It wasn’t a long fight before the orcs were finally pushed back.
While their retreat was enjoyable to watch, the devastation they had left behind was noticeable. Several of the sick and elderly had been cut down without a chance to defend themselves, while the stronger soldiers had been distracted by the fighting.
Angus had fended off at least a dozen of the creatures with his impressive fire magic, but the arcane master, Archmage Zurah, had been caught unaware and killed when the fighting had just started.
All in all, at least two dozen casualties; that was a sizable number when you only had a few thousand healthy survivors left.
Lady Proudmoore and her advisors soon announced that we must move inland. There was a mountain range that would allow us to better defend ourselves against the threats of this land. It would be a slow trek, as some survivors would have to be carried and the wounded would not make great speed.
Feeling rather uncomfortable about it, Jaina decided she would take a small expedition ahead and return to use when she had a specific location where we could settle. If necessary, we knew we could teleport some of the worst, but we would need to be able to lock onto a magical source at the destination.
I tried to volunteer for the trip, but Angus requested that I be left behind to watch over the remaining survivors. The orcs knew where we were and they may well attack us again if given an opportunity.
Due to that, Appoleon was placed in charge of a defense militia and we went to work building small huts for those who needed shelter and spikes to use if needed to funnel down a large army before it attacked us.
Jaina and her expedition departed the next morning, leaving all of us in a state of uncertainty.
“What if they don’t make it?” one of the younger mages asked me as we did a patrol around the island where we were fortified. “What if she’s captured or killed by more orcs?”
“Then we’ll continue to defend this island,” I replied confidently. “The orcs are survivors here, just like us. I don’t know what prompted that attack, but they can’t honestly want to continue fighting when we’ve both suffered so much death.”
“They’re animals,” the mage replied. “Why wouldn’t they want to fight?”
I didn’t know how to respond. I had tried, over the years, to better understand the orcish horde that had come to Azeroth and created so much destruction. I had never taken the time to go visit the internment camps where many of them were held, but I had heard about them in classes.
“I thought they didn’t want to fight anymore,” I replied honestly. “I thought they’d gone into some kind of lethargy.”
“Maybe it was a ruse to fool us,” the mage guessed. “It doesn’t really matter. They definitely want to kill us. That’s the only thing that explains the attack.”
“It does seem that way,” I admitted. “So if they attack again, we will deal with it as our parents did in the past. We will fight them and we will defeat them.”
Now, I wish I could tell you that my story maintained the rapid pace that it had up until now. The truth is, it did not. After we pushed back the orcs and Jaina departed for the mountains, life slowed considerably. We woke each morning with no idea what the day would bring, or how we would survive it. As a result, it only took a few of these uncertain days to get us all moving once more.
Appoleon saw to the hunting parties, showing the young survivors how to set traps for the various creatures in the swamps. In the evenings he went to work at helping to craft stone forges that we could use to kickstart our blacksmithing. We would need nails, saws, and plenty of wood if we were going to build a new town.
Meanwhile, I was charged with teaching some of the Kirin Tor how to use fire magic. I didn’t fuss with the finer details like Angus. I went straight to the mechanics of dangerous and unstable explosions. It was powerful magic that we would need in the case of another attack, not the fine tuned ability to light a candle.
After a few weeks, the first structures were coming into shape. Appoleon’s simple huts were replaced with a much larger wooden structure that signaled the first sign of civilization that we’d seen since we sailed away from the shores of Lordaeron.
“We’re going to need to name this place,” Appoleon said as he looked over the building. “It’s officially a settlement now.”
“We’ll need to leave it again once Lady Proudmoore returns,” I said.
“Needs a name, nonetheless.”
“I’m sure someone will get on that,” I replied.
I felt relaxed that evening. Aside from the normal discomforts of living on the land, it had started to feel like the danger of the past few months had passed.
So of course, that was the moment I saw Appoleon tense up.
“What is it?”
“Fire,” he replied, pointing out into the marsh.
Sure enough, glowing lights were coming toward our island.
“Start positioning the defensive spikes,” Appoleon said, his voice dropping low. “We need to look unprepared. I’ll get the other soldiers armed.”
I nodded and started to move toward some of our pikes, when there was a pop and a fizzle and I twisted around to see Lady Proudmoore standing in the middle of our camp.
“It’s okay,” she assured everyone, turning toward Appoleon. “We have much to discuss.”
Destiny is a funny thing. Many times, when someone talks about destiny, you’ll eventually discover that they actually had inside information about upcoming events and sought to either prevent or ensure that those events unfolded to their liking.
In this case, it was a man known as the Prophet. He had been spotted several times in Lordaeron, but had been largely dismissed as a mystical crazy man. Only two individuals had heeded his warnings and both of them had brought their people to this new world.
Jaina Proudmoore and her humans.
Thrall, son of Durotan, and his orcs.
It turned out the skirmish weeks before had been two sides of the same coin. We were all scared, hungry, and certain that the other side sought our total destruction. Thankfully, Thrall and Jaina had met in the mountains, confronted by this Prophet, and now they had agreed to work together to fight against the demonic influence that had brought our world to ruin.
Our first target would be the Warsong Clan leader, Grom Hellscream.
There was one major problem with Jaina and Thrall concocting such a plan, however. The truth was, that none of us trusted the other. We had barely survived an extinction event back home, and now many of us just wanted to camp on the beach and call it a day.
“They won’t go away,” Jaina contended. “The Legion won’t stop.”
Reluctantly, our ragtag militia pulled together and joined Thrall’s forces in assaulting the Warsong clan. The fighting was short-lived. Thankfully, due to the pride of the orcs, their forces went first and suffered the heaviest losses.
By the time Jaina called us into the fight, the enemy had nearly surrendered. The one known as Grom was captured and the Orc leader Thrall thanked us for our aid before he marched off with his kind.
Then it was back to our island.
By that time, Jaina had named it Theramore Isle.
The leather workers were busy tanning the hides of our kills, while the herbalists had gone to work sampling the variety of plant life in this land. Every now and again, I would catch sight of Sellia making her way here or there across the settlement. She tended to a young blond-haired boy, one that didn’t look anything like her at all, and her skill with tending to the wounded was needed among the survivors. I always knew when she was close as the wand she carried emitted a powerful magical hum that practically vibrated the hairs on my body. It felt much like an electric charge.
Despite the reminder of my stolen property, I didn’t confront her. What she had said in the swamp the day we’d been attacked by the orcs had settled on my heart. I wanted my wand back, but Sellia had a good point. She needed a weapon out here and that wand could keep her safe.
Someday though, I would get it back. After all, that wand was one of my last ties to the memory of Lady Sonea, which still pressed in and reminded me of how painful losing her had been. I hadn’t had time to mourn when she had sent me running with the evacuees.
Part of me refused to believe she was gone, but the other part of me called the first part a big fat liar. Either way, when I saw flashes of her in my mind, I wanted to break down and cry for her and that meant keeping the wand away from me was a good idea for the time being.
For a few more precious weeks, life proceeded as though death and destruction did not loom everywhere around us. I’m pretty sure I even heard a few people laughing during the reprieve. Then, as was usually the case when you get used to something, the pattern changed.
It was late in the evening and Appoleon was looking out into the swamp as I approached him. He looked concerned, which never made me feel any better.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“Hopefully nothing,” he replied. “My scouting team didn’t come back today.”
“The one you sent north to scout the dry grounds of the forest?”
“You think Thrall captured them?”
“I don’t know,” he admitted. “I thought we ended our last encounter on good terms. I had hoped there was no need to conceal ourselves from them.”
“Maybe they just ran into something that would delay them.”
“Maybe,” Appoleon grumbled. “We’ll give them a little more time.”
For the sake of time, I’ll tell you now that the scouts did not return. They had been killed in the forest days earlier by the forces of Tyrande Whisperwind. We did not know that these night elves even existed, but they had been keeping a close eye on us since our arrival. The leader had originally planned to kill us all, but she’d been distracted when her forces confirmed that the demons had come to Kalimdor. The night elves had lived on this planet for millennia. They, unlike us, were fully aware of the Burning Legion. They knew what they were and what they wanted.
Our utter destruction.
Soon enough, the Prophet returned to us. He brought with him, Thrall and Tyrande. After all of his planning, the time had come to finally put a stop to the threat that loomed over our entire world. Together, humans, orcs, and night elves would form an alliance, work together, and spring a trap on a demonic creature named Archimonde. The Prophet revealed to the leaders that if Archimonde was stopped, Azeroth would be saved and the Burning Legion would be defeated.
What were we to do?
There was debate among some of the survivors, but most of us knew that there was no real choice. We agreed to the terms, vowing to work together with the murderous Night Elves and the sinister Orcs for a greater good.
Few of us liked the plan.
Most of us had no idea what was coming.