Since I’ve been back in Orgrimmar, I’ve been kept so busy most days that I’ve hardly had time to stop, catch my breath, and really get back to the normal, mundane business of everyday life. It hasn’t just been the meetings with Garrosh, or the time spent in Ragefire Chasm with Overseer Elaglo or the Cleft of Shadow with Neeru. (Who hasn’t gotten any less coolly unsettling, by the way.) The biggest time sink has been getting my life back together in tangible terms. I suppose most people never need to worry about the practical ramifications of their own deaths, but believe me, when you’re exiled, then declared dead, getting all of that backtracked and your life out of mothballs is a giant pain. Honestly, I used to chuckle at Garrosh getting all irritable over paperwork and triplicate forms. Never again.
In retrospect, it’s a little ironic that Neeru mentioned the other day how unlikely he thought it would be for me to hide the Nether Prism at my house, where someone could break in and steal it. I don’t know if there’s anyplace in Orgrimmar that would have been MORE secure; at that point, my old place was still sealed up under Kor’kron security orders. Any rogue this side of Garona would have had an easier time stealthing into Orgrimmar than breaking into my place. After returning to town, I ended up spending more time cutting through red tape than anything else – getting my house unlocked, my old stuff pulled from storage and returned, my name removed from death records all over the place… Although, honestly, if the tax office wants to go on thinking I’m dead, I probably won’t complain about that one.
Still, all the time I’ve had to spend getting my life back together, combined with all the time spent meeting with the people I’ve needed to, means that until now I haven’t had much time to get caught up with some of the people I’ve wanted to.
JI: Oh… so… are we not having lunch?
SPAZZLE: Uh oh. Here we go…
MOKVAR: Lunch? Well, no, I hadn’t really… Are you hungry?
SPAZZLE: Wow, you really have been away for a long time.
JI: Oh, I wouldn’t want to be a bother.
MOKVAR: Okay. Yeah, sorry, Ji.
JI: It’s just that I suppose I assumed, given the time you said to come over, that we would be having lunch…
MOKVAR: Right. But, no, Ji, I wasn’t thinking lunch. Just that we could sit back and have a few drinks and talk.
JI: Drinks are good!
MOKVAR: Okay, great. So why don’t you guys—
JI: I suppose it’s my mistake. I should have thought to eat earlier.
MOKVAR: Um… would you like me to get you something, Ji?
JI: Oh, I wouldn’t want to be a bother.
MOKVAR: Right. So…
JI: I could swear I smelled something cooking, though.
MOKVAR: Yeah… that’s, um, that’s some clefthoof stew I have simmering for dinner tonight.
SPAZZLE: You realize you’re just digging yourself deeper, right?
JI: Oh, I see… so it’s not ready yet?
MOKVAR: Well… it is, but… I mean, it’s one of those things where it gets better the longer you let it simmer. So I usually let it sit for most of the day, and…
JI: Oh, I’m not picky! It doesn’t have to be perfect.
SPAZZLE: Aaaaaaaand here we go.
MOKVAR: Would… you like some, Ji?
JI: Just a small helping, if you please.
MOKVAR: Um… okay. Why don’t you guys have a seat while I…yeah.
Mokvar retrieves a large pot from the hearth while Spazzle and Ji sit around a circular table.
SPAZZLE: <turning to look at side of his chair> Mokvar, what’s up with these stickers on your stuff?
Mokvar returns and sets a plate on the table before Ji.
MOKVAR: Oh, those? That’s from Kor’kron impoundment.
SPAZZLE: Yikes. How much did they take out of here?
MOKVAR: A lot.
Mokvar scoops a small ladle of stew onto Ji’s plate. Ji leans down to inspect the food a moment, then looks up at Mokvar quizzically.
Is… something wrong?
JI: Well, I did mean a little larger small helping.
MOKVAR: Well maybe it would save time if you just took the whole—
Ji snatches the pot from Mokvar happily.
JI: Thank you, Mokvar!
Ji starts ladling large scoops of stew onto his plate.
MOKVAR: <turning back to Spazzle> Did you want some, too, Spaz?
Ji looks up from the food with an expression of faint concern.
SPAZZLE: No, I’m good.
Ji beams and continues shoveling stew onto his plate.
MOKVAR: Anyway… yeah, they took most of the stuff out of here. Pretty much anything you could carry without needing a second set of hands.
SPAZZLE: Yikes. Your computer, too?
MOKVAR: Oh, man, that was the biggest headache to get back.
SPAZZLE: Did they go through your files? Or could you even tell?
Ji sets down the pot and ties a napkin around his neck.
MOKVAR: I don’t think so. <chuckles> My password lock showed something like five hundred failed attempts to log on.
Ji rubs his paws together, then starts to eat eagerly.
SPAZZLE: Eesh. You know, I’ll bet you anything Malkorok was beating his head against the wall on that one personally.
MOKVAR: Oh no doubt. That’s why I made a point of setting a password he’d never think to try.
SPAZZLE: Oh? What was it?
JI: <mouth full of stew> Daff’s fweally thpart, Bokbar.
MOKVAR: Um…thanks. Need any salt, Ji?
JI: <back to eating> Doh tahk yew.
SPAZZLE: That was pretty clever, though. I bet it ticked him off something fierce not being able to crack it.
MOKVAR: I’m half surprised they didn’t bring you in to try to hack in. I’m sure you could have.
SPAZZLE: <shrugs> Who knows. I was probably under suspicion myself by that point. Speaking of which, actually…
Spazzle starts digging through his backpack, then produces a small totem of orcish design.
You gave me this. Back in Everlook. I know you probably don’t need it anymore, or even… well, you know, what with you not being a shaman anymore, but…
Spazzle hands the totem to Mokvar.
I figured it should come back to you either way.
Mokvar looks at the totem in his hands for a moment, then carries it to the mantle over the hearth and sets it down. Ji looks up at what Mokvar is doing, then turns his attention back to ladling more stew onto his plate.
I don’t figure I’ll have much use for these anymore, yeah. Who knows, though, the way Elaglo and Xorenth are blurring the lines between shamans and warlocks.
SPAZZLE: With the dark shamans, you mean?
SPAZZLE: What are they doing down there, anyway?
MOKVAR: Mostly working on improving their elemental command spells. They’re pretty much trying to maintain better control of summoned elementals, making it less of an “elements hear my prayer” and more of an “elements do my bidding.”
Mokvar walks back to the table.
SPAZZLE: Like the molten giants at Northwatch.
MOKVAR: Yeah, exactly.
Mokvar looks into the now-empty pot sitting on the table next to Ji, then looks to Ji himself.
JI: <looks down at his empty plate, then smiles> It was very good, thank you!
MOKVAR: Sure you won’t have any more?
JI: <looks at his plate again, then back up> Is there any more?
MOKVAR: No, there isn’t.
JI: I thought not.
MOKVAR: Yeah. So…
SPAZZLE: For what it’s worth, you’re getting off lighter than I did the last time Ji ate at my place.
MOKVAR: Why? What happened?
JI: Oh bother.
SPAZZLE: He got stuck in the door on his way out.
JI: It wasn’t my fault!
SPAZZLE: Well it all comes from eating too much.
JI: It all comes from not having front doors big enough!
SPAZZLE: Well, next time, you can host.
JI: I will!
MOKVAR: Well, anyway…
JI: What should I make?
JI: When you come over.
SPAZZLE: I… we didn’t even really plan it.
JI: Well yes, but I like to plan what I’m cooking in advance!
SPAZZLE: I, um, I’m easy to please.
JI: I might need to go shopping, after all.
SPAZZLE: Really, Ji, you don’t need to make anything special on my account.
JI: Oh, nonsense. You’re a guest. <thoughtfully> Now, there’s also the Pandaren Noodle Festival to think of…
SPAZZLE: The what?
JI: Well I wouldn’t want to repeat something being served at the festival and seem lazy, after all…
SPAZZLE: No, really, anything you would make—
JI: You’re sure? I would hate for you to come all that way and not have something you enjoyed.
MOKVAR: Ji, I think what he means is that he’d like to be surprised.
MOKVAR: That’s part of the fun of being a lunch guest…right, Spazzle?
JI: I like surprises!
SPAZZLE: Um… Oh. Yeah! Surprises. Yes sir, nothing more fun than…uh… surprise lunch. Yeah.
JI: Oh, this will be fun. I can try making— oh, oops, I almost spoiled it.
SPAZZLE: No spoilers!
JI: Yes, yes, silly me. I— wait, when are you coming over again?
MOKVAR: That’s part of the surprise.
JI: <blinks> Oh.
SPAZZLE: Uh, right!
JI: Well I suppose that’s… <tilts head> I should have thought of that. How silly of me.
Mokvar slumps into a chair.
SPAZZLE: So hey, now that you’re working over there with those dark shaman guys, have you been able to find out how Garrosh managed to bring them on board?
MOKVAR: How do you mean?
SPAZZLE: You know, like after he shut them down when they were in Ragefire Chasm before.
JI: They used to be enemies?
SPAZZLE: It was before you got to town, Ji. But yeah. Rumors about them were flying all over the place, but no one ever really got any solid information. All anybody really knows is that we had expeditions going down into Ragefire for a while trying to shut down whatever they were doing.
JI: Oh. So now they’re on our side?
MOKVAR: Yeah. About that.
SPAZZLE: Uh oh. It’s never something good when people start like that.
Mokvar sits quietly for a moment.
SPAZZLE: Oh geez. That bad, huh? What did Garrosh have to offer them to bring them over?
MOKVAR: It’s not that. They were always over.
SPAZZLE: The what you say?
JI: I’m confused.
SPAZZLE: Welcome to Orgrimmar.
MOKVAR: The dark shamans were always Kor’kron operatives. Even in the beginning, when it looked like they were renegades making trouble in RFC. The whole business about them being some rogue shaman group was just a front they were putting up.
SPAZZLE: They— but why?
MOKVAR: Plausible deniability, I guess? In case thei dark shamanism angle turned bad? Meanwhile… the expeditions that were sent down there to “clean up” the problem were just… training exercises, pretty much. A way to weed out the weak – on both ends.
SPAZZLE: Wait – so Garrosh knew about this? He planned it?
MOKVAR: Big picture, it was his plan to build a force of dark shamans. How much he knew about the nuts and bolts… I don’t know. I’m guessing at least some of the job of making the trains run on time went to Malkorok, but… I don’t know. I’m still being kept in the dark about a lot of things. I probably know too much as it is. Hell, I probably shouldn’t even be telling you this much.
SPAZZLE: Gee, thanks.
MOKVAR: I don’t mean like that. Hell, Spaz, I wouldn’t…
Mokvar trails off, looking back at the extinguished totem on the mantle, then gestures to it as he turns back to Spazzle.
I wouldn’t have left that with you if I didn’t trust you. I just mean I’ve already dragger you into too much trouble as it is. I don’t want you to be stuck keeping more secrets again now.
SPAZZLE: Uh… yeah… About that…
Spazzle looks around uncomfortably, then stares at the floor for a moment.
<quietly> I’ve been talking to Vol’jin.
MOKVAR: You’ve… been…
SPAZZLE: A lot. For a few months now.
MOKVAR: Uh, Spaz, I know you’re a shaman and talk to ancestral spirits and all…
SPAZZLE: Well, in theory.
MOKVAR: Yeah, well, the point is, I didn’t realize that the spirits in question included trolls for you.
SPAZZLE: No, no, they don’t. I don’t mean I’m… Vol’jin’s alive.
MOKVAR: He— wha— how?
SPAZZLE: I actually blogged about this, you know.
MOKVAR: Yeah, sorry, that must have been during that period when I was sort of preoccupied with not being corpsecamped by spectral assassins.
SPAZZLE: Yeah, well. He’s alive. He’s recovering from injuries still in Pandaria, but he’s alive.
MOKVAR: Okay, so… Vol’jin’s alive, Jaina’s a warmonger, Garrosh has a half-draenei kid – what else did I miss? Is Utvoch dating Magatha? Did Alleria and Turalyon finally turn up? Did Grommash actually not drink the blood—
SPAZZLE: Well now you’re getting ridiculous.
MOKVAR: Well who knows at this point? How is Vol’jin alive? He survived the saurok attack after all?
SPAZZLE: It wasn’t a saurok attack. I mean, there were saurok, but… One of the Kor’kron tried to kill Vol’jin. Nearly did. He left him for dead, and Vol’jin’s had his supporters keeping up the lie that he is dead since then.
MOKVAR: Oh fel… And Garrosh…?
SPAZZLE: Doesn’t know. And he can’t find out.
MOKVAR: So… you mean he…?
MOKVAR: You’re sure? I don’t know why I’m even surprised, but… you’re sure?
SPAZZLE: The Kor’kron staged a takeover of the Echo Isles right after word of Vol’jin’s death broke.
SPAZZLE: They had the place under military occupation until Thrall and a few others overthrew them.
MOKVAR: Does Garrosh know about this? I can’t imagine he does, otherwise – and I can’t believe I’m about to say this – I have to figure he would be in a much worse mood these days.
SPAZZLE: No, he doesn’t. Only a few people do.
MOKVAR: But how? I can see the Vol’jin thing being kept quiet, okay, but how could he not have found out about this?
SPAZZLE: There were still a few Kor’kron who trained under Saurfang, who are loyal to Thrall. Captain Gort, a few others… They’ve been reporting to Orgrimmar and maintaining the appearance that the occupation is still going on.
MOKVAR: Spaz… you have to know where this is heading.
SPAZZLE: <nods> I’ve been trying not to think about it.
MOKVAR: So you haven’t told Garrosh… Are you…?
SPAZZLE: <shakes his head> I haven’t been doing anything for them other than keeping quiet. I told Vol’jin before… I won’t work against him and Thrall, but I won’t betray Garrosh, either.
MOKVAR: You know if he finds out about this…
SPAZZLE: I know.
MOKVAR: Especially after… oh, man, Spaz, I’m sorry I dragged you into my whole mess. Both of you.
JI: You didn’t do anything. You’re a friend. You needed help. <shrugs> Anything else is just distraction.
SPAZZLE: Don’t worry about me, Mokvar. You’ve got enough on your plate as it is.
JI: <perking up> Wait, is there another plate?
SPAZZLE: Figuratively, Ji, figuratively…
VOICE: Well, there is…
A whooshing sound is heard, then, in the empty chair next to Mokvar, Deliana unstealths, holding a plate of what appears to be a few leftover bites of stew.
DELIANA: I had to move fast just to get a mouthful for myself before you inhaled it all.
Mokvar eyes a surprised Spazzle and Ji, then shrugs.
MOKVAR: What’s one more layer of compromise at this point, right?
JI: Does Garrosh know she’s—?
MOKVAR: What do you think, Ji?
DELIANA: There aren’t exactly a lot of Alliance-looking types strolling around Orgrimmar unkilled.
JI: Well, that Shayari is a draenei…
DELIANA: Oh, don’t get me started on little miss fancy-hooves.
MOKVAR: You’re just mad because she turned you into a sheep.
DELIANA: Oh, good, annoy your security net. That’s a smart plan.
MOKVAR: I’m just saying.
SPAZZLE: So wait, how long have you been in Orgrimmar?
MOKVAR: Pretty much as long as I have.
DELIANA: I’ve had to sneak in and out a few times, but yeah.
SPAZZLE: What have you been doing?
DELIANA: Mostly giving Mokvar an extra set of eyes that no one knows is there. And some help on stand-by in case something goes bad.
MOKVAR: With everything that’s going on with the shamans, and Neeru, and… hell, I can’t even be sure Malkorok might not still try something at some point.
DELIANA: I can watch his back, and stealth around to check on things. And if nothing else, we know I don’t have anyone I have to answer to.
SPAZZLE: Yeah. You’re lucky that way.
Everyone sits quietly for a moment, looking back and forth between them.
MOKVAR: Well… whatever happens from here on, one way or another, I guess we’re all in it together now.
JI: Weren’t we always?
MOKVAR: You’re a good kid, Ji.
SPAZZLE: So… question is… what side are we on?
Mokvar looks back at Spazzle uneasily, then glances to Deliana. Spazzle exchanges looks with Mokvar and Ji, while Deliana leans forward against the table, drumming her fingers. Ji returns Spazzle’s glance, then turns to Mokvar and Deliana before looking back down at his plate. He considers the last bit of potato for a moment, then nudges the plate away from him and slumps back in his chair.