These are the early stories of Sten of the clan Riht. It traces snapshots of him as he grows in his chosen profession as a warrior. All of these stories take place before the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.
A Good DayEdit
The sun bore down upon the young orc's back. Dust rose from the harsh plains, and the young orc's throat was parched from lack of drink. The orc, Stenriht, squinted through the natural haze of Durotar's landscape, looking for the quillboar warrior he knew lay hidden. Rains came rarely to the harsh red desert, but when they did, they left deep, narrow crevices that sliced through the sand. The quillboar made good use of this knowledge.==
Short for his race, Stenriht still possessed the muscular build of an orc. Lovingly he grasped his greataxe, a prize he took from one of the humans Admiral Proudmoore had sent to claim Durotar. Proudmoore would need to send more of the palefaced ones- many more- if he wished to wrest Durotar away from its rightful owners.
Right now, however, Stenriht had been ordered to thin the ranks of Durotar's other nemesis- the Razormane quillboar. He knew it was another test. Most orcs looked upon him as a runt- little better than a peon. Deep down, Stenriht wondered if he really could measure up. The other warriors were larger, more impressive, more powerful. The young orc's reverie suddenly was broken as a quillboar rose up from the warrior's right. Screaming, the hog-faced creature charged the orc, his axe raised to strike. A calm fury settled over Stenriht. This was something he understood. Doubts fled, and the young warrior gleefully entered battle.
A few moments later, the red haze of rage faded from Stenriht's eyes. He smiled at the corpse of his vanquished opponent. This is what he lived for. This was right. He looted the quillboar and absently pocketed the few coppers as he scanned the red horizon for another challenge.
This would be a good day.
(Originally published on the Ani Ayastigi Guildportal 4/10/2008)
Uzzek eyed the small orc warrior with incredulity. A veteran of many wars, his scarred face crinkled in astonishment.
"You are here for training?" He could not prevent a growl from punctuating the question.
The object of his puzzlement shifted uncomfortably. Adorned with cheap copper armor and weapons, the small orc nonetheless held the posture of a warrior. Pulling himself to his full height- not much considering that Uzzek towered over him by over eight inches, the small one found his voice.
"I am Stenriht of the clan of Riht. I have been sent here to learn the next step in my training. They tell me, old one, that you are to provide that to me."
"Old one!", Uzzek bellowed, "You young whelp. How dare you call me thus! I have trained some of the finest champions of the Horde. Old one indeed! I should make an example of you and leave what remains to the buzzards. Who are you to make demands of me?"
Stenriht bristled. He was so tired of having to prove himself time after time, tired of being ridiculed for his size, tired of having to always attempt to measure up to himself and others. However, as he painfully learned from dueling Gorrin less than a week earlier, fighting a much stronger veteran was likely not going to help him. With no other option, the young orc answered simply, "I make no demands. I was ordered to report to you, and here I am. If you do not wish to train me, I shall learn on my own. Regardless, I will be a champion of the Horde someday."
Uzzek steped back and measured the young orc with his eyes, seeming to actually see him for the first time. Nodding, he spoke. "You might do after all."
"As a warrior, one of our most crucial tasks is... protection. We are the shield of the horde, and we keep our weaker brethren safe. If you are to join in our ranks, then you must prove your mettle to me. Go to Thunder Ridge in Durotar, where live the lightning hides and thunder lizards. Hunt the beasts! Show me you are tougher than they! Brave their assaults and bring me a stack of their singed scales as proof. Do this, and then I will teach you."
Stenriht bowed, "For the Horde!"
Uzzek watched as Stenriht approached him. It had been several hours since he had given the young orc the assignment to bring back the singed scales of the thunder lizards. Odd, Uzzek thought, the young warrior seemed to skip towards him, his face filled with excitement- so different from the uncertain and nervous orc a few hours earlier.
As Stenriht arrived and bowed, Uzzek eyed the blood and various bits of bone that adorned the ever-greening copper armor. "You have seen battle, orcling, but have you brought back what I asked?"
With a wide smile on his face, the young orc pulled out a Netherweave bag and began to rummage through it. He stopped when he heard Uzzek's gasp.
"Where did you get that, warrior?"
Stenriht's smile left as he pondered the question. His eyes followed Uzzek's pointing finger and realized that the query regarded the bag itself. "Ah, the bag. This was a gift from my friend and mentor, Ulgoroth."
"Ulgoroth of the Ani Ayastigi?"
"Yes. Do you know them?"
Uzzek rocked back on his heels. "Know them? Know them! Are you out of your green little head? Of course I know them. I've trained a fair number of them back in the day. They are the elite of the elite!" The sharpness of Uzzek's gaze softened as he remembered earlier days. The two orcs stood there silent for a moment. Suddenly, Uzzek arrested Stenriht's gaze with his own. "Do you know the one named Gorrin?"
Stenriht mumbled something, his gaze suddenly focused on the ground.
"Sensing a story, Uzzek pressed. "And how is my ex-pupil?"
"Good, good. He's...good."
"Do not dissemble with me, orcling! What are you not telling me?"
"You and Gorrin?"
"Yes." a quiet reply and the young orc could not find a way to meet Uzzek's gaze.
Stenriht winced in the memory of Gorrin easily dispatching him with one blow- but only after letting the younger orc flail away at the veteran with no effect. "It was...short."
Stenriht jumped as a hideous whistling scream roared from Uzzek. After a few tense seconds, the young orc realized that Uzzek was laughing. Laughing so hard in fact that he fell against the side of his hut and collapsed on the ground. It did not stop there. Uzzek bellowed, wheezed, spit, coughed and wheezed some more- all the while hammering his fist on the ground. "Short!" The word escaped in a fit of coughing. "Ah, orcling, I haven't laughed like this since... well, since my mate beat that gnome raider with her rolling pin." Slowly Uzzek stood and wiped his eyes.
Suddenly, he became stern, all levity gone. "Well, warrior, I will have no pupil of mine dishonor the friendship of one of the Ani Ayastigi! We shall begin your training immediately. And you had better listen and learn!"
Originally published on the Ani Ayastigi Guildportal 4/11/2008
For the HORDE!Edit
Stenriht stooped and cut off one of the flatland cougar's fangs. The battle with the cat had been enjoyable, and the orc felt the pleasurable sensation of his warm muscles pulse in the sunlight. Having killed several of these creatures today, Stenriht decided that it was time to head back to Bloodhoof Village.
The sun was just beginning to set, the golden rays highlighting the green, verdant plains of Mulgore. As he started running back along the long road to the village, Stenriht reflected upon the recent changes of his attitude. When Ulgoroth of the Ani Ayastigi, had first escorted him from Durotar, the red, desert of his homeland, to Mulgore, Stenriht had been shocked. Mulgore was so...wet. Gradually, though, as the orc warrior came to work alongside the Tauren, the peacefulness and spirituality seeped into his being. He never had to prove anything to the Tauren. They accepted him as he was and didn't care that he was short for an orc. Of course, Stenriht thought ruefully, everyone is short to a Tauren. While Mulgore would never take the place of Durotar in his heart, he found himself enjoying the Tauren's home and had forged a strong bond with its native people.
He looked forward to sharing the evening meal with the villagers. First though, he needed to perform a quick task. Spying a strider, Stenriht left the road. With his greataxe, he quickly dispatched the bird and cut off a tender piece of meat. Stenriht smiled as he wrapped the meat in some cloth and put it in his pack. This would be perfect for Kyle. Kyle was Ahab Wheathoof's dog who was always getting away from his master and running about the village. The only way to slow him down so that the farmer could regain control of him was to offer Kyle some tasty strider meat. Stenriht chuckled. Of course, Kyle would be loose again tomorrow. It had become a habit of sorts, but Stenriht didn't mind. Ahab was always so grateful, and Kyle so happy.
Stenriht resumed his run towards the village. It was only a few miles away, and at his distance-eating lope, the orc would easily be there within an hour. Suddenly, his reverie was broken. Humans on horses rode by him heading towards the village. Their weapons drawn, the damned creatures laughed maniacly. Stenriht drew his axe and screamed a challenge at them suddenly frightened at what the raiders intended- for they could only be bent on attacking the village. Humans had no honor. One of the horsemen in the rear turned towards the orc. At this point, the group was a good fifty yards ahead of Stenriht. The human pointed at the warrior and laughed. He then whirled around and rejoined his companions. They left in a cloud of dust. Stenriht ran like he had never run before. But in his heart, he knew that he would be too late. His legs were no match for the speed of the humans' infernal mounts. Soon, he could hear the alarm bells toll in the distance. The village was under attack! The orc gnashed his teeth in frustration and ran harder. His heart pounding in his chest, he finally arrived in Bloodhoof Village. The raiders were gone.
In their wake, they left a trail of bloodshed and death. Villagers, who in life were peaceful, spiritual and welcoming, lay dismembered and strewn about the village. Smoke billowed from the fires covering the once brightly-colored teepees. A few survivors were attempting to put out the flames, and Stenriht quickly lent a hand. A red haze started forming in the mind of the young orc. This was a feeling he had never felt before. A feeling that through all his battles had never manifested itself. Far stronger, yet more subtle than any battle rage, it was terrifying, yet... exhilarating! It swam in his blood.
Hate. It caressed and enveloped him in an orgy of raw emotion and power. Using his cloak to put out flames that had engulfed a home, the orc saw the remains of a Tauren, her hands outstretched in an attempt to escape the burning wreckage. Hate grew.
Through the smoke, Stenriht saw a weeping Tauren child, blood on his hands, begging his Mother to get up. Hate burned higher. Stenriht saw Kyle, bleeding and whimpering, as the ravaged dog crawled to his prone master. Hate became a crescendo. Looking to the darkenting skies, the young orc warrior roared as the blood-filled sun sunk over the mountains to the east. The fury echoed through the valley of Mulgore and reverberated off the cliffs of Thunder Bluff. The world paused briefly honoring the young warrior's agony.
But then it ended. Stenriht, drained, wrapped his new found friend and emotion into the core of his being and continued the clean-up of the village. Today he would help as best he could to clean and bury the dead. Tomorrow, humans would pay for their lack of honor. Eyes, young no more, burned with intensity. Yes, Stenriht thought as he placed a charred limb with the remains of its dead owner, the humans and their damn Alliance would rue this day. Every fiber of his being now understood the battlecry that punctuated the conversations from Ogrimmar to the Undercity. FOR THE HORDE!!!
Originally published on the Ani Ayastigi Guildportal 04/15/2008
Stenriht caressed the shaft of his axe, and critically examined the gleaming blade. Yes, it was sharpened adequately for the task. Other young soldiers nervously took stock of their weapons and armor. Soon the horn would sound, and they would be charging out into Warsong Gulch, battling the hated Alliance.
A young troll hunter sang softly to his pet- a Durotar boar with very sharp tusks. It could sense the nervousness around it and was jittery. An undead warlock whispered to a demon he recently summoned. Unhappy at its bondage, the demon complained bitterly.
Walking around the soldiers, a young tauren druid cast protective spells around the soldiers. Many of these young Horde were entering the Gulch for the first time. Stenriht grimaced- it was his fourteenth- and the Horde was being badly mauled. It had been two weeks since the Ani Ayastigi welcomed Stenriht into their family. A week ago they had asked Stenriht to earn a Mark of Honor from the Warsong Outriders. While the bulk of the family was defending the Horde in the Outlands, it was up to the youth of the family to defend the Horde from the Alliance on Azeroth. The thought of battling the Alliance filled Stenriht with glee. He could not wait to shred his foes.
Now, after thirteen battles, Stenriht found that he was...tired. Not of battle- THAT he loved- but of being defeated. The hated Alliance seemed better equipped and armed. Their armor heavily enchanted, most of the Alliance wore goggles for some odd reason. Regardless, the blades, axes and magic of the Horde seemed to bounce off of the Alliance fighters, while, in turn, their weapons bit deep into the young Horde. Many of Stenriht's companions had fallen already- too many to count. Through it all Stenriht survived, only to see the Horde pushed back to a fingernail hold in the Gulch. The Horde desperately needed the lumber that grew abundantly in this region. Without it, the Alliance would be able to secure Ashenvale and then would be impossible to push back from the Barrens- effectively splitting Durotar and Mulgore. This could not- would not- happen.
Stenriht looked around him. Of the platoon, he knew that less than half would survive- if they were lucky. They were all there to battle for the Horde, and their loyalty was beyond question. He was proud to fight by their side. With a loud, high-pitched wail, the battlemasters signaled the advance and the gates of Warsong Hold lowered. Roaring his battlecry, Stenriht raced out of the hold and leaped down the embankment leading into the valley. Behind him were Taurens, Undead, Trolls and Bloodelves- Horde fighters all.
The Alliance were waiting for them. Leaping from their hiding places they jumped into the Horde platoon and the battle raged. Stenriht found himself in front of a goggle-eyed Night Elf, the green tint of the goggles hiding the pupil-less eyes. Liquid black armor glistened from the elf, gleaming from the heavy enchantments it held. With a roar, Stenriht swung his greataxe, only to be rewarded with the elf dodging nimbly away. So predictable. Stenriht reversed his swing and neatly caught the elf as the creature sprang back towards the orc. Instead of the meaty "thunk" of impact though, Stenriht saw his blade glance off the polished black leather. Two quick dagger thrusts pierced Stenriht's armor,and the elf smiled as the orc fell to the ground.
Stenriht cursed, watching his lifeblood splash out over the trodden dirt. Damn these Alliance and their foul magic! Suddenly, the orc felt a warm glow course through his body. The young tauren druid, had come up behind Stenriht and channeled life back into the orc's dying frame. Stenriht quickly looked behind him to thank his savior, only to find the damned elf leaping upon the druid. The druid quickly changed into a bear and raked his claws over the incoming elf as he desperately tried to fend him off. But the elf's daggers plunged deeply into the young tauren.
The bear-form disappeared to be replaced by the original tauren youth. In his glazed eyes, Stenriht was reminded of his friends who died in Bloodhoof Village a few weeks earlier. They, too, had died from the Alliance scum. "Not again!", Stenriht roared as he leaped up. Charging the elf, he caught the gloating elf by surprise. The elf's grin abruptly changed as Stenriht's axe pierced his goggles and chopped through his skull. The goggles, cut neatly in half, fluttered to the ground.
"No armor there, eh elf?" Stenriht growled. Placing his foot upon the elf's chest, he pried his axe loose from the elf's head, and looked for more battle. He did not have long to wait.
An arrow suddenly pierced his armor, cutting a painful slash in his side. A goggled elven hunter on a small rise drew another arrow back while launching his pet nightsaber cat at the orc. Stenriht started to charge, but suddenly felt dizzy. "Damn elf hunters and their magic arrows," he growled. Moving towards the hunter was like wading through waist-deep water. Coupled with the nightsaber beginning to shred the orc's flesh with his claws, Stenriht knew he faced death for the second time this day. Fortunately, from off to the side, the Troll hunter and his pet came to Stenriht's aid. Charging into the nightsaber, the Durotar boar's tusks pierced the nightsaber's thin hide and spilled its entrails. Meanwhile, the young troll opened fire with his bow and distracted the elf. With that distraction, the magic holding Stenriht fell away. Now unencumbered, Stenriht charged the elf, pushing him back over the rise. Close combat was not the elf's forte, and soon his corpse sprawled on the ground.
There was no time to gloat, however, as a swirling mass of combat overtook the orc. Horde and Alliance locked in a deadly dance spun through the Gulch, and Stenriht became one with that dance. His axe swung tirelessly throughout, making sweet music to his ears. And the music grew to a crescendo- a cacophony of reflected light, grunts, roars, blood, screams, dust- and then...silence.
Stenriht finished off a gnome, and paused. The tide of battle had moved to the east, but his fight with the gnome had been particularly long and difficult. The orc was cut in several places and he had lost much blood. Spending a few minutes, Stenriht bandaged what he could and got ready to get back into the fight. Then he noticed where he was.
The fight had raged over the length and breadth of Warsong Gulch. Where Stenriht had been left, however, was next to Silverwing Hold- the Alliance base of operations. And...it appeared to be empty. What had Batlemaster Krukk said? The true way to defeat the Alliance and win the day was to take their flag and destroy it in the fires of Warsong Hold. The flag held magical properties, and with its destruction, the Alliance forces would crumble.
Wistfully, Stenriht gazed for a few seconds at the battle raging a quarter of a mile away. A trail of bodies leading to the fight beckoned his orcish blood. But Stenriht knew what he had to do. With a growl of frustration, he ran into the gaping entrance of Silverwing Hold, hoping that there would be something, anything to fight.
But the corridors were empty. Deeper into the Hold, Stenriht stalked. He could smell the foul stench of the Alliance everywhere, but no one greeted him. Soon he came to a large, square chamber. It was largely barren except for a bright blue Alliance flag. His heart pounding in his chest, Stenriht grabbed the flag, easily wresting it from its holder. Then he reversed his direction and headed out of the hold, the flag held awkwardly in his left hand.
Stealth was out of the question- not that the orc had any capability or inclination of such. It was just that the flag was big, awkward and... glowed- leaving a trail of blue light behind him like a beacon for everyone in the Gulch to see. Stenriht doubted that there was anything more humiliating than carrying the damn thing. Each step he took, made him more and more irritable. He wanted to be fighting, not playing a role as a blasted target!
Stalking out of Silverwing Hold, he found that the battle was still off to the east. None of the Alliance seemed to care that he was carrying their flag. Upon further thought, they probably pretended to ignore him, just to piss him off! He stomped the length of the Gulch, dragging the blue, shiny flag behind him. Marching into Warsong Hold, he dragged the flag to the Hold's central chamber where it could be destroyed. It was such a relief to finally be done with it. Soon, perhaps the destruction of the flag could finally bring an end to the Alliance's domination of the Gulch and drive the foul creatures back.
There was only one problem. Where the Horde flag should have proudly waved was an empty holder- the Alliance possessed the Horde flag! The Horde flag was required to enact the destruction ceremony. And now Stenriht could not destroy nor could he drop the Alliance flag. His role was to protect the thing until his bretheren could reclaim their flag from those bastards. He stared at the hated magical blue cloth. It seemed to laugh at him as it sprinkled its bright blue light across the room. Every second was agonizing. His friends were fighting and dying while he was doing nothing here in the hold. Frustration grew, but it was short-lived.
Daggers pierced his back, cutting deeply into the orc's vital organs. Whirling around, Stenriht spied another goggle-eyed elf- an assassin who had infiltrated Warsong Hold. The grinning elf had done her job, and Stenriht's fingers loosened, dropping the flag. His axe, however, stayed with him. With his last bit of strength, Stenriht swung his greataxe in a deadly arc, only to see the elf dance nimbly backwards, the smile still on her lips. "Damn you, "Stenriht hoarsly whispered. Then all went...dark.
The orc awoke to find himself on the floor in the central chamber of Warsong Hold. A young blood elf priest chanted over him, and the orc felt renewing life fill his body. He bolted upright only to put his hand to his head to stop the spinning. As his vision finally cleared, he saw a collection of bloody, bandaged and limping Horde fighters. The priest that had tended to Stenriht had already moved to another wounded soldier. The gates of the hold were closed, and Stenriht could hear the taunts and cheers of the Alliance outside. The Horde had been driven back yet again.
New recruits were arriving, timidly entering the Hold having just come from Mor'shan Base Camp in the Barrens. Wide-eyed, they looked at the few veterans that were left.
Stenriht gingerly stood up, unlimbered his axe and examined the blade. Pulling out his sharpening stone, he went to work correcting the notches the axe had recently collected. Rest was a luxury that could be ill-afforded. Soon, the battlemasters would sound the horn one more time, and the Horde would charge the Alliance- trying to drive them from their positions. It would be another long day.
Originally published on the Ani Ayastigi Guildportal 04/29/2008
"It is unlike anything you have faced yet, young warrior." The Forsaken warlock's undead hand briefly clasped the orc's shoulder. Stenriht nodded grimly. It would be his biggest test so far, but this one he would not have to fight alone. Ulgoroth, his brother of the Ani Ayastigi, would be by his side.
Bath'rah the Windwatcher waited patiently for Stenriht. The troll had lived as a hermit in these Alterac Mountains for many years among the ruins of Chillwind Point. Through his hardships, he learned patience. But even at this point, patience was difficult. Many had come to slay the Cyclonian- and failed. Perhaps this young orc would succeed where others had not. Stenriht had supplied the needed items. For hours, the warrior had battled Bloodscalp Trolls in Stranglethorn Vale to harvest their tusks. Fortunately, he found a seller of liferoot that he purchased. Another Ani brother, Deadlyvenom, had provided the necessary ingredients to produce Essence of the Exile. Bath'rah would use these items to summon the Cyclonian, a powerful force of nature. From this creature's heart, the troll would produce the fabled Whirlwind Axe.
Stenriht shivered in anticipation. This would be his defining moment. Once he defeated the massive elemental, and wore the Whirlwind Axe as the badge of proof, his worthiness would be unquestioned. He remembered the taunts of his peers as a child and the dismissive looks from the adults. No one had felt that he would ever amount to more than a peon, and he had never fit in. But now, he would show them all.
Proudly the young orc approached the Windwatcher. "I am ready, troll."
Bath'rah nodded and motioned to Stenriht. "Then follow me, mon. I shall do the summons."
The troll led Stenriht and Ulgoroth around some ruins to a small clearing. Here he stopped and took out his various charms and knick-knacks. While the troll was thus occupied, Ulgoroth took the opportunity to summon his demon minion and companion. Struggling and complaining, the Demon took physical form by its master. The young warrior had always been fascinated by this creature- specifically with the massive great axe that it wielded. Fully six-feet long, the axe terminated in a massive two-bladed head that could cleave an ogre in two with one swipe.
The warlock broke the warrior's reverie."Good luck, Stenriht. Together, we shall savor your victory over the Cyclonian." The young orc smiled at his friend- the first person he could call such. "For the Horde!" He then turned his attention to the troll who walked around the clearing chanting and sprinkling a strange potion on the ground. Stenriht drew his twin axes and assumed his combat stance- adrenaline coursing through his veins.
The wind sprang up and near knocked Stenriht off his feet. Bath'rah leaped nimbly out of the clearing and took shelter behind a wall. Slowly, a shape formed in front of Stenriht- a massive funnel of wind. Inside the funnel, a malevolence grew, and the young warrior knew he stood in the presence of the Cyclonian.
The funnel sprang up and shot into the sky, and the fury of its storm filled the clearing, buffeting the orc. With a low growl, Stenriht leaped for the heart of the Cyclonian and swung his axes in unison. The axes bit into...something. Suddenly, Stenriht found himself flung from the clearing into the ruins of a stone wall. The wall stopped his momentum, but also took the air from his lungs as the orc fell face forward into the dirt. Struggling to his feet, spitting out dirt and trying to regain his breath, Stenriht grabbed for his axes, ready to take the inevitable charge of his enemy. Instead, he saw the Cyclonian rush toward Ulgoroth.
Calmly, the warlock pointed his index finger at the elemental and a beam of light struck the creature. The huge tornado of wind shrunk to nothing more than a dust devil. Ulgoroth's demon struck the remaining bit of air with his axe, and the Cyclonian was gone.
Stenriht stood dumbstruck. This, the battle of the ages, the defining battle of his life was done within a couple of seconds. And he had been totally ineffective.
Ulgoroth glanced at the young orc while brushing some dirt off of his robes. "Don't look so surprised, warrior. You didn't think I would actually allow that... thing to touch me did you?"
Before he could answer, Bath'rah danced excitedly into the clearing. "You deed it, mon! Come, you be gettin' your reward!" The troll went to the remains of the elemental and pulled out its heart. As the troll chanted, the heart brightened slowly into a small sun forcing everyone to avert their eyes. Quickly, however, it dimmed, and the troll now held a gigantic weapon- the Whirlwind Axe! "Here it be, mon. It is yours!"
Stenriht looked at the axe with awe. It was beautiful. Where a normal axe blade held one curved, sharp face, this blade radiated four blades that curved out into points. In total, it looked like a moving, rotating blade- deadly in its purpose. The young orc looked at Ulgoroth. "It is beautiful, but it should go to you. You were the one who truly defeated the creature." The warlock snorted. "What would I do with such an ungainly thing? Take it, and kill some things with it. It clearly belongs to you." Stenriht felt the truth of his friends words as the axe beckoned to him, binding to his soul. As the warrior took it from Bath'rah, he could feel the weapon mold to his hands, and all trepidations fled.
Holding the Whirlwind Axe aloft, Stenriht made a vow. He would wield the axe and his enemies would fear his reaping, but someday he would find his defining battle. Someday, he would prove his worthiness beyond a doubt. Someday, he would be an accepted orc of the Horde!
Originally published on the Ani Ayastigi Guildportal 06/12/2008
Winds whipped up on the wasteland. Sand, cast into the air, swirled and wove its way across the land, blocking out the sun. Native denizens, scorpids, buzards and basilisks, scurried to their lairs to escape the stinging soil. Typical for Tanaris, only the strong survive.
Stenriht spat out some sand that blew into his mouth and eyed the human thief warily. The pale creature drew his sword and dagger and bared his teeth to the young orc. Stenriht assumed it was the human's feeble attempt at smiling. Circling each other, the two combatants knew that only one would walk away. The thief carried water that belonged to Stenriht's friends in Gadgetzan. Here in the desert, water was in very short supply. Stealing water was a serious crime, and Stenriht would be meeting out the punishment.
The human charged into the orc, but Stenriht was ready. Moving to the side, he allowed the thief to rush past. His axe and mace whirled into the human, alternating between carving and crushing the hapless enemy. The battle was short, and Stenriht liberated the water from the corpse.
As the young warrior gazed into the windy sands for another criminal, his ears picked up a message. The message came through his hearthstone and originated from his family, the Ani Ayastigi. With its magic, the message was easily heard. "Orgrimmar is under attack!" The urgency could not be denied. For the Ani to be alarmed meant that the attacking force would be formidable. Stenriht wasted no time. Summoning his wolf, he rode in the direction of Gadgetzan to catch its flightpath for transport to Orgrimmar. The Ani themselves had been summoned, and the Ani would respond.
The flight seemed an eternity to the young orc. Each moment, Horde were dying in the defense of Thrall. And Stenriht was doing nothing. He urged his mount to fly faster.
Soon, however, the walls of Orgrimmar revealed themselves. And in front, chaos reigned. Hundreds of Horde and Alliance were locked in combat. Fireballs, lightning, swirles of weaponry and magic flooded the plains of Durotar. His flying mount circled the battlefield and then with a roar entered the city to perch at the high tower.
Stenriht wasted no time. Rushing down the tower's steps, he summoned his wolf yet again and rode furiously to the front gates. There he confronted...disaster. The Alliance had pushed the Horde back and a contingent were actually inside the city of Orgrimmar! Leaping off of his mount, the orc drew his weapons and waded into battle.
Once engaged, the young orc realized that he was largely outmatched. These were not the regulars of the Alliance. Those he fought often on the battlefields of Warsong Gulch and Arathi Basin. No, these were the elite of the Alliance- their best troops. Stenriht leapt upon a black-armored, glowing human warrior. His axe and mace crashed down on the vile helm of the creature- only to bounce off. With a shrug, the evil warrior threw off the orc and then started to walk towards Stenriht, his large greatsword rising to strike.
Desperately, Stenriht parried the first strike and swung his mace, catching the human on the side of his head. The eyes behind the black visor flashed in pain, but the Alliance warrior swung his sword again. This time, the blade bit deep into Stenriht's side and he collapsed against a building. His eyes dimmed briefly, but with a shout of rage, the young warrior forced himself back to consciousness- only to see the black knight raise his sword for the killing blow.
Suddenly, the evil warrior froze. From the shadows, a whirling tornado of death careened into the human. Twin blades carved deep gashes penetrating the dark armor and finding the soft flesh beneath. Before he could even scream, the human warrior expired, crumpling to the ground. From the shadows, Deadlyvenom appeared. Looking at Stenriht, the forsaken rogue shook his head. "Brother, you need more experience before taking on these."
Stenriht nodded to his brother and mentor in the Ani Ayastigi. "But, I am here, and I will not cower in the face of these invaders." The forsaken nodded and melded back into the shadows, searching for more victims. Stenriht could not help but smile. The Alliance were fighting not just the Horde, but also the Ani this day. The front had moved into the city proper, and the battle raged around Stenriht. Standing painfully, he grabbed his weapons and summoned his orcish rage. The Alliance would feel his wrath. With a bestial roar, the young warrior launched himself back into the fight.
Slowly, the Horde pushed back the Alliance to the gates of Orgrimmar, and then back into the plains of Durotar. Each foot of ground was gained with sacrifice and rivers of blood turned the hard-baked soil into deep, red mud.
The battles turned into small, dense skirmishes. Stenriht fought beside two other warriors, a soldier of Orgrimmar and a Tauren from Thunder Bluff. The trio had just defeated a hero of the Alliance, when suddenly Stenriht's companions died in a massive explosion of flame. Quickly turning, the young orc spied a gnomish mage, dressed in pink robes laughing at the orc. Without thinking, Stenriht charged the mage and caught the creature off guard.
Gnomes used to be amusing to the orc warrior, but that was before he witnessed countless deaths at their hands. Now, they were nothing more than insects to be squashed. The gnome was more experienced, and had obviously been in countless battles, but his cloth could not hold up to Stenriht's weapons and rage. Kicking its torn carcass, Stenriht grunted in satisfaction.
The battle had now pushed out far into Durotar and the nearest fighting was at least 100 yards away. From his vantage point, Stenriht could see the battle clearly, and his jaw dropped in awe. Guntala of the Ani Ayastigi called down massive flames, taking out the Alliance elite as if they were paper dolls. The troll mage calmly destroyed all in his wake. And the Alliance quailed. The power of the Ani continued to amaze the young orc, and he felt tremendous pride to be part of such a family. One by one, the Alliance perished or fled the field. Soon, they were in a rout. A large contingent of Horde chased after the Alliance. "Let's chase them back to Stormwind!!!" Cheers rose from the Horde fighters, but the joy was short-lived. The message came from Stenriht's hearthstone again- "The Alliance are in Thrall's chambers!"
Stenriht felt fear clutch his heart. This battle had been a diversion. The real raid had come through the side gate. Quickly Stenriht once again summoned his wolf and rode frantically towards the threat. Like the wind, he sailed through the front gates and flew through the Drag trying to avoid the civilians who jumped out of his path.
Soon he could see the battle raging in and around the Valley of Wisdom. As Stenriht rushed in, he hoped he was not too late. But then he saw an Alliance paladin stiffen and fall, green fluid mixing with his blood as it flowed out of his body. From the shadows, a cackling laugh as Vultur of the Ani Ayastigi stepped out and admired his handiwork. Only a slight grimace crossed his undead features when he saw the mess on the floor.
Stenriht breathed a sigh of relief. If the Ani were here, then it was not too late. With a roar, he charged into battle. Fighting his way into the Thrall's chambers, the young orc vowed to defend Thrall. He need not have worried. Thrall, himself, fought. And where he fought, Alliance died. Beside him, stood Durande of the Ani Ayastigi who used spells to heal Thrall and punish the invaders. Other Horde, heartened by this display of power, thrust back the offending Alliance and pushed them out of the Valley. They were slain utterly and completely.
At first, silence, as the Horde soldiers looked for more battle, but only corpses of their enemies greeted their eyes. Then a cheer, followed by another. Soon the Horde began celebrating in earnest and the sound grew to a deafening crescendo. Thrall, himself, grinned as Durande escorted him back to his chair.
Stenriht looked with pride upon the Horde and especially the Ani Ayastigi. Numerous family had answered the call, and without them, the battle surely would have gone differently. Unbidden, his cheer rang out to blend with the cacophony of celebration. "For the Ani and the Horde!"
Originally published on the Ani Ayastigi Guildportal 07/28/2008