Before Rolc could demur, Nobundo broke in: "That is exactly what this is! They cannot solve our problems, so they... they hope to ignore us! They just want us to go away!"
"We cannot help you!" Rolc blurted. "We have no idea whether or not your condition is contagious, and your decreased physical abilities, your diminished mental faculties are a liability that we cannot afford. There are not enough of us left to take chances!"
"What of the other, Akama " Korin asked.
"He will stay here in my care until he awakens," Rolc responded, and then added, "if he awakens."
"How kind of you," Nobundo muttered, his words laced with sarcasm.
Rolc strode forward to stand defiantly before Nobundo. Despite his failing health, Nobundo straightened and looked Rolc squarely in the eyes.
Rolc said, "You have said that you wonder if perhaps the Light is punishing you with its silence, for your failure at Shattrath."
"I gave everything at Shattrath! I was prepared to die so that you, all of you could live!"
"Yes, but you did not die."
"What are you--are you saying I deserted "
"I think that if the Light has abandoned you, it has done so with reason. Who are we to question the ways of the Light " Rolc looked back at the others for support. Some of them looked away, but many did not. "Whatever the case, I think it is time you accepted your new place in the order of things. I think it is time you took the welfare of others into account...."
Rolc reached down and snatched the hammer from Nobundo's hand.
"And I think it is time you stopped trying to be something you are not."
- Chapter 3 -
It was a mistake to come here. Nothing has changed. You are still Krokul¡ªyou are still Broken.
No. They would listen. He would make them listen. There was, after all, the epiphany. Nobundo forced his eyes from the gathered assembly to the fountain in the center of the small plaza. From that water he asked for clarity.
He felt his thoughts resolve into focus. He thanked the water and, leaning heavily on his stick, forced himself to meet the sea of disapproving gazes below. There was a moment of awkward silence.
"This is nonsense," he heard someone whisper.
When at first he tried to speak, his voice sounded small and hoarse, distant to his own ears. He cleared his throat and began again, louder. "I have come to... to talk to you about--"
"We are wasting our time. What can a Krokul have to say to us "
More voices of dissent joined in. Nobundo faltered. His mouth worked, but his voice was lost.
I was right. This was a mistake.
Nobundo turned to depart, and looked up into the placid eyes of the prophet, their leader, Velen.
The seer fixed Nobundo with a critical gaze. "Going somewhere "
Nobundo sat atop one of the cliffs overlooking the scorched lands. They had not changed much in the last... how long had it been since he first ventured out here Five years Six
When he and the others were sent away to the new camp for Krokul, as they had finally come to be called, Nobundo was angry, frustrated, and depressed. He went to the farthest spot possible in the only direction he was allowed. He had always meant to investigate the hills bordering Zangarmarsh, but at the base of those hills were camps of the "unaffected", a region now off-limits to "his kind".
And so he ventured here through the blistering heat, to the peaks high above the most desolate wastes on Draenor: wastes that had been lush glades before the orcs' policy of hatred and genocide, wastes created by the warlocks and their twisted magic.
At least the orcs presented less of a problem these days. Some wandering orcish parties still patrolled, and they still killed the draenei on sight. The orcs were fewer in number, however: many of the green-skinned savages had departed through their gateway years ago and not returned.
As a result Nobundo had heard that his people were constructing a new city somewhere in the marsh. No matter, he thought. It is a city I will never be welcome in.
The changes in Nobundo and the others continued. Appendages appeared where before there were none. Spots and warts and strange growths spread across their bodies. Their hooves, one of the draenei's most distinctive features, were entirely gone, replaced by things that now resembled misshapen feet. Nor was such change limited to the purely physical. Their brains struggled more and more to maintain higher functions. And some, some became lost completely, turning into vacant shells that meandered aimlessly, conversing with audiences that existed only in their minds. Some of those Lost Ones would simply wake up one day and wander off, never to return. One of the first to do so was Estes. Now Korin was left with only one of her companions with whom she had shared that dark time at Shattrath.
Enough, he thought. Stop putting it off. Do what you came here to do.
He put it off because part of him knew this time would be no different. But he would do it anyway, just as he had done every day for the past several years... because somehow, someway a part of him still maintained hope.
He closed his eyes, forced all extraneous thought from his mind, and reached out for the Light. Please, just this once... let me bask again in your radiant glory.
He focused with every ounce of concentration he had left in him.
He nearly jumped out of his skin, his eyes snapping open as he put out a hand to steady himself. He looked around, up at the sky.
"I found you!"
He turned to see Korin and let out a deep breath, shaking his head.
You should have known better than to think the Light would favor you again.
She came and sat down next to him, looking worn and weathered and somewhat confused.
"How are you " he asked.
"No worse than normal."
Nobundo waited for more, but Korin simply stared out over the harsh vista.
Unseen by both of them, a figure peeked out from a nearby cluster of jagged stone, watching. Listening.
"Was there something you wanted to tell me "
Korin considered for a moment. "Oh yes!" she said at last. "New member came to camp today. Said the orcs were... regrouping. Getting ready for something. They are led by some new... what are they named The ones who make the dark magic "
"Yes, I think that was it." Korin stood and stepped forward, standing just a few inches from the edge of the cliff. She was silent for a long moment.
Not far away, the figure behind the stones departed as silently as he had come.
Korin¡¯s eyes were distant, as was her harsh voice when she spoke, as if she were not entirely present. "What do you think would happen if I took a few more steps "
Nobundo hesitated, unsure whether or not she was joking. "I think you would fall."
"Yes, my body would fall. But sometimes I think my spirit would... fly No, that's not the word. What's the word... to go up and up, like flying "
Nobundo thought. "Soar "
"Yes! My body would fall, but my spirit would soar."
Days later Nobundo awakened, his head aching, his stomach empty. He decided to venture out and see if any fish remained from the previous night's meal.