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Part Three

The four Warsong orcs hurled themselves at Garrosh, tackling him. He landed hard on his back, snarling and covering his face with his chained hands. Fists and feet rained down on him. The crowd bellowed approval.

Accidents happen, his father had said. Clearly an accident was meant to happen now. The glass shard was tucked into the rear of Garrosh's waistband, wrapped in cloth yet digging painfully into his skin. It was tempting to bring it out… no. No. That would gain him nothing. Revealing a hidden weapon was dishonorable and would only guarantee his death.

That old, familiar bloodlust sank into his mind, but he resisted the urge to go berserk. Four against one—this was not a matter of raw strength. He rocked from side to side, trying to take each blow on muscle instead of bone. It worked, but even so, pain soon radiated across his body.

Still, no ribs had cracked yet. No blows had landed hard on his jaw or temple.

His attackers had given themselves over to fury. Each punch and kick was delivered like a killing blow. They were wasting strength.

Garrosh kept moving, kept kicking out, kept fighting, kept avoiding the hits that would leave him injured and helpless.

He had come too far to die now.

One of the Warsongs was targeting his head with kicks, settling into a rhythm. Bam. Bam. Bam. Predictable. Garrosh reached out. The chain between his wrists wrapped around the orc's ankle.

Garrosh smiled.

***

Grommash shook his head and turned to one of the Warsong warriors standing to his left. "When this is done, dispose of him quickly. He may be insane, but perhaps he was important to someone. Let's avoid a blood feud over this fool, if we can," Grommash said.

The warrior laughed. "At least this one knows how to die," he observed.

"Yes, he does." Grommash couldn't see beyond the blur of attacks raining down in the pit, but he caught glimpses of the stranger, still moving and fighting from flat on his back, refusing to give up. "He took my instructions to heart." Too bad.

One of the four Warsong in the pit suddenly jumped back, roaring with pain. His left foot was dangling at an unnatural angle. Grommash and others laughed. Kicked so hard he hurt himself. The injured orc gnashed his teeth and dove back in, snarling, dropping fists onto the stranger's head. A moment later, there was another shout of pain, and the same orc scrambled backward, left wrist crushed and broken.

Some of the crowd went silent. So did Grommash. He had seen what they had seen: the stranger had used his chain as a weapon.

And that was only the beginning. A kick connected with another Warsong orc's knee, shattering it. Another kick caught a third orc between the legs, dropping him to the ground. In moments, the stranger had crippled or stunned three opponents.

The cheering around the pit died quickly.

The final Warsong orc growled and stepped back, out of kicking range, allowing the stranger to scramble to his feet, breathing deeply but steadily. He beckoned his last Warsong opponent. They charged each other.

Grommash didn't blink. What he was seeing, he couldn't believe. No fear. No hesitation. Violence incarnate. Bloodlust channeled into pure power. A mind solely devoted to victory, letting nothing distract him.

That is how I fight, Hellscream thought.

The Warsong orc struck the stranger in the stomach once, twice, three times, then seized him around the throat. The stranger clasped both hands together and raised them like a hammer, catching him under the chin. The last orc's jaw snapped shut with a sickening crunch. Two teeth flew free. He fell over, eyes rolling into the back of his head.

It was done.

The three injured Warsong were starting to rise, crawling toward the stranger, refusing to give up, though they were obviously beaten. Mak'Rogahn demanded it. As long as they could fight, they must fight.

The stranger stepped back from their reach. "Have I proven my Warsong heart, Hellscream? Have they?" he asked. "Or do I need to kill them?"

Grommash didn't answer. He was watching. Listening. The bystanders were muttering, "He fights… he fights like Hellscream…"

The orc with the shattered knee forced himself to his hands and knees and shuffled toward the stranger, each motion bringing a gasp of pain. The stranger stepped back again, to the edge of the pit. "Chief Hellscream, I did not come to kill your Warsongs. I came to save them," he said.

"Enough," Grommash said. "The fight is over." The injured Warsong collapsed.

Hellscream stepped down into the pit, Gorehowl in his grasp. The stranger stood motionless. The clan held its breath.

Grommash stepped to within a single pace of the stranger and studied him closely. The face tattoo, the scars, the fierce eyes, the oddly familiar features. The fighting style. The manacles, emblazoned with an insignia of an animal Grommash had never seen. "What is this?" he asked quietly.

"It is Xuen, the White Tiger, the sigil of the Shado-pan," the stranger answered.

"Who?"

"I have come a long way, Hellscream." The stranger spoke softly. There was desperation in his eyes but no madness . "My path is now unimportant. Yours is all that matters, and that is why I am here."

The whispers from the crowd still drifted into the pit. "He fights like Hellscream."

Grommash raised Gorehowl above his head and brought it down. It shrieked through the air.

Clang.

The stranger's hands dropped to his sides, the chain between his manacles broken.

"I don't believe I've ever met an orc like you," Grommash said. "Come. We will talk. But know this," he added, laying the edge of Gorehowl against the stranger's neck. "If you waste my time, if you intend to harm my clan, I will take your head."

The stranger didn't flinch, didn't blink. "If my words waste your time, I won't object. If I fail here, my life means nothing."

"Very well." Grommash stepped out of the pit and walked back to his tent. The stranger followed.

Hellscream