Won’t Someone Think of the Children?

Orphan Matron Battlewail agrees readily enough for the interview. She seems pleased a historian would even speak to her, rather than other, more important figures. I tell her that I’m collecting an oral history, and thus it is necessary for me to speak to people from as many backgrounds as possible.

War carries a hefty price. It always has, in all likelihood always will. I am sure that you could describe any number of battles, any number of casualty statistics from any number of wars. My… chosen career path, I suppose I could say, is to try and prevent a few more lives becoming just a number for the history books.

These orphans you see around you, they have nothing. For whatever reason, their parents are gone, they have no family to take them in. They are too small, too young, too frail to survive on their own. That’s why the orphanages exist.

I know you’re probably looking for some sort of sad, rending story, but I’m afraid you will have to look elsewhere for heartbreak. It’s incongruous, yes, but the orphanage is not a place for despair. The place for despair was what happened to these children before coming here.

This orphanage, what this building represents… is hope. These are innocent lives, destroyed, and we put them back together.

They come to us hungry, we feed them. They come to us barely alive, we return them to the picture of health. They have no home, no family, no belongings. We give them a place to say, a place to call their own, never mind how humble it is. We provide them with friends, with a surrogate family. We even have toys and clothes for them.

They can grow here, thrive here, before they strike out on their own. In essence, we give them the chance the world never did.

All the children get along very well here. The older ones look out for the younger, bullying doesn’t really exist. Yes, we have a bad apple here and there, but it is extremely rare. You see things like one of our oldest orc boys giving his food to a much smaller, weaker boy, for no reason other than kindness.

It is the common experience, I think. All of these children have gone through the same. One morning, their mother hugs them, leaves… and never returns. Maybe they watch their parents die. Maybe they merely find their corpses. We have one tauren boy here, barely ten years old, literally trapped under his father’s corpse for a full day before he was found.

All these kids around you have gone through something similar. They… if they had uncles, aunts, they would be living with them, they wouldn’t come here. We take care of them, though we are barely needed. They can take care of themselves.

I point out that the orphanage still runs the Children’s Week event.

They cannot remain here forever. That is the only purpose. Everyone here aspires to do something, though most are as nebulous as revenge. Children’s Week allows them to see the world, to try and make them think about what they want to be.

We… technically another can help out whenever they wish. We have benefactors that operate here year round. Children’s Week is merely our major focus each spring.

This was mostly what I wanted to talk to her about. The Scourge siege and eventual outright attack on Orgrimmar.

Hmf. Of course. The few weeks leading up to the attack was… a frightening time for most involved. We had heard of the plague, of its terrifying results. It was just an alien, unimportant threat for some time. A scary story, not much else.

Then… well, then the zombies began to show up. Just a few at first, but they grew to rather enormous swarms very quickly. The city was broken up, the tunnel gates were closed, keeping the zombie hordes contained, but… we were also contained. Protected, yes, but knowing a seething swarm of undead resided on the other side of iron gates was not a comforting one.

It ended as soon as it started, thankfully. The swarms were cleared out, and life returned to normal. Until the attack itself began. That… was worse. Massive skeletal dragons overhead, raining down destruction, huge abominations and hundreds of ghouls surging through the streets…

She shudders slightly at the memory.

I never thought I’d see fighting within Orgrimmar itself. A fool’s hope, I know, but seeing those huge stone walls, the constant presence of brave grunts ready… it was unthinkable for an attack to take place here.

“But it did.”

But it did. And we won.

Her voice swells with the unmistakable pride of a true Horde.

Even our poorest live in buildings designed to withstand siege. These walls? At least two feet thick stone at all points, often far thicker. The roof over our head is a hardened ceramic, capable of withstanding far more punishment than even the stone walls.

I’m sure that came as a shock to whatever scourge general directed the attack against us. Even when the frost dragons fell from the sky, the full weight of their bodies could not even scratch the smallest hovel.

There was one brave Tauren shaman with us that day. He was visiting his adopted niece, one of our orc girls. He had no real home, so she remained here for a living space. He was a… what was that crusade called?

The Burning Crusade was the colloquial phrase settled on to describe the military actions against the Burning Legion in Outland, and eventually Azeroth as well.

Spirits bless him, he was a veteran of the entire war. Every campaign, he was involved somehow. And yet every two months, he would return to spend a few days with his niece, without fail.

That day was no exception. He brought her a small, stuffed boar. He had just given it to her when the attack started. Undead in every direction, utter chaos and panic… and he just looked at her, and he smiled. He asked her to hold the boar, and promise to stay inside.

Then… he went outside. He went up onto the roof. She wanted to follow, of course. She was already nine years old, she said. She could go fight! But she stayed.

We could… hear him. The occasional thump when he changed stances. That odd, dry crack of hearing lightning from very close range.

I wish I could tell you a tragedy, some sad story to make everyone realize just how bad it was. I… fully expected to hear something horrible. To hear a body topple. To hear the cracking stop, to know that he had fallen.

But he never did. Not once did his onslaught let up.

He just… came down, when it was over. Walked back inside, like this was just what he did all day. Smiled at her. Told her she could keep the boar, she’d earned it for staying inside like he’d asked.

As I said earlier, this is the orphanage. You do not come here for sadness. You come here to see the first roots of victory.

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7 Responses to Won’t Someone Think of the Children?

  1. Momome says:

    Awesome, really awesome. Some awkward wording particularly at the beginning, but very moving indeed at the end. Well done.

  2. Markos says:

    Heh, I’m actually an adopted child. I never knew my biological parents, and was given up by them for the sake of a better life.

    The tauren reminds me of the father who raised me. That quiet smile, bulging muscles *laughs* yeah, my dad’s a big swedish man with huge shoulders and arms and hands. I really do need to emphasize his largeness. The fact that he’s a doctor seems impossible, but he is.

    Very well written. Especially the Tauren shaman.. haha, that really is all a man can aspire to.

  3. Requizen says:

    World War Z style writing + WoW scenarios? Well done sir, well done.

    I’ve gotta say, I’m very impressed with you. Since you’ve moved to threepr, you’ve shown an amazing range of skill in writing your fiction. You’re amazing at expressing emotion and tugging on reader’s heartstrings. Your ability to write a variety of characters with their own personalities and depth is pretty legendary, at least to me.

    I guess what I’m saying is this:

    Ever considered writing a book?

  4. Alegion says:

    Dammit – Requizen beat me to it.

    I have payed money for books that dont accomplish what you do in some of your short stories. Kudos.

    • Cyllaenoi says:

      They’ve got a point. I know that writing a book is completely different from writing a short story, but if you decided to put your efforts into writing a novel you’d have our support. You’re a brilliant writer!

  5. Armond says:

    I would buy a book!

  6. SpiritusRex says:

    Revisiting some of your older posts and re-reading this was a true pleasure the second time around as well.

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