Report #00017: The Heroes Who Do Not Come Home
I travel quite a bit. Some of that is part of my duties as an ambassador. Some of it is part of my training. Some of it is for keeping in touch with friends who do not have the decency to live in Ironforge. Thankfully, I’m not relying on the bloody slow ships to get me everywhere. Everywhere I go these days, there’s a certain feeling in the air. It’s a mix of urgency, hope, fear, excitement, and a dozen other feelings that everyone seems to be sharing.
There are conflicting reports floating around. Some folks say the Lich King is dead, and we’re already celebrating the heroes who come back from Icecrown bearing the trophies from the battle. Others think he may still be there. Maybe some of them don’t believe the initial reports, or maybe some of them have reason to believe he may very well have seemed to die but isn’t truly dead. Light knows we’ve seen that happen before.
It’s true that if you cut off the proper head the rest of the hydra dies, but those other heads can still do quite a bit of damage to you on the way down. It’s still worth it to send forces into Icecrown, and even right into Icecrown Citadel, until the Scourge is completely wiped out. And our heroes deserve all the praise and honor we can give them when they come home. But so do the ones who don’t come home.
I suppose we’ve all grown so accustomed to traveling with healers and making our way to Spirit Guides when necessary that we often forget not everyone makes it back.
We’ve lost good men and women out there. Not just in this war, but in previous wars, as well. I’ve been told that my own brother’s wife, Krona Stouthammer, was a fine warrior. I have no doubt that when the demons took her down at Mt. Hyjal, she took a fair number of them with her.
It’s no secret that I wasn’t the most gnomish gnome in Gnomeregan, and there was never much love to be lost there. But no one deserved to die the way my neighbors did. And it may be true that Thermaplugg was the bloody git who suggested the plan, but Mekkatorque went with it because it really did make sense. There was a demon invasion to be stopped! You can’t just ask folks to put the demons on hold and run over to help with the troggs for a bit. No matter how Thermaplugg manipulated things, the fact remains that gnomes died lingering, terrible deaths because the decision was made that the salvation of Azeroth was worth the possibility of bad turning to worse in Gnomeregan. Never let yourself think the risks had not been calculated, even if a better outcome had been hoped for.
We’ve lost folks who made the sort of sacrifices you can’t just go somewhere and stick a bunch of flowers to honor. I’ve met the occasional Forsaken, especially while doing work for Highlord Fordring, that doesn’t fit so well with what I hear of their people. Folks who aren’t willing to embrace anything other than the Light, even if they can’t actually channel it anymore. I like to think there’s still hope for them. A’dal, the Naaru, once told me the Light does not abandon its champions.
I think about the circumstances that led to A’dal saying that, and I wonder how many men we’ve lost like Crusader Bridenbrad. Highlord Fordring had the lot of us running back and forth, asking for favors, trying to save him. But only because we found him and knew he needed to be saved. How many heroes have crawled off somewhere to die like he did, for such noble reasons, and no one wandered up on them? How many of our dead can we not count because they were willing to be lost while we’ve been tending the living?
I was sent to the Wrathgate with my brother. We had our orders, and we got there as soon as we could. Still, we had been delayed and events were already in motion when we approached. I had the opportunity to speak to someone about this recently, and I know my views may not be the views of the majority of folks, but they are sincere and come from my heart. I have never blamed the Horde for what happened there. Not the Horde as a whole. I couldn’t hear much with all the bloody noise out there, but I was able to see when the orc leading the Horde’s men (I’ve been told his name was Saurfang) rode up. I saw how he and Highlord Fordragon seemed happy to see each other. I know that look. It’s the look my brother and I give each other, even as I tell him what a bloody git he is and he makes attacks on my character… such as implying I might be a afraid to battle a dragon. Maybe it was only for a few minutes, but Bolvar Fordragon and this orc Saurfang were brothers right then. And they were our leaders, so we were all brothers and sisters for that time.
All of us who showed up late that day saw our brothers and sisters die, and it’s been easy to think from time to time that they died in vain. What I finally realized is that they’ve been with us all along. After what happened there, everyone has fought fiercer, pushed harder, and gotten back up again even faster after falling. Maybe when we can’t be healed or resurrected and we finally are dead, we become part of the Light. I don’t know… I’m not a bloody priest. But maybe we do. And so maybe our fallen will still share the victory, in a way.
Honor the heroes who come home. Lift them up, hold them close, and never let them forget how much they and their deeds mean to us. But do the same for the ones who don’t come home. For us to be free from the strangling grip of those who would try to control how we live, and even whether or not we do live, there is a cost. Our heroes pay it for us.
((Enjoy the long weekend, folks in the US. Take some time between BBQ and trips to the beach to remember what it’s really about. And remember… Marines don’t die. They go to hell and regroup!))