The Valley of Trials looked a lot different than mom used to describe. Everything’s always been brown in Durotar, but I didn’t expect the long road to Orgrimmar to be so coppery-red. Cracked earth gave way to the occasional hardy tree. I wondered how these trees got their water – I didn’t see anyone walking around with water pails, and they didn’t have any kind of functional irrigation like we had back at the farm. Maybe the trees just didn’t use as much water as our crops did? I’d have to find someone and ask.

Someone was excitedly hopping up and down, trying to get me to help them collect ingredients for a local feast, but I shushed her – couldn’t she see I was an ork on a mission? I didn’t have time to stay and chat or to help them with a festival. Putting my map away and making sure my logging ax was secured across my back, I set off into the dusty distance, every step taking me farther away from home than I had ever been. My sister was out there somewhere, and I was going to bring her home.

Soon I came across an orc in full battle armour, tusks capped with gold, and a brilliant, shining blade in-hand. I had seen the local guard from afar before, but here was a real Horde warrior, patrolling the roads and keeping us safe, walking my direction! I stepped off the path and gave a salute – at least, what I think a salute was – and he seemed to ignore me. I took that as a good sign; after all, if something bad happened while he was distracted by a farmer like me, I don’t think I could live with myself. After he passed, I kept walking, a little lighter in my step knowing that the roads were well-protected from bandits and ruffians.

Soon approaching a crossroads which didn’t appear on my map, I asked a local den grunt for directions. She looked me up and down, and questioned whether I was truly ready to continue down the road. I offered that I was as prepared as I was ever going to be, and that if she could but point me in the right direction, I would be on my way. Chuckling to herself, she jabbed a thumb Northward. “Best of luck, kid” she grunted, without conviction. That seemed kind of rude, but nevertheless I continued – she would undoubtedly not be the last rude person I encountered in my travels.

A signpost pointed out that I had left the Valley of Trials and was taking my first steps into the real world. There was so much more life out here than I expected! Boars ran around in small packs, rabbits and snakes chased each other through the scraggly grass, and birds seem to have alit on every rocky outcropping. For the first time in my life I could smell the Great Sea, and the rush of new sensations filled me with true awe. Undoubtedly I would continue to see amazing things I could have never dreamed back at home, and I hoped that I would never lose that sense of wonder that struck me at that moment.

The sun was hanging low in the sky when I found a sign pointing the way to Sen’jin Village. Being called a “village” I assumed there were some sort of accommodations for guests and travelers, so I took the small detour to settle in for the night. The Great Sea stretched out all the way to the horizon, an unbroken purple expanse that was almost beyond comprehension. Such a wealth of water! My family had survived on the ebb and flow of a small creek for generations, but this – this was truly unreal.

Of course I had seen trolls before, particularly when I helped my mother take goods to market, but I quickly discovered that Sen’jin was an entire village of them – most hailing from the Darkspear tribe. My grin must have reached from ear to ear because a passing worg-rider smiled back, suggesting I talk to Tai’tasi, who would help me out with travel supplies. It must have been obvious that it was my first time leaving the valley, but I didn’t mind. Thanking him, I walked into the village proper, and set my sights on the first of many stops on my trip.

Finding Tai’tasi, a tall, light-skinned troll with flowing green hair and impressive leather work gloves, I approached as she was closing up shop. I asked her if she had seen my sister pass by this way, which she sadly hadn’t. She seemed to take a liking to me though, especially after hearing about how I was on a quest to reunite my family, and gave me a fishing pole free of charge – a very charitable offer, particularly because I didn’t have any money. My mother kept the meager profits from the farm in a small lockbox under the bed, and told me how to open it, but I knew that my sister and I would need that money when we returned home – if I spent it all on the way out to find her, there’d be nothing left for us to live on afterward.

Thanking the tall troll, I asked if she could point me toward the inn – every village had an inn, right? She looked down at me with soft red eyes and shook her head. “They won’t serve you, not without some coin.”

My heart sank. I thought the Horde was supposed to help each other, and there I was, on a truly life-changing quest, and I couldn’t find a place to stay the night? I was hoping to hear the drinking songs of trolls and orcs who had traveled much farther than I, to sleep in a new place and try new foods, even if only a day’s journey from home. She gestured to the fishing pole and suggested I catch a fish or two, maybe at least they would cook them for me.

Thanking her, I left Tai’tasi to her shopkeeping duties. Even though she didn’t paint the rosiest picture of the village, I was still very pleased to meet a friendly face, and to have a good conversation. She seemed interested in my story, and gave me some good advice. I hoped that, when I returned with my sister, I would find her again and share with her all of the amazing adventures I had been on since we last spoke. I also hoped to meet more trolls like her, who wanted to help a young orc like myself.