Rainchaser in Stranglethorn Vale

5 Mar

Hi Folks!  It’s Windpaw’s AFK-writer-Bot here.  Here’s another oldie from back when Rainchaser was actually a Draenei Hunter!  Some of  you may have run across this a year or more back on his old blog.  For those that haven’t seen it – enjoy!  Again – this is a little old and a little rough.  Comments and feedback are greatly appreciated!

Rainchaser held herself motionless, body streaked with sweat, nostrils flaring as she fought to control her ragged breathing.

She had been up in the jungle highlands, north and west of the Kalai Ruins checking her trap-lines for quarry when a pack of raptors had set upon her. There had been four of the beasts, all low-slung killers with blood red hide and yellow eyes. She had cast a hasty frost trap on the first as it boiled out of the dense jungle towards her, then blinded and wing-clipped a second with her sword. She’d rolled away from the remaining pair, her cloak tearing in the talons of one as they scrabbled past, jaws snapping. Rainchaser lept to her hooves only to receive a bloody welt across her brow from a low-hanging limb. Stunned for only a moment, the huntress kept her balance and raced away into the jungle. The monsters trumpeted a hunting call into the hot air and tore chunks out of the loamy ground with their talons as they sped after.

Never had Rainchaser run so fast. The raptors pressed her hard at every turn, close enough that she could smell the fetid stink of rotten meat emanating from their dagger-filled maws. For nearly half a league they dogged her heels, forcing the draenei huntress to the limits of her physical ability. Every woodsman’s trick, every piece of trade-craft she’d learned in service to the Alliance and the Exodar had been expended during her desperate flight and in the end it had only barely been enough. Her leathers ripped and torn by the thick undergrowth and lungs savaged by a series of unbelievably steep climbs, Rainchaser hurtled headlong through the jungle towards the only safe place she felt the terrors wouldn’t follow. With the sound of rushing water ahead and the hunting calls of the alpha female behind, the draenei put on a burst of speed that vomited her out of the jungle and onto the edge of a yawning chasm of rock and rushing white-capped rapids. With no hesitation, Rainchaser raced forward and lept.

The raptor queen let out a shuddering call of rage as its quarry fell away in a swirl of black hair and red fletched arrows. For Rainchaser, the terrifying plunge had brought with it no relief, only a mindless, awful need to stop falling. The sides of the bluff rushed past in a roar of wind as she she clutched desperately at the masses of Red Bladed Creeper Vine that grew in thorned profusion on the walls of the far side bluff. Her hands stabbed at the trailing foliage in desperation, missing and missing again until at last both fell on a length of thorn filled vine as thick as a gnomes neck. Gravity immediately asserted control over the draenei as her gloved hands gained purchase and she arced brutally into the face of the cliff with bone jarring force. Winded and scared, Rainchaser swung limply from the thick vine. Gulping the mist filled air hungrily, the huntress surveyed the jungle path that paralleled the river below. The slowly – hand over bleeding hand she lowered herself down.

Alive

Rainchaser swabbed sweat from her eyes and spat out a mouthful of blood. Her lips were bleeding, courtesy of the creeper vines and the new gloves she’d bought in Darkshire a mass of shredded leather. But she was alive. Gathering herself mentally as well as physically, the draenei huntress decided that her work was done for the day. She took stock of what was left of her gear. She still had most of it, which was a blessing. Her bow was undamaged, her sword sheathed and strapped onto her pack. She’d landed on her waterskin though and it was well and truly busted. Her quiver was ruined too and virtually empty, most of its contents racing down the quick moving blue torrent of the narrow river. Well – that was simple enough – arrows were cheap and she could refit at that small camp of soldiers south of Duskwood. Rainchaser picked herself up, staggered a bit on exhausted hooves, and started to move down stream. The flow would empty out near Nessingwarys she knew. From there it would be a quick trip north to the camp.

It was then that she’d seen the Troll.

He was close – not more than twenty paces ahead of her. Green skinned, naked from the waist up and boasting a ruff of blue hair worked into spikes with animal fat. He knelt by the river, a big orange hunting cat at his side. Rainchaser froze and let her body blend itself into the bush. Her skin, already dark was dappled by sun filtered only by the dense canopy above her. If that monster of a cat didn’t get her scent – the troll shouldn’t see her.

Rainchaser held herself motionless, body streaked with sweat, nostrils flaring as she fought to control her ragged breathing.

For a moment she contemplated calling her pet, then stopped. She’d left Gitr stabled in Darkshire. While she wasn’t sure if the hearty boar could handle the black striped jungle cat the troll was paired with, she knew that it was a moot point anyway. The Ogrimarran war-boar was simply too far away. Still kneeling, the troll set its rifle aside and reached out with one hand to fish something out of the water. Rainchaser’s breath caught when she saw what it was.

Long, straight and black, fletched with the blood red feathers of a dragonhawk, Rainchaser recognized one of her own arrows as surely as she’d recognize her own reflection. By force of sheer will, the draenei kept herself completely motionless and watched as the troll hunter examined the shaft and tested its balance. The troll ran a hand through his proud ruff of blue hair and then laid it absently on the big cats flank. Rainchaser could see him saying something to the cat, but couldn’t make out the tone of it. Her heart stopped for a moment as both of them looked down river towards her position.

I’m alive as long as the wind stays still…

She repeated this mantra silently for what seemed like an eternity as the troll considered the arrow and where it might have come from. Then, with an easy grace of a practiced predator, the troll hunter stood, turned toward Nessingwary’s Camp and disappeared into the jungle.

Rainchaser watched him go with a mix of relief and apprehension. She was still alive – but in no condition to fight. The path to Nessingwary’s Camp was likely blocked now though and to get out of this giant ditch meant she’d have to backtrack towards Lake Nazferiti. It was a long walk she knew and an even longer track back up through the jungle to get to the southern road.

A hard walk to be sure and full of terrors.

Stranglethorn Vale was indeed living up to its reputation.

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