Character: Galen Trollbane, Chieftain of the Arathi Clan
Galen sat in his tent, calmly eating grapes and drinking wine from golden goblets. Although the tent was full of jewelry and luxury goods, it was clear they were not bought or produced by his people. These were spoils of war, taken from cities and traders and haphazardly thrown about the tent to present them to their leader. Although there were still stains of blood on Galen’s skin and leather jerkin, he didn’t seem concerned – he was resting after a long battle and taking in everything he managed to take from his enemy. But his enemy didn’t produce most of it either – they were dangerous savages, invaders from another world who burn and pillage everything in their path. The orcs, as they call themselves, were however unlucky to ever step on the lands of the Arathi Clan – because the humans were just as savage.
Suddenly, a boy, a young warrior, barely a man, burst into the tent, kneeling before Trollbane. “Chieftain!” he yelled “I am sorry to disturb you, but the Blackrocks are coming for more!”
Galen grunted and put down his food. “Can’t they see I’m busy?”
“I don’t think so, Chieftain,” the boy responded, not looking up.
Galen laughed and slowly rose from his seat. “You’re cheeky, that’s why I like you.” He took up a lion skin hanging nearby and put it on, a mantle of a chieftain. When a young Arathi warrior wanted to become a man, he had to kill a wild lion and bring its pelt back home. Sons of chieftains were expected to kill especially rare and unique lions while some madmen tamed the lioness that mated with the lion they killed. Galen did all of those things – killed the leader of a pride, wore his skin on his back, and rode with his former mate to battle. Galen still didn’t have a wife, so some people joked he slept with the lioness as well, but he had different preferences. “We’ll see each other in the evening,” Galen said, smiling at the young warrior.
Trollbane rode at the front of a horde of Arathi warriors, spreading across the plains, his lioness riding beside him. They did not fear what was coming – they fought orcs before. In fact, they fought orcs for a generation now and their “Horde” was never able to win many battles. They were prepared to fight entrenched civilizations, with stony castles and fat merchants and temples full of poorly guarded gold. They did not expect a horde as savage and dangerous as them. The orcish clans did not expect to find a worthy opponent that kept them at a stalemate for decades.
In the beginning, the orcs had help – demons came to the call of their warlocks and powerful outsiders such as Kil’jaeden and Mannoroth took residence on their world. The great warlock Gul’dan once led his own clan and became infamous among humans. While Grommash Hellscream or Kilrogg Deadeye were almost respected by the human chieftains, Gul’dan was one of the few who were universally hated and ordered to be killed on sight. But then, one day, Gul’dan disappeared and was never seen again, by orc or human alike. The Burning Legion ceased their contact, the Demon Lords left the Horde. Only individual demons responded to summons but refused to say what happened. Some spoke rumors about Gul’dan leaving to find the dead body of the founder of the Burning Legion, but no one wanted to believe those rumors. If those rumors were true, this world’s existence would be hanging by a thread. Now the orcish Horde and the human barbarians were equally matched in a seemingly unending war.
When they finally reached the hills where they last fought the Blackrock Clan, they were met by a scout. The surprised man left his horse and approached the chieftain, bowing down cautiously.
“Chieftain,” he spoke, “I have the strangest news. I saw the camps of these orcs up-close. They aren’t Blackrock.”
“Then what are they?” Galen asked, “Shadowmoon?”
“The banners are Frostwolf,” the scout responded, “but that’s not all.” The scout looked his chieftain straight in the eyes. “There are humans among them!”
“Impossible!” Galen yelled. “Humans siding with orcs? What kind of filth is that?”
An older warrior behind Trollbane laughed with irony. “Maybe they’re Stormreavers. Maybe Gul’dan came back from the dead and recruited more human warlocks.”
An old crone riding beside him shook her head. “Gul’dan is not dead. I have seen him, red, and consumed with thorns.”
“Silence, Lianne,” the old warrior said. “I’ve had enough of your visions. They got Arthas killed, and that’s enough for me.”
Galen rose his hand. “Silence!” he yelled, “Both of you!” He looked around and thought for a moment, but he did not take long to make decisions. “We will kill them either way. Humans who side with orcs are just as bad as orcs.” A resounding cry of his warriors gave him support in his decision. More blood – that’s what they always wanted, more blood.
But as they began to flank the orcish camp, they saw the strangest thing. An orc wearing a wolf’s fur, accompanied by two humans and two orcs left the camp slowly and went on ahead with their weapons lowered. That orc was clearly the chieftain, but one Galen never heard about before. A white wolf’s fur, that could only be Durotan rising from the dead. Unless… that was his whelp. Rumors said Durotan had a child before Gul’dan’s assassins got him, and the child was kidnapped and raised by a human in the north. Regardless of who that was, he was slowly walking towards an Arathi horde with his weapons lowered. Either very stupid, or very bold, Galen thought. I like it either way.
Galen ordered to halt the attack. Although puzzled, his warriors listened. He rode on ahead with just a few of his best warriors, the old Menethil included, and approached the bold chieftain. Green-skinned, tall, straight-backed and proud. That was inevitably Durotan’s blood.
Trollbane spoke first. “I am Galen, son of Thoras, of the Trollbane line, chieftain of the Arathi Clan,” he spoke to the mysterious orc, “Have you gone completely mad? Approaching a human army with your weapons lowered is a death wish.”
“And yet,” the orc responded, “you are not killing me. There must be a reason.” The eyes of the two chieftains met. Blue eyes on an orc, that’s rare. “They call me Thrall, although my father, Durotan, named me Go’el. The humans you see accompanying me are the former warriors of chieftain Blackmoore, who enslaved me after he found me near my dead parents. When I grew up, I have slain him and took his warrior as my own. We seek a better future. For your kind, and mine.”
“There can be no future for both of our kinds,” the old Menethil blurted out, but Galen silenced him with a wave of his hand.
“I know it is difficult to imagine,” Thrall responded, “because we fought each other for over a generation. But being raised Blackmoore’s slave I learned we are not so different. And I gathered a new army to strike at Warchief Rend Blackhand. He shamed and banished my mentor, Orgrim Doomhammer, and I seek to do the same to him.”
“You want to become the Warchief,” Galen said, chuckling at the idea, “with the help of humans.”
“Yes. I know your people know honor. And so did mine, once. And I seek to bring it back.”
The two chieftains exchanged uneasy looks. Both on edge, both fully expecting the other to immediately attack them, but no attack came. They would not admit it due to the cultures that raised them but they were both sick of fighting. Sick of a war that lasted longer than men have lived.
“Ride with me,” Thrall spoke again, “Ride against Rend Blackhand and we will take him out together. But if you do not accept my offer and attack me,” the orc snarled, “you will not find me an easy prey.”
Galen laughed out loud. “I like you, orc,” he said and thought again for a moment. They always want more blood. Maybe it’s time they got something new.
“You have a deal.”
Next time: Game of Crowns