This little valley is getting a little too full

I was walking towards the lake and I was alone.  I prefer it that way.  The thing about being alone is it requires you to rely less on others, which is a good thing for me.  The less people I get to know, the fewer deaths I will have to mourn later, and Draenei know a lot about death.  Even without having to flee Argus, the Draenei are a long lived species, some of us over twenty-five thousand azerothian years old and counting.  It would be easy to see lots of friends and family die naturally, but then Sargeras came.  So much needless death, people becoming twisted and warped before your very eyes.  It was a nightmare.

I was six years old at the time of our escape and into the wilds of uncharted space, which means I’m somewhere around 25,045 azerothian years old.  Now, I did spend a lot of time in stasis pods, as I’m somewhere around 1750 years old from a physical aging standpoint, which pretty much means I’m a very young woman compared to some of the other Draenei.  Many others weren’t even born until after we reached Draenor, now being less than 300 years old, barely in their teens by comparison.

I was still walking, finally at the water, when I found the body of the owlkin that tried to kill me.  I walked over to the body and knelt down, looking at its face.  I was thinking how about how close I came to death that night, how, after all these years and all the running I’ve done, I was almost killed by a pissed off bird.  It made me angry, very angry, so I took the hammer and began to swing at it.  I stopped myself right before I made contact.  It wasn’t entirely the creature’s fault it attacked me, it was out of it’s mind with rage.  I quickly pulled myself together and continued moving on down the lake.

The night was cold, quiet, and serene, a little too quiet for my taste.  I’m used to hearing wind, water, birds moving, but this night there was nothing but dead silence.  I finally made it to the location Aldar had sent me to when I heard a moaning noise coming from behind a tree.  I pulled out my hammer and slowly crept around to the other side.  It was Tolaan, and he was injured badly.

“Tolaan, what happened?” I whispered, looking around for any enemies or traps.

“Kaat… the ridge… blood elves… they came… out of nowhere…”

“Did you get a good look at them, see how many there were?” I asked, as I saw two of their bodies just down the hill.

“No… but there were several.  They… left me to die…” he gasped out, struggling to breath.  I cast a quick healing spell on him to try and lessen the pain, but it was just a quick fix.

“Tolaan… Tolaan, listen to me, I’m going to get you some help.  I’ll be back as fast as I can.”

“No,” he said, “go… kill the elves… figure out… what they’re up to… I’ll… be fine…”

“Here,” I said, handing him some of my spare bandages I packed, “this should help.  Try and wrap your stomach, it should stop a lot of the bleeding, and here’s some painkillers.  Do you think you can make it back to camp?”

“I can try.”

“Good, because I’m going to kill me some elves.”

I left Tolaan at the tree and quickly moved towards the ridge.  It was still dark outside, and the moon was starting to go behind a hill, making it even darker.  I loved it, as it meant I could be stealthy rather than rushing in.  I climbed a nearby hill and watched their patrols, figuring out their movement patterns before striking.  The first two closest to me went down without a problem, just a quick Judgement and they were down.  The third was going to be more difficult as she stood right in the middle of the path up the hill.

I decided the best way to kill her was a bit of rock climbing.  I snuck up the side of the cliff nearby, hanging on with just my finger tips.  As I got closer, a rock fell down, hitting other rocks on its way down.  The elf looked right up at me, but didn’t see me, it was too dark.  As soon as she looked away I pounced on top of her, hitting her in the head with my hammer as I came down.  She was dead before I finished landing.

I killed one more before I reached the ridge.  They had a small encampment set up on the right side, and some supply carts on the left.  I thought this would be a good time to get a bit more revenge, and I snuck off towards the supply cart.  There was only one lowly elf guarding all those supplies, but another one that would walk up there occasionally.  I hid in the bushes until the second one left, and killed the first.  When the second one came back, I killed her too before throwing the bodies in the carts and lighting the carts on fire.

I ran back and hid in the bushes again before the fire got too big and was noticed.  When the elves figured out their camp was on fire, I continued waiting in the bushes.  When a single elf would run by, I would pull them into the bushes and snap their neck, quietly killing them as to not attract attention.  Once they were preoccupied enough with the fire, I made my way out into their camp and began searching for a reason as to why they were there.

I searched through various tents, finding nothing, but I eventually found a small path leading farther up the hill.  As I approached the top, I could see their leader, a surveyor by the name of Candress.  She was channeling energy into a small red crystal, but I couldn’t figure out for what purpose.  I tried sneaking up the hill a bit more, but she saw me.

“Guards, seize her!” she yelled, but luckily for me, her guards were preoccupied with my little fire.  She didn’t stand a chance.  She tried throwing a fireball at me, but she missed and took my hammer square in the face.  She fell to her knees, bloodied and in pain, but I ended that pretty quickly.  I searched her tent, figuring someone probably saw her throwing fireballs, and found a set of plans on a table.  I grabbed them up and took off out of there, catching up to Tolaan and helping him back to the hospital.

I told Aldar what happened to Tolaan, and about the surveyor.  He sent off a couple of guards to finish off the elves.  I then handed him the plans I found.  As I watched him read them, I could see the anger in his eyes increasing with every word.  He let out a very unhappy growl, and then was immediately composed again.  He then thanked me for bringing him the information and then went to talk with some of the other leaders at our encampment.  I decided to take the opportunity to get some well deserved rest, because with the way things went that night, I didn’t know when I’d get a good night’s sleep again.

I’ve got a hammer and I’m not afraid to use it

The inoculation process was long and arduous.   I was bored almost instantly, but the work had to be done.  A cleanup crew had been assembled to put down the crazed owlkin quickly and painlessly.  Some of the healthy owlkin reluctantly helped us with the process, even though we caused the problem in the first place.  My job was to give the owlkin injections to make it safe for them to drink the water until we could get the water cleaned up again.  I wanted someone to give me one of the tranquilizer rifles the Elekk handlers use, filling the darts with the owlkin’s medicine, but everyone else thought this was a bad idea.

Several long and boring hours later, we had finally finished.  I still don’t know why I had to help, especially after being attacked and injured, but I think I should’ve been up in a hospital bed getting some rest and recovering instead.  “Oh, but you’re a plate-wearing Paladin,” I hear you saying, “you should be able to take lots of damage without a problem.”  How about you have a pissed off bird attack you in your sleep wearing only a torn shirt and some ripped up cloth pants that aren’t even good enough to protect you from a stiff breeze while also not having a weapon?  It sucks, and I never want to do it again, even though it has already happened again, but that’s a story for another time.

Anyway, to get back on topic, after we had finished, I went back to the hospital, had something that resembled food for dinner, and went to go sleep on a crappy cot.  The next day I was going to have to help find a way out of the valley, so I tried to get some good rest.  It was going well, until Aldar awoke me in the night.

“Kaat, I need your help,” said Aldar, obviously troubled by something.

“What is it Aldar?”

“One of the scouts we sent out hasn’t returned back.  I was wondering if you could go look for him?”

“Aldar, I’m tired and injured, so why me?”

“I’m considering this me paying you back for not letting you kill owlkin earlier, because I’m giving you a giant hammer!”

Aldar really knows how to motivate me.  He quickly unsheathed  the hammer from behind his back and handed it to me.  The hammer was old, with plenty of chips and small cracks in the head, and the wooden handle was so well worn it was now shiny from use.  It was a piece of crap, but still a weapon, and better than nothing.  I loved it.

“Thanks Aldar,” I said with a big smile, “I’ll find him, don’t worry.”

“Good.  While you’re out there, keep an eye out for any other survivors, and also look for a way out of this valley.”

“Understood.  Which way was he headed?”

“He was on the other side of the lake, near a large ridge.  We thought there may have been some activity around that area, so he was going to check it out.”

“Ok, I’ll head that way in the morning.  Just a few more hours,” I yawned.

“No Kaat, go now.  Do you think I would’ve woken you up in the middle of the night if it could wait until morning?”

“Yes.”

“Ok, true, but not this time.  He should’ve been back before the moon rose over the valley, and it’s high in the sky.”

“Alright,” I said grudgingly.   I grabbed a few bit of food, some medicine and bandages, along with my new giant hammer, and headed out the door into the night, wondering what horrors Azeroth had in store for me this time.

Azeroth doesn’t like me…

I heard movement just before the attack.  As a tank, you have to learn how to anticipate everything the attacker will do in order to avoid or block it.  I, however, was out of practice.  Being in stasis on a ship for long periods of time, crash landing on a planet, and smoke inhalation will do that to a person.  He rushed me, clawing at my back.  I moved to sidestep the attack, but I was too late and tumbled down the hill towards the water.  Trying to catch myself before I fell in, I slid to a stop right at the edge, rocks and dirt falling past me to splash in the water.

I turned to defend myself, but quickly realized that I was unarmed and had no armor.  It was all in storage when the ship crashed.  Who knew where it ended up?  As my attacker ran towards me again, I ran to my left and up the hill a little.  As he ran, he let out a deafening screech, making me stumble and hurry to cover my ears.  He was quickly closing the gap between us, but I was faster.  I saw a tree branch lying nearby, which I grabbed as soon as he stopped screeching.  I swung around and brought the temporary weapon down hard, right between his antlers, splintering the wood.

His skull was apparently thicker than I thought, because all I did was manage to make him angrier, and give him a small cut.  He tackled me, pinning me to the ground.  He started clawing at me, which I had to block with my arms, getting cuts all over them.  When he pulled back, I quickly grabbed a nearby rock and smacked him in the face.  He leaned towards my face, trying to bite me, but I stuck my left arm in front of his beak.  He bit hard, but I was in a fight to the death, so I didn’t care.  There was so much adrenalin coursing through me that the pain was almost non-existent.

As he came down to bite me again, I again blocked, but this time I grabbed an antler with my free hand.  I twisted his head around, spinning him off of me, and then broke the antler off with a swift kick to his head.  While he laid there, trying to get up, I thrust the antler into his chest as hard as I could.  He quickly stopped moving.  I stood up, breathing heavily, blood dripping down my arms and torso, looking down at the lifeless bird, when the adrenalin stopped working.  The pain was quickly unbearable and I collapsed next to the bird.

I awoke several hours later in the medical building up the hill, with my back, chest, and arms all bandaged up.  I was still in a lot of pain and passed out again.  I woke up again that evening.  The pain had lessened quite a bit, but I knew I’d be bandaged up for a while still.  I slowly stood up and made my way out back where I found Vindicator Aldar staring off into the distance.

“Hello Aldar,” I said, walking up behind him.

“Hello Kaat, how are you feeling after that attack?”

“I’ve survived worse.”

“Haven’t we all… I bet you’d like to know what happened out there, why that thing attacked you?”

“Things need a reason to attack me now?  I thought I just naturally pissed everything off?”

“Oh, come now, you’re not that bad.  One of the power core crystals landed in that lake, poisoning the water supply.  The birds who drank from the water quickly became enraged and will attack anyone who approaches.  We can’t help them though, so we’ll have to kill them before they cause any more harm.”

“Kill them all?  I’m ready, just give me a good weapon and some armor,” I said, thrusting my right hand into the air, then quickly realizing my mistake as pain shot through my side.  I tried not to show my pain, but Aldar saw right through me.

“Yeah, not happening in your condition.”

“But… damn it, you’re right.”

“You do get to help though.  You get to inoculate the birds who haven’t drank the water, so it will be safe for them.”

“Really?  One of them just attacked me, almost killing me, and you want me to help you keep them alive?  Are you joking?!”

“No.”

“Aghh,” I said, turning to walk away in disgust.

“No,” he said, grabbing my shoulder and pulling me back towards him, “but, they’re not normally like that.  We’ve been observing them and interacting with the healthy ones.  They seem to understand what we are trying to do, and have been helping bring back our survivors that landed near their area.  They figured out that the water is bad and haven’t let any more of their kind drink from it.  They seem to be a fairly smart species, and we’re not going to let you eradicate them on a personal vendetta.”

“All right, but if you get me killed, I will kill you.”

“You’ll be fine, you’re too much of a pain in the ass to die.”