The Lost Ones

The Lost Ones

The Tanaan Coast

“One thing’s fer sure: This ain’t Hellfire Peninsula,” Knight-Captain Ringo Flinthammer growled, slapping at a biting insect on his neck. “Not sure which place Ah hate more — Hellfire or this damned jungle.”

The group of four had made a camp in a cave they’d found after rejecting the idea of setting up camp on a beach they’d found: They’d spotted an Iron Horde steamship distantly off shore and hadn’t wanted to discover if crew members were scanning the shoreline with spyglasses.

The night had been a rough one: The distant sounds of battle became less and less frequent, but common enough that the group hadn’t dared make a fire, lest it give away their location. And the buzzing sounds Ringo had once associated with iron stars seemed to now be the basis of Iron Horde engineering. Loud vehicles giving off a red glow whirred through the air and smashed their way through the jungle throughout the night, meaning even those not on watch got little sleep.

“At least the animals are right,” Ringo said, pulling his hand away from his neck, holding out a hideous dead insect. “Bloodsting wasp. These were only left in a few parts of Zangarmarsh before; the rest o’ Draenor were too dry after bein’ blown to crap at the end o’ the Second War. Ah wonder what changed.”

Sergeant Widge Gearloose started to say something, then changed his mind, digging through his toolbox.

“Where is my screwdriver? I could work wonders with a screwdriver …”

“I think it’s pretty obvious where we are,” Vamen D’barr said.

The demons the gnome warlock had summoned, one after another, had insisted the Iron Vanguard had ended up back on Draenor, which was obviously not the whole story. Ringo’s imp in a ball (“Ye thought Ah’d forgotten about ye, didn’t ye wee bastard?“) had been similarly unhelpful.

“And where’s that, then?” Baelan Grimaxe growled, his back to the group, scanning the forest for signs of Iron Horde or, barring that, something more appetizing than the grubs and berries Ringo had insisted were edible. (“Mana pudding gives me the squirts,” the dwarf had helpfully explained earlier.)

“Purgatory,” Vamen said proudly, then deflated when he saw the blank expressions staring back at him. “For crying out loud, is the Church of the Holy Light the only religion you troggs know?”

We worship the Titans in me family,” Ringo muttered.

“Yes, yes, ‘Khaz’goroth on a cracker,'” Vamen mimicked Ringo’s booming voice. “In other religions, there’s an explicit afterlife — a place where the dead go after they die. Often, there’s several places: a ‘Heaven’ for the ‘good’ people, a ‘Hell’ for the ‘bad’ people and sometimes a ‘Purgatory’ for the people who are in-between, where they essentially serve a sort of jail term before being allowed to go to the ‘good people place.'”

Baelan snorted.

“Seems like the kind of thing intended to keep philosophers busy to me.”

“Maybe, but some of the demons I’ve spoken to confirm that there are more planes than just our own, the Twisting Nether and the Emerald Dream of the night elves,” Vamen said. “What if we’re lost in one of those? Maybe some orcish afterlife of some sort?”

Baelan considered it.

“It’s not the worst …”

“That’s not it,” Widge said, snapping his toolbox shut and holding his wand up and peering at it, as though he was using it to measure something in the air. “We’ve become unstuck in time.”

“But the Iron Horde is nae our Horde’s past,” Ringo said. “And someone would have noticed if Outland were getting put back together.”

“Guys,” Vamen asked, pausing as the sound of a distant Iron Horde war machine filled the air. “When are we?“

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