Oily fumes wrap around the metal walls of the Tigerclaw War-pack’s Bilgewater headquarters. It is an easy place to miss, a seeming afterthought thrown together at the edge of the harbor. A solitary Horde banner, the crimson fabric soiled by grime, is all that distinguishes the base from the anonymous warehouses on either side. It is a curious exception to the Horde’s usual ostentation.
I headed there the moment I disembarked from the Bilgewater zeppelin I’d ridden from Everlook. I arrived on one of those stormy Azshara days where pounding rain erodes the demarcation between sea and sky, drenching the world into disarray. I braved the pouring cascades of the dockside streets and followed the mean glare of buzzing electric signs.
Once inside the dank and dismal office, ankle-deep in greasy water, I forced myself to maintain an air of careful aggression. Groveling to orcs will almost always result in being shunned or ignored, though many will threaten those who take any but the most obsequious stance. Every conversation is a battle.
Fortunately, the intelligence officer to whom I spoke appeared interested. Listening to my report, he thanked me for my effort and promised to relay it to someone higher in rank.
“Well done, Forsaken. The warchief’s eyes are upon you.”
“Such is my honor,” I grunted in response.
Having fulfilled my responsibilities I went up to Elazzi’s topsy-turvy manse. Not foolish enough to take the flooded surface streets, I braved the narrow walkways groaning under scores of passing goblins. I swam in a sea of umbrellas, their ratty canopies up to my chest.
Joag, Elazzi’s valet, was standing outside her house when I arrived, trying to stay under the eaves though his suit was already soaked. He held a rifle in his hands.
“Joag! Is everything all right?” I asked.
“So far, but there’ve been some prowlers here at night. Elazzi’s out, but she told me to let you in if you showed up.”
“Fine, she got your last telegraph.”
The fiery air blasted through my wet clothes when I stepped in, the foundry below the first floor smelting yet more steel for the war effort. I called out to Daj’yah but got no response. I put my sodden coat on a closet hanger and went up to her room, where I found her reading a book at a too-small desk.
“Destron? Welcome back!” she greeted. For a second she started to get up from her chair, but sat back down. “So, tell me all about Hyjal.”
“Very green, very old,” I said. I did not relish the thought of telling her about my humiliation at the Shrine of Goldrinn. She’d gain little by learning about it, beyond frustration against my assailants.
“Destron, I’ve seen you write entire pages to describe a single leaf on a tree, you can’t be just saying Hyjal is green and old,” she laughed.
“Sorry, it’s been a long trip. I’ll give you a more thorough recounting when Elazzi gets back. How have you been?”
“Mostly here, reading and writing.”
“Elazzi isn’t dragging you to more social events?”
Daj’yah looked down at the floor.
“Things are getting complicated. Last week, Joag found an orc sneaking on the foundry roof in the middle of the night. He had an Ancestral Fury tattoo.”
“Joag scared him off; orcs aren’t as powerful here as they are in Orgrimmar, and even the partisans know it.”
“Was this reported?”
“Report to who? Goblins take care of themselves because they cannot trust each other! Elazzi hired some extra security, and we did tell the foundry owner. He’s not wanting rogue orcs creeping around on his property.”
I rubbed my temples, suddenly wanting very badly to unleash a cataclysmic spell on a deserving target.
“I sent you a telegraph after your second message, telling you to get here as fast as you could, but you didn’t mention it in your third,” she said.
“The Everlook operator didn’t tell me about it. He probably forgot, or the one who received it never wrote it down.”
“I’m getting out of Bilgewater; I want to find someplace where crazy orcs won’t follow me around! Thrall told us that we were a part of his people, like we were the same tribe, told us in his own words! Destron, I saw him tell us! And now? They push us aside and kill anyone who tells them otherwise.”
Fury boiled in her eyes, and I suddenly remembered tales of trollish berserkers in the Second and Third Wars. All at once she settled down, shaking her head as if trying to get rid of an objectionable thought.
“I need to get out of Bilgewater.”
“Somewhere the Horde does not rule.”
Elazzi came back later that day, red hair plastered to her green scalp. She welcomed me back; she unrolled a map of post-Cataclysm Kalimdor as Joag cooked dinner, circling possible destinations with a red marker.
“I know it’s Horde, but I think Thunder Bluff would be pretty safe. The orcs treat the tauren like fine china, so they won’t be so bold as to attack a guest,” she said.
“I am sure, but I want to go away from the Horde for a while.”
“Suit yourself, but Thunder Bluff is probably safer than neutral territory. Partisans are everywhere. Let’s see… Ratchet’s practically a Horde colony, so that’s out. There’s the Speedbarge, but they don’t have much room for longterm residents. If you brought your own boat it might work. There’s some camps in Un’goro—“
“No,” interjected Daj’yah. “I’m not wanting to dodge dinosaurs all day and night.”
“I couldn’t agree more! I love science as much as the next girl, but the researchers down there are crazy. Gadgetzan might work—wait, how could I forget? Moonglade! Destron, how’s Moonglade?”
“Safe, though tense.” I briefly explained the political situation in Moonglade. “The worgen don’t appear to have any grudge against the trolls.”
“Maybe. I don’t know I like being so close to the Alliance though.”
“You are tough to please! We’ll put Moonglade in the ‘maybe’ category. Going back south, there’s Gadgetzan. Steamwheedle is hiring a lot of new people, and talent like yours could go a long way. South of that there’s Uldum, but not much is known about it.”
“Are there still a lot of Horde partisans down there?”
“Most moved on to the Twilight Highlands. I think it’s more blood elves down there than anyone else. Well, them and the dwarves, but they generally know how to be civil to each other.”
Daj’yah looked down on the map, her right index finger going north and south like a metronome.
“Gadgetzan sounds good, and I can go on to Uldum if it doesn’t work out. Destron, you’re probably wanting to see Uldum yourself.”
“Very much so, in fact.”
“There you have it, Elazzi.”
“Destron’s going with you? Let me think… Daj’yah, I was going to put you on a flight to wherever you wanted to go. I can’t exactly calculate the net worth you’ve brought me through your books, and the social capital you conferred just by being here, so consider the flight paid for with some left over for future favors. Now, Destron hasn’t done as much for me, so he needs to pay, unless you’re willing to spring for him…”
((This mini-update is just to connect Moonglade with the next section, the Southern Barrens.
Also, on a personal note, I'm currently looking for a new job. I've been checking the usual channels (Monster.com, Indeed.com, etc), but thought I'd ask readers if they had any leads. I'm specifically looking for jobs in southern California (which I'm defining as any area between and including Santa Barbara and San Diego. I have professional experience in online marketing, a Master's Degree in International Studies, and I'm also capable writer/editor. I'm looking for work that pays at least $34,000 per year (though this is negotiable depending on other benefits).
I'd be comfortable in marketing or publishing, but am quite willing to adapt to new industries. I am also interested in the gaming industry, though I don't have any real technical or programming experience.
If you know of any such opportunities, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.))