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Streaks of Silver

Started by Tagrok, November 08, 2019, 10:04:06 PM

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-- Roughly a week ago --

She had stirred next to him, barely a moment before he wanted to leave the furs. Quiet and unmoving, he just kept listening to her breathing and the flutter of wings. Hushed words he couldn’t really make out - at some point she did return however, lying down next to him. In the end, he simply rose some time later, put on his armor and left the watchtower. If she noticed, she gave no sign, no question asked.

Thinking back on it as he rode close to the Ashenvale border, Tagrok wondered why she didn’t stop him. He scratched idly through his beard as Bacon trudged along, squealing quietly as they entered the shade beneath the trees. “Quiet as ever…” he whispered to himself, eyes darting from bush to treetop and everything in between. Night elf presence had increased in the last few months after the attack on Teldrassil and the knife-ears’ newly found tricks, which turned their eyes black as tar. With any luck, they wouldn’t patrol the area or at least not notice him and the boar.

A few hours later the duo finally reached Splintertree Post, one of the few safe havens remaining for members of the Horde. He exchanged a few terse words with the grunts, stabling Bacon afterwards before heading into the Inn to inspect his gear. His bow had seen better days, especially after they were stranded on the hozen island - he would have to visit a bowyer at some point for some maintenance, but it would do for this hunt.

The daggers were ready for anything, although with the prey he was looking for he’d rather not find himself in a situation where he’d have to use them. Holding the black knife, he turned it in his hands, frowning as he remembered the last time he had used it. It was easy to say that something beyond his control made him strike Nakobu, but he still felt the impact in his arm - the moment he gutted the young mag’har without hesitation. He had spent hours by himself, wiping the weapon clean after Skint had left him alone. To his eyes the red tinge never really faded, the blade seemingly glistening from time to time. With a tired sigh he pushed the weapon back into place at his belt, checking his backpack and supplies once more before making his way towards the gate. Passing the guards, he pushed a folded note into the troll’s hands, muttering “If I don’t return by noon tomorrow.” and headed westward, deeper into the forest.

Time passed as Tagrok ventured off the clear pathways and into the undergrowth, looking for a particular set of tracks - something that seemed increasingly unlikely. Nothing around him suggested his quarry was in this area. Others of its kind were close, that much he could make out. The smell reminded him of Smoke. He heard them in the distance as the sun began to set, hidden above the trees. Unfortunately all the fur he was able to track down was silver. 

“That’s why I keep telling her, hunting isn’t something I… Hm..?” Something caught his attention and he approached a tree on his left, reaching out to pull some hair off the bark. “Black… Although this one seems to be getting on in years, going by the gray strands.” Frowning, he discarded the fur and thought the situation over. There might not be another opportunity before the clan returned to Razor Hill, and he had waited long enough. His mind went back to the day they left the Swamp of Sorrows. While the clan was rescuing Tahara, Urzoga had worked on the task without anyone noticing. With a frown, he realized the sting of annoyance at the thought of the quiet orc completing the tasks ahead of him. No, this was going to be his prey, just like the Wind Serpent he hunted for his Om’riggor - he could almost feel it.

He crouched down moments later, clearing away debris and leaves to get a better look at the ground. No tracks, at least none that would suggest where this particular wolf might’ve gone. Almost grunting in frustration, he stopped himself - instead taking a breath before crawling a little further. Some droppings, practically filled with deer fur. More hair on bark. Broken branches on a shrub, leading further south west. “This might actually be the correct way...” Those were the last words he spoke for a long while, instead following the tracks one by one, hopefully coming closer to his prey. The sun slowly vanished from the sky and with it, most of the visible tracks as Tagrok strained his eyes against the gloom.

And then he saw it, in a clearing near one of the lakes reflecting the dim moonlight. It was by no means anywhere near the size of a garn or even some of the bigger wolves he saw over the years. But Tagrok crouched there, almost captivated by the grizzled hunter. There were streaks of silver in his fur, which was otherwise completely black. The wolf sat there, drinking from the lake for a moment before it turned, its eyes locking on Tagrok’s own despite the orc remaining where he was.

With a grunt, the orc rose, knocking an arrow in one swift motion before letting it sail through the air. It missed the beast by a wide margin as it charged him - the distance between them shrinking rapidly. Tagrok stepped forward and out of the undergrowth as he aimed once again, the arrow finding its mark in the wolf’s back. Unfortunately for the orc, the beast was almost upon him and he had to drop the bow as he dodged to the side, scrambling along the ground as the black shadow darted past him.

Looking up while turning around, he noticed that the old hunter stared at him curiously, its head tilted to the right ever so slightly. Thinking about it, its maw should have gotten his arm at the very least as he dodged to its right. Blind, or at the very least impaired enough to favor his left eye instead. With a wry grin, he rose and grabbed his daggers. “Suits me just fine…” Standing sideways, as some of the knife-ears would, to throw the wolf’s aim off, trying to calm himself. To charge would just give his adversary a bigger target - and so he waited. Circling the orc as much as the clearing around them would allow it, the beast watched wearily. Surely it had come across orcs before, Tagrok thought to himself, but unlikely just a single one stumbling through the woods.

It was too fast for him, even with one lazy eye. One moment it circled him, several meters away and the next he felt sharp pain flare up on his right biceps as its teeth sank into him. He cried out in pain and reflexively bashed its head sideways with the pommel of his dagger, the wolf whining and dashing away into the undergrowth. Tagrok breathed heavily, squinting at his arm, but the darkness settling around the forest made it hard to make out anything. His eyes darted upwards, following the rustling of leaves as the wolf surely prepared another attack. This would have to end soon, one or two more bites and he wouldn’t be able to lift his weapons in defense, much less kill the hulking animal.

He straightened his back, standing normally now as he gave the wolf plenty of targets. Growling through clenched teeth, he yelled into the night. “Come on! Right there!” Silence answered him, the rustling of the leaves stopped and he felt a prickling sensation on the back of his neck. Then it broke through the vegetation, snarling as ran towards him with its fangs bared. The orc braced himself, raising his left arm protectively - and almost fainted as the beast crushed his gauntlet, piercing the flesh below. The sheer weight of the wolf took him down, head thrashing around as it tried to tear at his arm. He stabbed upwards, again and again, blinded by fear and panic. Finally, the thrashing started to slow down, stopping as the animal sunk down, wounds near its throat oozing hot blood. With great difficulty, he dragged himself away from beneath the lifeless body.

He sat before the old wolf’s corpse, leaning back and panting heavily as he wiped his mouth with the knuckles of his right hand. It came away bloody and he winced, the adrenaline fading as fast as it had hit him. And with that came more pain.

The next hours became a blur, bits and moments of clear thought before he finally found himself at the gates of Splintertree Post during the early noon. He still wondered how he had managed to haul the corpse onto the makeshift sled, dragging it through the undergrowth with a rope tied around his chest. Thanking the shaman that took care of the worst of his wounds, he prepared Bacon as best as he could before swinging himself onto the saddle.

Riding up to the Crossroads as the sun set, Tagrok immediately approached the leatherworker’s tent. He nodded to the orc and spoke a few hushed words before dropping a bag of coins into his hand. Leaving Bacon at the stables, he sighed, rolling his shoulder as he spotted Nakobu, Skint and a shady undead…

He remembers this as he sits quietly in the dark tower hut. She was sleeping, just the way she did when he had left. There had been a little wrapped-up bundle on his pillow. Carefully unfurling it, he reveals some sort of baked goods, perhaps cake. He smiles mildly as he looks down at her face before taking a bite. The taste reminds him of a star-lit sky, a beautiful forest at the crown of the world.
Gul'Thauk Tagrok Valorwind


Finally gotten around to reading this!

Excellent story, you should write more!   :o
Okiba Spearbreaker - Nag'Ogar and Warrior Monk of the Horde
"Strength, Discipline, Mastery."