Tales, Comics, Videos

Baine Bloodhoof:As Our Fathers Before Us

by Steven Nix

Quilboar, far larger than normal and exceptionally pale, began to surround the gathered fighters. As they moved, unnaturally high-pitched sounds escaped their mouths, piercing the fighters' ears. Their bodies were ashen white and covered in sickly dark-green spiny quills, with large bulging eyes protruding from their heads. They stood a full head taller than any other quilboar ever seen by the tauren or any other race, and the intelligent malice in their eyes showed they were far more capable than their brethren who so recently had fallen before the onslaught of Baine, Hamuul, and the Sunwalkers.

Baine called for his Sunwalkers to halt as each side faced down the other. There was nowhere to go but backward. The air grew heavy and redolent of a cloying, earthy odor as more and more of the ashen beasts filled in every space of the cavern. But no attack came. It was as if they were sizing up these invaders, formulating a plan as to their next move.

Garrosh hefted his axe and yelled, "Ghostly beasts! Let us end this now!"

Baine shouted over Garrosh, "Warchief, we need to get to open ground! All is lost if we remain down here!" Hamuul made a gesture, and small vines sprouted from the earth, winding a path up through the maze of tunnels to the exit. "Follow quickly!" Baine ordered.

Dragging a roaring Garrosh in tow, Baine, Hamuul, and the Sunwalkers fairly ran to the surface, reaching the top as Hamuul's spell came to an end. Now they had room to maneuver. While Garrosh focused on the tunnel's exit, Baine grabbed the goblin flare gun from Garrosh's belt and fired it into the air. The zeppelins began moving in for extraction, but not quickly enough. The unnatural beasts poured to the surface, blinking hard in the early morning light.

Baine stepped toward them as they emerged, and they balked, aware of the fact they were out of their element. He turned toward Hamuul as the archdruid made a gesture and shouted to the crowd gathered before him, "There was a better solution, one which you all ignored. Behold the blessings of the Earth Mother!" With that, Hamuul stepped forward and, with a shout, thrust his staff into the ground.

Water erupted from a massive fountain in front of him, enveloping most of the albino quilboar and, with a roll of thunder, sweeping them back down the tunnel. Those who remained were knocked to the ground by the explosion, along with a chagrined Garrosh. The tauren remained steadfast and unmoving, anchored to the earth they so revered.

A new river poured from the spot where Hamuul had thrust his staff, trailing over the rocks to flow down the tunnel and deep into the earth. As the quilboar rose once again, Baine took another step toward them. "The land is bountiful to those who would respect it. There is water enough for all. You will find this river has charted its own course, moving through these tunnels toward an underground lake. Take this gift, and bother us no longer."

The quilboar slowly returned to the tunnel as the light fully crested the hills surrounding Mulgore. Dawn was significant to all tauren, as it symbolized rebirth, but today added a fresh new respect for the Earth Mother and her many gifts. They picked their way among the bodies of the quilboar who had fallen in the initial attack and made for Camp Narache. Garrosh moved in silence, too angry to speak. Baine realized that such a reaction did not surprise him as he studied Garrosh's stiff movement.

The first zeppelin finally pulled into place and stopped as the rope ladder descended to ground level. Baine looked up at the airship, then back to his Sunwalkers gathered around. His gaze fell on Garrosh for a few moments before he nodded at the airship and said, "Go lead the Horde. Should we require your assistance again in Mulgore, we will let you know." With that, he turned his back to the still silent warchief and began the trek back to Thunder Bluff, his Sunwalkers in close step behind him.

* * * * *

Night began to fall on Mulgore, casting long shadows over the land. Fires dotted the mesas and plains alike as all tauren settled in for the evening. Tonight they would sleep soundly, knowing their land was safe once again. Outside of Baine's lodge, Greyhoof Farwanderer and a few of his tribe hesitated. Finally, he said, "Steel your spirits. We must do this."

With his tribe members close behind, he entered the main room, where Baine was attempting to relax, and asked quietly, "High Chieftain, might we have just a moment of your time?"

Baine stood up with a weary smile. "By all means. What might I do for you?"

The elder tauren hung his head and said, "Despite your encouragement, our hearts were still troubled. We spent time preparing to leave, and in the early hours of the morning, we set out. We witnessed your triumph over the quilboar, and it was truly inspirational. You have a leader's strength and rely on wisdom we were too blind to see. We are ashamed to admit we felt the need to leave this land, and we humbly wish to apologize, High Chieftain."

Baine dismissed this with a wave of his hand. "We live in a turbulent and uncertain time. Your troubled hearts are easy to forgive. These quilboar will harass us no more in Mulgore, but that does not mean we are free of troubles. We are beset on all sides by problems both from within and without, but it is only together that we will overcome them."

Baine moved to the front of the lodge and looked outside for a long while. He watched as Thunder Bluff prepared for the evening, scattered fires burning in the distance. He could vaguely see the silhouette of Camp Narache, where young tauren braves now resumed their training. They would be needed in the coming trials, trials that would as yet test the faith and stolidity of all his people.

Baine nodded and turned his attention back to the small group before him. "Our people have walked this land for many, many years, and in that time have learned much about the world. Our allies will need to look to us for wisdom and guidance. My father once made a promise to the Horde, to repay a debt we owed them for their service to our race. I, for one, intend to deliver on that promise."