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 Post subject: Like Village Life
PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 5:26 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 09, 2007 6:58 am
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“The last few years have been just like village life,” Kickfeather commented, offhandedly.

Having recently delivered some of old Mishkwaki’s wares to some of the guards at the wall, Kickfeather had decided to climb to the parapet and see if there was anything interesting happening. She’d been standing there awhile and all was quiet as she tried her best to be just like the guard who stood silently in the watch tower. But it just wasn’t like her. So she thought she’d strike up a conversation.

“Well, you know, except for the earthquakes and angry elemental attacks. Cultists trying to seed chaos, the death of thousands, and the Pinkie armies laying siege. Oh, and let’s not forget the short lived tribal coup leading to the death of the leader of a Shu’halo nation. Yup. Despite all that, just like village life.”

The guard huffed. Kickfeather wasn’t sure if he was annoyed or agreeable, but she was encouraged. She walked to the other side of the watch tower and looked over Mulgore.

“Except, of course, it’s not one village. It’s actually a couple villages. And a whole city on top of high mesas. And all of them dotted across a vast and grassy plain now heavily protected by a great wall erected to keep out those Pinkies out there and who knows what else.

“Yup. Just like village life.”

From this vantage point, Mulgore was a quiet and peaceful sea of grass. The last of the marauding Centaurs had finally been pushed out. As well as the dwarves, though Por Ah took credit for the latter. She could see from here, the gazelles casually grazing, having migrated from the Barrens and finding refuge from that harsh environment. And she’d heard the pink-feathered plainstriders were growing in numbers. If their population kept growing maybe there would be a trade in fashionable pink feathered hats and baubles in the future.

Orcs in pink. Kickfeather chuckled.

But she knew it wasn’t paradise, not in the least. To the South the Quillboar were in a rancor because they had lost their homes to the shifting of the earth. And somehow the goblins still managed to keep hold of their mines. How they got in and out of Mulgore, who knew. And what remained of the Grimtotem were climbing over the mountains to the north and had small war parties trying to make Mulgore unlivable for the rest of the tribes, all in an effort to retain a foothold in this place declared the Shu’halo nation’s homeland. She had even heard rumor that there was a war between the rabbits and the field mice to the north as well. Too much time around Grimtotem spirits, most likely. But except for the rabbits and the mice, such matters were things Shu’halo understood and they knew how to deal with it.

Kickfeather returned to the guard’s side and looked once again out towards the Barrens. It was a different sight altogether. It was quiet too. But not in the same way. The wrong kind of quiet. Like when a hunter chases the lion and pins him in a cave with no way out and they’re staring each other down. Who would move first? Would it be the hunter with his gun or was the cat going pounce? That kind of quiet. Below on the parched earth nearby, siege engines dotted the land. Some were nothing but charred wreckage, the remains of previous attempts. But others were fully functional and manned by diligent Pinkie engineers and soldiers, sitting and waiting day after day under the hot sun and during the cold nights.

What they were waiting for exactly, Kickfeather could only guess. They’d been standing there a good long while now. More reinforcements? Orders? Waiting for the Shu’halo to let down their guard? Wasn’t going to happen. Kickfeather was sure of that. Shu’halo were a patient people. Most of them, anyway.

“GO HOME, YOU PALE-FACED MUFFIN EATERS!” Kickfeather yelled down at them, kicking a loose stone off the watch tower, aimed failingly at one of the humans. Not the greatest of insults, but it wasn’t like the Pinkies understood what she said anyway. “Ow! Ack! Sorry!”

With a heavy grunt, the guard grabbed Kickfeather by her arm and pulled her forcefully away from the edge. He looked back over his shoulder to make sure Kickfeather hadn’t caused an ‘incident’ before releasing her, giving her a stern look and then a deep sigh. She stood there biting her lip and avoiding his gaze out of embarrassment. With a snort and a shake of his head, he pointed towards the stairs. It was time for her to go.

“Sir, yes, sir! Lok'tar ogar!” she responded, brightly, standing at attention and saluting. The guard huffed again. Kickfeather smirked, knowing he was annoyed at the way she teased him with a salute mocking that of the orcs. “I’d best be on my way anyhow. Wanna do a run around Bloodhoof before it gets dark. Brother Mishkwaki knows you’ll give him what you owe later, ya. So I don’t have to wait for it. Wind at your back, Brother!”

Running down the steps she waved at her waiting kodo. “Come on, Badonkadonk! Let’s ride! Time for another patrol!”

Another day, another patrol. She wasn’t officially a Mulgore Protector. But not everyone dedicated to protecting the Mulgore had to be. And after the last few years, spent almost exclusively in Mulgore, she needed something to do. After the elemental attacks began, and unable to get any definitive answers about what exactly was going on like every other shaman and seer, her sister had decided it wise to stay close to ‘home’ and be there for whatever would finally transpire. And wherever Red Earth wanted to go, that’s where Kickfeather went. So when Chief Cairne challenged Garrosh Hellscream, they were in Mulgore. When the Grimtotem attempted to take over Thunder Bluff and massacred their own Shu’halo brethren, they were there. They were there to help drive them out. And afterwards, they were there to mourn and honor those who had fought and died. And they were also there to mourn Chief Cairne’s passing as well as his pyre sent his soul on the path to join the Ancestors. Since then, they had continued to play their small part to help Mulgore heal, rebuild and prepare.

Her sister tended to the spirits of the people. The Shu’halo spirits were torn. The tribes had lost many in all the varied attacks. And the world created by the Mother seemed to be betraying them. The land shifted and tore. In Mulgore, some mountains fell, some valleys flooded. Some had turned to those cultists for supposed salvation and it was a shock. Especially when it was someone revered by many, like Seer Wiserunner whose participation in vision quests had meant a lot to many young braves. But hardship was not unknown to the Shu’halo. They would endure like they had for many generations before, and they had the comfort and guidance of the wisdom of the shamans like Kickfeather’s sister to help them.

She had heard through the talk of traders and travelers some of what had been going on with the rest of the world. How it had changed. She heard the Barrens had been split in half, that a volcano had risen up in the Ashenvale forests. Durotar had flooded and become a swamp. Warchief Hellscream had rebuilt Orgrimmar to be even bigger and grander and the Horde and Alliance were constantly warring with each other now, fighting for territory and resources. She’d even heard that Gobbos were now actively helping the Horde. But over the years, the importance of all that news seemed to fade surrounded by her fellow Shu’halo here in the relative safety of Mulgore.

She lived the day to day life of a village warrior. While her sister healed, Kickfeather did the things she knew how to do. She knew how to hunt, to fight, to tell the young warriors a good story about war. And so she hunted, she defended, she practiced and taught the ways of war she had learned in her years of travel. She helped drive out those centaurs and protected the Shu’halo engineers who built the great wall. And when she was not patrolling or swinging a staff at some young brave’s head, she found time to do other things. She helped the mothers of Bloodhoof village wrangle their children when she wasn’t out on a hunt. They loved her because it was easy for Kickfeather to be big kid herself. She lent her little known talent of painting and beading to the leatherworkers preparing costumes for the seasonal powwows and circles. And she finally had enough patience to allow Mishkwaki to teach her how to fish with those silly rods and strings.

This is what Kickfeather had really meant when she thought about village life. She became greatly familiar with the lay of the land and with the people who lived there over the years. And as she rode into Bloodhoof village, passing the Warrior’s Circle, many of the practicing braves gave her a familiar wave in greeting and called out to her to join them. But she shook her head, declining apologetically with a smile. She gave them a mockingly threatening look when some of them questioned her bravery in jest.

“Hey, Kick! You’re going to be at the Storytelling tonight though, ya?” one of the braves called out. His face had a broad smile, full of anticipation. He was looking forward to tonight.

“You bet!” Kickfeather replied, cheerily. She gave him a big wave and then spurred Badonkadonk on. Once they had rode past the village she kicked her kodo even harder and pushed him into a gallop. She rode him hard across the plain, like she was pursuing a lost Pinkie with blood on his sword, heading for Thunder Bluff.

Another quiet night around the bonfire. Another night of song. Of war stories and hunting stories. Of laughing and gambling and drinking the night away under the stars.

Yep, just like village life.

She twitched. Kickfeather needed to get out of here.

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 Post subject: Re: Like Village Life
PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 11:12 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 09, 2007 6:58 am
Posts: 54
Several years before
Swifthorn Tribe, village of the Clan of Three Rivers

The night seemed chillier than normal. But then again, it could just as easily be the fact that Kickfeather was nervous. She stamped her hooves against the ground and shook her shoulders trying to be rid of the feeling. It didn’t help much. Maybe a cold wind had come over the mountains tonight from the north. Kickfeather took out her hunting knife and plunged its end into the fire, shifting the logs to give more air to the wood and grow the flames. It didn’t seem to help much. She was just nervous.

From where she sat, she could see across the village. And several tents down from her, the biggest of the lodges stood. It was the Chief’s tent. And it was where most of the community gathered for the important events, like they did now. Inside, circled around the warmth of another fire, Chief Greymane and his council of Elders were discussing the future of the tribe. They would be surrounded by some of the heads of families and most honored warriors too, all of whom could speak their minds about what was being decided. Around the lodge many other villagers congregated. Some sitting close to the lodge’s skinned walls trying to hear what was being said, others sitting by nearby fires asking those listening what they heard.

Kickfeather chose to stay where she was, however, by her own family’s lodgings. She was feeling protective of those asleep within, her mother and her sister. Not that either of them needed her protection. After all, her mother was the wife of the Blackhide. That alone, but coupled with her generous personality, gave her great influence among the tribe. Not to mention that even though she was an aged mother, she could still handle a bow and a knife. More than likely better than the strong, young Kickfeather could. But that was also because Kickfeather preferred much heavier larger weapons than the delicate nature of a bow.

And her sister. Well, her sister was the whole reason for all this commotion that now carried across the village. She had finally returned, bearing strange gifts and even stranger news of the world beyond the tribe. A world where a green-skinned people from strange lands warred against the Pinkies. Who had helped the tribes of Bloodhoof reclaim some of the Shu’halo ancestral lands from their enemies and who now wished for all the Shu’halo tribes to join them to create a new nation. Over a year ago, Kickfeather’s sister, Red Earth, had been chosen by the tribe . . .no, chosen by the Spirits themselves. . . to venture out to these lands now claimed by these orcs and their Horde and see how such an alliance with them would benefit the tribe.

Red Earth had been hesitant to go. But one did not deny the path that Por Ah set before you. As a shaman, she knew that better than most, most especially because of that. To be given the rights of a Blackhide shaman by the Spirits when your hide was red, not black? It was a clear sign she was meant for things beyond the norm. So Red Earth had followed her path and gone away from the security and familiarity of the tribe she loved. And now she had come back alive, well and full of amazing stories of her travels. Hearing those tales, Kickfeather knew her sister didn’t need protection.

But it was what she did. And so she did it anyway.

Red Earth was nervous. That was why Kickfeather was nervous. And she understood why. Once the celebrations of her return had completed, the Council got down to business right away. Long hours were spent listening to Red Earth’s tales of the outside world. They examined all she told them about what she had seen and learned. Days of questions and stories told and retold. Kickfeather had sat in for some of these meets. She heard the questions that were asked and saw the concerned brows at some of Red Earth’s answers. When all was said and done, she could tell her sister was not happy. She was unsure of what her sister wanted for the tribe, but Kickfeather could see she was sure the elders would not agree with her.

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 Post subject: Re: Like Village Life
PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 12:33 am 
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Mu’sha was high in the sky when the flaps of the great lodge’s entrance opened, the light of the fire inside streaming out and silhouetting those who waited nearby. As the tribesmen and elders stepped through the door, some walking out into the night to head to their homes, those outside watched apprehensively, waiting for someone to tell them what the Chief’s final decision would be. Knowing that so many waited, Greymane himself, though of so many years now he needed help from his grandsons to support him as he walked, came out and stood in the light of the fire to tell them. One person who did not wait, came out of the lodge and headed straight towards where Kickfeather now sat. She could see his dark form shift as he adjusted the kodo hide blanket covering his shoulders, its bone bead tassels rattling as he walked.

As the figure came closer, the face of Darksky, her father, became more familiar to her firelight. He gave her a wan smile, his eyes, though ringed with exhaustion, greeted her brightly. “You are not asleep. I thought you would be by now.”

Kickfeather shrugged. “It was pretty late when I came back from gambling. I didn’t want to wake anyone. But look!” Kickfeather beamed, as she shifted her weight so her father could see the dozen layers of white deerskins she now sat upon. “Bones were in my favor and not Backbreaker’s. He was also a little too drunk. He’s going to hate me in the morning. I’m going to make sure Mama wills these to people before he wakes up though.”

Kickfeather laughed. Backbreaker had been unforgiving of her as of late. One night, his kodo mark had started acting more than a little ornery. Whatever had riled them, agitated the rest of the riding herd enough that Kickfeather, who was in charge of the watch over them that night, was afraid they might stampede. They were so hyper, she started to lose her patience and almost started trying to punch the kodos senseless. And the rest of the braves with her were starting to wonder if they should even go near them. But Kickfeather managed to defer to her better self, and under her direction they wrangle Backbreaker's kodos all together, took them away from the rest of the herd, tied them to trees and let them be. They would come back for them in the morning when they would hopefully have calmed down. Two had broken loose, running off in the middle of the night never to be seen again. He blamed Kickfeather for the loss.

It turned out Backbreaker had started feeding his mark some strange herb mix a Gobbo trader had given him, guaranteeing it would give him virile bulls and cows that would double his mark in a year. That is what had made them so hyper and uncontrollable. And so, in truth, he only had himself to blame. But he insisted on Kickfeather’s incompetence in youth even though she’d led watches of the herd for at least a decade now, and was still sore about it even after Kickfeather offered him a gift of some of her finest beaded hides for him to use for trade to compensate for the loss even though it technically wasn’t her fault.

“The two of you are going to find yourselves before Greatfather soon enough if you don’t cool down.”

Kickfeather shrugged again, but she smiled to herself as her father took a seat next to her. He remained silent for a good while, watching the flames. Kickfeather tried to sit quietly with him, give him the time he needed before he would tell her what the Chief had decided. But then she also remembered how much more patient the old shaman was than her. Just as she was about to ask, he spoke up. “You should get your sleep. I have a feeling the winds will not let you rest tomorrow.”

“That bad, huh?”

Her father smiled again, his hand snaking out from under his blanket to pat his younger daughter on the cheek. She turned her head, avoiding his hand and huffed embarrassingly. That rewarded her with a chuckle. “Ah, my little one. All grown up now, you won’t indulge your father in even the littlest gesture for his wish to keep you a child forever.”

“Well, as you said, all grown up now,” Kickfeather replied, smiling back.

“And, yet, still unmarried.”

“HA! Find a Bull that can keep me in place long enough to ask me!” She leaned over and gave her father a playful nudge. He took advantage of her coming close and wrapped his arm around her in a hug. She did not protest.

“It would have to be a strong Bull indeed. Or better yet, a tricky one. It is not easy to grab onto the Wind.”

“I take that as a compliment,” Kickfeather declared with a firm nod.

“Indeed it is. But now, my wild and blustering girl, sit still a moment and indulge your father. I wish to tell you something of importance, something I wish you to take to heart and remember always.”

Kickfeather frowned. She thought she heard a hint of sadness in her father’s voice. But she did not have time to think upon it too long as his words came forth again and this time it was the voice of the shaman, not just her father. “As I have spoken before, your sister, she is a child of the flame. They touched her when she was still in your mother’s womb and hid her behind red fur when she was born. When she came out of hiding, you know as well as any, it meant she was destined for greater things.”

“It’s why she was sent away. But she’s back now,” Kickfeather interjected.

“Indeed. And the words she has brought back with her are to be the guide for the Swifthorn from this day forward. Yet, I do not know that they will be her guide. Perhaps they will be, but not along the same path that our tribe must follow. A fire as strong as hers does not like to be choked. And hers should not be. Not even by her.”

Just as Kickfeather had done earlier, her father reached for the fire and shifted the logs, allowing the flames more freedom to rise. He continued. “I do not speak to you in jest, my little one, when I say you are a child of the Wind. It is something Por Ah gave you. You do not have to be a shaman for the Spirits to lend you their gifts. They make you fast and agile and hard to keep down. They make you wide open as the sky and honest. And they make you playful and boisterous.

“Since the day you were born, my two little girls have always been close. There has never been a day when I worried the two of you would never get along. When she went away, I could see you were aimless. A listless wind with no flame to play with.” Darksky smiled. “You need your sister. And as a fire needs air to burn brightly, so your sister needs you. You must never let her fire burn out. You are that which will keep her moving along her path with the push of your breath. As long as you do that, she, in turn, will always give you life. Your mother and I have given you life and much love. But, indeed, my daughters have grown into fine women who can now give it to each other without us. I want you always to remember that.”

“Yes, Papa,” Kickfeather said. “And, I hate to tell you you’re wrong, but you are. You’ll always be with us. Just TRY to get rid of us.”

Darksky gave his daughter another warm squeeze and chuckled with her. “Now, it is late. And your father is tired. But his night is not done. Head in and get yourself to sleep. But wake your sister first and tell her to come out so I can tell her what we elders have decided. She will want to be told before morning comes.”

“Are we going with the orcs?”

Her father took a careful moment before he spoke. He shook his head. “No. The tribe will not be joining with this Horde.”

With a nod, Kickfeather went in, woke her sister, then settled herself for a good, long sleep. It was the last time she would speak to her father. That night, in his sleep, his spirit would peacefully slip away to join the Ancestors.

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