Renkka

It was raining a constant, grey drizzle in Silverpine. The ground was moist, what was left of the grass was coated in mud, and sunken into the ground was a small, young, orc lady, surrounded by broken glass. Strewn beside her, there were leather bound volumes, all written in demonic, and there were clawed footsteps leading away from her. She wore very little, far too little for being in such a cold place. Her hair was done up in two tiny pig tails, her face cleared of mud by the constant dripping of the sky. Growling deep in her chest, she rolled onto her side, trying to push herself up from the muddy ground. Her head pounded, blurring her vision, as she stumbled to her feet. Holding out her hands to try to find something to steady herself, she took shaky steps forward, stepping onto the broken vials. She moaned in pain, stumbling forward, and stopping herself on a nearby tree. She leaned her back against it, holding herself for warmth. A tiny squirrel ran across her foot, causing her to shriek in fear, as her vision slowly returned, and the pounding in her temples dulled.

She looked down at her body, confused, before taking in her surroundings. She mumbled half-words at the ground as she picked up the books. She looked at the broken vials, and picked them up, placing both in a small bag she found nearby. Inside the bag were some more vials, as well as a few additional changes of clothes, and a few roots and flowers. Confused, she found a small, flat, white stone, and a small, hoop, ring. She felt up at her ears, finding she had similar rings sticking through them.

A black worg looked at her curiously as she began muttering and sobbing. She tried to remember how she got there, failing. But more frightening to the young orc, was that she couldn’t recall what had happened before that. Or before that. Or before that. She couldn’t grasp at a single tangible memory. Eying the worg, she began backing away, leaving what remained of the glass, until she burst into a sprint, heading north, and hoping to find someone or something that could help her.

Finding her way to a paved road, she continued on. She came to a wooden sign, and read the word, “Brill”. Following the arrow, she continued at a jogging pace until she came to the next sign, pointing her up a small hill, and into a town. She cried out, confused at the beings she saw. Looking down at her own muscular and bright green hands, she stared at their pale, rotted, sagging flesh. Turning on her heel, she ran from the town, terrified. But in her panic, her headache had returned, and her eyes once again blurred, and next thing she knew, she was on her ass, having bumped into a large horse.

The rider dismounted, offering his hand to her to help her up. Scrambling backwards, she moved away, standing on her shaky legs. “Miss, are you hurt?” the undead asked, with a slight hiss. She involuntarily let out a gasp of relief, content that he knew her language. She nodded, struggling to understand what was happening. His face looked up to her, concern on his face. His eyes were hidden by a band of leather, his skin missing patches of flesh, and his hair sticking out in a frantic pattern, but he seemed nearly kind. “Come on, I have a place near here, you can dry off, if you like.”

Suddenly aware of the chill that was passing through her body, and the heavy water still dropping on her, she nodded again, following behind him as he led her through a small town, which she assumed to be Brill, before leading her up a hill, and to a small, out of the way, hut. Cautiously, she stepped inside, before eagerly running to an already lit fireplace. Stripping quickly of the little clothing she had on, she sat naked in front of the fire, rubbing her hands on her arms in an attempt to get warm.

The man coughed uncomfortably, glancing away from the orc woman, and busying himself with making some hot water in the fire. “Thank you,” she mumbled softly, her voice a low and filled with warmth. He smiled a toothy smile, grinning down at her, before again averting his eye-less eyes. Curious, she stared up at him, starting to ask a question, but thinking better of it.

He sat, fixing her tea, neither of them speaking. The fire crackled, drowning out the sound of the rain tapping on the windows. She smiled, almost happily, as she lay back on the soft fur carpet, sticking her feet close to the fire. “I like this place, I think,” she sighed, looking up at his back as he sweetened their teas with some of the small bottles of, what she assumed to be, herbs. With his back still on her, he asked her what she was doing running around in the wet forest with not even a cape to protect her. Frowning slightly into the fire, she shrugged, “I don’t know.” He looked over his shoulder, confused, before bringing the tea to her. “Well, drink this then, orc. I don’t make tea for your kind often, so I hope it’s to your liking.” She rolled the word over her tongue, “orc…”

His face once again fell to confusion, “well…. what’s your name, then?” She bit her lower lip, sitting to stare into the fire, before letting out an unhappy sigh. “I don’t know.”

 

The two had sat, Mathis the forsaken, and the orc without a name, on the soft-fur rug in front of the fire, sipping their tea until long after the darkness grew black, and the night animals could be heard. Mathis had attempted conversation, but talking to a blank slate grows tiresome, so he had taken to talking to her, instead of with her.

He explained to her about what an orc was, from a forsaken’s perspective, as well as telling her about the horde, and of course, the undead. He wasn’t an educated man, in life, or death, but he was kind in his own way. He would glance at her, occasionally, her eyes focused on the flames that would dwindle before he threw another log on. Unsure if she was listening, or even hearing, his talk, he nodded and picked himself to the small cot in the corner.

“You can sleep there, if you like. You’re welcome to stay the night, if you like.”

The orc woman didn’t move. She lay, still nude, on her stomach, her feet crossed behind her, facing the fire. Soon, Mathis was making disgruntled sleeping noises and grinding his teeth and the fire sputtered and died. Letting out a low moan, the woman dropped her chin to her hands, now completely enveloped in the all-consuming darkness of Tirisfal.

She had been listening, and trying to come to terms with what he was telling her. Her people were to be savage, brutal killers with a thirst for power and blood and pain of their foes. She focused, trying to picture a savage beast with skin the green of hers, scoffing at the thought. She certainly didn’t feel savage. But somehow… the rest rang true with her. For some reason… it seemed as though killing were natural, as though the lust for power swam in her veins.

She puffed up her cheeks, both confused and incredibly annoyed at not being able to remember anything before this night. She rolled onto her back, resting her hands onto her stomach and fell into a dark sleep.

~~

She stayed with Mathis for many nights after that, him always talking at her while she stared off, both trying to absorb what he was saying, and find her place in it. She had him look at the things in her bag, and explained to her the odds and ends and what they were used for. She could only assume that she was experimenting with potions and, what Mathis called, fel magics, before she lost her memory.

She took it all in, wrapping her mind about it and trying to think of where to go next, and what to do with herself. She rarely left the comfortable little hut that Mathis had made her temporary home, and he seemed to be good company. After a few days of being called “little girl”, she decided that it would be a good step to get an actual name. Mathis helped with what he could. Apparently, he had actually enslaved a few orcs in his living days and had overheard his fair share of orcish names.

“What about… Graka?” she pondered. He only shrugged, “Doesn’t suit you. It’s too harsh.” “Melou?” He shook his head, “Too soft for an orc.” She grumbled, “Raka?” He paused, considering, before hissing a “close.” Pausing, she looked up at his eyeless-eyes, “Renkka?”

His rotted mouth turned into a smile, and he only nodded. She twirled it around in her mouth a few times, letting her tongue and lips perfect it, smiling happily and clapping her hands together. He let out a half sigh, half smile, “You’re too happy and warm to be an orc, Renkka,” he said quietly, lifting her chin with his bony finger. “You need to find some… learn to be like them. I like you, Renkka, you’re not bad. But it’s not fair that you don’t know anything about yourself, let alone your own people.”

He turned his back on her, busying himself with making some more tea, humming a soft, sad melody as he often did. “I think you’re right, Mathis” but” I’d like to take a bit more time” spend some time here, uhm, if you’d have me, before I go find more orcs.” He chucked, “stop stuttering, little girl Renkka. No need to be shy here,” he said, tossing a grin over his shoulder at her. She smiled, “’course. So can I stay, Mathis?”

He finished making their tea, sitting next to her on the fur carpet so that his fleshless knee touched hers. She gratefully took the mug, sipping on it, staring back into the fire. “Of course. Stay as long as you need. It’s nice to have company.”

He smiled, sadly, before returning to his humming tune. After a minute or two, Renkka’s own low and honeyed voice met with his high and garbled one, both staring into the fire, entranced.

 

Mathis spent his days working in Brill. He was a guard there, and spent most of his days talking and counseling new forsaken who were trying to be helpful to the horde or Sylvanas. They got standard training back in Deathknell, teaching them how to do basic things like use their limbs and to take down an enemy, after which they moved to help the forsaken in Brill. He would often delight Renkka, telling her of the amusing, and sometimes depressing, stories and words that came from the new undead.

And during the day, Renkka decided that she best learn to help the horde as well. She tried out quite a few different things, before finding where her skill lay. Mathis was weary of the demonic novels that she kept in her bag, and urged her to take up arms in a more traditional sense, but Renkka knew right away that she could never be a proud and noble warrior or shaman, and certainly not a sneaky rogue. She tried her skill with a bow, but would miss the target when she wasn’t fumbling and dropping arrows.

But oh, she could wield magic. She eagerly went to the warlock trainer’s, asking for their guidance and to help her bend the shadows to her will, to which they eagerly obliged. Renkka was a good pupil. She spent hours pouring over her books and listening to those with more strength than she. While Mathis worked, Renkka studied, and practiced, and learned the ways of darkness. And to her, it was natural. She could feel it pumping in her veins, her head less blurry as she watched her foes be consumed from the inside out.

She strengthened, her mind becoming sharp and focused the more she learned. And the more she learned, the more she craved to know. The forsaken in Deathknell would often send her confused looks, some being quite rude to her, as she obliviously carried out her training, running enthusiastically from one trainer to the next and back out to the fields to practice in.

Within nearly no time at all, she was able to summon a small imp from the nether that was, in her mind, useless as a sidekick, but a feat of accomplishment for herself. She kept him at his side, his mouth held shut with glue, as a monument to her growth and nothing more.

It seemed sudden when the warlocks in Deathknell told her they had no more to teach her, and that she had surpassed them in her training. Brimming with delight, she ran back to tell Mathis of the exciting news.

But it seemed Mathis didn’t have as good of day as she did. He sat, slumped in front of the fire, his tea cooling beside him, as his head rested in his bony hands. It was raining again, and his clothing stuck to his skin, his hair matted on his scalp. Renkka walked over, placing her wet hand on his wet back as she stared at his face. She knew she didn’t need to speak and that he’d tell her when he was ready.

The sky darkened, thunder rumbling in the distance, neither of them moving except for Renkka’s breathing. The fire slowly dwindled, and Renkka moved to put more wood on it when she heard his voice rasp behind her, “I had to jail someone today,” he hissed. Renkka froze, turning back to look at him. “What do you mean? Why?” “Have you heard of the scarlet crusade?” She shook her head slightly from side to side. “Well, they’re a group of humans who work to wipe out the scourge. There are some in Tirisfal, but their main area of operations is in the Plaguelands. Some are able to know the difference between the scourge and the forsaken, most are not, and it seems one of them has been, well, they’re undead now, and just as hateful as when they were human.

“They’ve been locked away, kept safe from the forsaken as well as keeping the forsaken safe from them. She’s powerful, and, believes she’s righteous in her actions.”

Renkka nodded, turning her attention back to the fire before sitting down next to him. “You should get changed, you’re going to smell bad if you stay in wet clothes,” she joked, urging a half smile to her lips. He chucked before obliging. “Don’t know what I did before you, Renkka. Would be so boring without you around,” he sighed as he slipped on his frayed pajamas. She just smiled, staring at the fire. “They told me I should seek training in Brill next,” she blurted out, trying to avoid the obvious implications in his tone.

He smiled as he settled back to the fire, pushing his mug closer to heat the tea again. “I know you’re going to do great things, Renkka. Just be careful. The fel magics, especially the shadowy kind can warp your mind. I don’t want my sweet Renkka to be changed.”

She blushed at the words. His sweet Renkka.

Seemed nearly natural to belong to a man.

 

For weeks the orc known as Renkka had been unavailable. Hiding her talisman deep in her bag, she had packed up her clothing and meager possessions and took the boat to Booty Bay.

Inhaling the sea salt smell of the air, she balked slightly, forcing herself to step off the boat and onto the dock. Biting on her lower lip and slowly taking in the sight of all the goblins and humans, she visibly quivered, lowering her head and making her way to the inn where she had booked a room for an undetermined amount of time.

She felt their eyes on her, the goblin bruisers, just as she had every time she had visited the place. Since she had woken up in the Silverpine forest, she had visited the place a few times on business. The first time, she ran from the boat to collect some part that was required for someone back in Ashenvale, and ran right back onto the boat, in an obvious state of panic.

At first, she wasn’t sure if it was because of the tiny gnome female hugging at her leg, or the familiar feeling in the air, and the bazaar looks from the goblins that stood guard. But as time passed, she came more and more certain that Booty Bay held the answers to some questions.

Times had changed since she spent those months with Mathias. She had become a part of a Tribe filled with Orcs and Trolls who longed for the old ways, the ways she wanted to know more about. She was shy, at first, often stumbling over her words, often times pausing and thinking as she spoke. But the Witch Doctor of the Tribe had taken her under his wing, and was teaching her all he could about what it meant to be an Orc and what it meant to be part of a Tribe. He was also able to clear her head from the nuisance of her continual headaches, for which she was eternally grateful.

There were others in the Tribe who had helped her as well, with different aspects of herself. Ezrah, another orc female, was actually in a similar predicament. She, too, had lost her memories, although she had recently rediscovered this.

Renkka was desperate to find out her feelings on what she should do. She was lost, and confused, and not sure if she should dig too deep into a past she wasn’t sure she wanted to know. So she invited Ezrah over to her house, and they chatted.

Though the details of their conversation had gotten muddled in Renkka’s mind over the past few days, she knew that Ezrah thought that even bad memories are things that were worth having. And so, a few days later, Renkka sent a letter to her Master, Zij, explaining the situation, and sailed off.

The room was small, but suitable for what she needed to do. She didn’t have much gold to her name, having spent several dozen in the past few weeks for her alchemy training, but she hoped she had enough to pay for what she needed.

It wasn’t until that first evening she got there that she had her first peculiar experience. A human, with golden, shaggy hair and a heavy set body sat next to her in the tavern. When she raised a questioning eyebrow, he winked at her. In broken orcish, he even managed to speak a few words. “You back?” Puffing up her chest, she stared at him in shock. “What?” “Same before?”

She stood, quickly turning her back on him and walking to the bartender. “That man just spoke to me, do you know who he is?” The goblin let out a sour laugh, “they all look the same to me.” Frowning, Renkka returned to her room, running the four broken words over and over in her mind. She fell into a restless sleep, familiar smells wafting up to her room causing her vibrant and colorful dreams.

She knew after that night, for better or for worse, she would eventually find her past in this place.

It wasn’t until many days later that she was able to find someone else who knew her. A scraggly goblin, Glazgo, had been looking at her constantly whenever she walked by. She was accustomed enough to the look of desire in his eyes, and she resented it. After being unable to sleep one night, she went for a walk on the dock, sitting and staring up at the moon when she heard footsteps behind her. Shivering and wishing she wasn’t wearing her thin top, she slowly turned, letting her eyes adjust to the absence of light.

And he stood there, glowering down at her. “You should have stayed away, Nabaza.” Stumbling to her feet, she turned to face him, looking down at the tiny, green figure. “I think, uhm, I think you might, uh, have me confused with someone else,” she stammered, her eyes trying to make contact with the few dock workers that worked the night shift as they avoided the confrontation. “I know who you are. There is no way I would not recognize that pretty little face of yours.”

She gulped, fumbling in her pockets for something that would help her protect herself, coming across a small vial. Grasping it in her hand, she continued stammering, “I’m just an orc, here on business. I… I don’t know you,” His eyes widened, his mouth breaking into a toothy grin. “You know, I almost believe you with that cute little stutter you developed. You should have used that before. Might have gotten us some more gold from certain types.”

She let out a tiny whimper, “I have to go back to my room, Sir!” she cried, trying to side step around the little goblin who only laughed. “Now that you’re back, you can start making me some gold again!” he cackled manically. “That forsaken you ran off with, ran off with quite a tab. Never paid his rent. Way I sees it, you owe me for that plus interest.” His mouth grinned wider, “and I’m sure you’re eager to get back to work, aren’t you? Always were so eager to please your client. That’s what made it such a shame when you ran off.

“Now, come along, Nabaza. I lined up some men for a return to work party,” he cackled manically, grabbing for her arm.

The waves lapped behind her, voices on a boat arrived. She quickly pulled out the potion, throwing it in his face. Running through the crowds of people, she jumped onto the boat, locking herself in the bathroom. She sobbed all the way back to Ratchet, her cheeks red with shame.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: