he had put off the hunt for ingredients after the voices had stopped. With their return to Azeroth time might be running out at long last.

The drumming was pulsing through him once again, the hairs on his arms standing on end. Whispers flooded his ears, the language unknown, harsh and silky at once - but above all nauseating. They were joined by guttural growls and enticing promises, fear and pride welling up inside of him, fighting for superiority.

Shutting his eyes, the orc grabbed the dagger on his belt. The clan heirloom which had been bestowed on him by the ancestors, his sliver of hope before he was drowned. Everything went quiet as his fingers wrapped around the gronn-bone hilt, safe for a few familiar murmurs. He sighed in relief, opening his eyes just as they stepped over the border into the Swamp of Sorrows.

Until now. All at once the noise, the drumming and the whispers returned in force, coalescing impossibly into words that flooded his senses before he blacked out on the deck of the ship alongside the other orcs.

"There you are."
The Campfire / Bravado
August 14, 2019, 08:48:05 PM
Two months. It had been two months since Nazmir. Since he rejoined the clan. Since, as he noticed time and time again, he had other orcs he cared for. Purpose.

Two months. And yet  - it - was still there. Quiet, most of the time. But he still heard it, felt its teeth scrape right behind his eyes. Clicking its mandibles when he lost his calm. Like in Feralas, chanting. Incessantly. Through the night, demanding.

They knew, of course. Not that they would pressure him. The orcs had seen their own share of corruption, mind-altering spellcraft and void trickery. Still, he put up a front. Tried to, at least. Being snide and cynical without reason. He also knew that the ones familiar with him saw through his bravado. While others just shook their head in confusion.

He had said several times that he would look into it, consult the sorcerer about what to do. He had plenty of opportunity to do just that, truth be told.
Just the previous night, Bloodmoon had joined them in the inn. He could've asked him, a moment of his time to consult this orc. Yet he just sat there, listening to Wildmark and Nakobu talking about codes of honour and peons. This was the reason he simply stood up and hid in the back room without another word - probably leaving Chuckles mildly confused.

Only when the orcs went for their tents and hammocks, did he stop pretending. He made his way down to the floor as quiet as he could, looking momentarily at the monk sleeping beneath his own cot. He was sure Rharok was aware, but kept pretending to be asleep. Looking at Beastgrin's hammock, he was painfully reminded of his bruised neck and almost sighed, as he was prone to do. He stopped himself and left the inn.

He took a walk through the settlement, some of the sentries eyeing him suspiciously as he passed by. He didn't pay them any attention and simply left through the gate. His feet eventually brought him to the spot he had "trained" at with Throatrender and Beastgrin. The snow had obscured any signs of the scuffle and was lying undisturbed on stone and earth.

That chanting began again, intermingled with laughter. He bit his lip in frustration, fully aware of what would be coming.

"Too bad, we should've had you snap her little neck. Just as a reminder."

Tagrok Valorwind

Self view:

Tagrok sees himself as a failure. He prided himself on being a soldier who followed orders and wouldn't need to do much more than that. Following his meeting of the clan and getting a taste of a serene life surrounded by orcs who would care for his well being, he turned around and ran at the first opportunity. Ever since the campaign in Tanaris he wondered why the Red Blades tolerated his presence or would even want to interact with him.

He has been deeply scarred by losing his friend and companion to the blood trolls, his mood often turning gloomy without reason, which leads to him keeping the rest of the orcs at arms length.

Despite having been on a downward spiral for the better part of the last six months, Tagrok has found himself appreciating the family he rediscovered - along with some feelings that he had discarded long ago. Purpose has been brought to the orc through his path as a Gul’thauk and the opportunity to train under a knowledgeable pyremaster.

View of others:

Kozugore Feraleye:
Spoiler: show
Tagrok has nothing but respect for the Wolfking. While they had scarcely few opportunities to directly interact, Tagrok remains in awe of the regal and serene aura the Chieftain radiates in his opinion.

Trakmar Beastbane:
Spoiler: show
Tagrok used to have a weary sort of respect for Beastbane, as the older mok'nathal was quick to dismiss or call him out on his wrongdoings. Following some time, Tagrok has gained immense respect for Trakmar.

Kogra Windwatcher:
Spoiler: show
Kogra holds a peculiar place in Tagrok's mind as she acts goofy during times of peace. His favourite memory is dragging her through Blackwallow Marsh after she broke her back.

Nosh'marak Ironclaw:
Spoiler: show

Despite all his previous failures and shameful conduct, Nosh'marak has continued to accept Tagrok and stand next to him in a silent manner. The two orcs haven't found much time to catch up, but the Rrosh'tul still manages to make Tagrok feel welcome. Among the first Tagrok will turn to in times of need and someone he considers a close equal, even if the other orc rose through the ranks in the clan.

Kyrazha Throatrender:
Spoiler: show
From curiosity, to fear, to fealty and now respect - Kyrazha has been a formidable presence ever since Tagrok joined the clan. She still manages to tease him from time to time, especially due to his relationship to her blood sister, but Tagrok has dropped all pretense of being fearful of her and considers her family.

Vraxxar Wildmark:
Spoiler: show
Wildmark is another one of the figures Tagrok feels relaxed around. The duo spent a night watching over the rest of the clan from the mountaintops of Stonetalon, which had Tagrok appreciate the nuances in Vraxxar's character. Like Nosh'marak, he considers Vraxxar a friend - although he does watch his words a little more due to certain blood relations being considered.

Kargnar Bloodpaw:
Spoiler: show
Bloodpaw was actually the orc that introduced Tagrok to the Red Blades during a day years ago when he visited Razor Hill. He told him about the clan and encouraged him to stick around. Kargnar is a fixture in Tagrok's mind - always there whenever the wayward orc returned.

Spoiler: show
Tagrok has been a target of Nakobu's intense questioning and the lightbound's desire to save all and everybody has had him speak out in less than favourable terms more than once. Be it that Tagrok finally learned a lesson or that he doesn't have the patience to retaliate against his advances, the two seem to find some common ground from time to time - especially when Tagrok has messed up again. Clearly a buddying friendship

Tahara Beastgrin:
Spoiler: show
Those that know Tagrok, know full well of his relationship with Tahara. They had their share of ups and downs and will likely continue to do so - but the orc has finally begun accepting his own feelings and her place in his world. Slow and perhaps a little dull to others, he sees Tahara as a wellspring of life and curiosity, an able huntress and deceptively intuitive orc. Although he won't admit it often, he's in awe at her almost mystical connection to her Pack

Spoiler: show
Tagrok has warmed up to the other orc, much more so than her companion Nakobu. Skint is the only orc that had a clear look at what has haunted him since he found the clan, a bond that strengthened over the months into something akin to friendship - although he has hurt her more than once without intending to.

Razaron Madeye:
Spoiler: show
Tagrok isn't sure what to think of Razaron or how he can learn from him - For now he just nods at the orc and follows his instructions. He also has grown terribly bored of his antics, often calling him out on it - which the older orc promptly ignores.

Kulgha Wolfheart:
Spoiler: show
While he finds it strange that Kulgha has quickly taken to calling him "Tag", he nonetheless respects her as Kargnar's mate and an able fighter. Has a motherly kind of attitude and seems to freak out quickly when her family is concerned.

Zi'tani Steeltorm:
Spoiler: show
He hasn't interacted much with her but is rather curious because of her relationship to Vraxxar.

Spoiler: show
Whatever may have happened between them, Tagrok has grown distant towards Urzoga after a fateful night in Scholazar. He is unlikely to speak up or spend time alone with her, curiously keeping a wall at his back...

Srelok Grimtide :
Spoiler: show
Srelok is an orc that Tagrok only knew from stories until he met him in Pandaria. The other orcs spoke of him in high tones, remembering him fondly. Although he found him standoffish at first, Tagrok began to quietly commiserate with the other orc after the Gul’thauk had to put down his mate. In time he took a liking to his blunt responses and sarcasm.

Gul’rok Ragehowl:
Spoiler: show
Although Tagrok wrote the other orc off as just another muscle-head, he soon came to appreciate his humour and caring nature for the rest of the clan. Buddies in the making.

Spoiler: show
He’s slowly getting used to and has even taken to joking around with the shaman ever since she shared some buns with him. That she dug out some shards of molten metal from his chest is just a bonus. Teasing her is slowly becoming a favourite pastime.

Za’karah Sporefang:
Spoiler: show
Tagrok witnessed the first night that Za’karah approached the clan, sitting with her and Kyrazha on the cliffs overviewing Razor Hill. The orc’s love for various herbs and mushrooms were strange at first, but it took until the last Kosh’harg for him to begin approaching her. He was surprised to find a headstrong and jovial individual - the little jabs only adding to that.

Bashul Starsong:
Spoiler: show
Tagrok owes Bashul a great deal and - although he finds her fear of wolves irrational - has made it his personal mission to get her used to Smoke as part of his debt to her.

Azolg Firebrand:
Spoiler: show
From the first day that Tagrok met Azolg, he found the orc’s curious friendliness weird, especially when he tried calling him by his first name. Many months later, Tagrok has likely depleted much of the goodwill and patience the other orc gave him due to his bleak outlook on his own life. Kosh’harg was a step in the right direction, with him not just ready to follow Azolg’s teachings as a pyremaster - but also mirror some of that attitude of his

Spoiler: show
The Shadowmoon and Tagrok didn't have many interactions, but the other orc's level-headedness is greatly appreciated by him. Tagrok is also secretly thankful for Draz'hul's part in deciphering the ogre tome in Blade's Edge - although his fortunes are quite lacking.

Karnna Blackfeather:
Spoiler: show
Despite her attempts to change, Tagrok is weary of Karnna. Her brash exterior and frequent disappearance to meet up with her “Informants” do not much to help in that regard. He was surprised to see her in a dress during the last Kosh’harg and more so when he found out that she took over two contests from her sister.


Spoiler: show
Chuckles doesn't seem to respect Tagrok all that much and he often seems to get dragged into her antics - yet deep down he enjoys paying attention to the hyena as it reminds him a lot of his late wolf.

The Campfire / Re: Archer's duty
November 17, 2017, 08:08:35 PM
CHAPTER ONE: Loss and Defeat

A salty breeze blew over the deck of the Warborne, one of several troop transports bound to Orgrimmar from the Broken Isles. The orc stirred in one of the makeshift hammocks crowding the ship - which was unusually flat and as such had limited space available for storage. Orcs, Trolls, Goblins and Tauren were either resting or performing menial tasks as Tagrok rose and shook off the last vestiges of sleep.

It had been several months since he left for the Broken Isles - ten to be exact. Barely arriving he had been sent off by the Forsaken High Command to scout ahead deep into Legion territory. His unit had consisted of five scouts: Himself and another orc, a Troll in plate armor, Kitumn the Tauren shaman and an Elven spellcaster who was unusually chatty. Their foray into Suramar went on without problems, the Storm Drakes too busy with whatever prey they were devouring in their caves far above the clouds and the Vrykul squabbling all over Stormheim after the fall of their God-King. The village near the shore had its' hands full with the Naga and as such wasn't deemed an immediate threat.

The night of the ambush they had made camp on a narrow overlook, mapping troop movements of Felborne - Dangerously close to the Twilight Vinyards. The spellcaster seemed on edge, looking upon the ruins with their green haze mirrored in his green eyes. Hunger? Fear? Seeds of betrayal? Tagrok couldn't know. Didn't want to know what went on through the Elf's head. The Troll stood guard downhill, squatting under one of the purple-leafed trees so common in Suramar, looking for movement in the shadows. The other orc, Zanghrak, kneeled on the opposite side of the camp - It was his turn to observe the elves. Tagrok sat with Kitumn, preparing their rations. A fire would be detrimental, so they had the Elf heat up a few large rocks, set the small iron pot onto them and filled it with water, vegetables and strips of dried boar meat.

With a now familiar melancholy, Tagrok remembered similar gatherings with far more Orcs and other companions. The Inn in Razor Hill. Splintertree Post deep inside Ashenvale. The swamps of Dustwallow. The smoldering armor of a Death Knight in an unfamiliar place. Distant Tanaris and Silithus trembling under a united Horde. Nagrand with its broken sky. Zangarmarsh with its damp, oppresive climate. It was but a few months that he walked with the Red Blade, often doubting his place with them. The weeks at sea had tempered his childish outbursts somewhat, especially when he started yearning for a warm Bonfire and soft furs. Rembering the guidance of the more experienced and the patience of the grizzled few.

"You've grown quiet again, Archer. This is no place for remembrance, even if you aren't on duty." the Tauren said, nostrils flaring as he smiled. His heavy-lidded eyes were a clear blue, his shaggy mane black.

With a sigh, Tagrok looked up from the bubbling broth and nodded: "You are right Kitumn, but I can't help it. I thought that my assignment would help me deal with my issues. All it did was make it worse."

The Shaman stirred the contents of the pot with a wooden spoon and tilted his head. "It is not the assignment, nor the War's fault that you are troubled, friend. The serenety you seek comes with acceptance. Did you follow the advice I gave you back on our first rest on the way here?"

"Listening to the wind and feeling the earth? I'm no Shaman, neither do I feel connected to the Spirits like you are." grimmaced the Orc, scrippling in a ragged leather notebook as he answered the Tauren.

"And that is where you're wrong my friend. All of the Earthmother's creations can listen to her calls. The winds whisper, the rivers speak. Earth and fire have their own tongues. You just believe yourself to be deaf to them all out of habit. Or perhaps you're afraid of the truths they bear."

The Orc grinned. This had become something of a daily routine to the two of them. Kitumn urged him to listen to the elements and Tagrok shook his head, all the while wondering if the Tauren was right.

Just then, Zanghrak seemed to cough. Tagrok turned around, about to tell him off for laughing about a companion's dilemma - But the older Orc was lying flat on his face, an arrow piercing his throat. Tagrok and Kitumn stood at once, knocking the iron pot over and spilling its contents over the rocky surface. A green flash behind them made them turn once more - just in time to see their Troll comrade errupt into emerald flames.

"Ambush! Defensive formation!" yelled the Shaman as he grabbed hold of his totem-mallet and shield.

Tagrok dove for his bow, grabbing it just in time as a Felborne glaive-wielder appeared from the shadows next to him - Weapon rushing down to meet the Orc. He lifted his bow, deflecting the blow but shattering his weapon in the process. The glaive came from the left now, menacing and inevitable. Before it could find its mark, the assailant's hands turned blue with frostbite. The Felborn fell to its knees and screamed before he was fully enceased in a crystal tomb. The Orc turned to give his spellcaster squad-mate an appreciating nod - He caught a glimpse of the Elf just in time to see a dagger being run through him from behind, another Felborne sneering as he removed the weapon from the spellcaster's corpse.

"GET MOVING, WE NEED TO BREAK THROUGH. TAGROK!" The shout shook the Orc from his stupor and sent him scrambling after Kitumn, who was hurling lightning at anything that moved.

"We won't make it through! They have us surrounded!" yelled Tagrok as he caught up to the Tauren, breathing heavily.

"You should be more trusting of the Elements, Archer." - with that, the Tauren hefted one of the wooden Totems attached to his harness and planted it into the ground, lightning bursting from his palm and into the grinning idol's eyes. Clouds gathered and winds churned as bolts of rained down on the surrounding Felborne.

The smell of charred, demonic flesh mixed with faint aroma of the stew, strewn among the corpses as Orc and Tauren descended into the shadows of the woods.

What happened afterwards was a blur. There were other Felborne on their trail, some they cut down, others they avoided stealthily. They survived in the wilderness, the two of them. Makeshift spears and hunger as their only weapons. Exhaustion and disorientation played their part while they looked for allied forces on the trip back to Stormheim. They eventually found another unit, reported their failure and losses and were sent back on the next caravan to Dreadwake. From there they were reassigned to other units. Kitumn went to Val'sharah, helping a group of Druids with some agitated elementals. They bid their farewells in Dreadwake, the Tauren handing him a totemic talisman. As he stepped on the caravan he smiled, as he often did before the massacre and said: "And yet they speak. You only need listen." while the Orc looked away, roughly rubbing his forearm over his eyes.

And here he was now, a few hours away from Orgrimmar. Durotar came into view before long, seemingly unchanged. Orgrimmar, Razor Hill, Home.

Perhaps he should visit the Inn again.
The Campfire / Re: Archer's duty
November 17, 2017, 05:13:34 PM

- The next section is haphazardly scrawled on the page -
Ambush. Legion Nightborne bastards. Thrice damned fel magics. Zanghrak, the Troll and the Elf are dead. Kitumn and I barely escaped. Supplies are running low. I can hear them in the dark...


We are safe, for now. Found a cave near the Stormheim border. Kitumn lost an ear but seems to endure. I am mostly uscathed but had to leave my bow - or rather, what was left of it - behind. We aim for Dreadwake. But first we must hunt...


For all the talk about being one with nature, Kitumn hunts with ferocity. His stoic facade crumbling when trying to survive. After a makeshift meal we made good a few more miles, avoiding the Towers at the mountain pass leading into Stormheim.


THE SKY TORE OPEN - GREEN, FIERY AND OMNIOUS - WHAT IS GOING ON?! Have the end times arrived at last? Did we lose the war? Kitumn had to gather himself, said the world was churning in agony and terror. I do not know how long it will take to reach Dreadwake. The isles are crawling with demons. I ask the spirits for protection - all the while shaking my head in disbelief.


We have arrived at the narrow mountain pass under Hrydshal. The Vrykul seem to have vanished. I see no Storm Dragons either. Something omnious hangs in the air... We are close now, a waterfall and several stretches of mountain trail between us and the relative safety of Dreadwake - If it even still exists.

If one of my Horde bretheren finds this - next to my broken body or not - bring it to Ironclaw of the Orcs of the Red Blade.

My name is Tagrok

Victory or Death
Game Related / Re: We Return!
November 17, 2017, 04:31:44 PM
Happy to see you all fire up again. Time to tie the belt tighter and grab that gametime card - Joining you guys was the most excitement I had in WoW since WOTLK.

Edit: I should be able to return by mid/late next week and I'd love for Tagrok to (re)join the orcses.
The aforementioned Mistborn by Sanderson is considered YA, yet I found it perfectly readable (other than the few cringe romantic scenes since he was a kissless virgin at the time of writing them).

Edit: An excerp from The Lies of Locke Lamora - I love Scott Lynch's prose in general.

“Someday, Locke Lamora,” he said, “someday, you’re going to fuck up so magnificently, so ambitiously, so overwhelmingly that the sky will light up and the moons will spin and the gods themselves will shit comets with glee. And I just hope I’m still around to see it.”
I tried working through the first Drizzt book. It feels very... young adult, like something I would recommend to a younger or first time fantasy reader (like one of my friends who seems inexplicably blown away by it).
Dragonlance was great back when I was 16 or so, blew me out of the water and Raistlin fitted well with the general edgy-ness that age brings to most teens.

As for Malazan: Enjoying every page of Gardens of the Moon (I am halfway through, taking my time - it feels like a slow burn is what's most fitting to the series) so far - Erikson's prose seems at times very heavy-handed and in your face. The sheer scope of the world, history and the mystery surrounding people like Quick Ben, Sorry, Whiskeyjack, Anomander Rake and even a fat con artist like Kruppe really is worth the dive.

P.S.: Yes the names seem very... Weird. You get used to it.
Quote from: Arkail on February 03, 2017, 06:07:08 PM
I recommend the riftwar saga by Raymond fiest. The first book, magician is really good intro to the world.  For cyberpunk I very much recommend do androids dream of electric sheep.

I actually have the Magician right here next to me (the complete version, volumes1/2 together (some 800 pages) ). I just can't get past the fact that the main char is called Pug. And the prose kinda... Turns me off. Planning on reading DADoES tho.

Meanwhile let me add to the pile.

Young Adult/Cinematic(-ish) Fantasy: Anything by Brandon Sanderson. He might write romance like a 14 year old kissless virgin but he's good at action scenes. Especially recommend the Mistborn Trilogy and Stormlight Archive (in progress, book three is due this year. ten planned volumes).

Surreal/modern fiction: Haruki Murakami. I myself started with Norwegian Wood, then went on to read Kafka on the shore and have left Windup-Bird Chronicle somewhere in the middle due to time constraints.

Speaking about Kafka... Franz Kafka is great, if you're in for some mind-warping storytelling.

Last but not least I am currently reading: "The Blade Itself" by Joe Abercrombie, "Shadow and Claw" by Gene Wolfe and "Gardens of the Moon" by Steven Erikson - with "The Lies of Locke Lamora" by Scott Finch and "A Darker Shade of Magic" by V. E. Schwab on my backburner.

Hope you get some worth out of those recommendations.
Off Topic / Re: LPW8
February 06, 2017, 10:46:49 AM
Hope you're all alive and well.

The Campfire / Re: Archer's duty
January 24, 2017, 11:23:31 PM
- Day 1 -
I arrived in Orgrimmar without problems , if a bit late. The trip to Shattrath took longer than expected, had to make my way past several wayward bog lords. Eventually arrived in Shattrath and was able to secure a portal from a Shattered Sun magus.Damn things still make my stomach churn. Barely had time for rest before I had to head to Bladefist Bay. Quite the fleet, hopefully we won't lose most of it again. We'll set anchor near Stormheim where the bulk of Forsaken forces are, then move south-west towards Suramar.

- Day 2 -
Stormheim is as I left it, for the most part. Weather's mostly the same, gray, dull and wet. The mutts are still engaged in deadlock with the Forsaken. At least the vrykul and their fel masters lost much of their momentum in the area. We set out from Dreadwake's Landing and moved around Hrydshal - still occupied by vrykul - towards the pass leading into Suramar proper. Minor ambush by Legion forces, mostly fel bats.

- Day 3 -
Suramar. I still remember catching glimpses of it from the tall mountains of Stormheim. It reminds me of the Vale of Eternal Blossoms somehow. Not the same... Enchanted beauty as the Vale, but something very similiar. Me and several scouts have moved ahead to assess the situation. The vrykul village to the east is under siege by the Naga - unchanged situation from what one of my companions tells me. Legion and Nightborne loyalist presence is heavy, especially right outside Suramar city. Currently surveiling one of their camps. Fel-corrupted elves around, several demons. They seem to have their attention on the northern pass - likely anticipating our forces. We remain hidden for no-... *The handwriting cuts off with a sharp-line midsentence*