The aging orc shaman Ner’zhul has seized control of the Horde and reopened the Dark Portal. His brutal warriors once again encroach upon Azeroth, laying siege to the newly constructed stronghold of Nethergarde Keep. There, the archmage Khadgar and the Alliance commander, Turalyon, lead humanity and its elven and dwarven allies in fighting this new invasion.
Even so, disturbing questions arise. Khadgar learns of orcish incursions farther abroad: small groups of orcs who seem to pursue a goal other than simple conquest. Worse yet, black dragons have been sighted as well, and they appear to be aiding the orcs. To counter Ner’zhul’s dark schemes, the Alliance must now invade the orcs’ ruined homeworld of Draenor. Can Khadgar and his companions stop the nefarious shaman in time to stave off the destruction of two worlds?
Pocket Star, June 2008
Authors: Aaron Rosenberg & Christie Golden
“Throw down, damn you!”
“Fine!” Gratar growled, half-rising, his powerful shoulder muscles bunching. One arm whipped forward and down, fist descending in a blur—and his fingers opened, the small bone cubes spilling from them to clatter upon the ground.
“Hah!” Brodog laughed, tusks jutting up as his lips pulled back in a grin. “Only one!”
“Damn!” Gratar sank back down onto his stone, sulking as he watched Brodog again gather the cubes and shake them vigorously. He didn’t know why he kept throwing against Brodog—the other orc practically always won. It was almost unnatural.
Unnatural. A word that had nearly stopped having any meaning for Gratar. He glanced up at the stark red sky that filled the horizon, the sun a burning globe of the same shade. The world had not always been thus. Gratar was old enough to remember blue skies, a warm yellow sun, and thick green fields and valleys. He’d swum in deep, cool lakes and rivers, blissfully ignorant of how precious a thing water would one day become. One of the most basic needs of life, uncontaminated water was now brought in in casks and stingily parceled out.
Rising, Gratar kicked idly at the ground before him, watching the red dust puff upward, parching his mouth, and he reached for the waterskin and drank sparingly. The dust covered his skin, dulling the green hue, lightening his black hair. Red everywhere, as if the world had been drenched in blood.
But the most unnatural thing of all was the reason he and Brodog were stationed here, whiling away the dusk-clogged day with idle games of chance. Gratar looked past Brodog at the towering archway just beyond them and the shimmering curtain of energy that filled it. The Dark Portal. Gratar knew that the strange mystic doorway led to another world, though he had not passed through it himself—none of his clan had. But he had watched as proud Horde warriors had entered the portal to win glory over the humans and their allies. Since then, a few orcs had returned to report the Horde’s progress. But lately there had been nothing. No word, no scouts; nothing.
Gratar frowned, ignoring the clattering sound of Brodog’s tossing of the bones. Something about the portal seemed…different. Gratar stepped closer to the towering gateway, the hairs along his arms and chest tingling as he approached.
“Gratar? It’s your turn. What are you doing?”
Gratar ignored Brodog. Squinting, he stared at the rippling veil of energy. What was going on beyond it, on that strange other world?
As he watched the curtain’s undulating shimmer grew and became more translucent, allowing Gratar to see through it as if through murky water. He squinted his eyes, peered intently—and gasped, staggering back.
Playing out before his eyes, as if he were watching a ritual enactment, was a fierce and violent battle.
“What?” Brodog was beside him in an instant, the game forgotten, and then he was gaping as well. They both stared for a second before Gratar regained his wits.
“Go!” he shouted at Brodog. “Tell them what’s happening!”
“Right—the commander.” Brodog’s eyes were still glued to the scene before them.
“No,” Gratar replied sharply. He had a gut feeling that what was about to happen would be more than his commander was prepared to handle. But one orc he knew might be. “Ner’zhul. Get Ner’zhul—he’ll know what to do!”
Brodog nodded and took off at a run, though not without glancing back a few times. Gratar heard him leave, but still his gaze was riveted to the battle that was so violent but so oddly veiled. He could see orcs, some of whom he thought he recognized, but they were fighting strange figures, shorter and more narrowly built but more heavily armored. The strangers—they were called “humans,” Gratar remembered—were quick and as numerous as gnats, swarming over the beleaguered orcs and overpowering them one by one. How could his people be suffering such a defeat? Where was Doomhammer? Gratar saw no sign of the massive, powerful warchief. What had happened on that other world?
He was still watching, sickly enraptured, when he heard the sound of approaching feet. He tore his gaze away to see that Brodog had returned with two others. One was a massive figure, larger by far than any orc and much stronger, with pale milky skin and heavy features. An ogre, and a mage, by the cunning Gratar saw glinting in his small, piggy eyes. More important than this towering figure was the orc who accompanied him, pushing his way forward right up to the portal itself.
Though his hair was gray and his face heavily lined, Ner’zhul, chieftain of the Shadowmoon clan and once the most skilled shaman the orcs had ever known, was still powerfully built and his brown eyes were as sharp as ever. He stared at the portal and the vaguely glimpsed disaster unfolding behind its
“A battle, then,” Ner’zhul said as if to himself.
And one the Horde is losing, Gratar thought.
“How long has—” Ner’zhul began. Suddenly the space framed by the Dark Portal shifted, its energies swirling violently. A hand thrust from the curtain as if it were rising from water, gleams of light and shadow clinging to green skin as it breached the barrier. A head followed, then the torso, and then the orc was through. His war axe was still in his hand but his eyes were wild as he stumbled, then caught himself, racing past Ner’zhul and the others without even looking.
Behind him came another orc, then another and another and another, until there was a flood of them, all racing to pass through the portal as fast as their feet would carry them. And not just orcs—Gratar saw several ogres emerge, and a group of smaller, slighter figures with heavy hooded cloaks bridged the gap as well. One warrior caught Gratar’s attention. Too tall and bulky to be a full orc, his features brutish enough to have some ogre blood in him, this one did not run with the air of panic the others did, but with purpose, as if he was running to something rather than from it. At his heels loped a massive jet-black wolf.
An orc shoved past this warrior as they stepped from the portal, snarling at the obstruction. “Out of the way, half-breed!” the orc snapped, but the warrior merely shook his head, refusing to be baited at such a time. The wolf, however, snarled at the orc before the warrior silenced it with a sharp hand gesture. The wolf fell silent, utterly obedient, and the warrior dropped a huge hand on the black head with affection.
“What has happened here?” Ner’zhul demanded loudly. “You!” The shaman pointed toward one of the unfamiliar creatures. “What manner of orc are you? Why cover your face so? Come here!”
The figure paused, then suddenly shrugged and stepped closer to Ner’zhul. “As you wish,” he said in a cold voice that had a slightly mocking tone to it. Despite the heat of the land’s baked, lifeless soil, Gratar shivered.
A mailed hand slid the hood back, and Gratar could not help crying out in horror. Perhaps the being’s features had once been fine and regular, but no longer. The skin was a pale grayish green, and had burst open at the juncture where ear met jaw. A thin trickle of ooze glimmered. Swollen, cracked, purple lips drew back in a smile as the eyes glowed with malevolent humor and a fierce intelligence.
The thing was obviously dead.
Even Ner’zhul shrank back, though he rallied quickly. “Who—what are you?” Ner’zhul demanded in a voice that shook only a little. “And what do you want here?”
“Don’t you recognize me? I am Teron Gorefiend,” the figure replied, chuckling at the shaman’s obvious discomfiture.
“Impossible! He is dead and gone, slaughtered by Doomhammer along with the rest of the Shadow Council!”
“Dead I am indeed,” the creature agreed, “but not gone. Your old apprentice Gul’dan found a way to bring us back, and into these rotting carcasses.” He shrugged, and Gratar could hear the lifeless flesh creak in slight protest. “It suffices.”
“Gul’dan?” The old shaman seemed more shocked by that revelation than by the sight of the walking corpse in front of him. “Your master still lives? Then you should return to him. You forsook me and the shaman tradition to follow his lead and become a warlock when you lived, abomination. Serve him now that you are dead.”
But Gorefiend was shaking his head. “Gul’dan is dead. And good riddance. He betrayed us, halving the Horde at a crucial moment and forcing Doomhammer to pursue him instead of conquering a human city. That treachery cost us the war.”
“We…have lost?” Ner’zhul stammered. “But…how is that possible? The Horde covered the very plains, and Doomhammer would not go down without a fight!”
“Oh, he fought,” Gorefiend agreed. “Yet all his might was not enough. He killed the humans’ leader but was overpowered in turn.”
Ner’zhul seemed stunned, turning to look at the panting, bloodied orcs and ogres who had rushed through the gates moments earlier. He took a deep breath and straightened, turning to the ogre who had accompanied him. “Dentarg—summon the other chieftains. Tell them to gather here at once, bringing only weapons and armor. We—“
The wave washed out of the portal with no warning, a massive energy burst that slammed all of them to the ground. Gratar gasped for breath, the wind knocked out of him. He stumbled to his feet, only to be greeted by a second explosion, more violent than the first. This time hunks of stone had been snatched up by the energy that powered the portal and came flying past them, chips and slabs and slivers and sheets. The curtain wavered, becoming opaque.
“No!” Ner’zhul raced toward the portal. He was still several feet away when the shimmering curtain of light flickered, contracted, froze—and then exploded. Stones and dust erupted from the archway. Ner’zhul was tossed into the air like an old bone, and struck the earth hard. Dentarg let out an angry bellow and rushed to his master’s side, scooping him up as if he weighed nothing. The old shaman lay limp, head lolling, eyes shut, a trickle of blood along his right side. For a wild moment energy screamed and shrieked about them all, howling like angry spirits. Then as abruptly as they had come the lights vanished, the curtain disappearing utterly, leaving only an empty stone portal behind.
The Dark Portal had been severed.
Gratar stared at that stone archway, and at all the Horde warriors who had escaped back through it one last time. Then he glanced over at Dentarg, and the elderly shaman cradled in the ogre’s surprisingly gentle grasp.
In the name of the ancestors…what would they do now?
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World of Warcraft: Tides of Darkness
After killing the corrupt Warchief Blackhand, Orgrim Doomhammer was quick to seize control over the Orcish Horde. Now he is determined to conquer the rest of Azeroth so that his people will once again have a home of their own in the…
WORLD OF WARCRAFT
Anduin Lothar, former Champion of Stormwind, has left his shattered homeland behind and led his people across the Great Sea to the shores of Lordaeron. There, with the aid of the noble King Terenas, he forges a mighty Alliance with the other human nations. But even that may not be enough to stop the Horde’s merciless onslaught.
Elves, dwarves, and trolls enter the fray as the two emerging factions vie for dominance. Will the valiant Alliance prevail, or will the Horde’s tide of darkness consume the last vestiges of freedom on Azeroth?
CHAPTER ONE EXCERPT
Despite himself, Lothar was impressed.
Stormwind had been a towering, imposing city, filled with spires and terraces, carved from strong stone to resist the wind but polished to a mirror sheen. But in its own way Capital City was equally lovely.
Not that Capital City was the same as Stormwind. It was not as tall, for one. But what it lacked in height it made up for in elegance. It sat on a rise above the north shore of Lordamere Lake, gleaming all in white and silver. It did not glitter as Stormwind had, but it glowed somehow, as if the sun were rising from its graceful buildings instead of beating down upon them. It seemed serene, peaceful, almost holy.
“It is a mighty place,” Khadgar agreed beside him, “though I prefer a little more warmth.” He glanced behind them, toward the lake’s southern shore, where a second city rose. Its outlines were similar to those of Capital City, but this mirror image seemed more exotic, its walls and spires suffused in violet and other warm hues. “That is Dalaran,” he explained. “Home of the Kirin Tor and its wizards. My home, before I was sent to Medivh.”
“Perhaps there will be time for you to return, at least briefly,” Lothar suggested. “But for now we must concentrate on Capital City.” He studied the gleaming city again. “Let us hope they are as noble in their thoughts as they are in their dwellings.” He kicked his horse into a canter, and rode down out of the majestic Silverpine Forest, Varian and the mage right behind him and the other men trailing them in their carts.
Two hours later they reached the main gates. Guards stood by the entrance, though the double gates were wide open and large enough for two or even three wagons to pass abreast. The guards had clearly seen them long before they reached the gates, and the one who stepped forward wore a crimson cloak over his polished breastplate and had gold traceries in his armor and helmet. His manner was polite, even respectful, but Lothar could not help noticing how the man stopped only a few feet away, well within sword range. He forced himself to relax and ignore the laxity. This was not Stormwind. These people were not seasoned warriors, hardened by constant battle. They had never had to fight for their lives. Yet.
“Enter freely and be welcome,” the guard captain stated, bowing. “Marcus Redpath warned us of your arrival, and your plight. You will find the king in his throneroom.”
“Our thanks,” Khadgar replied with a nod. “Come, Lothar,” he added, nudging his horse with his heels. “I know the way.”
They rode on through the city, navigating its broad streets easily. Khadgar did indeed seem to know the way, and never slowed to ask directions or puzzle over a turn until they had reached the palace itself. There they surrendered their horses to some of their companions, leaving them to mind the steeds. Lothar and Prince Varian were already striding up the palace’s wide steps and Khadgar quickly joined them.
They stepped through the palace’s outer doors and into a wide courtyard, almost an outdoor hall. Viewing boxes lined the sides, and though empty now Lothar was sure they filled with people during celebrations. At the far end another short flight of steps led up to a second set of doors, and these opened onto the throneroom itself.
It was an imposing chamber, its arched ceiling so high overhead its edges were lost in shadow. The room was round, with arches and columns everywhere. Golden sunlight streamed down from a stained-glass panel set in the ceiling’s center, illuminating the intricate pattern in the floor: a series of nested circles, each one different, with a triangle at their middle overlapping the innermost ring, and the golden seal of Lordaeron within that. It had several high balconies and Lothar guessed these were for nobles but also appreciated their strategic value. A few guards with bows could easily strike anywhere in the room from those vantage points.
Just beyond the pattern stood a wide circular dais, its concentric steps rising up toward a massive throne. The throne itself looked carved from glittering stone, all sharp edges and planes and angles. A man sat there, tall and broad, his blond hair only lightly touched with gray, his armor gleaming, the crown upon his head shaped more like a spiked helmet than a coronet. This was a proper king, Lothar knew at once, a king like his Llane who did not hesitate to fight for his people. His hopes rose at the thought.
There were people here, townsfolk and laborers and even peasants, gathered facing the dais from a respectful distance. Many carried items, scraps of parchment, even food, but they parted before Lothar and Khadgar, falling away from the pair without a sound.
“Yes?” the man on the throne called out as they approached. “Who are you and what do you wish of me? Ah.” Even from here Lothar could see the king’s strangely colored eyes, blue and green swirled together—they were sharp and clear, and his hopes rose still further. Here was a man who saw well and clearly.
“Your Majesty,” Lothar replied, his deep voice carrying easily across the large room. He stopped several paces from the dais and bowed. “I am Anduin Lothar, a Knight of Stormwind. This is my companion, Khadgar of Dalaran.” He heard several murmurs from the crowd now behind them. “And this”—he turned so that the king could see Varian, who had been standing behind him, unnerved by the crowd and the strange trappings—“is Prince Varian Wrynn, heir to the throne of Storm-wind.” The murmurs turned to gasps as people realized the youth was visiting royalty, but Lothar ignored them, concentrating only on the king. “We must speak with you, your Majesty. It is a matter of great urgency and major import.”
“Of course.” Terenas was already rising from his throne and approaching them. “Leave us, please,” he asked the rest of the crowd, though it was an order despite its polite wording. The people obeyed quickly, and soon only a handful of nobles and guards remained. The men who had accompanied Lothar faded back to the sides as well, leaving only Lothar, Khadgar, and Varian when Terenas closed the distance between them.
“Your Majesty,” Terenas greeted Varian, bowing to him as to an equal.
“Your Majesty,” Varian replied, his training overcoming his shock.
“We were grieved to hear of your father’s death,” Terenas continued gently. “King Llane was a good man and we counted him as a friend and an ally. Know that we shall do all in our power to restore you to your throne.”
“I thank you,” Varian said, though his lower lip trembled slightly.
“Now come and sit, and tell me what has happened,” Terenas instructed, gesturing to the dais steps. He sat on the top one himself and motioned for Varian to sit beside him. “I have seen Stormwind myself, and admired its strength and beauty. What could destroy such a city?”
“The Horde,” Khadgar said, speaking for the first time since they had entered the throneroom. Terenas turned toward him, and Lothar was close enough to see the king’s eyes narrow slightly. “The Horde did this.”
“And what is this Horde?” Terenas demanded, turning first to Varian and then to Lothar.
“It is an army, more than an army,” Lothar replied. “It is a multitude, more than can be counted, enough to cover the land from shore to shore.”
“And who commands this legion of men?” Terenas asked.
“Not men,” Lothar corrected. “Orcs.” At the king’s puzzlement Lothar explained. “A new race, one not native to this world. They are as tall as we are, and more powerfully built, with green skin and glowing red eyes. And great tusks from their lower lips.” A noble snorted somewhere, and Lothar turned, glaring. “You doubt me?” he shouted, turning toward each of the balconies in turn, looking for the one who had laughed. “You think I lie?” He struck his armor with his fist, near one of the more prominent dents. “This was made by an orc warhammer!” He struck another spot. “And this by an orc war axe!” He pointed to a gash along one forearm. “And this came from a tusk, when one jumped me and was too close for our blades to strike one another! These foul creatures have destroyed my land, my home, my people! If you doubt me come down here and say so to my face! I will show you what sort of man I am, and what happens to those who accuse me of falsehood!”
“Enough!” Terenas’s shout silenced any possible reply, anger plain in his own voice, but when he turned to Lothar the warrior could see that this king’s anger was not directed at him. “Enough,” the king said again, more softly. “None here doubt your word, Champion,” he assured Lothar, a stern look around daring any of his nobles to disagree. “I know of your honor and your loyalty. I will take you at your word, though such creatures sound strange to us.” He turned and nodded at Khadgar. “And with one of the wizards of Dalaran beside you as a witness, we cannot discount what you say, nor the notion of races never seen here before.”
“I thank you, King Terenas,” Lothar replied formally, reining his anger back in. He was not sure what to do next. Fortunately, Terenas was.
“I will summon my neighboring kings,” he announced. “These events concern us all.” He turned back toward Varian. “Your Majesty, I offer you my home and my protection for as long as you shall need it,” he stated, loud enough for all to hear. “When you are ready, know that Lordaeron will assist you in reclaiming your kingdom.”
Lothar nodded. “Your Majesty, you are most generous,” he said on Varian’s behalf, “and I can think of no safer and finer place for my prince to reach his maturity than here in Capital City. Know, however, that we did not come here merely for sanctuary. We came to warn you.” He stood tall, his voice rumbling across the room, his eyes not leaving Lordaeron’s king. “For know this—the Horde will not stop at Stormwind. They mean to claim the entire world, and they have the might and the numbers to make their dream a reality. Nor do they lack magical might. Once they have finished with my homeland—” His voice grew deeper and rougher and he forced himself to continue. “They will find a way across the ocean. And they will come here.”
“You are telling us to prepare for war,” Terenas said quietly. It was not a question, but Lothar answered nonetheless.
“Yes.” He looked around at the assembled men. “A war for the very survival of our race.”
an excerpt from
World of Warcraft:
This is an excerpt from the eBook, displaying Chapter One out of 124-pages:
Chapter One: A Clash of Arms
A soft, cool breeze blew through the upper branches of the mighty oak trees of the Hearthglen Woods. A peaceful quiet had fallen over the tranquil forest, leaving Tirion Fordring alone with his thoughts. His gray stallion, Mirador, trotted at an easy pace along the winding hunting path. Though game had been strangely scarce for the past few weeks, Tirion came to hunt here whenever the opportunity presented itself. He preferred the grandeur and crisp air of the open country to the musty, confining halls of his keep. He had been hunting in these woods since he was a small boy and knew their numerous, winding trails like the back of his hand. This was the one place he could always find refuge from the burdens and bureaucratic pressures of his station. He mused that someday he would bring his young son, Taelan, to hunt with him so that the boy could experience the rugged majesty of his homeland for himself.
Lord Paladin Tirion Fordring was a powerful man. He was strong in both mind and body, and was counted as one of the greatest warriors of his day. Though he was slightly over fifty years of age, he still looked as fit and dynamic as he had when a younger man. His signature bushy mustache and his neatly trimmed brown hair were streaked with gray, but his piercing green eyes still shone with an energy that belied his years.
Tirion was the governor of the prosperous Alliance principality of Hearthglen, a large forested region nestled at the crossroads between the towering Alterac Mountains and the mist-shrouded shores of Darrowmere Lake. He was respected as a just governor and his name and deeds were honored throughout the kingdom of Lordaeron. His great keep, Mardenholde, was the center of commerce and trade for the bustling region. The citizens of Hearthglen took great pride in the fact that the keep’s mighty walls had never fallen to invaders, even during the darkest days of the orcish invasion of Lordaeron. Yet, of late, Tirion was disgruntled to find a different kind of army scurrying worriedly through the halls of his home.
In recent weeks the keep had been overrun with traveling dignitaries and representatives from the various nations of the Alliance, who passed through Hearthglen on their secret diplomatic errands. He had met with many of them in person, offering his hospitality and assistance wherever he could. Though the dignitaries were appropriately appreciative of his efforts, Tirion could sense a growing tension within all of them. He suspected that they were charged with carrying dire news directly to the Alliance High Council. Try as he might, he could not discern the specifics behind their urgent communiqu?s. Yet Tirion Fordring was no fool. After thirty years of serving the Alliance as a Paladin, he recognized that only one thing could cause the otherwise stoic emissaries to be so troubled: War was returning to Lordaeron.
It had been nearly twelve years since the war against the orcish Horde had ended. It was a terrible conflict that had raged across the northlands, leaving many of the Alliance kingdoms razed and blackened in its wake. Too many brave men fell before the rampaging Horde was finally stopped. Tirion had lost a number of good friends and soldiers over the course of the war. Though the Alliance had rallied at the eleventh hour and pulled victory from the clutches of certain defeat, it had paid a heavy price. Almost an entire generation of young men had selflessly given their lives to insure that mankind would never be slaves to savage orc overlords.
Near the war’s end, the battered and leaderless orc clans were rounded up and placed within guarded reserves near the outskirts of the Alliance lands. Though, as a precautionary measure, it was necessary to police the reserves with full regiments of knights and footmen, the orcs remained docile and passive. Indeed, as time passed, the orcs seemed to lose their raging bloodlust completely and lapse into a strange communal stupor. Some supposed that the foul brutes’ lethargy was brought on by inactivity, but Tirion remained to be convinced. He had seen, firsthand, the orcs’ brutality and savagery in battle. Memories of their heinous atrocities had plagued his dreams for years after the war. He, for one, would never believe that their warlike ways had left them completely.
Tirion prayed every night, as he always had, that conflict would never endanger his people again. Perhaps naively, he hoped fervently that his young son would be spared the rigors and horrors of war. As a Paladin, he had seen far too many children orphaned or left for dead over the course of the tragic conflict. He wondered how any child could not become cold and disassociated when faced with terror and violence all around them. He would certainly never allow that to happen to his own boy, that was certain. Yet, despite his best wishes, he could not ignore the reality of the present situation. His closest aides and advisors had been telling him of the grim rumors for months now—that the orcs were once again on the move. Hard as it was to believe, the presence of so many emissaries in his keep confirmed it to be true.
If the orcs were foolish enough to rise up again, he would do whatever it took in order to stop them. Duty had always been the one constant in his life. He had spent the majority of his years defending Lordaeron in one way or another. Though he had not been born a noble, his enthusiasm and honor had won him the rank of knight at the tender age of eighteen. Tirion served his king with undying loyalty and won a great deal of respect from his superiors. Years later, when the orcs first invaded Lordaeron, intent on crushing civilization, he was one of the first knights to be given the honor of standing with Uther the Lightbringer and being anointed as a holy Paladin.
Uther, Tirion, and a number of devout knights were handpicked by the Archbishop Alonsus Faol to become living vessels of the holy Light. Their special, sacred charge was twofold: aided by the holy Light, the Paladins would not only lead the fight against the vile forces of darkness, but heal the wounds inflicted upon the innocent citizens of humanity as well. Tirion and his fellows were given the divine power to heal wounds and cure diseases of every kind. They were imbued with great strength and wisdom that enabled them to rally their brethren and give glory to the Light. Indeed, the Paladins’ leadership and strength helped to turn the tide of the war and insure the survival of humanity.
Though his own Light-given powers had waned somewhat over the years, Tirion could still feel strength and grace flow through his aging limbs. Surely he would have strength enough when he needed it the most. For his son and for his people, he would have strength enough, he vowed.
Clearing his head of concerns, Tirion stopped to get his bearings. To his surprise, he found that he’d wandered much farther up the winding path than he’d intended. The path snaked its way up and over the densely forested mountain. There were no outposts this far up, Tirion remembered. As a matter of fact, he couldn’t recall the last time he had ventured up this far. He took a moment to drink in the raw beauty of the place. He could hear babbling streams nearby and smell the clean, crisp air. The sky was blue and clear as he watched two falcons circle high above. He truly loved this land. He told himself that he’d return to this spot when a more opportune moment presented itself. Running his hand through his thinning, graying hair, he chided himself for becoming so lost in thought. He had come out to hunt, after all. Tirion deftly turned his mount around on the thin path and spurred Mirador to a quicker pace back down the mountain. He pulled sharply on the reins and steered his faithful mount into the dense woods.
After a few minutes he slowed his pace and galloped into a wide clearing that surrounded the ruins of an abandoned guard tower. He stopped near the old tower’s base and peered up at the lonely structure. Like many other ruins that dotted the land, it was a painful reminder of a darker time. The tower’s walls were broken and scarred by blackened blastmarks. Obviously the work of orcish catapults, he thought. He remembered how the destructive machines had hurled their fiery projectiles from great distances and devastated entire villages during the war. He wondered how the ruined structure could still be standing after having been left to the unforgiving elements for so long. While examining the tower’s base he caught sight of strange tracks upon the ground. He dismounted to inspect them. His blood nearly froze in his veins as he realized that the oversized tracks had not been made by any man—and that they were fresh.
Tirion quickly looked around and found more tracks scattered throughout the clearing. He surmised that orcs had been here within the past few days at least. Could the vile brutes be mobilizing so soon, he wondered? No. There had to be some other explanation. Hearthglen’s borders were secure. There was no way that a group of orcs could go undetected in his land for any length of time. Subtlety, of all things, was definitely not a part of their nature. His scouts and guardsmen would have been alerted to any orcish incursion into Hearthglen immediately upon their arrival. Yet the fresh tracks were there, just the same.
Tirion walked Mirador around to the back of the tower and drew his heavy bastard sword from the scabbard attached to his saddle. He wished fervently that he had brought his mighty warhammer instead. Though he was well-practiced with a blade, he would have preferred to wield his traditional hammer, as all Paladins did in the face of danger.
As stealthily as he could, Tirion crept around the tower and entered through what was left of its front door. A number of large wooden beams had fallen from the rickety ceiling and splintered all over the chipped stone floor. He inspected the dilapidated guardroom and found a small, makeshift fire pit near a ragged, patchwork bedroll. The fire in the ash-laden pit had only recently burnt out. Apparently the orcs had taken up residence within the old tower. Strangely, he saw no weapons or token trophies, which orcs were fond of collecting. He wondered what could possess the brutes to so recklessly squat on Alliance-held lands.
Deciding to return to the keep and gather his men, Tirion exited the tower and strode boldly out into the clearing. To his surprise, he immediately locked eyes with a gargantuan orc, who had suddenly emerged from the tree line. The orc, who seemed as startled as Tirion, dropped the bundle of firewood it had been carrying and reached for the broad battle-ax that was slung to its back. Tirion gritted his teeth and brandished his own sword threateningly. Slowly, the orc planted his feet firmly on the ground, unslinging the mighty ax.
It had been years since Tirion had laid eyes on an orc. He looked upon the brute with unabashed awe and revulsion. Yet, through his surging adrenaline, Tirion noticed that there was something quite different about this orc. Certainly, the creature was as immense and well-muscled as any other he had beheld. Its coarse, green skin and ape-like stance marked it as clearly as any other orc. Even its hideous tusks and pointed ears were reminiscent of every savage that Tirion had faced during the war. But something in the creature’s stature and demeanor seemed different. There was an aged weight in its stance and far too many wrinkles around its eyes. Its ratty beard and ritually topknotted hair bore heavy streaks of gray. Where most orc warriors adorned themselves with mismatched plates of armor and spiked gauntlets, this one wore only stitched furs and ruddy leather pants. Its calm lethality and assured, comfortable battle stance clearly indicated that this orc was no rampaging youngster, but, indeed, a seasoned veteran. Despite its apparent age, it was potentially more dangerous than any orc Tirion had ever faced.
The hulking creature stood motionless for a long moment, as if daring Tirion to make the first move. Tirion quickly surveyed the tree line to make certain there were no other orcs preparing to ambush him. Peering back at the orc, he found that it had not moved even an inch. The orc nodded as if to confirm that it was alone. The creature’s knowing gaze left Tirion with the impression that it wanted his full attention before it engaged him in combat.
Feeling somewhat unhinged by the orc’s calm demeanor, Tirion lunged forward. The orc easily sidestepped Tirion’s initial attack and brought his great ax around in a wide arc. Reflexively, Tirion ducked under the savage strike and rolled into a defensive crouch. Seizing the moment, he thrust his blade up at the orc’s exposed belly. The creature expertly blocked the thrust with the haft of his ax, and leapt backward to give himself more room to maneuver. Tirion feinted to his right and then brought his blade around in a sweeping reverse thrust. Momentarily caught off guard by the clever move, the orc whirled around in the opposite direction and brought his ax down in a fast overhead swipe, meant to cut Tirion in two. Tirion rolled out of the way as the ax crashed down only inches from where he had stood. The two opponents straightened and squared off once more. They stared at one another in surprise. Tirion had to admit that the orc was as formidable a foe as he had ever faced. The grim smile that passed over the orc’s bestial face seemed to impart a similar respect for Tirion’s own abilities.
They began to circle one another, each sizing up the other’s strengths and weaknesses. Tirion was again surprised by the orc’s demeanor and focus. Every other orc he had encountered had rushed forward with reckless abandon, preferring savagery and brute force to finesse and tactical maneuvering. This orc, however, demonstrated remarkable skill and self-control.
For a moment, Tirion wondered whether or not he could actually best the creature. For a split second, he worried that his tired limbs and reflexes would fail him at a crucial moment. Sporadic thoughts of his beloved wife and son being left to fend for themselves without him flashed through his mind, weakening his resolve by a fraction. With a derisive snort, he shook off his doubts and readied his weapon. He had faced death a hundred times. He had a job to do. He relaxed slightly and reminded himself that his battle instincts were as sharp as ever. And he had the power of the Light on his side. No matter how impressive the orc’s fighting prowess might be, it was still a creature of darkness as far as he was concerned—it was the sworn enemy of humanity, and for that it had to die.
Rushing forward with grim resolve, Tirion slashed at the orc with every ounce of strength he could muster. The orc was forced to give ground before the Paladin’s furious attack. Tirion pushed the orc backward until it felt as if his sword arm would burst into flames. The orc managed to block and counter a number of the Paladin’s thrusts, but was thrown off-balance by an expertly placed strike. Tirion cut a gaping gash in the orc’s thigh, sending the brute stumbling into the dust. The old orc grunted loudly as it slammed down onto the packed dirt. Gripping its bloodied leg in pain, the orc attempted to rise again, clearly expecting Tirion to take advantage of its precarious position. To its obvious surprise, Tirion backed off and slowly motioned for it to rise. The orc blinked in astonishment.
Tirion was a Paladin—a Knight of the Silver Hand—and to him, butchering a fallen foe in the midst of single combat was unquestionably dishonorable. The holy code of his Order demanded that he give the orc a reprieve. He nodded to the orc in assurance, and once more motioned for him to rise. Gritting his sharp, yellowed teeth in pain, the orc slowly recovered his ax and got to his feet. They stood there for a moment, facing each other with eyes locked. The orc straightened slightly and raised his clenched fist to his heart. A salute, Tirion realized. Now it was Tirion’s turn to blink in disbelief. Certainly no savage orc had ever saluted him in battle before. He conceded that perhaps there was more to the fierce creature than he would have guessed. Nevertheless, it was his enemy. He nodded to the orc in understanding and raised his sword again.
This time it was the orc who surged forward. Unable to support its great weight upon its wounded leg, the orc was forced to lunge at the Paladin with short, violent leaps. Wielding its heavy ax with one hand, the mighty orc slashed wildly at Tirion. The Paladin was hard-pressed to evade the brute’s savage blows, and was forced back toward the tower’s entrance. Barely dodging a particularly brutal strike, Tirion crashed into the guardroom through the open doorway. Momentarily stunned, Tirion roared as the razor-sharp ax bit deep into his left arm. Fighting to keep his head clear from pain, he managed to slash at the orc’s exposed hand. The surprised orc howled in rage as his ax clattered upon the stone floor. Tirion moved in, hoping to end the duel as quickly as possible.
Instantly, the orc grabbed hold of a fallen beam and swung at the advancing Paladin.
Tirion backed up a pace as the orc swung the beam in a clumsy arc. The beam smashed into the brittle wall. Dust and loose rock rained down from the high ceiling. The remaining beams creaked and groaned as the tower’s walls shifted their weight. Tirion continued his attack, cutting the orc’s makeshift weapon to splinters with every fevered strike. Realizing the desperate nature of its situation, the orc dropped what was left of the beam and lunged straight at Tirion with its sinewy arms outstretched. Howling in fury, the massive orc reached out for Tirion’s throat. The Paladin managed to stab the orc once before the full weight of the creature’s body slammed into his. The two entangled combatants crashed into the weakened wall as the rickety ceiling finally gave way and collapsed down upon them.
Tirion woke to the sounds of creaking timber and clattering stone. He blinked as thick clouds of dust settled all around him. All else was black in the shattered guardroom. His body was numb, but he could feel a great pressure upon his chest. As the dust cleared, he could see that he was pinned under a large, split beam. His legs, too, were pinned beneath immense chunks of mortar. Frantically, he looked around for any sign of the orc. He would be defenseless if the creature decided to finish him off. Reaching down, he grabbed hold of the beam and heaved with all of his remaining strength. The beam toppled to the side and clattered against the rubble.
Pain immediately flooded Tirion’s body. His head swam as the open cut on his arm gushed his precious blood upon the floor. He attempted to lift himself up and felt an acute burst of pain as his broken ribs ground against one another. His right leg, too, felt like it might be broken beneath the heavy blocks of mortar. His battered body reeling from agony and exhaustion, Tirion felt as if he would black out. He could hear the remaining walls of the structure creaking and groaning. The whole tower was going to collapse. With consciousness rapidly slipping away, Tirion sensed a rustling behind him. Fighting to stay awake, Tirion barely turned to see the orc’s green, menacing hands reaching out for him. His gasp of terror was cut short as blackness overtook him.
Copyright ? 2000 by Blizzard Entertainment
You can order Warcraft: Of Blood and Honor—written by Chris Metzen—in Acrobat PDF Format (Windows PC Only) for only $ 4.00
World of Warcraft Storyline
Those who didn’t know, the main characters of this book are NPCs in World of Warcraft. The Paladin is the simple guy outside a cabin near the Thondroril river—northwest of Eastern Plaguelands, by the entrance to Terrorweb Tunnel. At the beginning, his name will not be evident unless you complete all his quests. Once you comple all his quests, he will reveal to you his true name … Tirion Fordring. The second NPC is named Eitrigg, former member of the Blackrock Clan, now an NPC next to Thrall at the Valley of Wisdom. This book also features Taelan Fordring, son of Tirion, lord Daelin Proudmoore, Archmage Antonidas and Archbishop Alonsus Faol.Warcraft: Of Blood of Honor is about this Alliance Paladin and the Orc. Enjoy the excerpt, and order the eBook at your leisure.
Warlord Goretooth: “By order of Warlord Goretooth, the following inhabitants of Blackrock Spire must be destroyed:
The rotund menace, Highlord Omokk.
The cruel and ruthless troll, War Master Voone.
Warlord Goretooth: “Rend Lives? Impossible!
For the Horde
Thrall: “Rend dares make such grand claims because of the protection he is afforded by the black flight. You, will find a way to pass through the Halls of Ascension. You will then find ‘Warchief’ Rend Blackhand and you will destroy him – FOR THE HORDE! The next time you return to my chambers, you will hold his head high in triumph and then you shall present it to your Warchief. Do this and be honored as a hero of the Horde.
Quests: Tirion Fordring
Storyline of the Scarlet Crusade and a New Order of the Silver Hand founded by Tirion in-game.
Blood Tinged Skies
I cannot offer much in return, but you are guaranteed a warm meal and some conversation should you succeed.—Slay 20 Plaguehound Runts, 5 Plaguehounds and 5 Frenzied Plaguehounds. Return to Tirion Fordring when the task is complete.”
NOTE: When you find him originallly, his name is plain Tirion Fordring. Hereafter, his name plate/tag changes to Tirion Fordring (Order of the Silver Hand).
““Race does not dictate honor. While you remain on my farmstead, I ask that you remember and respect this credo. I have known orcs who have been as honorable as the most noble of knights and humans who have been as vile as the most ruthless of Scourge. But I shall not bore you with tales of my youth! There is much work to be done. IF that is what you desire.”
Of Forgotten Memories
NOTE: When you open the Loose Dirt Mound near Tirion Fordring’s grave behind the Undercroft, Mercutio Filthgorger and 3-5 Crypt Robbers will spawn and attack you. Mercutio drops the hammer you need. Engraved on the hammer is the text: “To my dear boy, Taelan, with love, Father”
Of Lost Honor
Of Love and Family
NOTE: Many Scarlet Crusade spawn to attack Taelan and you. High Protector Lorik shows up and kills Taelan. Suddenly, Tirion Fordring walks in and kills some Scarlets and kills High Inquisitor Isillien. Then Tirion kneels to grab his son Taelan’s corpse to sorrow his death.
Tirion Fordring: “A thousand more like him exist. Ten thousand. Should one fall, another will rise to take the seat of power.”
(Lord Tirion Fordring falls to one knee.)
“Look what they did to my boy.”
(Lord Tirion Fordring holds the limp body of Taelan Fordring and softly sobs.)
“Too long have I sat idle, gripped in this haze… this malaise, lamenting what could have been… what should have been.
Your death will have not been in vain, Taelan. A new Order is born on this day… an Order which will dedicate itself to extinguishing the evil that plagues this world. An evil that cannot hide behind politics and niceties.
This i promise… This i vow…”
NOTE: After this proclamation, we may assume from now on Tirion Fordring will take the mantle of Uther Lightbringer in founding a new Order of the Silver Hand. Note that the old Order crumbled when Arthas disbanded the Silver Hand and Uther from service at Andorhal in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. Later, Arthas found Frostmourne in Northrend to avenge the death of his people by using the sword to kill Mal’ganis the Dreadlord. The sword drove Arthas to the brink of madness as it bound his soul to the Lich King. Transformed into a Deathknight, the Lich King sent Arthas to seek an Urn in possession of Uther Lightbringer in the forests of Andorhal. To Arthas’ surprise what the Lich King sent him to seek contained his own father King Terenas’ ashes—to be used in the resurrection of Kel’Thuzad later on. Arthas killed Uther the Lightbringer—leader of the Order of the Silver Hand. The Order mourned the loss of their great leader and the loss of Lordaeron made them bitter. The Old Order of the Silver Hand rechristened themselves as the Scarlet Crusade.
A Dreadlord named Balnazaar used this hatred to his favor jumpstarting the Order of the Silver Hand into zealots. His psychic manipulations posessing the leader of the Scarlet Crusade High General Abbendis made the Order of the Scarlet Crusade—former Silver Hand—kill Undead and Humans alike with no remorse. The Dreadlord Balnazaar used the Scarlet Crusade to pursue his vengeance against the Scourge, the Forsaken and the Alliance.
With the Old Order of the Silver Hand corrupted by Dreadlord Balnazaar, now Tirion Fordring pledged to start the foundation of a new Order of the Silver Hand as its leader.
Further info about the Scarlet Crusade and its leaders: Official Head— High General Abbendis(Tyr’s Hand) and Grand Inquisitor Isillien(Hearthglen) can be found at page 165-167 within Warcraft RPG: Lands of Conflict which reveals lengthy lore of what happened to the Order of the Knights of the Silver Hand after Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos between year 20(Fall of Lordaeron) and year 25(World of Warcraft begins).