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Dakrim's Tale
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Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 383
Location: Hong Kong

PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2008 11:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dakrim’s Tale: Chapter 18

A soft, familiar voice was singing. It reminded him of home, back on Red Cloud Mesa. He felt content to not move until bright sunlight blazed across his face. Groaning as he covered his eyes with an arm, Dakrim tried to go back to sleep. A hand gently shook him.

“Dakrim,” said a female voice. “You must get up now. There are many people waiting to speak with you.”

The young Tauren rolled over and gingerly opened his eyes. The blinding light gradually faded as his eyes adjusted. There was no mistaking her face.

“Shaman Meela?” he asked, his eyes widening in surprise.

Rich, full laughter filled the room. “Yes, my little bullock,” she answered, her voice light and cheerful. “I arrived here just a few days ago. Just in time, apparently. How shocked I was to hear last night of a big bull showing up half dead, and,” she added with a wink, “him having a 'special hoof.'”

Dakrim could not stop from returning her smile. Ever since he was little, she had always referred to his deformity in that way; trying to make him feel more comfortable with himself. He reached out and grasped her hands in silent thanks.

Thoughts and memories suddenly flooded his mind; many dark, horrible things from the past few days.

“Shaman Meela!” Dakrim said loudly, wincing from the ache in his shoulder as he pulled himself up out of the bed.

The older female’s hands held him steady. “Slowly, young one, don’t try to rip all of my carefully administered bandages, please. If you can walk, come with me, I need to take you to see someone.”

“Yes, I can walk,” he replied, though every muscle in his body felt painfully stretched. “But wait, I have to tell you something, first.” He looked down into Shaman Meela’s deep brown eyes. The physical pain he felt was nothing compared to the massive hole in his heart that came crashing down at that instant. “Harutt is gone,” he whispered. “Felled by centaur, protecting Lanka and I.”

Bowing her head, Shaman Meela quivered. Silent tears, escaping her tightly closed eyes, fell to the hard-packed earth. Slowly she wrapped her arms around Dakrim’s waist. “And Lanka?” her voice cracked.

Dakrim shook his head. “We split up, he led the centaur army away so I could escape.” His own voice trembled. “I was hoping he would be here already.”

“There’s been no word,” Shaman Meela said, wiping her eyes with a piece of cloth.

There was so much more that he wanted to say, but could not summon the words to properly express his feelings. Dakrim let the female shaman guide him to the open doorway.

“There will be time for a proper mourning later, my young bull,” she said gently, though her voice was etched with deep sadness. “For now, please come with me.” Meela pushed the door flap open and stepped out into the bright sunshine of Thunder Bluff. “Don’t worry about your belongings, they will be safe here.”

Dakrim was stunned. He had thought that Bloodhoof Village was a big community, at least compared to his homeland of Camp Narache. However, the word “big” was an understatement concerning the capital Tauren city. So many tauren were moving about, talking, gesturing, or selling various exotic things. Huge buildings were everywhere, with great, tall totem poles that dwarfed the largest of Red Cloud Mesa. He had never seen so many different members of his own race before. He allowed his sadness and grief to be tucked away as Shaman Meela held his hand, guiding him through throngs of tauren to the tallest wooden building he'd ever seen, shaped like a gigantic totem pole.

Pointing to the cavernous entrance, Meela grinned. “This structure is in the middle of the central mesa, or ‘rise’ as the locals call it. There are ramps inside that lead up and down to the other two sections of this Central Rise. Long bridges, made of rope, connect the Central Rise to the other rises, named Elder, Spirit, and Hunter.” She stopped talking, noticing that Dakrim was hardly listening, his eyes wide-open with excitement and interest in everything around them. Patting his arm, “Oh, I’m sure you’ll enjoy exploring the city on your own,” she giggled. “Just ask anyone if you get lost.”

Shaking his head with amazement, the young tauren warrior could only mumble some appreciatory comment to his host. His eyes and attention darted from person to person and the massive wooden surroundings of the ramp building. Up, around and around, he followed Shaman Meela until she abruptly stopped walking. A large shadow blocked the exit path.

“Peace be with you, Shaman Meela,” the deep voiced shadow said.

“And with you, Master Rahauro,” she returned. “Now, if you’ll excuse us,” she started.

The tall tauren interrupted. “I have a message from Lady Magatha.”

Shaman Meela spoke quickly, her voice cool. “We’re on our way to Chief Bloodhoof. He’s waiting for us.” She raised her hand and pushed past the blocking figure, pulling Dakrim with the other hand into the bright sunlight.

The young Tauren got a better look at the tall speaker. Dark-haired, with several feathers tied to his long hair and beard. Rows of multi-colored paint were spread across both upper arms. Dakrim noted the curved war axe and blood red triangle shaped shield strapped across his wide back. Their eyes met, studying each other.

“So this is the new arrival to our city, eh Meela?” Rahauro stepped aside, making a flourishing sweep with his arm. “By all means, let’s not keep our Chief waiting.”

Meela bowed slightly as she pulled Dakrim past the tall Tauren.

Something isn’t right, Dakrim thought, walking past the strange Tauren. The smiling face turned into a kind of sneer, cold, and distinctly unfriendly.

“Stop by Lady Magatha’s for a visit after you’re done with Bloodhoof, Shaman Meela,” Rahauro called after them. “Our lady would be most interested in catching up with you and meeting your young friend, there.”

As soon as they were out of earshot, Dakrim asked, “Who was that? Who’s Lady Magatha?”

Meela glanced over her shoulder, scanning the surrounding Tauren. Satisfied, she spoke softly. “Lady Magatha is an ancient shaman crone, possessing great power, but little common decency. She’s the leader of the Grimtotem tribe. That was Rahauro, her personal servant.” The shaman shook her head, as if to rid a bad taste in her mouth. She placed a hand on Dakrim’s shoulder. “It would be most wise to avoid any of the Grimtotem clan altogether. They can not be trusted,” she finished, her voice bitter.

Dakrim kept silent, pondering her words as they walked past several large buildings until they stopped at the entrance of what appeared to be a giant-sized tent, made entirely of various animal skins. Several guards, armed with long two-handed swords and wearing full, heavy plate armor, stood at attention outside of the structure.

“This is it, Dakrim,” Meela said. “Tell the Chief everything you know. He may be old, but he’s very wise and sharper than any blade.” She spoke to one of the guards. He nodded at her and beckoned for Dakrim to follow.

With a final backward glance back at his old friend, Dakrim entered the wide entrance of the Chief’s tent. Inside was cool and dim, almost like a cave. The ceiling soared upwards out of eyesight into darkness while the inner space stretched out far to either side of the entrance. Thick furs from a variety of animals hung from the walls and covered the floor. Many ancient weapons hung from wall mounts; axes, swords, daggers, spears, flails, maces, hammers and others. Several of the two-handed weapons were larger than any he had ever seen before.

The guard paused, his eyes watching the newcomer’s awed reaction. “Our Chief was once the most fierce warrior in all of Mulgore,” the guard said quietly. He placed a hand on the young Tauren’s shoulder. “Come,” he said. “Perhaps Chief Bloodhoof will give you a tour himself, if you ask.”

Dakrim nodded gratefully, following the guard deeper into the cavernous tent. The guard stopped and introduced him to an aged, sitting bull known as Cairne Bloodhoof, Chief of all the Tauren tribes. A long rack of wicked looking polearms hung overhead. Unsure of exactly what to do, Dakrim attempted to bow. A fire crackled nearby, casting everything in long shadows.

Chief Bloodhoof rose from his chair, surprisingly spry. He stood in front of the younger tauren. Before age humbled his powerful frame, the Chief was once much taller than the younger tauren, but now they were of a similar height and size. He grasped Dakrim’s shoulder with strong, thick fingers. His voice was deep, rumbling. “Tauren do not bow, young one.”

Dakrim stumbled over an apology, but closed his mouth quickly, seeing the Chief raise his hand in a traditional greeting. Relaxing a bit, he completed the custom.

The Chief of all the tauren tribes beckoned for the visitor to be seated in one of the large chairs near his writing desk. “Come, young Dakrim, isn’t it? Tell me what happened after you left the Crossroads. Leave nothing out,” he requested, a wide smile on his worn face.

The moment Dakrim stepped out of the Chief’s tent, he pulled open his tunic and scratched frantically around his bandaged shoulder. His matted fur had started itching near the beginning of his story, but he dared not relieve himself in front of the Chief. His eyes caught Shaman Meela, conversing with a nearby guard. She waved and approached.

“Hungry?” she asked, her eyes disapproving of the disturbed bandage.

Now that he thought about it, yes, his stomach was rumbling.

“I’m afraid you’ll have to make your way back to the inn on your own. I must go to the Elder rise to join the council,” Meela said. “I’ll meet you back at he inn, ok?”

Dakrim nodded. “Don’t worry, Shaman Meela. I can find the way back.” He returned her hug and watched her walk away, disappearing into a nearby building. Feeling oddly excited at this chance to be alone, Dakrim set off to explore Thunder Bluff.

Peering into the cool dark interior of some shop, the young warrior’s mind raced through the discussion he had with Chief Bloodhoof. Goods and wares from all over Azeroth were on display. So many exotic things Dakrim had never seen before.

He had told the Chief about the flight from the centaur, how Harutt had perished, buying time with his life for them to escape. Dakrim’s face burned with warmth when he remembered the Chief’s words. Harutt was a “dear friend,” and former adventuring companion of the Chief when they were younger. In later years, they had served together as commanders in Horde army. Harutt earned many distinctions and honor with his selfless service. Dakrim’s heart felt like bursting with pride. The Chief was pleased with Harutt’s adoption of Dakrim, but mourned for the loss of his friend.

A salesman approached, a short, heavy Tauren with prematurely white fur. Dakrim only half listened, his mind still on the Chief’s reaction when Dakrim revealed his suspicion that his uncle Lakish was behind the Centaur and Bristleback alliance. The old Tauren’s fur had bristled, his brow had furrowed, and his voice filled with sadness as he explained how there were probably greater forces than Dakrim’s uncle at work here. He patiently explained how rivals within the tauren tribes were constantly bickering and trying to wrest the leadership away from the Bloodhoof tribe. The Chief revealed his suspicions that the leader of Grimtotem clan, old Magatha, was constantly scheming and looking for ways to humiliate and reduce the Chief’s own clan’s influence. The Chief was sure of their involvement. Dakrim felt his own anger rising when he thought back to the earlier encounter with Rahauro Grimtotem.

Dakrim shook his head, explaining to the salesman that he was only looking. The salesman continued looking at him briefly, then turned immediately to the next passerby. The young Tauren continued walking, past more shops, wandering without any real destination. He only wanted to see more of the city, and clear his mind of all these troubling thoughts.

Chief Bloodhoof spoke for a long time after Dakrim had finished his own narrative. The elder Tauren revealed that his influence in the council was waning, due largely in part to Magatha Grimtotem. Slowly, but surely, she was turning many of his former allies against him, creating rifts between the clans.

Dakrim felt overwhelmed. He was from a tiny distant village, far from any of this. He was not sure of what he should do, or how, for that matter. But he instinctively felt that he could trust the Chief. When the elder tauren finally excused himself for a council meeting, Dakrim asked him only one question.

The young warrior stopped at a railing. Here, at the southwestern cliff, there was nothing but a long drop beyond. The noise and bustle of the shops and others were further behind him. He stood there, exhilarated by the fresh breeze, whipping his shoulder length hair braids all over. He leaned on the railing for support, finally realizing just how tired and sore he actually was. His eyes began to tear up when the Chief’s answer came to mind.

Chief Cairne Bloodhoof explained that if his lifelong friend, Harutt Thundershorn, had chosen Dakrim to be his adopted son, then that must mean the younger tauren is someone special. Bloodhoof had placed both of his rough, gnarled hands on the sides of Dakrim’s head, expressing his trust and asking for the young warrior’s support.

Without hesitation, Dakrim pledged that he would stay in Thunder Bluff and do whatever he could to help. The Chief smiled as he embraced the younger bull.

Dakrim wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. Curious, he leaned over the railing to see if he could see the bottom. The wind howled, causing him to grasp the railing to maintain his balance. A sudden movement in the corner of his vision caused him to turn his head.

A grey-furred Tauren rushed at Dakrim from behind the nearest building. Snarling, the stranger pulled a long, curvy dagger from under his black robe. The weapon flashed in a downward stroke.

Without thinking, Dakrim sidestepped the dagger attack, bringing his fist up to hit the assailant in the ribs. The young warrior gasped with pain as he threw the punch, the torn muscles in his shoulder robbing him of strength.

Still, the punch stunned the attacker, slowing his next swing at the warrior’s chest. The black garbed Tauren’s mouth was open, chanting, repeating something. His teeth were stained dark.

Dakrim raised his left arm to parry the dagger thrust. Ignoring the jarring jolt from their connected arms, he twisted his wrist to clench the attacker’s arm, pulling himself forward as hard as he could. Dakrim lowered his head, ramming it into the mysterious attacker’s skull. The younger Tauren recovered quickly, shoving the stunned opponent away. With a little distance between them, Dakrim summoned all of his remaining strength to leap into the air, bringing his heavy hoof forward, pointing it at the grey Tauren.

A whoosh of air escaped from the assailant’s lungs as Dakrim’s hoof connected with his chest. The attacker’s arms flailed wildly as he was knocked backwards, crashing to the ground several paces away. The dagger flew from his hand, tumbling over the cliff.

Dakrim fell heavily to the ground. Gasping, he pulled himself up to his knees. He could hear shouting from over by the buildings.

A young brave, probably no older than Dakrim, was running towards the melee. His spear was lowered, pointed toward the prone grey Tauren.

Before the guard could reach him, the grey attacker rose, clutching his chest. He looked over at Dakrim and sneered. “This isn’t over,” he spat angrily, then rushed to the rail and hurled himself over the cliff.

Dakrim struggled to his feet, reaching the railing at the same time with the young guard. Both stared open-mouthed as a hawk with grey feathers spread its wings wide, caught the wind and soared away. The wind carried its piercing cry to their ears as it glided around the rock face, out of their view.

“By all my ancestors!” the young guard exclaimed. He turned to face Dakrim, his eyes examining, evaluating.

Rubbing his aching shoulder, the young warrior was at a loss for words. His hand felt wet. His wound was torn open again, the saturated bandage seeping through, staining his tunic. He looked over and thanked the guard, then introduced himself.

“Waren Stormcloud, first apprentice to the Thunder Bluff guardians,” the newcomer replied. He pointed in the direction of the disappeared hawk. “What was that? What happened? Why was he attacking you?”

Dakrim shook his head. “I don’t know who or what that was,” he answered. A sudden thought struck him. “And I don’t know why he attacked me.” The young warrior’s mind raced, reviewing what the Chief had told him.

“Come. Allow me to help you return to, where are you staying, the inn?” Waren asked.

Dakrim nodded. “I can walk,” he said. “But slowly.”

The young guard grinned as he led the way, back into the main area. After a few minutes of silence, Waren looked at Dakrim. “That was an amazing kick,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like that before.”

Chuckling, Dakrim began telling of how he was raised by Harutt in Red Cloud Mesa. He told Waren of his peculiar training, the difficulties and triumphs he had, learning what it means to be a warrior; a warrior with a club hoof. Dakrim saw that the young guard was staring at his deformed hoof, but he was pleased when he detected nothing other than honest curiosity from the guard.

Waren also took his turn, extolling the boredom of his youth, growing up not far away from Thunder Bluff in a nomadic, shepherding family. Only one season earlier, his father allowed him to leave for the capital, to pursue his dreams and find his own path.

By the time they reached the inn, the two young Tauren were fast friends. Waren asked the innkeeper for some fresh bandages and helped Dakrim to dress his reopened wound. Their sharing of stories continued until Waren smacked his head with his open hand.

“I need to go make a report,” the guard said. “Rest now, my new friend. My commander may wish to speak with you later.” He grabbed his spear and made for the door. Turning back, he spoke, “Concerning your attacker, I’d suggest that you do not go anywhere alone. He may strike again.”

Dakrim raised his hand in farewell. Though a battle between hunger and exhaustion was raging inside himself, his tired body was the victor. He was fast asleep within moments.

A comforting warmth of energy flooded through his body, waking him from a deep sleep. All of his aches and soreness felt as if they were melting away. Dakrim opened his eyes to see Shaman Meela, her slightly greyed forehead furrowed in concentration as she worked her healing magic. She stopped chanting a few moments later.

“There, my young calf,” she teased, a wide smile on her face. “Your wound is closed again, but I hope that you don’t plan on anymore fighting soon.” She helped Dakrim to sit up. “Your body does need some time to perform its own, natural healing.”

“Do you know what happened?” Dakrim asked.

Meela pointed towards the inn door with her head. “Yes, your new guards outside informed me after I returned from the council meeting. It appears that someone considers you a threat.” She pursed her lips, humming softly to herself.

A loud rumbling escaped from the young warrior’s stomach.

The shaman’s cheery laughter filled the inn. “Sorry, my young one, I almost forgot.” She grabbed Dakrim’s hands and led him over to the fireplace, where a servant ladled up a steaming bowl of stew.

Dakrim attacked the bowl with a vengeance as he listened to Shaman Meela talk about the council meeting.

“War is upon us, young Dakrim,” she said, her voice low and serious. “What few patrols that have returned all reported the same thing. A vast contingent of centaur is rapidly approaching. They are using the hillocks to cover and hide their numbers as best as they can, but scouts have estimated that all four rises of Thunder Bluff are surrounded.” Her eyes were filled with worry. “We’re cut off from the rest of Mulgore.”

Dakrim ladled himself another bowl of stew, thinking about her words. He couldn’t help himself but feel a little twinge of excitement.

“Chief Bloodhoof is calling for the entire population of Thunder Bluff to gather together tonight at his firepit.” She reached over, rubbing the fur on his neck, just as she used to when he was young.

Excited voices interrupted their thoughts. Looking up to the main doorway of the inn, both Meela and Dakrim stared for a moment, startled by what they saw. Both jumped up and rushed the entrance.

A dirty, ragged Lanka Farshot, long rifle slung over his shoulder, stood there. He finished his greetings with the guards, then turned to Meela and Dakrim. He embraced them both, grinning tiredly while trying to answer their flurry of questions.

Several bowls of stew and tankards of cool ale later, the Red Cloud Mesa threesome rose and made their way to the central firepit, located near the Chief’s dwelling. A darkening twilight brought a multitude of flickering lanterns and torches to bear, lighting up the pathways and streets of Thunder Bluff.

Lanka led the way, weaving quickly and efficiently between the growing throng of people moving the same direction. Finally, they crested a small hill, which opened up into a deep, wide recess. At the bottom, a huge, roaring bonfire raged, easily illuminating the entire pit area. Thousands of tauren were already sitting on logs or on the ground. Lanka led Meela and Dakrim to a vacant log, where they sat and watched the vast, natural amphitheater fill up. The tone of the crowd was muted, subdued.

Despite the attempt on his life earlier, Dakrim was brimming with excitement. Seeing Lanka again lifted his spirits tremendously. He looked around. So many different tauren.

Two muscular bulls, stripped to the waist, began pounding the giant drums that flanked the bonfire. Their rhythmic pounding was slow, but steady. Their vibrations rumbled through the ground. A small procession began on the opposite end of the pit. Chief Bloodhoof, his long gray hair braided into one weave, led a pair guards down a small path to stand in front of the fire. He mounted a raised dais, and spread his arms wide. The drumming stopped. All talking and murmuring stopped. He stood there, shoulders stooped, but proudly wearing a beautiful set of glimmering plate armor. A gigantic war maul was strapped over his back. Only the hungry flames could be heard.

“Citizens of Thunder Bluff,” he began. His voice rumbled like thunder through the fire pit. “We, the children of our beloved Earth Mother, have always strived to live in peace and harmony with the land and all of its many forms of life.”

Dakrim felt a nudge behind him. He looked back to see the apprentice guard, Waren Stormcloud, crouched behind him.

“There you are,” Waren said, his voice and face reflecting the same excitement as Dakrim’s. He laid his spear down on the ground and sat down beside Dakrim.

Shaman Meela glared at both of them to be quiet, but she too, couldn’t help but smile to see Dakrim with his new friend.

“We are now faced with our greatest threat,” the Chief stated. He paused, his gaze roving over the crowd. “An army of Centaur is upon us.”

An immediate, collective rumble of voices erupted through the audience. The Chief waited a few moments, letting his statement sink in.

A solitary figure stood up, right by the side of the dais. An old, crackling female voice rose above the murmuring crowd, almost shrieking.

“This is your fault, Bloodhoof,” she yelled, waving her walking staff in the air.

The crowd’s murmuring grew louder.

“You should have eradicated the Centaur long ago!” she continued.

“Lady Magatha,” the Chief replied. “As you well know, the Great Earth Mother instructed us, through her chosen shamans, to not pursue that course of action. All life is sacred to her, as it is to us.”

A swell of approving voices rippled through the crowd. The ancient female Tauren sat down.

“But we, the Tauren of Mulgore, will not hesitate to take up arms to defend our home, our lands, and our people!” Chief Bloodhoof swung out his great war maul, lifting it effortlessly over his head. “Rise up, my children! Let us stand together to preserve our way of life.”

Almost the entire congregation rose up as one, releasing mighty roars of approval. Dakrim, Waren, Meela, and Lanka too, were all standing, shouting at the top of their lungs. The war cries continued for several moments until the Chief waved his arm for silence once again.

“My beloved kinsmen, we are alone in this endeavor. Our ancient enemies have gathered all of their tribes and kin, from as far distant as the wasted deserts of the Barrens. Evil forces are at work, dark pacts have been forged with the Bristleback clans, to cease their in-fighting and gather together as one to strike.” The Chief stopped, waving down several questioning voices. “At this same moment, our allies, the orcs of Durotar and the Barrens, are also under siege by a united Bristleback front. We can expect no help from our allies.” The Chief’s voice grew stronger, rising in a crescendo. “But we can expect help from our God and ourselves. We are the chosen children of the Great Earth Mother!” he roared. “We will not bow down to the filthy Centaur and their evil, foul Gods!” The Chief’s voice thundered over everyone. “GREAT EARTH MOTHER PROTECT US!”

Thousands of tauren erupted, causing the ground to shake beneath them. Their war cries filled the night, rising to challenge the very stars.

Fascinated, Dakrim watched Lanka from across the table. The hunter gingerly inserted more components into a small, metal box. His thick fingers moved quickly, expertly twisting, pushing, and pulling raw materials into his deadly traps. Setting aside another completed one, he looked up at the young Tauren.

“Dakrim, your bandages would be better if you watched where you were cutting,” the hunter chuckled.

The skin under his thick facial fur burning, Dakrim looked down to see that the silk bandages he had been making were indeed not uniform in length or width. Shaman Meela would not be pleased when she returned from her council meeting. Feeling sheepish, the warrior put his head down and vigorously slashed at the long silk fabric with his dagger, trying harder to ensure the quality that he had been entrusted with.

A shadow loomed in the inn entranceway, followed by apprentice guard Waren. He was dressed in full battle armor: steel plates interwoven over a thick chain-linked tunic, similar chainmail breeches, armguards, gloves, and topped off with a huge steel helmet that was shaped and crafted to resemble the head of a wolf. A leather coat covered his chest, displaying the dark brown symbol of the Thunder Bluff guardians. A long warhammer was strapped to his back, and his usual long spear was held in his hand. Waren spread his arms wide for display.

“Well, what do you think?” the young guard asked. His voice was bursting with pride.

Lanka eyed the newcomer over. He said nothing, merely nodding his approval.

Dakrim jumped up from the table, relieved to have a distraction from making bandages.

“Fearsome!” Dakrim exclaimed loudly. “The Centaur will be truly terrified!”

Waren’s eyes narrowed, then widened in laughter. He strode over to their table, his armor clanking, making significant noise.

“Dakrim,” guard Waren began. “I will have a new posting on the Spirit Rise from this evening on.” He twirled his spear around. “Would you like to come with me?”

The young warrior looked at Lanka expectantly, who only shrugged.

A guard burst into the inn and yelled, “They are here!”

Chairs and tables were upturned in everyone’s haste to get outside. A crowd was already forming against a nearby railing, facing south. A collective groan ran through the anxious onlookers. The late afternoon’s dying sunshine revealed a terrifying sight. The sheer number of Centaur darkened the entire horizon. Waves of horsemen poured like liquid anger over the grassy hillocks surrounding Thunder Bluff. Even from such a distance, their harsh voices could be heard, singing songs of slaughter and destruction. Creaking wooden contraptions rolled into view. One after another, huge, formidable siege engines were hauled over the hills, leaving trails of crushed grasses and churned earth in their wake.

Lanka turned to look at Dakrim and Waren.

“Expect an attack tonight,” the hunter said with an ominous voice.

Last edited by Moorea on Thu Sep 04, 2008 12:55 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2008 3:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chapter 17

Skidding to a halt as he reached behind his back to draw out Shak’Tar, the young tauren turned to face a large male prairie lion, also stopping a few paces away with roar.

--> 'with a roar'

huge paw, sporting arrowhead sized claws

--> 'arrowhead-sized' (strictly speaking this is necessary to prevent confusion, otherwise the lion has arrowhead claws that are sized, which, though possible, is quite weird Very Happy)

The young warrior groaned, worrying if he was over his head.

--> 'worrying that he was in over his head.'

Dakrim reared back, swinging is large axe over his head and released it at the male lion.

--> 'swinging his axe'

Exactly where the young warrior aimed.

--> 'had aimed.'

His questioning growl made the female lions to back away, all growling unhappily.

--> 'made the female lions back away'

The male lion, sufficiently spooked, backpedaled away, hissing and snarling.

--> Do you still need 'away' after 'backpedaled'? Your choice, but I would leave it off.

The sun had passed long passed its peak, sliding ever downward over Dakrim’s destination.

--> 'had long passed'

Shak’Tar was released from its harness and destroying the enemy was the only thing crossing his mind.

--> I advise 'the only thing that crossed his mind.' The -ing structure you use here would be more appropriate for an active sentence, methinks. Smile

Dakrim dodged to right

--> 'to the right'

He checked to courier pouch.

--> 'the courier pouch.'

He could not help the howlof pain escaping his parched lips.

--> 'howl of pain'

Yelps of pain followed Dakrim’s as he stumbled on.

--> No possessive needed ^^.

nor dare he to stop and look as well.

--> infinitives without to.

...Dakrim yelled his adopted Father’s favorite battle cry as swung the axe in a low arc...

--> 'as he swung'

Chapter 18

“him having a ‘special hoof.’”

--> ' "him having a 'special hoof'." '

Meela pushed the door flap open and stepped out into the bright sunshine of Thunder Bluff.

--> Thunderbluff or Thunder Bluff? Very Happy It's been consistently 'Thunderbluff' previously, so I take it this was a one-off mistake? Wink

...guiding him through throngs of tauren to a mind-boggling tall wooden building...

--> 'mind-bogglingly'? I'd point to it being the biggest structure around or something, but this is a bit of a pile-up of adverbs and adjectives Very Happy. Use them sparsely or you'll break them Wink.

He may be old, but he’s very wise and intelligent.

--> You might as well say: "he's tall and large" Very Happy. 'he's the wisest around.' or something might be better?

The guard stopped and introduced him to an aged, hunched over tauren sitting at a large writing desk as Cairne Bloodhoof, Chief of all the tauren tribes.

--> 'known as Cairne Bloodhoof', just to clarify the structure a little. Smile

A fire crackled nearby, casting long shadows everything.

--> 'casting everthing in long shadows.'or 'casting long shadows everywhere.' The former one is the least used phrase, but no less potent Smile.

Chief Bloodhoof rose from his chair, surprisingly spry for one so old.

--> 'for one so old.' You can really leave this off now :p.

but he dared not relief himself in front of the Chief.

--> 'relieve'

“I’ll meet you back at he inn later, ok?”

--> 'at the inn' and either 'okay' or 'OK' Smile.

Feeling oddly excited at this chance to be alone, Dakrim set off to explore Thunder Bluff.

--> Again, Thunderbluff? I think Thunder Bluff would be a much better name on the whole, but that'd mean you'd have to change all references to 'Thunderbluff' to 'Thunder Bluff' ^^.

Without hesitation, Dakrim pledged that he would stay in Thunder Bluff and do whatever he could to help.

--> Again, TB-troubles Wink.

After few minutes of silence, Waren looked at Dakrim.

--> 'a few minutes'

“An army of centaur are upon us.”

--> 'is upon us.'

displaying the dark brown symbol of the Thunder Bluff guardians.

--> TB-troubles all anew.

Hurrah! Two more chapters! Very Happy

And good ones too Wink. I see that you've taken special care of the address in these chapters and your effort paid off Smile. Steadily it'll grow into a custom and you won't have to worry about it anymore Smile.

Other than that I'm still wondering why Shaman Meela is in town? Smile
the sun may melt the rain
may rinse the sky may sink
the clouds may meet the dirt
may drop your heart may heal

feelings of love you love
fluttering hearts you hate
revealing souls you love
breaking spirits you hate that

the sun...
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yay for the only story still alive on this website.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2008 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This story and Divine are the only stories that have really been updated at all lately.

Wile I really enjoy both stories, I am sad to see the whole reason I started coming to this website in the first place (and still check back every day) hasn't been updated in over two months.

I just hope everything is okay with Alby. Sad

It's not like him to not even post an update or peek his head in from time to time.
Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey guys, thanks for all the encouragement:) That really keeps me going!

Yah, I hope Alby is doing ok too. Sounds like he's just having a breather this summer. I'm sure he'll be back soon to writing with a vengeance. He's got the writing bug!!!

Sorry I haven't made the corrections yet, Am. I haven't forgotten. I'm planning on getting to it after I get this next chapter done, I don't want to take my mind off of it just yet.

I have only 6 more days before I leave Hong Kong for my summer vacation...can you say I'm feeling...EXCITEMENT!!! I'm so ready to get out of this smog filled concrete dump and breathe some fresh air, drive a freaking car, stuff myself at Taco Bell and drink a gallon of Dr. Pepper. Oh, and a few days in Vegas with my son on some rollercoasters and shows will be fun too:) Finally! My inner Trekkie nerd will be released at the Hilton Star Trek Experience!!!

I'm writing like mad to get Chapter 19 done. Almost there... almost there... I'm sure I'll get it up here before I leave. I don't want to give away too many details, but let's just say that this won't be the end. I will have some more for when I return after Aug 20th, so don't give up! I could promise to post during my vacation, but I don't think that will be very realistic. I have no intentions of doing anything for the next few weeks but swimming, fishing, driving, camping, playing, and whatever else I can get away with to relieve the stress of living in this concrete hell. (Throwing the Principal off the roof would be my first choice of stress relief therapy, but I guess that wouldn't be very nice).

Anyhoot, stay tuned for the next chapter within a few days Wink
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 10, 2008 7:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Everything in due time! And stress relief is something due to you, I guess Wink. Have an awesome time outside of the smog-packed innercity and let the Trekkie in you loose upon the masses! Very Happy
the sun may melt the rain
may rinse the sky may sink
the clouds may meet the dirt
may drop your heart may heal

feelings of love you love
fluttering hearts you hate
revealing souls you love
breaking spirits you hate that

the sun...
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 10:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey guys! Sorry, I did not post chapter 19 before I left for the states on vacation. I've finished the chapter, HOWEVER, I'm not quite satisfied with it. It just needs a bit more, to that end, I regret that ya'll will have to wait just a little bit longer.

I do have it with me, and I am re-reading and revising as needed. Can't say when I'll get it done, but I hope as soon as possible.

Hope ya'll are having a great vacation!

I'm in Ocean Springs, Mississippi at my brothers's house atm...first time I've been back since before Hurricane Katrina. My jaw still hurts from being dragged on the ground from seeing the still visible damage.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OMG, this is like being hooked on Skittles and then having M&M/Mars go out of business....

You sir, pulled the ole' Bait and Switcheroo!

All kidding aside, have a great vacation!

Very Happy
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 10:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry for that switcheroo there, Troy and others!! I didn't want to give ya'll a half baked chapter....too much crap was going on with work and home for me to fully give the attention the story deserves.

But I'm back in Hong Kong now (sigh, I hate this place), and sort of ready to tackle a new school year which includes me attending grad school classes at the University of Hong Kong in the evenings after I teach all day long.

However, I will reveal that the story is near completion. During the long hours of driving across America with my family, I did find some time to go through HALF of chapter 19 and come to some sort of mid-way point to cut the chapter into two parts. I felt this a good spot to make the two parts as to give ya'll something to read and critique while I continue to iron out kinks in the latter part. Hope ya'll enjoy (and understand) it!
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 10:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dakrim’s Tale: Chapter 19 Part I

It’s almost beautiful, Dakrim thought. He stood at the railing, watching the arc of a firebomb, hurled up into the early morning sky by a Centaur catapult. The bombs made a screeching noise as they fell down onto the rises. Horrible cries of pain echoed the hungry fires. Bright, fiery geysers obscured the stars in several places throughout the other mesas. Flames could be seen on every rise, except on the mesa named after spirits.

Wearily, Dakrim set his two buckets on the ground and mopped his soaked brow. Though tired and dirty, the young warrior did feel a small measure of pride that his fire brigade had been successful so far in stomping out all of the fires on Spirit Rise. For three days and nights, his team had helped to put out countless wayward flames.

“The Great Earth Mother has blessed us, friend,” Waren Stormcloud said, clamping a big hand on Dakrim’s shoulder. He turned to look down at the invisible Centaur army, then up at the massive middle mesa. “They seem to be directing all of their fire at the Central Rise now. If only we could go over there and help them,” he said with a wistful tone.

A nearby spotter called out directions for a new target to a guard, who relayed the information back to the siege engine crew. Wound up and ready to fire, the captain ordered another adjustment before pulling the trigger rope himself. A loud clank sounded out as the winch pin was pulled, then a swishing noise as the crank rapidly unwound itself, hurling the giant stone into the air, only to disappear into the enveloping blanket of dark night against darker meadows. Accurate estimates of the damage inflicted so far upon the enemy army would not be seen and known until first light, but the results of the Centaur aerial assault on Thunder Bluff were clear. The Tauren capital was in flames.

A collective cheer went through the rises of Thunder Bluff after the first rays of sunshine peeked over the distant mountain range. Their cry was shared by all who endured and survived yet another night of the siege against their city by their ancient enemies, the Centaur. The connective rope bridges were all still intact, allowing a constant stream of messengers to carry orders to and from the central command.

Every morning also brought a clearer image of the main plan of the enemy. Freshly cut stacks of timber and other supplies were constantly hauled in by labor gangs, giving the Centaur craftsmen more materials to complete their ramp. Placed upon rows of huge wooden wheels, the steep ramp lay just out of reach of the smaller Tauren catapults. Tauren hunters lined the rails, loosing a hail of arrows and bullets on any horseman that wandered close enough, but for every Centaur that fell, two more easily took his place and every morning the ramp was bigger and taller. It would only be a few more days before final completion, and then the general opinion was that the Centaur would push the ramp into place along the Central Rise under the cover of darkness. The real fighting would then begin.

Within the living memory of any Elder in Thunder Bluff, no one could ever remember the Centaur being so centralized, so determined, and possessing the ability to build and direct such an assault. Various ideas, theories, and proposals for attacking the enemy were discussed among Cairne Bloodhoof, the commanders, and members of the Council of Elders, but every discussion soon ended in chaos, the leaders disagreeing on all plans. Arguments ensued throughout the huge council chamber, even as a succession of firebombs fell through the roof. Powerful Shamanistic and Druidic magic extinguished the flames before too much damage was caused, but there were still several casualties and many wounded. Among them, Cairne Bloodhoof, chosen leader of the Tauren tribes, was badly burned. Guards and healers quickly carried the stricken leader out of the Council chamber. After his departure, tempers flared up again, as hot as the recently put out fires. Threats of division and implications of fault rang loudly through the chamber.

Wizened Raul Runetotem, the eldest and most senior of the Council of Elders, rose from his chair and raised his hands for silence.

“The Grimtotem clan has raised serious and legitimate accusations against our Bloodhoof leadership.” He paused, moving his thinning, gray head side to side, acknowledging the entire council chamber. His raspy voice continued, “How shall the council address this issue?”

Sitting on the far side of the chamber, Shaman Meela stood up, clearing her throat loudly to get Runetotem’s attention.

“Ahhh, yes, Shaman Meela, of Red Cloud Mesa,” said Runetotem, waving his hand in her direction.

“Honorable Elders,” she began. “Forgive me, being the youngest and newest member of this council. This is only my second season to serve as the representative of my homeland, but I feel compelled to speak plainly before you.” She smiled, flashing her white teeth to all. “We are in dire threat of complete destruction, an enormous army of our most hated enemy is literally camped on our front doorstep and all we can do is argue over leadership of the clans?” Her voiced echoed with disbelief. She raised her hands up high. “We just witnessed a terrible display of fiery death, nearly losing our chosen leader of more than 50 years. Cairne Bloodhoof has led us with honor, dignity, and respect. Shouldn’t we focus our thoughts and energy to first secure the salvation of our race?”

Snorts and cries of approval followed Shaman Meela as she sat down.

“Why, Shaman Meela, that is precisely what we are doing,” said a dry, raspy voice. The entire council chamber fell silent, almost instantly as an ancient crone stood up. She was dressed in a long, dark dress, covered with exotic symbols and draped in a purple shawl. Magatha Grimtotem smiled directly at the younger shaman. Her teeth were dark and broken, giving her the appearance of having no teeth at all from a distance. “We will fall without more decisive leadership.”

An approving shout rang through the council chamber. Several more, in support of the Grimtotem clan leader, followed and swelled until nearly half of the audience in attendance were shouting and chanting their support.

Old crone Grimtotem, her obsidian eyes shining brightly, nodded to the crowd as she sat down.

Angry calls for change grew louder and fresh arguments erupted among the council members. Raul Runetotem sat down, folded his arms and closed his eyes.

Dakrim sipped his soup, savoring the taste. Waren and Lanka were nearby, both cupping their bowls of the piping hot liquid. No one spoke, content to eat in silence.

Subdued conversations floated by on the wind, whispers of both encouragement and of fear. An air of uncertainty hung over the city of Thunder Bluff. Cairne Bloodhoof was still incapacitated and strangely the enemy catapults were now silent. No one knew why the Centaur suddenly stopped bombarding the city after five non-stop days, but the reprieve was welcome.

The young warrior finished his supper, returning his bowl to the old mother at the makeshift field kitchen. While thanking her for the fare, her hand shot out and grasped the young bull’s wrist. Her grip was surprisingly strong.

“Don’t let them take my son,” she muttered. Her milky white eyes began tearing.

Dakrim bent down till he could see her face clearly in the quickly darkening gloom. Gently he placed a hand on the side of her face. “Do not worry, revered mother. The Great Earth Mother will guard and protect your son,” he said. “As will I.”

The old female’s unseeing eyes closed, her hands raised up to thank the young Tauren.

“Mother Sweetwind no longer recognizes the living,” Waren said quietly.
Dakrim looked back at the old female as they walked away, his heart touched by her sincere plea. He felt dampness on his own face as he followed Waren away to the Commander’s hut. He wiped his face with the back of his sleeve before joining Waren in greeting some other guards.
Commander Whitestone was standing outside of his hut, holding a parchment up to the fading light in order to read its content.

Lanka appeared behind the pair of younger bulls, silent and grim as usual since the passing of so many close ones. He wordlessly nodded to them.

The Commander raised his arm for silence. “Here is a proclamation from the Council of Elders,” Whitestone began. “It says that effective immediately, Cairne Bloodhoof is to be relieved of leadership of the united clans.”

A chorus of outraged surprise erupted among the gathered crowd.
Whitestone drew his wide cleaver from his shoulder harness. “Citizens of Thunder Bluff,” he said, raising the blackened iron axe over his head. “Settle down!” He waited for the angry voices to subside. “Until the current crisis is resolved, all commands will be issued by the Elder Council.”

“And what is their first order”? an unknown guard shouted. The disdain in his voice was evident.

Whitestone glared around, but couldn’t fix his eyes on the speaker. He dropped the scroll to the ground. “We are to cease all attacks, and on the morrow’s first light, the Council is to descend to the plains and,” his voice was bristling with anger. “Make peace with the Centaur.”

Several minutes of furious shouting ensued before Commander Whitestone was able to regain order. “Though I am honor-bound to obey the will of the Council, I don’t believe we should just lay down our arms.” He bowed his head, his one remaining horn dipping low. “I would ask for volunteers. Volunteers to stand their posts throughout the night. The Council may be willing to trust them,” he spat on the ground. “But I don’t, and I never will.” He looked around the camp at the numerous angry faces. “If anyone wishes to stand down now, you may withdraw immediately."

No one moved.

Commander Whitestone grunted his approval. “Then take your posts, and may the Great Earth Mother watch over us all.” With one last glance at his departing guards, the old commander lowered his head and shuffled back into his hut.

Leaving with a group of other hunters to patrol the railings, Lanka said goodbye to Dakrim and Waren.

Waren, his big hand clamped on a pensive Dakrim’s shoulder, led his friend over to a sharply downward sloping path. “Come, Dakrim. Tonight I’ve been assigned to guard the lower bridge,” he said. After a momentary pause, he added, “near the Undead cave.”

“Undead cave?” Dakrim asked.

“It’s called the Pools of Vision cave,” Waren replied. Only the Undead who occasionally visit Thunder Bluff ever go inside. None of their kind are reported to be in the city at the moment though. I have no idea of what they do inside there. You won’t catch a Tauren there, that’s for sure. I’ve had the post several times before, but I can’t stand even close to the cave entrance.” Looking at his friend’s questioning look, he explained. “It’s the smell. The smell of death.”

Dakrim nodded, following Waren down the graveled path as it curved around the base of the rise to a wide, flat area where the rope bridge was anchored.

Massive coils of twisted, tarred rope were pegged into the rock face by thick steel spikes. Dakrim wondered who, or what could drive such immense things so deeply into the stone.

“Here,” Waren announced. “This is our post. Anyone coming across the lower bridge or wanting to cross must be challenged.”

Dakrim accepted the charge, positioning himself on the right hand side of the bridge while Waren thrust the butt of his spear in the dirt on the left.

“Do you really think the Elders are planning on surrendering?” Dakrim asked.

“You mean, does the Grimtotem clan plan on surrendering the city?”
Waren replied, spitting on the ground. “Everyone knows, it’s just no one will say it.” He looked around, confirming that they were alone. “They say that the old crone, Magatha, has spies everywhere.”

The young warrior leaned against the thick rope support. He looked up at the many stars, just beginning to pop into view as the last vestiges of twilight fell away. A light wind, soothing away the day’s lingering heat, hinted of the soon to be changing seasons. His mind kept running back to the conversation he had with Cairne Bloodhoof. Seems like the elderly leader’s fears were justified, he concluded.

The taut rope began to vibrate. Dakrim peered into the darkness, but still couldn’t see anyone. He looked at Waren and whispered. “Someone’s coming!”

Waren held up his spear at attention, glaring into the night until several figures emerged, their walking causing the rope bridge to sway back and forth.

“Hail, friends,” Waren called as four Tauren came into view. The first figure, dressed in dark colored armor and carrying a huge battle-hammer, stepped off the bridge. Three more followed, carrying no visible weapons, but completely covered by dark, voluminous cloaks.

“Greetings,” the hammer wielding Tauren said. His voice was deep, powerful, but condescending. “I am Coll Grimtotem.”

Dakrim bristled, grateful that he was far enough away that the newcomer could probably not see him clearly on this moonless night.

His disdain obvious, Waren replied, “What is your business here, Master Grimtotem?”

“My business is my own,” replied Coll. “As an emissary for the Council of Elders, I am not required to answer or be hindered from my task in any way, shape, or fashion.” His voice hardened. “Now move aside,” Coll commanded.

For a moment, Dakrim thought that Waren was not going to give way. The young guard just stood there, silently facing the bigger Tauren, gripping his spear tightly. Finally, Waren moved, allowing the group to pass.

Coll Grimtotem grunted and waved for his followers to move. Instead of going up the path to the main area of the Spirit Rise, they filed off to the right, towards the cave containing the Pools of Vision.

Waren was about to call out, but Dakrim hissed for his attention.

“Wait,” Dakrim said. His heart was racing. The wind had partially blown open the hood of one of the strangers. The starlight was dim, but the young bull had seen that face before. It was the assassin. He explained to his friend what he saw.

“Are you positive?” Waren asked.

“Yes. I will never forget that face. It was so close to my own that day he tried to kill me.” He thought for a moment, deciding on a course of action. “They must be up to something.” The young bull released his great axe, Shak’Tar, from its shoulder harness. “And I intend to find out.”

Last edited by Moorea on Mon Sep 01, 2008 9:07 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2008 10:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's good to see you again, Moorea. Time to pore over it.

Chapter 19

that his fire brigade had been successful so far in stomping out all of the fires on Spirt Rise.
--> Spirit Rise Smile

He voiced echoed with disbelief.[/i[
--> Her

[i]“We just witnessed a terrible display of fiery death, nearly loosing our chosen leader of more than 50 years."

--> losing

Dakrim bent down till her could see her face clearly in the quickly darkening gloom.
--> till he

Interesting chapter Smile. I'm eager to see part 2 Wink.
the sun may melt the rain
may rinse the sky may sink
the clouds may meet the dirt
may drop your heart may heal

feelings of love you love
fluttering hearts you hate
revealing souls you love
breaking spirits you hate that

the sun...
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2008 1:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok Amaunator, I got your grammar checks for chap 17-19 done, as well as a few cosmetic changes.

Just so you know, I was digging around on Blizzard's official site and they do capitalize all racial names....Tauren, Undead, Human, I've decided to follow their practice. In those last 3 chapters, I've tried to change them all....but I may have missed a few here and there.

Thunder Bluff is the correct name for the Tauren capital, not Thunderbluff, so I've tried to correct that mistake as well.

It will take me forever to make all these changes retrospectively, but I will get around to it eventually.

For now, I'm just trying to finish up Chap 19 part II. I think ya'll will like it.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 11:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ye, the racial name thing etc. was just a call we made for continuity Wink. You can change it everytime you want Wink.
the sun may melt the rain
may rinse the sky may sink
the clouds may meet the dirt
may drop your heart may heal

feelings of love you love
fluttering hearts you hate
revealing souls you love
breaking spirits you hate that

the sun...
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2008 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dakrim’s Tale: Chapter 19 part II

Cautiously, Dakrim led the pair to the mouth of the cave. Peering around the corner, he neither saw nor heard anything. But he could smell something. It was terrible, like rotting flesh. The moonless evening allowed only a feeble glimpse into the depths of the cave, but after stepping inside, the young bull detected a faint glow coming from deeper within. Motioning for silence, he took a deep breath and plunged ahead.

The rock felt damp and oily to the warrior’s touch as he felt his way along by trailing his fingertips against the wall. Several paces beyond the entrance, the tunnel took an abrupt curve and sloped downwards. No outside light reached this far in, but there was enough faint illumination to barely see the ground before him. Waren had been right, Dakrim thought. The smell was horrid. The cave became lighter as they continued downwards.

“Some kind of luminescent lichen,” Waren whispered. “Though I can’t see how anything can grow in this awful stench,” he added, his voice filled with revulsion.

The tunnel opened into a vast, high ceiling chamber. The glowing lichen was thicker and stronger in here, growing in huge splotches along the walls, ground, and ceiling. The overall effect was like having an innumerable amount of sickly greenish-yellow stars shining from all directions. A huge, underground lake lay in the middle of the chamber. Steam rose slowly from the water, hovering in the dim air. The lichen seemed to flourish even more strongly underwater.

Muffled voices echoed through the cavern. Waren tapped Dakrim on the shoulder, pointing to the far side of the lake, where several dim figures converged. Together the pair crept forward, keeping as low as possible. They could overhear Coll Grimtotem’s angry voice, ordering the others to pull harder. The two young bulls were almost halfway around the lake when a horrendous grating sound filled the chamber.

The four tauren appeared to be pulling on a huge, metal door. They grunted from the strain as the ancient door swung wide open. Bits and pieces of rock and rusted metal fell from the door and ceiling as they completed their task.

Dakrim almost gasped with surprise when Coll and the other three Tauren stepped back from the door. A tall Tauren stepped through, followed by two Centaur horsemen. The young bull crept forward some more, straining to see through the dimness. The shape of the stranger seemed familiar.

Coll Grimtotem raised his hands in greeting. The new arrival returned the salute.

Dakrim’s blood ran cold. He knew that voice. He knew it almost as surely as he knew his own; the voice belonged to his Uncle Lakish. Seeing his uncle standing side by side with the Centaur, and in the company of the Grimtotem clan members, the young bull was completely shocked. What is going on? He was about to continue forward and try to hear their conversation when he heard Waren behind him take a deep breath.

“Master Coll!” shouted the guardsman.

Coll Grimtotem’s head jerked up at the pair, as well as did the others at the sound of the young guard’s voice. All of them drew their weapons.
Dakrim whirled about, only to find the point of a spear pressed sharply against his chest. Stunned, the young bull could only stare open mouthed at his friend. His eyes reflected questions and hurt.

“Don’t move, my friend,” Waren warned, an edge to his voice. He looked over Dakrim’s shoulder to observe the others make their way along the path between the pools to intercept them. Pressing the spear harder, he explained in a quiet tone, “I don’t like what’s happening any more than you do, but I must obey my orders!” His voice began to quiver. “I was only supposed to watch your movements,” he said before his voice gave away.

Dakrim felt his eyes water and his heart burn from this betrayal. “I trusted you, Waren,” he whispered. “I thought we were friends.”

Waren shook his head violently. “This was not supposed to happen, Dakrim!” he insisted. He looked over again at Coll Grimtotem, who was rapidly approaching, gigantic war maul in his hands. The young guard’s face contorted with anguish. “You were not supposed to see any of this! Why couldn’t you have just,” Waren stopped with a gasp as he was slammed to the wall. The loud retort of a rifle reverberated through the cavern, followed by the clacking of the fallen spear against the stony ground.

Another shot echoed a scream by one of the Centaur, clutching his neck as he slipped into the bubbling pool in the center. His blood immediately began to darken the effect of the glowing lichen.

The lone remaining Centaur shouted something in his guttural language, then fled back down the mysterious passageway from whence he came.
Dakrim was still staring in shock at Waren when he finally looked up to see a familiar Tauren calmly loading a double barrel rifle. “Lanka!” Dakrim yelled. “It’s a trap!”

A white glowing form sailed past Dakrim’s head, shrieking defiantly as it dived into the group of enemies beyond the young bull. Sharp talons drew blood as it flew by Grimtotem and onto the others.

Dakrim saw his Uncle Lakish drop to a knee and take aim at Lanka. With a resounding roar, Shak’Tar exploded into life, flames bursting from the axe blade. Dakrim swung the axe once overhead to gain momentum before launching it at his uncle.

Warned by his nephew’s roar, Lakish Proudsnout fell to the ground, narrowly evading the hurled axe. He lost his grip on the rifle as he fell, the weapon clattered once on the hard ground before bouncing into the pool of water. With a curse he rose up, drawing his twin curved swords, one glowing a deep red, the other a brilliant blue, and rushed down the path to join the fray.

The lone remaining Centaur loosed his notched arrow before turning around and fleeing down the dark tunnel.

Another blast from Lanka’s rifle tore into one of the Grimtotem henchmen, killing him instantly. The hunter’s pet owl, Snowyn, faced the remaining two dark cloaked Tauren. One was already clutching his eye where blood spurted out between his fingers, a testament to the bird’s vicious clawing attacks.

Dakrim ducked down as the heavy Grimtotem war maul smashed into the cavern wall, just where his head had previously been. Shattered fragments of stone flew everywhere.

Coll roared as he brought up a knee, slamming the young warrior in the chest.

The younger warrior fell backwards against the wall, stunned. In slow motion he saw Grimtotem raise the war maul again. It descended slowly towards his head. Dakrim willed his body to respond, to move, to escape from this certainty of death, but his body was sluggish, slow to respond. At the last possible moment, he managed to roll to the right. The mighty hammer barely grazed his back as it connected to the cavern wall again. More pieces of rock exploded from the impact. The young bull brought his flaming axe up in an upward swipe, missing the black-furred Tauren, but drops of liquid fire splashed onto the front of Grimtotem, singeing his armor, and face and setting alight his braided beard.

Coll Grimtotem shrieked with rage as he jumped back, one hand frantically slapping his beard to extinguish the flames.

Lakish rushed past everyone, making straight towards Lanka. As much as he wanted to kill his nephew, he realized that the hunter was the greater threat. Still, he swung his fiery sword in a swift overhand chop as he passed his nephew. Only empty air greeted his effort as he continued past. He roared a challenge to Lanka, who had in turn dropped his rifle and now faced him with a pair of slightly glowing long swords. Lakish raised one scimitar and leaped at his foe.

Dakrim watched his uncle go past, ducking to avoid the clumsy swing, but had to trust that Lanka could stop him as his attention was on Coll Grimtotem. The burning beard was extinguished and the larger Tauren was rushing to attack again. Dakrim raised his axe to parry the wild swing, using his opponent’s momentum to sidestep by him. Spinning on his cleft hoof, Dakrim swung the axe in a low, horizontal arc. The burning steel sliced through Grimtotem’s armor like a warm knife in butter. Hot blood gushed out of the wound to his side.

The dark furred Tauren went berserk, roaring insanely as he swung the huge maul wildly about.

Dakrim dodged and avoided the ferocious attacks, but he was running out of room; the enraged Tauren was pushing him towards the remaining henchman, swinging his short sword at Lanka’s evasive white owl.

Feigning left, Dakrim dodged another wild swing. He lashed out with his club hoof, connecting solidly with Coll’s knee.

The Grimtotem warrior fell to the ground, howling with pain.

Raising Shak’Tar high over his head, he brought the magical weapon down, sinking deeply into Coll’s chest, cutting short another painful bellow. “Burn!” Dakrim commanded. All of his pent-up rage converted into fire, cascading and flowing off the axe shaft onto the prone Tauren. Dakrim jerked Shak’Tar free and stood back as the molten fire grew in intensity.

Coll Grimtotem writhed on the stony ground, his mouth open in a silent, primal scream. He flailed about for a moment before succumbing to the fire’s embrace.

Dakrim stared at his dying enemy, the flames reflecting off his eyes. Turning back towards the entranceway, he saw Lanka and Lakish, their crossed swords creating flying sparks. They were fairly well matched, both showing wounds. The young Tauren took a step towards them when he felt searing pain along his right forearm. Shak’Tar clanged against the rocks, loosened from his grip. Something struck him in the middle of his back, propelling him forward. Dakrim stumbled, catching himself against the wall.

The last of the Grimtotem henchmen stood over him, holding a bloody short sword. His hood was thrown back. It was the assassin. He laughed loudly, sharp teeth visible in the fading firelight of the burning corpse of his former master. “I told you this wasn’t over, young one,” he said with a sinister voice. He raised his sword.

Dakrim scrambled backwards, trying to get away when the assassin suddenly stopped, a look of complete surprise on his face. Blood dribbled out of his mouth as he gurgled out some incomprehensible words. The assassin fell face forward on to the cavern floor, a long spear sticking out of his back. The young bull’s eyes opened wide with astonishment.

Waren Stormcloud stood still, one hand clutching his wounded shoulder. Blood oozed from between his fingertips. He stared down at Dakrim. Wearily his eyes rolled back into his head before focusing again on the prone warrior. “I am so sorry, Dakrim. My family has been in their thrall for generations.” He began to waver on his feet.

“So,” Dakrim began, slowly reaching for his axe. One part of him wanted to plunge Shak’Tar into his bowels, but another part had grown to treasure their fledgling friendship. He felt a genuine bond with the guardsman. “You were never my real friend?” he asked.

Waren drew a dagger from his waist belt. He ran the palm of his hand over the slender blade. A fine line of blood formed on his hand. He extended his hand towards Dakrim. “As real as this.”

The warrior stared at the guard for several moments. His decision made, he ran his right palm over the blade of the weapon. Blood spilled easily from the long cut. He reached up and placed his hand in Waren’s, allowing the guard to pull him up.

Waren opened his mouth to speak, but loud voices and the sound of hoof beats on stone from the ancient passageway interrupted him. “More Centaur are coming up the tunnel. It must come up from ground level somewhere.” The guard looked back at his friend. “I will stop them from entering the caves until you find a way to collapse the tunnel.” Waren let go of Dakrim’s hand and reached over to yank free his spear.

“Let’s go together,” Dakrim enthused.

The young guard placed his free hand on the warrior’s shoulder. “No my friend. See yonder, your hunter comrade,” he said indicating beyond with his horns.

Dakrim whirled around to see Lanka lying on the ground, wounded but still alive. The tough hunter was trying to pull himself up into a seated position. Uncle Lakish was nowhere in sight.

“You must go. Save him, friend Dakrim,” added Waren. “Once I’m down the passageway, knock those support columns or something to collapse the tunnel.” He looked Dakrim straight in the eye. “Please forgive me,” he whispered. The guard smiled briefly before turning to run towards the tunnel. Bellowing ancient war cries as he passed into the passageway. The Tauren’s echoes soon mixed with the approaching Centaur.

“Dakrim!” Lanka shouted, startling the young warrior out of his reverie. “He’s right! The tunnel must be collapsed. Come here!” he waved. The hunter was bleeding from half a dozen cuts and a particularly nasty wound to one of his legs. Lanka struggled with the large bag strapped to his back, cursing as he fumbled open the restraining straps.

Dakrim recognized what the hunter pulled out of his bag; it was an explosive trap.

“Do it, Dakrim,” Lanka ordered. “Quickly! Waren won’t be able to hold them long.”

The young Tauren snatched the trap from the hunter’s hand and ran towards the vicious battle sounds rolling up the passageway. Dakrim muttered a quick prayer for Waren’s soul before pulling back the clasp to arm the trap. He hurled it as hard as he could down the dank passage. He lifted Shak’Tar, willing the weapon to life and struck one of the ancient wooden support beams. The enchanted weapon sliced through the thick wood easily. Dakrim chopped through another before retreating back towards Lanka.

Hot cinders hung in the air for the briefest moment until the trap released its destructive force. A dust and debris filled gale roared through the tunnel, engulfing the young warrior as he ran. The very plateau walls shook, as if aching from a violent sickness. Chunks of stone fell from the walls and ceiling.

“The whole cavern may come down!” roared Lanka. “Get out of here!” he said, picking up his wounded pet and hobbling towards the exit shaft.

Dakrim was just a few strides behind. The rumbling grew into an overwhelming force. Rocks pelted his head and torso as he ran for safety. The ground underneath his pounding hooves vibrated with terrible power. The young warrior’s lungs felt as if bursting when he finally cleared the cavern’s entrance. Falling to his knees, Dakrim sucked in great gulps of clean night air before his lungs contracted into painful coughing. After the fit subsided, he raised himself up.

Lanka was nearby, holding his pet owl. The hunter’s hands were glowing with an intense yellow energy. Power seemed to flow out of the Tauren into the animal. Within moments, the great white owl was spreading her wings and chafing to fly. Lanka threw her up, where she soared away into the dark sky, her piercing cry filling the starless air.

“Snowyn will look for your uncle,” Lanka said, his voice quiet, but underlying with anger. The hunter used a small belt knife to cut a few strips of cloth. Handing some to Dakrim, he said, “Here, bind that arm up.” He used the remaining strips to bandage the deep leg wound. The older Tauren growled as he pulled the strips tight before tying them off. He looked up at Dakrim. “She’s found him, come!” Lanka grabbed his rifle, checked to make sure it was loaded, then hobbled off up the pathway towards Spirit Rise proper.

Dakrim felt weary. He watched Lanka scramble up the path and around the bend. He knew he should follow, but somehow his legs would not respond. The young Tauren’s heart ached. His whole world felt turned upside down. In just a short space of time, he discovered that his uncle was a traitor to the Tauren race, that same uncle tried to kill him, and his new best friend also turned out to be a spy and a traitor. Then that friend turned around and sacrificed himself for everyone. Dakrim looked up at the starless sky, wondering why the Great Earth Mother would give him such trials. It was almost more than he could bear. Then another thought popped into his mind. Perhaps these trials are given to make me stronger. Nodding his big shaggy head in agreement, he looked back up at the dark sky and mouthed a quick prayer. Hoisting Shak’Tar up to rest on his shoulder, Dakrim started running up the incline, anxious to catch up with Lanka and confront his uncle.

Last edited by Moorea on Mon Oct 06, 2008 9:45 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Location: Belgium ... innocuous but intrepid!

PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2008 6:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know why people have been so shamelessly ignoring this, but I won't! I just needed some time to settle my head into a familiar cast: university kick-off! *Cheers all-round.*

Right, on to the real deal:

Chapter 19, Part II

The lichen seemed to flourish even more strongly underwater, making the lake to glow with an intense light.
--> 'making the lake glow' (althought I'd advise some kind of synonym like incandesce? :p)

...singeing his armor, face and setting alight his braided beard.
--> 'armor, and face'

The young warrior’s lungs felt as if bursting when he finally cleared the cavern’s entrance.
--> 'felt like bursting'? But you can put it in different ways still Wink. I'll leave it to you to revise your story at certain points and alter the particular stilistics as you see fit Wink, but I'm just putting in another 2 cents Very Happy.

You know, sacrificing another in battle like Darkim did there would almost seem more Orcish than Tauren to me... But nonetheless a very packed Part II! Smile

Let's hope the next parts will write themselves better than these did, eh? Very Happy
the sun may melt the rain
may rinse the sky may sink
the clouds may meet the dirt
may drop your heart may heal

feelings of love you love
fluttering hearts you hate
revealing souls you love
breaking spirits you hate that

the sun...
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