Khorvis raised his throbbing head from the neck of his rusted proto-drake and took groggy stock of the situation. The beast was dead, its spine shattered, but true to its intense training from the campaigns above the Dread Wastes, the drake had used the final reservoirs of energy to shield its rider from harm. Floating all around him were the splintered debris of the Great Lift, dimly lit in the moonlight. The wreckage had drifted down the dark and mirror-still floodwaters of the canyon, leaving Khorvis on his scaled liferaft alone in a widening stretch of pool.
Memory of the fevered flight from his comrades rushed back to him, as did a perverse hungering that snarled in the left half of his head. There truly was a war of wills raging in the orc's brain, between the old veteran's staunchly martial self and this alien implant of fel construction, now infected by the feral curse. His loyalty to the Mandate was in direct conflict with the actions that this invader foisted upon him. Khorvis clutched his skull and shook violently, nearly slipping from his saddle and plunging into the murky abyss. The shimmer of the moon's light upon the water's surface caught the orc's attention and he peered over the side of the dead drake to stare into the depths.
of Greebo's design went mad. Instead of mimicking Khorvis's lost face, the violet mists were alight with a seething amber that twisted and writhed like some tentacled horror from a forgotten corner of the Nether. It slapped at the water and passed through the mirrored surface without disturbing a droplet, then pulled back and and curled around the soul-shard in a cocoon of insane coils. Khorvis clutched the drake's side with a white-knuckled grip, transfixed by the grotesque light show. A visage of a great many-headed worg coalesced in the mists, snarling and snapping its jaws at the orc's reflection. The shard dimmed at first, losing what violet tone it once had, then began to glow again, this time with the same feral amber of the mists. Brighter and brighter, like a torch in a dark hall, then a whirling iron star, until finally it erupted with a sickly golden beam, throwing back Khorvis's head and firing skyward towards the moon.
He howled in chorus with some echoing monster. Perhaps it was the Old God spoken of, this Accalia. Perhaps it was some dark corner of his own soul, the madness that skitters and hides between cracks just out of vision's corners. Old memories of wars upon the backs of worgs, torching human villages, a great fel Horde consuming everything in its path mingled with the feral abandon that lit the twisting canyons of the Thousand Needles in the night.
In his left 'eye', Khorvis saw the cliffs draped in the broken bodies of thousands of prey, their throats torn and spines broken. Towering stone monuments to the ancestors who tamed the wilds crumbled to dust and their rubble became the den of vermin. It was a vision of the civilized Azeroth washing away in a tide of decay with the wilderness closing in on the back of a lupine terror.
In his right eye, Khorvis saw the swaying bridges of Freewind Post lit feebly by the thin lance spilling from the soul-shard. There was no terrible doom, nor was there felt any great danger in the soft blanket of darkness that cloaked these canyons every night since the first kodo stomped its hoof on the riverbed. The only vision granted to Khorvis by the ancestors was one of their works - a truce and stewardship with and of the wilds that granted a space for the Horde and its clans to thrive.
It was that second vision which unclenched Khorvis's hand from the scales of his fallen drake and guided his gauntlet to the core of the eldritch aperture. Reaching inside the Twice-Made's device, Khorvis grasped the soul-shard. It flared up with angry veins of fiery red protest. Gritting his tusks against the incomparable pain, the Lasher tore out his implanted shard with one distinct heave and the skylance vanished. He held up the amber and garnet gem to the moonlight, the pain already fading into a dull throb along the spidery lines of the nano-threads now bare and exposed to the salty night air. A temporary sense of wonder collapsed into a steely determination, and Khorvis quickly wrapped the shard in saddlecloth to be deposited into his sidepouch.
Slipping off the side of the corpse, Khorvis Bloodstar began his swim to the canyon wall and the long night's climb. By the small hours, he would crest the canyon lip and start the march to Mulgore
. And civilization.