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A Dreamer Earns His Name from Zanda'jal's blog

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Trolls are known for their darwinistic outlook on life, characteristics best exhibited by the rituals undergone by their youths to earn the names they will carry with them until the end of their days. Lesser trolls have their own humbler versions of this timeless tradition, but it is the Zandalari who hold truest to their expectant rituals. Tournaments and competitions are held as children age and prepare to show their worth to the world, to return triumphant, worthy enough to be named.
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I will be different.


He crept low in the jungles. Deep breaths caused his meager chest to rise and fall, a chest that'd broaden greatly later in life, nicked and battered by myriad wounds he'd choose to keep. He patted his stomach and grunted. The wild berries he plucked earlier from bushes and overhanging branches no longer drove him. He needed something more, and the pathetic howling of his stomach was a weak thing among the cacophonous roars heard in the distance.


But I will roar like them. Loud, and powerful.


The boy was nothing if not determined, even in his youth, driven by an unerring desire to amount to more than the casteless children he saw wandering the Zocalo, the marketmen, and odd followers of Gonk. No, he would be something great. He would look to the skies and grin, ride no wind, and stare ravasaurs in the eye unerring, and one day find kinship in devilsaurs. But such were the designs of a child’s mind.

This craven stance he would maintain no longer. He straightened his arms and legs, rising slow and breathing deep of the jungle air. He willed his back straight, and pinned his shoulders back, lifting his chin, and in turn, his spirits.


I must stand tall. Like warrior. Like the mighty Rastari!


He wasn’t the first child to be so poisoned by dreams of grandeur. Nor was he the first boy to think himself the protagonist of his tale. What anxieties plagued him had been pushed to the back of his mind, laid low by his constant desire to mirror heroes old and new. He desired nothing more than to stand among them, or at least amount to more than those the other castes looked down upon. This was his opportunity to carve a life and name for himself in one fell swoop lest he live out his days in the harbor chasing saurids, thieving, and playing dirty tricks.

The urge to roar and beckon forth his challenge to the world blossomed in him as he made his first steps towards fate, having long since abandoned the city to earn his future in the jungle lowlands. In the air wafted the sweet, sugary breeze of plants. A welcoming thing- besides those foul pitcher plants, and thorny things like to prick and grope at any oncoming finger. The former he would later find and spit in. A fitting greeting for a plant he so distasted. Pressing matters, however, commanded his attention. He’d spent much of the recent days practicing his own survival skills, hunting small game with spears made by himself. In his craftsmanship- or at least his ability to create crude weaponry and maintain a sharp edge, he took pride, knowing that he had at least an edge on many of his peers.


His ears twitched at the distant sound of thunderous moans. Chills willed bumps from his nerve-dampened flesh.


I must be Zandalari. Strong and sure. A devilsaur, not a saurid.


Young as he was, a boy on the mere cusp on his teens, he desired to be that which all other boys dreamed of- strong and able, with shoulders broad and future stable. Old poetry made to honor Rezan he recited.


He stands strong, he stands tall,

He’s the greatest of them all!

He is mighty! He is bold!

As the legends surely told.


His grip fastened on the first of his spears, working and twisting hard along the rough surface. What pain he felt in splinters was ignored. To do as he must, cooling his nerves was of the utmost importance. On the jungle floor blood would be spilled. His own if not that of his quarry, and that would be a deserving fate for one who chased glory and failed. It was better to die in the attempt than to return with one's head bowed, to live in the shadow of his own humiliation.


Kingly, sharp, and honor-bound.


He arrived at a precipice. Refusing to debase himself by kneeling like a lesser troll seeking meek prey, the boy flared his nostrils and probed the air about him for oddities. He listened intently, catching the rustle of the breeze. Oh how Pa’ku played tricks on him tonight. A breeze drove through the trees, distributing the sweet, sugary scent of tropical sap, flowers, and dung. His eyes had quickly adjusted to the night, alone as he’d been for the past days. On this night the moon shone bright, mercifully gracing the jungles with an open eye he deigned to acknowledge. Most regarded the Lun’alai, a small group of Zandalari druids, as heretics. He was no exception.


He counted his blessings and descended down the slope, pondering hard on his future actions.


There will be no turning back now, fight-maker. I will make my kill and return. Then I will be a warrior.


Ultimately that was it. He would do more than steal a beast, more than subdue some wild creature and return with it. No, he sought to do more. Honor and respect would be his, a suitable name, and a look of surprise from Priestess Vulja. She had said much of him, some good, and much bad, for he was an undisciplined child filled with dreams, a boy with too many expectations for himself, and a desire to rise high. Only in his adult years would this undisciplined nature turn on its head. But now he marched- or rather stalked, his ‘unshakable’ confidence having been tested the closer he came to destiny.


Do I fear?


He was strangely unsure of his own feelings. He knew his desires, and threw back his childish desire to abandon his quest. His fingers burned against his spear, hot with the desire to fight, to find some solace in the knowledge that he’d made some attempt to carve a name for himself. This was a foolish and suicidal adventure. But as with many aspects of his character, his nature was forged by old stories told to him. Who were the old heroes? The Zandalari have possessed a civilization for sixteen-thousand years, and there were more heroes than they. In days ancient, the Amani threw themselves against the Aqir and built a city atop the site of their enemy’s leader, bloodied, but triumphant.


I will not be like Gri’lek. If there is a loa that favors me, I hope I have earned that or will tonight.


He growled at himself, primitively, and desperately attempting to cow the peculiar trepidation that spread throughout his body. In his veins swam adrenaline, fear, and excitement among myriad other emotions warring within. Simultaneously embittered and emboldened, he raised his gaze high, tracking the origin of the latest crash of branches and stomp of foot. Through the treeline he spotted his quarry- large and unmistakable. He marveled. He’d seen devilsaurs in his time, but none in the wild. All he had seen were friends of the people and crown, aged and armored protectors of Zuldazar. He could see this creature had no such loyalties, that this creature could easily kill him, and that it could ravage him with a mere stomp.


As the legends surely told.


Somehow he thought he’d seen Rezan. He would have knelt. Instead he froze, momentarily unable to move. This beast he’d tracked, and here he’d remain, having pinned himself between it and the high incline he slid down before. Again he counted his blessings, but only after his spears.


Strong of will and true of deed.

His free hand roamed his chest, upper arm, and breast, feeling over the paints inscribed on to his body by his peers. Having studied the beast from the brush, he noticed something off about the creature’s behavior. It favored one leg. A chunk had been taken from the top of one leg. No blood oozed from the wound, though old ligaments and tendons dangled worthlessly. Elsewhere the beast was mangled by bite-marks, albeit to a far lesser degree. While this beast may have escaped with its life from some dispute, it was a husk of its natural glory, imbalanced, ill, and weak. Inevitably infection would see this great beast to its knees. The boy was determined to claim its fall for himself.


He pivoted from his position and out towards the open. The perimeters of this glade would be a fine defense. Maps determined these reaches to be somewhere around the Savagelands, he knew. Where before his plan had merely involved slaying a great beast ‘as the heroes must have,’ it now relied on a sort of cunning. Every fallen tree would be an obstacle for this lame devilsaur to cross or swagger around. Every wall of trees would scratch at him and bar his way. He was smaller. He was alone. He could command its attention, goad it on, and tire it, and test its wroth. Where he once felt sheltered in the city, and under the control of others, he had begun to understand and respect himself all the more in the wild. He was smarter than he imagined, and believed firmly in his chances of success.


So much so that he raised his spear towards the beast, tilted his head back and roared. His cry was a pathetic one, weak and fraught with the rapid changes in pitch of any boy’s his age. This dreamer’s wits disappeared when his scream was answered by the monster’s returning roar. Instincts directed him to hide, and that he did. He ran through the trees, throwing his first spear and laughing hysterically when he dared look over his shoulder again to see that it had stuck in its belly. Such a tiny blade would do little do saurhide so thick, but he had long since concluded that no weapon of his make would suffice in felling a creature so high.


He shouted now, repeating a line from one of the many tales he’d heard of mighty Rezan, the loa he favored most of all; “He’s the greatest of them all! He is mighty! He is bold! As the legends surely told!”

His ‘quarry’ charged from the trees, but the boy’s desperate flight from the treeline had brought him elsewhere. Spear after spear he threw, with many missing their mark to thwack upon the fallen trees knocked asunder and astray by warring beasts. An array of such dominated the lands between him and his shaky foe. He ducked and rolled, ran and leapt, skirted away to find cover and temporary solace in places he knew his exhausted quarry could not reach. Only at his bravest moments would he show his face and proclaim his bravery to the open air, and to his lofty enemy. This, he found, was what it felt to be a troll; to use the world as one’s weapon and truly feel as one within it, to live with the exhilarating feeling of life and death as never before. He would never recapture such a feeling, not even in his adult life, when he had earned his name of Zanda’jal in the wake of his success in the field.


Alive! Strong! Zandalari!


His victory was a shallow one. He darted and weaved, and evading the creature’s grasp through deception, and by continuing to exhaust the beast, exploiting its weakened and feverish state until it was no longer capable of carrying its own weight. It took Zanda’jal some time to think of what to do next, and what he could take from his ‘conquest.’ He considered his victory his own, his show of strength, and returned to Zuldazar adamant and eager to show off his victory. Its blood he wore, its scent he carried, and teeth he took, and an eye he roasted- far away from the site of his kill, I might add. A fevered devilsaur was enough of a foe for one night. A pack of scavenging beasts, or worse, ravasaurs? Those were clever things, cunning creatures who fools underestimated at their peril..


He stands strong, he stands tall. He’s the greatest of them all.

This was not a battle he won by show of strength, nor feat at arms, but because he chanced upon the correct devilsaur; one maimed in battle by a larger specimen, and made the earth his weapon, though he will not confess this. Instead, this boy who later earned the name of Zanda’jal has lost himself to the delusion that he succeeded because of his own strength and superiority over this great beast. This destructive pattern of needing to constantly prove his own mettle and attempt to mirror the character quality of his heroes has commanded many of his actions throughout life. This behavior indicative of a man who will never be satisfied with his own self, one who obsesses over others, and desires validation above all. Valor and loyalty he has never lacked. These qualities, his success in the aforementioned rite, prowess at arms and loa-gifted (albeit unkindled) affinity for the Light saw him elevated to the caste of Rezani prelates.


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By Zanda'jal
Added Feb 26

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