Another short story, for everyone to read. This short story is a dedication to my old World of Warcraft character, Cardoza the orc shaman. I've played WoW for many years, some of them being the hardest of my life. I remember it fondly and I miss those times, although I know they will never come back, at least not in their shining nostalgia coating.
This is my memento mori to nostalgia, the acknowledgment that what was is not meant to be again, if we want to evolve.
This story is distributed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License .
Cardoza the Orc
I sit on a dirty bench while the young orc innkeeper puts a goblet of melon juice on the table. I toss him some coin, making him happy for the generous tip. "Where's Grosk?" I ask, and he replies quickly "My father is in bed, he's feeling the time." I nod and I take a sip of juice. I'm alone at this table, probably due to the massive blue steel spike covering my shoulders pads. I remove my helm and place it beside me, I don't think anyone would try to steal this piece of metal seeping blue vapor. All the other guests of the Razor Hill's inn are commoner, and as any other orc they stink of labor and dirt. But not me. I can still smell myself, even after so many years. I stank like them years ago, before hearing my God's call. Now I can only sense oil for armor and magic – the pungent scent of a lighting strike. I come back to this inn every time I feel alone. I'm tryharding, I know I won't get any result. But I miss my God. It's been more than a year since I've heard his voice the last time. I've fought at the Broken Islands with him, I've defeated the great evil inside the Emerald Nightmare and even lead the Nightborn rebellion up to the stairs of the Nighthold. But one day I woke up, and His voice was gone. For the second time. Yet I still hope He will come back to me, and never leave me alone.
I still remember when I first heard His presence ten years ago. I was moving some logs in the Valley of Trials, when a lighting hit the ground before me. A small shard of dusty glass appeared. It was hot like fire, like a thunder, but it didn't burn my skin. I grabbed it and run to Instructor Kaltunk. “I AM READY!” I yelled at him “I'VE RECEIVED THE CALL, A GOD WANTS ME!” He smirked and looked at my hand, then said “Indeed friend, your wait has ended. And it seems the elements have chosen you. Report to Gornek, he should be able to assign you a task better suited to a young shaman.” I've relived these first moments in my mind so many times: how I learned to control and befriend the elementals, how I learned to use maces and axes and shields. How the elements bent at my will: earth, fire, lighting, and water. I still have the old totems I used to need to conjure their powers, back in the day. I've grown a lot, and the feeling of my God's support always warmed the back of my mind. I defeated Illidan in the uncanny Outlands. I victoriously fought the avatar of Kil'jaeden and prevented him from taking hold of the Sunwell. I raided the reborn Naxxramas' ziggurat in the cold lands of Northrend. I stood at the feet of Icecrown Citadel and I bellowed my spite for the undead armies of the Lich King. And then I lost it. In a sudden moment, I simply couldn't feel His presence anymore. And without it I also lost my will to fight. Battles scared me because my God was not with me anymore. I had lost faith and I still don't know why. I sailed back to Durotar, knowing I couldn't provide any help in the upcoming war. For the first time since I received the call I came back to Grosk's inn. I cried on his shoulder that night “You're not alone child” ha said "many have come back like you. The Gods are frivolous. Today they make you an instruments of their will and give you the power to fight other Gods. Tomorrow they will get bored and toss you aside. I'm sorry, I cannot even understand how you feel, but I know you are not alone." I cried again, and he stood with me, pouring dwarven ale until we fell asleep.
Grosk was right, I wasn't alone. In the following years I knew many other orcs and trolls like me. Even some elves and tauren. I heard stories of every race. Many champions the Gods had taken with them in the field of battle, and as many They simply tossed in the dirt, bored of their achievement. I guess it is understandable. Even the biggest feat an orc can achieve is nothing compared to a God. More than once I thought about demons in the same way. Maybe even them get discarded by Sargeras when he doesn't need them anymore. I sold most of what I had: armor, weapons, potions, even rare elixirs. In the years my God lead me I learned a lot of forgotten enchantment and potions, so I was able to live a rich life with my craft. Then I heard about Kadgar. He was a mage, a powerful one. He studied as Medivh's apprentice. And he flew from kingdom to kingdom, seeking help to fight a new war. He said Garrosh, the corrupt warchief, was not dead. He told a powerful entity kidnapped him, and brought him back in time. I did not understand how they could do something like that, but he was a powerful mage, and mages don't joke with words. They know how powerful they can be. Our new warchief Vol'Jin believed him, and I did too, cause I knew of Vol'Jin's honor. I enlisted to help the expedition to this new, different land: Draenor. The stories I heard sounded like feverish dreams. The birthplace of orcs, but one the demon had not corrupted. I dreamed of seeing it, like my ancestors, yet I knew I wouldn't be traveling with them. I wasn't a fighter anymore, but merely an artisan. My beard had turned white, my muscles were not strong anymore. I hadn't tried to summon the elements in months, too afraid after the time a thunder elemental appeared instead of my trusted fire one. Yet I smiled during the zeppelin flight, happy I could be of help. I worked hard, brewing cauldrons and cauldrons of potions for the troops. I fought in my own way.
I realize I'm lost in my memories. I shake my head and wave at the young innkeeper. To my surprise he brings me a bottle of elven wine “I told my father you asked of him. He remembers of you. He said to bring you this, and he ordered me to not accept any money from a friend.” His smile is sincere, so I oblige. Before he leaves I ask “Did he tell you who I am?” I pour some of the red drink in the goblet and I push it towards him, waving to sit. He sits, grabs the wine and looks down on it before speaking “He said you got the call, twice. I've never met anyone like you before.” He looks ashamed, like he is wasting my time. I chuckle “Your father is right. I received the call of a God twice. Would you like to hear my story?” Now it's me who's ashamed, I feel like I'm begging this young one's attention. But the light on his face changes everything. He has bright golden eyes and yellow skin, like his father. He mutters and nods, as if he is at a loss for words. I take a long sip from the bottle and I feel the warmth of the strong liquor down my throat "I'm a shaman. I fought in the Outlands, against Lord Illidan, and I fought in Northrend, up to the stairs of the Lich King's home. Then my God left me. Don't be sad, many more than you can ever imagine had my same fate. Think of us as the lucky ones, as we were able to fight in the name of our Gods, and we didn't perish on the battlefield. That was my first call. Then Kadgar came. Maybe the possibility to return to Draenor again lit my faith once more."
As I tell these words to the young orc I let myself slip back into the trance of my memories. I remember the Blasted Lands and Archmage Kadgar addressing the troops. I was not between them, I was brewing potions back in my tent. But I could hear his voice a little, from afar. I was sitting, my back bent by the years, when a small flame lit on my workshop's counter. A small leather pouch burned in an instant, leaving the shard of glass glowing with heat. I couldn't speak nor breath. After the longest moment of my life I took a step forward, I reached with my hand and I felt it again. My God was with me. It took me much more than I expected to dress up in my blue armor. I decided to wore the same I had when I fought Lord Illidan in the Black Temple. In the years I kept upgrading it with enchantment and powerful patches. I didn't dare to hope, but I prayed every night for my God to return. And now I could fell Him in my mind again. I walked out of my tent, and questioning stares hit my back. An elderly warlock spoke first “He got the call, again...” Murmurs rode through the crowd of soldiers who were getting ready to travel trough the Dark Portal. Many came to look at me, as I walked slowly in direction of the archmage. No one stepped in front of me, but I felt many reaching to touch me, hoping for the same miracle.
Kadgar speech had ended by the time I put on my armor. He now looked at a map of the land surrounding the Dark Portal. With him all the leaders of the Horde. I stopped a couple of steps behind them, and knelt, waiting for the someone to notice me. I had my head down and my eyes closed, both out of respect and to regain breath; the armor weighted more than I expected. The air smelled of war: earth and sweat. The crowd didn't dare to follow me, so their buzz did not reach my ears. In a moment of silence I picked up the sounds of the ongoing battle downhill, towards the Dark Portal. I got used to it very quickly, I remembered being aware of it only once before, the first day I arrived there. A faint voice startled me, the harmonic whisper of Lady Sylvanas "Veteran of many battles, what brings you here?" I raised my head and stared directly into her crimson eyes "I received the call" I said "Again. I want to serve the Horde. Lok'tar Ogar!" Kadgar and Vol'Jin stepped to her side, and nodded "I can see it" said the archmage "we are very lucky today. Not many have had the call twice. You are blessed shaman, bring your blessing to the battlefield with us!" A roar erupted from the crowd behind me. Cheers spread fast and many came to congratulate me while I headed back to my tent. What happened next is history now. We invaded that world, so similar yet so different from our homeland. I raised to the ranks of commander of the Horde forces. I was there when we defeated each and every lieutenant of the Iron Horde. I stepped in the Twisting Nether and dealt the killing blow to Archimonde. Not many fought both eredar demon lord, but I could bear the scars of those battles with honor. After securing Draenor, so no one could ever use it as a bridgehead to conquer Azeroth, we returned home. Alliance and Horde were almost at peace for the first time in many years, so I had the time to reap and savour the glory of my actions. Then they arrived. Green demons falling from the skies, and dreadlords opening portals for any monstrosity ever born in the Twisting Nether. I rode my wyvern and defeated countless of them. Then Kadgar called us, and we sailed to the Broken Shore.
I swallow the last drop of wine. The young orc tries to get up, but I stop him "Don't bring any more, the story is almost over." I look at him, then I say "I haven't asked your name..." He looks sad, he already knows how my story is going to end "My father called me Hogosh, it means hope for the future." I nod and smile at him. He's a good boy, he'll soon become a man. The sun has set and the shadows outside the inn are long and undefined. There's silence, the sounds of nature are always muffled in Durotar, where few things can live. I don't want to get lost again, especially in the next part of my memories. I clinch my fists and I raise my chin, so young Hogosh won't see my tears. I yell looking at the ceiling "We lost at the Broken Shore. Many died, including our warchief. But we didn't rest. We sailed to the Broken Island and while Kadgar and the other leaders organized the defenses on Dalaran, I went and claimed alliances with the peoples who lived there. I fought unnamed evils, I lead a rebellion. I stood in front of the stairs which had atop the biggest traitor of our race, Gul'dan.” My breath is short, but I force myself to keep going “Again, in a single moment, I lost it. My God left me for the second time." Tears are flowing and wetting my beard. The hollow I feel inside me grows bigger every time I inhale. But I want to do one last good deed. I suck it up, and I stand "Boy, look at me. I'm not defeated. I will wait and my God will come back to me. Because I'm Farseer Cardoza, Champion of the Naaru, Hand of A'dal, the Undying, Herald of the Titans, The Kingslayer, the Ironbane, the Defiler's End. Legend of my name will be told." As I talk I walk out of the inn. The young orc is behind me. I turn and I smile at him for a moment. He's still crying, but it's not sad anymore. I jump on my wyvern and I take fly, waving at him. I fly back to my home, still warm from the wine and the memories.