The mountain air was brisk. It wasn’t cold, but the way it felt, the way he could breathe it in made Golth’s mind wander to Alterac.
Blades Edge Mountains, former home of the Thunder Lord clan. Golth’s mother had fled the clan upon its initial corruption by Mannoroth. It was only due to Durotan’s close relationship to Orgrim Doomhammer, former member of the Thunder Lord, did she and her brother Thundall manage to find refuge with the Frostwolves in the early days of the corruption.
Walking along the path, Golth stared up at the spiked protrusions in the mountain walls. These spikes gave the mountains their name. Blades Edge…it was also where his former Master Thundall had lived…
Several hours of walking along the trail led Golth to an overpass that looked over a small valley. The sight reminded Golth of Terokkar, a forested valley that, from the sound of it, held many packs of Worgs.
His hand clenched on his axe a little tighter. The air, it held the scent that he was so familiar with. The hides that Thundall had strung in his training hall…they were all beasts from this valley. Looking up at the highest peaks of the mountains, Golth had a sudden feeling compelling him to go further up into the mountains. Somewhere, something was pushing him to continue.
It took two days of climbing to reach one of the summits. The mountains were not meant to be climbed, but a small path was somehow etched into this particular peak. Golth sat for a moment, catching his breath and watched as a small trail of mist worked its way down the path. The spirits were active on this mountain, and Golth could only guess that it was some sacred ground before the corruption of his kind.
Golth took his time finishing the rest of the climb. He felt a strange comfort in his spirit upon entering this place. It was almost as if he was returned to his childhood, back to the training halls of the Frostwolf. The sounds of blades striking one another, Thundall’s booming voice correcting a mistake of an apprentice…
“Iceshadow! Your leaving your back too exposed! Stop day dreaming and pay attention!”
Golth’s attention snapped back and his axe came whirling around. Letting out a howl of challenge, Golth turned around to meet this sudden voice.
Standing before him, at nearly the same height as Golth, was a greenish-grey skinned orc. His grey beard was tied with beads that separated the many strands that hung down. He was lightly armored, favoring to cover the right side of his body while leaving the left free. In his left hand, a huge blade was held casually by his side. Most notably however, was his missing right eye.
His own eyes opening wide, Golth nearly dropped his axe. “Master…?” He finally spoke, words coming in a jumble.
Walking up to Golth, Thundall’s gaze wandered over the young orc before him. Circling him and sizing him up, Thundall gave a few low growls as he finished his inspection.
“You still hold yourself up like a damned idiot. Can’t say I didn’t see that coming, your father had the same way about him as well.” Thundall scoffed, returning his gaze back to Golth’s face. “But your scars…you do your father proud with them.”
Reaching out a hand, Golth watched as it passed through Thundall’s shoulder. “Your spirit…how can I see it…?”
Laughing, Thundall turned away and held out his hands toward the sky. “This is Gro’Magog, sacred peak to our clan. It is where the warriors took their rite of passage into the ranks of Blade Master, completing the sacred challenge by their ancestors.”
Looking back, Thundall watched as Golth surveyed the small valley they now stood in. The mist was starting to clear and the small arena was coming into view.
“This…is Gro’Magog.” Thundall said again, letting his arms fall to his sides. “This whelp, is the final place of your training.”
Holding out his blade, Thundall’s visage started to become clearer. Slowly, flesh began to replace apparition, steel starting to shine in the sun.
“Golth Iceshadow, as Thunder Lord blood flows through your veins, I have by tradition the right to challenge you.” Thundall yelled, his voice booming in the valley. “If you defeat me by a mortal wound, you shall earn the honor to carry our name. Should you lose…you die.”
Sinking his blade into the ground, Thundall’s eye flashed red as he came completely back to flesh. “Do you accept?”
“Master…” Golth replied, shaking his head. “I can’t…”
Thundall, despite the better of himself, gave a comforting smile. “It’s good to see you have a heart Golth…Thrall has been leading our people well. Do not worry about me Iceshadow, defeating me returns my spirit back to what lies beyond. Your mother and father wait for me, I promised I wouldn’t be long.”
Nodding, Golth slowly lowered himself into his fighting stance. He could see Thundall’s instant disapproval, who preferred to fight with tactics and speed, as opposed to Golth‘s more brutish style. Golth had different ways of doing things. His fury was his strength.
“I thought I taught you better than that Iceshadow…” Thundall growled, preparing his own stance.
“Bloods blood, Master. I’m sure my father used to be the same way.” Golth replied.
Thundall gave a low chuckle. The damn boy was right. Roaring his battle cry, Thundall waved his blade above his head. “Here I come!”
Launching himself at speed that always left Golth in awe, Thundall brought his blade down onto Golth in an overhead chop. Steel clashed against steel as Golth brought up his axe to parry. A boot found his chest, knocking him onto the ground. Rolling, but able to control himself, Golth managed to pick himself up in time for Thundall’s next swing. Bracing himself in the dirt, Golth caught the full force of the overhead swing with his axe, blocking the brutal attack. Grunting, Golth pushed with his full weight against Thundall. Thundall was quicker, but Golth discovered that he was stronger. Throwing Thundall off balance, Golth smashed the butt of his axe against Thundall’s side. To Golth’s surprise, Thundall took the blow better than he had hoped, for a armored fist retorted against Golth’s jaw. Golth, moved off balance, pushed Thundall back again, regaining his footing and spitting out a trail of blood.
Thundall, returning to his battle stance, moved his blade calmly to his side. “You’ve grown strong Iceshadow. I’d say your strength is greater than your fathers.”
Wiping his bleeding lip, Golth gave a gruff nod. “Happens when you try to find an honor more worthy than the Iceshadow...”
Their blades met again, starting a series of sparks as the two combatants tested the other. His lighting strikes occasionally catching Golth, Thundall tried his best to wear down the younger warrior before him. To his surprise, Golth seemed to gain strength from his wounds, swinging harder and quicker with each wound Thundall managed to inflict. It eventually took all he had to parry Golth’s devastating blows, each time knocking him off balance. Raising his axe far above his head, Golth gave a great bellow before cleaving his axe down through the steel of Thundall’s blade, shattering the weapon and sinking into Thundall’s torso. With a slight grunt, Thundall’s grip loosened on his broken weapons handle, dropping it to the ground.
The red haze cleared and Golth came under control of his thoughts again. Catching Thundall before his body fell to the ground, Golth gently lowered the older orc to the ground.
“Master…” Golth said finally, “…I’m sorry.”
Putting a hand on Golth’s shoulder, Thundall gave a slight chuckle.
“There is nothing to be sorry about boy…” Thundall grinned, his hand slowly clawing a symbol on Golth’s arm, in the same spot as the frost wolf insignia. “…you bested me in combat, you allowed me a proper death in a way of the warrior. I didn’t waste away from illness this time, you allowed me to die in honor on the battlefield.”
Finishing his symbol, Thundall began to fade back into his spirit.
“You now carry our mark Iceshadow. You are a Blade Master of our clan. Carry our tradition, retain our honor.”
Fading from sight, Thundall’s last words echoed in the air around the mountain.
“Live your life, for the Horde.”
Sitting for a few moments on the ground, staring at the space where Thundall had laid moments before, Golth’s eyes caught the sight of Thundall’s war blade. Picking it up and running his hands over the weapon, Golth rose to his feet and looked the weapon over. It was as if it had never broken, and the blade an aura about it as he ran his hand over it.
“I will carry your weapon in your honor Uncle.” Golth whispered to the wind. On his arm, the blood finally stopped flowing from the new scar on his arm. The Insignia of the Thunderlord intertwined with the Frostwolf.