A rickety old cart trundled down the path toward the Great Gate, where a small patrol waited to guard it on its way to the distant zeppelin tower. There, the water it carried would be distributed to the orc settlements around Durotar, the land hit hardest by the recent drought. The young kodo pulling the cart moved with the languid pace of a well-traveled routine, cresting the hill before disappearing from sight.
An aggravated goblin watched as the cart vanished. His own cart should have been right behind that caravan, but he was still stuck at the water well because the breeze had died, rendering the wind-powered pump useless. "Hurry up with that, will ya? We need to catch up if we're going to get a patrol escort this trip." The goblin tapped his toe in irritation while his ire was directed at the young orc wrestling with the crank.
"Relax, Izwix," said a nearby orc warrior as he lay in the grass. "What're a few little Alliance lackeys going to do? They make any move, they get an axe upside the head." He grabbed a twig off a nearby bush and picked his teeth.
"The Alliance is a menace, Grotz!" the goblin snapped. "And I would rather have an escort and not have to rely on your limited skills… or his," he said, pointing to the assassin crouching in the bushes.
"Don't you worry about me, Izwix," said Dras, suddenly appearing from his hiding spot. "Anyone comes near me, they get a pig sticker in the back. Let the Alliance curs come."
Izwix sighed. "What did I do to get stuck with these two… eh?" The bushes around the well shivered as he cocked his head. "What was that?"
Everyone turned his head toward the sound; Grotz grabbed his axe and stood up. The sound stopped. He took a cautious step forward as a rippling wave began at one end of the hedgerow and traveled the full length to the other side. Each bush began to shake violently. Izwix moved away warily, inching toward the kodo lashed to the water cart. Dras flipped his knives nervously as the rustle of the leaves intensified.
Dozens of boar-like beasts, armed with spears and an assortment of other weapons, covered in patchwork armor, exploded outward and swarmed the group. One or two fell to Grotz's axe before he was overwhelmed, and Izwix turned to flee. Dras dove for cover, running headlong into the lead attacker. The quilboar swung wildly at the orc, finally managing to make contact with the side of his head.
The other caravan members dropped one after another, the grass quickly staining red all around the well. Izwix had managed to unhook the kodo, hop on its back, and spur it forward before a spear sailed through the air and knocked him from his perch. The kodo continued lumbering onward as the quilboar ransacked the cart and disappeared where they had come from, back toward Brambleblade Ravine.
Download high-resolution Sometime before this attack, Baine Bloodhoof, high chieftain of the tauren tribes, had found himself in his lodge in Thunder Bluff with Garrosh Hellscream and Archdruid Hamuul Runetotem. This was no casual encounter: Baine had willingly chosen not to pursue vengeance against Garrosh for the death of Cairne Bloodhoof in favor of a united Horde leadership. Baine knew that the Horde needed a strong guiding figure if it was to survive, and Garrosh could give his people inspiration. The meeting, however, was not going well. Garrosh, once cautious due to his role in the murder of Baine's father, was again full of bluster and bravado, arriving in Mulgore with an inordinate number of demands.
Impassioned voices rose and fell in the confined space. Hamuul, though normally reserved and quiet, was beginning to raise his voice in response to the obstinate and brash young orc before him. Garrosh's management of the Horde left much to be desired in the eyes of the tauren, and Hamuul still could not believe that Cairne Bloodhoof, greatest of the tauren leaders, had fallen to this whelp. As Baine's advisor, Hamuul had opened the negotiations for water supplies to be transported to Orgrimmar. So far, the talks had not gone well.
Baine watched this stoically, hand gripping his mace, before politely raising his other hand to interject. After a moment, the two others quieted down and looked to Baine.
"Garrosh, you say you need water, but what of the Southfury River, and the resulting watershed? Can that not provide all the water you could need?"
A scoff escaped Garrosh's lips. "Normally, yes, but it has become tainted. It can still water the crops, but we cannot drink it, and that is causing strain on our city and anywhere else the orcs may make a home in these lands."
Looking Garrosh straight in the eye, Hamuul said simply, "And just what is tainting it?"
Garrosh gritted his teeth. "The goblin projects in Azshara seem to produce… side effects. This taint created by their digging has run into the ground and is carried south by the river, where we suffer the consequences."
Baine met eyes with Hamuul for a moment. "Why not just order the goblins to stop? Give the land time to heal and then resume later on? With some planning and foresight, the goblins can have their projects on a limited basis while the earth is not harmed unduly."
Garrosh rapped his knuckles on the table. "Nonsense! Their actions are vital to the war effort and I will not undermine the security of the Horde. Mulgore still has water aplenty, and it is that water which will supply Orgrimmar and the outlying settlements."
Hamuul said quietly, "I happen to agree with Baine, and you know he's right. The goblins need to back off or translate their building elsewhere for the land to heal and the river to recover."
"And what makes your opinion more valid than any other of the thousands I hear day to day?" Garrosh's eyes narrowed slightly. "And I am not asking. I am telling."
The argument arose once again. Hamuul and Garrosh continued to shout until Baine grew exasperated and yelled, "Enough! This bickering gets us nowhere!"
Both stopped mid-sentence, surprised by the outburst, and stared at Baine, who said in a more controlled tone, "Garrosh, you get your water. But, I want an official tauren representative to act as advisor on future goblin projects."
Garrosh fixed cold eyes on Baine. "You're damned right I get my water. I have an obligation to the Horde to keep everyone safe and sound. I will not stand by and have my leadership and motives questioned." With that, he stormed out of the tent, shouting over his shoulder, "My envoy will be sent along shortly to set up shipment schedules!"
Hamuul watched the retreating figure and said, "If only he could but listen to a voice other than his own…"