“Are you afraid?”
“What?” The water splashed. Anduin’s bones suddenly ached.
“Are you afraid?” Garrosh repeated. The question was casually posed, as if the orc were simply making conversation. Anduin knew it for a verbal grenade. To either answer truthfully or to lie would blow open a door to things Anduin had no desire to discuss.
“There’s no reason to be. You are restrained by chains and enchanted prison bars. You’re quite unable to attack me.”
“Concern for one’s physical safety is only one reason to fear. There are others. I ask again: Are you afraid?”
“Look,” said Anduin, deliberately placing the glass on the table, “I came here because you asked me to. Because Baine said that I was the only person you agreed to talk to about … well, about whatever it is you want to talk about.”
“Maybe your fear is what I want to talk about.”
“If that’s so, then we are both wasting our time.” He rose and went for the door.
Anduin paused, his back to Garrosh. He was angry with himself. His palms were damp and it took every effort he could summon to refrain from shaking outright. He would not let Garrosh see fear in him.
“Why should I?”
“Because … you are the only person I wish to talk to.”
The prince closed his eyes. He could leave, right this minute. Garrosh was almost certainly going to play games with him. Perhaps trick him into saying something he shouldn’t. But what, possibly, could that be? What could Garrosh want to know? And Anduin realized that afraid on some level though he might be, he didn’t really want to go. Not yet.
He took a deep breath and turned around. “Then start talking.” Garrosh pointed at the chair. Anduin shifted his weight from one foot to the other, then took the seat with deliberate, casual movements. He lifted his eyebrows, indicating he was waiting.
“You said you believed I could change,” Garrosh said. “What in this world or any other could make you think that, after what I have done?”
Again, no real emotion, only curiosity. Anduin started to answer, but hesitated. What would Jaina … no. Jaina was no longer the sort of diplomat he wished to emulate. He felt a flicker of amusement when he realized that for all his threats of murdering Garrosh, Varian had now become more of a role model for Anduin than Jaina. The realization was both sad, for he loved Jaina, and sweet, for he loved his father.
“Tell you what. We’ll take turns.”
An odd smile curved Garrosh’s mouth. “We have a bargain. You’re a better negotiator than I expected.”
Anduin let out a short bark of laughter. “Thanks, I think.”
The orc’s smile widened. “You go first.”
The first point goes to Garrosh, Anduin mused. “Very well. I believe you can change because nothing ever stays the same. You were overthrown as warchief of the Horde because the people you led changed from following your orders to questioning them, and finally rejecting them. You’ve changed from warchief to prisoner. You can change again.”
Garrosh laughed without humor. “From living to dead, you mean.”
“That’s one way of doing it. But it’s not the only one. You can look at what you’ve done. Watch and listen and really try to understand the pain and damage you’ve caused, and decide that you won’t continue down that path if given another chance.”
Garrosh stiffened. “I cannot change into a human,” he growled.
“No one expects or wants that,” Anduin answered. “But orcs can change. You better than anyone should know that.”
Garrosh was silent. He looked away for a moment, pensive. Anduin resisted the impulse to cross his arms, instead forcing his body posture to seem relaxed, and waited. A bright-eyed, coarse furred rat poked its head out from under the sleeping furs. Its nose twitched, and then it ducked back out of sight. The warchief of theHorde once … and now his cellmate is a rat.
“Do you believe in destiny, Anduin Wrynn?”
For the second time Anduin was blindsided. What was going on inside Garrosh’s head?
“I-I’m not sure,” he stammered, his carefully maintained image of coolness dissolving immediately. “I mean—I know there are prophecies. But I think we all have choices too.”
“Did you choose the Light? Or did it choose you?”
“I—I don’t know.” Anduin realized he had never asked himself that question. He recalled the first time he considered becoming a priest, and had felt a tug in his soul. He craved the peace the Light offered, but he didn’t know if it had called him, or if he had set out in pursuit of it.
“Could you choose to deny the Light?”
“Why would I want to do that?”
“Any number of reasons. There was another golden-haired, beloved human prince once. He was a paladin, and yet he turned his back on the Light.”
Outrage and offense chased away Anduin’s discomfort. Blood suffused his face and he snapped, “I am notArthas!”
Garrosh smiled oddly. “No, you are not,” he agreed. “But maybe … I am.”