Arthas: Rise of the Lich King
This book is dedicated to all the Warcraft lore lovers out there. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.
PROLOGUE: THE DREAMING
The wind shrieked like a child in pain.
The herd of shoveltusk huddled together for warmth, their thick, shaggy coats protecting them from the worst of the storm. They formed a circle, with the calves shivering and bleating in the center. Their heads, each crowned with a massive antler, drooped toward the snow-covered earth, eyes shut against the whirling snow. Their own breath frosted their muzzles as they planted themselves and endured.
…In their various dens, the wolves and bears waited out the storms, one with the comfort of their pack, the other solitary and resigned. Whatever their hunger, nothing would drive them forth until after the keening wind had ceased its weeping and the blinding snow had worn itself out.
The wind, roaring in from the ocean to beat at the village of Kamagua, tore at the hides that stretched over frames made of the bones of great sea creatures. When the storm passed, the tuskarr whose home this had been for years uncounted knew they would need to repair or replace nets and traps. Their dwellings, sturdy though they were, were always harmed when this storm descended. They had all gathered inside the large group dwelling that had been dug deep into the earth, lacing the flaps tight against the storm and lighting smoky oil lamps.
Elder Atuik waited in stoic silence. He had seen many of these storms over the last seven years. Long had he lived, the length and yellowness of his tusks and the wrinkles on his brown skin testament to the fact. But these storms were more than storms, were more than natural. He glanced at the young ones, shivering not with cold, not the tuskarr, but with fear.
“He dreams,” one of them murmured, eyes bright, whiskers bristling.
“Silence,” snapped Atuik,
more gruffly than he had intended. The child, startled, fell silent, and once again the only sound was the aching sob of the snow and wind.
It rose like the smoke, the deep bellowing noise, wordless but full of meaning; a chant, carried by a dozen voices. The sounds of drums and rattles and bone striking bone formed a fierce undercurrent to the wordless call. The worst of the wind’s anger was deflected from the taunka village by the circle of posts and hides, and the lodges, their curving roofs arching over a large interior space in defiance of the hardships of this land, were strong.
Over the sound of deep and ancient ritual, the wind’s cry could still be heard. The dancer, a shaman by the name of Kamiku, missed a step and his hoof struck awkwardly. He recovered and continued. Focus. It was all about focus. It was how one harnessed the elements and wrung from them obedience; it was how his people survived in a land that was harsh and unforgiving.
Sweat dampened and darkened his fur as he danced. His large brown eyes were closed in concentration, his hooves again finding their powerful rhythm. He tossed his head, short horns stabbing the air, tail twitching. Others danced beside him. Their body heat and that of the fire, burning brightly despite the flakes and wind drifting down from the smoke hole in the roof, kept the lodge warm and comfortable.
They all knew what was transpiring outside. They could not control these winds and snow, as they could ordinary such things. No, this was his doing. But they could dance and feast and laugh in defiance of the onslaught. They were taunka; they would endure.