September 26, 2010
Mist draped the mountains like a living shroud as Darrwyn edged his way through the pass. This deep into Alliance territory, every step was perilous. There is no adventure without peril, his father had told him repeatedly. Shadows hung at the edge of his vision like spectres waiting for a fresh soul to feed their slavering hunger. They swayed to and fro with the gentle breeze. Now and then a rock or a log emerged from the gloom, but Grimfeather stayed at ease. Step by step, Darrwyn approached the crest of the hill.
The mist was put to good use by the hunter now; while it hid potential dangers, it also offered him concealment from spying eyes. As he crested the hill the wind turned and blew gently into his face. The faint aroma of parafin burning, woodsmoke and something being cooked told him a camp or a settlement was nearby. Voices carried by the gentle breeze floated through the mist… troll voices!
Were these the friendlies he was hoping to meet with? Maybe they were the hostiles who had strayed from the Horde after Thrall's departure from the leadership. Grimfeather's eyes sparkled as the hawk looked to its master for direction. With a flick of his wrist Darrwyn sent the hawk into the gloom looking for answers. Alone in the mist, he drew an arrow, notched it to his bow, and waited.
His nostrills told him first there was somebody approaching. He could smell the coppery scent of fresh blood in the clinging dampness surrounding him. He readied his bow, aimed at the scent and tensed, every muscle ready to fight. Just ahead he heard a fluttering of wings and the sound of something small dropping onto the ground. A quiet whistle announced Grimfeather's return, and the hawk flew into view, appearing relaxed and unharmed. Darrwyn eased the pressure on his bow. The hawk turned away from its master and hopped down the trail a few yards, picked up its burden and flew back. The skinned rabbit in the hawks' beak told Darrwyn what he needed to know. He'd found the friendlies! Only friendlies would give fresh meat to a hunter's pet. If it had been the hostiles Grimfeather had found, such a prize would be accompanied with scars of battle, and Darrwyn would have heard the sounds of such violence.
“Hey Mon, tis a rough lookin' bird you 'ave as your frien'.” The voice was subdued but close. “There be enemies about, so quiet be keepin', but yer be welcome to m' camp. I be Hianti, leader o' our tribe. I be steppin' into da open now, so no shootin', if yer please.”
Darrwyn looked to the hawk, who showed no signs of alarm as he dug his beak into the flesh of the rabbit at his feet. “Come, friend,” Darrwyn invited as he stood, resting his bow on his toes.
A lumbering form emerged from the path ahead of him. Like all male trolls, this one was hunched, slender and with long tusks that reached forward from his jaw.The troll took Darrwyn's offered hand, and the grip was firm, but not overly so. This troll was not into any display of his strength. Darrwyn noticed the bones and fetishes only a shaman would wear.
Darrwyn offered his hand, “Darrwyn. I greet you, Hianti, and thank you for your hospitality.”
'Oh, Mon. Tis not'in'. We don' get many visitors comin' up to see us, especially those of The Forsaken, so yer be most welcome indeed.” He put his giant arm around Darrwyn's shoulder and led him down the trail. “Can yer be tellin' me news from Orgimar, an' about young Hellscream…”
The lingering comfort of warm fires and safe hearth was long behind, as Darwynn made his way north. He used the road to show him the way, but travelled well clear of it so he wouldn't have to deal with patrols or even merchants who could report him to the local Alliance garrisons. It was slower this way, but much safer.
Eventually the flat farming land gave way to wilder woodland, and the mountains that separated Darkshore from the Druid's enclave rose to Darrwyn's right. Through the assorted sounds of wild fowl and scittering forest critters he made out the unmistakable sound of bear cubs at play. The sonorous sound of their mother's snores tempted Darrwyn to attempt to tame her, but he was after wilder game, so he pressed forward.
Late in the afternoon, voices drifted on the breeze and he slowed his pace. Grimfeather flew ahead, as usual, keeping his wary eye on their surroundings. Through the undergrowth Darrwyn saw the bare hills with the skeletal remains of an ancient city. Trolls moved around without caution. These trolls had not followed the path of the Horde. With Thrall's decision to hand the leadership to Garrosh Hellscream, these trolls no longer considered themselves Horde. Whispers suggested they had thrown in their lot and joined the rebellious faction from Stranglethorn Vale. Either way, they were to be avoided.
Darrwyn drew on his Far Sight ability and surveyed the scene ahead of him. There was plenty of activity where the trolls and night elves had already begun their excavations of the historic site. There were also plenty of places as yet untouched, and Darrwyn sought a path that would keep him from prying eyes, any eyes. His route decided, he dismissed his hawk and then Darrywn crept through the bush toward his goal.
He could no longer count how many of these damn statuettes he had stroked. Fatigue seeped through his skeletal fingers and the first touches of despair tugged at Darrywn's resolve. He could see only three more statuettes in the are he had been working. Three more chances to avoid interacting with the trolls and night elves, who would not welcome his presence. Afternoon shadows assisted him in finding his way through the rubble unseen, but the northern cool was starting to bite. He reached to the first statuette…
“We haven't even started to be lookin' over dere yet, Jor,”
Darwynn froze. The voice was close, and unmistakenly troll. Unfriendly troll!
“Take six o' dem diggers and start clearin' a space, Rapp,” another voice said. “We'll set up over dere tomorrow, but fer now clear me a command site.”
“As you be directin', mon,” the first voice responded. Then, “You!, You!, You! Yes, mon, you!, You, you and you too. Be comin' wid me now, the boss wants a comman' site over 'ere.”
Darwynn heard the grumbles as the workers started assembling their tools. He peeked through some rubble, he had only a few minutes to check the next two statuettes.
He skittered across the debris to the first, reached out, stroked the feline head and….
And then there was one. This last statuette stood in the centre of a clearing, bathed in sunlight. If he hurried he could make it in time. He peered towards the group of trolls. They had assembled all their gear and were trudging their way towards him. He had to act now!
He dashed into the clearing, reached out…
“Hey! Who would you be, mon!”
Darrwyn froze, hand over the statuette. He looked to the work party. Close! Too close! He lowered his hand to the statuette. His hand burned with the magic within the artifact. A second later a piercing howl echoed through the digsite and and huge, ghostly cat snarled at Darrwyn's outstretched hand.
“Get him, you oafs! Hurry!”
Darrwyn kept his eyes on the great cat, crouching ready to pounce. It was now or never. He raised both arms and began his taming…
“Great cat, good cat, it would be my honour to run with you through the widest plains. Through the thickest jungles. Across the wildest rivers, Into the darkest caves. Up the highest mountains. Into the narrowest ravines. Down the…”
Darwynn was thrown off his feet by the first troll, a little faster than the others. He saw a blur above him, and a sudden gush of blood poured from the trolls throat as it was ripped open by spectral jaws. The other trolls stopped just in time. The cat stood over Darrywn, snarling at the party. Darrwyn was amazed. His tame had worked! He rose, nocked several arrows to his bow and drew all in one fluid motion. The work party weren't even looking at him. Their eyes were all on the ghostly vision of death that was only a few feet ahead of them. They barely noticed when arrows sprouted from their chests. They fell to their knees, horror and surprise on their faces.
The cat padded over to Darrwyn, dipping its massive head to his feet. “There could be no finer companion for an Undead hunter like myself, than to roam Azeroth with you, my saviour.” He reached down and scratched between the cat's ears. “I think you've just heard your name, my friend. And you earned it, too.” Darrwyn held the beast's head in his hands and gently brought their eyes together.
“Saviour,” he said lovingly. “Let's go home.”
September 8, 2010
September 26, 2010
Great post Darrwyn! Really a great read, I knew we had some talented folks around here, way to go!!
Thanks Drach, glad you enjoyed it.