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it's a big wide world out there

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Geyah refusing because no, his people need him, and the world he wishes to go to is about to erupt into chaos. But Garrosh sneaks out after Thrall leaves, because he wants to see what an unbroken world looks like. He wants to remember.

He never does quite catch up to Thrall, and arriving in the blasted lands is greatly disheartening, but. The orc and draenei commanders are working together willingly, here. There’s no shortage of food to feed their soldiers, either.

They don’t recognize him for who he is (he’s strangely glad and disappointed at this- his father’s shame still clings to him like a shadow, but Thrall said it was different here, that his father redeemed himself and he very, very desperately wants to believe that), but they do give him directions, and that’s enough.

When he makes it to the Swamp of Sorrows, this when he truly realizes that this world is unbroken. It’s not quite at first, mind, sitting in the back of his head as a distant sort of disbelief when he finds prey easily in this thick forest. In fact, it isn’t until he makes it to the eastern shore and sees the ocean for the first time that he can truly accept that this world in not in pieces floating through the nether.

The beach is not what one would call beautiful- it’s too short from the forest to the water line, there’s too many reeds, and the water is more brown than blue- but the limitless expanse of the sea, the birds flying fearlessly over it, and the glimpse of fishing boats in the distance, these are what make him realize that this world is whole. This is what makes his heart swell up and pound against his ribs, what makes him wretched with joy. (This world is untainted, unbroken, this world has no shortage of food and water and shelter, and he still can’t quite believe it, vision blurring and watery and ears burning, but still it lay all around him, still turning as if unaware of these profound wonders.)

He remains awestruck for days, up until he passes by a camp of lost ones, and remembers the great and terrible evil that his people did, drunk on fel magic and ambition. It is a low he hasn’t felt in some time, not since Garadar where his will was sapped and most days he could barely move from his bed.

He goes through the next few days numbly, and doesn’t quite recover until he reaches Stranglethorn. He doesn’t quite remember how he got there.

However, he begins to truly see here what Geyah meant by chaos- the trolls in the jungle aren’t happy to see him, the humans and dwarves aren’t either, and he spends quite a few days running for his life because brave he may be but stupid he is not, and more often than not, they outgear and outnumber him greatly, and he would very much like to live through this venture.

He arrives at Grom'gol, thoroughly hassled but unhurt for the most part, and though the other orcs eye him warily (as he does as well; unable to shove down his gut reaction to seeing to the fel taint after growing up in a place where seeing that on another orc meant you had to fight or flee), they still welcome him in, and appreciate the work he does for them over the few days he alternates between dreading and impatiently waiting for the arrival of the zeppelin to Orgrimmar.

He learns that he hates flying. It reminds him too much of how easily one could drop off the edge of the world back in Draenor. He spends most of his time below deck and trying not to flinch too much when a particularly powerful gust of wind rattles the zeppelin. He is especially glad, more than ever, that no one recognizes him as his father’s son, ashamed of his irrational fear. (One of the goblin engineers grins at him with sharp teeth, but not unkindly. “Everyone’s first time flying is rough, don’t worry about it buddy,” he assured him, slapping his back good-naturedly. If there’s one thing he can admire about goblins, it’s their fearlessness of being small in a too-big world.)

Orgrimmar is.

Orgrimmar just. Is.

He had no warning of how big it is, how bustling and lively. It’s a far cry from Shattrath, and even farther from his home village. When they start to pull in at the tower, he can brave going on the deck before they land long enough to see the expanse of the city, to hear the marketplace noise and smell the food from the street vendors, even at this distance. He grins widely despite himself, stupidly happy, and can’t quite remove it from his face for a long time afterwards, not until the zeppelin lands and he’s halfway to Grommosh Hold. The thought of meeting up with Thrall again brings home just how long he’s been away from Garadar. It’s been months at least; were they alright? Did they have enough food? Were the defenses holding? Was Geyah being taken care of?

He goes through the drag distractedly like this, numbly anxious, and doesn’t realize that he’s arrived at Grommosh Hold until the guards are letting him in.

He mostly observes Thrall from the far end of the room, watching him and a tall, blue troll with a shock of red hair work through the issues presented before them by Orgrimmar’s citizens. It only further reminds him of the things he’s left, the things he needs to return to. They don’t finish for several hours and the sun is low in the sky, and Garrosh wonders at the sheer mental endurance that the Warchief must possess, to have to deal with this on a daily basis. This is not something that he can say that he, himself, possesses, and Thrall still looks tired afterwards. But the troll, tired as well, gives him a smirk, one between good friends, and Thrall smiles back, and Garrosh cannot say that he isn’t envious. (Maybe it wouldn’t have been so easy for him to leave Garadar if he had someone waiting for him to return. The thought leaves a bitter taste in his mouth.)

Thrall notices him, then, and shock bleeds into his expression. He isn’t unhappy to see Garrosh, no- quite the contrary, blue eyes gleaming with a sort of excited recognition that Garrosh isn’t sure is entirely for him- but he’s confused as to how and why he’s here, and when he sees guilt flicker through his face, he sighs. He’s not angry, no, but this is somehow worse. Anger is something that Garrosh can deal with. Disappointment is a thing that clings to his heels and gnaws at his back and grows like a parasite until he feels too weighed down to move anymore.

“I wanted to see the unbroken world,” Garrosh mumbles, suddenly feeling small and childish and stupid. “I wanted to see our people actually living and thriving.” Thrall looks very worn and old suddenly, and nods in understanding. The troll eyes him up, then looks at Thrall expectantly.

“This is Garrosh, son of Hellscream,” Thrall introduces, and the troll looks at him again, strangely empathetic despite his fierceness.

He seems to understand, too, at least.

When he heads back, days later and after Thrall showing him around the city multiple times with a puppyish excitement shining through his calm demeanor as he introduces Garrosh around and they recognize the son of Hellscream with an awe he’s not sure he deserves, it’s with the gifts people have given him during this time, furs and meat from the trolls, weapons and iron from the orcs, and cloth and greens from the tauren. (He and the forsaken are wary of each other, and he and the blood elves even more so, but he won’t fault them for it. Thrall tells him about their shattered homes, and Garrosh tries to figure out when exactly the Horde stopped being a war machine and started being a band of survivors trying to make a patchwork family of each other. He suspects it’s when his father died killing the demon that hunted his people so fervently that it followed them across worlds.)

Both Thrall and Vol’jin, the troll introducing himself with a disarming grin and a raspy laugh, accompany him, helping him load the gifts people have given him onto a line of kodos, and leading them through a portal big enough that four mages have to maintain it. It puts them right outside Garadar, the village guard already starting to surround it when he leads the first kodo through, and by the time the last one has come through, the entire village has come out to see it, including Geyah herself, escorted by Dranosh.

Garrosh freezes up as Geyah comes forward, numb with anxiety right up until she stands before him. She stares him down, indescribably furious, but it only holds for a few seconds before she pulls him into a crushing embrace. She moves aside, but before Garrosh can speak, she is replaced by Dranosh, whose strength knocks the wind out of his chest when he wraps his arms around him.

 “We thought you were dead. You’re a fucking idiot, you know that,” Dranosh snaps, brow furrowed but a relieved smile curling around his tusks despite himself.

“I’m sorry,” he gasps. “I brought things for the village,” he adds, still a bit breathless.

“We noticed,” Geyah replies moodily, caught between absolutely livid and begrudgingly fond. “Don’t do that again. We need you here. Idiot.” Garrosh looks between them, and glances back to the portal and the villagers peeking through it curiously at the city that lay beyond, and the citizens of that city looking back just as curiously.

He makes a note to himself to ask Thrall about installing a permanent portal.