A/N: Yay, first full length Thrall/Jaina story! First off, this is set in WARCRAFT 3, not World of Warcraft per say. If you know the lore or played the campaign, you know that Thrall and Jaina sailed to Kalimdor at the word of the prophet Medivh to seek an oracle. While I have made my own changes to the campaign and those thereafter, the Stonetalon Mountains, searching for the Oracle, is where we begin.
Blizzard owns Warcraft (Obviously)
Minor characters of my own creation:
Dan'ruk: Shaman in training as Thralls apprentice.
Sarah Brightguard: Jaina's lifelong friend and maid servant.
Darren Silvercrest: Head spy master and lieutenant for Jainas forces.
The Stonetalon Mountains rambled off like a line of black and frost caped jagged teeth protruding out from the verdant earth of Kalimdor and up towards the crisp cobalt blue sky. Its range of precarious ledges and heart stopping drops spanned for miles in either direction shadowing the land in the shroud of its ominous majesty. Just by staring at the colossal mountain would make a person wide eyed with wonder thinking of the dark pockmarked caverns below the dreaded rock; who knew how deep the caverns below the rocky walls would delve; feet, miles, to the center of Azeroth itself?
Tan, speckled, and indigo Wyvern soared lazily around its towering peaks, the rare welcomed guests of the mountain that seemed to forever pulse with hostility and danger. Their helter-skelter nests of twigs, and scraps were nestled in the weather beaten cracks as they had been for ages, provided comfortable spectacle seating as the lion and bat like creatures watched curiously, with onyx black eyes, as two odd races entered the dark lairs of the mountains belly. Their dun colored scorpion like hooked tails flicked casually from side to side as they spoke in throaty purrs and low growls about the strange beings below. Whoever they were, going inside the cursed mountain was a death sentence; it was going to be their funeral.
Dan'ruk stumbled in panic through the dank dark tunnels of the Stonetalon Mountains. He sprinted forward aimlessly; his arms at length feeling his way through the vast slimy rough hewn corridors that seemed to stretch on for miles and meander in any random direction it chose. Cold musty air rushed past his rough face, taking his exhausted breath away in ragged gasps.
Behind him the darkness skittered to life in feral fury, multitudes of large piercing rose colored eyes appeared in the blackness just feet away. Large spiders scurried angrily at the lost orc; furious of this alien being entering their thousand year old territory, and desecrating their ancient dwellings.
In his mad scramble to get away the young orc tripped on a protruding bump that rose from the floor, landing face first on the sticky web coated cavern ground with a dull thud. The fangs of one of the spider sank into his flesh, piercing his ankle, and attempting to drag him back to the rest of its kin. Dan'ruk gave a savage yell of pain, kicking and swatting at the beast to dislodge its fangs that seemed to bite through his bone as a sword through flesh.
The tiny spider babies skittered over his green sweat slicked body, taking what little air he had in his lungs away by swarming over his hulking form with their furry bodies to suffocate him. His mind was blank to all else but terror as he felt the tiny tormentors attempt to crawl up his nose and lodge in his mouth and ears. He couldn't formulate a single word to call upon the spirits as Thrall had taught him so many times. There was no time to think, just panic in the blackness. Dan'ruk gave one last weak attempt at freedom struggling to throw the burden of the spiders off his bulk before unconsciousness overtook him. The elder spiders hissed in victory as the orc went still, the largest swarming Dan'ruk's limp form, their fangs coated in bright olive hued saliva, eager for the taste of orc flesh.
Radiant snow white light suddenly pulsed in front of the beasts as if the sun had illuminated suddenly in their world of darkness dilating there numerous ruby pupils in agony of the blinding brilliance. With screeches of fear and rage, the spiders scrambled away to be rid of the overwhelming light and hide back into the dank shadows waiting for more foolish and less shiny prey.
The clank of armor and a gurgling swishing sound echoing around the small chamber slowly made their way to the limp orc. Jaina Proudmoore knelt down slowly, her water elemental gurgling and standing protectively by her side as she warily inspected the muscled creature lying before her. Ever since her forces had arrived on the wild shores of Kalimdor, they had been running into these orcs. Why was still a complete mystery, but after news of attacks on campsites especially from a group of ferocious ones that had decimated the first settlement, Jaina wasn't taking any chances.
"He still lives," She told her second in command Darren Silvercrest as two fingers felt a faint pulse under the marsh teal skin of its neck.
Darren Silvercrest was a lanky weed of a human. Black hair cropped in a military bowl like fashion, deep set turquoise eyes that were never still, and plently of sinew to complement his skinny frame. He had been a minor thief in Kul'tiras, having lived on the street all his life, and was only here now because Jaina had saved him from the gallows after he had broken into her fathers manor. Now he found himself risen from a street thief to a liutenant and spymaster half a world away from the only home he'd known.
Darren scowled and drew his sword, grimacing in the light of Jaina's glowing staff, his eyes glinting the steel of his blade, his voice just as cold as the air around them. "Then allow me to finish it."
"Darren!" Jaina cried outraged, her staff landing soundly on his chest as she halted him from taking another step. Her company grumbled at her, astounded, whispering the implications of keeping the orc alive.
Darren looked shocked, sheathing his sword with vigor. "You can not think of letting this…thing live!" He argued in disbelief a quivering finger pointing to the limp body. He had lived through the second war as a waif of a starving child, he had seen and heard the atrocites the orcs wrought in combat; how agonizing it was to be held in thier cruel hands as a sacrifce for their dark gods. In a way, he blamed them for how his life turned out.
The water elemental picked up the orc, his large green body shimmering behind the wet form of the elemental. Jaina turned to her scouts, her cobalt eyes hard as sapphires jewels as she addressed them in a strict military tone. "He might have useful information; he is coming with us, and will not be harmed. Are we understood?"
The hardened soldiers grumbling their yes' departing in either direction to let their commander through to lead the way back to their campsite, the orc in tow. Although proving time and time again to be a perilous leader, many of her forces still didn't understand her reasoning.
Dan'ruk awoke groggily, the side of his face on the cool rock floor. He opened his eyes slowly, as if peaking, and looking at the backs of guards silver plated armor, through strong wooden bars. Shifting stiffly to an upright position, he hid a smirk as the guards jumped at his movements obviously not expecting him awake so soon.
"The thing's awake," the guard on the right muttered through a trimmed beard, jerking his thumb back to the orc. "Best fetch Lady Proudmoore."
"Why do I have to go?" The left guard asked, brimming with indignation at his equal.
The right guard rolled his eyes, shoving the other, "Because we already rolled for the task, idiot."
Dan'ruk watched as the other guard left grumbling about weighted dice. Leaning his head up against the back of the bars, Dan'ruk sighed, and closed his eyes. He had been a fool to think he could scout out an entire cavern on his own. Thrall had taught him well, but sometimes youthful stupidity won the day. A childish desire to want to prove himself to his mentor who was both skilled in magic and brawn always lay beneath the surface of his reasoning. He fancied how proud Thrall would be if he had come back, shoulders squared, head held high as he informed the towering Farseer he had located the Oracle. Now all he had managed to do was get chased by a horde of angry spider, and captured by pinkskins. Some apprentice he was...
The orc was brought out his dismal reprieve by the incessant rapping of Jaina's staff on the rock floor of the immense cavern. Jaina gave the orc a quick, silent inspection as she neared the bars. Tribal marks of red and black etched the lines of his face encircling his tusk, midnight colored piercing dots for eyes, and muscles that looked like he could easily break her in two even though he did seem smaller than some orcs she had run across.
"Leg…better?" She asked in a pitiful spattering of orcish that came out slightly gargled. Back in Dalaran she remembered herself reading anything she could get her hands on especially the different cultures that now inhabited Azeroth. She had stumbled on a not very well written book on the guttural orcish language but had absorbed what she could, and could proudly admit she knew more about their speech than most people did.
Dan'ruk consciously moved a hand to his ankle, he flinched slightly when touching the pulsing purple swollen wound, but it did feel better. The place where the spider had bitten him only a two faint fang marks a permanent lesson learned from his folly. He cleared his throat looking at her officiously. "Yes, much better." He replied in common. His dialect was off, but the words seemed to make all in earshot stand stock still in surprise. He sounded tactful and cultured something the humans had not been expecting.
"You speak common." The sorceress finally said after finding her voice again and stopped blinking so rapidly in astonishment. She seemed mildly embarrassed having tried to communicate in his language before seeing if he knew common.
"Yes it is one of the many things our Warchief teaches us of your kind. And speaking of such," Dan'ruk added on before any could interrupt him. "I would like to speak with your Warchief, girl."
Squaring her shoulders Jaina glared down at the orc with an air of leadership. "I am Commander here." She replied immediately.
Was she serious? Surely not! The orc tilted his head back and roared in merriment, till tears rolled down his tattooed face. Surely humans weren't this stupid to put this thin wispy waif of a girl in charge, were they? The young orc flicked his hand dismissingly at her, like a child who had gotten in the way. "Be gone, girl, fetch your Warchief before you do something stupid. You, a leader? And I'm king of Azeroth!"
Unsheathing his blade, Darren strode up to the bars; his jaw set angrily, eyes flashing like fire. "I'll teach you to talk about our Lady Proudmoore, you beast!" He growled readying to plunge the steel through the bars and into the orcs bare tattooed chest.
"Darren, no!" Jaina cried out placing her hand firmly on Darren's own to stay the blow.
Before he could run the orc through, savage cries rent the air, around the caverns echoing like thunder come down to earth. Fire blared to life around the small human command site surrounding the tunnels in airy shades of red and yellows that cast shadows askew in the blackness. Guards quickly fell into position as Jaina shouted orders above the din of war cries. The soldiers formed a tight circle, their shields protruding out, and their swords glittering in the fire, ready to stab and slash once the shields went down. But looking all around at the many cavern entrances, it didn't take a mathematician to know the humans were heavily outnumbered and surrounded.
The fierce faces of orc warriors could be seen in the firelight. Looking eager and ready for the human's blood. They beat on their leather and wood tribal shields with the hilts of their weapons like the drumming of a heart, faster and faster. Shamans chanted and cast interrupting and anti magic spell totems which explained why the humans hadn't heard them in the first place. Still the shields were beat upon louder and louder till it was all but a roar like a crashing waterfall.
Jaina could see some of her people wavering at the noise and the sight. It was a barbaric spectacle, bloody cries echoing around the vast caverns, the hum like chanting of the shamans as they swayed trance like, and the rhythmic beating on the shields all worked to break down the spirits of the now surrounded humans. One poor fellow even dropped his shield, the clacking sound echoing pitifully, he was shaking so badly.
If they died here they would not be able to save the world from the terror coming. If they died here, Jaina instinctively knew every soul on Azeroth would as well. If they died here, she would never be able to save… him. She knew sometimes, despite all her fathers opinions, a good leader had to make those tough decisions even if it was the wrong one. She had to do what she thought was right, not what everyone expected her to, which was to give the order to fight and attempt to cut a path through the orcish press.
Looking over to Dan'ruk, she yelled above the furor, tactfully keeping the panic out of her voice. "Tell them we surrender!"
Dropping her staff numbly, she held her hands up behind her golden hair, motioning for her men to do the same. Some dropped their weapons all to quickly, while others threw them with animosity, sneers wrenched across their battle hungry faces calling her a coward. Darren looked at her in shock as if he couldn't comprehend the order, his swords tip only dipping slightly in confusion. "My Lady…"
"Do it." She hissed, her voice hard leaving no room for debate.
Dropping his swords with an ominous clack something between confusion, anger, and sadness shimmered in his eyes. Anger won the day; he snarled at her in disgust. "Perhaps the orc was right. You are no leader!"
Was he right?
"They surrender!" Dan'ruk roared in orcish, just as the humans had dropped their weapons. A part of him desired to see the humans overrun and slaughtered like cattle. A small bit of his blood hummed at the thought of seeing their blood spraying down like drizzle, and ripping their heads of their pink bodies with his bare hands, but Thrall had taught him differently, Thrall had taught sometimes an enemy alive was better than dead.
The blood lust was slow to die down, but eventually it did leaving dissatisfaction in its wake. The orc troops had wanted battle and blood, not herding surrendering humans like dangerous livestock. Soon an orc clad in fine bronzed though tarnished plate came forward barking out orders dangerously to grunts who jumped to the tasks immediately. Knocking the lock from the cage with a plated boot, the older orc laughed at Dan'ruk helping him up from the cage floor. "It seems even when you do something stupid good comes out of it. This is an excellent place to establish a head quarters. Thrall will be very pleased!"
"Thanks, Nazgrel, but I doubt Thrall will be very pleased with them." He jerked his thick thumb to the humans who'd been effectively surrounded and disarmed.
"I hope he lets us skewer everyone of those pigs through!" Nazgrel sniffed the air that was rife with human stench and spat distastefully.
Glaring at Jaina, Dan'ruk limped over to her until he stood face to face with the stalwart human woman. The memories of being in the internment camps came surging back up like an angry tide. Beatings at the hands of sentries, long hours toiling in the sun, and low rations of food all the while watching the guards share large meals that they ate right in front of their wretched captives to taunt them.
Hatred ran through his veins, fury fevered his thoughts. Angrily he backhanded her to the ground snarling savagely at her, his words dripping hate and malice. "I sincerely hope our Warchief has sense enough to rip you all to pieces!"
He spoke common so the soldiers could hear him. Jaina could feel them either shaking or tensing planning on a last strike. Neither would do, if they wanted to live through this. Ignoring the spinning in her head and the iron taste of blood in her mouth, she struggled to rise, "I would wish to speak with your leader in private." She requested bravely, not showing a hint of pain.
Laughing in her face, the apprentice shook his head as if she was stupid. "I can feel the force of your magic; it's extremely powerful. If it wasn't for our anti-magic totems I would be wary of you. Don't think for a second you're fooling me about how powerful you are! No way I'm letting you get in spitting distance near the Warchief."
"You have my word I will not use magic," She replied calmly, her sincerity genuine and plain upon her quickly bruising face.
Dan'ruk glared venomously at Jaina, not buying one word, even though the spirits were whispering she could be trusted, an oddity to say the least. "What good is the word of a human?" He spat angrily at her feet.
"I would only wish to ask him to spare my men. He may do what ever he desires with me." Jaina explained quietly lest her men hear her ludicrous words. If they had known what she was suggesting they would have gone berserk to try and get free. Her life over theirs, no, until…if she could get this 'Warchief' to agree to such terms she wouldn't tell them.
The gesture made the furious orc pause. His emotions were in frenzy, this girl reminded him of Thralls friend, Tari. Thrall had been inconsolable when he learned of her death. Dan'ruk had never seen him so venerable, or despondent. Perhaps this one would ease his tumultuous feeling about the kind human of his youth. He finally spoke in a low dangerous growl like a snapping guard dog letting someone in it didn't trust. "I will allow you an audience with our Warcheif; with a rope around your neck and a sword at your heart!"
Jaina sighed, her shoulders slumping tiredly, seemingly nonplused by the orcs threatening words. She nodded once in calm acquiescence, she had a meeting, which was something better than her head atop an orcish spear…at least for now it was.
Motioning to a grunt with the flick of the wrist, Dan'ruk ordered him to fetch the Warcheif and the rest of the army as he began to busy himself with the prisoners. He watched in grim satisfaction as the scout took off at a fast loping gait, like a wolf, wondering how Thrall would react to the capture of these humans.