They arrived as instructed, in the dark of night by ones and twos, under the light of Azeroth’s two moons, the “White Lady” and “Blue Child”. None bore torches or lanterns, each as quiet as they could. As they arrived at the Shrine atop a small hill to the southwest of the Crossroads in the Barrens, wordless nods of recognition were exchanged with the others, brothers and sisters with whom each had fought shoulder to shoulder before.
These were heroes – hardened veterans of countless battles. Orcs, trolls, Tauren and Forsaken, Blood elves, Pandaren, and Goblins, all the races of the Horde were represented. Solemn faces, some scarred by battle, some etched with age, were illuminated by the faint glow emanating from the singular body preserved at the Shrine of the Fallen Warrior. On each face there was a question, as well … ‘Why are we here?”
As a group, they waited patiently for the answer – a quiet patience each had learned on the many battlefields of Azeroth.
Last to arrive was a troll. He strode up the path alone, the double-bladed glaive slung over his back marking him as a Shadow Hunter. Only as he approached closer and his face became illuminated by the glow of the shrine was he recognizable as Vol’jin, new Warchief of the Horde.
The lanky, blue skinned Warchief crouched at the edge of the shrines illumination, silently signaling the rest of the gathered heroes to make themselves more comfortable. Only when the assembly had silenced once more did Vol’jin speak.
“Dis be treacherous times,” Vol’jin said to the gathered assembly of hand picked heroes. “We be not knowin’ who be our friends, and who be plottin’ to slit our t’roats.”
Indeed, the troll Shadow-Hunter spoke what many of the gathered heroes were already thinking. Upon the defeat and capture of Garrosh Hellscream, Thrall, the former Warchief of the Horde, had bent knee and recognized Vol’jin as the new leader of the Horde – but this action was not taken in consultation with others.
Now, newly appointed, the Shadow-Hunter stood at the head of a Horde that seemed to be pulling apart at the seams. Who knew the minds or ambitions of Sylvanas Windrunner, leader of the Forsaken, or Trade-Prince Gallywix of the Goblin Bilgewater Cartel. Who knew if Lor’themar Theron of the Blood Elves or Baine Bloodhoof of the Bloodhoof Tauren still felt loyalty to a Horde that had so recently treated their peoples as cannon fodder. And who knew if the Houjin Pandarens lead by Ji Firepaw would stay with the Horde after Ji was imprisoned and nearly killed by Garrosh’s forces, or withdraw back to Pandaria to rebuild their shattered lands. Even among the orcs – or perhaps especially among the orcs – loyalty to the new Warchief was in question, for Garrosh still had his loyalists and sympathizers, now gone to ground but ready to act as spies and assassins for their dethroned leader.
“We have those who fought with us against Garrosh’s Kor’kron, and dey be keeping da peace in our cities. I have my Shadow Hunters, but dey be better in ones and twos as my eyes and ears,” Vol’jin went on. “What we don’t have is a spear to use should war come upon us again so quickly. Garrosh still be out dere someplace, and my Shadow Hunters tell me dat dere be those in da Alliance who would like nothing better’n to raze Orgrimmar and be done with all da races of da Horde once ‘n for all,” the Warchief drew his clawed thumb across his throat to emphasize the point – and perhaps to point out the faint scarring left by a previous act of treachery carried out by Garrosh’s assassins.
“Dis be why I call ya here t’night. You be some of our best. Ya be proven to me and to everyone else dat you be loyal to the spirit of da Horde – not Garrosh’s Horde, but da Horde where all races have value, all races be respected. Da Horde dat values the words of High Overlord Saurfang ‘Honor, young heroes. No matter how dire the battle, never forsake it’.”
“Dat Horde be needin’ ya now, maybe more den evah. Garrosh’s folly left us near defenseless against our enemies, both without and within. We need a spear ta defend ourselves, and I need volunteers to be da tip of dat spear.”
“Dis not be an easy task. If war be comin’ – and my Shadow Hunters tell me it is, you will be da Horde’s first defense, and we don’t yet know who else might answer a call to arms – maybe no-one,” The Shadow-hunter paused.
As Vol’jin scanned the faces around the circle of chosen heroes, he could see the gravity of his words sinking in. If true, the spear tip would be alone in perhaps the Horde’s final battle. Without support, even a band of proven heroes would soon be overwhelmed and ground to dust by the Horde’s enemies. Worse yet, if it came to pass in this manner, the heroes would be fighting a lost battle for ideals who’s time had come and gone – Equality. Respect. Honor.
“I need volunteers, not conscripts, for dis task,” Vol’jin reiterated. “My Shadow hunters have watched, and you be da ones dey be choosin’ – proven fighters with da hearts of lions. From you, I will ask for volunteers to be da tip of da Horde’s spear.”
“You each be free to choose your own path, your own destiny. If ya be willin’ to serve and be the tip of the Horde spear, I ‘n mine be most grateful. If ya be choosin’ a different path, ya be free to go now.”
The Warchief pauses and waited. Not a sole stirred. No one rose, no one left, the circle of heroes remained intact. Finally, Vol’jin nodded.
“My Shadow hunters be choosin’ well,” the Warchief smiled. “You be working together from now on. When da time come, and we know it will, I will call on ya to be ready to defend the Horde. Together, you be the Horde’s ever-sharp speartip – together, ya be The Eternal Vanguard.”