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Anca had trouble sleeping. For days now, it was fitful and in short supply.

Twice in the last week, while sleeping inside the Guild Vault, she'd awoken to find the place damaged. The first time, only the pile of runecloth she'd slept in was torn apart. The second, all the shelves had been knocked bare, leaving the Tribe's belongings strewn about the floor of the room. She'd been so worried about getting in trouble for the mess that she'd spent the rest of the night in one of the other hidey-holes.

She grumbled to herself as she skinned the clefthoof she'd killed, cursing quietly as she butchered the job, ruining the hide. She salvaged what she could of the meat, but the hide was a total loss. And Snuffletusk was nowhere to be found. He'd a habit of wandering from time to time, but never when there was business to be done, and never for so long. Two days now, and no sign. Instead of being worried, the child was angry. She stabbed at the carcass of the beast in frustration, bloodying herself in the process.

She wiped at her eyes and stood. She curled her lip and growled, the sound hollow and sinister from within her helmet, the eyes glowing green in the pre-dawn. Turning slowly, the girl left the butchered carcass behind and slunked off into the forest.


Suthvazz gazed into the crystal shard, watching the little orc girl.

"Any time now, my Lord. She is nearly ready."

"Very good, Suthvazz," replied Lord Kurnaz. "The helmet is working perfectly. Soon, this exceptional little girl will be ours."
Rinu hated her. She knew it. How infuriating that little troll could be. Blaming his own problems on her helmet, of all things.

Anca's dragon, Soot, glided on the warm updrafts of Shadowmoon Valley. The little girl grumbled to herself as she flew, grumbled about Rinu and Snuffletusk and Dispaya, and every other person who wouldn't leave her alone. Except, Snuffletusk HAD left her alone. She hadn't seen him in over a week. Damn that pig. Leaving without even a grunt.

Her new companion, the ravager she called "Slicer" was hungry, she knew. Time to hunt.

She landed and began tracking. The beast wanted meat, raw. It didn't take long to take down one of the demonic boars, and Slicer gorged himself on the feast. Anca didn't bother to skin the corpse. Lately, she'd gotten in too much of a rush each time she'd tried, and began hacking instead of cutting. Instead, she continued her hunt.


"Greet her, Suthvazz. Give her a gift," the demon-lord whispered.


Sounds from up the near hill caught Anca's attention. Footsteps. Many. She loaded another bolt in her crossbow and padded swiftly and silently up to some rocks, a perch from which she hoped she could see what the commotion was.

Demons. Soldier demons marching in formation. Too many to take on by herself.

Not taking her eyes from the procession, she very carefully slid down behind the rocks and to where Slicer was waiting, clicking with anticipation of battle. Anca shushed the creature and pulled it out of sight.

Trained ears marked each hoofstomp passing by. Hunter and beast remained silent.

A sudden flash right before her eyes startled the little girl. The green flaming rock that crashed mere feet away from her position shook her to the ground, then it uncurled, roaring to the sky. It raised it's rocky fist and smashed it down. The crossbow fell from Anca's hand.


Anca shook her head to wake herself up, to see an imposing figure standing over her. She and Slicer, who had been trying to drag her away, were encircled by the demon soldiers she'd seen before. Her hand searched for her weapon, unable to take her eyes from the thing before her. It smiled, eyes flaming.

"Greetings, little one, former Champion, Kor'Kron hunter, childe of the Storm," its voice rumbled. It reached out a clawed hand.

A green flash, and darkness.
"You want us to go through that?" Grodush asked.

"That's where the pinkskins came from. We're going after them," answered Kor, the biggest of the five. He hefted his axe over his shoulder and stepped forward.

Grodush scraped a foot against the stone. "What about Ralo? She's about to pop."

Ralo slammed the butt of her axe against the stone, shaking out her knee-length ponytail. "Kor'Kron fear nothing! Do not try to keep me here when my battle-brothers fight!"

"Ralo comes too. You gonna try to stop a new mother from anything? She'll outlive all of us!" Kor laughed and tromped forward.

The twin brothers, Haagdush and Vaagdush took one more look to the night sky of Outland, then to each other. Their gaze fell to their battle-sister, heavy with child, then to each other. Glory and Honor. The team marched through the Dark Portal.


In silence, Ralo strained to push out the baby. Haagdush and Vaagdush stood guard nearby, looking out into the darkness. "Kor," Grodush whispered to his commander, "we go back. We can't fight with a baby on Ralo's arm!"

"We fight!" hissed Ralo through gritted teeth. "Just give me a couple of minutes!"

"We are exposed here," Grodush continued, gesturing to the Portal behind the team. "And Ralo will not be at full strength."

"She is Kor'Kron," was Kor's only answer.

Grodush stepped away, towards the twins, knowing he would be unable to dissuade any of his siblings. "...who would have thought," he mused, "that portal magics would bring a baby..." The twins exchanged a knowing glance.

The baby let out one cry, quickly stifled by the mother. She wrapped the girl-child in her cloak and slung the cloak over one shoulder, so she could hold the babe to her chest with one arm. The babe's eyes were already open. Strong already.

Ralo stood and caught her breath. She wiped the sweat from her forehead and picked up her axe. "Ready," she whispered.

The team assembled, each taking a moment to acknowledge the child, to look at her eyes. The twins whispered quick blessings. "Swift and sure," granted Vaagdush. "Grace and strength," offered Haagdush. The team quickly slipped into the darkness, leaving the Portal behind.


Lord Kurnaz cried out in pain, shaking the walls with the sound.

"My Lord!" called Suthvazz as he rushed to his master's side. "What is wrong."

Kurnaz gathered himself drawing back to his impressive full height. "Something...has altered the Great Portal. Something passed through and has stolen energies from it!"

"My Lord, that is not possible, the Great Portal is inviolate!"

Kurnaz let loose with a mighty swing that hurled Suthvazz across the room. His voice boomed. "I know that, dog! I know the Portal's power! It is what keeps me in this damned Hall! But something managed to...alter..." His voice drifted off as the wheels of his mind turned, faster and faster. Suthvazz gingerly picked himself up from where he's landed. He stood again at attention when his master spoke again.

"...Suthvazz..." Kurnaz whispered. "...find for me what has happened...I have an idea..."
Dispaya returned to her sanctum. Her servant, Cadavera was busily cleaning up a mess in her lab.

"The pig..." she hissed. "...again."

Dispaya sighed. Snuffletusk was not used to being penned up indoors. He snorted a greeting as she passed and looked at her with hopeful eyes.

"She is gone Snuffy. I could not save her. I tried."

Snuffletusk snorted and wandered away sadly. Did he understand? Dispaya thought probably not.

She looked around her lab which was now beginning to look more like a small zoo. Whiskers, her pet rat was scurrying about as a mechanical squirrel and yeti chattered noisily from one of the nearby tables. They spoke as if deeply engrossed in conversation though about what Dispaya could hardly imagine.

Snuffletusk oinked sadly as he flopped down in his makeshift bed that was made from discarded remnants of runecloth. Dispaya conjured him some sweet rolls which she knew were his favorite. She knelt to feed him and gave him a pat on the nose, but the pig barely touched them. Perhaps he knew more than she thought.

Cadavera continued to busy herself but while trying desperately to straighten the mess she accidentally stepped on Whisker's tale. The tiny creature let out a "squeal" as it scurried away nearly tripping the undead girl in his wake. Cadavera muttered something unintelligible and waved her hand in the rat's direction before skulking off.


Dispaya approached her scrying crystal and stared deeply into it's depths. She reached out her mind for the girl...Anca...but she was nowhere.

In dismay, she turned and retreated into her inner sanctum and to the crypt in which she slept. She did not come out again for many days.
Sing True Ironsong!
The girl snarled and swung her axe, forcing those around her to back up a step. Another shove, and another step. The magic door pulled at her, grabbing at her head, her heart, her weapons, her armor. Another swing, another step forward.

The beast, Slicer, clicked and clicked, waiting for knowing what to do. Finally, the move came. The Lady Dispaya called out, grab the child. Slicer leaped at the mass of people, screaming. The child gave one more push, a dodge, and charged straight to the Dark Portal. Dispaya reached out, hoping to somehow stop the child, save her, save themselves. Her hand latched onto Anca's tabard with a grip that refused to yield.

But the cloth was not as strong as the grip. The tabard ripped free. The child disappeared.


Lord Kurnaz hated his Great Hall. For one hundred years, he'd strained against its barricades, cursed against its magics. One hundred years in a place where time had no meaning might as well have been one thousand years, or one hundred thousand.

"My Lord!" called out Suthvazz. "We have sensed the childe of the Storm! She is near the Great Hall!"

Kurnaz stood. Finally, his time was at hand. The child would soon arrive. The child who could set him free.


Kurnaz strained to stand. His bid for power failed, and those he would usurp cast him down. Their words echoed through his pain.

"All eternity..." "Bound in this Hall..." "Everywhere and nowhere..." "Between all places real..." "Suffer in the moments between the ticks of the clock, never again to walk in the ticks themselves..."

Creative punishments come from his masters. Creative indeed.

"...master..." croaked Suthvazz, his faithful servant. "...what has happened...?"

"...We destroyed their worlds, Suthvazz. And they made us pay. We are in the space between spaces. We destroyed their worlds, so they have trapped us in the nothingness between the emptinesses we've created."

The minor demons gathered around their master, most half-dead, and far fewer than the number of the former Grand Army.

"Their precious Azeroth and Draenor are gone. And they will never let us forget it was at our hands..."


Anca limped through the darkness, dragging her axe against the stone floor. Never before had she been in such pain. So much that it would not even show. She had a job to do. But she wasn't sure what it was yet. The voices only whispered for her to go forward. Go forward.

Step by step, the girl shed her armor piece by piece. Most was damaged or destroyed, burned or crushed by something recent that she could not remember. Each piece fell with a crash, revealing open wounds and blood on skin.

"Welcome, Child," Lord Kurnaz offered.

Anca opened her eyes to see the hazy image before her, one hand outstretched. "Now, you may fulfill your purpose in life."

The girl breathed heavily, finally asking "...what Anca do?"

With a deep chuckle, echoing from the walls, Lord Kurnaz answered. "You are here to free us. We are held within the Great Portal, unable to exit to one side or another. But you," he pointed a clawed finger to her, "hold within you, somehow, a portion of that power. You are like the key that must be replaced within the lock. And when we turn that key, all that power will be released, and we will be bound no more. So come, child." He beckoned her toward the glowing green gem, nearly the size of Anca herself, in the center of the room. "Come rejoin with the source from whence you came."

Anca took another shuffling step forward.
The green glow of the gem pulled her. It called to her. It offered to heal her, to comfort her. She could rest, she felt. She could give up the hurt in her body. In her haze, she wanted it. So much hurt for so long. And now, she could let the pain go.

Step by step, she shuffled to her rest. The demon smiled to her as it gazed into her tired eyes.

Her eyes...

"Child..." the demon asked quietly, "...where is your helmet?"

Lord Kurnaz looked beyond the girl to the discarded armor in her wake. Furthest away rested the charred, broken helmet enchanted with his magics. In horror, he turned back to Anca in time to see her great axe, Legacy, cleave into the Portal Gem, shattering it to bits.

"NOOO!" he howled and batted a hand at the wretched little orc. She felt the breeze from his strike as she ducked, just like Rinu taught her, and hurled Legacy upward with a shriek, burying its blade in the center of the demon's chest. The demon stumbled back and fell.

Unable to rise, he swung at her again. She turned the blow like she'd seen Kosath do a thousand times. She leaped, drawing her bow. Aim for the heart. Aim for the heart, like Sreng and Krell do. Aim for the heart. Her arrow struck true. The demon cried out again and grabbed the girl in midair, slamming her to the floor.

"...stupid girl...you know not what you do...you don't know what you are..." he wheezed.

"Anca! Kor'Kron hunter! Ironsong Champeen!" she yelled out, her chest nearly collapsing from his strength.

"You're no hero!" he shouted in her face. "You're going to die here! Alone! And no one will ever know what happened to you!"

Alone, she thought. No hero. No one knowing she had done a good thing. Alone.

No, she thought. She was not alone.

Like she learned from Eveline and Shillatae, from Valtrinity and Jabadue, Sound and Lucinther, even Mister Damoxian. She was never alone.

Just like how Umu showed her when they'd wrestled, she wiggled her arms free and twisted to grab the axe again. She pulled it as the demon scrambled to get hold of her again, and it spun in a wide circle, passing cleanly through its neck.

The other demons were silent, horrified that their master was bested. Anca rested the butt of the axe against the floor, leaning heavily on it. She looked to those about her. "Anca strong..." she panted, "...don't matter if no one know what happen to Anca...Anca do...good..."

Just like Dispaya always taught her.

The Hall trembled, stones falling from the ceiling, as the girl fell to one knee, blood dripping to the floor. The demons shrieked and tried to run, but there was nowhere to go.

As Anca fell, so did the Space Between Worlds.


"All is as it should be?"

"It is. The Sundering has been undone, Time has been restored. The Worlds are as they should be had they never been destroyed."

"And the people on the Worlds? Will they know what has happened?"

"Some will feel echoes of What Was. Sensitives. But Time has folded back upon itself. It is as if the Sundering never happened. It now resides in the What Could Have Been."

"How did this come to pass, your Grace?"

"The Childe of Storms is an anomaly. Created when a piece of What Could Have Been intruded on What Was. A link was formed tying the two together. When she pulled that link tight by breaking the Portal Stone, the linked realities replaced each other. And now Existence continues as if the meddling demon had never subverted it."

The two luminous being quieted, watching threads of the Universe knit themselves back into place.

"But what of the Childe of Storms? Where did she go when the link collapsed and Existence was mended?"

The other being smiled, but did not answer.
Rinu had gone missing. It had been quite some time now since the young troll had disappeared. Lucinther glanced skyward as he muttered to himself. "Stupid little troll brat. Child doesn't know when to stop. He's going to get himself killed." The Forsaken rogue continued walking. He had been traveling for a couple of days now, but he knew he wasn't any closer to finding Rinu or Anca than he was before he left. He had trained Rinu. He knew nearly everything that kid knew, but he was still next to impossible to track down. He was a good rogue and would one day be a great rogue.

Rinu trudged along in the sandy terrain that made up the Blasted Lands. How the child managed to even find the place was, in itself, amazing. The young troll's ability to survive in such a dangerous land was even more amazing. Without a beast to ride and without knowing any of the outposts along the route, the troll had to have made the trek by foot, an even more amazing feet for the young troll.

He stopped and looked around at his surroundings. The wind had picked up considerably in only a few minutes. He snorted out of frustration as sand began to swirl around him, occasionally colliding with him, causing a slight sting of irritation. The wind picked up even more. Rinu reached up, his ears pinned back, as he pulled his engineer's goggles down. He glanced around again. Visibility was zero. He glanced at his hands and arms. His once blue skin was now the burnished red color that made up the land. At least he had good camouflage. He knew that traveling in such conditions would be far more than difficult. He pulled his cloak around him and knelt down. He began digging into the sand, creating a shallow hole in which he curled up in. His cloak sufficed well enough as a shield from the harsh winds and the blasting sands. Using his packs as a bedding he was able to stay comfortable. If the young troll was lucky, the storm wouldn't last long and he wouldn't be buried alive in the sands.

The sandstorm lasted for days.
[Image: 3994085VvROm.png]
"...and thus, children, time folded back upon itself, undoing the destruction of worlds the demons had caused. The threads of time where life had continued unchanged wove their way back into the Tapestry as if they had been there all along. And the beings on those worlds continued as if the great cataclysm had never happened, unknowing and never the wiser...."

"Pshaw!" interjected a young human boy. "If they never knew what happened, how did you know it to have a story to tell?"

The old man looked up to smile at the boy. "We know NOW what happened because of the books left by the Astrals before they journeyed Beyond. And the Astrals know all. Many great events have happened in the Universe, and not all are immediately known to those involved." The boy crossed his arms, not expecting that his skepticism would be so easily answered.

"But Opa," asked a little orc girl with ribbons in her ponytail. "What happened to Anca Stormchilde when the In-Between collapsed? Did she die? Did her friends ever know what happened to her?" Her eyes were wide with concern.

"Yes, Miri, Anca Stormchilde died in that Hall," the old man answered. "But she had been dead before." He leaned back, resting his hand on the cane at his side. "Anca Stormchilde, you must remember, was an anomaly. She was born in the Could Have Been, touched by the Portal. Time wasn't quite sure what to do with her once the Could Have Been became the Is. She did, though come back to her world. But Time no longer had the same hold on her as it did on the rest of the world. She never grew up, living out her whole life as a child. And that is enough for tonight. Sleeping time has arrived, so scuttle off to your beds, little ones."

The children protested, but eventually moved towards their beds. The old man stood and moved to the candles barely lighting the room. He smiled to the young girl Miri as she pulled her covers up to her chin. "Tomorrow night, I will tell you more of Anca Stormchilde, if you wish. Perhaps how General Anca lead the United Tribes in the Last Battle of Mittenglain..?" He looked over the children once more, blew out the candles, and stepped into the hall.

Miri quickly fell asleep. In her dreams, she fought at the side of the Child General.

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