Albatros Bits

Forums

 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

Divine
Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4  Next
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Albatros Bits Forum Index -> The Writers' Nest
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Keltor



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 212

PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 5:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The next few weeks were hell for us. Ragth and I had been thrown into separate cages by Baine and only Rul would speak to us. Baine blamed Ragth for his father’s death, and though Rul vehemently defended us, Baine would not hear of it. For all the religious clout that Rul had, he was easily trumped by the leader of the Tauren.

More miserable for me yet, Ragth had clearly drained himself, doing whatever it was to Cairne. He had passed out after the incident and didn’t even revive when Baine began shaking him to get answers. Since then he had recovered slowly, though he didn’t seem to appreciate being blamed for old Bloodhoof’s death. He sulked in his cage and wouldn’t respond when I talked to him. Even when Rul came to talk to us in the evening, Ragth would only grunt or growl in response.

One night, a week after the incident, Ragth attempted to escape from his cage. I awoke to the loud screaming protestations of the metal bars as he bent them. Terribly loud, the sounds of his exertion and the squeal of the metal attracted guards from their posts. As he was just getting the bars open to the point where he could squeeze out, which is quite a large opening for a gnoll of his size, the guards shot him with some sort of dart that made him stumble as he broke free of his restraints and then slip into unconsciousness.

In Baine’s view this was clearly a sign of guilt. Why would he attempt to flee if he were innocent? In the end, the only result of Ragth’s escape attempt that I saw was a reinforced cage to hold the giant gnoll, and watchtauren posted by us at all times. Rul told us that the events of that night had pushed Baine into a frenzied rage. He publicly advocated immediate execution of Ragth and my banishment. Thankfully the council of elders, led by prominent druids, shamans, warriors and hunters overruled the enraged Tauren and instead pronounced a public trial.

The spirit walker informed us that one good had come out of Ragth’s escape attempt. Not even the strongest tauren could have damaged the cage the way Ragth had. The common tauren had begun to wonder why, if such a strong beast had wanted to kill Cairne, did he have to use magic? From that night on we seemed to receive as many curious onlookers as we did hostile ones. While I can hardly call it comforting, it was a welcome start in the right direction.

As the day of the trial came closer and closer Ragth became more and more agitated. His hackles would rise and he would growl at any who got too close to the cages, and ceased even listening to Rul. He refused food or drink, and day by day he became more haggard and gaunt. The physique that had once been of a gnoll in his prime changed into an exhausted wolf-like body that frightened those who gazed upon him. Any public support that his escape had gained for us dissipated as he grew more and more skeletal and frightening.

The night before the trial Ragth again tried to escape. This time however, the cage was stronger, and by the look of his body, he was weaker. Unable to break or bend the bars this time, Ragth frantically threw himself against the walls of the cage, trying to find some weak spot. The thick, rough bars cut gashes into Ragth’s hide, and by the time he gave up, the cuts and bruises had made him look even less sane and intact than before.

Throughout the previous weeks I had expressed worry and concern for him, though Rul seemed more receptive toward it, agreeing and trying to reassure me at the same time. That night, though, I began to truly fear for Ragth. Even if, through some miracle, we were found innocent of killing Cairne, I wondered if could possibly return to being the same gnoll he had been before the incident. And the thing that most lent itself to my fears was that after the second escape attempt, Ragth, either because of exhaustion or indifference, did not heal himself. He was allowing himself to go to the trial wounded, when he easily could have prevented it.

The approaching trial looked increasingly bleak.
_________________
Sapphires vie for your attention. She dances. They mean well in their way. The priest says please, "I can't stand my knees and I cant bear her raven tresses caught up in a breeze like this."


Last edited by Keltor on Thu Mar 29, 2007 11:35 pm; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Keltor



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 212

PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 11:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When the sun came up the day of the trial, I saw the extent of the damage from the escape attempt. The bars of Ragth’s cage were smeared with blood and fur. Ragth himself looked only slightly better than the undead ghouls that I had seen; his fur was matted with blood, and cuts cover his hands, arms and chest, where he had attempted to batter his way out of the cell. His eyes looked angry and confused, and his ears were pressed against his head, making him look simultaneously like a wolf on the prowl and a dog that been beaten. Between his increasingly harsh features, his wounds, and his emaciated frame he looked like the primeval gnoll statues that had been carved into the bloody trees where I had first met Ragth.

Rul came to see us early in the day to help prepare us for the trial, which would take place soon after the sun scraped the top of the sky. He spoke with me first, explaining that I should stick to the facts in the trial. Don’t mention Ragth’s actions. Don’t talk about Cairne’s death. Don’t talk about how I am an outsider. Only talk about how I had done absolutely nothing wrong or punishable, that I had only been a bystander in the wrong place at the wrong time. Next he advised Ragth as best he could, though Ragth seemed to pay him no mind. Finally Rul spoke with both of us. He explained that under normal circumstances the trial would be conducted entirely in Taurhe, but that after a lengthy appeal, he had convinced the elders that the situation warranted a bending of the rules. The Trial was to be conducted in Orcish. What’s more, because it was in the standard horde language other races other than tauren would be present, including the emissaries from the other horde factions due to the state consequences of the trial. Should Ragth and I both be convicted of assassination of Chieftain Bloodhoof, the entire horde would likely go be goaded into a bloody genocide of all gnolls on Kalimdor.

The news that my fate in the upcoming trial could affect that of my entire race did not help ease my worries. Ragth still looked like a possessed gnoll from the nether, and Rul was even beginning to show worry. I wasn’t sure what I was being charged with, but given the enormity of Ragth’s alleged crime I was likely to lose my life if the trial went badly.

The next hours were spent with Rul grilling me (Ragth refuse to respond) with difficult questions about things I couldn’t recall. By the end I felt like I knew more about the events of the alleged crime than what I had known when the actual crime had taken place. Ragth eventually curled up and seemed to be making up for sleep he had lost in the escape attempt.

At noon a score of braves came and removed the locks on our cages. The braves readied their spears and halberds, though it was unnecessary. Ragth, despite looking like a feral animal, seemed soundly defeated. He loped out on all fours following the gaurds, and looking like a dog following at the heels of his master. I walked out on my hind legs. Even if Ragth had given up, I had no intention of going meekly to be condemned, nor did I have any intention of dragging my entire race with me if the court ruled against me.

We slowly walked down the path that led to the pavilion that was to hold the trial. The streets were strangely empty, though I soon found out why. Once the pavilion was in sight I could immediately see where all the inhabitants of Thunder Bluff had gone. Tauren were spilling out onto the street, and still more were trickling in from every direction. It seemed that everyone in the city had either come out to see the trial, or had hidden at home in case the proceedings exploded into a riot. The crowd parted to let the guards and their prisoners through. As we entered the pavilion I saw the true scope of the trial – the swollen proceeding that would determine if Ragth and I, and likely the whole gnoll race, would live. Thousands had turned out to see what would happen to the foreigners who were accused of assassinating the greatest leader in Tauren history.
_________________
Sapphires vie for your attention. She dances. They mean well in their way. The priest says please, "I can't stand my knees and I cant bear her raven tresses caught up in a breeze like this."


Last edited by Keltor on Fri Mar 23, 2007 8:11 am; edited 2 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Keltor



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 212

PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 11:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the center of the crowd was a massive platform raised up so that all could see. The braves led us up the winding staircase that circled around the platform as it rose. At the top were the main members of the trial: the elders and shamans who would act as the jury were seated at one end, and on the other was a group of witnesses, including both Rul, and Sal, Cairne’s personal healer. In the middle of the platform, standing at a heavily ornamented dais was Baine.

The guards guided us to our seats, where the braves stood flanking us in case one of us was suicidal enough to try to escape, which given the way Ragth looked, may not have been that farfetched. Rul glanced at us anxiously before turning to watch as the trial began to unfold.

Baine began to speak. His voice boomed with enviable confidence, over the crowd, which immediately became silent in a way that seemed impossible for a gathering of such size. Baine’s manner was icily efficient and proper; it was clear that, while he was required to fill this official position without bias, his emotions were boiling just under the surface.

His words filled the room: “Residents of Thunder Bluff, we have come together to determine the fate of two foreigners in our fair city. Under normal circumstances they may not have even been let into our land to begin with. It was only under the direct request of one that we hold in the highest regard, the Spirit Walker Rul Stonetotem, that they were allowed into the city. And then it was by the graces of my honorable father Cairne Bloodhoof that they were granted access to the bedside of the infirm old leader. Yet they are now accused of being somehow involved in Cairne’s death. We are here to determine their guilt or innocence.”

He stared out over the crowd impassively. He was a king surveying his people and a child rendered naked in his parent's piercing observance. He stepped away from the dais and walked to his seat among the other witnesses. He glanced at Ragth and me as he sat down, and for the briefest of moments our eyes met. But before he looked away, I saw something I didn’t expect. Instead of rage and anger, I saw confusion and grief. And for the first time since the being locked up, I understood the reason for the trial. It wasn’t about Baine wanting revenge. It was about the void left in Baine’s life by Cairne’s sudden absence. He was looking for answers about what had happened and what he should do, and Ragth and I provided the closest and most convenient explanation.

And to a lesser extent that was why so many Tauren had shown up. As Rul had explained to me Cairne had been a pillar of Tauren Civilization since the end of the Third war, over eighty years past. He had been ancient beyond belief, yet until recently he had remained healthy and strong, a symbol of Tauren prosperity and fortitude. His death had sent shockwaves through the Tauren, and, too, through the Greater Horde. The trial was not about Ragth and I, it was about them.

The proceedings continued. Many formalities had to be observed. Unfortunately most of them were held in Taurhe, so I didn’t catch much of what was going on, though Rul had assured me ahead of time that it was unimportant.

Eventually Rul was called to the stand. He was asked to recount the events exactly as he remembered them. He recited the details of Cairne’s death with as little fanfare as possible. He neither glorified nor vilified us. He told the facts as they were, and nothing more. And when he went to sit down the crowd seemed to respect him – and us through him – more for it.

Finally, it was my turn. Baine’s voice rang out with my name. My throat constricted and my stomach dropped, but I stood. And, as best I could, tried to walk confidently to the podium.
_________________
Sapphires vie for your attention. She dances. They mean well in their way. The priest says please, "I can't stand my knees and I cant bear her raven tresses caught up in a breeze like this."


Last edited by Keltor on Thu Mar 29, 2007 11:37 pm; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Keltor



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 212

PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 11:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I cleared my throat and looked out at the crowd. The tauren assembled looked at me expectantly. There were tauren of all kinds, from the young and fidgety (though miraculously still silent) to the old and infirm. Yet there was also a portion of the crowd that was notably absent of tauren: the section of emissaries from the rest of the horde. The forsaken sat off by themselves in the corner of the section, with all the other races trying to keep their distance. Almost as isolated, though in their case by choice, were the Blood Elves. The trolls and Orcs sat intermingled, as though they were the same race. I was glad to see that the emissaries from the nations of the horde had the same expectant look that the rest crowd was wearing. They had not yet made a final decision. Perhaps my kin had a chance.

Confidence bolstered, I began to speak, “People of…” I faltered. All the other speakers thus far had been tauren who, with their rich, deep-amber voices had washed over the crowd with confidence. My own voice by comparison sounded rough. Orcish is not an elegant language, and with my canine throat it sounded even harsher. Silly as it may seem, I was as startled by the sound of my own voice. Further, I realized that in comparison with the others who would be speaking for and against me, my vocabulary was that of a child.

I began again, this time determined not to stop. “People of Thunder Bluff, and from the rest of the Horde,” inwardly I cringed at the awkwardness of my speech, “I do not really know what it is that I am being charged with. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was in Cairne’s tent on Rul’s insistence, not because I wanted to be there. Before I met him, I didn’t know who Cairne Bloodhoof was. I didn’t…” I struggled briefly with the words, “touch… no. I didn’t have… contact with Cairne at all, as other witnesses have already said. I am guilty of being an outsider. That’s it”

And with that I left the podium and sat down. I was worried. Rul had warned me not to mention being an outsider. He said it would stir up resentment, but it had just sort of slipped out. I had said what I was feeling at the moment: surrounded by more tauren than I had ever seen before. I looked anxiously at Rul and saw that a small smile was flitting around the corner of his mouth. I was confused. What was he happy about? Before I had time to dwell on that however, another witness was called. Sal.

The Tauren healer stood and walked slowly to the Dais. Stunned by having so many focusing their attention on him, he, like everyone else who had been called up before him, gazed out at the crowd. Finally he spoke. He had a lighter voice than most Tauren, and he spoke more softly than most. Despite being above the crowd, having his voice magically amplified by the podium, it was difficult to hear him and the audience all leaned in trying to make out his words.

“Tauren. What I will say here may be challenged by others, but I must speak. I had tended to Cairne for months. It is no secret that He had been sick for a long time. Many healers had tried before me to cure him of whatever plagued him, all to no avail. I had the most success, and all I truly accomplished was to lessen his pain. Healing spells by druids and shamans had no affect. We enlisted the help of Troll and Forsaken priests, and their magics could do nothing. Even though we tauren tend to be wary of Blood Elves, we enlisted the help of the order of the crimson hand. Those paladins too failed. It is FACT that Cairne, our leader of over eighty years and chieftain of his tribe for more years than I care to count, was slowly and steadily dying.”
_________________
Sapphires vie for your attention. She dances. They mean well in their way. The priest says please, "I can't stand my knees and I cant bear her raven tresses caught up in a breeze like this."


Last edited by Keltor on Thu Mar 29, 2007 11:38 pm; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Keltor



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 212

PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 11:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At that the crowd began to whisper amongst themselves. Sal was the first to touch on the prickly subject of Cairne’s health, and they seemed none too pleased with him. As I noted before Cairne was the Tauren’s symbol of strength and fortitude, and any mention of weakness on his part was greeted coldly.

Once the crowd died down Sal began again. “I have said that He was dying, and I couldn’t mean it more. He had been declining for months before these strangers, these… Gnolls ever came to our city. And the day that He died he went into a fit worse than any I have ever seen. He was coughing blood, and even with the aid of all the healers in Thunder Bluff he would have likely been dead within minutes. Cairne had been wasting away, unable to eat or drink, and losing any blood in his condition, not to mention the vast amounts that were pouring from his mouth, would have been fatal. Then this Gnoll, who sits, flanked by guards ready subdue him should he make any sudden move, intervened. He did… something. Baine had gone to gather as many healers as he could, but those of us who remained in the tent watched, dumbfounded. Ragth, this Gnoll, Touched Cairne’s shoulder, and golden light began to spread over the old leader’s pain wracked body. It was nothing like the healing attempted by the priests and paladins. No, this was something else. It was like… getting the barest glimpse of the Earth Mother’s Golden Plain. And what’s more miraculous, Cairne stopped his coughing, the blood stopped flowing, and he seemed at peace for the first time in months.

“At that moment Baine returned with an army of healers at his back. He returned just in time to see Cairne’s last moments. Once the light enveloped the chieftain entirely, Ragth passed out, and the light receded. The Cairne that lay on the bed was not the one who had been there moments before. He was whole, healthy and looked genuinely happy. Baine Rushed to his fathers side in time to see the event that we are really here to deliberate upon. Cairne, no longer in contact with the passed out gnoll, began to glow with that incredible light. He became brighter and brighter until only Baine could still look at him. And then Cairne was gone.

“This may sound damning to many of you, but I must present a very different picture. The chieftain may have died because of what Ragth did, but not in the way many of you think. By what I saw, I would be lying if I said it weren’t a miracle that Cairne was alive to see Baine one last time. I propose that what Ragth did was not to kill the Chieftan, but to let him go peacefully, in the manner that Cairne would have wanted it. He was a Tauren returned to his youth, a luxury that none of us will attain once our health leaves us. As Cairne vanished he roared, but it was not an angry scream, it was not a yell of pain, it was a joyful bellow. Ragth did not kill Cairne. Without Ragth’s intervention, he likely would have already been dead. No, what Ragth did was to allow Cairne to go in a blaze of glory, not as a sick old tauren unable to get out of bed one last time before dying.” Sal paused for a moment before speaking loudly and directly for the first time, “We should be thanking this Gnoll, not trying him for murder. I am ashamed to have anything to do with this trial.”

And with that he stepped from the podium. Yet instead of returning to his seat among the witnesses, He walked slowly and determinedly down the steps and out through the crowd, which parted as he left the pavilion. With his exit the crowd erupted. They weren’t angry per say, just… troubled. His words had been powerful, and though it had not been what the crowd had wanted to hear, they respected him for them.
_________________
Sapphires vie for your attention. She dances. They mean well in their way. The priest says please, "I can't stand my knees and I cant bear her raven tresses caught up in a breeze like this."


Last edited by Keltor on Thu Mar 29, 2007 11:38 pm; edited 2 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Keltor



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 212

PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2007 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Baine stood up, walked to the dais and bellowed “SILENCE” over the din of the crowd. Shocked, the audience quieted immediately. Baine spoke again, “You have heard the healer Sal, now it is my turn to testify.”

He looked at the crowd all around him. His voice boomed, deep, and rich though with a slight quiver that betrayed his composure, “Sal was loyal to my father, and is one of the most accomplished healers in the world. He has earned our respect. And thus I must respectfully disagree. Perhaps this… Ragth had the Chieftain’s interests in mind, but what he did was unprecedented in its hubris. He was invited, by my father, into the tent where Cairne died. He was a guest in the city, and a guest in the residence of the leader of our civilization. He was privy to a discussion of the utmost delicacy concerning our national security. He was a guest.

“So when my father lapsed into a fit of coughing – once I left to gather the healers of the city – he interrupts the healers in the tent who were already at their work attempting to save our chieftain. Perhaps Ragth did try to send Cairne to the Golden Plain in a blaze of glory, but it was not his place. He was a guest in that tent, his duty, if any was to help the healers do their jobs, not to interrupt them and take their task into his own hands. Yes, perhaps he was trying to help, but in the process, he may have done more damage than good. I feel pity for this beast, but the insult to Bloodhoofs, and the insult to every tauren gathered here, should not be taken lightly.

“And I urge you all to consider the precedent it would set if we let him get away with this. Peasants and peons who fancy themselves healers might feel entitled to go help put Thrall out of his misery should he ever get sick as he advances in age. The system of leadership in the Horde could be forever threatened. While Ragth may have had the best of intentions, it was not his place to do anything.

“Further, He condemns himself with his own actions. Since being incarcerated, Ragth has attempted to escape twice. Why would an innocent man run from a trial that would prove his innocence? His guilty conscience made him try to run. I say again, I pity the creature. But what he is accused of is unpardonable.”

I watched Baine closely as he delivered this speech, and I noticed something that most in the audience were likely to far away to see. Though his body was animated, and his voice was full of passion, his eyes were empty. It was as though he was going through a complicated performance that he had memorized. But somehow his heart was not in it any more. Perhaps it was Sal’s words, perhaps it was Rul’s words, perhaps it was even my own, but something during the trial had shaken his already uncertain mind. The only thing that drove him to give the speech was the certainty that he had once felt.

Once he had finished speaking he again looked at the crowd, which was buzzing with consideration of Baine’s words.

He spoke again, “Yet it is only fair that we give the Gnoll a chance to defend himself. I call Ragth forward.”
_________________
Sapphires vie for your attention. She dances. They mean well in their way. The priest says please, "I can't stand my knees and I cant bear her raven tresses caught up in a breeze like this."


Last edited by Keltor on Thu Mar 29, 2007 11:39 pm; edited 2 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Keltor



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 212

PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2007 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

(This post was an april fools joke, and the contents should be disregarded in terms of story continuity.)

Ragth stood up and walked to the Dais. His ragged fur and previous actions were suddenly at complete odds with his bearing. He walked upright on two legs and had as much a regal stance as Baine had. Without halting to observe the crowd, Baine began to speak.

“Citizens of Thunder Bluff, I am a stranger in your midst. I cannot possibly attempt to blend in or to hide my origins. I am as I appear: a doglike creature in the midst of tauren. Without acknowledging this fundamental difference between our two peoples I would be omitting a fact pivotal to this trial. I am not being tried for my actions, I am being tried for being an outsider. What I did was no different from the other healers, the only separation between us is our race. Perhaps I accidentally did more harm than good. Perhaps I did kill Cairne -"

Ragth was suddenly interrupted as Cairne Leapt to his hooves and began to shout. “See Comrades? He admits his own guilt! The foreigner to our motherland must be killed.” Cairne grabbed a preposterous looking fur hat from under his seat and began to round on Ragth and me. The guards and the Crowd too suddenly donned the same bizarre fuzzy hats and to advance on us. Cairne had drawn a war hammer and a strange sickle-like weapon from his belt which he now brandished menacingly as he approached our position. Ragth had retreated from the podium and had joined me near our original seats. We were hopelessly surrounded by the advancing horde of Tauren. Ragth, though he was clearly seeing red, seemed to accept the hopelessness of our situation and allowed him to be taken by the guards. I felt sudden contact between a hard object and my skull, and lost consciousness.


Uncounted hours later I felt cold water splashed on my head and regained a very cold, pain-filled consciousness. I, with Ragth beside me, was on my knees facing a brick wall. Behind me I heard Baine’s voice ominously ring out through the air. “Do you have any last words before my Comrades and I rid you of your miserable existence for the people?

Ragth Roared angrily and struggled against the restraints. As he faced the firing squad, Ragth remembered that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. He was filled with wonder at the memory (having previously not recalled having a father at all) and was unable to form any words to throw at Baine.

“No? Well then Comrades, for the good of the mother land, FIRE!”

There was a loud bang.








But neither I nor Ragth died.

In fact, the ones who died were those who intended to kill us. An explosion had gone off behind us, killing the death squad and Baine, and simultaneously (and miraculously) incinerated our restraints.

Ragth and I lept to our feet and turned to see who our sudden saviors were. Yet no one but the burning corpses were behind us.

I suddenly discovered our rescuers identity. I heard a distant high pitched, but still audible, voice scream, “VENTURE CO-APITOLISM!!! DIE YOU COMMIE SONS OF BI&@($ES!!!”

Goblins in strange flying machines soared above us, dropping bombes on the Tauren city. Unfortunately, while they had seemingly saved us, they seemed completely oblivious to our existence, and continued to throw bombs down in our area. Ragth and I tried to run.

But not fast enough.

An explosion ripped the air behind us. I heard Ragth bark briefly before falling to the ground dead. His body had shielded me from the brunt of the blast, but I was still mortally injured. Burned beyond belief, and bleeding from several shrapnel wounds I was slowly dieing.

As my blood seeped slowly from my body, I remembered the first time I met him. It seemed like years had past, but that was only an illusion caused by the intense flurry of activity that had dominated the time since I first saw the giant Gnoll. It all seemed… so pointless as I lay on the ground. So… full of…





The end.


_________________
Sapphires vie for your attention. She dances. They mean well in their way. The priest says please, "I can't stand my knees and I cant bear her raven tresses caught up in a breeze like this."


Last edited by Keltor on Tue Apr 03, 2007 9:15 am; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Keltor



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 212

PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2007 9:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ragth, who had thus far been slumped in his chair seemingly not paying attention, looked up, glanced at the guards around him and stood – thankfully on two legs this time. He stretched as if he were no hurry and he extended to his full height. I was struck once again by just how large he was. As tall as an average tauren male, and even more broad shouldered, he was a behemoth of a gnoll. Most males of our race reach five and a half feet – if they are lucky, and he was nearly half again as tall as that. Our race tends to be heavily muscled, especially in our upper bodies, but his arms looked like small tree trunks. It was no wonder that he had been able to break the iron bars that had originally held him in his cage. Even now, after days of not eating or drinking and with nearly fresh wounds, when he stood tall he possessed the stature and bearing of a king. He walked confidently to the dais and, like so many others before him stared out at the swollen masses before him. His expression was unreadable, neither condescending nor frightened, neither arrogant nor worried.

His rich, easy voice, which sounded so much smoother than my own, washed over the crowd, “Tauren, I am accused by your leader of unpardonable crimes. And while I would not normally presume to contradict a statement made by a nations leader, a nation in which I am a guest, my life is likely on the line, and I have little choice.” Ragth, the quiet giant who spoke in actions rather than words, was making my own attempt to address the audience seem childlike. Somehow, despite his horrible appearance he seemed completely rational. When his name was called his demeanor had suddenly changed from an injured animal to a noble victim. His bearing was regal, and his voice, honey. From the first word, the audience was rapt.

“You have already heard Sal’s account of my actions and I would not be so arrogant as to claim his interpretation of my actions, thus presenting myself as a hero worthy of praise rather than a villain who needs to be put down. I am no hero, but neither am I a villain. I am a confused stranger in the midst of a foreign land. I was driven from my home, a home of tolerance, created by Rul, myself and countless other people from a vast array of race, by a sudden and unexplained attack from the Undead Scourge. I came to Thunder Bluff thinking that I might find tolerant open minded friends who would help me rebuild my life.

“And I found it. Yes, I found it. I, a brutish doglike animal, was allowed into a city of strangers. And further, I was welcomed into the home of the leader of this city, an ailing old pillar of strength and wisdom. Such generosity is beyond the scope of what I had the audacity to imagine.

“But then disaster struck. The wise old leader became violently sick. So much so, that in the estimation of an accomplished healer he would likely have been dead in minutes. Sal, an accomplished healer, and Rul, a divinely inspired prophet, were unable to heal him. Spells that would have restored a critically wounded soldier to peak health had no affect. This bull, whom I had only met moments before, but who had shown me extreme generosity and compassion, was dying. So what was I to do? I felt indebted, and felt it was my obligation to do what I could to help. And that is exactly what I attempted to do.

“Sal mentioned that he was unsure what it is that I did to Cairne, and in all honesty, I myself have no idea. I am blessed with a certain… natural ability to heal myself, the source of which is unknown. It has always been with me, and has always kept me safe when I have been injured. I wish to demonstrate. Please, would a representative from each school of healing- nature, elemental and holy- please join me by the podium.”
_________________
Sapphires vie for your attention. She dances. They mean well in their way. The priest says please, "I can't stand my knees and I cant bear her raven tresses caught up in a breeze like this."
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Keltor



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 212

PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2007 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

He said this not as a question, but as a command. Both a shaman and a druid from among the elders came and stood by Ragth, and a troll priest from among the Horde emissaries lithely climbed up to the stage without bothering with the stairs. When the three healers stood by him he continued.

“Tell me, is it not true that any of you can sense when healing magic is cast? If one of you were to heal someone, regardless of which school the other was from, you would be able to detect it?” All three nodded their consent. “Then, once I have finished healing these wounds that you see on my body, tell the crowd what it is that you sensed.”

After waiting for the healers to nod, Ragth turned back to the podium. He took his hands and passed them over the wounds on his arms and chest. Flashes of golden light were visible beneath his hands. When he was done, all wounds were gone: not even a single scar remained.

He turned back to the healers expectantly. They looked dumbfounded. One after another they took their turn at the podium and explained that they had felt… something, some release of fantastic energy, but nothing that even closely resembled their school of magic.

After they had each taken their turn and returned to their seats Ragth turned back to the audience. “And so you see, neither I nor anyone in this room can explain the nature of my ability. It is miraculous, and mysterious and as my Gnoll companion could attest if you ask her, completely unknown among other Gnolls as well. Yet there is one caveat. Before Cairne, I had never healed another being. Somehow, I have always had a sense that this… gift is mine alone. That it is not my place to share it.

“But when I saw Cairne, this compassionate old bull, dying on that bed I felt compelled to do something. Two adept healers were failing to help him, and so I tried what I could. I channeled my power – whatever it is – into Cairne’s frail body. It felt like I was dying. Trying to heal Cairne was like trying to fill an empty ocean. As much as I poured into him, it seemed futile. But I couldn’t stop. I poured as much as I could into him, and somehow… somehow it managed to be enough. And at that point I lost consciousness.

“From what I have heard in other accounts, this is when Baine returned. He returned and saw his father whole and well for the first time in months. Yet somehow, it was not meant to be. I had healed Cairne. In my last moments of conciousness I felt that he was well, that there was nothing left to heal. But, it seems that, even with a powerful and unexplained ability such as mine, it is not for mortals to thwart the will of the gods. It was Cairne’s time to go to… I believe Sal said ‘the Golden Plain,’ and nothing I did would stop that.

“I apologize to Baine. Seeing his father healthy and well right before losing him could not have been easy, yet in my estimation the reason that Cairne vanished the way he did was precisely because he was alive thanks to my healing. I don’t know what I can say to convince the Tauren people of my utmost sorrow at the loss of Cairne, but I can at least express my condolences to Baine, and to the Tauren people as a whole.

“Lastly, and now I admit I speak only to save my own skin, I would like to address my attempts to escape from captivity. Tauren, of all the creatures of this world should understand the tortures of imprisonment. You are creatures of the plain, much as I am a creature the forest. Surely you can understand the torture that being held in a metal cage would cause. Surely you can imagine attempting to escape if, like me, you possessed the ability to do so. Perhaps these attempts did nothing to prove my innocence, but neither should they condemn me.

“I hope that you all can find it within yourselves to forgive me. If I were in your place I am unsure that I would be able to forgive either. May the Earth Mother guide your decision.”

I was in awe. Ragth, whom I had never heard speak more than a couple sentences at a time, had somehow transformed into something else entirely. He had been filled with passion, yet portrayed himself as eminently reasonable. Somehow he had taken his role as the barbaric wolf locked in a cage for unspeakable crimes and turned it back upon itself. He no longer looked like a starved and wounded animal; he looked powerful and strong, though the healing that he had preformed in the midst of his speech had clearly made him look much more presentable.
_________________
Sapphires vie for your attention. She dances. They mean well in their way. The priest says please, "I can't stand my knees and I cant bear her raven tresses caught up in a breeze like this."
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Keltor



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 212

PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 11:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For the next hours the jury of elders debated privately. The tauren in the crowd, unwilling to sacrifice their place in the crowd simply waited (im)patiently, talking amongst themselves about the events of the trial. I tried to talk with Ragth, but he simply stared intently at the crowd, trying to sense the general mood.

When the Elders returned, the crowd once again fell silent. They slowly filed into their chairs. One Tauren remained standing and walked to the podium and spoke, “As Arch-Druid, I, Famu Runetotem, have been selected to represent the Jury’s decisions. First, I would like to express our deepest thanks to…” He babbled on with formalities and thanks. I quickly lost interest until he got to his real point.

“Finally, the verdict. The Jury is unanimous in its decision that the female Gnoll had nothing to do with the events discussed to day, and is innocent of all charges.” I breathed a sigh of relief, but Famu wasn’t finished. “Furthermore it is the decision of the elders that She may remain in Thunder Bluff as a permanent resident as long as she chooses.

“In respect to the male gnoll, we find him… also not guilty. His actions in Cairne’s tent may have been imprudent, yet we find nothing punishable about them. This Gnoll too may remain a resident of Thunder Bluff as long as he chooses.

“However, the tribal leaders and elders have an announcement that affects both of these gnolls, but also all residents of Thunder Bluff. In light of recent attacks by the undead, Baine and other Tauren elders have decided to raise a standing army. These two Gnolls, if they should choose to stay, will be the first drafted into the Valiants, the new military force that will ready in preparation for undead attack. Details about the army and drafting procedures will be announced at a later date. The court has spoken.”
_________________
Sapphires vie for your attention. She dances. They mean well in their way. The priest says please, "I can't stand my knees and I cant bear her raven tresses caught up in a breeze like this."


Last edited by Keltor on Thu May 03, 2007 1:52 pm; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Keltor



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 212

PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2007 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Our lives changed drastically after that. Though to be fair, the lives of many Tauren were changed as well. The Tauren took the news of a draft relatively well, considering that no standing army had been created since the third war. Lives were altered and families were uprooted. For the next couple weeks Thunder Bluff collectively held its breath. Yet it seemed that nothing drastic was to happen. The only Scourge activity was more minor raids on small villages. The Lich king launched no sweeping invasion.

Yet somehow that seemed to only increase the tension. It was still unclear how the Undead had made it so far into mainland Kalimdor without ever confronting major resistance. Scouts from neither the Horde nor the Alliance discovered no Scourge bases or strongholds. And so, we waited.

As for Ragth and me, our lives became considerably easier after the trial. For one thing, we were no longer locked in cages and jeered at by strangers. The city had accepted us, especially because we shared the burden of joining the newly founded military as much as any. People saluted us as we walked past, and tauren who we had never before met would greet us enthusiastically in the streets, as though we were some kind of heroes.

Somehow Even Baine seemed to have forgiven us. I had seen how troubled and confused he had been at the trial. And it seemed that between a rousing defense by Ragth and a unanimous “not guilty” from the Elders he had come to grips with the death of his father, without needing to peg the blame on anyone. In fact, the day after the trial he had come to Rul’s residence, where we were temporarily staying, and came and formally apologized to Ragth and me. I’ll never forget what Ragth said to Baine once the tauren had finished.

Ragth looked into Baine’s eyes and said, “Even the noblest kings can be mistaken. Even the strongest warriors can fall. All that matters is that they get back up.”

Baine stared back at Ragth for a moment, then grabbed Ragth’s arms just above the elbow and bowed his horned head toward Ragth. Then without saying a word he left. When I asked Rul about it latter he told me that it was a Tauren expression of the utmost deference and respect. For the leader of Thunder Bluff to give this to Ragth was more honor than he could ever have imagined receiving.

Yet our lives were not easy. Ragth and I were the first members of the Valiants, which meant that we had a great deal of learning and training to do. The Braves were in charge of our initial conditioning. We were both put through the ropes in what they called “Hoof Camp,” which started a week after the trial.

I spent most of this period of downtime learning Taurhe from Rul – the fast but painful way. I would go to his tent in the morning, have my mind blasted, and then stumble back to my new abode, a small tent, which was nonetheless marvelous beyond my wildest dreams, though I spent most of my time in my tent dreaming rather than examining the intricate rune patterns and drawings on the canvas walls. Like last time, learning a new language quickly was difficult, painful, and full of sleep. Once again it occurred to me that, even with a crash course in these languages, it would be years until I could speak with the fluency, ease, and sophistication of those around me. I finished my language learning the day before I was to report for training, and like all the days before it, I collapsed with an aching brain in the early morning, dreading the day to come.
_________________
Sapphires vie for your attention. She dances. They mean well in their way. The priest says please, "I can't stand my knees and I cant bear her raven tresses caught up in a breeze like this."
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Keltor



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 212

PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2007 7:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When hoof camp started we were ordered to report to the hunters lodge on the edge of the city. Ragth and went I together, taking a kodo ride to make the trip faster. We arrived in the lodge with time to spare and so we took time to look at our surroundings.

Braves were streaming in and out of the lodge constantly but for a couple of the more senior members would wait patiently to teach those who wanted to learn. The walls were lined with depictions of heroic tauren slaying mighty foes and beasts. Weapons were everywhere and it seemed that everyone present would fight at a moments notice. At the far end of the hunters lodge a Tauren stood stoically waiting for something. He matched the description of the tauren we were sent to meet: tall, patchy light brown hide, and dark black horns. His back was a bit too straight, his armor slightly too shiny. His eyes conveyed a contempt for those around him, though there was something else there… something I couldn’t read. Ragth and I approached him and he greeted us.

“The valiants. I’m glad you graced our humble tent with your presence.” His tone implied distaste. I was worried: we had been welcomed as heroes after the trial, but I still feared that people would mistrust us as outsiders. “From this point forward you do as I say without question. You shall follow my orders, and your only way to further training is through me. I suggest you keep that in mind.”

I nodded numbly, but Ragth spoke up. “Sir, what is your name?”

The tauren gave Ragth a hard look before answering. “Taúne Ironhorn. Do you have any other questions before we begin?”

We both shook our heads. This Taúne dwarfed me. I felt tiny and powerless beside him, yet Ragth was larger than he. And I had grown used to Ragth’s height. Perhaps, I remember thinking at the time, I would eventually forget about the size difference between me and this tauren.

But when he barked an order at us that thought evaporated. “Because today is your first day, I am going to go easy on you. Go from this tent, Take the lift down to Mulgore, and take a run around Thunder Bluff. Take no breaks. Know that any pain you avoid now will be twice as bad later. Dismissed.”

We hurried from the Hunters Lodge and headed for the lift. It was a twenty minute jog just to get there. And we bypassed much of the city. Running around the city would take time. Thankfully Gnolls, especially females are built for endurance running. When we reached the ground we both dropped to all fours and loped along. Despite his size, I soon outstripped Ragth. His heavily muscled upper body slowed him down and should have tired him out, though even when he was finished running he wasn’t breathing hard. I finished the run in two hours, Ragth followed after another half hour. It was only midday, which I believe was much sooner than Taúne had intended.

We returned to the lift and ascended into the city. As the lift pulled us up I noticed something that I hadn’t felt before. As previously, it felt like there was a hurricane brewing around us that was suddenly released and pulled us up. But this time I felt something else too. I felt… strings of air. I don’t know how else to explain it. I felt like there were ropes made of wind attached to every part of the lift pulling us up. When I mentioned this to Ragth he just stared at me. I decided to dismiss the feeling as part of an over active imagination.

When we reached the top I began walking toward Rul’s tent, expecting Ragth to follow me, but after a few blocks I realized I was alone. Ragth had gone and I stood alone in the street feeling suddenly vulnerable. I veered from the path I had been taking, which led to Rul’s, and instead retreated to my own tent.

When I reached it I rushed inside and hurled myself to my bedroll. Waves of emotion were washing over me faster than I could process. I curled into a ball and let the feelings overwhelm me until slowly, they receded and I could process exactly what was bothering me.

It came down to this. Two months before I had been happily oblivious in my little hovel with the rest of my relatives and friends. I had been selected by the dominant gnoll in the pack for a mating trial and had done my job well. Better than well. It was customary for the female to flee as long and hard as she could. We are built for running, and if we were allowed to carry food and supplies, as the males are, we could likely elude them forever. It is considered a good mating if the male can catch the female after one day. For me, a female, to escape for two whole days and nights, was unheard of. Yet still he found me. We were the best our pack had to offer, and within a couple years we would likely be leading it.

And then everything changed. A giant gnoll who I had never seen before suddenly stopped the mating. He took me away from my family and home and brought me, with no explanation, to a camp filled with strange races. And then, because of events far outside of my control, I had to pick up again, and move to a city where I was put on trial for a crime I didn’t commit, then drafted into a completely new army. And this at the barely mature age of seven.

Nothing made sense. I had been introduced to the history of Azeroth, huge, world changing events that were happening around me, and only people I could confide in I had only known for about a month. I wanted to go back to the forest. I wanted to understand the giant gnoll who had brought me into this whole crazy mess. I wanted to know why I felt calm around Ragth, yet had a prickly sensation that I should fear for my life. I wanted to know. I wanted to know.

I felt lost.
_________________
Sapphires vie for your attention. She dances. They mean well in their way. The priest says please, "I can't stand my knees and I cant bear her raven tresses caught up in a breeze like this."
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Keltor



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 212

PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2007 10:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When my self pity finally ebbed away, I sat up in my bed and looked at the intricate rune patterns on the walls. Perhaps I wasn’t so bad off. I had Rul. I felt safe around Rul. He was kind to me, and unlike Ragth I could understand him. Rul would talk to me about anything that was bothering me, and His physical frailty mirrored my unsure state mind. Unlike Ragth, Rul seemed harmless. The look of joyful hate on Ragth’s face as he ripped apart a ghoul hadn’t left my thoughts, and Rul’s image in my mind was untainted with anything so sinister.

As I thought about him I felt an overwhelming urge to visit him. I got up and began walking to his tent. It was mid afternoon and the streets were busy. Tauren milled about on their daily business, though I could tell that even now, a week after the trial, there was some intangible tension hanging in the air. A few people saluted me as I walked, but the notoriety of we dog-people was fading quickly. We had begun fading into the background.

The streets stretched out in front of me. It amazed me that earlier in the day I had traveled around the whole city. It seemed so huge when I was in it. Anything I could imagine was held somewhere within. Exotic weapons, including strange sticks that made loud noises right before objects yards away exploded. A meeting area where people could buy goods from people anywhere in the horde. And much more.

I finally reached Rul’s secretly hoping that Ragth was not there. I got my wish, and immediately felt bad for such a desire in the first place. Ragth had never done me any harm. To the contrary, he had protected me on numerous occasions, and I felt calm, if not safe, around him. But regardless I was glad to spend time with Rul.

He had settled in to Thunder Bluff well, though he was still off put when people acted strange around him. It seems that people can get over the completely different, like strangers in their midst, but have more trouble with that which is different in a familiar way. The discomfort people had talking with someone who was regarded as either a religious prophet or a symbol of momentous change put Rul at a distance from most of those who would otherwise be his friends. As such he was more than glad to talk with me, even though he had far more important work to attend to.

We began with some basic language lessons, of the verbal sort rather than magical. However we quickly moved to other topics. I mentioned being frightened of Tuané Ironhorn, our hoof camp instructor. In response Rul chuckled. He said, “You have nothing to fear from him. He is an old acquaintance of mine: fiercely professional when he is doing his job, but a decent bull underneath the act. In fact, I used to help take care of him when he was a child, I left Thunder Bluff to travel soon after he was born mind you, but whenever I would visit home I would check on his progress. He can be a stickler for the rules, but once you prove yourself to him, you will have an ally for a long time to come.” I wasn’t sure I believed him, but I didn’t press the subject.

Once I manage to finish hoof camp, what happens? Do I get armor and a weapon and that’s all?” I asked.

Rul Chuckled. “Not at all. After you finish your initial training you get sent to the council for assessment. It is there that your position in the Valiants is decided. When you have-"

“But what if I can’t do anything?” I interrupted. “I mean Ragth is a big warrior they will find something for him but what about me what can I do I can run a bit faster than Ragth but I have no skills I’m only seven barely a full person and gnoll females aren’t supposed to do anything but raise children and help gather food and I-”

“Calm, child.” Rul imposed. “You are too worried. If you can make it through hoof camp, they will find something for you to do. And even if you don’t, which would surprise me, something will present itself. I once heard a tale of an orc who could not fight who then went on to become the greatest tailor in all Orgrimar; The legendary Yarnmaster Graal. Should you find yourself without skills, they will teach you something. And besides, you are no longer in the wild. The brutal laws imposed by generations of gnolls no longer apply to you. You are free to do what you are best at, be that knitting like Graal, or slaying demons like Grom. You as an individual are sacrificing enough by serving society, a society that you have just entered, that it would be incredibly poor of us to turn you into something you didn’t want to, or couldn’t, be.”

His words made me feel a bit better, though I still worried. We talked a while longer about the Valiants, about how recruiting of tauren had begun and we would soon be joined at hoof camp. The talk drifted about, going from current events in Thunder Bluff to historical events (I didn’t know who this Grom fellow was that Rul had mentioned earlier) and then to the events leading to our arrival in Thunder Bluff.

I was curious what Rul thought of Ragth’s strange expression as he had fought the undead who had hounded us on the road. So I asked. The response was not what I had expected. “Rul.” I said tentatively, “Does Ragth ever make you afraid?”

“What do you mean?”

“Have you ever felt… like he could hurt you at any moment.”

Rul laughed at this. “I feel like he could hurt me at any time. He is larger than I am, and can heal himself of nearly any wound. I would be a fool to think that he couldn’t hurt me.”

I shook my head. “No… I mean… do you every worry that he might?”

Rul’s jovial affect faded into a somber expression. “Only rarely. He has moods. I was most afraid when I saw him in those cages, fur ragged and torn, ribs protruding from his side, ears pressed back along his head. He looked cruel and angry then, though I suppose that his mood matched the mood against him at the time. But I have never known him to hurt another when it could be avoided. Why? Does he frighten you?”

I hesitated. “I… I don’t know. He has shown me kindness as others before him never had. He’s the only male gnoll I have met who didn’t try to force people to do things. He has never tried to hurt me, or anyone else either. But something I saw when he was killing those things… the ghoul and the… the…” I faltered, unable to find the words.

“Crypt Fiend.” Rul provided.

“Yes. The crypt fiend. When he was fighting them there was a look of… happiness on his face. He looked glad, like he was borne to kill. It scared me.”

Rul thought for a while before answering. He looked uncomfortable. His aged face cast about as though looking for an excuse. When he finally spoke, he avoided eye contact. “Ragth is meant for something large. I don’t know what, but he will leave his mark on the world. As much as it pains me to admit it, and I forbid you to reveal this to anyone else, my white fur may indeed be a symbol of change to come. I believe that Ragth is my responsibility, my divine mission if you will. Yet again, I do not know what it is that he will do. Yet I can foresee only two feasible (I had to interrupt to ask for a definition) outcomes. Change through his divine healing or change through his enormous ability for violence.”

I dwelt on his words for a long time after I left the tauren’s tent and returned to my own. What Rul said made sense. It explained more than a few things about Ragth. Why such mystery behind his appearance to Rul as a child, his name, his incredible and terrible abilities. If Ragth was indeed some agent of change for the entire world, he would have to be larger than life. He would need to be… Divine.

I wasn’t sure if this made me more or less afraid of him. But regardless, it made sense.
_________________
Sapphires vie for your attention. She dances. They mean well in their way. The priest says please, "I can't stand my knees and I cant bear her raven tresses caught up in a breeze like this."


Last edited by Keltor on Thu May 31, 2007 7:57 pm; edited 2 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Keltor



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 212

PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2007 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Regardless of my feelings toward Ragth, time plowed onward. Hoof camp continued brutally. The run around Thunder Bluff truly had been an easy day of conditioning. We would be given sets of sprinting followed by pulling large rocks attached to ropes for meters and then be told to do one hundred push ups and many other unpleasant tasks. Ragth was able to meet all the demands from the beginning, but I was not so lucky. The second day of training, after pulling a huge rock for ten meters and being told to sprint to the next station where I would have to lift rocks attached to metal poles, my body gave out. And the rest of the day was spent receiving a severe tongue lashing from Tauné Ironhorn.

“You think you are special? You think that being a dog woman earns you some sort of special treatment? What do you think is going to happen when the scourge shows up and you are unable to fight? And for that matter what happens to the rest of these new Valiants when they see that one of their founding members has failed to try hard enough in training and couldn’t fight?”

“I did try as hard as I could” I stammered, “My body just cant take any more.”

Ironhorn sneered as he replied. “Then perhaps you and your kind don’t cut it. What do you think you are anyways? You have no proud and noble heritage like we Tauren. You have no great deeds to your name. You are just some mongrel who stumbled into our city and found yourself a position in our new army. You know what you are? You’re just some dumb @&$^* who killed our leader and somehow managed to get yourself a pardon. You disgust me.”

At this I simply broke into tears. Too exhausted to process the insults being hurled at me I gave up. I let the weariness and pain that my body was feeling along with the severe mental frustration and injury out. I lay on the ground crying as Tauné continued to shower me with acid words. Had I not been tired from my fur to my bones I may have summoned up the energy to strike him, but in my state at the time I just lay there.

After a further litany of my faults he eventually ran out of steam and I was left to recover in peace. But I wasn’t about to prove him right. When I was able to stand I walked over to where Ragth continued to toil and joined him, now walking across a series of logs set on end while holding a large stone outstretched in each hand.

When the day, sadly only my second, finally ended I didn’t have enough left in me to say a word to anyone. I dragged my wretched frame back to my tent and fell to my bed mat, and my mind likewise fell into the painless abyss of sleep.




Slowly, things became better, though only after they became worse. My first week in Hoof Camp consisted of repeatedly asking my body to do things that it simply could not do. My muscles became more sore as the week progressed, and each day I would collapse slightly sooner under both increased physical strain, and the psychological strain of doing worse and worse in a place that was supposed to make me more fit. By the end of the week I truly hoped that I had been right, and that I was unable to do anything worth while. That I would end up the Grand Knitter of Thunder Bluff. My body and mind were sore beyond belief, and I was sure that I would fail whatever skill test I was given after Hoof camp.

But at the end of the first week we were given a day off. We were told to heal up before the next round of conditioning and training. On my day off I was literally unable to leave my tent. Every muscle in my body was on fire. I was worried that somehow I might have permanently injured something. I spent the rest of my morning lying on my bed mat in the pleasant warmth of the day and drifting in and out of sleep. The sunlight outside of my tent played on around the intricate rune work on the kodo hide leather that made the walls of my makeshift home. And for a moment I wouldn’t have been anywhere other than where I was.
_________________
Sapphires vie for your attention. She dances. They mean well in their way. The priest says please, "I can't stand my knees and I cant bear her raven tresses caught up in a breeze like this."


Last edited by Keltor on Tue Jun 19, 2007 9:27 pm; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Keltor



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 212

PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 11:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

But at some point I had to move, and my protesting body shattered the spell of calm that had settled on my mind. I had resolved, despite the adamant refusal of my muscles, to go visit Ragth to see how he was faring when the tent flap flew open and sunlight poured in. My eyes closed against the lances of light that tried to drill their way into my skull. When I was able to pry my eyes open I saw Ragth standing in the entrance to my tent smirking.

He spoke in his rich red-brown voice. “Rise and shine. You wouldn’t want to waste your day off would you?”

I glowered at him, eyes still protesting the sudden intrusion of the light. “I can waste it if I want. What were you planning on doing with it anyways?”

“I’m not really sure. I wanted to explore the city, and thought you might want to come along.”

I considered for a moment. “No. I think my mind is going to pop as it is. Keep in mind that I lived in a forest with other gnolls only weeks ago. A city may be a bit too much for me to take.”

“Fine. I suppose can lay around doing nothing if you want. Have a great day.” He emphasized “great” with a bit of a growl in the back of his throat to emphasize the irony. Then he turned a stalked away, clearly disappointed.

I spent the next couple minutes trying to return to sleep, but ultimately failed. Ragth had been right, lying around all day accomplished nothing. I spent time to stretch out my aching muscles and then stood up, ready to go surprise Ragth. But then I realize I had no idea where he had gone.

So I proceeded to wander.

The city was magnificent. It was so much larger than I could have imagined, too large, by far, to explore all its nooks and crannies in a year, much less a day. So I settled with investigating whatever caught my interest as I meandered through the streets. I saw stores of all shapes and sizes, for purposes ranging from the mundane to things that, to this day, I still have trouble comprehending. I saw hunters returning with their days catch, Braves not fortunate enough to have the day off practicing in the training yard, and crowds of people gathered around the auction house. I went to see what was being sold, and was overwhelmed by the selection of items, most of which seemed bewildering to me.

And so, fleeing the crowd I found myself in the Tauren National Library. Scholars, druids, elders and many more were silently investigating their own private mysteries. There were walls of books, row upon row upon row, and no two the same. The smell of aging leather and parchment surrounded me, and the light streaming in through the windows was clearly defined by the dust slowly swirling in the air. It was calm and peaceful. And though I usually felt ill at ease indoors, I immediately fell in love with the place.

I pulled a book from a shelf at random and brought it to the nearest reading table, at the center a nearly spent candle sitting above a mound of melted wax. I opened the book excitedly and stared. I suppose that I wasn’t really sure what to expect before I opened it. But regardless I was disappointed and confused. Filling up the yellowed parchment were rows of strange symbols: lines and squiggles without meaning, at least to me. Frustrated I put the book aside and pulled another off of the shelf. I opened it to the same result as the first.

I left the library with a feeling of melancholy. I was impressed by the building, by the silent intensity of the readers within, but I was dismayed by my inability to do anything useful with the books. And, in an increasingly common reaction to adversity, I went to consult with Rul.

I arrived at his abode and let myself in. At his desk, Rul was hunched over a piece of parchment, quill in hand. When he heard the door open he instinctively covered what he was writing with his hand, though when he saw who had entered he let his hand fall. He stood and greeted me. “What brings you here again my child?”

“I… I went to the big dusty building filled with books. But… I don’t know what to do with them.”

Rul Chuckled. “So you found the limitation of my method of teaching language. You inherently know the names for things, but you don’t know what they are or what their purpose is.

“Books contain knowledge, words, stories, and wisdom, but only to those who know how to read their secrets. Unfortunately, unlike spoken language, I cannot magically teach you. The only way that you will learn to read is the old fashioned way. I can show you the basics now if you wish.”

“I do.” I responded eagerly. But as Rul began to teach me, my enthusiasm diminished. It was hard work, not in the way hoof camp was hard, but difficult in ways that made me frustrated. I spent much of my afternoon with Rul, trying to learn, and even after hours of study, I only had learned the very basics. By mid afternoon I became to frustrated to continue, and Rul needed to return to his other duties (which remained a mystery to me).

And so, irritated and angry, I spent the remainder of the afternoon exploring Thunder Bluff uneventfully. I ended up returning to my tent early, tired, and dreading more brutal training at hoof camp the next day.
_________________
Sapphires vie for your attention. She dances. They mean well in their way. The priest says please, "I can't stand my knees and I cant bear her raven tresses caught up in a breeze like this."
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Albatros Bits Forum Index -> The Writers' Nest All times are GMT - 5 Hours
Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4  Next
Page 2 of 4

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot moderate your topics in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group

 

Art by
A

fansite



© Albatros. All rights reserved.