The Search for Snicka

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The Search for Snicka

Post  Zanick on Fri May 15, 2009 11:10 pm

PART ONE

~ Agmar's Hammer, Dragonblight ~

The squad I'm in, 'the Spearhead' as we're called, have been engaged in scouting missions in Icecrown almost every day since I arrived. Each of the Darkspear trackers and scouts in the squad usually works alone, which suits me fine. The Argent tournament, which has set up on the north-eastern coast of Icecrown, provides a convenient place to meet up with each other to coordinate our plans. I've been spending some of my off-duty hours there too.

At first I was unwilling to deal with the Sunreavers, whose motives I still suspect, and even more reluctant to try mounting one of their ridiculous hawkstriders. However, I was eventually convinced by the Darkspear champions to try my hand at mounted combat. I admit that my initial attempts were far from successful, but I persevered. I've now progressed enough to carry the banner of Sen'jin village and to challenge the other champions in the tourney. I wish I could ride my own raptor, S'thira, in the fights, but it takes far too long to train a raptor to behave properly when you're in close combat using a lance, or when you're charging at your opponent.

This week I had enough free time to continue my investigation into Warlord Snicka's disappearance all those months ago. The map I got from Krixx shows the normal route that the Thundercaller takes on the Orgrimmar to Undercity run. Surprisingly, the airship goes a long way north, presumably to avoid the worst of the headwinds nearer the maelstrom, before turning south-east towards Tirisfal. This route takes it over the south-eastern parts of Northrend and this discovery is what lead to the latest part of my search. Perhaps the zeppelin crashed long before it reached the shores of Tirisfal.

According to Krixx's map, the Thundercaller should first reach the Northrend coast somewhere close to the Apothecary's Camp north-west of the Howling Fjord. From there, it's route takes it along a broad arc over the southern slopes of the mountains that divide the lowlands around the Howling Fjord from the Grizzly Hills. Perhaps the airships make use of the rising air as the wind moves over the mountains. The route should pass close to the taunka settlement at Camp Winterhoof. It then leaves the Northrend coast somewhere north of the Forsaken outpost of Vengeance Landing.

Unfortunately the zeppelins fly too high on this part of the route for me to be able to confirm these estimations with observations from the ground, or even mounted upon Ku'ura, my windrider. Nevertheless, I believe that Krixx's map is likely to be correct, even though the actual course a zeppelin takes might deviate from the normal route by some considerable distance, even in fair weather.

I decided that I should search the expected route looking for any sign of debris that could be a trace of a zeppelin crash. After so many months, it's likely that any useful parts would have long since been removed. But some traces are likely to remain, as I have seen from my inspections of previous crash sites in Stranglethorn Vale, Dustwallow Marsh and, more recently, in Hellfire Peninsula in the Outland. I thought that I might at least find some waterlogged debris that had been washed ashore if the zeppelin went down at sea.

I began my search on the strand below the Apothecary's Camp. The shoreline is the home to huge sand crawlers and the beach is infested with a deathly tribe of murlocs. An extensive search of the shore, several small islands and some sunken wrecks turned up no signs of a zeppelin crash. However, only a half-mile or so farther south, as I climbed the cliffs to get a better view of the area, I spotted what looked at first glance like a goblin airship on the far side of some large human-built structure on the cliff-top.

Investigating closer, I discovered a zeppelin moored at a landing stage within the confines of a human fortress. This, I now know, is the place the humans call West Guard. It took me a long time to sneak around the settlement to get a better look, but it was worth it. I've learned much, and now I dare to hope that there could be much more to learn.

The zeppelin is identical in every detail to the type used on the routes between Orgrimmar and the Undercity. Like them, it shows no special insignia or nameplate, so it could be the airship that flew as the Thundercaller on the night that Warlord Snicka disappeared. It shows signs of considerable damage and has clearly been patched up or partly repaired. This certainly looks consistent with a zeppelin brought down by a storm and, possibly, it may even have been shot down by the fortress's artillery.

The zeppelin is regularly flown around the bay to provide a platform from which Alliance troops attack the pirate ships that are blockading the coast. From the looks of it, the zeppelin has not been fully repaired because it flies very slowly.

More intriguingly, on the landing platform is a goblin, shackled and under a constant guard. Perhaps he was one of the crew. Another possibility is that he is an agent of the Steamwheedle Cartel who came to recover their property. Either way, the humans seem to deal with him quite harshly. I haven't been able to speak to him, because his guards are far too vigilant. These guards are also well-equipped and extremely powerful fighters, as I learned to my regret when one of them came too close to my hiding place. Fortunately, after discovering that I could not best two of them in a fight, I was able to evade capture by scrambling down the cliff face.

I didn't have enough time to continue my investigation at West Guard. My duties will keep me busy for the next few days, but I intend to return as soon as I can.

Could it be that, on that fateful night, the Thundercaller ran into a storm that pushed it off course and forced it to descend? Could it be that the human troops in West Guard were able to shoot it down and then recover and repair the airship? If so, what happened to the crew and passengers? Were they able to jump into the icy waters of the bay, from where they at least had a chance to swim to safety? Or were they captured by the humans?

The crew may well have escaped and returned to work. Goblins seem to have a knack for surviving, despite the many dangers posed by their inventions. As I've already discovered, the current crew on this route won't talk about what happened. Presumably, the Steamwheedle Cartel discourages any loose talk that might cause a loss of profit. They won't even admit that the 'Thundercaller' that flies between Durotar and Tirisfal now is not the same ship that flew the route seven months ago. Since the zeppelins that fly the Durotar-Tirisfal-Stranglethorn routes are all built to the same design, there is no way to tell them apart. Their names apply not to the vessel itself, but to the route it flies, it seems.

So I'll have to proceed based solely on a hunch. If any passengers were taken prisoner, it's just possible they could still be there. What I need to do next is to get a look inside the Keep at West Guard. That won't be easy. But I'm determined to find a way.

~ Zanick ~


Last edited by Zanick on Thu Aug 20, 2009 3:10 pm; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : Minor amendments to improve readability.)
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Re: The Search for Snicka

Post  Vypra on Sat May 16, 2009 8:04 am

((great story Zan Smile ))

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Re: The Search for Snicka

Post  Ryleen on Sat May 16, 2009 10:51 am

((indeed, a very nice read. Looking forward to the next part!))
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Re: The Search for Snicka

Post  Zanick on Thu Aug 20, 2009 3:12 pm

PART TWO

~ Agmar's Hammer, Dragonblight ~

At least I was right about one thing: it wasn't easy getting a look inside the keep at West Guard. But my other guesses seem to be wrong. The only thing to be found in the dungeon of the keep is a sullen Skorn warrior under heavy guard. There's nothing to suggest that Snicka, or any other Horde prisoner, was ever held there. I had not expected to find anything, and I had told myself to keep my hopes in check. But as I returned to Agmar's Hammer I still felt dismayed. Where now should I turn my efforts?

My scouting duties kept me extremely busy for several days after that. Then I was sent to Vengeance Landing to deliver a report. That gave me the chance for some more investigation. On my way back to Dragonblight I retraced all of the expected route of the Thundercaller, working my way back towards the west coast of the Howling Fjord peninsula. I checked the eastern shoreline and cliffs for wreckage. I explored the narrow valleys and hidden caves amidst the mountains. I sneaked around the Alliance outpost east of Camp Winterhoof. And I searched the icy waters of the lakes beside the foothills. Nowhere did I find any trace of the doomed zeppelin.

Now, many weeks later, I have run out of places to investigate. If the Thundercaller did crash in Northrend then I can find no evidence of it. If Warlord Snicka was captured then there is no sign of him now. From West Guard on the western coast, to the Alliance port settlement of Valgarde in Daggercap Bay, to Wintergarde Keep in the eastern part of Dragonblight, and all of the major settlements in the region, I have searched them all.

Normally I can rely on my own resources in everything that I do. But I fear that alone I may not be able to ever find out what happened to Snicka. So I turned to the spirit-world in the faint hope that I might be given some aid.

Each evening and each morning I make a small offering to Beth'ekk, Hunter of the Dusk and Dawn. I sometimes burn an arrow and let the winds carry away the smoke of burnt fletchings and smouldering cedar wood. Or else I put a few drops of blood onto a sacrificial knife blade and heat it in the fire until the blood boils away. I ask that the goddess grant me the wisdom and the perseverance to discover our warlord's fate.

I have noticed that the tauren and taun'ka here at Agmar's Hammer watch my offerings with interest, as they have their own ways of honouring their gods. The orcs generally pay me no mind. My fellow Darkspears are respectful, except for one or two kizorks who snigger at me from their fireside seats amongst the orc soldiers. There seem to be more and more of these insolent younglings who have grown up in Orgrimmar knowing little and caring even less about our ancient customs.

I can get along well enough with most of the troops here. Like all soldiers they like to tease newcomers to test their mettle. But their dark humour doesn't scare me.

"I hear that, if you fall in battle, the Scourge will suck out your brains and then bring you back to life as one of them." said one orc as he sharpened his axe.

"No, they bring you back to life first, then they slowly remove all of your vital organs while you still live. That way they can capture your pain and use it to make you into a zombie." said another, making sure that we recent recruits were listening.

"I heard they resurrect you and then throw you to the flesh-eating ghouls. Once they've feasted on your soft parts you become one of their skeletal warriors." said a third.

"They pluck out your eye-balls and replace them with burning coals." said a Forsaken who, like most of the zuska, has a macabre sense of humour.

"They use a saw to cut around your skull and lift off the top. Then their captains feast on your brain while you still live." said the first orc with a grin, looking at me.

"Hah!" I replied. "Dere captains will be gettin' short rations if dey ever feast on you, Gorzok."

The humour masks the deep-seated fears that are common here. When we go out on patrol, none of us know if we will be coming back. We all know that if we fall in battle our comrades may not be able to reach us and bring us back to the healers.

We lost two just yesterday.


Last edited by Zanick on Thu Aug 20, 2009 5:25 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: The Search for Snicka

Post  Zanick on Thu Aug 20, 2009 3:17 pm

PART THREE

~ Agmar's Hammer, Dragonblight ~

I have been sleeping fitfully of late. Even though I am tired from hours spent tracking stealthily along icy paths and from skirmishing with Scourge patrols, still I do not sleep deeply. Even though I wrap myself in the warmest bear-skin blanket to keep out the creeping fingers of the numbing Northrend cold, I wake shivering and lie for long minutes unable to get back to sleep. Even when my frost-lined eyelids droop with exhaustion or I seek release in strong beer or wine, still my sleep is disjointed, uneasy, troubled, and I rise the next morning feeling unrefreshed.

My dreams have been fragmentary, chaotic, and never remembered beyond the first few moments after rising. But last night I had a dream that was altogether different . . .

I was standing surrounded by a ring of faces gazing at me from the darkness. Beside me a fire burned and crackled. The faces were indistinct in the shadows, lit only by the flickering firelight. Just beyond I could just make out the shapes of towering trees, wide fronds hanging down, and the outlines of stone walls just at the limits of vision.

I could smell the salt of the sea and hear the sound of waves washing the shallow sands. This was one of the Echo Isles. This was where I remembered the elders would meet to discuss the weighty matters of the tribe. Then, I was only a child, a zizu with little or no rank and my rightful place had been far away from the fire, gazing from a distance. But that was nearly ten years ago. Now, I found myself standing in the centre of the ring of logs that formed benches, the place where Vol'jin or Gadrin or Vornal would have stood.

Looking around the ring of faces I think I saw some guild members that I knew from old: Kemsha, Umagaur, Frostlight. Torschka was there, I think, sitting a little apart. One figure may have been Djinja, and I think Crowley was there too, a pipe shrouding his tusks in smoke.

As I slowly turned round to peer at the figures gazing at me I seemed to vaguely recognise others, but I could not see them clearly. I was still looking around me in bewilderment when a troll voice called out: "Are you the one who leads the Heritage of Zandalar?"

Other voices rose in reply: "No, this one gave up the leadership." "She left the responsibility to others. She walked away." I heard some curse me: "Murkha!", "Worthless kazmal!" Another troll quoted an old saying: "The coward will not fight. The fool refuses to see necessity. The scoundrel puts themself ahead of others."

"My path took me a different way." I said defiantly. "Another was more able than I. I passed the leadership into strong hands. She will testify to this." I glanced around the ring, but I could not see Ryleen there.

"We need no witnesses, mon. Your spirit is proof against you." was the reply. In that moment I recalled what I had been taught: 'The Loa know well what is in your heart.' Was I in the presence of the Loa?

One of the trolls continued: "You do not listen to your spirit, but instead to your anger and your rage." Other voices took up this theme. "You never listen to your spirit." "When you were leader you never did." "What did you ever do as leader of your guild? Debate, compromise, deceive."

"Often I had to speak other than I think." I said defensively. "That is called diplomacy." My words sounded unconvincing even to my own ears.

"You swore to protect the guild. You took an oath to be true to your Warlord." an accusing voice said.

"I did my best to protect the guild, to keep it together. And I have always been true to my oath to Warlord Snicka." I replied angrily.

"But then you took the easy course. You left another to lead in your place." snarled the voice. In that moment I recalled the challenging look in Jimar's eyes when I announced that I was stepping down as leader.

"I could not lead the guild and search for my Warlord. I had to choose." I declared.

"What a load of vask! You could have led the guild on a search for him." I looked up at my accuser. I could dimly make out a grey-haired troll hunched over and leaning on a staff. Was this one of my ancestors?

"They . . . they would not have followed me." I answered, my voice small and hollow now. "They had given up hope."

"No! You had given up hope of being a true leader of the guild." the old troll shouted. I opened my mouth to deny it, but the words would not come.

"I . . . I felt that the future of the guild was under threat." I said uneasily. "Others, more influential than me, wanted to take the guild in a new direction. I feared that the guild would be split apart."

"But the time was not right for you to step aside. You know that." said a scornful voice.

"You didn't have the tusks to meet the challenge." accused another.

"I could not lead the guild for ever." I replied.

"Why not, mon?" asked the old troll.

"I . . . I always believed another would come." I answered, surprised by my own words.

"Another? What manner of troll did you believe would come to lead the guild?" demanded a female voice.

There was a breathless expectancy all around the ring. Then I finally spoke my thoughts. "A true visionary, a troll who has stood in the presence of the Loa with the full knowledge of where he stands."

"And why should such a one be more capable than you, Zanick?" asked the old troll angrily.

"Because . . . because I have never been sure that the Loa have ever spoken to me." I announced.

As soon as I said this, I felt both relief and a cold sadness. The faces around me all moved back, merging further into the shadows. For a long moment I was not sure if they were still there. The roll of the surf and the crackling of the fire were the only sounds.

I began to feel angry at being accused in this way. "My decision is proved right. The guild prospers." I snarled into the darkness.

"But what of you?" said a calm voice. "You squander your time searching for a lost Warlord."

"Like a blind troll in the jungle at night looking for a black snake . . . that isn't there." said another voice from the other side of the fire. All around me there was much chuckling.

"How long will you go on chasing a ghost?" asked a stern voice that I immediately recognised as my father.
And I had no answer.

It seemed to me that the next moment I was awakening, wrapped in the bearskin blanket on the reed mattress stretched out on the cold stone floor of the guard tower in Agmar's Hammer. For once I felt rested and ready to face the day ahead. But the dream, if that is what it was, remained vivid in my memory and I replayed it many times over the next few days.

o0o


When, many days later, I made my way to Yojamba Isle, I asked Falthir the Sightless if he thought the Loa appeared to us in dreams.

He smiled at my question. "The Loa know what is in your heart. They seldom speak to us directly." he said. "But our ancestor-spirits may speak to us in many ways. Their memories are with us."

"These ancestral memories come to us when we don't expect it. Some call it instinct. Some say it is fate. These memories have an effect on each of us on what we think and what we do. You may think that they don't affect you." He grinned at me again. "But still they move you."

o0o


Later, much later (and perhaps far too late), I decided that the time was right to put aside my search for Warlord Snicka. Instead I put my energy into fighting the Hakkari. Seven times now I have ventured into Zul'Gurub alone, even though the Zandalari insist that those venturing into that place should be in a group. Seven times I have killed scores of the minions of the Blood God and returned with a bag full of coins and bijous - Paragons of Power to sacrifice at the Altar of Zanza.

Now the Zandalari trolls look at me with a new level of respect. Master Falthir says I have now earned the right to wear the full outfit of the Madcap to show my status amongst the Zandalari. And each night, whether I have been on scouting duties in Northrend or fighting the Hakkari in Zul'Gurub, I sleep well.


Last edited by Zanick on Mon Aug 24, 2009 2:25 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: The Search for Snicka

Post  Djinja on Thu Aug 20, 2009 6:06 pm

Nice story Zanick Very Happy
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Re: The Search for Snicka

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