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Started by Rhonya, February 16, 2021, 08:09:01 PM

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The nights here were never really different from the days, all sense of time lost. So when Rhonya was sitting there on the edge of the camp, keeping her eyes on the two comatose orcs on the floor, she couldn’t help but slowly slipping towards sleep state herself. The monotone colors, no light changes, it made one zone out eventually. She was thinking about Rykana’s words, about trying harder and how she herself had responded. Exhaustion caught up with her before long and her eyes fully closed. Maybe she could take a nap, for a second…

The elven woods were as oppressing always. Some of the orcs loved them, but to Rhonya they were dark, secluded and slightly claustrophobic, the way the sky wasn’t even visible through the dense, dark tree tops.
The tribe was here on business, as usual. She had left Sadok and Sukeenah and the cubs in her hut in the Northern Barrens. There’d been some odd rumors coming from the woods, so the tribe had offered to investigate. Rhonya’s mate hadn’t felt up for it, so she’d gone without him. Which was fine, he could use some time with the children either way.
It was almost evening when the call came.

A voice, in her head. Sadoks voice.

“I love you. I love you. I love you, I love you, I love you I love you I love you iloveyouiloveyouiloveyouILOVEYOUILOVEYOUI--”

Rhonya was instantly alert. She reached back out to him, but there was no answer. Nothing. Instant fear gripped her heart as she dropped everything she was doing and yelled for Keren, her wolf. Sensing the urgency in her call, Keren ran towards her, unsaddled and all. Others of the tribe noticed Rhonya’s distress, but Rhonya wasn’t answering anyone.
One that followed her without question was Siyah’gosh, but Rhonya didn’t pay him any mind at first. She had to move. What was going on?

A green sky greeted her as Orc and Wolf ran as fast as Keren could go, Rhonya hanging on to the scruff of Kerens neck, clinging to her back. Rhonya looked up as they crossed the border to the Barrens. This sky wasn’t normal.
This thought was instantly supported by the feeling of the runic ward tattoo on her back activating. Which could only mean there was a high concentration of fel in the air.
Her hut wasn’t far. But the trip seemed to be taking hours, her ward burning on her back, sapping her energy to keep the fel from influencing her. There were.. things, in the sky. She paid them no heed.

Her breath caught as she rounded the corner into the patches of trees that surrounded her hut.
Or.. What was once her hut. Charred beams, the few remaining walls that were still standing were blackened and crumbling. The roof had collapsed and most of the furniture was burned and gone. The tattoo burned painfully now.
Without hesitation Rhonya threw herself off Kerens back, running towards the hut.
“Sadok?! Sukeenah! Skorm..?” She yelled, but there was no answer. She was trembling now, scenarios of her children and mate burning to death inside the hut in her mind. No. She had to focus.

Looking on the ground, the grass was blackened in a circle around the hut, as if something burning had fallen with great speed on the structure. But, in the grass, footsteps. Many of them. Both small and large, they made their way away from the hut.
So they’d escaped? Relief filled her. But why wasn’t Sadok answering her?

A soft sound could be heard from the hut. It was barely audible, a soft moan. Rhonya turned, her eyes going wide. She found a way inside the hut, climbing over fallen beams, burned up furniture, some threatening to fall on her as she shifted some things out of the way.
“Sadok!” She called out to her mate, before she saw him.

Only his torso was visible. One of the walls was pinning him on one side, a support beam had fallen over him on the other, crushing his legs. Blood streaked his face. One hand was stiffly held in a position as if he was holding something, but.. it was empty. On the floor nearby him she could see the ugly spiked mace they had kept in the hut for years. Mruth’gors scepter, the Scepter of the Shaman King.

He was still alive. Rhonya sped over towards him, tears filling her eyes. How was he even still alive? His face was charred, the wounds fatal, she could tell that right away. Yet, he breathed.

Their last moments were short. Some of the tribe arrived, but as they noted her distress and the fact they couldn’t help in any way, they left her alone. Only Siyah’gosh stayed, and talked to her.
Sadok would die. Nothing could change that. The beam on him was somehow the only thing still keeping him alive. If it was moved, he’d die instantly. But if they left him like this, he’d die a slow, agonizing death.
Sadok could hardly speak. But he noticed her there, her recognized her. He told her Sukeenah had escaped with the children. He mentioned the scepter, but his words were all jumbled up.
Rhonya was numbed. She held his hand, feeling… nothing. She couldn’t accept this…

In the end Siyah’gosh convinced her she couldn’t leave him like this, in his own way. She agreed… And the odd but honest orc slit his throat. Ended his suffering.
The image forever burned into Rhonya’s memory, never to forget, the pain never fading. If only she’d taken him along. If only she’d been there and not in the woods. If only she’d tried harder.
If only…

Images. Orcs, in her arms.
Her sister. Grogona. Someone found her corpse, brought it to the clan. In her arms, that trusted face, the spirit gone forever. Failed her.
Under her bloodied hands. A newblood...what was his name again? Kargush. Wounded in battle and she’d been too late. He died, her hands bloody on his chest, tears burning in her eyes. Failed him.
That burned face of her mate, making her promise to be strong… Failed him most of all.
Krogon, an arrow in his back, the poison spreading through his veins, the Chieftains knife kissing his throat and sending him to the Plains, under Rhonya’s hands. She’d failed him.
Makaroth. Blood brother. Warlock. Fallen from grace, seduced to return to his old ways, killed for betraying the tribe… failed him, her bond broken.

Failed them all. She didn’t try hard enough.

Nakobu, burning up right in front of her eyes. One moment he was there,  the next, he was gone. Failed him.
Thronk, getting carried over the edge, drowning, his suffering spared by an arrow-..failed him…

Failed them all. Their blood on her hands. She didn’t try hard enough. It was her fault. So many dead, because she failed, because she hadn’t been strong enough. Failure… failure…


She awoke with a start, touching her face. Something warm and wet was covering her cheeks. It took her a moment to realize she was crying. Her gaze found Nakobu’s form right away. She stumbled over to him, checking his pulse. He was alive… thank the spirits, he was alive.
Rhonya moved over to Thronk, doing the same. His heartbeat steady under her hand.

Wiping her face, Rhonya turned around, moving a little bit away from her clan. Rykana’s words echoing in her ears. “I did everything I could and it wasn't enough.”

Rykana had been talking about herself. But the words had hit home for Rhonya too, clearly. Her heart hurt.
These two were not dead. But they could’ve been, easily. She still wasn’t strong enough.
With a sigh Rhonya buried her face in her hands, hiding a little behind some of the bones. Steelheart, was her name. A name she often felt she didn’t deserve…
"For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack."