Heart of Draenor [NaNoWriMo]

Aka'Magosh, son of Saurfang.

I am proud to have been your friend, and I hope that you now walk with the ancestors.

We are kindred spirits, you, Jorin and I. Growing up under the peaceful Nagrand sky, orphans...never knowing the fate of our famous fathers.

You, son of Varok. Jorin, son of Kilrogg. And I, son of Grom.

Alone, I think the red sickness would have withered me away to nothing. I am ashamed to admit it, but with my father gone and likely dead, I was devastated and weak. The sickness had taken hold of me and I did not struggle. It would have ravaged my defenseless body, were it not for you two.

The sight of other orcs my age also stricken with the curse, but valiantly resisting it, fighting to live, gave me courage. You and Jorin did not lie in your cots as I did, waiting to die - no, you jogged around Garadar, sparred with one another, anything to keep active until you both collapsed from exhaustion.

At first, I did not see the point. But eventually, your friendship, the sounds of your shared laughter, and your unfaltering refusal to surrender won me over. Slowly I realized that we were the same...that I did not need to suffer this cruel fate alone.

I remember the day well when I found the strength to come join in your activities. In truth, I was nervous that the two of you would scorn me for my hesitance and weakness. But you and Jorin simply smiled, clapped me on the back and asked what had taken me so long.

Dranosh...despite the terrible disease that was wasting us away, I just want to tell you that those were the happiest, most carefree days of my life. Not a day goes by that I do not thank the ancestors for gifting me with such loyal, honorable friends. Free of duty, free of guilt...just the three of us, living life and thriving. We were too young to fully grasp or understand the responsibilities that would soon be upon our shoulders.

For many years, we had no contact with the others of our race, and could only wonder and speculate as to their survival. One day, an orc named Kargath Bloodfist appeared asking for able-bodied orcs to join him in the war. I recognized him as one of my father's allies, and rushed out to ask him of the war, of Grom, but he took one look at my pustule-ridden skin, the sickness in my voice, and his lip curled in derision. He left in disgust, calling us useless, less than orcs.

The words hit us hard, and we looked at each, weak and sick, and began wondering if the grizzled chieftain had been correct. But Greatmother Geyah gathered us young orcs together, and told us that Kargath was wrong, that we orcs who remained untainted by demon blood were in reality the TRUE orcs, as we had not fallen into corruption, into evil, as our predecessors had.

I know the Greatmother meant well, and indeed, our spirits were lifted by her speech. But inwardly I began wondering about her words. If the orcs who drank the demonic blood were...evil, then what did it say about my father, who was the first to do so? From what I had been told, he not only volunteered to be the first to partake, but did so without hesitation. Did the others follow suit, inspired by his enthusiasm? Did his display of fearlessness doom our race? These concerns plagued me for many years.

As we grew older, Greatmother Geyah's loving administrations finally purged us of that horrible illness, freeing us to embrace the warrior's life that was our destiny. Our recreational activities now became competitions; our sparring matches, deadly serious. It was a good time, Dranosh. I could not have trained with better partners...with better friends.

When word came to the village that Jorin's clan, the Bleeding Hollow, was now leaderless and struggling to survive on the outskirts of Nagrand, it was a sad but significant day. The three of us did not speak of the matter, but as we sat around the fire that night I looked at both of you, and it was clear the same thoughts were running through our heads. Thus it came as no surprise when Jorin announced the next morning that he would be leaving to rejoin his clan and lead them as his father had done.

As you and I saw him off, you surprised me by saying that you felt sorry for our friend, but also almost envied him. Seeing the confusion on my face, you smiled, though it was a smile laced with regret.

"Don't you see, Garrosh? Our friend knows that his father is dead, since Kilrogg would never have let his clan fall into such disarray. And Jorin grieves. But finally, he KNOWS his father's fate."

I understood immediately what you meant. Jorin could pay his respects to his father's deeds and make peace with his memory. He had closure, could move on with his life. But you and I still did not know if our fathers lived, if they died with honor, anything. Secretly, I wondered if my father had become a monster, committing further atrocities that would haunt our people for the rest of our days.

We stood watching for a long time, silently thinking, until Jorin was but a speck on the horizon.

I was pleased that you managed to thrust these worries away and not let them hinder your growth as a warrior. Similarly, I threw myself into our training to avoid thinking about them. Our sparring bouts were fierce and titanic, and it delighted me that we were fairly evenly matched. Poor Greatmother...so often did she sigh and scold us as we staggered into her tent, begging for the spirits' touch to mend our wounds.

Eventually it was time for us to leave our adolescence behind. Greatmother Geyah asked to speak with the two of us, and told us that she had carefully considered our personalities and talents to determine how we each could best serve the village.

She told us that you would be in charge of leading Garadar's warriors, in everything from hunting for food, to our struggles against the Murkblood tribe, which had becoming increasingly hostile. She cited your courage, your charisma, and above all else, the compassion you felt for your companions as the reasons for your new position. I was pleased at her words - you were all of these things and would make an excellent leader!

She turned to me and I saw regret in her eyes. I was shocked when she told me that although I had grown skilled and strong, I was not yet ready for a task like the one she had given you. She asked that I remain in Garadar as one of its guardians, to protect our people against any angry beast or elemental that might happen upon us.

"Your heart is conflicted, young son of Grom," she told me, sensing my disappointment and pain. "There will come a day when your soul is free of worry and doubt, and when that happens you will accomplish many great deeds and do us proud. But that day has not come. Not yet."

I mumbled something suitably respectful and took my leave. You tried to say something but I could not bear to hear it, not then. Once more, I felt worthless and disgraced, though I felt no anger towards you or the Greatmother - the fault lay within me.

I tried to look upon my new duties in a positive light, that there was no shame in protecting our young and elderly. And this worked, for a time. But my soul ached whenever you returned home, having felled an enormous clefthoof bull or having triumphantly repelled a Murkblood attack. I was thrilled at your achievements, but felt hollow and empty inside knowing that they were beyond my grasp.

You knew I was depressed, and I greatly appreciate that you tried your best to keep my spirits up by asking my counsel, going over battle strategies with me, etc. And I should have been at your side, fighting alongside my friend! Together we would have been unstoppable! But I could not shake the feeling that our once proud race had been reduced to our tiny village directly because of my father's foolish actions.

My body was strong and in its prime, but I could not cast off the weight of these worries. And to make matters worse, the Greatmother was growing old and her health declining. The villagers began looking to me for guidance, since you and the other hunters were frequently traveling. I was not ready for such a responsibility. I feared that like my father, I would only lead us into ruin.

My doubts were only magnified when Horde visitors from Azeroth arrived in Nagrand and began helping our people. These strangers, who owed us nothing, did so much for us. They helped poor Jorin reclaim his village from the ogres, and they rescued you after a disastrous battle with the Murkblood left you wounded and near death. These aliens saved the lives of my best friends, while I hesitated and stammered in the security of my home, too afraid to step up and be a leader. I was ashamed to be alive.

When you decided to leave Garadar in order to seek out your destiny, I was sad to lose a friend, but excited for you at the same time. I knew you were meant for bigger things than protecting a simple village, my friend.

After you left, Garadar persisted, though it was not easy. Our Greatmother grew increasingly weak, and I found it difficult to muster the energy to lead our people. A great depression and apathy had taken hold of me. You were gone, Jorin had returned to his people, and the Greatmother was on the verge of joining the ancestors. Soon, I would be alone.

However, this all changed when the young leader of our people on Azeroth, Thrall, came to visit the Greatmother. During his time in Garadar, he finally told me that which I had waited all my life to hear...what had happened to my father.

Dranosh, my father was a hero! He had not damned the orcs, as we had long suspected. On the contrary, Thrall told me that my father freed us from the cruel hold the demons held over us, that he was not our greatest villain, but our savior!

Thrall called upon the elements to show me how he and my father had tracked down the dreaded demon that had caused our race so much pain, Mannoroth, and battled the terrible creature. I watched the scene in amazement, enraptured, as the image of Thrall was knocked aside, and would have been killed if not for my father. He gave a blood-curdling roar and charged the demon, and slew it a tremendous blow, though the effort cost him his life. Afterwards, Thrall told me that Grom had been one of his best friends, that he revered my father as a mentor and hero, and that a monument now stood where Grom had died, honoring his final heroic act.

I wish you could have been there, my friend, to share in my glory. My father had not doomed the orcs! Our people did not revile and hate the Hellscream name! All the distress and shame I had subjected myself to, not knowing the truth - I had been wrong, all these years. My heart, so long pained by the shame I felt towards my father's actions, now swelled with pride. For the first time in my life, I was proud to be my father's son.

I traveled through the Dark Portal and joined our people on Azeroth, and free of the shackles of doubt, began rising through our ranks as was my destiny. I could hear the Greatmother's words, and they filled me with excitement - I had defeated my inner demons, and knew that glory awaited me in the future!

When the Horde traveled to the frozen land of Northrend to battle the Lich King, Thrall sent me to lead our forces, alongside a surprising legend - your father! Though I had never met him as a child, I felt like I knew him instantly. His manner of speech, his calm, gentle nature that hid the ferocious animal within...it was just like you, my friend. Though we did not always see eye-to-eye, I was honored to fight alongside such a mighty champion.

Soon, it was time to strike directly at the Lich King's citadel. Your father and I discussed who could lead our troops and work in conjunction with the Alliance armies that would be assisting us. You suggested a few names, tremendous fighters all, but as I read over our reports one name in particular leaped out at me, filling me with pride: Dranosh Saurfang. I grinned and turned to your father. We had our leader.

I have heard what happened at the Wrath Gate, Dranosh. When the Lich King emerged from his fortress and stood defiantly before our forces, mocking our efforts, it was not the human, Fordragon, who courageously led the charge. Nor was it the dragons, circling overhead. It was you.

I know your heart. Ever were you concerned about your allies, even at your own expense. You knew you would not be able to cut down the tyrant alone, when he was at his strongest. But you also realized that his appearance had shocked the Horde, cowed the Alliance. That someone needed to stand up and fight, to lead by example, to remind them what true courage and honor was.

Lok'tar ogar, Dranosh. I will never forget the heroism and bravery you showed that day. Your actions were the epitome of what it means to be an orc. I can only hope that when I meet my end, my death will be as glorious and honorable as yours. I am proud to be your friend.

And we do not forget our fallen kin. Your father and I put aside our bickering and led the Horde into the Lich King's foul halls, and put an end to his evil once and for all. We were shocked to discover that he had corrupted your soul and turned you into one of his foul minions. The thought of your noble spirit trapped in one his twisted creations filled me with horror. I wanted to tear the vile place apart stone by stone until I found you, so I could put you out of your suffering, but your father stopped me.

"This is my task, Garrosh," said your father, sadly. "He is my son. I will find him and put him to rest, and return his body to Garadar."

Your father and I were very different, and for months had clashed over tedious details like military tactics and supply lines. But in this, we were in complete agreement. I gave him a nod, and stepped back. Though you were my closest friend, I would not deny a father his last gift to his son.

We triumphed, Dranosh. The Lich King fell before our might, as I knew he would. As soon as we could, your father and I returned to Garadar and laid you to rest with your battle armor, beside your mother and uncle's memorial. Jorin came, and we reminisced about the old days. The Horde's mightiest leaders also made the journey, to honor your courage. Thrall, the tauren elder Cairne, the leader of our troll allies, Vol'jin. Even the Blood Elves, who look down their noses at our "primitive" ways, sent a representative named Lor'themar.

During the ceremony, your father stepped forth to the pyre and announced he wished to read an unusual message from one who could not attend, but wished to send his regards - King Varian Wrynn, of the humans. This was unheard of, and a murmur went through the crowd. I despise this particular human, and would have gladly seized the paper and ripped it to shreds had it been anyone other than your father. Instead I fumed, but held myself back, not wanting to shame your memory with a squabble. For no one else would I have endured such an affront.

Wrynn's words were simple, and...surprising. He said that though he was not at the Wrath Gate, he had learned of the battle's events, and as a fellow father, wanted to give his sympathies. His men that survived told him that you had fought with honor, and had died a hero's death. That you deserved a hero's burial.

Perhaps there is some small shred of decency in the human after all. Or perhaps he simply learned of honor from when our armies fought together against the Lich King. Nonetheless, I was quite surprised. I have also heard stories that you and Fordragon looked upon each other not as rivals or opponents, but as...equals. As allies.

I admit, I struggle with the concept. But you were always the wiser one, Dranosh. Perhaps you saw things in such an allegiance that I do not. Even in death, you continue to teach me things, old friend.

Finally, I have one final piece of wonderful news I wish to share with you. Thrall has left Azeroth to commune with the primal elements back in Nagrand, and he has named me leader of the Horde in his absence!

I am nervous, but excited. I think this is what the Greatmother hinted at, all those years ago. Back then, it was you who were placed in command of our people, to lead them and protect them. Now it is my turn. I will strive to lead the Horde well, and to uphold the causes you died for.

Farewell, Dranosh, Heart of Draenor.

My brother. My friend.

Show/Hide Letter Notes

Pertinent Lore:

Garrosh - description of his status during the Burning Crusade.

Hero of the Mag'har - the quest where Thrall tells Garrosh about Grom's fate.

Poor Dranosh. Never could catch a break.

First of all, the questline in Nagrand where Thrall comes and reveals the truth about Grom to Garrosh is amazing, and it is a must-see for any Horde player.

Onto Garrosh and Dranosh. From a lore perspective, Dranosh has a unique quality that almost no one else in the game possesses - he could be Garrosh's peer. Same with Jorin Kilrogg, too. They're all about the same age, they all grew up in Nagrand and suffered the effects of the Red Pox, and they all have famous warrior dads. Tons of similarities. I could easily imagine the three of them being youths and reaching adolescence, then adulthood, together.

It's really a shame that Dranosh is dead, for I think this fictitious friendship could have been great for Garrosh. He really has no close friends, no one he trusts inherently. Thrall had Eitrigg, Drek'Thar, Cairne, Vol'Jin...but Garrosh has no one. Dranosh would have been perfect for that role - an advisor, a wise warrior, but most importantly, a friend who would talk straight and not mince words. It's exactly what Garrosh needs.

I thought it would be great to reveal a different side of Garrosh, a humble version that remembered those years when he was depressed and mopey. I wanted to shed some light into his former self, when he was consumed with guilt and worry, and just how big an impact it had on him growing up. The contrast between the young Hellscream and Saurfang was the perfect way to emphasize this. While Garrosh was full of doubt and insecurities over what his father had done, I thought it would be fun (and in character) to have Dranosh experience none of these fears, but like a Saurfang, not lord it over his friend, but instead try to help him.

Knowing what orc culture values and respects, I think Garrosh would have a HUGE amount of respect for Dranosh for having the strength to put his fears aside and not let it bother him, especially since he himself was unable to do so.

I also thought it would be interesting to look at Garrosh's bickering with the elder Saurfang in Warsong Hold not as a display of bravado or aggression, but almost like a friendly banter, since he was so close with Dranosh. I think you can tell that deep down, the in-game Garrosh does really respect Saurfang, and possibly even fear him. Anyone else who has spoken to Garrosh in such a way is immediately threatened with dismemberment and a painful death, but with Saurfang, Garrosh pokes fun or changes the subject.

Dranosh's brave charge at the Lich King during the events of the Wrath Gate also deserved some love, I felt. I never really liked the idea that he just stupidly charged in, hopelessly outmatched. I mean, the Saurfangs aren't dumb. But when you think of it differently, that maybe he was willing to sacrifice himself to inspire the Horde & Alliance armies, it seems much more appropriate. It is EXACTLY the type of thing that they would do for the greater good.

Blizzard hasn't really done ANYTHING to round out Garrosh's character into a believable personality, but I think they have a great hook in the Garrosh/Dranosh friendship. If this Letter were true, I could see Garrosh trying to live up to Dranosh's example, his friend and really, almost his role model. Maybe this would lead to Garrosh being more diplomatic, being slower to anger, or considering the possibility of an allegiance with the Alliances like Dranosh showed was possible with his friendship with Bolvar.

Essentially, Garrosh would be a much better, calmer person if his mantra was "What would Dranosh do?"

4 Responses Subscribe to comments

  1. gravatar

    Wow, Rades, you actually make me almost like Garrosh with this piece.

    Perhaps you made a note of this before, but are the things you've put in yellow text (in this and the other Letters) stuff you're quoting from other sources, like the WoW novels and manga/comics or in-game quest text and dialog?

    November 12, 2010 at 1:46 PM

  2. gravatar

    That was my goal! After all, Blizzard sure isn't rounding him out. ;)

    Actually, the yellow font just refers to quotes. Sometimes they are from a source, but usually they're made up by me! I never really mentioned this, maybe I should have! I kind of just threw myself into NaNo with little preamble or warning, haha.

    I am going to compile all these letters after I'm done, and I'm thinking about doing a little...almost like Director Commentry on each one explaining what I'm referencing and the source material, so anyone interested can check it out and learn more! I try to hint at the lore behind the Letters with the links, but sometimes there's some great stories that I just can't explain in the context of a letter.

    November 12, 2010 at 2:13 PM

  3. gravatar

    Brought tears to my eyes. Good read.

    November 18, 2010 at 11:23 AM

  4. gravatar

    Thank you for the comment, oh mysterious one! I am glad you enjoyed it. :D

    November 18, 2010 at 12:45 PM