The Bleeding Sun

Violent storms had destroyed three ships filled with members of Dezco’s tribe. Friends. Family. When the last remaining vessel made landfall in Pandaria’s sweltering coastal jungle, more death followed. The fact that Leza was pregnant made Dezco increasingly worried about the dire situation. Then, his wife contracted a fever that, despite the tribe’s best efforts, seemed incurable. Through it all, Leza always remained steadfast, a beacon of hope as every Sunwalker strived to be.

“It’s still night,” she’d say, “but the sunrise is near. I can feel it just ahead.”
When she finally went into labor, the strain proved too much for her ailing body. She died weeks before the tribe would ever find the vale, still believing the hardships were almost over. Dezco remembered that dark day with biting clarity: his wife’s last tormented cry as the fever sapped the life from her veins, his failed attempts to spare her from death, and later, the smoke and fire that roiled up from her funeral pyre…
“The Bleeding Sun!” one of the tauren behind Dezco shouted, bringing him back to the present.
Dull light pushed away the darkness, painting the vale in shades of violet and gold. It was the moment before dawn, that fleeting time of the day when An’she, the sun, remained hidden but somehow a glimmer of his light managed to spill across the world.

“Bring the children.” Dezco motioned with his hand, keeping his eyes to the east.
Leza’s cousin, Nala, quietly approached, holding two infant tauren in her arms. Ceremonial feathers and beads dangled from their tiny horns. The first was called Redhorn, and the second, Cloudhoof. Dezco handed the lock of his wife’s mane to Nala and then scooped Leza’s final gifts to him into his arms.
“Begin!” Dezco commanded. Without hesitation, twelve tauren sitting behind him pounded their fists against small leather drums. The beat was quick, a warrior’s heart on the eve of battle.

Orc Messenger

The orc messenger with the scarred face hiked toward Highmaul’s gates, struggling her way up stone steps half her height.
Highmaul’s ogres stopped to watch her. Rank brutes leered at her from the darkness looming over the path to the summit. Wealthier Gorians looked out from mound-homes ornamented with trophies from their dead enemies.
Another observer watched the messenger’s approach from a tower, disgust filling both of his minds. This orc trod atop the mountain the ogres’ blood families had shaped over lifetimes, pressing and tearing the very rock until it became city and palace and fortress and home.

Still, she had been permitted on the lift to Highmaul’s second rise with a wordless lowering of spears. It was custom to treat lone visitors with curiosity. They could always be killed later.
When the lift shivered to a stop, the messenger saw a dozen haggard orc slaves manning the pulleys. They slunk off one by one, casting glances at her over their shoulders.

The messenger peered farther up the mountain. Just visible, jutting forth from Highmaul’s peak, was the outline of a vast balcony—the Throne of the Imperator, where dwelled the ogres’ sorcerer king—but it was a long climb from where she stood, breathing hard in the dusty open between filthy-smelling slave hovels. Her nose crinkled.

Lor’themar Theron

It was bitterly cold upon the water: the surface of it smooth as glass, rippling only along the edges of the boat. Lor’themar Theron had insisted on coming by the sea, by the old way. He wanted to absorb it all, not teleported instantly to the gates of Suramar City but seeing it as it was meant to be seen. And there it was, shimmering domes unfolding slowly above a still, blue lake, the tall crystalline towers looming like mountains sculpted by ancient gods. Gods, he mused, with a delicate touch and graceful sensibility—for though Suramar City had stood for ten thousand years and more, it looked fragile enough to shatter at a mere tremor.

They passed the imposing central hub of Astravar Harbor, floating toward the Moonlit Landing where lush purple ferns unfurled like welcome banners and pale violet flowers bobbed beneath a canopy of blossoming sapphire branches. The boat cut across the looming shadow of the Nighthold on toward the empty docks below the landing.

First Arcanist Thalyssra had invited him to come, the invitation so long-standing he had simply run out of excuses to forestall the visit. It was not lack of want that kept him away, but the endless demands made upon his time. As leader of the sin’dorei and member of the newly formed Horde council, his time was split between the concerns of Silvermoon City and pressing requests from Orgrimmar. Lor’themar felt split in two, and neither half his own. This visit—this indulgence—did not belong to either half, but rather floated somewhere in the middle, in the corner of his heart where his own interests lay withered and all but forgotten