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Sten rubbed his temple. It was not so much the headache as it was the incessant voice of the old god in his head. It seemed that needling the warrior was Yogg Saron's favorite sport. As if on cue, the voice persisted.

You know, this battle is just an excuse to avoid the real conflict. Is there a reason you don't wish to participate in the festivities in Ice Crown, puppet?

"Shut up, squid!"

A night elf suddenly rode over the hill on his cat. With a roar, Sten charged the elf, burying both of his impossibly large axes into the elf's torso. The elf screamed and died. Pulling his axes from the corpse, he surveyed the terrain for more enemies.

"The true battle is against the Alliance, squid. Arthas is but a distraction. If we lose Wintergrasp, the Alliance will control Northrend. That shall not happen."

A chuckle.

So you say. However, you still patrol with Arafalle's squad from time-to-time. How do you reconcile your forays into Ice Crown Citidel if the true battle is in Wintergrasp?

"Why do you care, squid? Even you think Arthas is beneath you."

Just then, a human deathknight rode through some trees, leaped gracefully off his mount and launched a tendril of blackness to grab Sten and drag him towards the knight.

Quite frankly, I don't. I just am curious why you still serve the Ashen Verdict, a group whom you hold in the same contempt as the Argent Crusade.

Sten waited until he was drawn close, and swiped with both axes. The knight dodged one but the other sank into its stomach. With a grunt, the human bent over. Spinning, Sten removed the offending deathknight's head from its shoulders.

"Because the Ani Ayastigi wills it, and they are my family. How often do we have to have this conversation?"

Very often, actually. I enjoy your lack of logic on this matter. So, for argument's sake, why don't you join with Hellscream's son and leave your 'family'? The General seems to possess the same mindset as yourself.

Mounting up on his wolf, Sten yanked the reins and headed for the road towards Flamewatch tower. The Alliance had some soldiers holed up there, and the Horde was massing an offensive to remove them.

Through clenched teeth, Sten growled, "I do serve Hellscream. He is Thrall's warlord here in Northrend. The Ani do not eschew our responsibilities to protect our lands from the Alliance. I also serve the Ani's loyalty towards both the Argent Crusade and the Ashen Verdict. I do my duty, squid, as I have always done."

The voice persisted.

But you live a paradox. Each week you perform menial tasks for the Argent Crusade, even as you curse them. You take their money while they gleefully bless you with their saying of "For the Alliance." You are held in high esteem with the Ashen Verdict as you invade Ice Crown Citadel, yet you wish nothing more than to kill them, even if it means that Arthas survives. Your only true comfort is killing Alliance, yet you spend the least amount of your time actually doing it.

The tower was in sight now. Horde soldiers were fighting at the door while cannons overhead rained lethal shot down upon them. Sten dismounted and rushed towards the tower.

"I follow my duty. I don't expect you to understand."

And Gorrin? Did he do his duty?

There it was. The barb that found the weak scar. Gorrin, the mentor that pushed Sten as a warrior. The no-nonsense orc that shredded the young orc's illusions and replaced them with the iron-forged reality of battle. Sten's proudest moments were fighting side-by-side with Gorrin- trading insults and pushing to excel. Then, a few months ago, Gorrin abruptly left the tribe, and had never been seen since.

Red haze forming around the edges of his sight, Sten charged into the doorway, bowling over both friend and foe alike. Kicking an Alliance warrior from the door, the orc screamed a challenge and attacked. The fight was glorious, but way too short. Sten knew he needed to answer.

As the Horde ran up the stairs to complete the occupation of the tower, Sten leaned against the wall. Truthfully, he didn't know why Gorrin had left when there were so many battles that called for him. But he would not let Yogg use his friend and former brother as a pawn in their arguments.

"Gorrin completed his duty. His duty was to harden our tribe, and bring the wisdom of the old Horde to our attention. It is now up to us to determine if we wish to follow that road."

You wish to.

A bitter growl. "Yes. But I am Ani Ayastigi. I will fight where and when my family requires. My blades will bury themselves in Arthas's body if my tribe wills it. In the meantime, leave me alone. I have Alliance to kill. I must Kill Them ALL!!!"

Originally published on Ani Ayastigi Guild Page 2/16/2010

The Chronicles of the Riht

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