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"What did you expect, Sergeant?" he said.

"I expected you to use it!" Ziya growled. "It's what you do. You use things. You're a monster!"

To her surprise, Gallywix nodded.

"Yeah, I am," he said. "But not that kind."

"You're exactly that kind!"

"No," Gallywix said. "We ain't ever met face to face, Sergeant, so let me explain. I don't mind selling you if you get careless. I'll send you to die if it'll help the cartel's bottom line. But I won't get you killed by stupidity or a big dumb weapon for nothing. That ain't me."

He glanced at the ring hanging around her neck. Her hands closed protectively around it. An unreadable expression crossed his face.

"For what it's worth," he said, "I'm sorry about what happened to your husband in Hyjal. But I ain't sorry about anything I've done. So, yeah, I'm a monster. But I watch out for what's mine. When I can.

"And right now, that means hiding this big gun before anyone finds out about it."

But, of course, someone did, whispered Lorewalker Shuchun's voice, and the room crystallized, slowed around Ziya. The rumors rippled across the world: Gallywix had found a powerful weapon in Pandaria and kept it for himself.

In the mind of Garrosh Hellscream, warchief of the Horde, there could be only one explanation for such treachery: rebellion. Garrosh led the fractured Horde against Bilgewater Harbor.

The uberzeppelin melted away. Solid ground rose beneath Ziya's feet.

From the cold heights of Gallywix's palace, she watched her home burn. Druz swayed beside her, exhaustion lining his eyes.

"Get your armor on," an enforcer said behind them. "They'll be here soon."

Garrosh's forces descended upon the palace. The goblins fell back along the subterranean corridors, protecting the vault and the secrets it held, Lorewalker Shuchun said.

Her daggers slick in her hands, Ziya retreated. A blood elf raised a crossbow, and Druz thrust Ziya to one side, catching the bolt in his shoulder. He reeled against her with a grunt, and she hauled him along with her.

Soon, the few goblin survivors had nowhere to go, said Lorewalker Shuchun, calm and relentless.

An arrow slammed into Ziya, and she sat down, faintly surprised. Druz leaned on her, struggling for air. The vault antechamber was a large steel room, littered with fallen goblins. The Horde, the invaders, closed in, reluctant now that slaughter was near. She recognized some of them from Hyjal and other battles. If she could just catch her breath, she knew she could convince them they were making a mistake…

The vault door opened behind her.

A spider-tank leg stepped over the goblins. Another. And Trade Prince Gallywix charged at the massed invaders, roaring laughter. Garrosh shoved through his troops, axe hanging in one gigantic red fist.

"Stand down," the warchief growled. "The traitor is mine."

The duel was not a long one, but neither did it go as expected, Shuchun said.

"Help me," Druz wheezed, fumbling with his rifle. Reaching from the ground, Ziya propped up the gun barrel, aiming it at…

The duel. The mechano-tank stumbled sideways from another axe blow, sparks hissing from its ruined joints. Gallywix was losing. Of course he was losing.

Why was he still laughing?

Gallywix ejected himself from the wreckage of the mechano-tank and clung to the muscular orc's tusks, ramming his forehead into the warchief's face like the street fighter he had once been. Garrosh dropped to a knee.

Head hanging, delirious with pain, Druz fired the rifle. His aim was off.

Gallywix shuddered and fell.

And Garrosh claimed the treasures of the vault, Lorewalker Shuchun said.

Ziya lay in a spreading pool of blood, unsure if it was her own, watching Garrosh kneel to take the scroll.

Months passed, Lorewalker Shuchun whispered over her. And the world changed.

Ziya surrendered to the story, closed her eyes, and…

***

… struggled to open them. Blood was running into her good eye. The helmet had deflected most of the orc's blow. Ziya growled, pushing the disorientation away, and rolled to the left.

The orc's sword crunched into the ground where she'd been. She lunged into the air and brought both daggers down in a wicked arc.

The orc stared dully at her, daggers protruding from his throat, and fell.

He would rise again soon.

Garrosh believed in a world ruled by the orcs. The scroll had made that reality. The orcs flowed over Kalimdor, enslaved by a different master than the demonic blood that had once dominated them. Nothing could kill them, and the pale void of the artifact that drove them blazed in their empty eyes.

Teldrassil had toppled, burning, into the sea. A charred pit was all that remained of the Exodar. The tauren and trolls, appalled by the devastation, had fled across the Great Sea, hoping that Garrosh would be content with his victories.

He was not.

Ziya stood near Stormwind Harbor. A last stand alongside her allies and former enemies. A fight they couldn't win.

The sound of footsteps jerked her around, daggers ready.

"You," she said.

"Me," said Druz, winding a frayed bandage around a long gash on his arm. "Good to see you, Sergeant."

He carried no weapon. Maybe it had been lost. Maybe he had given up and dropped it. She couldn't blame him either way.

They stood shoulder to shoulder. The orc fleet poured into the crowded bay, spilling hundreds of howling warriors onto the dock. Tauren died alongside humans, dwarves, and blood elves, but too late, too late.

The Blank Scroll

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