Garrosh loved Orgrimmar. He loved to walk its streets; he loved to visit the markets; he loved the stables and the training rings and the smithies and the shops. Most of all he loved the banners that waved in the wind from atop the posts scattered around the city: the red-and-black banners of the Horde. Standing beneath those flags, he knew where he belonged. He served the Horde, as had his father before him.
Nevertheless, he was quite alone, despite being surrounded by his people. Everywhere he went, people stared. The news had spread quickly that the son of Grom Hellscream lived and had come to Orgrimmar, and at first he had assumed that to be the reason for it. But one day he overheard a young child speaking loudly to his mother.
“Look over there! He looks so strange!”
“Shush! Be quiet!”
“But his skin! It’s not green like ours! What orcs don’t have green skin?”
Garrosh turned toward the child who had spoken. He still stared, wide-eyed, sucking on one finger in the corner of his mouth. Garrosh stared right back, and he briefly caught the mother’s eye. She looked away and grabbed her son’s arm, quickly hurrying off. Slowly Garrosh slid his gaze around the walkway, silently daring anyone who had overheard -- the street was quite crowded -- to say another word. No, my skin is not green; it is brown, said his eyes. I am one of the Mag’har. When he was satisfied that he had adequately intimidated any onlookers, he turned and slowly continued on his way. He had only gone a short distance before a light hand on his arm stopped him.
Garrosh whirled around, surprised.
“Forgive me, young one, but I might explain.”
The speaker was an elderly orc, his hair long since faded to silver but still braided into a knot. The multitude of scars upon his face and arms made clear that he was an experienced warrior indeed. Garrosh glared at him.
“What do you have to say, old one?”
“That child spoke the truth, but he doesn’t understand it.” The old orc shook his head.
Garrosh shrugged off his grasp. “I am not interested in your explanation,” he said, once again turning to leave.
“I fought with your father, Hellscream,” the warrior said. Garrosh stilled. “I followed him from the sacking of Shattrath to the forests of Ashenvale. I drank the blood of Mannoroth alongside him, and I felt the curse lift after his sacrifice.
“You cannot know what it means for those like me to see you. Once the curse was gone we were free to remember what we had abandoned, and what we had destroyed. We thought there was nothing left of what our people had once been. Seeing you…" He broke off and looked Garrosh up and down. “Knowing that our past is not entirely lost… that there is hope for our future.
“Grom was a great warrior. I followed him to the end of Draenor and beyond. Now I am no longer one for the battlefield. But if I were, I would follow you too.”
Garrosh could not possibly have been more at a loss. He stared at the old warrior, unable to speak. He knew that Thrall had been a close companion of his father’s, and Thrall had indeed spoken much of Grom. But Thrall had not known Grom for extraordinarily long, and there was much that Garrosh longed to hear, though he was far too proud to admit it. He wanted to know the tales—the good ones. He had grown up with enough of the bad.
“You will do your people proud, Hellscream,” the old orc said. At last he turned and walked away, leaving Garrosh alone in the street with a number of roiling thoughts that only served to irritate him. He could not now remember what he had set out to do. With a snort he picked a direction and began to walk. It was better than standing still.
His feet carried him to the easternmost part of the city, the Valley of Honor, and to the wide pool where the spring water collected. He sat on a rock at the water’s edge and watched the falls tumble out of the rock face and splash into the small lake below. The constant flow and the cliff’s shade cooled the air and provided a welcome respite from the desert heat. The spray felt good against his skin.
His skin. He looked down at the backs of his hands and saw their rich brown color against the stained red of the rock. He frowned. Did the orcs of Thrall’s Horde truly not remember where they came from? Was there really such meaning in his appearance?
A nearby splash made him look up. A young female orc was pulling in a fishing net. He absently watched her work. Her skin, of course, was green. She turned to wade closer to shore, and his two eyes met her one. A patch covered the place where her right eye would have been. To his surprise, she scowled at him ferociously.
“It’s fun, isn’t it,” she called, her voice dripping contempt as her net dripped water, “to sit there and watch me grapple with some fish? I hope you enjoy it.”
Garrosh snorted at her. “I don’t care what you do. Fish or not as you see fit. Buy it at the markets if you dislike the work.”
“Buy it?” She threw back her head and laughed. “Are you going to pay for it? Easy for you to say, Hellscream! Yes, I know who you are.”
He laughed back at her. “Of course, you do. I’m the only Mag’har in Orgrimmar. If you didn’t know, you’d have to be missing your other eye.”
“Arrogant as your father was.” She began to gather her net and stuff it into a burlap sack. “You are a fool, as was he.”
At her words the blood boiled in Garrosh’s veins. He leaped down from the rock where he had been sitting and strode up to her. “My father sacrificed his life for you and the rest of Thrall’s people. It is thanks to him that you are free of the blood-curse!”
“It is thanks to him there was a curse in the first place!” she retorted. “And I am none of the warchief’s people! I am a daughter of the Horde, as were my parents before me, but my duty extends no further!”
Garrosh raged at her words. “You say you have no duty? You say you are not of the warchief’s people? As you stand in this city? Where we can be free to live in our own space without the fear of annihilation? Where we have everything we need?”
“Ha!” she snarled. “Let me ask you this, Hellscream: have you really seen this city? Yes, the marketplace overflows. But where does it come from? Where are the farms in Durotar?”
Garrosh narrowed his eyes. He knew there were a few on the outskirts of Orgrimmar, but they raised mostly swine and certainly brought no harvest of grain or fruit.
“Exactly!” she continued. “There are none. All we have is hauled in from miles away.” She glared at the bag where she stored her net. “Or what we can wrest from the desert. As for safety!” She laughed. “The Alliance encroaches farther into our land daily. If you can call this red rock 'land' anyway! To the north is Ashenvale Forest, full of everything we could ever need, but did we settle there? No! Instead we live in a desert! So tell me, Hellscream, why would the good warchief, who loves his people so, condemn us to this wasteland when just up the river there is far more bounty? He is either corrupt or incompetent, or both, and you seem to fit right in!”
That was the last straw.
“Treason!” Garrosh roared. He took a step toward her menacingly. “You dare insult the warchief? Shut your mouth, traitor, or I will shut it for you!”
“Go ahead and—" she began, clenching her hands into fists, bracing against the anticipated blow.
“No! Krenna!” a new voice yelled. Garrosh looked over: another orc was running toward them.
“Krenna, you hold your tongue!” she continued, stepping in between the two of them.
The one with the eye patch—Krenna—glared at the person who addressed her, then snorted and stood down.
“I’ll be on my way, then, Gorgonna.” She heaved her bag over her shoulder and left without another word to either of them. Garrosh made to follow her, but Gorgonna immediately turned and grabbed his arm.
“Please stop,” she said. “I am sorry about my sister. She does not mean what she says!”
“She better not,” Garrosh growled. Gorgonna sighed, releasing her grasp.
“She and I spent our childhoods in the internment camps after the Second War. She is grateful that the warchief liberated us, but…" She hesitated, then added quietly, “She thinks he does not do enough.”
“And you?” Garrosh demanded. Gorgonna looked down the path that Krenna had gone and did not immediately speak.
“Our parents fought in the wars,” she said slowly. “They drank the blood of Mannoroth like your father did, and they were parties to its curse. They committed terrible acts in the name of the Horde. They attacked and murdered the innocent.”
Garrosh bristled. His father was no murderer. “They did what they believed necessary! Do you defile the name of your own blood?”
“I honor my parents' memory—make no mistake!” she cried. “But what they believed was wrong. What all the orcs believed was wrong. We must suffer for it. The warchief understands this, as do I. My sister does not.”
“That is ridiculous. You never even fought in the wars! You said you were children in the internment camps! Isn’t that enough punishment? Why should you suffer any more?”
“I bear the mark all the same,” she said, holding up her hands—green, as were her sister’s, as were all the orcs in Orgrimmar, save him. “I reap what all of them have sown. Is there not some payment owed?”
“And who would set the price?” Garrosh demanded. Her attitude angered him. Did she have no pride at all? “Who could possibly have the right to make that call?”
“I will pay what the warchief asks,” she answered.
“Thrall would never be that unreasonable. We don’t owe anybody anything.”
Gorgonna stared at him a moment, then unexpectedly she laughed just as bitterly as her sister had. “Of course not,” she said. “You don’t owe anybody a thing, Mag’har. But we are not you.”