“Time ya be wakin’ child, Bwonsamdi not be ready ta take ya jus’ yet. Dere be t’ings ya be needed to do.”
Zan’jil slowly became aware of herself, drawn by the voice in her head. The air was warm, thick and damp .She felt nauseous as though the floor was pitching and swaying beneath her; her head ached and her mouth was filled with the taste of her own blood. The young Troll girl rolled to her side to spit out the blood.
“Agh, Zan! That was gross!”
Zan’jil’s eyes flew open as she sat up, the world going from black to deep shadows. “Gromtuk? Is dat you?” her hand reached out, finding the Orc boy’s shag of hair. “Are de other children here?”
She could here the Orc youngling scratching in the dark, “Nah Zan, it’s just us – well us and a bunch of other Orcs, Trolls and a few Tauren. I guess the rest of the orphans made it to Camp Oneqwah. I think we’re on a boat. Been here for a few days maybe.” He paused, his voice turning a bit more sullen “ S’hard to tell when it’s always dark.”
“I was sure dat I was off t’ meet Bwonsamdi, but he not be havin’ me. ‘E took mah soul and stuck it right back in dis body! Tol’ me I had t’ings ta do.”
Gromtuk leaned across hugging Zan’jil, “I’m glad yer not dead Zan! I didn’t want to be alone here.”
Beside them a large Orc rolled over, his fist smashing into the deck next to Gromtuk, “Shuddup you two!” he growled, “I’m trying to sleep. Sleep is where I’m not hungry and my backside isn’t full of splinters! So be quiet or I’ll break ya in two, stuff you in a sack and use you for a pillow.”
The two younglings fell silent, listening to the creak of the boat and the breathing of the other people in the darkened hold. The silence didn’t last long though as the deep sound of the war drums picked up and heavy, armored feet could be heard rushing about on deck. The hold was suddenly filled with light as the deck hatch was pulled open and a rope ladder dropped down.
“Alright, ya filth! Get yer carcasses up on deck. Yer in Hellscream’s Army now!” The Kor’kron Reaver stood at the top of the ladder, veins bulging in his neck and spittle flying from his mouth. “Last one in the hold is getting fed to the crabs!”
Everyone in the hold began pushing to their feet and shoving their way toward the ladder. Zan’jil kept Gromtuk ahead of her and through judicious use of her elbows and knees managed to get them both up the ladder, blinking into the sunlight. As their eyes adjusted the two could see dozens of similar boats anchored in the water off a sandy beach backed by tall jungle trees; landing craft were being dropped and loaded with supplies, crew and conscripts.
“Get yer maggot infested corpses onto the boats. General Nazgrim is on shore and will assign you to construction, supplies or assault duties.” The Kor’krom slammed a fist onto the shoulder of an older Orc with graying hair, “Not you. You get to help with a lesson.” The Reaver quickly drew his long knife and drove it up under the ribcage of the elder Orc before kicking him over the rail and into the water below. “When I say jump, you say how high! When I say the last man on deck will be crab food, I MEAN it! If you can’t lift, haul, move or fight, there is NO place for you in Hellscream’s Horde! Lesson’s over! Welcome to Pandaria!”
Silently, the conscripts boarded the landing craft, several taking up oars when ordered. Upon reaching the beach, they began jumping out into the knee deep water and making their way up the beach and into the Hold.
“Line up, ya piles of waste! I’m Sergeant Krosk and I’m responsible for you lot! If you look bad, I look bad! And if I look bad, I will put you through the grinder myself!” The grim faced sergeant moved down the line looking over the new arrivals. “You call this a line?!” Krosk brought his hob nailed boot down on a bare foot, “Feet together, shoulder to shoulder! What IS THIS?! Little boys and girls, they send me? Do I need to watch over you and wipe away yer tears?!”
Zan’jil stood as straight as she could, not flinching from the sergeant’s intense gaze, “Na mon! De time for mah tears ended when we took back de Echo Isles.”
The sergeant leaned in, nose to nose with the little Troll, “Oh, I hate to break it to you, girlie. Hellscream has little trust for you Trolls, and neither do I! The Kor’kron have already taken back those Isles and are watching over you traitorous lot.” Krosk spit at her feet. “Still, I can put you to use. You have lots of crabs on those isles of yours, you can help feed these soldiers! You and yer boyfriend here will go comb the beach, collect crabs and turtles for meat. Also, the Alliance has been making air drops of supplies all up and down the beach; you find a crate you bring it back here. If ya can’t lift it, you break it open and smash anything you find so the Alliance can’t use it! Got it?”
“Ya mon. Take it o’ break it!”
“Well get moving!” Krosk pointed at a handful of others, “You, you , you; same thing. Oh! And foragers get to eat last, so if there ain’t enough for the soldiers, you get nothing. Happy hunting!”
As Zan’jil and Gromtuk moved off, she could hear the remaining conscripts getting broken into groups for other duties. “We’re going to starve out here, Zan. I grew up in Durotar, out in the desert, I have no idea how to catch crabs.”
“No worries, mon. I was de best crabber on the Isles! Mah sistah, she taught me everyt’ing she knows about findin’ food along de waters. We be jus’ fine. Maybe we even find some clams along de shore.”
The young Troll looked around the beach, picking up a branch of driftwood and hefting it in her hands, “We got no bait or line, so we start at de beginnin’. We gonna hafta smash us some crabs while dere busy. Where dere’s corpses, deres crabs. Dat mean we headin’ closer to the fighting where dere’s bodies on de beach.”
Gromtuk paused, turning toward his friend, “Zan? How are we gonna get out of here?”
Zan’jil scratched her head, her hair bells tinkling faintly, “I dunno, Tuk. Dey took mah guildstone so we won’ be getting’ any help from de Tears. We jus’ gotta do what we’re tol’ and stick together.”