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[Story] Soldier

Started by Okiba, October 03, 2018, 11:49:22 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

Okiba

Soldier: Chapter 12 - Shame

Quote”War cares nothing for the honor of the individual.”

Six years ago…

”This is not our way.” Norsk snorted in defiance, every muscle and sinew in his body straining to maintain self-control.

”The only way is that of the Warchief, if you don’t like it ‘Legionnaire’…” he began with a sneer. ”you’re in the wrong Army and the wrong Horde.” Spat the Centurion, pointedly, aimed at the feet of Norsk. The pair only an arm’s length apart now, all pretense of respect for hierarchy gone to the four winds.

How was this necessary?

He forced himself to look down the hill again. It was, among other things, a perfect starry night. The moon was full without a cloud in the sky to mar the atmosphere. The wind was startlingly flat too, odd for a region named after the four winds.The burning village however, ruined everything. It ruined the landscape, it ruined the scene, and it brought ruin to everything that Okiba had thought they were fighting this war for.

”Our Horde doesn’t massacre civilians! Our army doesn’t cut down the defenseless!” Norsk snarled, his chest heaving with rage, his finger snapped out to point at the now burning husks of what were five Pandaren homes circled around a small communal clearing. At its center stood an obelisk covered in ancient, indiscernible symbols. Strewn everywhere were the bodies.

”That, is not what Kor’kron do!”

Oh spirits.

Okiba frowned with disgust. They and their twenty wolf riders had spotted the red glow of fire on the night horizon but had arrived well after it was all over. Nobody had been spared, not the farmers, their wives, the elderly or the young. Even now, the Centurions’ men were stepping on and over bodies to take hammers to the stone obelisk, attempting to crack it open for whatever secrets lay within.

”It is when they ‘resist’, and none resist the command of the Warchief, you sniveling Warsong mutt. Now fall in line, or else.” The senior Orc answered, the centurions eyes narrowing as he spoke with a menacing calm. At this point he realized something he had not noticed before. He was a Blackrock. A lot of the new influx of recruits and especially officers were Blackrock Orcs.

The obelisk fell apart, crumbling under the combined hammer blows of three orcs. Within, was nothing? It was just an ornament, a part of the local culture. No Secrets, nothing. These Pandaren were dead for nothing.

”No more. I challenge you to Mak’goraâ€"“ Norsk began, but did not finish. A knife emerging from his throat. Blood spurted as he fell to his knees, desperately grasping at the weapon, unable to take in air. Behind him stood an Orc clad much the same, a Blackrock from the Legionnaires own unit. Everyone pulled their axes, unsure of who was now standing with who.

”Ahh, good, an Orc with sense. You’re the legionnaire now.” Nodded the Centurion to the Kor’kron turned assassin. ”Does any other Orc have any foolish ideas about resisting the will of the Warchief? What about you-… Stone guard?”

Oh fel.

All eyes turned to Okiba, he was Norsk’s second, a voice of authority and reason. He panicked, blinking in confusion. It had all happened so fast, Norsk was face down now, unmoving, dead. The others were murmuring and re-hooking their weapons. Nobody cared, nobody would back him, Norsk would go un-avenged unless he himself acted. He had to act, the honor of the Kor’kron and his friend demanded it.

”He was--… I…”

”Speak up you oaf!

”No Centurion! For the Warchief, for the Horde!”
Okiba Spearbreaker - Nag'Ogar and Warrior Monk of the Horde
"Strength, Discipline, Mastery."


Okiba

#16
Soldier: Chapter 13 â€" Shadows

Quote”Pride defeats us, and so through shame we know our wrongs.”

Six years ago…

It wasn’t heavy, but it sat on him everywhere, pulling him down in all thoughts and with every action. He couldn’t sleep, for the memory and he couldn’t eat for the knot inside. Seeing Norsk die without so much as a flicker of emotion or an act of reprisal had stunned him. He had wanted to act, so badly it burned inside, the need to put an axe in the centurions head…

You made an oath.

He had. But that oath, to Warchief, Kor’kron and the Horde was being warped out of recognition. Almost as soon as the fire in the first village had gone out, they had started others. The Centurion was eager to ensure the obedience of his officers, Okiba included, commanding them to lead the raids and take what relics they could.

And lead you did.

He tried, at first, to talk to the Pandaren. Telling them just to let them take the contents of the shrine and they’d be gone without any incident. But they refused, no matter how heavily outnumbered they were, or out-gunned, they resisted and fought. And how strangely they fought, with bare hands and feet, knocking riders off Worgs and taking many by surprise. But the first rifle shot soon put a stop to that, and the axes did the rest, so they killed them. All of them.

With your own two hands.

He took his left hand off the reigns to inspect it. The plated gauntlet was crusty with dirt now, and flecks of bloody red. Turning it over to gaze at the palm he noticed something odd, a twitch in his thumb that he could not control. It made his palm and other fingers jerk every few heartbeats so even his wrist would shift uncontrollably. He wasn’t hurt, or injured, yet it acted out all the same.

When did that start?

Nobody had told him about it, or noticed. He clenched his fist as he re-grasped the reigns, pushing it to the back of his mind. He could not dwell on it, he had to think of the here and now. The ‘battles’… if you could call them that, and his own squad, needed him to be in the present. Not stuck in his own head and doubts. He raised his head to the distant call of an eagle…

Such mountains…

And mountains they were. Numerous, snowcapped, jagged and tall. Ultimately they all led and fed into one supreme peak they had come to learn to be named ‘Neverest’, or so at least the strange mountaineer men called it once the centurion had stopped beating and robbing them of the contents of their caravan. Their column now snaked along a narrow snowy pass heading north, in search of some fabled monastery the locals only whispered of. The Centurion had become obsessed with it, apparently it held the knowledge to create great warriors, and spirits be damned if their leader wouldn’t be the one to gift such knowledge to the Warchief.

We’ve become nothing more than thieves and bandits.

He’d begun to dislike his superior intently. His name was Gorsok, and he was one of the many new members of the Kor’kron flooding in from Blackrock under the instruction of Hellscream’s lackey Malkorok. He should have noticed sooner, as soon as Theramore had fallen the Kor’kron and the legions had seen a steady banishment from their ranks, a purge of all but Orcs. On top of that, segregation was now not only common but enforced in Orgrimmar. This wasn’t the Horde he had been raised with.

He snorted, looking over his shoulder, his squad was in good order, riding close behind him while they kept a definable space between them and the two front groups. A small saving grace, at least he could keep his own warriors in order-… His ear twitched. An eagle screeched again, but this time in the rocky cliffs high to his right, too low to be normal.

Something isn’t right.

Gazing up and down the column, sudden awareness flooded him. They were trapped in a narrow pass, overlooked by high cliffs and bogged down in snow. Perfect ambush territory. Out of reflex he raises his arm, hand clenched into a fist, ”Hold!”. That was his first mistake. Shadows moved along the rocky outcrops, ghosts in the snowy mists.

”What’s the holdup back there!?” Roared Gorsok from the head of the column, wheeling his worg around to peer back down the pass. He hit the ground first. An object, a shade, a thing hit him, and was gone. The Centurion was knocked clean off his mount and hit the ground out cold.

”Ambush! Face outwards, arms yourselves Kor’kron, For the Horde--!” Started the new legionnaire but promptly found an arrow in his neck, arm length long, it struck with perfect aim. Shadows ran everywhere, wolves roared, howled and yelped as chaos erupted in all directions. Okiba’s own squad lost all pretense of order and started charging to the center of the column without any instruction or care for their officer.

”Where are you all going!? Back in position!â€"“ He called, furious at the lack of discipline. He wheeled his own Worg ready to chase them down when he heard the pitter patter of feet lightly crushing snow to his left. He grabbed the reigns of his wolf, trying to jerk his axe out of its saddle holster with his left hand, only for his fingers to twitch and fumble.

Thralls balls--!

Setting his eyes on his assailant, tall his eyes could manage to recognize was a set of three furry, claw tipped toes and a sandal as they met his jaw. Feeling the crunch of bone, he fell from his saddle as all in the world went black.
Okiba Spearbreaker - Nag'Ogar and Warrior Monk of the Horde
"Strength, Discipline, Mastery."


Okiba

Soldier: Chapter 14 â€" Prisoner

Quote”The only true prison, is that which we make for ourselves.”

Five years ago…

His skull felt like every blood vessel inside wanted to explode with every heartbeat. It was torture, every time he moved it sent a surge of agony up his neck and into his jaw. The strength not to pass out often eluded him, leaving him so weak on his feet the others had simply propped him up outside against a wall by the door and left him there.

Like a lame dog.

The ambush had come about because the ‘Shado-pan’ as he learnt they were called, were not accustomed to their monastery being intruded upon or attacked. As he had heard while listening to the other Orcs, these Pandaren were part a secretive order of warriors skilled in a wide array of arts, committed to the sole purpose of defending this continent. And defend it they did, at the point of a sword if need be, but more often with a foot to a head. The latter he personally had become a little too familiar with. The monk that struck him had fractured his jaw and split his right tusk in half… the swelling around his head was so horrendous he could only swallow a few rice grains at a time, slurping like an invalid from a spoon. He’d thrown up just trying to walk more times than not too.

Gorsok had no such problems. He’d been knocked off his wolf first but only bruised his head and ribs, he felt so well in fact he was already hard at work making a menace of himself. The court yard before the three lodges they were housed in was a pitch patch of small gangs of Orcs, stood, sat, glaring outward in huddles. It was hard not to sympathize with their plight, the camp was surrounded on three sides by a tall, smooth wall that curved around them in a great arc, and on the four side…

The Sea.

Or at least it sounded like it, the noise of crashing waves and salted air told him all he needed to know. A cliff with a sheer drop to rocks, a deadly tide and nowhere to swim too even if you survived the descent. All the while, even if you got over the wall or through the gate, the imposing visage of the Kun-lai mountains sat to the south, filled no doubt with more watching Shado-pan. Escape by force or rushed daring, was a foolish errand.

And yet they plot all the same.

A sharp pain ran up his jaw, blurring his vision. Turning his head, even the slightest bit too fast always had dangers. Fixing his uneven gaze he eventually spied the only entrance into the courtyard, a great spiked steel gate, narrow but tall, open a crack before shutting again. Then came that sound, the humming, the jolly tune of a Pandaren. Either unaware or uncaring of those that soon stood around him. Clad in basic linens, this male and his short white beard carried a great steaming pot under one arm while a stack of empty rice bowls sat in the other. The Chef’s three daily visits were the only thing that broke up the monotony.

Does he have any idea how much danger he’s in?

He’d grown a low opinion of his fellow Kor’kron this last few months, and it wasn’t for unfounded reasons. All the villages, the murdering, the pillaging and destruction. They belonged here, all of them.

We all do.

Gorsok shifted with a snort, wafting a hand like an instruction to one of his ‘lackeys’ to wait for his bowl of rice while he and the rest of his entourage skulked off to their own private lodge. No doubt feeling very much at odds, alien even, toward what was about to happen. Though that was typical among the small minded.

“Hey-o!” came the Old bears voice, planting the pot and bowls on a stone bench mid-courtyard. With the clap of two hands coming together, his legs spread into a wide stance while his back became rigid and straight. Every Orc still watching stood back, wide, in a circle. It was the routine of meal times, displayed to everyone, and the highlight of it all in one.

”Hey’oâ€"Ha!”

The Pandaren called, his arms began moving like snakes, weaving and dancing in tune to the step and sweep of his feet. A dance, of some sorts, or an exercise to keep his old limbs mobile. He weaved one way, then back to another, slow and graceful like a whirlwind of furry body parts trapped in slow motion. It was mesmerizing, and confusing all at once. The first day he and the prisoners had witnessed it, many had laughed, but the old bear had continued to the end of his routine without shame. And after every dance, he’d serve rice and bread to every Orc equally no matter their ‘review’, and always with half a load food more leftover. His brain began to itch.

Why bring twice as much food as you need?

His jaw throbbed, but he ignored it, using what wavering strength he had to drag himself up to his feet. Every grasp of the door-frame sent a stabbing up his skull and down his neck but he needed to see, to think. His mind didn’t sit with an itch like this without reason.

At last atop his unsteady feet, he squinted until his vision un-blurred. Sure as anything, there was the rice, twice as much as needed, but only enough bowls for one per Orc. He always gave one scoop of rice from the ladle, enough to half fill a bowl-

Half fill a bowl? He could put twice as much in and fill it completely, but doesn’t. He has it but holds back-

His vision blurred a moment, struggling to concentrate on his shoddy theory and the slow whirling dance of the performer all at once. The bear even got a few cheers when he executed a well performed swap from one foot to the other, mid balancing. His routine took time, effort, practice and energy-

oh so that’s it…

Realization washed over him from a sea of relief, but didn’t stop him slumping onto his back side with a tired thud. Pain surged up his body, through his jaw and around his skull like a flaming bolt. Gritting his fangs, or what was left of them, was all he could do to resist a yelp.

”Heh...” He heard escape from his own mouth. It would take a few weeks before he would be well enough to explore his theory, spirits willing that would be all he needed to heal, but it may just be worth it. He turned his gaze to his captured brothers and sisters all around.

Hopefully they behave until then.
Okiba Spearbreaker - Nag'Ogar and Warrior Monk of the Horde
"Strength, Discipline, Mastery."


Okiba

Soldier: Chapter 15 â€" Insurrection

Quote”Desperation breeds folly, pride breeds idiocy.”

Five years ago…

The crash of metal on stone followed by shouts woke him with a jolt. The start sent a throbbing pain up his jaw, but it was tolerable. Pulling himself up from his bed roll with a pained groan, one step, two steps and a stagger got him to the door of the lodge.

It’s started.

It was dark, very dark. Mid-winter had cast its long frozen shadow over the mountains, snow whirled through the courtyard, but even now he could see the over turned pot of rice strewn across the slabs, boiling water steaming away on ice. No Orc was to be seen there, no doubt too busy preparing to make the most of biting the hand that had been feeding them.

”Thralls balls…” He felt himself curse, his jaw flexing, the swollen muscle aching under the movement. He was better, the bone was healing but far from done.

”Open this gate NOW or we slit this fat, dancing fools throat!” Came a yell to his right, from the gates. It was Gorsok, no doubt with a hostage in hand.

Move!

He urged himself into action, taking one step at a time, bare foot across the cold and icy stone. The wind whirled about the courtyard and path, searching for all and any place it could threaten any heat. The short path to the gate was lined with several far-spaced lantern posts, casting a dim glow on a gaggle of hulking shadows staring up to the looming visage of the prison gate. Most the prisoners were here, and far to the front was indeed Gorsok.

”Don’t you hear me you stupid bears!? I’ll rip out his throat if you don’t open this gate! Bring forth your warden!” The former centurion roared, his hand holding a make-shift shiv up to the chefs throat. The old Bear meanwhile was being held by no less than three Orcs to ensure he could not run. Atop the gate stood two of the shadowy sentry’s they’d become familiar with.

Shadows.

They stared down, silent and immovable, taking no action and exchanging no words. Each was clad in the purple and blue raiment Okiba had come to expect of them, as well as that uniform hat and crimson face scarf. Their inaction was baffling, passive to the point of potentially condemning the chef to death. Gorsok began to growl with impatience…

”Enough Gorsok-…” He felt himself say, the compulsion to act overcoming him. All faces turned and glowered, jaws set and some snarled in his direction in warning, but he pressed on.

”Have we not shamed ourselves enough…-“

”Silence Halftusk you yowling traitor!”

The rebuke was final, even the crowd of eager Orcs, all anxious to become escapees, turned their backs on him and faced the gate. The sentry’s remained unmoved however, simply watching them from above, safe atop their wall.

”Master Orc-… this will not avail you-“ Spoke the chef, only for his captors to tighten their grip, trying to shake him into silence, all while that crude piece of sharpened metal hovered eagerly close to his throat. Okiba stood helpless, dread filling him as he considered what would happen if the warden did not act.

Would he leave this one to die?

”Shut up you, I have no time for helpers, only for words with your cowardly warden.” Growled Gorsok, whipping a hand around to slap the elder Pandaren across the cheek. Okiba felt it too, though it was not his own hide, as his eyes watched knuckle meet the bears face his own jaw panged. And then it happened.

One word escaped that Pandaren mouth as a change came over the speaker, like a storm being conjured from thin air ”…-Enough.”

With the tensing of furry arms, the Orc holding each was projected toward each other so that skulls collided with a wincing crack. Then the third, arm around neck felt an elbow to his gut that expelled every breath that watched before being followed by a set of back-handed knuckles that sent the winded attacker sprawling.

What just happened…

Three Orcs were flat on their backs, gripping heads and belly’s while the spectators took a step back in surprise.

”You- you FAT dozing bear! I’ll gut you from belly to neck! Lok’tar!!” Screamed Gorsok, lunging forward with the knife, only for it to be slapped from his hand with force while the Pandaren stepped aside swiftly and with no effort. The scrap metal blade flew and struck the gate, impaling itself in the metallic surface like a dart.

”I will not continue warning you, stop, or I will be compelled to use true force… inmate.” proclaimed the Bear, his golden eyed gaze stern and filled with rueful warning. The shamed Centurion paid no heed though, his blood was up and his rage worse. Rounding on him, Gorsok lunged as he threw a wide swung punch at the swift moving ‘chef’.

With a duck and a jab, a fist struck the Orc flow in the ribs first, then lunged past him to plant a knee upon gut to knock all and any air his lungs held out. Then the flurry came, a whirling dance at such speed that hands and feet were like lightning, hammering and spearing Gorsok this way and that. Stunned and dazed, blood oozing from a crushed nose and ripped lip, the centurion was grabbed and thrown, slamming into the ground with a crunch.

I don’t even know which bone that was…

The audience was losing its courage, backing away and away down the path, back behind Okiba. Transfixed he watched as the chef pulled his assailant off the ground as if he weighed nothing and began twisting his arms in directions no limb should go, and then back where sensibly they should no longer be able to. All this finished with an array of jabs and pokes to the neck.

”Consider this your ticket to isolation, Inmate.” snorted the Chef, turning to face down the path. Gorsok lay on the ground face down, drooling spittle and blood at the mouth, his face twitching. Okiba had no way to tell if he was dead, dying, paralyzed or just plain out cold.

”And the rest of you, pay close heed to my words!” Roared the bear, standing tall as he dusted down his plain linen garments, followed by the click of his fingers on both hands. In the blink of an eye a dozen archers stepped up from behind the ramparts atop the wall, the sound of bows being flexed all at once, trained and aimed at fish in a barrel.

”I… am the Warden here, and I will not suffer such behavior. There will be no repeat of this! Now, return to your beds, rest, think, and consider the example this one has set you, filled with so much folly!”
Okiba Spearbreaker - Nag'Ogar and Warrior Monk of the Horde
"Strength, Discipline, Mastery."


Okiba

Soldier: Chapter 16 â€" Dance

Quote”Nothing ventured is nothing gained.”

Five years ago…

It didn’t hurt anymore. Well, not really. He only felt pain around the teeth when he chewed too hard, and at least the pain wasn’t overwhelming him anymore. Though a definite benefit was the swelling had gone, he looked more like an Orc and less like an unripe, misshapen tomato.

Never a bad thing.

His left hand convulsed, then twitched, all of its own choosing. His arm from shoulder to finger tips had been unscathed when he was captured, but he knew it was a lie to himself to think it started there. This had been happening since the twilight highlands, and to his knowledge, he had no clue why. Though it was most often when nervous. Not nervous as when he tried to challenge Gorsok at the gate, or fearful of charging an Alliance infantry line. No, it was a different kind of anxious fear he couldn’t quite put his finger on.

It’s probably nothing.

Atop the winding, cobble stoned path the gate creaked and opened for a lone figure holding a great bronze pot and a basket full of bowls. The ‘Warden’ was coming down for their mid-day feeding, like clockwork. Though there was a difference now, namely that every Orc in the courtyard kept their distance and gave him a mile of respect instead of an inch. The air of composed certainty around the grey bearded bear also became much more understandable.

They’re going to shun you for this…

He grunted, glancing left and right as he adjusted his own basic linens. Everyone else stood around the edge of the courtyard, gingerly awaiting the beckoning to come eat, once the Pandaren had finished his ‘dance’. But that isn’t what Okiba had in mind, as he watched the Warden set down the steaming pot and bowls, setting them ready for the meal.

Now or never.

He stepped forward, and begin walking around the edge of the courtyard toward the Warden who had positioned himself near the cliff side end. A strange chorus of curious and dismissive grunts and huffs were created by the Orcs he passed, no doubt still unamused with his efforts to calm the spectacle at the gate. As he finally came within yards of the Warden, the bear afforded him no attention or any sign of interest, instead he dropped himself into a low stance, placing his hands together in front of himself. Paused and ready.

Here we go.

With a quick shuffle and a few steps, Okiba stood three arm lengths to the left of the Shado-pan, mimicking the position of both arms and legs, though unlike the Shadowy prison warden, he kept his eyes open at this point. All those lining the courtyard perimeter started to grumble in confusion and disproval. And then he started.

Sliding his clawed right foot forward, the Warden began a series of circular arm motions that flowed like water, through loops that pushed and pulled at unseen objects. His legs would move too, sliding, shifting, stepping back and forth, often even sideways as body weight shifted here and there. It was slow, graceful, poised and controlled. And Okiba was none of these things.

Keep up!

He struggled to keep pace despite the slow progress, having to keep his eyes half on the Dancer and half on his own feet. Just a pity he needed another half measure of attention for the rest of him. His actions were jolty, imperfect, too fast, too slow or out of step. But he tried. All the while the faces of his fellow Kor’kron grew stern with frowns and glares. Gorsok had even managed to drag himself from his bed roll, both arms in slings and bruised head to foot as he was to see the spectacle.

This was a bad idea.

Five minutes, then ten minutes passed, his hand growing more uncontrollable as it shook. The actions began to speed up and became more complex as a result. Using his elbows, knees and feet in clumsy unison with the Bear. And then he stopped, bringing Okiba to a near fumbled halt a second after. Ending from much the same position as he had started, the Warden quickly composed himself, turned and headed toward the pot of still steaming rice as if nothing happened. And that was their queue, the others began stalking in, one by one for their meal until they formed a long line to get a bowl, with ‘Halftusk’ in the middle.

Was it a wasted effort?

He questioned the choice, as the Line took a step at a time like a mechanical belt, each Orc taking turns to be ladled their meal at the front. He could hear whispers too, behind and ahead. The word ‘Traitor’ among them hit him hardest. By the time he reached the front, he could feel a dozen eyes boring into the back of his skull filled with ill intent. All he could do was curse his own foolishness as he grasped a bowl, the Warden using his ladle to grant a half bowl portion of rice, as usual.

What have you done?

He began to turn to stalk back to his designated lodge when the ladle planted itself on his shoulder and spun him around effortlessly, and quick as a flash he received another half portion more.

”Well practiced, though at evening meal, think less.” The warden nodded, nudging Okiba aside with the serving ladle so the next Orc could be served. He stood dumbstruck, staring at his double serving of food. Every Orc was staring, confusion on every face, including that of the Grunt at the front of the line who quickly turned to face the bear.

”Can we join in too?”
Okiba Spearbreaker - Nag'Ogar and Warrior Monk of the Horde
"Strength, Discipline, Mastery."


Srelok

Oh I love this! Great insights to how Okiba became the orc we know. <3

"If you could pour pain into a mold of an orc and then cut off its foot to piss it off, you’d get Srelok." Gulrok Ragehowl

Okiba

More...

...coming... soon?

:o
Okiba Spearbreaker - Nag'Ogar and Warrior Monk of the Horde
"Strength, Discipline, Mastery."


Okiba

#22
Soldier: Chapter 17 - Pardon


Quote”As one door closes, another opens.”


Four years ago…


Ten fists thrust forward all at once. A line of knuckles united in speed, strength and grace. One action, one mind, all as one heart beat. And then they moved on. Stepping back, blocking with elbow then countering unseen foes with thrusting kicks. It was a common sight in Pandaria. However, in this case it was an unusual exception between cultures.

They’re all Orcs.

It sounded odd for him to say let alone think, even just to himself. Though there they all were, ten Kor’kron prisoners of war, practicing the martial arts openly and with the support of their peers and superiors. Well, all but one superior. Gorsok did not approve, though he no longer voiced it, he remained cowed and quiet in a lodge most days now. But most importantly, he did so alone.

Shame instils modesty it appears.

And so he watched as his brothers and sisters, in-mates all, learned the ways of a foreign land they had come to annex in the name of a brutal Warchief. Though it was brief, as no sooner had he begun to truly admire and understand what he observed, than the great bronze gates of the cliff-side prison begin to close. Pushed along by two hulking Shado-pan in black armour. The intriguing view of his siblings in arms now narrowed bit by bit before vanishing to the sound of creaking hinges and the clank of heavy metals.

And so my time as a prisoner ends.

He considered this a moment. Was he truly a prisoner here? He didn't feel it, more often than not. As the gate finally sealed itself shut, barring him from re-entry and a return to the simplicity of the time he spent here, it dawned on him.

They defeated us not with blades or bows, but by teaching us appreciation for their ways…

”Ahh, Legionnaire Okiba. Ready to depart I see, good.” That firm, instructing voice of the Warden sprung up to his right. Okiba nearly leapt in surprise. The crafty jailor was alarmingly light on his feet and had once again given no hint at his approach or arrival.

”Ghm-… Yes Warden. I am ready, though you have yet to inform me what I am departing for while yet so many stay.” He replied curtly. He’d learned to be polite and courteous when speaking to Pandaren of authority. You got what you gave, and he had to admit that being referred to by his own rank both unsettled and dismayed him.

”Ah, well, that is no simple thing in itself. You have not yet heard the news regarding Orgrimmar I take it? No? Ah, well then…”

Home? What of home?

”It appears a great siege was fought, and the ‘warchief’, Hellscream has been defeated and captured by both the Alliance and a rebellion from within the Horde. The one your people call Vol’jin is now Warchief.” He finished, nodding his head, seeming to approve greatly with the Hordes new leadership.

The Orc blinked in bewilderment. Dumb struck with surprise and shock. His mind burned with an itch of thinking he had never known before. So many questions, so many considerations, what did this mean of the war? What did it mean for him and the Kor’kron? Had he failed and betrayed his sworn Warchief? Was he bound to this new oneâ€"

What am I now?

”I… I don’t know what to say Warden.”
”Hm, nothing need be said in truth, not to me anyway. This is sudden and very important news, I understand. You and many others will have much to consider in the months and years to come.”

He was right. His identity had been stripped away with this revelation, quicker than the blink of an eye. His loyalty now rested spirits only know where.

”That being said, the Shado-pan judge your debt paid In full and see no reason to continue holding you. The world, as some say, is your Mushanâ€"or opportunity is your wife? Forgive me, a Grummel confused me with some of your foreign sayings…” The warden pressed a smile, before gesturing south, and through the snowy valley they led first in but now out. Freedom was his, and he didn’t have a clue what to do with it.

Where do I go?

”Thank you.. Warden, I’m not sure what to sayâ€"“ Okiba began.
”Sometimes nothing need be said, I simply wish you luck on the road ahead, and hope, Celestials willing… we are not required to cross paths again.” The warden cut him off and finished the conversation for him. With a curt bow of the head, the old grey bear turned and headed to one of the many stone hovels that surrounded the outer side of the prison walls, a great bowl of rice bubbling away over a fire by one already.

And that’s that, you’re a free Orc.

Turning his eyes south, he was met with the grip of a chill wind. The mountain passes would be dangerous, but he’d survived colder, lived leaner. They had returned his saddle-axe and wrapped him in a fur and thick linens; he would be safe, and relatively warm. All that remained was that first step.

So he took it.
Okiba Spearbreaker - Nag'Ogar and Warrior Monk of the Horde
"Strength, Discipline, Mastery."


Okiba


Soldier: Chapter 18 - Crash


Quote”Opportunity arises in the strangest of circumstances.”


Four years ago…


It was cold, much colder than he was used to after all these months. The thought occurred to him that the high walls and cliff-side position north of the mountains may actually have shielded the prison from the elements. But here, high in the frigid passes of Kun-lai? There was no natural protection, only the icy grip of the wind.

You should of asked for more furs and a travel cloak…

Hindsight was mocking him; his pride at having fought in Northrend had deceived his perception of what was truly cold. But it made no difference, he had to press on and make his way to the southern plains and the relative warmth of an inn before he froze to death.

The mountains, or mountain, as it truly was, consisted of dozens of narrow winding ravines leading up to the true base of the mighty mount Neverest. It was one of these many paths he walked upon now, heading east as he could best guess it, his way obscured by frosted fog.

You’re worse than lost…

He had to admit it himself. The roads, paths and snow drifts were a wild mess to him, though he was at least being led down and not up the mountain. The path had narrowed, and had even turned to cobbled stone and winding steps. It was a valley, an unusual one of many terraces leading to giant barred gates. All wrought in ancient stone, old and impregnable. He’d never seen anything like it. The dusk air had become still too, clinging to the throat as silence held the place.

Each step became a nervous trek into an alien place, causing his breath to drag in the bitterly cold air with increasing haste. He’d even begun to blunder, stepping backwards as he moved with mild awe and fear between rows after rows of imposing statues.

Are these the Mogu?

He’d heard stories. The mass of stone shaped before him certainly leant to them. Imposing, well built, a lions face. The grim look of superiority plastered across his features made him feel uncomfortable, and made much worse looking at the oversized war-blade it intended to strike any passer by with. He grunted, shuddered and stepped onward, moving between the lines of idol guardians carefully, though not stealthily as snow and stone both crunched and clacked underfoot, and before he realised it he was trundling backwards again--

His back met something solid and he rounded in surprise. Leaping with a jolt, though thankfully it was only the back of another statue, features and armament identical to the other stone watchersâ€"

Wearing a cloak?

The statue turned, with the imposing clank and grunt, coming to life with a firm rounded turn. It paused a moment, considering that which had collided into him with a pair of gleaming golden eyes beneath a metallic visor.

”Orc--!"

Okiba was startled by the yell, barely having time to loose his axe from his belt before this surprise foe had hauled a great war-sword to hand and delivered a brutal downward cut. Had it not been for the teachings of the warden, he’d not of moved nearly fast enough to leap aside and watch the steel of his enemy cut and crush the stone of the cobbles like nothing. His foe growled in anger at being so easily avoided, and this proved deadly.

What the fel is this thing!?

It rushed him, crossing the distance between them in the blink of an eye, passing the great sword from hand to hand behind its back to cleave sideways with an upward turn, the steel singing as it passed over his head. A backward lean, and a desperate one at that, is all that kept his head on his neck. His first mistake was raising his axe straight after, the following upward slashed struck it and sent it flying from his hands with a bone shuddering smash, forcing it to impale into a withered mountain tree.

His second mistake was in trusting his new found reflexes, so he launched his free left hand at his attacker’s throatâ€"finding a steel gorget waiting for his trouble, the click of bone and pain of impact of his digits on the hard metal surface made him recoil in pained surprise.

The armoured foe stood still a moment, surprised by the daring and technique of the move. A pity it didn’t prevent the violent blow of a plated fist into his head that followed, sending him sliding across the stone and ice to an abrupt stop below a real statue.

Ouchâ€"

His head span, he heard the clank of heavy armoured foot-steps advancing on him. The foe before him wore gold and white armour decorated to look as a Mogu, intricate, beautiful, practical but brutal. His eyes widened as what was now clearly a Pandaren glared down at him and raised that sword for a killing blow. Okiba’s hand began to shake.

Perhaps this is for the best…

”You Kor’kron will violate our land no longer--!”

With a snarl and a downward swing, it was all but over, but for a shadow leaping over the beaten Orc. It planted itself between the pair. A rod, a pole, a staff, batted the war blade aside with a skilled parry and stopped it in its tracks.

”No’a Uncle!” bade the newcomer, a second Pandaren. Clad in leather and wearing the colours and tabard of what looked to be the Huojin. Okiba sighed with relief, or shame, he could not tell. What he did know, it was best to stay down.

”Nephew! How can you do thiâ€"“ The armoured foe snarled, pointing a judging finger.

”Easily!- just’a look at him…” The newcomer spoke, softly now, before turning to gaze down at Okiba, a pair of kind green eyes regarded him a moment from below a low brimmed hat. He was looking at the Orcs shaking hand.

”-He is a danger to no one.”
Okiba Spearbreaker - Nag'Ogar and Warrior Monk of the Horde
"Strength, Discipline, Mastery."


Okiba

#24
Soldier: Chapter 19 - Tea


Quote”Have you tried sitting down and talking about it over tea? It really does work.”


Four years ago…


They sat there, with nothing but the crackle of the fire and the howl of the mountain winds to break the silence. He was alarmed and confused at how quickly the situation had gone from a borderline execution attempt to a warm meal and a gift of a blanket. After their confrontation he had been shepherded to a cave, given warmth and then asked to tell his tale. And told it he did, over several hours without interruption or remark.

This land forever surprises.

He adjusted the blanket wrapped around his shoulders before looking over his surroundings again. The shallow cave was barely big enough to hide a Kodo, but it kept the worst of the icy wind and snow off them. They sat now, huddled around a hastily started fire while the armoured one stoked it with a stick, preparing a pot of noodles.

He was curiously well armed. Probably the first true Pandaren warrior he’d seen since arriving the year before. The lavishly decorated metal plates that protected his body sat over a suit of chain mail that a dwarf would kill to examine, and underneath that he spied a thick layer of silk padding. The weapons he kept were varied and many, He’d already met the war sword but had now seen a great pole-arm with many pronged spikes at its tip, as well as a tower shield and mace that all matched the design of his armour. His face was scarred, across the snout. He also sported a rough beard and a short top knot. Though most interesting were his eyes, that evaluated and investigated with each weary glance. They spoke of distrust toward Okiba, and perhaps rightfully so.

He was right to be Hostile.

The second was different though. His saviour wore simple padded leather, his Huojin tabard, a shallow brimmed hat and wielded a staff of a curious dark red wood. He seemed oddly calm about the whole occurrence, at complete opposites of the mood set by the older, armoured Pandaren of which he’d learnt to be his uncle. He satt calmly pouring steaming tea, fresh from the pot by the fire, into three ceramic cups. His eyes had the same green shade as his uncle; however they held a much more welcoming glow. He had a similar crop of short hair above his head, but no scars on his face and his beard was long, weaved into a neat braid.

”Now, let it’a cool a few ‘a moments before you’a sip. And even then, allow’a yourself to enjoy the flavour for a time.” He nodded, pushing a cup to Okiba and the old warrior each. The third cup he kept for himself, raising and inhaling the scent with a smile. Okiba slowly mirrored the action, grasping the hot ceramic surface before lifting and breathing in. It smelled of the forest, grass and the wilds--… with a hint of lemon.

”His’a story is’a quite far fetched, Nephew. You think the Shado-Pan would’a teach him our people’s ways’a and then just let him’a go? It is’a fanciful tale.” Spoke up the elder with a firm nod, before sipping gently from his tea. The Orc knew instantly this was a conversation for them, and not him, at least until spoken to. The people of this land were formal, in conversation and appreciating tea. That he could respect.

Listen and learn. It’s what the Warden showed you. Appreciate the gestures and kindness.

”You are’a quick to judge Uncle. This’a conflict has’a perhaps skewed your’a view of the foreigners. And as’a for his story, he did’a attempt a perfectly formed’a tiger-maw jab at’a your throat, if’a foolishly so.” added the younger bear with a wry smile, taking his first sip of exquisite tea.

”Hmm…” Rumbled the older bear, swallowing his drink before lapping his lips in contentment. His eyes moved over Okiba again, appraising him and his value once more. Though now, with a much lessened measure of anger. After a prolonged stare he returned to his cooking his noodles.

”How is’a your tea, my friend?” Asked the Nephew.
”Ghm, it is pleasant.” Okiba answered, prompt and polite.
”Ahh! Good, I am’a pleased you think so. My own summer forest blend.”

A tea brewer that stops a warrior in his tracks using a stick…

”It is well madeâ€"If I may ask. Where did you learn to use that?” Okiba gestured toward the wooden staff propped against the cave wall behind him. It’s strange red grain, and the swirling pattern carved to look like the boughs, branches and leaves of a great tree covered it wholly. The eye could not escape it.
”Ahh, the Redstaff’a? A family’a heirloom, made’a from Kypari wood. Very’a old, very’a strong. I learned, as all’a Monks do, in’a the temples and’a shrines.” he answered, nodding sagely before taking another cherished sip of tea.

So he’s one of these monks then.

”Could you teach me?”

The older Pandaren spat his tea out, spraying the fire with it’s lemon zest into a flickering uproar. The stunned silence was only added to by his looks of absolute befuddlement. Okiba knew the second he’d asked he’d one way out on a limb, he’d not even thought about it, he just blurted it out without thinking. The bemused smirk on the younger bears face said it all.

”I would’a be honoured to’a pass on what I have’a learned! Yes’, but that would’a require time. You have’a much of that’ now, yes?”

The Warden showed me a road worth following. What better way than with a tutor?

”I have the time, if you have the patience.”
”Very’a good! Myself and’a my Uncle, will’a be going west, you should’a travel with us!”
”I’d like that very much.” Okiba forced a smile, giving the older bear a weary glance, but his expression remained unreadable as he looked to his nephew.

”And where are’a my manners!? You have’a told us your’a name… This is’a my uncle, Jihaan Ironpaw, and I, am’a Fhu Redstaff.”
Okiba Spearbreaker - Nag'Ogar and Warrior Monk of the Horde
"Strength, Discipline, Mastery."


Okiba

#25
Soldier: Chapter 20 - Trio


Quote”Two is company, three is a team.”


Four years ago.

His legs burned with strain, hammering away at the best speed they could to keep up the bounding sprint. If he stopped, or landed too hard, the marsh would snare his feet. Changing tactic, he took advantage of his new found agility by leaping onto a shallow boulder before making the final jump onto the flat, square stones of the terrace.

Don’t over extend.

He had to repeat this to himself constantly, even now despite reaching firm ground, he wasn’t done. Lowering his Pandaren style spear, he pulled back on one end and used a downward arcing strike to smack the lumbering Mogu warrior in the weak spot behind his leg. No sooner had the huge brute tumbled forward onto one knee did Okiba reverse his momentum, spin and apply the other and much sharper end of his weapon to the foes now easily reached neck.

Keep moving.

There was no need to look; he felt the spray of warm crimson mist on the back of his neck accompanied by the sound of desperate choking. He wasted no time and continued his sprint toward the colossal obelisk that was the central pagoda. The sound of battle wasn’t far, the clash of steel and cry’s of battle had fore-warned him that his two companions had come across some trouble.

He dashed across the ancient mason built stones, moving as quickly as his legs could move him. The Isle of Thunder was treacherous to navigate, with few true roads, so the chance at leaving the dire-moor and keeping pace was not to be wasted. That said, even with Lei-shen the Thunder-king long dead, the island was still a hive of dread and danger. He couldn’t waste a second.

Round the north-west corner of the monolithic pagoda, he was greeted with quite a sight. Several Mogu, and several more of their stone slaves, were besetting Fhu and Jihaan from all sides at the foot of the monuments steps. Quick aid and decisive intervention was needed-

”Ahha! See Uncle! I told’a you he would show up!” proclaimed Fhu with a laugh, spinning his heirloom of a staff around with grace and perfect balance. One end struck a Mogu warrior straight in the chin, the other smacked a stone weapon from a golem like statues hand. He moved swiftly, like a whirlwind that left bruises and broken bones. Fluid, un-catchable, yet like a storm.

”Well of’a course he’a would! It is’a me that takes him’a running!â€"Graah!” Roared the warrior, raising his tower shield to block a Mogu axe, before lunging forward with a Xuen style spear to impale it’s throat. Jihaan was like a mountain, you had no chance of moving him, and when he did, he couldn’t be stopped. Leaping boldly, he crashed shield first into a stone constructs shoulder, shattering it as if he was a Bear shaped wrecking ball.

Ever in high spirits.

”Try and leave a few for me!” called the Orc. Without any hesitation he quickly leapt to the pair’s aid. With a thrust, and a parrying swipe of the spears tip followed by a spin, he smashed a constructs stone head clean off its shoulders.

”Excellent’a Halftusk!” Called Jihaan, discarding his shield and spear, he pulled his war sword from his back holster and proceed to cleave a Mogu magi very literally limb from limb. ”-And’a don’t forget the one’a behind you!”.

Oh Gromâ€"

He let reflex take him. All the staff drills, the days exercise, the sparring he’d undertaken since leaving kun-lai joined hands with the practiced forms he’d rehearsed from the prison. Without a thought he knew what to do, with a duck and a roll he felt the air above him split with the passage of a great battle axe and the growl of a foe that had missed it’s mark.

Trust in your instincts.

Rising, he leapt and used the weight and momentum of his body to spin. He landed on his feet, bringing his spear around to parry the follow up strike from the Mogu warrior. His defeated allies and anger were making his attacks sloppy, desperate unwieldy cleaves and slashes were parried, mis-directed and ultimately put to waste. Okiba had always loved wielding a spear, it allowed you to keep distance when you wanted, to block, to parry, sweep and ultimately skewer. Much as he did now. With a final flourishing spin he used the low end of his spear-shaft to strike the axe out of the hands of the Mogu. Disarmed, the towering foe had no way to block as Okiba finished his spin, lunged and delivered a bone shattering punch to the brutes sternum.

Redstaff teaches well.

Okiba eyed the defeated foe as it spewed blood and gore from its wounds. The sudden feeling of exhaustion finally overcame him as he began to suck air into lungs that only now felt on fire.

”Hmm’aâ€"well done” Jihaan commented, coming to a clanking halt by the exhausted Orcs side. He surveyed the scene carefully, then studied the area around them for further foes. Okiba judged the sudden end to the noise of battle as a mark of success, so he stole a glance over his shoulder. Jihaan had left a mess of broken stone and cleaved limbs in his wake. He’d begun to understand why the Shado-pan on the wall called him ‘Mogu Breaker’. Fhu however…

”Did’a I ever tell you about’a the time I was attacked by twenty Saurok in the southern wilds Uncle?” He beamed, strolling up to the pair almost as if nothing had happened.

”Only a thousand’a times Nephew. Don’t tell me, this was’a much easier?”

”No! no… not at’a all. I was going to’a say, afterward I had a superb bowl of Dragon noodles. I could do with’a some now!”

”You and’a your stomach… though, Food does’a sound good. Breakfast?”

Despite his ragged breaths, and aching limbs, Okiba cracked a wide smile. He’d not smiled like that in years. Then his stomach growled loud enough for both Pandaren to hear, and with them both grinning in amusement he could only reply…

”I could eat.”
Okiba Spearbreaker - Nag'Ogar and Warrior Monk of the Horde
"Strength, Discipline, Mastery."


Okiba

Soldier: Chapter 21 - Feast


Quote”You must eat! Look at you, you’re practically wasting away! Have another dumpling, or four! I’ll put a few more steaks on the grill.”


Three years ago.

”Now’a! Sit! No more’a training, no more’a questions. Sit, and’a take part. Or else!” Jihaan insisted, guiding the Orc into a seat. With a firm push from the Pandaren warrior, the chair slid forward and Okiba was trapped. This should of seemed quite normal, but every muscle and bone in his body was screaming for him to run away to somewhere he’d feel less out of place.

You survived the wrath-gate, you can survive a family dinner.

He stole a glance to his left, to find Fhu’s broad monk shoulder closing off one route. To his right, perched an elder Pandaren lady with long greying hair and dimmed green eyes. Though Fhu suspected her near blind, She had him snugly trapped while she gave him the most invasive stare he’d ever felt.

”You’re looking a bit off colour young bear, you should see the menders, ohh yes, Granny Redstaff knows Green-fever when she see’s it! And in all my hundred-… hundred? Hundred years! Yours is the worst I’ve yet seen!” she proclaimed, jabbing his shoulder with a wiry clawed finger. No sooner had she made this medicinal proclamation, did Fhu whisper in his ear, cutting him off before Okiba could muster a reply.

”just go along my friendâ€"Yes, yes Gran-Gran! We will take our friend to the healers, right after Dinner! Can’t have bears poked by doctors on an empty stomach can we?”

I’d rather not be poked at all!

”such poor deals Mogu-masher, Uncle-six-ducks will have to consult lucky-do’s and his secret coin purse.” Pondered a Grummel aloud, his voice emanated on the other side of the huge red oak table. It was hard to spot him for his height, but by the sound of it he appeared to have started a rather complex discussion on logistics and supply routes with Unlce Jihaan when suddenly a large bowl slid into the middle of the tableâ€"and then another…

”Grub is up!” Proclaimed a female Pandaren, three dishes in each arm at the kitchen end of the table. Her fur was the same shade as Fhu’s, and no doubt, she was his mother. Shin-wei Redstaff, sister of Jihaan. What followed could only be described as a master class in food service, as dish after dish of local and far reaching meals from across Pandaria slid onto the table and stopped exactly where he could only assume was exactly where intended.

That is a lot of food--…”

And it kept coming, and coming. Bowls of steaming rice littered the table; all in numerous different colours and flavours from garlic to saffron, and mushroom to lemon. Then came the starters, a kettle of beef and vegetable soup, along with fine breads. Vegetable and duck pancakes with plumb and ginger dips… Shrimp coated in creamy sauces.

Spirits, this isn’t even the mains.

Hands shifted, passed, borrowed, slid and bartered bowls in a haze of trades until plates had been stacked highâ€" his included, and without any aid from the Orc himself. And yet the food kept coming. Noodles, dumplings, crispy duck, tiger steaks and more towered on his plate and others. He couldn’t keep track of the different flavours, smells and the ingredients that kept them. But nobody yet ate, they all waited, and with good reason.

”and finally, our main course! Slow roasted, beer basted yak!” Proclaimed a Pandaren male, who Okiba had come to know as Fhen-li Redstaff, Fhu’s father. He and his wife slid the giant roasted frame of the Yak, and the enormous platter it sat upon, onto the table as a grand centre-piece. Its flesh had been cooked to perfection over an open fire, the beer was even still tantalizingly trickling off its sides.

”They don’t eat like this in the army-“ He mumbled to himself, only for Fhu to clap him on the back with a chuckle.
”Of course not’a my friend! Armies feed’a you to fight. In this’a family home, you are fed to’a be content, and to bring’a family together!” Fhu nodded sagely, carving a great slice of Yak with a long knife, placing it on Okiba’s plate.
”You’re far too wise, and your family far too generous, my friend.” The Orc smiled, returning the gesture and patting the Pandaren on the back then slicing him some Yak also.
”Ahh- Generosity. Wealth and’a food are’a both much’a like wisdom. Not shared? They grow stale, stagnant… but when handed out’a freely? They bring’a prosperity to all.” The monk chuckled, quickly chomping into his slice of meat, and everything else.

You just can’t argue with his wisdom.

He turned his focus to his own plate and the mound of sweet, spiced and delicious smelling delicacies that hid it from view. He glanced at the othersâ€" they did not the strange metal tools the humans did, or their hands as an Orc would. No, they used a pair of small thin sticks they called ‘chops’. He picked up his, glancing at the others and how they used them…

This will be awkward-…I could just use my hands…no.

It was out of the question. He needed to show some manners. With a fumble, a slip, a click and further fumbles he began making a mess of trying to use them to grip. His thick green fingers just couldn’t keep them in place or bring the ends of the sticks together without dropping them.

He furrowed his brow, re-doubling his efforts but it was futile each time as the technique eluded him. It was then a set of small furred hands reached up from his right and grabbed his hand.

”No silly Orc! Like this!”

With the shift of one, and the re-position of the other, one stick was placed under his index finger while the other was between his thumb and palm. Without thinking he pressed his finger and the two sticks made a gripping clack.

”See! Anyone can learn!” Proclaimed the small voice with glee. Okiba looked to his right, sat on the old lady’s knee was a small Pandaren child, she could not of been older than eight, smiling up at him.

He smiled back, flashing his tusks in as kindly way as an Orc could. With a nod of his head in thanks, he snapped up a collection of noodles and fried duck. The Chop-sticks worked, and the food was the best he’d ever tasted. And the company even better.

Anyone can learn.
Okiba Spearbreaker - Nag'Ogar and Warrior Monk of the Horde
"Strength, Discipline, Mastery."


Okiba

Soldier: Chapter 22 - Sparring


Quote”It is nothing to defeat others. True strength is overcoming yourself.”


Three years ago.


”Now, just’a remember that’a movement is’a life. So! Keep’a moving.” Fhu nodded sagely with a smile, giving Okiba a firm and reassuring pat on the shoulder before turning him to face his opponent.

Breathe.

His left hand twitched uncontrollably, nearly forcing him to lose his grip on his spear. But he knew he had nothing to fear, no memory to be held back by in this moment. This was nothing to do with the past, this was preparing for the future, moving forward step by step and day by day.

Just breathe.

These were lessons he’d taken to heart early on in his monk training. Don’t sit still, and keep breathing. It never ceased to amaze or even hinder when the danger of a lack of air for the body made limbs heavy or reflexes slow.

”Hmmâ€"I will not’a be going easy on’a you this time, Halftusk. Prepare’a yourself!” Jihaan bellowed, affixing his helmet and hefting his deadly war-blade. The brutal weapon sang as it cut the air, even from some a harmless gesture as being lifted.

”This won’t be a repeat of our first meeting, Uncle!” He replied, lifting his spear. The solid wood shaft was topped with a ghost-steel blade, perfect for thrusting and cutting. And what it may have lost in weight and length, it made up for by double as a point long-staff. Jihaan grinned underneath his helmet as he began to circle. So Okiba circled in turn.

Calm and steady

Placing one foot in front of the other as he mirrored his sparring partner, he had to force himself not to admire his surroundings. They were atop a rocky mesa in the north of the Jade forest; to look down from its edges you would see the canopies of jade capped trees and the pinnacles of vibrant bamboo. Looking outward you could see the entire region for miles, the winding networks of finely paved roads, the monasteries and villages, even the temple of the jade serpent stood tall and eye catching in the east. Though up here it was no less of a sight, standing upon a paved terrace surrounded by statues of the august Celestials. A place of quiet reflection, and stoic practice for all. Fhu sat upon a stone platform beside a great bronze hanging bell as he watched both Jihaan and the Orc circle ever on.

Make the first move.

He took the initiative, lunging at right angles to break the rounding motion. His legs thundered with speed but made light, rapid steps. As the distance closed, Jihaan rounded, lowering then raising his sword to his right in order to form a deflective parry. It met perfectly

He anticipated!

Before he had even decided to raise his spear at that angle, Jihaan had predicted his moves perfectly by being one step ahead. Okiba had swung his spear wide, moving from his right, across Jihaan and to his own left only to be batted aside by the great blade of the Pandaren. As he strafed past the warrior on his right, he knew instantly what would follow.

Anticipate!

He leapt, and used the momentum of the parry to spin to his left, raising his spear shaft to a horizontal position. No sooner than he landed did he feel the brutal power of the sword strike the spear, but he had blocked it with room to spare.

”Haha! Well’a done! Now’a follow it up!” Cheered Fhu, applauding.

He didn’t follow it up. Jihaan did though, the lightning steel blade reversing and cutting downward with an air splitting screech. The temptation was to raise the spear to block with the shaft, but he knew better now than to hope it would stop that weighted razor edge. Instead he side stepped to his right leaving Jihaan on his left, steel passing him and striking the stony cobbles underfoot.

”Ghrm’a!!” Jihaan growled, but reflex and training had overtaken the Orcs movement. He flowed with instinct, jabbing his left arm out to apply a full spread of five knuckles under the bears armour, striking at his left armpit. The blood vessels and nerves within made for an excellent target, even under all that mail.

Thralls balls that mail is solid…

His knuckles panged, the solid material had blooded his hand but he would not give up. He’d learnt from hard experience not to go the areas covered by solid plates, but mail still left a sting.

Jihaan groaned, temporarily unable to haul his blade in the direction he intended, he settled for shifting his weight so he could turn on his feet and ram his right shoulder plate into the Orc. The blow was firm and powerful, backed by muscle and tempered experience. Landing on Okiba’s chest, it pushed rather than struck, sending him sliding backward across the stones and down onto one knee where he stopped.

Keep you feet, centre your balance.

”Ha-ha! Very’a good uncle, too’a experienced to let little things’a hamper you!” Fhu exclaimed, clapping his hands. Sat cross legged upon his small pedestal he was watching the clash with great enthusiasm. No doubt because his student was finally holding his own against his mothers brother.

Gritting his fangs, his broken tusk brushing his lip, Okiba couldn’t’ help but smile. Jihaan smiled back from within his helmet, and then they rushed each other. The Orc rising, swinging his spear upward while the Pandaren bounded and leapt, aiming to cleave his blade in a swinging arc around and down toward Okiba. The force of sword and spear-head meeting was enough to bring them both back down to their feet. Heartbeat racing, the two weapons blurred, meeting again and again in swirling flurries, spinning parries and dextrous blocks. The cobbled ground was their battle-ground, and neither side wished to surrender the war as their deadly dance advanced back then forth, left and right. Fist became involved, and elbows. Okiba even had opportunity to use his legs here and there to push the warrior back or strike a blow.

Is this how these Pandaren monks always feel?

”When do you stop going easy on me Uncle!?” he called, a wild grin of enjoyment on his tusked features.
”Hra! So’a, the Orc has’a little talent! We shall see how’a long you can’a keep it up!!” Jihaan retorted, guarding himself from a leg sweep launched by the Orc using the base of his spear-shaft by leaping up and sideways. He was resoundingly agile, even in all that heavy armour.

Time lost meaning, it could have been an hour or seconds, sweat pouring from the brows of both. Effort had its demands, and Okiba felt the terrible ache of battle weariness in his limbs, from exertion and the bone rattling strain of colliding with his sparring partner. In a desperate lunge to finish, both met halfway, launching their right fist at their foes jaw, simultaneously exposing themselves to the others terrible blow. With a combined thud, both were left shaken, and landed promptly on the cobbles with their behinds to a resounding double thud.

Ouchâ€"

A bell rang, twince, low and long. Fhu stood holding a wooden ladle in his hand having rung it firmly to sound the bouts end.

”Very’a good! You have come’a long way my friend Okiba! A superb’a match!”

Okiba turned to face his foe as both rose to their knees, instinctively linking arms and aiding each other to their feet. Clapping each other on the shoulder, they stepped back and lightly bowed.

”Indeed’a! a long way you have’a come. I am glad I did’a not cleave you in two in’a the mountains! Haha!” Chuckled Jihaan with a smile, his eyes glinted with approval well earned.

The Orc was relieved, pleased, and ecstatic. The way of the monk had been so strange and mysterious, yet now it felt almost natural to him.

But there is always further to go.

And then he realized, his hand had stopped shaking.
Okiba Spearbreaker - Nag'Ogar and Warrior Monk of the Horde
"Strength, Discipline, Mastery."


Okiba

Soldier: Chapter 23 - Wisdom


Quote”Some of the best lessons are learnt through terrible, bitter experience.”


Two years ago.

The pages parted cleanly, with barely a rustle or complaint. Pristine parchment was revealed, covered in hundreds of finely drawn glyphs, letters and symbols. Okiba inhaled, breathing in the scent of a thousand inks on finely pressed paper. It was wonderful, calming, serene even.

So this is why those wizards are always in their books.

”-oh! Try’a this one, and’a this one too!” Fhu placed another two thick, leather bound books next to the Orc, patting them almost affectionately before he seated himself by his own stack of reading material.

He had to admit, he was becoming attached to this place. The libraries of the temple were beyond measure, testament to the wisdom of the jade serpent and in particular to her followers. Every kind of book, scroll, tome, and near forgotten editions lined the shelves and corridors of the library. But to truly enjoy a book, you needed the harmony of the great outdoors. And that is where they sat, under the roof of a pagoda in the temple gardens, listening to the chirp and splash of life within the nearby pond. All the while the daily activities of the temple took place, ranging from mass lectures to schools for the young cubs, and monks training in the serpent style to a hospital for the sick or hurt.

Wisdom put into practice for all to benefit.

They had been peacefully whiling away the days here, reading and contemplating, discussing then reading some more. Jihaan did not join them, though he was in the temple, busy taking lessons on engineering and building of all things to further his war-dancer training. A strange addition to a warrior’s arsenal of knowledge, but then again the Pandaren did almost everything differently, and to great effect.

He skimmed the lines of words running down the first page of the book. The symbols coalesced into words and sentences, giving meaning and context to a stream of short story’s and tales. Wiley Brewmasters outwitting sinister Saurok, valiant monks overcoming slavery and breaking the chains of brutal Mogu, then lastly of an emperor that embraced the land itself only to give it all he was to protect it.

A frog croaked in the pond nearby before being snatched up by an opportunistic crane.

“Hmmm’a… you are’a enjoying your books Okiba friend?” enquired Fhu, lowering a scroll, flashing a smile.
”Hra! Of course, I know teaching me to read your tongue was a chore but now I can, I cannot stop!” declared the Orc.

And it’s true, every book read is understanding gained.

”Ha-ha! This is’a good, yes. But! Considering’a where we are...”

Okiba furrowed his brow, feeling a brain twisting question on the horizon.

”…What is’a the truest form of wisdom do you’a feel?” asked the bear, smiling knowingly but with a wry tone.

”Ghm… well, the temple elders teach us first, that wisdom, knowledge and intellect are not the same. Indeed, they are very different.” the Orc began, squinting with the effort of recollection and thought. Fhu beamed, as a trapper would when watching the prey walk straight into his well set ambush.

”…Wisdom is… experience? What we carry with us after we learn through action and deeds, through surviving. It’s what we pass on and heed from others.” He added, wearily now, Fhu nodding with eagerness for him to continue.

”…but no one individual can learn of or experience everything. Hra! It’s impossible, in our lives we can only learn so very little compared to, well, all of it…” Okiba fumbled with it now, but he knew the end mantra. It was just a matter of making sense of it. He’d at least heard that during one of the lectures.

”Go on’a my friend?” Fhu pressed, beaming from ear to ear as his green eyes glinted.

”So the truest wisdom, is knowing that you… well, know nothing.” He finished, half committed to his assumption but also sounding half not.

”Ha-ha! Very’a good my friend. Yes, that is’a correct. For example…” Fhu nodded in a pleased fashion, before looking over the shoulder of the Orc.

”I admit I have’a no idea what’a that is!” He finished, raising his hand to point a claw at the sky to the east, beyond the towers of the temple. Okiba turned his head, narrowing his eyes. It was hard to make out, a small moving shape in the background of a vast dusk sky. The shades of blue turning to night half masked it, but it was without a doubt moving. Growing larger.

What in the name of fel is thaâ€"

Realization hit him almost as quickly as his eyes noted the colour. Green, jade and burning vermilion. It grew a tail as it streaked down toward the ground in the direction of the temple walls. Then another appeared, and another. Within moments the sky was filled with balls of green flame streaking toward them and the lands all around.

”Fhu, my friend, that is hell, and terror… ring the alarm bells.”
Okiba Spearbreaker - Nag'Ogar and Warrior Monk of the Horde
"Strength, Discipline, Mastery."


Okiba

Soldier: Chapter 24 - Jadefire


Quote”What defines us is not how hard we hit, but how we get back up again.”


Two years ago.


The bells rang. They rang low, and loud. They rang slow and fast. They rang with panic, and terror. They rang.

The roof exploded, giant arms of burning green stone thrusting upward made the tiles and beams fly in all directions. The Infernal roared, before stomping forward to knock down the front wall of the day school. Had Fhu not thought so quickly, the younglings and their teacher would still have been inside when it crashed to earth.

”Faster, Faster everyone’a! To the main’a gate!” Fhu shepherded the youngling Pandaren as best he could up the road, their teacher guiding them as she went with the other elders. Fhu and Okiba guarded the rear, guiding the lost and wounded into the winding throng of shocked people.

This was a safe place… Have the Legion truly returned?

The air was thick with smoke from burning buildings, rank from the stench of brimstone created by the falling Fel Golems. Infernals trotted too and throw, smashing apart anything they came into contact with. But the air also hung heavy with foul energies as the sky blackened.

”Go! Go!” Called the Orc, spotting the main gate up ahead, they would soon be safe. It had not yet fallen, Pandaren ran through the grand arch from all directions within the temple, desperate for the safety of the forest beyond.

”Where is’a uncle!? Okiba friend! Without’a the warriors and militia they will’a pursue us!” Yelled Fhu before being drowned out by the noise of a crashing spire. A fel green meteor smashing through its solid stone construction caused the tower to collapse with an earth shaking smash. Plumes of smoke and clouds of dust filled the inner courtyard around the gate; all was obscured as everyone fumbled to find each other, screaming the names of loved ones.

We have to hold the gate…

Lowering his hand from shielding his eyes, the decision was as good as obvious. The two monks would have to hold this exit out of the temple long enough for help to arrive, or for as many to escape as possible.

”Fhu!... we have to hold here. There is no other way.” yelled the Orc, his face grim but certain. Fhu grunted in ascent, gritting tooth and fang in a moment of thought as an aura of almost dark understanding washed over him. He knew the likely outcome too.

No sooner had they prepared themselves and the line of escapees began to thin, did the sound of heavy marching feet begin to stomp their way along the paths inside the temple. Metallic, lumbering, filled with malefic purpose. Felguards by the dozen began to steadily pour out from behind burning buildings, along twisting roads and from the gates of the central temple. Axes, spears, halberds and hammers were held in their massive hands. The Infernals promised shock and awe, now the legions soldiers came forth from some unseen portal to finish their dark and bloody task.

This will be a good death. Worthy for me to meet my brothers, at last.

He swallowed, dragging a dry tongue across his broken tusk. Gripping his spear firmly in hand he lowered himself into a ready stance, mirroring Fhu. The Pandaren was a master of the serpent style and all its fluid movements, holding his left hand out almost welcoming his enemy while he held his staff in his right. The famed kypari wood stave would block and deflect even the most deadly demon weapon.

The demons spanned before them, almost too many to rush them all at once. The gate was a funnel, a trapping point that would defend them from sheer numbers, at least for a moment, two or hopefully more. With the backdrop of the burning temple behind them, they paused, ominous shadows in a world they were hell bent to bring to absolute ruin.

The bells stopped, and fire roared.

The first felguard came for Okiba, swinging a brutal axe down at him. The Orc leapt aside then lunged, spearing the demons throat while the force of the axe made the earth underfoot tremble. As the demon tumbled, choking on blood, the second came into view, swinging in a wide arc at Fhu with a great halberd. The Pandaren monk ducked swiftly, and then planted the top of his staff under the demons groin, only to flip him up and over his shoulder with a fluid dexterity that was impossible to believe.

As the third and fourth monstrosity struck, they too were quickly dispatched or turned about on their heads. Then came five and six, followed by the belief that they could hold them off. They could hold the gate long enough for the people to make good their escape. Weapons deflected, fists broke bone, feet and spinning kicks swept the demons legs out from under them. The shadows of the burning temple danced everywhere, two serpents weaving among chaos.

Just a little longerâ€"

The hammer struck his upper right arm. It had to be a hammer, axes and swords don’t leave limbs attached. The blunt force sent him flying through the air, his back striking one of the giant gate doors with a crack and a thud as he collided then slumped to the ground. The pain shot up his arm like lightning, broken without a doubt. The force of hitting the solid wood door sent his mind and world spinning. Shadows, spectres snaked across his vision.

You have to get upâ€"help him.

He extended his left arm, dragging himself desperately forward toward his spear, listening all the while to the steady, desperate clash of demonic weapons upon the staff of a lone monk.

”Okiba friend! Get’a up!” echoed Fhu’s voice in his mind. Okiba struggled to focus, his blurred eyes settling on the image of a spinning, swirling, flowing Fhu deflecting, re-directing and evading three Felguard alone. Where one struck, he moved, where another turned, he struck, and where the third cleaved, he guided the foes weapon to the neck of its fel corrupted ally. Fhu was the embodiment of a monk, the jade serpent made mortal. He could hold them just long enoughâ€"

A shadow loomed over the Pandaren, a spike; a spear skewered into his back and out his front. Fhu gasped in shock, the Redstaff dropped from his hand and rattled on the cobbled road. A felguard had snuck up on him as he fought off and defeated three others, plunging his cowardly weapon through the Pandaren in a swift, cowardly attack.

”Fhu--!” Cried the Orc, watching his friend slide off the edge of the spear, collapsing to the ground in a defeated heap. The bears arms shivered, he was alive, confirmed with a blood chortling cough. But the demon raised his spear with a malefic snarl, poised to spear the head of the monk as a final killing blow. Okiba was powerless to stop it; he was broken, too far away and unable to move.

No--!

Thud. The impact of a weapon struck the demon square in the chest, carrying it with such force as to lift it from its feet and many yards back, nailing it to the other door of the grand gate. A spear, striking like a ballista bolt had saved Fhu, striking such a deadly and forceful blow as to kill the demon instantly. Okiba turned his pained head to find the visage of Jihaan stood in the gate, armoured in all his glory. The warrior had spared his nephew by throwing his spear so hard it was akin to a siege weapon. Behind him stood dozens--… no hundreds of his Pandaren kin, Shado-pan, Villagers, farmers, Huojin and Tushui. Their faces filled with grim determination. Armed with everything from swords to pitchforks, they had come to take back their beloved temple. Jihaan lifted his war sword.

”For Pandaria!” he let loose the rallying cry, followed by an echoed cheer as the people of Pandaria rushed into the temple grounds to take on the demon invaders.

Okiba had only one thought now, extending his good arm to drag himself forward across the blood slicked cobbles once more.

Get to your friend!
Okiba Spearbreaker - Nag'Ogar and Warrior Monk of the Horde
"Strength, Discipline, Mastery."