Deathwing raked Thrall’s chest with a clawed hand, tearing another gash in the orc’s earthen skin. The shaman’s body was riddled with molten gouges, but not one of his foe’s attacks had been a killing blow. The black Aspect longed to break Thrall’s will, to mold him into an agent of the dragon’s own design. That was the only explanation the orc could find for why his adversary had not yet destroyed him. Deathwing had almost succeeded. Trapped within the cavern, Thrall’s spirit had become numb to Azeroth save for its pain. If he had been in this situation mere weeks ago, when his doubts, fears, and anger still ruled his heart, he would have given in. He would have lost himself to this prison of isolation. Yet now he had never been surer of his purpose as a shaman.
“The titans believed that you had the strength to endure,” Thrall said. His power was nothing compared to the Aspect’s, and so the orc used the only weapons he could: his words. “They trusted you. Was it fear and doubt that caused you to fail and align with the very beings who seek to end all life on Azeroth?” “Your loyalties are misplaced, shaman. If so inclined, the titans would exterminate your kind and the other lesser races without a second thought. The Old Gods know the futility of the titans’ works. They have pledged to break the shackles of my charge. When that day comes, I will purge every remnant of the titans’ presence and reign over this world from on high. Azeroth will be born anew.”
Deathwing drove his knee into Thrall’s chest, sending the orc crashing back into the cavern wall. The shaman was struggling to rise when he heard a series of voices reverberate through the earth outside the chamber. It was the Earthen Ring: Muln Earthfury, Nobundo, and… Aggra. Through the spirits of the elementals, the shaman were searching for him. Thrall reached out for his physical body and, to his surprise, felt a fresh pile of cool, damp soil in his hand. His connection with the leagues of earth between Hyjal and the cavern flared to life. The orc focused all of his concentration to mentally shout a reply to the elementals just outside the chamber.