Rain fell heavily on the plains of Nagrand–the heady scent of earth filling the air. The drops glistened as they fell, lightened by the high moon. Birds chirped to one another from the safety of their natural canopies as the worms rose to the surface, bathing in the moist earth.

A sole orc sat, her bare legs coated with mud. A loose, brown robe covered her, though it clung to her, the material thick with water. Still, she never stirred, her eyes closed, her mind shut out from the external elements. As though in a trance, her breathing was shallow and calm, setting a rhythmic pace. The land hummed to her, so faintly, murmuring its silent appreciation for the rain.

Oshu’gun was so close, she could see it over the ridge, should she choose to. It glistened unnaturally in the night, slick and ethreal in the soft light. She reached out to it with her mind, seeking a clue from the past that would guide her; guide the orcs.

She was no shaman. Her magical affinity had been forced and tainted, something dirty given to her by a loved one, and she was tainted because of it. But this lingering taint, she hoped, would bring her closer to the spirits; closer to the elements; closer to understanding and peace.

Slowly, her wet lashes parted, water trailing down her lips and jawline, combining with the tears that she shed for all she had lost.

She was no closer now than when she had started.

She sat on her large wolf, Vok’tar, deep in the forests of Ashenvale, her eyes not stopping from watering, despite her will. She grabbed for her mace, hopping off her mount and holding it steady, the tears stopping in her alert state. Draeka looked around suspiciously for the cause of the crackling leaves, before catching a glimpse of blue in the trees, and a tiny, girly voice calling out her name.

Jez walked into Draeka’s view, and for a few moments they just stared at one another. The troll was obviously pregnant, her stomach bulging on her tiny frame, making the girl look off balance and even more clumsy than usual. Draeka, normally strong and proud, had red eyes and slick cheeks, letting the mace drop to her side as though it were too heavy for her to lift any longer.

Slowly the orc moved closer to her, Vok’tar standing proudly at her side, as she quickly embraced her, holding Jez tightly. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to console her or keep her from running at the news, but she knew she needed to hold her as she began speaking. Her voice was hoarse and slightly crackling as she spoke, “Zij is dead.”

The tiny girl collapsed against her, her knees buckled beneath her as she began sobbing, her entire body limp as she cried and screamed, babbling incoherently for hours, long after she should have been exhausted.

Draeka didn’t cry then. For the last few weeks she had cried, but for those hours she held Zij’s former lover. She fought off every emotion, closing herself off from every sensation that might allow her to break, for if she allowed Jez’s sorrow to infect her, there was no way of knowing if she’d have the strength to stand again.

Draeka sat outside the Keep in Zij’s favourite dress, hiding from the Tribe, watching them slowly walk out in their own sorrow. She was crying once more, her face stained with salt, sniffling as she saw Jumwa walk out of the meeting, alone. She quickly stood and ran over to him in her bare feet, looking up at him, “I wanna talk ta him,” she choked, trying to sound menacing.

Jumwa’s demeanour suddenly changed. He looked upon her with love in his eyes as she quickly pushed him against the wall, kissing him passionately. It was true that Zij’s body was dead, but his essence survived through Jumwa, and she clung to this, needing him to be alive so badly. She got past the sight of the troll she despised, her love of Zij overpowering her repulsion at touching Jumwa. It was an unfamiliar sensation, but for that evening, she was back in Zij’s arms and everything was okay.

The taint. She knew its ways, the feeling as it coursed through her veins. She vividly could recall the heat of her blood, more aware and alert than she had ever been. Broken bodies and blood all around her and she was laughing, her entire body surging with lust and accomplishment, Gromth at her side. Always Gromth.

She knew why the orcs would wish to be tainted.

Looking up at Zij – the real Zij – lovingly, she embraced him, listening as he told her of the Loa, of the Zandalari, of his home. It all seemed so familiar and so foreign. She couldn’t help but cling to his every word like a child. There was something indescribable about the Troll Loa to her, and her flesh tingled with the knowledge.

Draeka frowned down at Speedy, staring at his contented face as he gnawed on a worm, looking back at her curiously. Her only company in Nagrand were her numerous pets, and they dallied around her, scuffling and fighting, enjoying the soft ground. The sun was high in the sky and was quickly drying all that remained of the previous showers.

“I need help…” she muttered dejectedly, sighing and letting her head down. Speedy put a clawed foot on her bare leg, his coarse skin rubbing against her as she lowered her hand for him to nibble on.

It had been months since she began her search. When she first started, she hadn’t assumed it would be easy; but week after long week passed and she remained unable to connect any more than a brief rumble in the earth or a tiny gust of air that she swore said something in another language. The world whispered to her, it tingled her veins, touched her. It wanted her to know something that she wasn’t ready to know.

She sighed and plopped back into the grass, her dress still wet around her body, slowly drying in the heat of the sun as she watched the magical energy in the air swirl unnaturally before slowly drifting into a fitful sleep.

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