Storytime! Today’s story stars my hunter Althalor and features a cameo by Mr. Pike’s mage, Cadyna! Whoo!
Althalor was drunk.
He couldn’t remember how he had gotten himself this drunk in the first place, or why he was in Orgrimmar, or how he’d even wound up in the Brawl’gar Arena to begin with. None of it mattered, though, as he riddled the colossal silithid in front of him with arrow after arrow while his cat Hobbes raked deep claws into the enormous insect’s back. The silithid reared up and lunged, and Althalor ran to one side and skillfully planted an arrow between the creature’s eyes. And with that, it finally stumbled and fell, the blood from its many now grievous wounds pooling onto the floor.
Althalor’s vision was swimming but he managed to drag himself out of the arena, where the crowd– mostly orcs, although there were smatterings of other races here and there– had been whipped up into a frenzy. They loved seeing fresh meat, especially when said fresh meat somehow managed to climb into the higher echelons of the Brawler’s Guild rankings where the enemies were even nastier. They especially loved seeing an elf fight (and then, of course, die)– that was a truly exotic spectacle that the goblins loved to hype up.
Someone– Althalor didn’t see who– handed him a tankard full of ale, which he promptly downed, although much of it landed on the floor, on his person, and on Hobbes, much to the great cat’s patient chagrin. The next match would be in a few moments when the floor was cleared, so while Althalor waited he stumbled over to a table in a remote corner and nearly fell into the chair.
He was, on some deep and still vaguely lucid level, aware of the irony of the entire situation. He was dressed smartly in the mails of a Thalassian ranger, and he wielded a weapon emblazoned with the sin’dorei Icon of Blood. These were things he had taken with him to Draenor to remind him from whence he came. But here he was, drunk, caved up in a dirty orcish hovel in Kalimdor of all places, and surrounded by orcs and trolls and goblins. It was all a far cry from the lush, eternal springtime and refinement of Quel’Thalas.
And yet this was where his people belonged now, wasn’t it? They were monsters; Arthas had made sure of that when he’d poisoned the Sunwell and then Kael’thas had driven a final nail in that coffin. He had killed thousands of people in battles across Azeroth and beyond, and his eyes glowed green with the light of hellspawned demons. No, this is what he was now. Some kind of demon; some monster. Perhaps it wasn’t so ironic after all.
A huge, burly orc, who towered above even most other orcs in the city, seemingly materialized from the shadows in front of Althalor’s table. “You’re going to have to stop winning, elf,” he spat. “I’ve got a lot of gold riding on the next match.”
Althalor’s head buzzed and most of the orc’s words went through one ear and straight out the other. “What?” he said at length, his speech slurred.
The orc slammed both of his large hands on the table and leaned down so he was almost at eye level with Althalor. His breath smelled of booze and tooth decay. “I’ve got more gold on this next match than your pathetic long-eared life is worth. You are going to lose it, or you are going to answer to me.”
Despite his blurred vision, Althalor could now see that the gigantic orc was flanked by two others, both with their arms crossed against their chest. Beside him, his sharp hearing picked out the familiar, deep rumble of Hobbes’ growl amidst all the noise and chaos in the building.
The head orc was talking again. “I suggest you forfeit, to make things easier for both of us,” he said. He looked down at Hobbes, who was now bearing his teeth. “And take that cat with you, before I skin him.”
That did it. Althalor pushed back his chair, stumbled to his feet and reached for his bow, dodging an immense swing from the huge orc as he did so, although he clumsily dropped the bow as he performed this dodge. His head swimming with alcohol and terrible judgement, he raised his fists, but then he was aware of one of the orc’s buddies at his side and a second later everything was black.
“Dor shar’adore da shando.”*
The Thalassian phrase was the first thing Althalor heard upon waking up. He had the headache of a lifetime and his ears both rang. He was vaguely aware of the fact that he was lying down in a bed somewhere. He tried to sit up, his eyes still shut tight, but something pushed him back down. “Hey dere, you sit tight, mon. Dere’s still a lotta healin’ to be done.”
“I’d like a word with him alone, if you don’t mind,” said the first voice. Althalor recognized it now. Sunwell save me.
“He still needs de doctah, but I tink I can give him a break,” said the second voice. Althalor painfully opened his eyes now in time to see a tall, lanky troll witch doctor stand up and stretch his back. He then exited what appeared to be a small, orc-styled burrow– they were probably still in Orgrimmar, then– and that’s when Cadyna approached.
The mage looked down at him, one long, elegant eybrow raised inquisitively. “You idiot,” she said at length. “What do you think you were doing trying to fight that orc?”
“Um… I don’t know,” Althalor said at length. He knew his response sounded pathetic but his head was throbbing too much to put much thought into the real reason.
“Well, you’re lucky I showed up when I did,” Cadyna replied, crossing her arms. “And you’re lucky Hobbes was willing to fight for you even when you were out cold like the fool you are. By the Sunwell.”
It was then that Althalor noticed that Hobbes was curled up on the foot of the bed, and he smiled, despite himself. “Good kitty,” he said quietly.
“What are you doing in the Brawler’s Guild to begin with? It may be news to you, but we’re kind of, oh I don’t know, fighting a war on another world? Sound familiar?”
Althalor painfully propped himself up in bed. “They wanted a good fight,” he said. “I was giving them one.”
“They wanted you dead,” Cadyna said. “It’s all well and good to be blood buddies with Vol’jin but down here, do you think they care about one fewer sin’dorei in the world?” Her eyes glowed a harsh green as she spoke, but now she sighed. “Anyhow. That troll is doing some… voodoo or something, so I’ll let him get back in here. We can portal out later. Don’t make me babysit you anymore, okay? I’ve already got enough idiots wandering around my garrison. Can’t even clean the latrine properly.” She was still muttering to herself as she exited, and the witch doctor came back in.
Althalor lay himself back down as he approached. The troll struck up a conversation as he mixed some herbs together in a poultice. “Bruddah, I hearin’ what dey be sayin’ at the arena. Dey say some stupid elf fought like a monster late last night. Dat be you?”
Stupid elf monster.
“Sounds about right,” said Althalor.
*Thalassian, “I’m surrounded by idiots”