For those just tuning in – Wind’ is taking a tangent.
This starts down here
The three riders crested the hill with their backs to the late afternoon sun. Two were mounted on Kodos, big grays with proud black horns, their flanks covered in tribal symbols writ in decorative white paint. The third sat astride a sturdy black riding wolf, rare for the tribal taur-ahe, but common enough in the armies that protected New Kalimdor. Shading his eyes from the glare, Woodrow could make out the silhouette of old man Bearclaw, the chief of the Blackhoof Tribe. The old Tauren was as strong as the kodo he rode, but like the rest of his dwindling race lacked the size and stature of his forefathers. Riding next to Bearclaw was a younger Tauren, a brave, probably a son or a favored nephew along to observe the elder Tauren’s statecraft. The third rider, Tauren as well, was a proud looking female in traditional buckskins and sporting the tabard of the Thunderbluff Native Tribes Council. That would be Laughing Sparrow, Woodrow decided, the representative from the tribal side of the bipartisan government that ruled much of the prairie between Thunderbluff and the Barrens. She was along to ensure that the Ranchers Association was holding to its bargain to share the bounty of the land with Mulgore’s native peoples.
A fine agreement, I give them a percentage of my herd twice a year and they agree not to burn my ranch down around my ears.
Trebuchet snorted and stamped again as if in agreement with his master’s observation. Nathan tightened his thighs around the big red gelding and held the rein a bit tighter. As the riders reined in, Woodrow raised a gloved hand, palm open.
“Chief Bearclaw – it’s good to see you again,” he said and nodded a greeting to Laughing Sparrow. The tauren chief reined his Kodo a polite distance from the rancher’s war horse and raised a big three fingered hand in salute as well.
“Nathan Woodrow – I see you. It is good to see the seasons change is it not?”
“It is indeed,” the rancher replied simply.
Bearclaw turned in his saddle to indicate the brave he rode with. “Allow me to present Clear Creek, my sister’s son.”
Woodrow regarded the young brave, noting the tauren’s rigid posture.
“I see you Clear Creek,” he said, “and I welome you to these proceedings.” The young warrior nodded gravely but remained silent.
“Greetings to you Captain Woodrow, from the council of elders,” said Laughing Sparrow smoothly. “I trust the fine animals your men are tending to are your offering to the accord of sharing?”
Nathan nodded casually and glanced down to where two of his hands were wrangling the obstinate female into the makeshift corral. The big matriarch honked at the horse borne riders and brandished a worthy horn at them, but slowly joined the young males inside the pen.
“Four bulls and one of my elder breeder females,” he replied. “They are healthy and strong and will serve the Blackhoof well I think.” The rancher glanced at Bearclaw. The elder tauren was listening to something his nephew was saying. Nathan couldn’t pick out all the words, but he thought he caught the taur-ahe terms for “big female” and “nightmare”. He had to work to keep a thin smile from playing across his face…his mustache twitched with the effort.
“Fine beasts – particularly the bulls,” Bearclaw said after a moment. “Nathan Woodrow, my nephew is curious about the lady of the plains that you’re offering us. Does your herd not need a matriarch?”
“I have a young one up and coming,” the rancher replied, “I’d have offered her to you, but felt that it was best to offer the Blackhoof tribe’s herd both strength and wisdom.”
Clear Creek blanched a little at the answer and Bearclaw actually laughed out loud.
“Indeed. If her wisdom is anything like my lifemate’s, she’ll have my herd’s bulls running for your pastures in under a week’s time.”
Woodrow finally did grin and tipped his wide brimmed hat to the tauren chief.
“Only the best for my friends,” he said, his eyes twinkling. Bearclaw barked a laugh again.
“Friends! Hah! I’d pay good coin to see what stock you’d offer to a blood enemy!” He said, but stretched a hand down to the rancher to seal the deal.