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An Initiate's Task

Started by Nakobu, October 08, 2018, 10:55:49 PM

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Nar'thak leaned forward against the side of the goblin barge, eyeing the small fishing village of Sri-La as the vessel began to dock. The multi-levelled village lay in darkness, not a single lantern or house having been lit. The great mogu statue that towered over the town was visible only by the faint light of the moon, the figure casting it's shadow against the cliffs behind it.  Normally fishermen would be seen sitting in their boats by lamplight, but instead their vessels lay empty, dragged up onto the shore. Not even the tavern, where tales would be spun and laughter would roar right until the early morning, sat in silence.

“Hey, hey! Where's our welcome party, huh?!” yelled the goblin captain, his frustrated voice breaking the silence. Nar'thak grunted in response, finding the lack of activity to be strange for pandaren, a race that always aimed to live 'in the moment'. He walked his way down the gangplank to the pier, leaving the goblin huffing and puffing about the lack of welcome.

The old orc was closely followed by Feng, the wood creaking under the turtle's weight. Nar'thak's gaze moved from house to house as the pair began their ascent up the village's many stairs, making their way towards the path into the greater Jade Forest. Each home had it's doors locked tight, the windows blocked with bamboo blinds or dark cloth. Strangely, outside each door lay a small fireworks launcher, preloaded and pointed heavenward. “For some festival or another, I presume.” Nar'thak thought, shrugging to himself. The launchers serpentine visages gleamed in the moonlight, making it seem as if they were almost watching the pair as they made their way higher.

Eventually, Nar'thak climbed his way to the summit of the stairs, looking up further along the path. Just like in the village, none of the lanterns that adorned the sides of the road were lit. “Ghrm, the lamplighters all on strike or something?” Nar'thak sighed to himself as he clambered up onto Feng,  rummaging through his packs for a small set of matches. He lit the two lanterns that hung at Feng's sides, causing them to emit their faint amber light.

The pair pushed on further into the forest, the trees soon forming a roof-like canopy, leaving only the glow of the lanterns to guide their path. They soon passed Greenstone Village, the situation being the exact same as previous; doors were locked, windows blocked, and no light to be seen. Nar'thak grunted once more, pushing Feng further onward, north to the Arboretum.

Pandaria is a land with very few changes from season to season, the Jade Forest especially so. There was one change however that Nar'thak was particularly pleased about as he and Feng pulled into the seemingly ever-blooming orchard. During the autumn and winter months, the huge wasps that often plagued the wood were much fewer in number, and certainly less daring. Nar'thak shuddered at the thought of the creatures as he made his way towards the gigantic locked gates of the Temple.

He knocked the large brass handles hard against the wood of the door, the sound echoing into the night. The hurried sound of wood of sliding across wood responded to the knocking before the grand gates creaked open, a hissing voice calling out. “What do you think you are doing?! Why are you not in your home?!” A young pandaren poked his head around the door, a scowl on his face. He looked to the old orc, his expression soon softening. “Ah, disciple Nar'thak! You have returned! Come in, quickly now!” The pandaren pushed the gates open wider, allowing the orc and turtle to pass through.

Nar'thak's gaze moved over the temple grounds. Dark. Empty. The opposite to how it should be. He looked to the pandaren shoving the massive gates shut. “Mind telling me exactly what is going on here?” asked Nar'thak, sending a questioning look the pandaren's way. “You have have bad timing, my friend.” replied the pandaren, sliding the large wooden beam back into place. The pandaren, clad in the heavy armour of the temple guard, turned to face Nar'thak. “The saurok on the Windward Isle have risen to great numbers these past few weeks. All of the Order and even the majority of our monks here at the temple have had to rush in an attempt to push them back.”

Nar'thak nodded slowly, looking over to the pavilion where students of the Order of the Cloud Serpent would normally spend their time learning and training. The pandaren continued: “This incursion, as you can imagine, has thrown the serpents of the isle into a frenzy. One especially so. It lost everything. Its children, its mate, its home. In its despair, it has been taken and twisted by the remnants of the Sha. It now flies around the Jade Forest at night, attacking anything it can see. And with everyone dealing with the situation at the isle...”. “No one is there to challenge it.” Nar'thak replied, frowning. The pandaren nodded, a frustrated look on his face. Stepping down from Feng, Nar'thak took off his blade, shoving it into the paws of the guard. “Then wait here.” Nar'thak stated. The pandaren began to question and protest, but the orc had already turned heel and ran towards the village that lay nestled in the corner of the grounds.

As Nar'thak made his way through the settlement, Beastbane's words rang in his head. “...slay it using only what your surroundings can provide you with. No magic, no weapons of your own.” “If said armoury be the wilds, I shan't complain.”. Nar'thak rubbed his head in thought. “I wouldn't exactly call him a weapon... And he's certainly of the wild.” said Nar'thak as he pushed a pair of small wooden gates open into a large garden.

A pair of cerulean eyes shone in the dark, staring at the old orc as he made his entrance. Nar'thak shut the gate behind him, their gazes soon meeting. “Zhang! Good to see you are not flying around in some far corner of Pandaria as usual. Decided to actually listen to Master Yao for once?”. The serpent snaked it's way forward out the shadow, the moonlight now shining off it's sunset coloured scales. The beast appeared as if it was sneering in response to the orc's question.

Zhang. The companion of Nar'thak's master, and a very temperamental thing. Nar'thak had learned to ride the great cloud serpents on the back of him, but the creature always found it ever so amusing to twist and turn mid-flight, dumping him into the sea or to the ground. Nar'thak strode over to it, giving it a firm pat on the back. The creature kept on staring the orc down, a knowing look now upon it's face. “You can already tell what needs be done, hrm?” muttered Nar'thak as he walked over to a corner of the garden, breaking off a large piece of bamboo to use as a makeshift spear. He then made his way back and threw a nearby saddle over the serpent climbing on top. “Then don't try and throw me off this time!”. Nar'thak was sure a smirk appeared on the serpent's face,  Zhang now rising higher and higher as he took off. The great beast pushed on, bursting through the thin layer of grey clouds that loomed over the land and into the open night sky, letting out an ear-splitting roar. It wasn't long until that roar got a response.

A bellowing cry echoed from below the clouds. Nar'thak gripped onto his spear, looking down to Zhang before speaking: “Well that certainly got it's attention. Just try to keep a good distance, hrm?”. Zhang was visibly tensed, the serpent's eyes darting from left to right. Nar'thak suddenly felt a very familiar feeling begin to close in upon him, quickly sending a sharp kick to Zhang's left side in response. The serpent's body recoiled and twisted away from the blow, just as what looked like a beam of dark energy ripped though the clouds to his left. Through those clouds came the awaited serpent; a twisted, demented avatar of madness. Sha growths covered it's body, a shadowy swirling mist surrounding it.

Pure despair and sadness flooded from the creature as it screamed at the pair, rushing them with fang and claw. Zhang quickly responded to the charge, flying headlong into battle, the pair of serpents twisting and turning as Zhang dodged the Sha's blows. Nar'thak lashed out with his spear, carving away at the large Sha growths that stuck out whenever the serpent drew near. The serpents flew through the skies before they crashed down through the clouds.

Further  and further away from the Temple they drifted as it continued, the battle now raging above the town of Dawn's Blossom. Over the war cries of the beasts, a large bell chimed out, Nar'thak looking down at the noise still clinging as talon and maw clashed around him. What he saw was small shining objects located outside each and every house of the town. He saw pandaren rushing out their doors torches in hand. His eye went wide, quickly yanking hard on Zhang's reins and directing him away from the combat with the monstrous creature. The serpent protested, wanting to stay in the thick of it until it heard the screech of the rockets. The fireworks blasted up into the air from their shining launchers, their shrieking and whistling drowning out everything else. Zhang soon disengaged from his foe, leaving the Sha-serpent floating alone as the countless fireworks erupted around it in a kaleidoscopic explosion.

The pandaren cheered as the serpent was sent flying to the ground in a smouldering heap, crashing into the deep wilds a ways outside town. Nar'thak directed Zhang to land, leaping from the prideful serpent. The serpent narrowed it's eyes, looking to the orc as he dismounted. “You have my thanks, Zhang. Perhaps you can be cooperative after all?” said Nar'thak with a grin. The serpent huffed in response, Nar'thak giving the serpent a firm nod before running deep into the forest.

Over roots, through trees and off any known path he ran, chasing the fallen serpent into the wilds. It wasn't hard to tell if he was headed in the right direction; the further he went, the more he felt the negative energy that poured from the beast like a leaked goblin oil rig, staining and ruining the land around it. He ran until he reached a small clearing, the serpent writhing on the ground in it's centre. Burned and bleeding, it stared down the orc.

It breathed a wave of shadow towards Nar'thak, the orc diving to the side just in the knick of time, the place he stood scarred black. The elder went into a sprint, running at the serpent, dodging and rolling away from the foul magics it spat at him with each step. With the gap finally closed, Nar'thak slammed his spear across the snout of the beast, stopping it's next gout of darkness. It retaliated by slashing it's mutated claws at the orc, slicing through his staff and cutting through his right leg. Nar'thak roared in pain, dropping his broken weapon and grasping the serpent's flailing limb, yanking it forward. He twisted it into a complex pandaren joint lock, snapping the bone in two. The beast shrieked, Nar'thak following up the blow by grabbing two parts of his broken spear from the dirt and throwing himself at the serpent's side.

He quickly clambered up onto the creature's back, clinging to it's scales as the beast shook and jolted in an attempt to fling him off. Slowly, Nar'thak crawled his way to the serpent's head, shoving a shard of the staff deep into it's right eye socket. The serpent screeched out in pain, flailing around ever more desperately to knock the orc off it's head. Nar'thak hung on tight against the flailing snake, reaching down and driving the last remainder of the weapon deep into it's final eye. The serpent's screeching suddenly cut out as the beast seized up, it's head falling to the floor, laying motionless. Nar'thak slid off it's hide and crashed into the dirt below, breathing heavily.

The old orc shoved himself to his feet, looking over the corpse of the once great serpent. Sha energy still clung it's flesh as Nar'thak drew his small blade, cutting into the flesh and skinning a portion of the hide. He grimaced as he endured the foul magic, slicing deeper into the beast's body and retrieving various bones, placing them onto the floor.

With the serpent skinned and the bones collected, Nar'thak pulled up a young sapling from the edge of the clearing. He roughly cut it to size, adorning it with the bones and placing the newly, but crudely, made totem before the serpent's body as a sign of respect. Reluctantly picking up the hide, he began the long trek back home.

By the time he reached the Temple, it was dawn, the sun's golden rays casting its warm welcoming glow over the land. Making his way through the temple grounds and back towards the village, the old orc soon stopped in front of small house. Lifting the plant out of a nearby pot, Nar'thak picked the small metal key that lay at the bottom. He pushed it into the lock, turning it and sliding the wooden doors open, peering inside at the dusty interior. At the centre of the room, a large wooden table and two chairs sat, a Jihui board game setup and sitting mid-game upon it.

On the right hand side of the room, a bed was tucked into the corner, a dresser to it's left. Above the bed hung a large banner bearing the colours of the Burning Blade, waving slightly from the light wind coming through the open door. A blademaster's warblade hung alongside it, the blade itself having been shattered into three pieces.

Nar'thak's gaze moved to the other side of the room, where the furniture had been mirrored. A bed in the corner, with a dresser beside it. However, on this side an old and battered shield hung from the wall. The shield's dull metal bore the crest of Stormwind, the blue lion chipped and worn.

Nar'thak made his way inside, sliding the door shut behind him. He walked towards the large table, eyeing over the board game before moving a few select pieces and pushing the game to one end of the table. He walked over to his drawers and began rummaging through them, eventually pulling  out a small needle and thread. Placing the skin and needle down on the table, Nar'thak slumped  into the chair beside it with a deep sigh, slowly closing his eye.


A long time in the making!

Much approval!
Okiba Spearbreaker - Nag'Ogar and Warrior Monk of the Horde
"Strength, Discipline, Mastery."



Paragraphs have been cut into more readable sizes, along with some grammar correction. Thank you to Manata for the great feedback!