What a month. Long days and longer weeks had been spent vastly alone in his own little corner of hell; the Valley of Spirits. Along with hundreds of other trolls, what had once been a safe haven in the midst of the grand fortress-city, Orgrimmar, had quickly become the place they all wanted to be the least. For weeks before and months after his escape from an admittedly gruesome fate, the battle for it all raged on and, thinking back, Rham’bek wondered if he’d have acted differently given the chance. Would he have broken his cover in order to cut off his little girl’s pursuit of a boy that was already dead? Would he have risked his life and the life of many other tribe mates in order to make sure they didn’t touch her; to see her out safe, his little bat? Would he have smashed his skull and broken his promise, even unintentionally? Would he have?

Would he have…?

The Shatterspear – who seemed to have aged another five years in the last five months – turned in place on the dock near the little get-away home he’d constructed ages ago. The old wood needed some work, but it was comfortable and large enough a jungle-cabin to house the two staying there, and the fish-filled river barely a hundred feet from its front porch gave it all the more worth. Sure, it looked like a human had built it, but that just made it all the more fitting a place for a troll (or two) to hide. He’d convinced the worry-laden half-breed to join him there in the days following the end of the Rebellion and the warring on Kalimdor’s shores.

Well, the biggest of it, anyways.

Now, he rose to head back towards the door – sans any fish, he hadn’t been paying attention to the pole or the line anyways – and had to keep himself from wringing his hands around the note pinched between two fingers, so dear he held it. My dear Kulikara, it began.

It has been a long year, eh, mwamba? It started with me missing you for a couple months, and seems to have ended in a similar fashion. I find it kind of funny.

His stride, practiced, svelte and soundless, brought him in to the back room where a nest of bedding awaited. His smile grew more and more, the closer he got to the Darkspear he’d thoroughly, lovingly exhausted just that morning. He had to stifle a chuckle at the sight of claw-borne welts just along the sleeping hunter’s spine, and bit it back in a quiet hum.

We have been through our fair share of trials since the beginning, too. My getting used to Ji’kali, and he to me. Meeting your family. Worse, still, we’ve seen so much bloodshed together; watched tribe members die and seen new ones come in. The battles have been endless, and the fighting without cease. Amrit’s meddling. The Darkspear Rebellion. But, through it all…

Rham’bek removed a tiny flower from his person, placing the itty bitty splash of colour atop the letter he’d left on the nightstand.

Through it all, you’ve been there for me, and I for you, even if I am a flighty thing. I thank you, that you have suffered that of me, my Kulikara, my rock; that you are always here when I come home at night. I am sorry for ever worrying you, I love you so. You see, that’s why I have a favor to ask of you. You’ve gone and proven yourself a mate the caliber of which I most certainly do not deserve, so for this you can only blame yourself, I’m afraid.

He reached out to brush a hand through the short red hair of his better half, expression softening, a sigh leaving him and…and then no more. He rose from the edge of the bed.

I am an old man, my Kulikara. I am reaching the end of my prime, but you love me still; that you have shown me even more than you have told me, I am happy to be able to say.

Slowing his rush to the door, the wiry old fellow in question turned back to peer at the note he’d left the hunter and reached up and in to his own fiery mane to extract a small bead of the same shade.

Alas, I haven’t the time to waste spending years in your company before subjecting you to the needs of a lonely old wretch like me. A year will have to do, and I’m startled of myself that I managed to make it this far without asking you before. Trolls make a smaller deal of this than I am, maybe, but then I think it’s obvious to you now that I prefer to make a big deal out of you anyways.

Other races call it marriage, I think. Humans, especially, have extravagant parties in churches, of all places, to celebrate it. I’m not sure what they’re thinking, but it’s suitably ridiculous so I’ll use that word.

This, he set down next to the flower, atop the letter. In the rose-and-orange hued light of the late afternoon it tied the two together perfectly, he thought.

I’m out by the time you’ve woken to read this. I’ve just made a short trip to the Bay; I have some things to pick up, and you did mention you wanted something new. Scallops tonight, what do you think?

But anyways,

Rham’bek fetched his mantle, returning out of the house the same way he’d come in. In an instant, he was gone in to the foliage of the humid jungle; his thoughts alight as his feet. He thought back on the year behind them; the nights spent wanting the man he had, now; spent curious of his daughter’s whereabouts; spent helping the Darkspear raise that little terror they called Ji’kali; spent missing Kulikara; spent loving him; spent being loved by him.

Kulikara of the Darkspear,

Yes…he’d have done it all the same way, all over again, just to be where he was right now.

Will you marry me?

Dawn, baby. Dawn.

It was supposed to be a simple solo mission. He promised Kulikara that it would be quick; “Dawn,” He said, and dawn he had intended to return by. Sooner than that, even, he’d come home and sit with him again there by the water. All he had to do was go visit A’beya and worry about her, there in that fortress-city of Orgrimmar; bring her and her mate and their family a little bit of food that could swiftly be snuck in so that he could just as quickly sneak out. There wasn’t going to be any trouble about it, either; he’d done it half a dozen times over the past two weeks, and he would continue to do it until one of two things happened – either he’d convince his little girl to leave the city (unlikely, she was a healer) or the Rebellion would breach Orgrimamr and put Garrosh out of commission.

Of course, given all the guns pointing in to that spot in the Valley of Spirits, and the hungry, demoralized trolls suffering it within…

In any case, it did not go that smoothly. It absolutely did not go that fucking smoothly and Rham’bek began to regret the entire thing as soon as it went downhill.

As soon as A’beya rushed for that boy running out on to the bridge, screaming and joyful about someone being alive, Rham couldn’t clearly recall.

As soon as the bullet pierced his skull and she shrieked in rage; in pain; in that last fucking straw way that only a troll can so wordlessly roar.

He regretted the moment his fist came down on the communicative skull he’d ripped off his belt when they tackled him, but relished the wisdom he’d managed to bear in removing his tribe’s tabard before arriving. It didn’t make up for the claws on his hide or the scent of blood in the air, and did nothing to soothe and rage and bile in his throat at the sight of that young soul bleeding out there on the bridge or his own kin, his own daughter screaming down the barrel of a rifle in her face…

It didn’t much matter anyways. He remembered only red; only red and snarling and rage and then there was that little bat bolting out of reach of the orcs, ducking under the bridge with a tiny piece of the shattered skull in her claws. And all he could think? All he could think was fuck…


Fuck—damn it…don’t die yet. Y’promised him.

Dawn, baby. Well…maybe tomorrow’s, anyways…