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Day of the Father
#1
A warm breeze picked up over the sands of northern Stranglethorn Vale. This close to the ocean, the usual jungle heat had lessened into a comfortable afternoon wind.

A blue-skinned troll dug his toes into the sand, feeling the warm golden dust cover the top half of his feet. His red hair hung in thick strands around his shoulders and over his back. As today was a day for pure relaxation he decided to let it down instead of keeping it in the normal braided ponytail he normally did. The breeze blew over the sand on his feet, sweeping it off.

He closed his eyes for a moment and drank in the salty air of the beach, the gentle sound of small waves lapping against the shore. This was home. Though he had been all over the world and called many places such over the years, it was this place where his heart ultimately belonged. His body would show those years, scars and scratches still covering parts of him. Proof of what he had been through in battles. His muscle structure was strong. He obviously bore heavy armor and heavy weaponry into combat.

But today, he donned nothing but a pair of loose, raggedy shorts he saved for such occasions. And occasions are what they were. He found himself far too busy these days to be doing any sort of vacationing. And he wasn't getting any younger.

Melikar was going on his thirty-second year. He knew it would only feel like a few short years before he was too old to do any fighting anymore. He squinted his orange-red eyes as he gazed over the stretch of ocean before him. The thought irritated him. To think of himself as being too weak to lift an axe, too slow to move with the lithe force of a troll in their 20's. He might be getting older, but he was far from old. There was still a fire in this warrior that would never go down without a raging fight.

He sighed inwardly as another breeze swept thorough his hair bringing him back to the calm of the beach. At least one good thing he could think of was the battle through the Cataclysm. It was finally over. Exactly as Thrall had said. Now the world really could begin to heal and the existance of the black dragon flight had been terminated. Mostly.

Melikar's mind flashed back to when he first met the warchief. Well...former warchief. Thrall was a solid shaman of the Earthen Ring now. "The Aspect of Earth" he was called. The troll couldn't help but wonder if the same burdens that had destroyed Deathwing would soon lay themselves upon Thrall's mind. The thought worried him, but he knew Thrall was also very strong.

When he had first laid eyes on Thrall and had seen the Orc's power at weilding the elements, Melikar found himself wanting to do the same. He had felt a certain pull to use those same powers. But every time he tried to cast a simple lightning bolt or use the magics in some way, he had failed quite terribly. The Darkspear shaman had informed him he just didn't have the capability. But when it came to weilding heavy weapons, the trainers in the Darkspear camp had seen his finesse. His training to become a warrior began almost immediatly and he was sent off to the Valley of Trials before he could even fully understand the concept of what being called a warrior was about.

Once he was there, nothing in his past mattered anymore. He had forged a new path for himself and was still following it to this day.

"The Spirits told me you would be here."

Melikar jumped to his feet, spinning around and falling into his battle stance quickly. He eyed the user of the voice and saw another, older troll standing before him. This other troll was speaking the native tongue of the Zandalari.

"I suppose it's one of the few nice things they've done for me."

Melikar eyed the newcomer suspiciously.

"Who are you?" He asked in the same language.

"I've been looking for you for a long time, Melikar." The older troll hesitated, "I guess that is what you are called now."

Melikar scratched his head and seemed to ease up a bit.

"That doesn't tell me who you are."

The older troll smiled and gave a small chuckle. "I think you know me. Though you wouldn't believe it."

Melikar nodded, "Try me."

The older troll stood a bit taller and took a few steps forward.

"My name is Ziondeh..." he stated, bowing in respectful troll fashion, "I believe you too once had that name."

Melikar paused, thinking for a moment. Yes...once when he had come out here, before the Zandalari had turned on the Horde. He had been summoned forth by the tribe. They had told him who he really was. That he had never been Darkspear at all. That he had been taken from his home here in the jungle to somewhere far away. Raised by a heathen, they had said. But he had taken no blame for being an innocent child at the time. They had told him his real name was "Ziondeh". Actually, "Ziondeh the Second" as he had the same name as his father.

As his father...

Melikar's eyes lifted once more to look into the face of the aged troll. It was almost like staring at a reflection. The tusks were different, the face a bit more rough around the edges, but it was nearly identical.

"...Dad?" Melikar asked.

Ziondeh nodded. "You do not know how long I had to look, how long I had to beg the Loa to let me find you."

There was a pause as both trolls stared at one another. Melikar had heard of it, yes. But he didn't know whether to believe it. His father had been alive all these years. With the Cactaclysm raging on, he had not had a lot of time to go on a big search. Though he had remembered in his heart it was something he would try to do once it was all over.

He stepped forward and threw his arms around Ziondeh, who did the same in kind.

"I didn't believe it..." Melikar muttered, "I mean, I did but...I didn't even know where to start! I wish I'd....I mean, I was going to-"

Ziondeh pulled back.

"Hush..." he quietly implored, "It's fine. I did not expect anything of you. I just wanted to see you again. To know my son was okay."

Melikar nodded.

"I suppose we have a lot of catching up to do?"

Ziondeh grinned again, tears reflecting in his eyes. "You bet we do..."

~~~

The hours passed as the two trolls sat and talked about everything under the sun. Ziondeh told Melikar of his mother, how she was the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen. How he had fought to gain her affection.

"Did you ever meet a lady?" Ziondeh eventually asked.

"Yeah..." Melikar nodded, "But she was interested in other things."

Ziondeh shrugged, "She missed out."

Melikar told his father about the elf woman he'd fallen in love with. How she always played hard to get. And how she up and disappeared out of his life one day.

"Haven't seen her in years..." Melikar explained, "Not sure I'll ever find someone at this rate. I ain't getting any younger."

Ziondeh smiled, "You got some years on you yet."

Melikar talked about being raised by a Night Elf, how he joined the Horde by being discovered by some Orcs in her home. He explained the Night Elf woman had been taken as a prisoner and he had never heard from her again. He talked about his journey to Outlands, the war on the Legion and his escapades to the freezing North. He went on about the battle against the Scourge and Arthas and how the Forsaken were free of Arthas' will for good. How the Death Knights joined the Horde and Alliance and about Putress' betrayel. Melikar even showed off the nasty scar on his thigh he received from surviving the battle of Wrath Gate and the terrible consequences in Ice Crown Citadel.

And of course, Melikar spoke of his tribe. How he had met his life-long friends and allies there. He talked about the Warlord Sreng, about what it was like being a peon and working through the ranks. He talked about the day the Cataclysm came and helping the Horde war-effort and his reaction to Garrosh becoming warchief.

"Yeah, never was sure of him myself." Ziondeh said as they spoke of it. "He seems too brash and young to be leading anything."

Melikar shrugged, "I trust Thrall. I believe he left Garrosh in charge for a reason. Though I think fear drives that Orc more than anything."

Ziondeh told Melikar about his travels. About his coming to after years of being in stasis. He awaoke and found he had no memory of his previous life. He remembered after a while that he had been a powerful shaman for the Zandalari. That humans had come and destroyed his home in the Vale and taken his wife's life. He spoke of praying to the Loa and finally being granted a small inkling of his previous power. Only this time, it wasn't a shaman teaching him. It was the animal kin of the trolls, the shape-shifters. He had found the path of the druid and took to it like no other. He found himself nearly at one with nature and the creatures in the world.

He explained that while in the form of a cat, his instinct were no longer like that of anything humanoid. He still could think like himself, but the power of being an animal was great. He had to teach himself not to go feral and there were a few times he almost did.

"But I am as normal now as I ever will be." Ziondeh stated.

The sun was almost set behind the horizon when they finally started running out of things to say.

"So will I see you more often now?" Melikar asked.

Ziondeh nodded, "Of course you will."

He turned to his son then.

"Zio..." he hesitated, "Er, Melikar. I may not have been there for you growing up. But I am now. I just don't want you to mistake me for the man that didn't care at all."

Melikar shook his head, "I don't blame you for nothing, dad. I know it wasn't your choice."

Ziondeh smiled and placed a hand on Mel's shoulder.

"I'm glad you understand. Because I've loved you as my child all my life. I just couldn't be there when I wanted to be."

Melikar smiled, "And now you can be."

~~~

Let me tell you a secret about a father's love
A secret that my daddy said was just between us
He said, "Daddies don't just love their children every now and then.
It's a love without end, amen."

Happy Father's Day, Ironsong dads!
[Image: AWOeJWn.png]
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