Zanick's Last Battle

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Zanick's Last Battle

Post  Zanick on Mon Apr 26, 2010 7:01 pm

Following the previous day's confrontation with General Katalmach on the beach opposite Yojamba Isle, Zanick had spent her time trying to follow any of the Warsong Blades that she could find. She hoped that she might learn something to the Heritage's advantage. If the Blades wanted a war, then her job was to use all of her abilities as a scout to keep her guild-mates one step ahead of the orcs. But it had proved to be a frustrating time.

Later, Ryleen had asked Zanick to try to find out what had truly happened to the children. That would surely be a difficult task. The orc Cato Swordsong would be the key to it. But that thug was the slipperiest of the lot.

She had seen a lot of strange comings and goings in the last day or so. The zuska Daidrax had met with Katalmach and Galdrak in Grom'gol after the meeting with the Heritage. Then the Blades had a meeting with the orc Rokalm. She had seen that kazmal in Booty Bay the next day, no doubt up to some new mischief. She had even spied General Stormscream of the Ashen Order. What she had been doing in Grom'gol was still a mystery.

Zanick had spent long hours sneaking through the shadows in Orgrimmar, and hiding on the rooftops listening in to conversations. She had seen Cato once, near the main gate. When he rode off, she followed, but he must have suspected something because he doubled back and Zanick had to hide, losing him in the process.

She had followed others. She had tailed the orc Galdrak for a while, but that revealed nothing. A troll wearing a Warsong battle tabard caught sight of her in the Drag, but she managed to slip away. Zanick thought that she had seen him amongst the ranks of the Blades once before, but she couldn't be sure. Twice she scouted around Kargathia Keep, but none of the officers of the Blades were to be seen there.

As the day drew to a close, Zanick decided that one or more of the Blades might travel to Warsong Hold in Northrend, where they were known to have held meetings in the past. Aboard the zeppelin, the Mighty Wind, that flies between Orgrimmar and the Borean Tundra, she settled down to wait.

Long hours later, just when Zanick began to give up hope, resigned to yet another bitter failure to help her guild, a familiar form strode onto the airship. It was the orc shaman Nazrug. In his grim face Zanick recognised all of the contempt and callousness that she hated in the most stubborn and arrogant of the Blades. He had not seen her as he took his place at the bow. For a second she was tempted to plant a dagger in that broad back. But here was a chance - a slim one, but still a chance - to gain some sort of advantage, gather some vital information or force their enemy into some mistake. Another chance like this might be a long time coming.

Once the zeppelin had climbed higher, catching the winds and speeding north, she crept closer. Here was the embodiment of all the Heritage's troubles. Here was Katalmach's trusted officer, one of the attack-dogs unleashed on anyone the orcs considered unworthy. But how to make use of this opportunity? For once, Zanick's anger overcame her patience. She stepped forward loudly and pointedly asked Nazrug if he was on his way to conspire once more with his Forsaken allies. If the orc would not lead her to some information, perhaps she could provoke him into revealing something.

The orc didn't recognise her until Zanick removed her helmet. His contempt for what he saw as a troll traitor was clear. Nazrug declared that Zanick was a fool to follow the leadership of Ryleen. Zanick replied that Ryleen had done nothing to bring dishonour to her people, unlike the Warsong Blades who conspired with the minions of the Banshee Queen and turned their backs on their oldest allies. The words 'traitor' and 'dishonourable' flew back and forth between them, each exchange more vehement than the last.

What happened next was unexpected. Zanick was normally able to control her fiery temper in the face of such a powerful enemy. But this time she found herself slipping stealthily behind the arrogant greenskin and stabbing with her blade towards his neck. For a few heartbeats Nazrug seemed surprised by Zanick's attack. He turned and took a few steps back. Zanick continued her furious attack, thinking only of burying her dagger blades deep into his flesh with each strike. For a moment it seemed that she might actually have caused the shaman some serious injury.

But then the tide of battle turned. Nazrug unleashed stinging attacks of his own. Bright crackling energy shrouded Zanick. At first she didn't feel the effects; her fury kept her going. Then she felt herself stumble, her arms had no strength, her stabs met only empty air. For a moment she met the cruel look in Nazrug's eyes. Then she fell back against the rail, her strength gone.

And then, as the zeppelin descended towards Warsong Hold, she tumbled over the side toward the ground far below.


o0o

All was confusion. Strange sounds assailed her ears. The world was seen as if through a filmy veil.

She had been unconscious countless times before. She had spilled her blood on so many battlefields and in untold numbers of skirmishes. She had always recovered in a short time. Soon enough the fabled regenerative ability of the trolls would pull her back to her senses. This was no doubt just some dream. Loss of blood, or a blow to the head will do that.

But somehow this seemed different. She stood on a barren slope. It looked curiously familiar, and yet very strange. She turned to look about her and felt drawn to walk in a particular direction. She walked across the rough ground, each step light and easy. In the distance she saw a body lying amidst the coarse grass. She knelt beside it to take a closer look. What she saw was somehow unsurprising.

The ag'nar braids, no longer the quick-tempered flame-hair of folklore, looked silver-grey now, like the landscape and everything around her. The body's ribcage looked wrong, collapsed on the underside. The angle of the neck, crooked. The daggers dropped, one held to a wrist by a titanium chain. This female troll was dead. Did that matter?

She concentrated on the spirit-link for a moment, calling out to her comrades in the Heritage: "Is anybody there?" But no answer came and she felt hollow, disconnected.

She felt the curious lightness steadily increasing. She could not imagine returning to her tasks as a scout at Agmar's Hammer. No doubt she was going to be late reporting for duty to Captain Gort tomorrow morning. 'If he scans the skyline, expecting me to fly in', she thought, 'he will only see the damned Dragonblight condors, perched on the walls and rooftops, ready to swoop down. Nothing seems to interrupt their sentinel stare.'

She could not just stand here beside a dead body. She had to get back. She walked up the slope towards Warsong Hold. Inside it was curiously quiet and empty. She waited for a while. Where was everyone? When the bulk of a ghostly zeppelin slid into view Zanick realised that she didn't want to be stuck on this cold, unwelcoming continent. She had to get back home to Durotar. It was so obvious.

After the zeppelin docked outside Orgrimmar's looming grey towers, Zanick almost floated down the spiral ramp of the zeppelin tower. She had to get home as soon as possible. She set off running towards Sen'jin, feeling lighter with every easy stride. Never had the journey been so effortless. She passed through a deserted Razor Hill without even being out of breath.

When she first glimpsed the huts of Sen'jin village through the grey gloom she felt a familiar sense of belonging. She realised with disappointment that she couldn't hear the surf on Darkshore Strand. She had always felt that noise to be comforting. But her ears were still full of the same strange sounds, almost like voices, that had filled her ears ever since she awoke.

Were they voices? What were they saying? Were they calling her away? But if she left now she would be leaving behind so much. She looked about her and found that her feet had brought her to the graveyard at the edge of the village. A sense of loss swept over her. A feeling of lost opportunities.

If she left now, what would that mean? She would never again play with her cat, Kalya Kaalakara, 'clever black-paws', her comforting reminder of sacred Beth'ekk. She would never again drink a jug of junglevine with her uncle, the red liquid staining her tongue. She would never again ride her timber wolf, swift Ar'zu, through the snows of Alterac Valley, avoiding the pools of freezing water because he hated to get his paws wet. She would never again put countless miles behind her, riding proudly on the high saddle of her raptor, relentless S'thira, who never complained except in the bitter cold. She would never again ride her windrider, fierce Ku'ura, cheating the pull of the ground with his strength, gracefully gliding on the air currents.

She would never match the deeds of Drumlore, Proudtusk, Truslice. She would never have a chance to be one of the few to earn herself a name within the Tribe. 'What might my name have been?', she wondered. 'I would have liked to earn the name Flamehair.' she thought sadly.

She would never rise to a position of influence, never approach the skill of Rokhan, never truly earn the respect of other scouts, never truly earn her place amongst the Shera Ali'kh. She would never be able to keep her friends and comrades-in-arms in the Heritage of Zandalar safe from the threats of the Blades and the treachery of the House of Sylvanas. She would never prove herself worthy of the trust that Warlord Snicka had in her all those years ago, never fulfil the oath she made to herself and her ancestors when Snicka disappeared.

She would never have the chance to take a mate.

She would never pass on to a daughter of her own all the wise things that her parents taught her.

So many thoughts fought for attention within her mind. It seemed so exhausting to do all this thinking. Perhaps she could lie down to sleep for a while. She felt so light now, she almost felt that she could float away. She lay down beside one of the stones, close enough to touch one of the burial jars, within reach of the spears.

She closed her eyes. The sounds seemed clearer now. She could almost recognise them. They were voices.

In her mind she called out to them.

'Mother? Father? Is that you?'

'I'm coming to you now.'


And then silence.


Last edited by Zanick on Fri Apr 30, 2010 1:20 pm; edited 4 times in total (Reason for editing : Removed spoiler warning (Now that everyone knows Zanick is dead.))
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Postscript

Post  Zanick on Mon Apr 26, 2010 7:04 pm

Zanick joined the Heritage of Zul'jin (as our guild was named then) shortly before October 2007. This was her first and her only guild. In her time she was an adventurer, an explorer, a scout and a student of troll lore. Within the guild she was at different times Chief Scout, Primal, Treasurer, Steward and Veteran.

She had the honour of meeting, and occasionally fighting alongside, some of the greatest heroes of our age, in our own guild and in the Greywolf Tribe and the Ashen Order. If it is true that great enemies make us stronger, then Zanick also has many great adversaries to thank, especially in the House of Sylvanas and, more recently, in the Warsong Blades.

She was always fiercely loyal to Warlord Snicka, and usually loyal to Ryleen. Her devotion to the ideals of a resurgence of troll culture in Azeroth never waivered. Throughout her short life she was also devoted to killing murlocs. She always hoped that others would follow both of these examples and that the Heritage would continue to fight for all troll-kind for a long time to come.

Perhaps sometimes, when you are in Sen'jin, you will take a stroll down to the graveyard on the edge of the village, and spare a moment to remember your fallen comrade, "Zanick, the shadow-thief, panther-lithe and tiger-brave."
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Re: Zanick's Last Battle

Post  Vypra on Mon Apr 26, 2010 9:05 pm

Zanick will be sorely missed. Her wit and wisdom got us through some dark times and even though she's been absent for a while, it's hard to think of the Heritage without her.

Songs will be sung, and offerings made in her honour.

Thank you for all the contributions you made.

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Re: Zanick's Last Battle

Post  Ryleen on Mon Apr 26, 2010 9:34 pm

You've been in the guild for longer than I have Sad You'll be missed.
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Re: Zanick's Last Battle

Post  Zul'Ros on Mon Apr 26, 2010 9:59 pm

...I don't know what to say, really. I hate it when characters die...

For now, I can only offer you an opportunity to pass Zanick's last words to the Heritage with Ros, as he is currently in the spirit realm as well.
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Re: Zanick's Last Battle

Post  Gul'Jun on Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:31 am

That story is a real tear jerker.. im sad i never truely got to meet zanick or know her at all, but her spirit and bravery will carry the heritage on.
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Re: Zanick's Last Battle

Post  Zanick on Fri Apr 30, 2010 2:00 pm

Thanks for the kind words.

Zanick was always a bit of a loner. When on-line, I role-played Zanick in-character the whole time. Most of this time was questing, exploring or doing battlegrounds. Zanick only very rarely joined a group to do an instance or a raid. Consequently, playing Zanick was like writing a story, a very solitary activity.

When not playing I spent a lot of time thinking about Zanick and the game world. Recently I realised that Zanick had gone as far as she could go. She had explored every accessible part of Azeroth and the Outland. She had learned every skill of the stealthy assassin (even though she wasn't very good at using them). She had fought in every battleground (and found it hard to kill almost any enemy in a straight fight!). And she had failed in her attempts to become influential amongst the RP guilds.

Zanick's ambitions to be revengeful and deadly far outmatched my own ability to press the right combination of keys fast enough to keep her alive in PvP. I had the same problem when trying to do a decent amount of DPS on those few occasions in an instance or a raid. And no-one else ever wanted to take the time to stop and study the carvings on the walls! They always wanted to rush on to kill the next boss to see what gear might drop.

Just as when I used to play Dungeons & Dragons in my school days, I enjoy writing stories and inventing things more than playing a character. So I decided it was time for Zanick's story to reach the final chapter.

In-character, it was Zanick's feelings of failure that led to her desperate attempt to force information from Nazrug. She saw it as a last chance to prove her worth, to others and to herself. It was always doomed to failure. Zanick was no match for the orc.

I must admit, though, that after she'd died I didn't sleep very well for two nights. Having spent nearly three years with Zanick so often in my thoughts I feel a real sense of loss. I don't regret letting her die, but I'll miss her.
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Re: Zanick's Last Battle

Post  Snicka on Fri Apr 30, 2010 5:52 pm

Now that I finally took the time to read the entire story, it almost made me cry.
Rest in peace, Zanick. May your spirit find a place among the ancestors.

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Re: Zanick's Last Battle

Post  Euphrati on Tue May 04, 2010 5:21 pm

Not sure if i met her either but she will be honored and mourned within the walls of Antu´Rah.
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