This is a Dagger and Totem story, written from the point of view of the young orc huntress Kruss.
Wow, this was making her nervous. She could hear the maddened and not at all rhythmic clicking of Irritant's leg upon the red earth of Durotar. She could feel her chieftain's gaze to the side of her, waiting for her to load her arrow and fire her bow. To where? Heh. There was a collection of boars exactly one hundred metres ahead, fenced off by a low wall made up of wooden sticks from the forests of Ashenvale, and her task was to kill each one of them, for they were ripe for eating now.
Oh yes. Training here was novel. But there was nothing funny about it to the usually confident and high-spirited Kruss. Because he was watching her. He, Gremkarc of Orgrimmar, was someone whom she had admired a lot before she had met him, and now fell quiet to whenever he was in her presence. He was a few months, perhaps a year, older than her. But youth never crept into his manner. He walked with the energy of one his age, and his voice was too high and juvenile to properly take seriously yet, but when he grunted, when he glared, and when he readied his mace and shield... this was no mere pup taking to the field. This was a Chieftain.
He didn't joke unless he was in good spirits. He wasn't in good spirits unless a massive obstacle had been climbed over. And right now, that wasn't happening. Right now, there was word that the new King of Stormwind was hungering for war, and, perhaps even more disturbingly, fresh sightings of the plague had been seen INSIDE Orgrimmar...
He was patient, though. He had made sure Kruss knew her targets, and made sure that she was ready for her task. The Dagger and The Totem trained their members in the art of warfare, and the glory of being, but it all came down to respect for your fellow Orc, Troll, Tauren, Forsaken or Blood-elf.
That, at least, was a little comforting. But her crab was still being as annoying as ever, and he was probably doing it on purpose. This was getting to be too much. She turned to look at Gremkarc, about to beg for his pardon. He grunted.
'Hunter, if you do not lower that weapon, I will snap it in half,' the shaman said, eyeing her up and down.
She looked down, and, to her horror, realized that her bow was still loaded. She silently cursed herself, and quickly pointed it downwards. As sweat appeared on her brow, she gently unleashed the arrow, which landed harmlessly onto the earth.
'M-my apologies, sir,' she said, smiling awkwardly.
He nodded. 'It happens. Now, what did you want?'
'I'd like to tell my crab to stop clattering his leg, sir.'
The orc's features formed into an amused smile. He nodded his head. 'Go on.'
Kruss tore herself away from the eyes of her chieftain, and regarded her unwanted pet with a face of contempt. It had started following her the moment she had saved its hide from the hungry net of a Kul Tiras fisherman, desperate for something to eat. The human's predicament was one that he had been forced into due to his army's resolute refusal to leave the island. It was now under siege and, apparently, out of food. An arrow to the neck had taken care of the rumblings in that human's stomach, but many more remained.
Irritant didn't even regard its master as it continued to poke the ground. It wasn't even a curious gesture - it was an action made out of habit and, she guessed, to annoy Kruss. Mischievous animals were never something that Kruss had considered possible before she had met this one.
'Geez, Irritant. Do you want me feed you to a crocolisk? Or maybe I'll fill your gob with Firefin, huh?'
That did it. Irritant, the little red crab that knew how to annoy, looked up from its perusal at the ground, and at Kruss. Cheekily, he turned his head to the Chieftain, too, who offered no assistance to the creature. Sensing imminent defeat, and getting cold feet at the idea of becoming someone else's lunch, Irritant hid itself in its shell.
'Thank you, sir,' said Kruss, saluting her superior. He only nodded, and looked back to the farm of boars.
This time, there was no break in the concentration. She picked up the roughly sharpened arrow from soil, and gave it a dusting off with a gloved finger. She'd have to learn how to sharpen them to a state where they were impossibly pointy. A couple in the clan had arrows in much better condition than hers, but, to be fair, the ones she had were for the young recruits who hadn't proved they weren't about to die yet.
It was ready. The boars in the circle she could clearly see. She judged the wind to be of an agreeable state, and as for the targets, they rarely moved. They were fat, and they were lazy. Luckily, only the very melodramatic could claim that the smell had drifted over...
She aimed high in the sky. She pulled back as far as she could, and her legs were rooted to the ground. Despite the nervousness she felt, her arms were very still, and her fingers were held meticulously on the string. Her eyes moved from the group of swine, to the point of the arrow. She lowered the shot slightly, and said a silent word to the elements.
And, like the wind, when unleashed, everything was that bit more hectic. Precise it may have been, but the speed of which it flew was something else. In seconds it was coming down upon the unexpected tusked animals. Its arc was just before the barrier to the farm.
It missed, of course. A shot not confident was a shot not worth taking. It hit the canvas roof of the farmer's house, and disappeared somewhere inside. But the boar she was aiming at wasn't so lucky. It should have known by the "whoosh" of the air to run for the hills, but no. Another arrow landed, and hit the earth right next to it, and within a second, another hit its head, piercing its brain.
Back where the flight started, there was silence for a few moments, but Truss knew she had achieved what had been expected of her from the way Gremkarc stood. His wolf helm that covered his eyes may have been a blockage to his feelings, but his body language spoke for a lot.
'It took you three shots, Kruss Cragshot,' he commented. This was followed up by a grunt, before he looked at her fully. 'Three rapid shots. Well done. The Alliance would scold you, and say your first failure counted for all, but the Alliance are fools. We are about pace, and speed, and agility, are we not? Are three arrows a waste? No. Ten will eat tonight because of that boar. Are ten saved because of the killing of one Night-Elf, or one Draenei? In all likelihood, yes.'
Kruss nodded. She found it hard to listen to Gremkarc, because idle thoughts always crept in. He watched his lips, and feelings of idolisation and intimidation cropped up, but there was one feeling stronger than the others...
'Tomorrow, you will be closer to making your aim good enough to kill on your first shot. It is no easy task, especially with such a low target, and from so long a distance.'
He saluted. She returned it instinctively, punching her chest with a clenched, sweaty fist. They both wore the same tabard. And then, the display that she had been waiting for, that cemented her awe for the shaman. He cupped his mouth with two gauntlet-clad hands, and shouted for all to hear, 'FIRE, I SUMMON YOU TO ME!'
He sent one of his hands rocketing downwards, throwing an open palm to the earth. A totem appeared there, a perhaps crudely crafted instrument that flames danced around. And then IT materialised. Bigger than both the orcs that stood there, and radiating heat from its very presence, Gremkarc's fire elemental's first gesture was to bow at its master. White hot eyes then turned to Kruss, and then what looked like a head nodded its pleasantries.
'Come, Fire. I have boar for you to cook. My hunter here, Kruss, she has slain it, and now we cook to celebrate.'
Kruss stood, dumbstruck. When the elements were involved, every compliment, and every appraisal, felt so important. It didn't matter that she wasn't invited to watch - a shaman's relationship with his elements was a deeply personal, and private one - and it didn't matter that she was about to get sent away. The forces of nature were hearing of her ability and skill. That was a big thing.
Gremkarc saluted her again. She saluted back. 'Earth be at your feet, Kruss,' he said, and then he turned, his cloak following him, and marking his importance and influence. Following was his elemental, floating in the air, and breathing in the scent of Durotar. The figures gradually became smaller as they approached the farm, but that didn't stop Kruss watching.
When she realized that she could possibly look like a stalker by now, she turned to Irritant, and smiled. He must have forgotten about his scolding a few minutes ago, because now he was back to amusing himself with the earth.
'Hey, Irritant. How about I fill your gob with mackerel, huh?'
Irritant found this suggestion most agreeable.