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A Tale of Vengeance
((This is my story of my quest for Rhok'delar. There will be accompanying screenshots for some of the later portions.))

Sreng’jin Skullclaimer, Warlord of the Ironsong Tribe, knelt reverently in the forest glade, trying to keep his breathing calm and even. Great evils lurked under the writhing, twisted boughs of Felwood. There were signs of the land’s corruption all throughout the tortured wood: trees grew gnarled and rotten, some even suggesting leering or tormented faces in their warped bark. The beasts that stalked Felwood were tainted and unwholesome, and unnaturally aggressive.

Ten thousand years before, Felwood had been a verdant paradise, but the invasion of the demonic Burning Legion had changed all that. Even now, so long after the tragedy that was the War of the Ancients, the land still bore scars from which it was unlikely to ever recover.

Where Sreng now knelt, three of the most profound casualties of that war still stood: what appeared to be massive trees were in fact the petrified, long-dead remains of three mighty Ancients; forest protectors from a bygone era. They were frozen in time like great, sad statues; noble guardians that had sacrificed themselves in the great war.

The troll’s journey had led him here. In one calloused, blue-grey hand, the Warlord held the edge of a single petrified leaf, large enough to shelter under should it rain. When Sreng had found the leaf, he knew precisely where it had come from. No other tree in Kalimdor could have grown so great a leaf, and the petrifaction marked it as one of Felwood’s many sad truths.

Sreng’jin straightened his gangly form to its full seven feet and looked about himself. He frowned grimly at his dire surroundings, and then laid the leaf at his feet. It seemed right to the Warlord that it be returned to its place of origin, even if that place was a monument to the suffering of the natural world. Heaving a sigh of exasperation, Sreng turned to leave.

The wind lifted the bony branches above Sreng, and he paused. In the clattering whisper of the limbs scraping one another, the troll thought her could make out voices. On his guard for the trickery of the demons that still haunted the wood, Sreng removed his rifle from its holster, and cast about for the source of the noise.

The putrid glade suddenly came to life. Power older than the forest’s taint cleansed the air for a moment, and a clean, pure wind blew. Then, the great spirits of the petrified Ancients themselves manifested.

Like the petrified corpses that loomed over the troll, these spirits resembled mighty trees. Unlike them, however, these appeared somehow stronger, younger, and healthier. Their bark was unmarred by the predations of age, and their eyes seemed to glow with the verdant green of a young forest in the morning. Overawed by their sudden manifestation, Sreng’jin dropped his rifle on the loamy forest floor. He stood and stared up at them, as they stood and stared down at him.

“Peace… troll… We would speak… to you… of vengeance…â€
Sreng’jin slapped Sati on her warm, scaled flank. The great burden-raptor cocked her head at him, causing her crest of war feathers to sway. Her saddlebags were now full, but the hot sun of Durotar was much higher in the sky than the hunter would have liked. He had been hoping for an early start. The great warrior-city of Orgrimmar was wide awake now. The merciless sun was pounding down indiscriminately on the red-stone canyon walls, rough timbers, and stretched hide awnings. The broad-shouldered orcs of the city bore the blistering radiance with unflinching stoicism; theirs was a people that thrived on hardship and discomfort. Here and there, Sreng could spot the allies of the orcs: massive tauren and the lean, sinister-looking troll-folk. The sounds and smells of an Orgrimmar morning washed over Sreng as he enjoyed a moment’s consideration: rich woodsmoke mingled with crackling meat, the earthy aroma of the gigantic kodo beasts, and the dryness of the dust that rose from their great thundering strides.

The previous night had been a trying one. The words of the great forest-spirits still echoed in his mind, and Sreng knew that the task they had set before him was no easy one. Four great demons must fall. For that to happen, Sreng needed some rather unsavory assistance, and had spent the better part of the night in one of Orgrimmar’s less welcoming locales: the Cleft of Shadow.

The Horde had once been ruled by demonic masters, but those shackles had been broken almost six years ago. Under the shamanic guidance of the young Orc Warchief, the Horde had formed the fledgling nation of Durotar, and sought their own destiny, free of the corruption of arcane magic. However, some still wielded magics from the time before, and Thrall chose to turn a blind eye to their practices. Sreng mistrusted demon-magic, but had seen it wielded to great effect, even by people he had come to trust.

The Cleft of Shadow, deep in the heart of the canyon that housed Orgrimmar, was always dark. The high canyon walls never permitted direct sunlight here, and only furtive ghostlights flickered in braziers infused with arcane power. Sreng’jin avoided this area of town whenever possible, and his going there last night was an act of pure necessity. Scarred, twisted orcs garbed in hoods and robes had watched him suspiciously from alleys and doorways. Eventually, Sreng had found what he sought.

In recent years, the Warchief Thrall had entered into an alliance of desperation with a group known as the Forsaken. They were once human, but the ravages of the Plague of Undeath had destroyed their kingdom and left them withered and unnatural. Cast out by the Grand Alliance of Lordaeron, the Forsaken gladly accepted the assistance of the Horde. Even now, some of the unnatural beings lurked in the dark places of Durotar. Sreng thought on his own encounter with one of those unnatural beings the night before:

Sreng drew a deep breath and stepped into the moldering hovel. The musty interior was brim-full of beakers, decanters, boilers, tubes, drying herbs, preserved creatures in bottles, books, scrolls, and bottles. One huddled little figure peered up at the troll as he entered, and gave him a ghastly grin.

“Hey dere, Eve.â€
Oh this story can't end here!
Etsuko - Monk
Razzlixx Blingwell - Warlock
Cloudjumper Wildmane - Druid (Inactive)

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