Commander Gor'shak's Journal - Part 5
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 4
My captains and I, making our final prayers, we kept looking at each other with hopeless eyes, as our cage started to move and align over the lava cauldron. As the actors of our judgment day, we were approaching our unavoidable fates helplessly, as the cage moved downwards into the cauldron.
The heat and smoke of the lava started to embrace our bodies. Interestingly, it was not smelling like fire or burning lava; it was smelling like death, it was smelling like our ends. Truk'thor, Galgannesh and Mazdorak, we held each other's hands and silently accepted our fates to claim us.
The bottom of the cage slowly touched the lava inside the cauldron below us, our feet had already begun to burn due to the heat, and now the flames were rising high on our legs. We were out of breath and life force that we couldn't even scream, but even if we had, it would have been suppressed by the wildly loud appluse that was echoing within the ring. The flames had reached our bellies and had burnt much of what they had found on our legs, when we heard a huge explosion coming from a far corner of the city, which shook the walls and the ground of the ring, as well as the mechanism our cage was attached to. Screams and cries coming from everywhere, the crowd that had been watching us enjoyingly, was now running around in panic and shouting:
"The Sealed Gate was destroyed! Run for your lives! Doom is upon us! Run!".
Amidst the chaos when everything went haywire, the mechanism that was slowly lowering our cage into the cauldron stopped, and then started to rise again. Some of the Dark Iron wardens quickly grabbed us, or I should say what remained of us, out of the cage and took us back to our cell and locked the door on us, as they did the same to other captives who were not judged yet.
Whatever had happened, it must have grabbed the focus of all the Dark Iron Dwarves and their allies in Blackrock Depths, since the only word that would be appropriate to describe the things we kept hearing as we lay in our cell was “war”. Unending shouts and commands, footsteps, sounds of running golems, sounds of war machines, explosions, gunshots, metal swings, smashes, cracks, screams of dying Dark Irons, screams of dying some unfamiliar things, what we were witnessing not with our eyes but with our ears was a full scale battle, the likes of which I had never experienced before.
We had no idea what the Dwarves had meant by “The Sealed Gate”, what might have exploded it and what might have come through it. All we knew was that it was grand enough to keep every single Dark Iron busy in the coming days, and we were just glad for that; being saved from meeting our unfortunate ends.
Only when we had the chance to take a deep breath from the chaos of war, did we realize how badly we were burnt. Our feet, our legs... they had burnt terribly. They were still so hot and bleeding. Neither of us could walk or even crawl. The pain was simply unendurable.
I pushed myself by dragging my body with my arms towards under the small water hole. I drank a couple of droplets myself, then accumulated some water in one of my palms and served to my captains one by one. They had an impression of gratitude on their faces but they were all looking like strangers to me now. Crushed, squeezed and grinded under horrific tortures for so long, I, their commander, was not really able to recognize my men anymore. I retreated to my corner slowly and put my head into my hands; I cried without making any sound, not for myself, but for my men, and for others we have watched go through horrible tortures and deaths. If a beating heart was not enough to classify someone as alive, I was already a dead person, more dead than most of the buried ones.
The war outside of our cell, and perhaps in all of the Shadowforge City, continued in its intensity for days. Even though we were not seeing what was happening, we were feeling that many Dark Irons were already slayed, because at each passing day the sounds we were hearing were getting weaker, farther and scarce.
One day, when we woke up, we heard no sounds coming from the outside at all, it was dead silent. We did not hear a Dwarf, a bloodhound, a golem or anything else making even the slightest noise outside. So, we waited, with half burnt bodies, not knowing what to think of what had happened.
It was one of the dead silent days, that we started to think that we were forgotten in our cell, perhaps like all the other captives. I tried to get up on my feet but I couldn't, so I crawled to the cell door and shouted as strongly as I could, hoping someone outside might hear my voice, or at least we could talk to other captives perhaps. Considering my condition, you would call it a miracle that the only thing that heard my shout was not the cell door. We heard my voice echo within the tunnels outside for a short time. I shouted a few more times, same echoes followed. Got no replies, dead silence continued. My captains and I continued to shout as much as we could by turns, to increase our chances of getting noticed, that is, if there was anyone outside that could notice us.
Meanwhile, we continued to inspect the cell, the door, the floor, the walls and the ceiling to see if we could find any weak spot or any place where we could dig our way out. The cell was constructed of dark iron, a solid, cold metal, neither breakable, nor easily scratchable. Not getting discouraged by that fact, Galgannesh and Mazdorak started to “dig” between two dark iron tiles with their nails, as if they would be able to proceed one inch in one year. Truk'thor focused on scratching a tiny crack on the wall from where some critter bugs used to come through, by a tooth he extracted from his mouth in great pain. Seeing them such hopeful and focused, I joined them and helped the escape plan as much as I could. I knew we had no chance of getting out, but I also knew hope was the only thing that kept you alive in such circumstances, so we kept digging, without sitting idle and worrying about our fate. We did not have food but we had water, though scarce, and we could survive as much as we could while slowly carving a way out.
As we were resting in the cell during one of our breaks half dead half alive, Galgannesh noticed something on the ground: a small piece of burnt flesh that probably had dropped from one of us. He approached and took it from the ground, inspected it for a moment, then put it at the same place. He looked at the three of us in the eyes miserably and started to cry like a child. His cry was so silent that even we had difficulty hearing it. I couldn't help but crawl towards him and hugged him as I would hug my own child. He kept crying, I could feel his chest over mine as it was shaking by crying, but I could also feel the hunger this crying was caused by, as I was feeling exactly the same.
I left Galgannesh's corner and grabbed the burnt flesh from the ground. My men were looking at me with fixed eyes; it was a moment of a silent agreement among us about doing something we would never have done under normal circumstances. I gently split the burnt flesh into four pieces and gave one piece to each of them, without looking at their eyes. We all got back to our own corners of the cell, turned our backs to the center and slowly ate the pieces at our hands. I don't think anybody cared about how it tasted; when we got back to work, I could see the gratefulness in their eyes for being able to push something down through their throats.
We were digging as much as anyone in our condition with the tools we had could dig, but the progress we were having was just hopebreaking. Still, neither of us had the courage to confess what we were doing was a futile attempt.
About two days had passed since we ate that burnt flesh piece, that Mazdorak didn't wake up in the morning, as if we were able to tell the difference between day and night. I crawled to where he was sleeping and gently shook him on the shoulder as I called him by name. Others crawled to him too. The cell walls echoed with heartbreakingly miserable voices saying "Mazdorak!" for a couple of minutes. He never responded. He was dead.
We did not have anything to cover his body, all the remaining parts of our clothes were torn and destroyed while digging, all the hay we had was eaten. So, we dragged his lifeless body to one corner of the cell and performed the ritual our people performs for their dead, to our best capacity. We finished the ritual by making prayers for the poor soul. Mazdorak was a fine captain and he was a good friend, may his soul rest in piece...
That day, none of us felt like working or doing anything at all; without looking at each other's face, we kept silent till we got back to sleep again.
In just a few days, the cell started to fill with a terrible smell. It had already smelled as terrible as it could, but the smell that was now radiating from Mazdorak's dead body was much stronger. Noticing the smell just like his two companions, Truk'thor asked me without raising his head:
"Commander, what are we going to do with Mazdorak's body?" this was a question none of us really wanted to think of, but we had to find an answer soon, as not only the smell would soon become unbearable but also his body would start to spread diseases if left unburied like that. Galgannesh added:
"Yes Commander, what are we going to do with his body?"
As their commander, I was older, more experienced and stronger than them, but I was not feeling older, more experienced or stronger to continue to be their leader at that time, at a time when my men needed my lead the most.
I looked at Truk'thor, then at Galgannesh, then at Truk'thor again. None of the answers I was able to provide that day was an answer that would have made any of us feel better. I thought silently for a minute, then looked at Truk'thor and Galgannesh again. Seeing the difficulty I was having to provide an answer, Truk'thor tried to help me come to a decision with a lifeless voice, that sounded like it was coming from an Undead:
"We surely cannot bury him here..." he pointed at the dig on the floor, which was just a few hair thickness deep now, "we cannot get him out either..." he showed his dent on the wall, which was no thicker than the one on the floor. "If we keep him open like that, we will soon get sick and join him. What about that we ask him to help us survive? Right, Commander, why not ask him to help us survive?"
Galgannesh wondered in frustration:
"How can he reply us? He is dead!" and started crying again.
Truk'thor continued: "I know he is dead, but I am pretty sure he would have chosen to help us was he alive. What do you say Commander?"
Galgannesh was now sitting right next to Mazdorak's body, holding one of his hands, sobbing loudly.
I knew what Truk'thor had meant, as it was not something that hadn't passed through my mind in the last couple of days, but I just did not have the courage to provide it as an answer when they asked me what to do. Not to try to justify what we were going to do, but to remind myself and my men that we were still soldiers of the Horde, assigned by the great Warchief with a critical task, the success of which might change the course of the whole war, I told them:
"Do you remember the first day of your military training, brothers? One of the first things we were taught was that our first and most important task under any circumstance would always be “to survive”. That's what we are going to do. Mazdorak is dead, we performed the ritual to honor him, I have no doubt his spirit is now among our ancestors, peacefully watching over us. And now, we will help his remains to merge with the nature. For the success of our mission, we have to survive, that's what we are going to do."
I will skip the ugly details that we had to perform that day, to help Mazdorak's body to merge with the nature by helping us survive, but it was simply the worst day of my life, I had no doubt my two captains felt the same too. I had never felt so bad and so non-Orc for something I have ever done before, like that.
Continue: Commander Gor'shak's Journal - Part 6
- 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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