Walking from the Valley of Strength, filled with its endless hustle and bustle, into the more quiet corridors of the Drag was a welcome change. People there seemed less in a hurry, and there were fewer travelers. It reminded me of our small village, after the farmers’ market died down – everyone going about their work of packing up stalls, nodding to one another in friendly acknowledgement. It was a reflective time, and seeing the change from busy trade shops to more specialized buildings was a welcome one.
I waved to the orphans playing outside their home, and I was at once thankful that such services were available to the children of lost soldiers, and disheartened that such were necessary. Everyone knows war has a terrible toll, but only those directly affected see the true cost of defending our homelands. It was a sad thing, and if I had any copper I would have donated it to the matron of the house. Perhaps my sister and I could stop by that way again and donate time or resources to their cause.
The entrance to the Valley of Honor was similar to the entrance to Orgrimmar itself – defensible, well-patrolled, and almost ominous in decoration. Mighty tusks and spikes gleamed in the ruddy light of smoldering fires, and the air was thick with scented smoke. Reverently I took advantage of the anointing oils available at the far end, striving to be as respectful to the great Valley of Honor, where the Horde’s greatest heroes had been named and rewarded for their deeds. It was a holy place, and one that demanded proper homage.
Stopping briefly to watch the great green dragon turtles lumber through the small lagoon which ringed its way through the valley, I continued to be amazed at the variety of life present just a few days’ travel from my humble home. Not just the intelligent races but all manner of creatures and monsters friends back home would scarcely believe. With my sister in tow, I know they would believe though – she had lived here, made this amazing city her home. With a deep breath, I entered the Hall of the Brave to find her.
Upon asking to see the headmaster, respectfully and with as much poise as I could muster, I was directed to Blademaster Ronakada, the one-eyed commander who was responsible for the martial as well as philosophical training of the Horde’s most elite troops. It wasn’t enough to charge at the enemy and swing a sword, he was telling a newly-assigned warrior, keeping close to heart the importance of why we fought, the safety of so many who relied on our soldiers, was just as critical to battle success as martial prowess or leadership tactics. The student bowed and gave a well-practiced salute. I tried to follow suit from the door, without embarrassing myself.
When he gestured for me to approach, I bowed again and did so. I wondered if, with all the places he’d been and things he’d seen, he had gotten used to people being in awe of him. I imagined that fame would change a person, particularly in what they consider to be “normal life.” All of this grandeur in Orgrimmar was so far outside of my normal as to be almost overwhelming, but to Ronakada and other teachers at the Hall of the Brave, it was just another day on the job. Realizing how truly different our perspectives must have been was as much as surprise as what he said about my sister.
“Sina? I haven’t seen her for more than a year. Impressed her teachers and left on a raid to the North, maybe up in Azshara somewhere. I’m not her commander any more so I don’t know where her post is. Good soldier, that one – smart and loyal too.”
My sister Sina had always felt that life on the farm wasn’t what she was meant for – that she could contribute in other ways, more direct ways, to the war effort, and to the world at large. She left home just after our father died, and began to train as a warrior. She came back regularly, occasionally sporting a new scar or more dents in her armour, but she had been gone for a long while now. My heart sank – I thought she had just been caught up in the big city life, not actually sent somewhere far away, somewhere dangerous.
“If you’re so keen to find her, I’ll see what I can do,” the Blademaster offered, obviously seeing the pain on my face at having come so far and not found what I sought. “Here are the names of a few local commanders up that way. If you can make it up there, I’m sure they can point you in the right direction. Heck, your sister may be stationed at one of our encampments just on the other side of the mountains. You’ll see her before you know it.”
I thanked him, and tried not to let my disappointment show, even though my heart felt like it was breaking. Sina didn’t know that mother had died, and it seemed like our poor farm would lay fallow even longer, until I could find her. With no money or possessions, what I already thought was a difficult trip was going to get much more demanding, I feared.
Leaving the Hall of the Brave, I walked back to the Valley of Strength, crestfallen and aimless. I had to find passage to the lands beyond Orgrimmar, but I also needed provisions for the journey. Sitting on a low bench outside of one of the many available inns, I considered my options, while also looking out for anyone who seemed like they could, or would, help.