With a loud, sickening cracking noise, her mace landed on top of the elf’s head, the face caving in on itself gorily. She grunted as she pulled the mace from his skull as he crumpled to the ground, bending down to rummage through his clothing for something of great importance. She found the letter, scanning it quickly and passing it to Zij, watching him with concern on her face as he read it, his eyes falling to the ground. “No mattah, Drae. We’ll stop ’em,” he smiled boyishly at her, and she could do nothing but smile back, grabbing the letter back from him and scanning it once more, pressing it into her bag.

“Elves think they can take this place from us? We’ll make sure they gotta fight fer it, hey lover,” she smiled at him wider, looking down at the corpse. “What should we do with him?”

Zij looked down at the body, its blood and brains and bits of skull pooling into the forest floor, then looking around the forest, “Well, best de elves don’t find out what we be knowin’,” he paused, grinning at her, “ja know, I really gotta get me a disposal orc or somet’in’.”

She laughed loudly, throwing her head back before nodding and bending down to heist the elven male over her shoulder.

“Dat ain’t what I meant!” he grinned, watching her as she easily moved him to her talbuk, Yuliseez, a present from Zij, lifting him over the saddle and evening him out, whistling for her wolf and guiding them along to the river. Zij followed at her side, the two of them holding hands the entire way. When they reached the river, Draeka hauled the body off by the head and he grabbed the feet, both of them moving together to throw the body into the water.

She looked up at him, smiling as she undid her plate breast piece and shoulders, letting them drop to the ground, her pierced nipples poking through her tight, white undershirt. He grinned as he watched her, lovingly thinking back on the day she got him to pierce her with the elven finger bones; one killed by him, one by her, licking his lower lip slightly. Laughing, she threw off the rest of her clothes, and traveling a bit further upstream she dunked her nude body into the water, cleaning off the bits of blood and skull that had splattered her, Zij watching all the while, his robes clean of the detritus.

~~

The troll male spooned into the orc female as they lay on a down blanket on the forest floor of Ashenvale. The purple trees above them were dark, the moon reflecting off the leaves. His arms wrapped around her, holding her hands at her chest, kissing her tenderly on her neck and ear as they spoke in whispers, his voice deep and low, hers soft but throaty. Their breath smelled of expensive wine, their nude bodies covered by a soft red silk sheet.

The moon moved in the sky as they lay still, enjoying the feel of their bodies pressed together, dreaming fantasies of better days where they could be alone, be open about who they are, be carefree. They spoke of their times past, reminisced about their happy and exciting explorations together of the world and of each other, of their plans for the future, of what they hope to get out of life. The entire night passed for them, their loving talk lasting all the while, clinging to one another, until the sun began to seep in through the trees, the birds chirping with the coming morning.

Zij sighed happily, leaning in and holding her close to him, kissing her cheek softly, “I love ju Drae. Ju mean so much ta me, don’t evah doubt dat. Not as Chieftain, or lovah.”

“I won’t. Zij,” she replied sleepily, her voice hoarse and tired, “I love you too. Don’t doubt me neither.”

“I don’t, an’ I won’t. I’ve been enjoyin’ dese days wit’chu. Me as Chieftain, ju at my side.”

“I wish it were under better circumstances that we were left to ourselves.”

“Ja… I know. But I don’t question de spirits. We were fortunate dat we were brought togeddah at all. I am t’ankful for dat.”

“Me too. Can’t even say how thankful I am for you bein’ my friend.”

“Ju de kind o’ friend I nevah t’ought possible. One ta share in battle, in fun, in all t’ings as equals.”

“You’ve helped me a lot, Zij. I really appreciate that.”

“I would ‘elp any o’ my Tribe. Ju were no different in dat respect, except in ‘ow much I came ta respect an’ love ju.”

“I really needed it, though… still do, sometimes. Ain’t easy to leave someone you been with since ya were a kid.”

“No… no it aint. But Drae, I need ju too. Every day.”

They paused, drinking in the glow of the early morning, small amounts of dew clinging to the purple grass. Breaking the silence, she whispered softly, “Zij…”

“Ja, Drae?”

“Nothin’…”

He hugged her tightly, squeezing her hands in his, “don’t be afraid ta say whatever wit’ me.”

“Zij… There just ain’t words.”

He leaned in over her, kissing her neck softly, “no dere aint my love.”

They fell into a deep, happy sleep, wide smiles on both of their faces.

~~

They stirred slowly, their bodies entangled into one another, the sun rising quickly into the sky. She opened her eyes rubbing the sleep from them and studying his face, a serious look on hers. She shook his shoulders softly, leaning in and kissing his throat delicately.

“Zij…?” she mumbled, and he stirred against her, opening his eyes slowly.

“Ja, my love?”

“Would you really ever seriously want a kid by me?”

Zij paused, looking at her, trying to judge her seriousness, then closing his eyes again, “Would ju refuse me if I asked ju seriously?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think so… but I don’t know… would… need us ta talk ’bout it.

Zij kissed Draeka’s cheek softly, hugging her to him tightly, “I’ll keep dat in mind den.”

~~

Drae sat alone in Zij’s home, laying on the bed and staring up at the ceiling in thought. It was early morning, and Zij was doing his exercises while she procrastinated in joining him, a soft, happy smile on her face. He had asked her out on a date, a real honest to goodness date, and she went over in her mind how it would go. Not only that, but he had asked her over the talisman. Her head swam with the possibilities of being at his side, at the party she was hosting, gloating to all who would listen about who she was there with.

She pulled the sheets down over her body, the silk material that Zij loved so much caressing her skin and making her even more reluctant to get up. It was a soft black colour, the entire room decorated in deep, rich colours accented with gold. She had dreamed of this day for months, since they first started seeing each other, and she was determined to make it a night they’d never forget.

~~

The party ended and they laughed and relaxed together in the inn in the Hinterlands, the night dark and humid, giggling together about their recent public indiscretion. She kissed his lips passionately, blushing brightly, her eyes bright with love and excitement, her body covered partially by the winter lingerie that Zij had made especially for her. They spent the night in the Hinterlands like passionate young lovers, desperate for one another.

~~

It was evening in Ashenvale, in the Keep, at their weekly meeting. Sitting side by side, Draeka and Zij sat on the cold floor, both looking dire. He glanced up from beneath his hood for a moment, speaking in a low, slightly hazy tone, “Tanight I’m afraid I aint feelin’ so good. Well… bettah den I ‘ave lately. Which brings me ta de important news for dis week.”

Draeka frowned, watching the dirt on the ground intently, knowing what was to come, but still not being prepared for it. Her head pounded with the pain of holding in her tears.

“Unfortunately my ‘ealth ‘asn’t been improvin’. I don’t know what it is, but… well, in any event, I need ta plan for de event dat I can’t be around all de time, in person, ta lead de Tribe. Now! I am not sayin’ anyt’ing serious, jus’ in case I am too sick ta make it out o’ bed or whatevah.”

She sneaked her hand towards his on the floor and he smiled slightly, holding it gingerly.

“So in de comin’ week or so, I will select someone ta speak on my be’alf. De voice o’ de Chieftain, dey shall serve as. ‘owevah, I am left wit’ a dilemma. Due to… recent events wit’ Barath, I don’t believe ‘e will be able ta serve dat role for a while, I t’ink ‘e would agree. An’…” Zij looked at Draeka, clearing his throat and gathering his strength. She squeezed his hand lovingly, not meeting his eyes, “Well, my right ‘and, Sergeant Draeka, de Tribe’s Chief Abettor, cannot serve de role, as… well, it would show favouritism to… de woman I love.”

She blushed brightly, her dark green skin turning darker as she cleared her throat and looked around awkwardly.

Zij smiled and squeezed Draeka’s hand, “Besides, I am sure she will be too busy standin’ by my side in de event dat I get so ill.” He paused, gauging the reaction of Barath, Heavi and Uunruk, before continuing, “aftah bein’ left by my wife, de Sergeant an’ I fell in love t’rough battle. Side by side.

“I was ‘opin’ ta announce dat at a bettah time, but dat’s ‘ow it goes. So I am left ta choose an impartial, long term an’ loyal membah o’ de Tribe ta serve as my voice in de event I am unable to present myself. I will… make de painful choice… soon.”

~~

She sat alone in the taint of Oshu’gun mountain, surrounded by the corpses of orcish warlocks, the blood tinting her plate red as she wept freely, trying to find the words of prayer. She had never prayed for anything before, and had never considered herself terribly spiritual, though she appreciated the spiritual side of things, but now was the first time that she had a gnawing need to pray for the health of her lover and best friend. She spoke through sobs, her hands rubbing furiously at the unstoppable flow of tears in a begging tone.

I’ve always been a warrior, but I’ve always tried ta resist the blood lust and get my life, and the orcs back on track through shamanism. I respect them so much, even if it ain’t the path for me. I have ta help in another way.

But ta do that, I need Zij. He can’t die on me, he needs to be there to guide me and help me. Jumwa said there’s a way to save him, but he’s dying, and I wanna be strong fer him so he can be strong fer me. I’ve fought so hard an’ so long fer any bit of happiness, an’ he’s so amazin’, he’s helped me so much an’ helped me feel even more spiritual an’ everythin’. I’m not the only one who needs him, neither. Barath depends on him, an’ if he ain’t there, I’m afraid he’ll turn to the fel even more, an’ the entire Tribe needs him an’ loves him. He’s doin’ good things. Sometimes, I think he’s so naive, tryin’ to convert everyone an’ turn them even from the fel ta be strong fer our families, to unite the strong an’ loyal races…

She laughed softly, sniffling in and smiling, thinking back to all the conversations Zij tried to hold with the Dragonmaw of Shadowmoon Valley, trying to convert them away from the fel and towards something more pure. He stood strong and proud, his voice unwavering against their threats and cries of outrage, as Draeka stared on stupefied, surprised by the one or two that didn’t end the conversation by charging into battle. As the memory faded, she burst into fresh sobs, sniffling her nose constantly as she tried to continue.

He’s just been so strong, an’ such a good man to everyone he met. He’s decent, good an’ strong an’ he don’t deserve to die so young. At least not like this.

She sniffled again, listening hard. She heard a voice in the distance and strained her ears to listen, hoping against the odds that for some reasons the spirits that couldn’t speak any longer had found a way to speak to her, to console her. The voice faded into the background and all was silent again, except for her crying.

After what seemed to be a long time, she stood up, once more begging softly, He’s all I have…, she spoke aloud, then listened again, trying to hold back her sobs as the tears continued to leak from her eyes, beginning to move out, defeated.

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