The clanging of iron on iron rang through the halls, and the sound of voices echoed from all directions. The floor was hard and cold, and the ceiling was illuminated by the light of a hundred different forges, casting their light into the massive structure. People moved all about, many of them clad in some kind of imposing armor, each with intricate filigree and masterful craft-work. Archibald was overwhelmed with excitement.
He’d first asked about the Ironforge half a year earlier, when Vera gave him a book entitled “Orcs of Legend: The Forgotten Heroes.” He brought it up at dinner the following night, saying he’d like to learn more about Vicorin of Blackwood. He expected to just get more books; he almost threw up with excitement when Celeste told him they’d go to Tuari for his sixth birthday. Every day after that was little more to him than one day closer to visiting the Ironforge.
Celeste had expected him to spend most of the journey with his nose buried in one of his books, but Archibald had barely even touched the stack he’d brought by the time they reached Utica. He’d instead spent most of his time teaching his mother about the roads they were on, the bridges they were crossing, and the architecture they were admiring. She had to admit, the kid knew his stuff. Having spent her life studying religious texts, she’d had little time to learn about geography and architecture—she really was learning a lot just listening to him ramble. That being said, in all earnestness, she was just happy to see Archibald so excited.
But now that they were finally in the Ironforge, he’d barely left her side. Archibald had never been in such a crowd, and he spent the first hour clinging desperately to his mother’s robe, terrified of losing her. When he finally did get up the courage to let go, he still remained close by, clearly torn between his excitement and fear. It took them almost all morning to get into the Hall of Champions, but when they finally did, Archibald truly opened up. He craned his neck to gawk at the massive statues, and stared in awe at the marvelous tapestries. When an Annalist approached them, Archibald immediately began pummeling the man with questions and listening with rapt attention at his responses. At one point, the boy even grabbed his hand and led him to one of the statues so they could talk about it.
When they finally got to the massive iron statue of Vicorin, Archibald immediately forgot about the Annalist and Celeste, and plopped down in front of the placard at its base. He remained that way for a long while, and it was over an hour before he let Celeste lead him away. Over the next three days of their trip, he repeated this ritual during their excursion through the many storied histories of the Ironforge’s heroes, always returning to study the statue. On the last day, when it was time for them to go, Archibald stood up and hugged the statue’s base, whispering “Thank you” as he left.
On the return journey, Archibald was much quieter than he’d been on the way there. He spent much of the first few miles buried deep in a book, and it wasn’t until their second day on the road that Celeste asked her son about his behavior in the Ironforge.
“You seemed very taken by Vicorin’s statue.”
Archibald nodded. “He’s my favorite hero.”
Celeste didn’t want to make her son uncomfortable, but she was curious. “Why is he your favorite?”
Archibald took a long time formulating his words. Celeste relaxed a little; ever since he started talking, he preferred to remain silent until he knew what he was going to say. “I think Vicorin was a lot smarter than people like to think he was. Everyone remembers him as a big warrior, but the real reason he’s so famous is because he figured out how to do something that everyone else said was impossible. And then he just did it.”
Celeste smiled as he continued. “I know that people think that orcs are the best at fighting. I guess the reason I like Vicorin so much is because he made it okay for orcs to be the best at other things, too.”