On Torture

The last war taught me a lot. Certainly more than I ever thought war would teach me. The importance of friends. Family. Unity among whole peoples is necessary if we are to ever develop. It’s what allowed the triumph over Garrosh and his forces.

But too many died, and unless we go forward as changed people, too many will keep dying. I have learned, at great cost, the importance of maintaining one’s calm and focus, and of the necessities of hope, humility, and mercy, even in the heat of the strongest battles.

Mercy and understanding. There have been those in the past that defied mercy, that took victory at all costs and revelled in death and pain. Some say that such people do not deserve mercy.

I disagree. Some have committed horrible crimes, and it is these crimes to which I turn next. But if we commit horrible acts on these criminals – what makes us different? How do we rise above them? How can we claim a moral high ground?

There is inspiration for these thoughts. Recently, as part of an operation wrapping up Garrosh’s crimes, the Convocation of Elrendar – the organisation to which I belong – began a search for the Arcweaver Genmal, who under Garrosh had led a project known as Grom’s Blood, which had created a brand of orcish supersoldier.

As resources had become scarce, these orcs had become increasingly volatile and unstable, with random powers and hugely shortened lifespans. A heightened agility and resistance to magic turned into vulnerability to fire, and hugely unpredictable forces.

The project had been closed after Garrosh’s defeat, but Genmal had fled before the assault on Orgrimmar had even begun, and taken refuge within a goblin corporation responsible for a slave-trade which supplied Genmal with orcish refugees in exchange for soldiers. Exposing this trade after a skirmish with Kor’kron loyalists took us from the Barrens to Booty Bay. Genmal’s creations littered Jaguero Isle and the Ruins of Zul’kunda. Hastily allying with defectors from the ethereal prince Lexxal (former supplier of the Crimson Hand) and a nationalist group of ex-Hellscream’s Reach soldiers, we uncovered Genmal’s hiding spot at the Crystalvein Mine.

While we cleared Zul’kunda of the remaining orcs and set about destroying Genmal’s work, the Reach instead set about the troublesome task of breaking into Genmal’s hiding place – an initiative that resulted in all their deaths.

Eventually, we captured Genmal. But the charges stacked high against him, easily as high as those of Sorlain.

Torture, given the immense physical pain his test subjects suffered – all unwilling after Garrosh’s power system collapsed. Murder, certainly, and coercion, and his support of Hellscream through his projects.

But what punishment do his crimes deserve? I am hesitant to call for death. To one who has done so much evil, death is a form of mercy, a form of vindication – the kind of people who commit these crimes do not care whether they live or die. Death will not make someone understand their trespass.

But we cannot just do to them as they do to us. I have learnt enough from Pandaria, from Garrosh, to know that such an option is never right. There needs to be a separation between judge and culprit, or the judge becomes just as guilty.

It’s disappointing to know that so few among my colleagues agree. That they would put Genmal through intense mental pain, intense physical pain and intense emotional pain all at once – and that they did so without hesitation in the heat of battle. In the aftermath, Genmal looks like any old orc war survivor – beaten, broken, aged.

But I have to live with the fact that, when faced with him, my colleagues crushed his creations – potentially redeemable orcs – to break his spirit. That they broke his legs with magma to stop him getting away. That they inflicted intense hallucinations of pain on him to drain him mentally.

It is unacceptable, and it is unforgivable that I did not stop them.

To move forward, we have to know that we are better than those we fight – and act like it. As horrifying as war is, I cannot excuse torture, even in the face of all the suffering Genmal inflicted on dozens of orcs who we were forced to kill out of mercy. Genmal does not understand his crimes. But making him understand through making him a victim of similar crimes? How can anyone condone that?

So I am resolved. I was resolved when I left Booty Bay to find Liferoot to make into a poultice for Genmal’s legs. I was resolved when I induced sleep to try and ease his pain. And I will be resolved in resisting every attempt to further harm him.

I will not be damned to repeat the crimes I fought so hard against, and I will not let my friends and colleagues damn themselves by partaking in these crimes – or by looking the other way. If we ever learn anything from war, it must be how to improve.

Otherwise, what did we fight for?

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