Expanded Universe

Baine Bloodhoof:As Our Fathers Before Us

by Steven Nix

Baine smiled sadly and placed his massive hand on Hamuul's shoulder. "Give him time, Hamuul. Those like Garrosh, their time is fleeting. He will see reason, or hang himself in the end. Those are the only futures awaiting him. Either way, patience is our greatest ally."

Hamuul shook his head as if to clear it. "We existed in a time before the coming of the orcs, if you'll remember. Your father may have owed a debt to Thrall for all he did for our people, but this is a new Horde. I have heard whispers of other tauren. Some are wondering if this Horde is really something we should be a part of anymore." He snorted. "The Horde has done much and we owe much to it, but you must admit that their sentiments are not completely without merit."

Baine pulled a map from the shelf and began looking for all known water wells in Mulgore. "As you say, my father may have owed a debt to Thrall, but he believed in the Horde he helped shape. Though my father may be gone, and despite these changes we face, I still believe in the Horde."

* * * * *

Within a short time, water caravans traveling their way from various wells around Mulgore to Orgrimmar had become the norm. From there, the water was distributed, and the citizens of Durotar once again had fresh water in their homes. The occasional report would trickle in concerning attempted raids by bandits, but overall, the water shipment had given very little cause for concern.

The first attack to happen in Mulgore was a shock to Baine. Not only had it been in his land, but it was also a brutal slaughter. The investigation into the incident found no clues as to the attackers or their motives. Nothing had been looted from the bodies, and the caravan cart had been smashed, though nothing of interest was in it. The cart was only to carry a water bladder, after all. From the blood stains in the grass, a few bodies had been dragged away, but all other members of the caravan had been accounted for.

Baine was at a loss. He had first feared an attack of retribution by the exiled Grimtotem, but his Longwalker scouts could turn up nothing that pointed to their involvement. He was poring over these reports one day when an orc messenger approached and cleared his throat. Baine looked up and motioned for the orc to come inside. "To what do I owe this visit?"

"Message from the warchief." The messenger unrolled the letter and began reading, "Unto High Chieftain Baine Bloodhoof of the tauren, Warchief of the Horde Garrosh Hellscream sends the following: Water shipments continue on schedule and that pleases me. However, take note that the most recent shipments are tainted with an unknown agent. I expect this to be fixed, and soon."

Baine thought a moment, brow furrowed in concern. "Those shipments were from the well at Winterhoof. Tell Garrosh I will see to it personally." With that, the messenger ran off and, leaving one of his braves to oversee Thunder Bluff, Baine prepared for the walk to southern Mulgore.

* * * * *

Baine solemnly observed the bodies around the well. It was a scene of complete slaughter. Three caravans had been smashed beyond repair, and anything not nailed down had been stolen, including the full water bladders they had been transporting. The carts' kodos were missing and eight caravan guards lay in a circle around the six workers they had been attempting to defend. The guards had been better prepared this time, and at least a dozen quilboar bodies were scattered haphazardly around the area.

"These are quilboar, but better armed. See the armor on that one? It is a patchwork of various Horde designs. I've never seen quilboar so well-organized before." Baine grew thoughtful. "One obstacle to our peace in Mulgore was always the stubborn quilboar threat. My father could never open a dialogue with them. But, if they are under new leadership, perhaps we can negotiate with them this time."

Baine turned toward the nearest Longwalker. "Send word to Camp Narache that they must attempt contact with the quilboar in Brambleblade Ravine. We cannot answer slaughter for slaughter and I will not have an escalating war in my own land.

"I shall be staying in my old quarters at Bloodhoof Village for a few days. Update me as soon as you can." Baine then turned to his messenger. "Send word to Garrosh that we have found the culprit, and the situation will be dealt with."

Garrosh replied a few hours later, exactly as Baine had expected. The warchief insisted that troops march in to recover the land and expel the offenders. He ended his message with, And if you are unable to succeed in this, rest assured I will.

Baine snorted. "This will not do. I had hoped he would see the necessity of avoiding yet another conflict. So be it. Tell Garrosh that we appreciate his support, but there is no need for a military operation at this time, as we wish to see how the negotiations fare. I pray to the Earth Mother they will be fruitful."

* * * * *

The next day, the Longwalker approached Baine in his old quarters. "I have an update on the quilboar situation, High Chieftain."

Baine looked hopeful. "Any good news to report, perhaps?"

"We have tried communicating with them in every way possible, but our envoys are attacked on sight. After every attempt, they return covered in blood not their own." The scout saw the disappointment in Baine's eyes. He added quickly, "But casualties were kept to a minimum. They only fought as necessary while retreating."

Baine sighed. "Very well. Suspend attempts at negotiations for now. I need to find out the source of their aggression if we are to solve this problem without undue bloodshed."

One of Baine's advisors spoke up. "With all due respect, High Chieftain, I'm sure a small force could sneak in undetected and assassinate their leader. Throwing them into disarray would make it easier for us to eradicate them."

"Absolutely not. I know that somehow a peace can be reached. We will not fall victim to the lure of militaristic action. That is Garrosh's way, not mine."

He turned his attention back to the Longwalker waiting patiently. "Go, give them my message, and add that no one is to move into quilboar territory without my express permission. I will find an answer to this new threat." The scout ran off and Baine readied for the return trip to his father's home.

Baine turned to face his advisors once more before leaving the tent. "The world has been sundered; the Alliance harasses our borders; and the Horde is attempting to devour itself from the inside. I would like to try for a solution other than bloodshed."

The same advisor spoke up. "I am willing to agree, but these quilboar are belligerent brutes who have hounded our people for years. Such a peace would only last for so long."