Commander Gor'shak's Journal - Part 7
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 6
When I closed the journal, the first thing that I felt was a complete understanding of Commander Gor'shak's wish for not wanting to be rescued. One should never have to go through the pain and sufferings he and his companions had to go through. One part of me wished to honor his wish and abandon my assignment right away, but I also had given my word to Chief Gorn, so I was going to find him and bring him back to his brother, to his people, no matter what, assuming that he was still alive.
Since I was deeply immersed in reading the unintentionally hidden pages of Commander Gor'shak's journal, I absolutely hadn't noticed that we had already reached the Blackrock Mountain. It was afternoon, a pale winter sun was shining in the sky, illuminating the plains of Searing Gorge from behind the majestic mountain.
The wagon stopped before we could see the colossal gate opening to the underground areas of the mountain, one of which was the Blackrock Depths, where the Shadowforge City and the dungeon prison Commander Gor'shak and his men were held captive in. Grabbing the supply crates we brought with us, we continued on foot with the two guards from that point forward, while the scout and rider took the wagon to a hiding spot, where they were going to wait for us till we returned.
The guards accompanied me as we entered through the gates of the Blackrock Mountain, and silently walked through the corridors, tunnels, chambers and over lava pools, and finally made it to the entrance of the Blackrock Depths. The terrifying things that I had just read in the Commander's journal so freshly circling around in my mind, I was so glad to see a familiar face when I met Executioner Nuzrak and Thal'trak at the new secret spot of the Expeditionary Force.
Briefly telling them about my assignment without going too much into the details, I gathered whatever information I could from them that would help me locate Commander Gor'shak. They were so happy to hear that Commander Gor'shak might still be alive, as they knew him dead as we all did, and that Chief Gorn had sent me on a rescue mission.
Executioner Nuzrak told me that there had been a major explosion many months ago, which caused their hiding place to collapse, hence they had to get out of the mountain to come back at a later time. He was hopeful that we would drive out the Drak Iron Dwarves and get the Blackrock Mountain back; my only response to him was a faint smile, as I kept thinking of the tragedies this mountain had been the home for.
I learned from Thal'trak that one of the Kargath Expeditionary Force agents, Lexlort, was stationed near the entrance of the Detention Block, gathering intelligence about the prisoners and the wrongdoings of Interrogator Gerstahn. Hearing her name made my blood simmer with rage but I did not have the luxury to let my emotions prevent me from focusing on and accomplishing my assignment.
Due to the nature of my assignment, which required extreme stealth and silence, I left the guards near Nuzrak and Thal'trak; then, without losing any time, I entered the Blackrock Depths and proceeded towards Lexlort, going in stealth, doing my best not to be noticed.
The inside of the Blackrock Depths was swarming with Dark Iron Dwarves of all ranks; wardens, overseers, guardsmans, marshals. Most of them were accompanied with giant bloodhounds that would eat a Dwarf alive if it was done wrong. I had not imagined them to be this big when I read about them in the Commander's journal. I saw members of the Twilight's Hammer cult, mostly their torturers, busy with mastering the "art" of torturing in ways my imagination would have had difficulty to grasp had I not read the Commander's journal. I had learned from the journal that people from all nations were kept as prisoners here, but I was surprised to also see people from all nations serving under the Dark Iron command; Humans, Gnomes, Taurens and even Trolls; the betrayers of the Horde and the Alliance.
As I approached the Detention Block, I noticed that the floor and the walls of the dungeon were full of small prison cells only one or two bodies would fit in uncomfortable positions. They looked so uncomfortable that I don't think their occupants had to endure that discomfort for long till they ended up in what I was seeing now: fleshless skeletons that you would have difficulty in believing that they were once living creatures. Not only that, but countless iron cages were hanging from the ceiling, all with at least one occupant, as alive as the ones inside the small cells on the floor or the walls, with arrows and knives stuck at different parts of their bodies.
I had seen many dark places in my life, but the darkness of this place was nothing comparable. Its darkness was not coming from being insufficiently illuminated, but it was coming from the unspeakably cruel acts that had been performed here.
I heard so many screams coming from all directions; Orc screams, Troll screams, Tauren screams, Human screams, even Dwarf screams... What kind of a madness could be doing this to their own kind? I asked myself, already knowing the answer from the Commander's journal.
As I continued to walk with the neverending screams in my ears, I remembered the symphony the Commander had referred to in his journal: the symphony of the tortured souls. What was more sickening than knowing how this symphony was composed was that the gut-wrenching screams of agony and suffering were mixed with cheerful laughs made by Dark Iron officers. Being so close to the source of such atrocity and not being able to do anything about it, -I had to focus on my assignment-, my heart was almost tearing apart from the heaviness of the sorrowful air blowing through the tunnels of the dungeon.
I was able to get to Lexlort with no incidents. When he heard about what I had come for, though he was really glad to hear that Commander Gor'shak might be still alive, he gently told me to go back to where I had come from, as the task I was assigned with was an impossible one. He told me that when they came back to the depths after the explosion, the Dark Irons had just increased the number of guards, patrols and bloodhounds. I still insisted on telling whatever he could that would help me get to the quarter where the prison cells were located.
Lexlort was a good guy no doubt, but he truly did not believe that I would be able to get past the guards, even if I could get the prison cell key, the master key to the cells that opened all the cell doors, in possession of Interrogator Gerstahn.
Thanking him for the information he provided, I went into stealth once more, and continued to the chamber of interrogation, by being extra careful. I had to trust my stealth and pickpocketing skills, as they were the only things that were going to help me with the impossible task ahead.
Gerstahn's torture complex consisted of a huge circular chamber, many rooms and a final hall, seemingly where she tended to her special guests by herself and her most skilled apprentices. Apparently, the torture complex was on a holiday today; there were no prisoners around, torturers and wardens were having a fun time in their rooms, in their own sick ways. It looked I could not have come on a better day.
Staying in the shadows and behind the corners, I slowly walked through the long corridor and ended in the last torture hall where I saw all the torture tools Commander Gor'shak had talked about in detail. Even just seeing them caused a painful feeling on my chest; I couldn't imagine the terrible pains these tools caused on the Commander, his captains and many other poor souls.
As I was inspecting the room from a shadowy corner, I saw a female figure in a purple dress, wandering between the torture tools, touching them gently and speaking to them as if she was speaking to her kids, while at the same time, enjoying the symphony she had composed. The amount of disgust I felt towards her was beyond explainable by words. Suppressing my feelings, I started to look for the prison cell key with my eyes. There it was, attached to a circular key holder, hanging from her belt over her right hip.
Holding my breath, I slowly approached her without breaking my stealth and grabbed the key quickly right when she bent over one of the torture tools and caressed it gently.
I was so full of adrenaline that I don't really remember how I got out of her torture hall and ended up in the tunnel that led to the prison cells. I was now holding the master prison cell key in my hands and I was ready to check the cells one by one, while unavoidably listening to the dreadful symphony of Gerstahn, which had followed me since I left the Expeditionary Force hiding spot, and had just got louder as I got closer to the prison cells.
The quarter where the prison cells were located was full of Dark Iron wardens and bloodhound patrols, so it was not easy for me to pass by them and check each cell one by one. I waited patiently for the perfect moments when a group of wardens rotated and moved to another cell, or when a group of wardens were called from another place, and started to check the cells to see if the Commander was in one of them.
I had checked about fifteen cells when I started to lose my hope for finding the Commander alive. But I kept looking, seeing many cells, witness to tragic events not so different than the Commander had written about.
As I approached one of the locked cells, I heard a different type of screaming that was unlike anything else I had heard in the dungeon so far. It sounded not like a cry of pain or agony but like a cry of regret and guilt. Hearing that cry, it was really hard to feel sorry for whoever that was crying, no matter how much you wanted to.
Once the wardens who were guarding that cell moved away, I rushed to its door and opened it.
I wished I hadn't... I just wished I hadn't opened the door of that cell... I could have gladly given half of my life if I just could have unopened that door that day, because what I saw beyond that door was a scene that would never leave me till the end of my days.
During my travel to Blackrock Mountain as I read the commander's journal, I was fully aware of the tragedies and atrocities that had been taking place in the depths of the mountain, but I had never really thought that I was going directly to that cell the majority of the commander's unfortunate story took place.
I saw many things in that cell, all at the same time, but I don't know how I can appropriately tell them all at once. I don't really know how I can describe the painful stab I felt in my heart when I saw the shrine at one corner of the cell, composed of the remains of Captains Mazdorak, Galgannesh and Truk'thor, their skeletons missing many bones, only their skulls and a few ribs next to them. I don't really know which words would best describe the suffering the broken nails, teeth, skin pieces, hair strands and blood stains covering the floor had been through. I don't really know how I can find the correct way of saying the creature that was lying at the back corner of the cell, its back towards me, had enjoyingly joined the dreadful symphony with its scream-like crying.
I took a few steps towards the creature, and whispered gently trying not to be heard by the nearby wardens:
I didn't have the courage to touch him as his body didn't look like he was alive, even though I was hearing the crying coming from his body. I was afraid that my touch could kill the poor creature. He seemed to be in a trance mood, not aware of my existence. I whispered again, a little louder:
This time, he stopped his cry, but my whisper was answered with silence.
"Commander Gor'shak!" I had to shout to grab his attention.
He startled where he was lying, and then slowly turned around to see who was calling him.
Seeing his face and the rest of the front of his body made me jump backwards with scare; scare of seeing what mankind could do to one other in this world. I had never seen one of my brethren in such a miserable condition before. Imagine someone who died in the most terrible way you can think of, that wouldn't even come close to what Commander Gor'shak had turned into. He had not only physically reduced to something you wouldn't even call an Orc, but from the look in his eyes, I could tell that he had also spiritually reduced to something unazerothly. The impression on his face... his eyes were trying to tell his sad story all at once, more than that, his eyes were seeking understanding; but he surely didn't know that he did not have to say a word to make the person that was looking just at him to realize the monstrosities, the cruelty, the pain and suffering he had to endure in this cursed underground dungeon.
The growing anger and hatred I had been feeling towards the Dark Irons, towards the Twilight's Hammers, towards all the abomination of this sick underground city, had just vanished when I saw the Commander like that. No revenge, no enmity, no war could have ever undone what had been done to the Commander.
The Commander tried to move his arms towards me, slowly rising from where he was lying:
"I... I had to survive... I just had to..." he said with the most lifeless voice I had ever heard. I hugged him gently and said "I know... I know everything Commander..." as we both cried.
His arms were thinner than the neck of a young plainstrider, he didn't have hands anymore, his chest and belly had no skin, his ribs were mostly visible, his back had big, deep wounds and marks, marks you would expect to be done by certain torture tools, from his waist till the tip of his toes, his lower body was burnt and seemed dysfunctional. Seeing him in this miserable shape, I almost felt guilty for disturbing a dead soul that was resting peacefully in his grave. He was beyond dead, he was beyond saving. Commander Gor'shak had long become a natural occupant of this damned dungeon.
"Who... who are you?" he asked with a faint voice.
"I am Sergeant Val'agg of New Kargath, sir. I am here to rescue you, assigned by your brother, Chief Gorn. Are you ready to get out, sir?" I answered, speaking slowly to make sure he would understand each word I used.
"That means... he got the journal..." he made an expression of gratefulness, knowing that his last effort of serving his people had not gone in vain.
"But you... you came to rescue me... why? Why... did you not leave me die... alone in this damned prison cell? Is it so that... I could deliver the bad news... to my men's families? How... how can a commander like me do that?" he continued to cry. Seeing how his ribs were shaking made me feel even more guilty for disturbing him.
"Leave me... leave me alone... I beg you... go... don't tell my brother that you found me... don't tell anyone that I am alive... let them know me as dead." he begged, trying to hold me with his handless arms.
That was when I realized that there was nothing I could do for him. There was nothing anyone could do for him. I didn't know what to say or what to do. He continued to talk:
"I survived... I survived not because I loved living so much... but because no matter what circumstances are, I had my duty of reporting my findings... I had my duty for my people. I had to survive... I want you... to promise me. Promise me that you will publish my journal... and let the citizens of Azeroth know about the evil happenings beneath the Blackrock Mountain. You will let people know... let them know the real face of the war... let them know what losing your freedom really means... and let them know that they have to do whatever is necessary to end this neverending war... Promise me that you will do that... promise me you will leave nothing out of it." he kept looking into my eyes with begging eyes.
"I promise Commander, I promise that I will do as you request." after getting my reply, the Commander turned back to lying in his initial position as I saw him when I first entered the cell. He started his scream-like cry again, which continued to echo in my ears when I left his cell by locking the door back on him, passed through the Detention Block, reached the secret hiding place of the Expeditionary Force, left the Blackrock Mountain and arrived at New Kargath.
On my way back to New Kargath from the cell of the Commander, I told anyone who asked, that I found the Commander's remains in one of the cells. That was what I reported to Chief Gorn too.
After reporting to the Chief, I made a copy of the journal and sent it to be published, using anonymous names for my respect of the ones that were involved. Then, I went to a remote spot no creature's feet would ever step onto, and buried the journal, with a pain gripping my heart.
I don't know if I did the right thing by not rescuing the Commander. Perhaps, I will regret this decision for the rest of my life, but how could I not honor his last wish? Who could have been able to not honor his wish?
If you have read this, I have no doubt, whether you are Horde or Alliance, that you will do everything you can within your power and within the power of your authorities, to contribute to the ending of this evil at the Blackrock Mountain once and for all. Just remember that if you are still freely traveling across Azeroth, instead of being tortured in a dungeon cell, you owe it to the information Commander Gor'shak had provided in his journal, which helped the Horde and Alliance to contain the Dark Iron Dwarves and prevent them from spreading to whole Azeroth.
At one of these days, if you ever pay a visit to the Blackrock Mountain to thin the ranks of the Dark Irons, to make the Twilight's Hammers pay for their tortures, or to rescue your prisoners, just keep one thing in mind:
If you hear a strange, scream-like cry like no other coming from one of the cells, don't you ever open its door.
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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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