Commander Gor'shak's Journal - Part 4
There are things that can be traded, freedom is not one of them; because when you lose your freedom, you lose your life, your loved ones, your honor, your ideals, and sometimes, even your humanity.
Continued from: Commander Gor'shak's Journal - Part 3
I would have never imagined that our bodies could withstand such hellish, endless tortures; but how could I have known when Interrrogator Gerstahn was seemingly done with us, that they were going to withstand even greater tortures not long after?
The interrogation of Gerstahn was just the beginning of our long and painful stay at the Shadowforge City, and perhaps the most bearable part of it.
When Gerstahn's unforgettable work that caused tremendous pain and suffering on our bodies came to a break, they put us in another, but smaller cell, and kept us there for about a week, with broken bodies and souls. During that time, no warden ever came to our cell, they did not give us any food or water, it looked like we were left to our deaths.
Fortunately, there was a tiny hole, much smaller than my little finger, at one corner of the ceiling, through which water droplets were coming down slowly. It was taking long for each of us to sate our thirst, but it was what we had and we were grateful to have it. There was a small square division inside the cell, about one yard wide, with walls no higher than half of the height of the cell, which we used for responding to the call of nature. We didn't have to use it very frequently though, as we didn't hear that call much during our stay.
For a couple of days, with the increasing pressure of hunger, we ate whatever we could find in our cell. Any living creature that was coming into our cell through the narrow opening under the door or from a tiny crack in the wall, were meeting their unavoidable fate. We ate rats, roaches, bugs, any kind of critter you can think of, even the most disgusting ones, that lived in such a cursed dungeon.
In time, the critters stopped coming by and we started to feel the real hunger... A hunger I had never experienced in my life before. After a couple of days had passed without eating anything, I was able to tell from the faces of my captains that they were also experiencing the same difficulty, if not more. To our luck, bad luck I should say, something happened, something that distracted us from our hunger.
At a time when we had started to think that they had forgotten about us, the cell's door was opened and a group of Dark Iron wardens entered. Without saying a word, they grabbed us from our arms and dragged us out of the cell. Dragging us out was quite easy for them as we had lost considerable weight in the past couple of weeks and we simply did not have any energy left to resist them from taking us to wherever they were taking to.
As we soon learned, when General Angerforge realized that he was not going to get anything from us with Gerstahn's methods, he sent word to her to send us to Houndmaster Grebmar, one of the skillful associates of her, mastering in extracting information from captives with the help of his ravenous bloodhounds. The wardens took us to a deeper corner of the dungeon, into a dark, circular chamber with only one door and a moving platform at its center.
The one that the wardens kept referring to as Master Grebmar was making circles inside the chamber impatiently in his blood-red armor, with two of his largest bloodhounds. Even though he saw us, he did not say anything till the wardens finished their work with us. He had red eyes like all Dark Iron Dwarves, but his eyes were even more red, presumably due to seeing so much blood in his time.
Once the wardens laid our bodies down, tied our hands and feet with chains, and opened our mouths with metal tools, they let their master know that the captives were ready.
Grebmar was not as big as Angerforge, but his voice and laughs were equally annoying. He bowed before us and started to talk cheerfully:
"Welcome to the finest corner of the Shadowforge City lads, where you will be treated in the best way you will never be elsewhere, hahaha! I have heard that you were not willing to talk, that's quite understandable. We should respect your preference for keeping quite right? What this inspired me to do is simple. Why would you keep carrying the weight of what you don't intend to use, right boys? Now that it became obvious that you don't want to talk at all, why would we do the injustice of forcing you to carry half of your tongues? Ooh, hah hah ha!"
As he continued to laugh, he brought his bloodhounds closer to us; we were now feeling their foul breaths.
"You see my bloodhounds, lads? They are unlike any other you might have seen within the Depths so far. They are my little babies, I took care of them since the day they were born and trained them to do whatever I ordered them to do; nothing less, nothing more. With just a sign of my hand, my babies are ready to eat half of your tongues, and boy, won't they enjoy it so much? Hah ha hah!" he seemed he wanted to continue to talk but his laugh prevented him from talking for about half a minute. I even thought that he was going to suffocate with his laughing. When he was able to control his laugh, he said:
"Now, boys, I don't usually do this but I am going to give you a last chance to talk. Just blink your eyes to show that you will cooperate and tell me what I need to learn and you can join General Angerforge at the dinner tonight, ah, I can already hear the ringing bell in my stomach. Ha ha!"
Even though my starving stomach was longing for the dinner table we had sat at many weeks ago, remembering my oath to the Warchief and to my brother, I did not blink; soon it became clear to me that none of my captains blinked either. Impatient of our motionlessness, Houndmaster Grebmar made a silent hand gesture that unleashed his bloodhounds over us, to do exactly what they were trained to do: eat half of our tongues.
Our screams in agony were surely an interesting addition to Gerstahn's symphony. Without being able to move our lips, as they were held open with metal tools, the unintentional, bloodcurdling sounds that came out of our mouths with half tongues, did not sound as Orc screams that day.
Once Grebmar's bloodhounds were done feasting, the wardens unchained us and took us back to our cell, half unconscious. The only thing we could do was to put some hay into our mouths to help with stopping the bleeding, before we passed out and couldn't gain our consciousness for the next couple of hours.
That was the most unbearable pain I had ever been through in my life, and I suspected that it would stay being like that for long.
When we woke up a while after our tongues had met with Grebmar's bloodhounds' sharp teeth, Truk'thor crawled to me and hugged me, like a child hugged his father. His body was trembling; when he looked into my eyes, I couldn't recognize him, I just couldn't, no matter how hard I tried. He asked with a faint voice, blood spilling out from his mouth:
"Commander, will they come to rescue us? Will they send men to come look for us? Commander?"
Just like I couldn't recognize his face, I couldn't recognize his voice either; as if someone else was speaking, if you could call what he did with half of his tongue as speaking. I really did not have an answer to his question. One part of me wanted to believe that we were going to be rescued eventually, one part of me knew that we were long done and were just counting our days. I still showed the courage to say:
"Yes, captain, I have no doubt they will. You just hang over there, will you?" forcing his mouth to smile as a result of the happiness of hearing my answer, Truk'thor crawled back to his corner.
The next day, as we were struggling in incredible pain and hunger, we heard a loud announcement echoing in the dungeon tunnels, repeating the following sentences:
"Honorable citizens and respectable guests of the mighty Shadowforge City! Today is the first day of the Judgment Week! Many of those who need to be will be judged and sentenced accordingly throughout the week. Today, all the Shadowforge City gathers at the Ring of the Law, and so the justice shall be distributed to those who most need!"
Not having enough energy to worry about what the new day might bring upon us, we cleared our mouths off hay and tried to drink as much water from the ceiling hole as we could. Losing half of our tongues had made us wildly thirsty. Mazdorak looked like he could have drunk a large barrel of water without giving a break, but the poor guy had to do with swallowing the water droplets slowly as they kept falling into his mouth.
Starting that day, and every day of the rest of the week, they took us to the so called Ring of the “Law”, not only to spectate their unimaginable atrocities but also to participate in them. With each new day, our imagination of the limits of evil was continuously expanding into new territories.
The day was starting with a justice -his name was Grimstone if I recall it correctly- entering the ring, selecting that day's prisoners to be judged and sentencing them to death for their “crimes” against the Dark Iron nation. It was a repeating play, always with the same ending, but its actors and the nature of the ending were changing every day.
At the first day of the Judgment Week, the stands surrounding the ring from a high balcony were fully crowded with Dark Irons, Twilight's Hammers and some other groups I could not recognize. I was not in the capacity to make any counting or calculations but there were easily over ten thousand spectators around the ring, making a deafening sound as the atrocious show kept going. I and my three captains were locked in a metal cage, like all other captives, hanging down, without touching, into the ring floor, waiting for our turns to participate in the sick performance.
One day, they put a Tauren, someone I barely recalled from the Expeditionary Force, who had apparently lost one of his legs in the raid or in the tortures after, as well as much of his weight like us, at the center of the ring, and ordered four iron golems to walk over him. Even after he had given his last breath, the soulless golems kept walking on him slowly till his body looked like a thin rug on the ground, between the crazy applause of the crowd.
One day, they put an Orc and a Human into the ring to fight each other till one of them killed the other and then fed both the fallen and the survivor to monstrous creatures I had never seen before. Witnessing this terrible scene of my brethren getting split into pieces by savage beasts like that was when I realized that what they were doing to us had long passed the point of information extraction, so, I lost all my hope.
One day, they put a Troll warrior into the hot metal pool they prepared at the center of the ring, and let the poor Troll disappear in the metal slowly. They then crafted weapons for their soldiers from that metal, singing sickening victory songs.
Another day, they called for Houndmaster Grebmar and his bloodhounds, and organized a feast for his babies, which were intentionally kept hungry for days. They threw what was remaining of the poor souls' bodies towards our cages, as if none of us would think of eating it no matter how hungry we were.
They were doing these things to not only the members of the Kargath Expeditionary Force but to all captives they had gathered from any other Horde or Alliance forces. They were not simply killing, they were mastering the art of manslaughtering in the most unthinkable ways possible, just for the fun of it.
Our bodies and souls were long broken beyond the point of thinking of being rescued or escaping, when the day of our own judgment arrived.
As usual, our judgment started by Justice Grimstone's opening. Our sentence was, surely, death. They brought a large cauldron, full of boiling lava, into the ring. I knew that our end was drawing near, and it was going to be in a way I wouldn't wish to my most hated enemy.
To my surprise, the journal ended there. I thought for a minute that if the Commander was able to write about all these things, he sure must have survived that day, but why did he stop writing? I checked all the pages once more carefully to make sure I hadn't missed any parts, but no, the Commander's writing was ending right at where he and his captains were waiting at that cage over the lava cauldron.
Frustrated for not learning the full story of the Commander, but more than that, feeling terribly sorry for the tragedies of my brethren, I couldn't sleep at all. I spent the rest of the night staring at the campfire and feeling grateful for being free.
In the morning, our scout took us through a hidden path at the top of the hills, which was rarely used by the Dark Iron Dwarves. We were now traveling atop the hills; we could see Searing Gorge with all its ashes and smoke to our right, and Burning Steppes with all its fire and lava to our left. The path was at such a high altitude that there was no chance of being seen by the Dwarves wandering at the plains on either side of the hills.
Soon after we started to track the hill path, I saw the silhouette of the Blackrock Mountain from a distance. This was the first time I was seeing it and I kind of felt buried under its grandness. More than the hot winds it was sending towards us and the lava particles it was continuously vomiting into the air, its humongous size created an everlasting impression on me.
From the look of it, if we kept at this pace, we would have arrived the mountain in the afternoon. Still feeling frustrated about the unfinished story of the commander, I grabbed the journal one last time to check if I had missed anything, as I sat next to the crates at the back of the wagon.
I touched each page of the journal as I quickly skimmed what I had already read. When I reached the last page again, I noticed something I hadn't really noticed last night. The last page was thicker than the other ones. I rotated the journal in my hands, shook it, rubbed the back of the last page and finally a batch of new pages were split open, which were stitched to the journal just after the last page. It looked like the final couple of pages that I had missed last night were unintentionally stuck together, most probably due to the pressure applied on the journal as it traveled back and forth.
I counted the number of pages on the journal, twice. The total was 15. Remembering that Chief Gorn had told me that there were 10 remaining pages on the journal when he gave it to me, I realized that he could not have seen the final pages that I just discovered. With a boosted curiosity, I delved into reading Commander Gor'shak's journal from where I had left last night, as the wagon got closer to Blackrock Mountain with each cycle of its wheels.
Continue: Commander Gor'shak's Journal - Part 5
- The Future of Profession System in World of Warcraft
- Ghosts of Ahn'Qiraj
- The Voices of Zangarmarsh Mushrooms
- Commander Gor'shak's Journal (Story)
- What Did the Dwarves Dig Up in Bael Modan?
- The Darkest Corner of Azeroth
- Twin Exiles of Tanaris
- Appreciating the Small Details in World of Warcraft - Part 1
- Heartbreaking Lament of the Whales of Ashenvale
- What Happened in Genevieve's Barber Shop?
17 Aug 2017 07:47 UTC
Gosh... Mature adults only, for sure! And not those with a vivid imagination and fragile souls. ;)
Thank you very much for the read, Eom - I kept coming back to it over the course of the last days, but finished the last part today; finding it hard not to continue through the next part, and the next after that.
I had to know, despite wanting to just walk away from the story all together! (Because of the horrors, not your writing skills)
You certainly made an impact on the way I look at all the places you describe, and all the various sounds that haunt them.
My favorite part of the whole story was actually this section:
"It was a long and rather cold winter night with an open sky decorated with stars, that was slightly warmed by the hot winds blowing from southwest, from the Blackrock Mountain and over the Searing Gorge, bringing not only the heat of the fire and lava of the volcanic mountain and the gorge that was now turned into a huge forge, but also the smell of the cinders, burnt earth and forged metal."
That was a fantastic description, especially the last part. And throughout the entire story, too; it was, sadly, almost as if I was there. Which I rather not be!
It was a very fine way to build it up; with following Sergeant Val'agg while at the same time discovering what the journal had to reveal, back and forth.
But, oh. How I wished he would have helped Commander Gor'shak along, to find peace and be reunited with his men. Then again, I might not have been able to, if it was me...
17 Aug 2017 14:38 UTC
Welcome back Alunaria, thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts about it. It means a lot to me as someone who is trying to not only "write about Warcraft" but also "improve his writing in general". Also, I know fan-fic stories are long and they can take quite a long time to read, especially if they don't feel much interesting. So, thank you for taking your time to read it.
To me, creative writing consists of two parts: The first one is the content, which is the story, the characters, the events. The second one is the style, which is how the content is sewn together, how it is presented, the words, sentence structures, descriptions used - the technical side. I believe that I do some things right in both parts, but I do know that I have a long way to go to master my writing. I don't know what the time will bring, but I do enjoy writing about World of Warcraft a lot and I will hopefully continue with that for as long as the inspiration keeps flowing.
I am glad to know that the story made you want to abandon it, but at the same time grabbed you to continue reading. This tells me that the ugly parts of the story felt real which made you not want to continue, but also the flow of the story created enough curiosity for you to continue.
I felt, still feel, that impact you mentioned about the places so strongly, that's the only way this story was able to come to life. Glad that I could transfer that feeling to you as a reader.
I also wished Commander Gor'shak was going to accept being rescued after so much pain and suffering, but he had long passed the point of return when Val'agg found him. Only those who have been through what he had been through can truly understand him.
18 Aug 2017 03:34 UTC
I'm not a writer, so havent got much insight into the process and "build" of a story, but I understand what you mean - it's like a whole building coming together, paying attention to every single detail.
Ah, I should have explained myself clearer; I wish that Sergeant Val'agg had been able to help Commander Gor'shak find peace and be reunited with his men, in death.
Not be rescued and return to a world he no longer could be a real part of.
18 Aug 2017 10:25 UTC
I got it now, I understand your thinking.
Well, the core idea of the story popped out from the initial premise that Commander Gor'shak is still alive. If he was not alive, then the story would have been a different one. Perhaps, it could be considered as one of the alternative endings, but only this ending made this story complete in my mind.
Gor'shak continues to live, his tortures and suffering continue, I and the reader feel for him, but we know very well that there is nothing we can do for him, just like Val'agg felt.
18 Aug 2017 12:23 UTC
Ohh, yes, yes, I know - I didn't mean to make it come across as a "I think you should change the end" kind of way :)
I entirely hear you; sometimes stories have to take the turn they do, in order to make the largest impact.
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