You disappoint me, Garrosh.
Download high-resolution Try as he might, the memory of those words just would not die. It did not matter how many times he heard the proud shouts of “Welcome, Overlord!” as he passed through Agmar’s Hammer, or how long he stood in the ruins before the Wrath Gate and stared into the enchanted flames that still burned there. Even the strike of his blades against the beasts or Scourge that dared oppose him only provided temporary respite. All the hot, sharp splatter of blood against his face could not drown out that voice. The moment he returned to the road, he heard each word spoken in his head with every fall of his great wolf’s paws against the snow.
Perhaps it was the warchief’s continued presence at his flank that caused the words to linger. Thrall had decided to accompany Garrosh back to Warsong Hold from Dalaran. He said he wanted to see their holdings in Northrend. Garrosh felt as if he were being chaperoned, but it was also an opportunity. The Horde’s inroads into Northrend were far from trivial. Surely Thrall could see that. Surely he would appreciate all that had been accomplished on this front.
Garrosh spat off the back of his wolf, Malak, and into the sedges. Lake Kum’uya lay behind them, still as a mirror in the gray morning sky. They would reach Warsong Hold by mid-afternoon, dusk if they were slow. Privately he had to admit that he was eager to see the look in Thrall’s eyes when they arrived.
Unfortunately they could not admire the hold properly as they approached. In a moment Garrosh knew that the nerubians had, yet again, broken into Mightstone Quarry. He grimaced. No matter how effectively they blockaded Azjol-Nerub, the insects always managed to find a way back west. Their eerie shrieks were unmistakable, carrying far in all directions in the tundra’s frozen wind.
“Forward! Attack!” Garrosh ordered the Kor’kron riders who accompanied them, forgetting that he was not in fact the commander of the group. He had kicked Malak into a full run and left them all behind before he remembered that decorum dictated he defer to Thrall. Well, decorum didn’t win battles. Action did.
More sounds from the fight became audible as he approached—shouts from the battleguards, the dull boom of artillery, and the distinctive splintering crack that metal weapons made against nerubian chitin. Garrosh readied his axes, his heartbeat quickening with anticipation. He sailed over the edge of the quarry, Malak never missing a beat. They skidded down the wall, leaped over outcrops and scaffolding, and with a cry Garrosh threw himself into combat.
The nerubian before him never saw him coming. Garrosh’s first blow cut deep into its thorax, and the second cleaved its entire anterior end from its body. The Warsong guard it had been battling looked up, startled, his axe readied above his shoulder. Garrosh grinned.
“Hellscream!” the warrior yelled, saluting. He turned to the others around him. “Overlord Hellscream has returned!”
Garrosh raised an axe in response. “Beat them back!” he roared to his soldiers. “Remind these vermin what it means to assault the Horde! Lok-tar ogar!”
Garrosh’s rally injected renewed fervor into the defenders, and they surged forward, a chorus of “Lok-tar ogar!” on their lips in response. An enormous beetle-like monster dominated the quarry floor, and Garrosh kicked on his wolf to engage it. Orcish wolves were trained for battle every bit as much as their riders, and Malak bit deeply into the nerubian’s tarsus, unbalancing it as Garrosh vaulted down. Advantageous as mounted combat could be, he always felt better with both his feet on the ground.
The nerubian hissed and thrust its forelimbs at his neck. Garrosh parried the blow and with a sweep of his axe sent their severed ends arcing to the ground. The insect staggered backward, and Garrosh practically danced after it, swinging his axes with chilling grace. The blood sang in his veins; the fervor of battle burned in his chest. It would never occur to him to consider the irony that he felt most alive when meting out death.
Garrosh hacked at the monster’s thorax while Malak harried its legs, keeping it from gaining firm footing. As he readied another blow, a brilliant flash followed by a sharp “crack" and the stinging scent of seared chitin momentarily disoriented him and announced Warchief Thrall’s full entrance into the battle. The nerubian was beaten and had no place to go. Garrosh felt a rush of certainty as he lifted an axe and delivered the final blow, splitting the great insect’s head in two.
With that Garrosh knew the battle was won. All that remained was for the Warsong forces to dispatch the remaining nerubian ranks still skirmishing throughout the quarry. Seeing the guards' struggle, Thrall raised the Doomhammer in front of him, murmuring something Garrosh could not hear. At the warchief’s command the wind suddenly whipped into a howling fury and the air crackled, making the hairs stand up on the back of Garrosh’s neck. Thrall roared and called down a blinding lightning bolt into the last resisting group as the soldiers dived out of the way. The explosion rained bits of singed carapace upon the rocks.
Garrosh called Malak back to him and draped his arm across her ruff, surveying the troops, pleased at their success. The fight had been quick, but satisfying. It was unfortunate that the Horde had built its fortress atop such a well-traversed portion of the ancient nerubian kingdom, but the attacks came more and more infrequently, and he was confident that eventually they would cease altogether. His soldiers grew more efficient with each opportunity to defend, and the lines had held. The lines would continue to hold.
He made his way up the ramp to the front of Warsong Hold, where Overlord Razgor waited, thick ichor still dripping from his sword.
“About time you showed up,” he said, wiping sweat from his face. Garrosh laughed.
“Wouldn’t miss the chance to slaughter some overgrown insects,” he answered. Razgor grinned.
“Warchief Thrall has accompanied me from Dalaran,” Garrosh continued, “to inspect our holdings in Northrend.” As he spoke, Thrall climbed onto the path behind Garrosh.
Razgor’s eyes widened, and he nodded. He turned to face the crowd of soldiers around them.
“Welcome the return of Overlord Hellscream!” he announced. The soldiers cheered and brandished their weapons. “And welcome,” he continued, louder, “our warchief! Thrall, son of Durotan!” The assemblage turned almost simultaneously and saluted, every eye resting humbly upon Thrall. Razgor stepped forward and saluted as well.
“We are honored by your presence at Warsong Hold, Warchief,” he said. Thrall’s eyes swept up the fortress’s tall stone walls, across the iron ramparts, and down upon the quarry pit where they had just fought, and finally came to rest upon Garrosh, who stared back.
“It reminds me of Orgrimmar,” Thrall said. “Impressive.”
“It is even more so inside,” Garrosh responded. “We will show you.”
“I’m sure I won’t be disappointed,” Thrall answered. Garrosh ground his teeth at the words.