Gu'jomb died a week before I returned to Orgrimmar. The venerable troll mage passed away in his sleep and was buried with full honors at the edge of the city. On the evening of my return, I stood at his grave with Daj'yah, who had been like a daughter to him. Daj'yah showed little in the way of visible emotion, cries and tears frozen behind an impassive face.
Summer had come to Orgrimmar, bringing with it the pounding heat of the Kalimdor sun. I spent idyllic mornings assembling and editing my notes, and the afternoons learning the Zandali tongue. Uthel'nay was my teacher, and he was an able one. In turn, I continued my translation of Lordaeronian arcanist texts into Orcish.
The Valley of Spirits had grown during my absence. Grass-roofed huts stand on stilts around the lake, while troll craftsmen, merchants, priests, and wizards walk the rickety wooden planks connecting them. More of the disenfranchised Bloodscalp and Skullsplitter trolls have come to live here, as have trolls from a number of oceanic tribes. The isolated island trolls have long suffered predation from Venture Company slavers, and found sanctuary in Orgrimmar. The Darkbriar Lodge now boasts an impressive library of old Gurubashi codices, many of them retrieved by Horde warriors in Stranglethorn.
At noon, when the heat sears the air, I'd enjoy going by the lakeside and resting under a palm tree. Nothing completely eliminates the chill of undeath but the summer sun comes close. Spectacular festivals are frequent in the season. Trolls bedecked in bright feathers and wooden masks cavort through the Valley of the Spirits in these times, and the smoky scents of cooked pork and burning incense fill the neighborhood.
A messenger came to me during one such night, saying that Eitrigg wished to speak with me. I quickly made my way to Grommash Hold and found the old orc standing in the antechamber. He smiled upon seeing me. We made small talk for a little while, but the orcs are a direct people and he soon got to the point.
"As I'm sure you know, the Horde and Alliance have been active in Outland for the past few months. Both factions have sent warriors to that shattered land, building or reinforcing existing holdings. It's a place drowning in fel energies, Destron. A land ruled by demons and beasts. We orcs intend to reconnect with our ancestor spirits, who should not have to dwell in such a place. There's another, more pragmatic reason for our activities in Outland, however."
"What is that?"
"The Dark Portal is opening. Alliance wizards were the first to find out, and they told our people. Nothing can be done to stop it. You can imagine the results of an opened Dark Portal."
"I see. What of Illidan and Kael'thas? Are they with the Horde in Outland?"
"I'm not sure. The information we've gotten is contradictory at best. It looks like Illidan has declared war on the Burning Legion, but it's not a war he can possibly win. Once the demons destroy him, Azeroth will be the Burning Legion's next stop. Whether our warriors will fight alongside or against Illidan remains to be seen. What's clear is that we need to secure Outland. We can't afford to let the demons use it as a staging ground for attacks on our world."
"A sound decision."
"We'll be opening smaller, localized portals to Outland in a few weeks. The Horde and Alliance both need to get in before the Dark Portal opens. I want to let you know that you're free to go through one of these smaller portals. We could use all the help we could get in Outland. Do you want this?"
I thought about it for a moment.
"I would be honored," I said.