Her feet pounded into the ground as she sprinted around her small, claimed land. For the past weeks she had been training full time, barely breaking to eat. Her atrophied muscles had regained their fervor and her body was lean and tone. Her arms had begun to bulge slightly, once more, and her legs were carved into beautiful works of art.

She was able to easily slide back into her armour and practiced swinging at imaginary targets, then wooden ones, improving her accuracy and speed. Draeka was back where she was before Zij’s illness, and yet every time she tried to will her body to more towards her wandering Netherdrake, she paused and turned back around.

She slept fitfully that night, visited in her dreams by blinding, vibrant colours swimming into one another in nonsensical tuffs of smoke.

When she awoke, she knew today was the day to go.

Draeka sat atop Yuliseez and looked at the Keep with a stern eye, slowly dismounting and approaching one of the orcs. He was broad, his head clean shaven and stood just slightly shorter than the female. She looked down at him and spoke, her voice gruffer than usual from disuse, “Senior Sergeant Draeka Ironblade. Where is the Burning Tusk Tribe?” She continued to stare at him evenly as he looked at her, his eyes scanning her before he simply pointed to another orc, presumably his superior.

She made her way sternly over to the other male orc, this one equal to her height, though wider with bulging arms. “They were caught torturing an orc,” he said with a low growl, his eyes flickering with anger, in response to her repeated question. Draeka continued to stare, waiting for further details or proof, not leaving until he pressed a scroll in her palm. She clutched it and nodded to him before turning back to Yuliseez, leaving to read the scroll in private.

Her meditation that afternoon in Ashenvale was mixed and followed her erratic thought process.

Uunruk had signed his name. His name swam in her mind, shifting and losing shape, then regaining it, a sour green and brown colour, tainted with blood. Uunruk. She had seen him… how long ago? Months? She had apologized, stupidly, said she had needed time.

He told her to be sorry. He had glared, gone silent. Zij’s last days and Uunruk could do no more than judge their love… He had told her to be sorry… to be sorry for leaving… but she always felt there had been more. He wanted her to be sorry for loving.

The Chieftain and an elf. She couldn’t say she knew. She couldn’t judge; it wasn’t her place. They swirled around her, encircled by cigarette smoke and candy hearts, swimming in a sea of sickly pinks and reds, staring at one another lovingly.

She couldn’t ask them to be sorry for loving.

The Tribe swam in circles around her, encased in blue and teals, looking so peaceful and calm, all staring at the orc in the center; a faceless, nameless female hogtied on the ground. Draeka was with them, floating, her sight coloured by the blue-teal encasement, watching peacefully as the female was tortured and broke.

No emotion flooded her, just a sea of calm and tranquility, surrounded by her friends. She could see their faces, reflections of her own until suddenly all their capsules shattered and there was blood everywhere.

Crying and screaming, all coated in a thick red. Some were missing limbs and they were fighting. Draeka looked around the room to where the orc once was and instead found a succubus in her place. She widened her eyes as she looked around, seeing the familiar red glow of the fel taint in the orcish invaders eyes.

She cried out, and her voice melded with the others as she raised an imaginary weapon to drive her foes away, but they changed again. No longer were they the tainted orcs of the past, but the inhabitants she saw at the Keep earlier in the day. The demons and the tinted eyes faded away until no longer it was demon against mortal, but mortal against mortal. She spotted the orc she spoke to earlier, raising a weapon against an orc Tusk she couldn’t make out, slicing off his arm.

Turning and collapsing to the floor she began gagging and the world stopped. All was silent and still but for the swirling blue-teal that began rising out of the ground once more, encasing all the inhabitants of her imagination in their gory shell, preserving for all time the moments of that fight.

Her eyes opened with a start and she quickly moved back into action, seeking out the Chieftain of the Burning Tusk Tribe, Jumwa.

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