Before the Gates

01 December 2006

Last edit:  19 November 2007 (to fix a lore issue)

About two weeks ago, I killed a member of the Horde single-handedly. I don't remember what class or race he (or 'she' -- I'll use masculine form for brevity) was. I only recall that he was younger than me. That's what sticks in my head.

The Alliance and the Horde are not, at the time of this writing, at open war. But the difference between "open war" and "skirmishing" is a rather fluid and grey one, so who is to say? It doesn't matter -- Death is Death.

I should mention that it didn't happen in a so-called "battleground", but right in front of the gates of Orgrimmar. Four of my guildmates and I were in Durator on a "recon" mission. Over the week prior to our "recon", the Horde had been repeatedly raiding in Westfall and Elwynn Forest. For my actions during these raids, I even received a battlefield guild commendation.

Given the frequency of these raids, my Guild Leadership decided it was time to get a better idea of the enemy's strength and capabilities. Thus the "recon" mission -- sneak in, look around, gather info, get out. So off we went to Durator.

As the Horde could easily procure a translation of my account here, I shall avoid details about who went in, their class, skill level, etc., and especially how we all got in. This story is not about military particulars, but about me killing a young Hordler before the Gates of Orgrimmar.

I will say that we started at Razor Hill -- seemed a good place because it's in central Durator but likely not as well-guarded as the capital just north. We were right about that. I will also say that I arrived on the scene first, so I assumed the panther, became one with the shadows and found a position on some high ground near the village where I could observe the goings-on.

Rather peaceful and relaxing scene it was. There were two Orc Guards on duty, looking bored but alert, typical of one who is dedicated, but pulling a routine, quiet shift. I couldn't quite see into the village, but it was easy to imagine the "normal folk" going about their daily business. And then I saw an Orc Hunter and his pet between my position and the village -- hunting, naturally. I can't recall now what he was hunting -- something relatively "easy", which was well for him because he was very young, just starting out in his profession. My jaws opened slightly and the feline facial muscles around my teeth pulled back a bit -- a "smile" it would have been, were I in normal, Kaldorei form.

I had to smile, for watching the little hunter rolled back the years for me and I vividly recalled my own start as a new Adore (Druid) in Aldrassil, killing a small wild pig, typical of the creatures of that area. Where you are now, little Hordler, I thought, I have been. And your whole life lies before you, so full of potential and wondrous things that only wait for you to discover them!

The interlude faded as my four companions closed on Razor Hill. Back to the matter at hand, then. Reacting to the situation on the ground, our Group Leader decided to extend our mission -- we would test the enemy's reaction to aggression. We attacked the Guards, killing them after a brief, but lively fight. Two more guards reacted to the alarm and then a third, and we killed them as well. We paused to tend minor wounds. A few more guards arrived and we took care of them. Razor Hill was open to us.

I was concerned about the alarms that were now surely spreading to Orgrimmar and I counselled withdrawal. After all, we had more than fulfilled our original mandate and we should not test fate. This was not a picnic in the green meadows of the Hillsbrad Foothills -- it was an aggressive act in the heart of enemy territory. Time for discretion, said I.

But our Leader noted that the Horde response to our aggression was "muted", to put it mildly and we should thus exploit our presence in this prime location to learn more. We proceeded north and came to the very Gates of Orgrimmar -- a first for me, thus the lump that formed in my throat. And there we again challenged the Orc Guards, besting them. But this time, the Horde reacted. A handful of their elite warriors issued forth and we skirmished. This battle was more intense for us than the one at Razor Hill, but still, we were in no real danger, despite being right under the noses of the enemy -- closer to Hell we could not come. Was this the best the Horde could do?

Despite this less-than-expected response from the Horde, we were not so arrogant as to believe that we could actually enter Ogrimmar. Enough common sense we still possessed. And so we continued to demonstrate in front of their gates, our very presence there a direct challenge (if not an outright insult) to them. And there we bested those that came against us.

Over time, Ogrimmar slowly awakened, more came forth from the Gate and we knew that we had to withdraw. By any measure, our "recon mission" was a considerable success, having far exceeded the original reasons for being there, so leaving the scene was nothing "shameful" by any stretch. And it was then, during the final skirmish, as the Horde's response was moving to the point where we could be in true difficulty, as we were disengaging, that this young Hordler I mentioned at the start came forth and took a shot at one of us (whether gunshot or arrow, I cannot recall). I was slightly to the rear of the group (typical healer location) and thus I saw this youngster's action most clearly. After he took his shot, he turned right around and ran as fast as he could for the safety of Orgrimmar's Gates.

Our minds often engage in a strange "time warp" under stress, where an impossible number of thoughts race through our heads in an impossibly short amount of time, and so did my mind at this point. I felt I was in this young Hordler's head and could feel his thoughts. He knew he was too young and unskilled to take any of our party on directly -- he left that to his more experienced brethren. But we were within a stone's throw of his capital, a location as safe as any could be for him, so surely he could run up to within missile range, fire a shot and then duck right back to the gates. Such bravery would make a good tale later at the pub with his young peers. Perhaps even his superior would notice it and tell him what a fine warrior he was and how far he would go in his career with that kind of valor. And his heart-pounding excitement! I could feel it all in that moment, thoughts racing through my head in a split-second as the youngster lowered his weapon, turned and fled with all possible speed toward the gates.

And in that same split second, even as I took it all in, I turned, fixed my gaze upon him and, without hesitation, called the power of the moon down upon his fleeing form. He was gone before he hit the ground.

That's when I first became consciously aware of how "young" he was, you see. I recall that he was unhurt when he fired the shot. I'm an advanced Druid, but even a single burst of my moonfire could only instantly kill those who are "young" to begin with.

There is no logical reason for me to harbor doubt over my action that day. The young Hordler put himself in harm's way of his own free will. He willingly engaged in an act of aggression on a field of battle, intending to harm a member of the Alliance. My quick and forceful response was fully justified under any reasonable interpretation of that which we may collectively refer to as "The Laws of War."

And yet, if this be "victory", it's certainly Pyrrhic. And if dealing this kind of death be "justified", then surely also morally dubious.

And rather less than "triumphant".