Shargha's Stronghold Edit
"It's all falling apart," Underchief Boraga said, sprawled on the thick furbolg hides that littered the reception hall of Shargha's Stronghold.
"What's falling apart?" yawned Chieftain Shargha. He did not bother looking up from the maps sprawled on his campaign table.
"The world," Boraga said. "It's all about to tip into the Twisting Nether, you just watch."
Shargha gave a noncommittal grunt and reached for another map. Boraga had a strong sword arm and was as fearless as a troll, but he whined whenever he was not in the thick of action. Still, Shargha found the orc's brooding to be strangely comforting. If he was complaining, at least he was not plotting against his superior.
"Think about it. Wherever we go, things are always falling down on our pointed ears." Boraga pulled himself to his feet and started pacing. "From back in the beginning. We rule an entire world only to see it get swallowed up. We just managed to escape here before it did."
The lout speaks as if he was there, rather than something that happened generations ago. In a calm tone, Chieftain Shargha offered a correction. "Actually, we came here first. And then our leaders at the time, the warlocks, screwed things up so badly that we lost that First World."
Boraga was hardly listening. "So we come to Azeroth, and it gets roughed up by undead and demonspawn."
"Again, I think some orcs were involved somewhere in that as well," Shargha said. "Some of the same warlocks as the first time, to be accurate."
"So we escape again, on ships stolen from humans, and come to Kalimdor - to find ourselves in the middle of another huge war against more undead and demons."
"Which," Shargha said, "We won." He looked at a spot on the map, frowned, then reached for a heavy, bound atlas.
"Aye, but what have we won?" the younger orc steamed. "This is a broken land. There are ruins on top of ruins here. The coasts are littered with half-sunken ships. Petty kingdoms rise and fall like clockwork. Everyone with a sword and three followers wants to make himself Warchief. Fields have been scorched to stubble, livestock slaughtered or gone feral, and most of the buildings here burned down at least once."
"Interesting," Shargha remarked, almost to himself. "This map shows some old stronghold at the headwaters of the river, but later atlases don't show it. Do you know what that means?"
"Exactly what I am saying," Boraga snarled. "This place is a wreck, a mess, a pile of debris. Two steps from the Twisted Nether, with the demons banging on the doors."
Shargha sighed and rose from the table, walking to the window. This level of the stronghold was even with the treetops. He saw a vast green carpet spread out to the base of a line of snowcapped peaks. Somewhere among those peaks were headwaters, and by those headwaters a lost city - titan ruins, if the map notation was correct, filled with secrets and treasure. Yet all Boraga could do was complain that it had been lost in the first place.
A pillar of smoke rose from the forest, off to the right, about two days' ride away by wolfback - and a mighty blaze, given how easily he could make it out. It could be a natural lightning strike or forest fire, or it could be something worse. Invaders, perhaps, or some battle between forces Shargha knew nothing about. Maybe a funeral pyre. Maybe a chimaera carving out a roost. Maybe dwarves with their steam tanks, on their way to this lost stronghold.
Whatever it was, the fact remained that the blaze was two days' ride away. If it was trouble, it would come soon enough. He would send out extra grunts on evening patrol, just in case.
Aloud, the chieftain said, "Look at the world beyond our windows, Boraga. Here's an ancient world, with old treasures lost among ancient vegetation, fallen cities high within the mountains, and more knowledge lost than even the humans had in the days of Lordaeron. It's a world that is starting anew. What do you see when you look out the window?"
"I see a world that is ruined. That which isn't already ruined is burning, and that which isn't already burning isn't worth having." Boraga snorted. "What do you see?"
"I?" Chieftain Shargha said, his lips twisting around his great fangs in a satisfied smile. "Opportunities, my lad. What I see are opportunities."