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Posts: 110
Joined: March 25th, 2014, 7:35 pm

[H] Rescue (a Kerala story)

by redeyedtreefr0g » March 30th, 2014, 2:27 am

The rain fell lightly, making not so much a pattering sound, but a quiet rushing, a whispering. Giant trees high above covered so much of the sky that the water drifting down was a delicate mist. Grasses and leaves twitched with the tiny droplets coalescing, becoming heavy, and running earthward. The sparse forest seemed like a living, breathing thing.

In the greenish gloom, Kerala sat as a storm crow as she often did, watching. Perched on one of the many boulders outside her cavern, she watched the world, and the stone guardians milling about. There were no longer any invaders to upset them, but still they wandered the area. Seeking. Investigating, she supposed. Abandoned crates of supplies littered the area, but they did not take kindly to anyone tampering with them. Curiosity was strong enough within her to consider angering her gentle protectors.

A gentle rumbling reminded Kerala that her stomach was empty. She shook herself, feathers puffing out and sending water droplets in all directions away from herself. She launched from the rock, flapping twice, and then suddenly a Tauren woman stood where a bird had been.

Her fur resembled the feathers of the wet brown bird she had been, growing in all directions, swirling, chaotic. Her mane, even damp, was wild as well, the humidity causing curls to frizz and split to even worse effect than usual. The cropped mess was withheld from her face in the usual clumps, secured with thick leather ties. Kerala had no concept to care about her appearance, even now.

She walked slowly into the cavern considered to be her home. As always, she could not help but to admire the beauty around her. Not far into the cavern tunnel, a green crystal burst from the rocky ground. It's color was dazzling, a sort of glow lit the crystal from within, and it cast a calming green light on the area around it. Shortly after that, a mossy column and little alcove were illuminated by shards of a yellow crystal. The entryway of her home was littered in the beautiful glowing lights of crystal groups in yellow, green and blue. Stone guardians roamed everywhere, their huge feet surprisingly quiet on the rock floor. They never once stumbled into a crystal formation, though they had no discernible pattern to their ramblings. They paid Kerala no mind as she slipped quietly between and among them, heading deeper into the cave.

The tunnel twisted sharply to the left, and Kerala saw the first cluster of red crystals, planted into a wall with the other colors like decorative plants on a shelf. The path seemed to split here, high and low. A Guardian blocked the high path, so she waited patiently for him to continue on. The low path led down two steps and around a pillar, but ended suddenly in the wall which was the high path. Kerala was not skilled enough to scale that short stone wall, so she took her time and stepped carefully around the Guardian. It smelled of earth and cleanliness.

Continuing now the the right, the tunnel led down further into the earth. The crystals became gradually more numerous, the soothing light stronger, and she could hear them humming now. The larger clusters also gave off the barest amount of heat, making the air hazy around them if one cared to notice. The back of the cavern was slightly warm, and the echoing hum was a constant and pleasant sensation.

In the deepest section, Guardians could not go. Kerala had brought in bundles of ferns and sweet-smelling vines from outside. The collection filled the entire crevasse, forming both a mat and nest of sorts. It was springy and soft, and when she laid in it, every movement crushed the durable plants just enough to release a wonderful whiff of new scent. She replaced the collection every month or so when the vines began to wither.

There was also the little curve that Kerala considered hers- a sharp elbow tunnel behind a large boulder and another pillar. The Guardians were too unwieldy to venture there for the many crystals lining each end, but Kerala loved the private little flat space back there. She's piled up smaller stones into a fire circle, and it was here that she would roast her meals if she chose.

Chilled from the rain outside, she thought it would be rather nice to light a fire. She retrieved the dried remnants of previous bedding and carefully arranged it within the circle. It took several tries, but finally she struck a spark onto the pile, and quickly encouraged it to grow. She paused once the flame had come to life, staring into its harsh glare, reminiscing about a pair of eyes that burned similarly.
. . .
Last edited by redeyedtreefr0g on March 30th, 2014, 2:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
Tauren: Lomani, Kerala, Anura, Coqui, Chanchu, Pipapipa, Heget
Undead: Aziris

Posts: 110
Joined: March 25th, 2014, 7:35 pm

Re: Rescue (a Kerala story)

by redeyedtreefr0g » March 30th, 2014, 2:28 am

Kethrenorean Forestwhisper stood, hands in the air before a ring of spears aimed at him on all sides. His staff lay on the ground where he'd thrown it, half-buried in the desert sands. The largest Magram centaur in the group which surrounded him bent with deliberate slowness and retrieved the abandoned weapon. He spoke in a rough language, fast and guttural.

“It. Mine. Elf, mine.” One of the smaller centaurs translated. His Common was broken and harsh, as if the creature spoke around a throat full of thorns.

Keth said nothing, not about to argue with an entire marauding party. One warden lay dead, the other a captive with Keth, blood seeping from a wound on his head to stain the bright green ponytail. He was currently held face down with a centaur hoof on his back.
Keth was a botanist, helping to transport supplies to a researcher stationed in Desolace. The claim was that the catastrophe affecting the rest of the world had an unexpectedly good effect in the middle of this vast wasteland. The land had been literally cracked open, allowing the sea to send its waters directly east as far as the kodo graveyard. An oasis had almost literally sprung up overnight, teeming with rich plant life and new possibilities, so claimed his colleague.
Keth was part of a supply run, traveling in advance of the full Cenarion outpost that would be arriving. Their numbers were smaller now, the Circle spread out wide in the wake of destruction wrought by Deathwing's re-emergence, but Keth was reasonably certain that his stay with the centaur would be brief, if he could survive it.

The centaur looted them all, stripping living and dead of primary belongings,and even clothes. Keth was left standing in his loincloth, the warden a simple pair of breeches. They were rough about it, but not quite thorough. Keth successfully palmed a handful of seeds from his pocket before they relieved him of his belt. His closed fist went unnoticed.

The dead warden was seized by his long braid and dragged unceremoniously before them, presumably toward their encampment. Keth and his companion followed, walking in the vague trail of blood and being prodded every so often with sharp spear tips despite complying with their captor's demands. Every few yards, Keth dropped a seed.

More than an encampment, he was surprised to find a whole, if crude, village. Set at the southeastern mountain boundary of Desolace, they were situated against a very defensible backdrop. Their huts were arranged in random fashion around a large shallow pool of water. The pool must be spring-fed or it would have dried out under the harsh sun. Keth was already predicting an unpleasant stay with these savages- the dawn was not even complete, and already he could feel his skin burning. The cold of night was evaporating away at an alarming rate.

Keth's attention was snapped up from the ground, where he'd been doing his best to avoid the large piles of droppings with limited success. The remaining Warden had cried out, his voice loud with anger and disbelief.

The centaur had begun preparing the body of their companion for cooking.

Keth was being monitored for a reaction, he saw, and so he did nothing. His companion unwisely began shouting. Before Keth could say anything to aid the impetuous youth, his fate had been decided at the business end of a spear through his back. Still watching to see Keth's reaction, the centaur finally prodded him away from the gruesome butchering and up a hill towards the mountain wall.

There was a sort of clearing back here, spiked with mounds of rocks like giant chubby fingers poking up. Some of these were collapsed, no doubt from the quakes that had proceeded the great dragon's explosion into this world. Small dusty trails could be identified between and around the rock spikes, leading to several spots in the mountainside. In many places the rounded face had shifted, with great sheets of it fallen down. The footpaths still leading to the blank wall finally made Keth's befuddled brain recognize that they were mining entrances. Over one of the tunnels, there was a rather elaborate covering, like a woven basket. Given the relative scarcity of plant life in this section of the desert, Keth was intrigued.

He was led straight to this tunnel, and a closer inspection of the woven barrier made him realize- the thing was a cage door. Keth had seen other slaves kept in large rings made of a spear wall, relatively open. No other tunnel had a cage over it, nor did he see any pieces of another such contraption in the ruins of the other tunnels. The centaur obviously held this tunnel as special in their minds, though. First, the big one tried to peer through the intricate lacing of branches to see anything that might be on the other side, waiting in the darkness. Unsatisfied, he barked a quick order and the remaining three of his guards leveled spears at the entrance. The cover ties were unfastened. Quickly the big centaur opened the cover at the same time as Keth was shoved into the tunnel. He was overcome with worry now, about what could be lurking here.

He was about to make his way deeper into the darkness where his eyesight might adjust to the gloom, when a shout made him stop. By the tone, the big centaur was trying to get his attention, rather than insulting Keth. He turned to approach the cover, which had been sealed again. The centaur was holding something through a small hole in the weave. A stick? Keth reached to take it and realized it was a skewer with small pieces of raw meat on it.

Sickened, Keth made to throw away the offering, and again stopped at the shout of anxiety, followed by a few Magram curses in that bastard dialect of theirs. The big one shoved a smaller centaur closer to the cover, almost smashed against it, which seemed to terrify the younger male. Again Keth felt the nagging of real danger. He waited, skewer in hand.

After a brief exchange, the young centaur grunted, searching for words. Finally, “Give... give bear. Strong... No eat!” At this last, the centaur had pointed at Keth.

They were afraid of a bear, then? Keth nodded solemnly, and then the centaur were gone. Feed a bear. Keth was suddenly feeling much better. An animal he could maybe communicate with. How had they managed to trap a bear here? They were not native desert residents. Perhaps that explained the centaur's reluctance. A healthy strong bear could prove a formidable enemy, especially if they had cornered it in here, limiting the number of centaur who could face it. Probably the creature had been captured recently, and was still angry enough with enough strength to maim the one who attempted to kill it for dinner.

But a crude cage door made of sticks could never hold a bear...

Keth put a hand to the wall, his superior night vision quickly failing him in the complete darkness of the tunnel. He felt along carefully with one hand on the wall, and bare feet seeking slowly along the floor. The tunnel smelled strongly of urine and dung. And smoke. Occasionally his foot landed on a soft squishy something, and he grimaced at the thought of his feet now covered in feces. He struck his head hard on the roof, which became quite low for a time. Now he felt above him with the hand that held the skewer. The meat bits on it were sort of gooey too, he noticed. He knew he should mourn for his kin, but the practical side of his experience told him now was not the time for such things. And they had not been very bright, he mused.

Keth's questing feet now found only wide puddles of slime, and he imagined the bear ill. He found the semi-solid evidence of likely diarrhea, and then other pools with... bits. In them. Vomit? The stale air surrounding him was challenging his own self-control. It was very difficult to breathe at all, and yet every breath he did inhale felt like poison, so much so that he felt slightly dizzy. And then his nose caught another scent mixed with the foulness around him. Smoke. A tiny tendril of it caught in pockets along the uneven roof.

Keth followed his nose. He heedlessly traveled faster than before, and paid for it with bumps and scrapes. Once he tripped over something that sounded suspiciously like bones when they were disturbed. Keth picked himself up, thankful to have apparently arrived in a cleaner section of the tunnel.

The sound of his rattling fall over the bones echoed down the tunnel, which must be suddenly larger ahead. Keth listened. The echo slowly died. It was replaced by something that sent a shiver down his spine. A sort of scraping, punctuated by short thunks. It sounded as if a skeleton were walking toward him, and Keth sent a prayer to Elune. He was old, almost naked, and bruised, but he was not defenseless.

Keth waited, crouched, his vision swimming with false images in the darkness. He palmed a rock with a relatively sharp edge. The shuffling scrape came gradually louder. As it did, Keth realized that a small patch of darkness in front of him was in fact becoming lighter. It was something with a light. He imagined one of the glowing Northrend skeletons that had sometimes haunted his dreams since he'd heard the tales.
. . .
Tauren: Lomani, Kerala, Anura, Coqui, Chanchu, Pipapipa, Heget
Undead: Aziris

Posts: 110
Joined: March 25th, 2014, 7:35 pm

Re: Rescue (a Kerala story)

by redeyedtreefr0g » March 30th, 2014, 2:28 am

The thing that rounded the corner was large, humanoid in shape. It lurched forward in an uneven jerky manner. Not a skeleton. Not a bear either. The scraping sound came from it's feet, which were not quite lifted enough to completely clear the rocky ground. It held a dully-glowing sphere of light cradled to it's body, a magic device whose energy was nearly depleted. Still, in the darkness the sphere was blinding, and it's carrier shadowed and strange. It kept one hand on the wall beside it like Keth had done, but it leaned and crashed against the wall as it came on.

As it neared Keth's hiding place in the dark, the creature suddenly stopped. Keth tensed, gripping his rock. Despite his readiness, Keth was unprepared for what happened next. The creature dropped the sphere of light and launched at him, but it did not hit him directly though he'd neglected to attempt a dodge. Instead, the thing attacked his left side, sending him spinning off-balance. He was grappled for a moment, and then abruptly the attack stopped, and he was free.

Strange sounds filled the tunnel.

Keth tentatively retrieved the glowing sphere from where it had landed, and he approached the creature. What he saw was appalling.

Still in the sprawl where she had landed, a filthy Tauren woman gnawed at the stick which he realized he'd been holding in his left hand. Most of the meat was already gone. When he brought the light closer to her, she blinked and shuffled position to turn against it, but otherwise she ignored him, all attention on the scant meal.

His imaginings of a skeleton were not far off the mark. He could see the outline of every bone of her body beneath dirty matted fur. Her joints were bulbous and strange with the lack of muscle filling the spaces between them. The nobs of a spine were all that passed for a tail, which was hairless, and they marched up a rippled and scarred back and curved down again to meet a tangled mass of filth that was once a mane. Great stripes of fur were missing along the lines and holes of wounds in various stages of healing. Many places were inflamed and showed signs of infection. A few dead maggots lined some of the larger wounds in her back. The woman was nearly naked, wearing the ragged remains of a hide in what might have been a skirt and vest at one time. The hides were filthy and greenish from some sort of decay, torn and held on with only the matted dirt of the fur beneath them, maybe.

A snap sounded suddenly, followed by sucking for a moment, and then abruptly the Tauren turned back to Keth. Wide sharp horns stuck out impossibly large above a face sunken and alien. Eyes blinked up at him, pupils huge and enlarged to adapt to the dim light. They stared from deep sockets set above hollow cheeks, and they glittered fever-bright.

“I am Keth,” he said in Common. “What is your name?” Silence answered him.

She moved to stand, taking several attempts before she managed to jerk her limbs into the proper position and drag herself to her feet. Keth's heart went out to this poor abused creature.

Finally upright, she advanced on Keth again, unsteady, slow. It seemed she had expended a great deal of energy in the sudden rush to acquire her meal. Reasonably certain that he was not in mortal danger, he held still.

She shuffled to Keth, sniffing like a hound. She reached for him, and he stepped back. She advanced immediately, reaching down and staring at his left hand. He held it out to her to show her that it was empty. She grabbed for it and brought it to her face, and Keth reacted by slamming the rock down on her bony neck, trying to free his hand. The blow had little effect. Her grip, though weak, was two-handed and urgent.

She licked him.

Keth aborted his second swing at her, but was prepared to jab at an eye if she bit him. Her tongue was dry and incredibly hot, and after a thorough tasting of his hand, she let him go and reached for the orb. He relinquished it to her.

She turned her back on him as if he did not exist, and made her way back the way she had come. Keth followed her slow clumsy steps. The dim light showed walls pock-marked and scratched from crude mining. Rubble and refuse lined the floor, and more than once the Tauren woman caught her dirty cracked over-long hooves on a stone, causing a lurch and often a fall.

She did not object when he helped her to stand, using him just like she would a rock to push against weakly. He was not sure if she knew he was there.

They reached a fork in the tunnel, and she made for the left one. He could see that the right one had been traveled before. The entrance to that path had been deemed a refuse place, Bones, excrement, and a pile of rags could be seen. In the pile of bones there was the skull of some animal dog-like in shape. There was also a humanoid skull buried in the dark filth.

A few yards in, this new tunnel ended. The Tauren woman picked up a broken metal thing with a blunted point. A piece of a pickax, he realized. She put the orb where the pickax had laid, and turned to the wall. The Tauren began weakly hitting the wall in a spot where a sizable hole was already formed

Keth watched her for a moment, again moved to pity. How long had she been in captivity? What reason motivated the centaur to have her locked in a mine rather than eat her, like they did most other captives? By now, she would make a meal hardly worth the work to butcher her. Keth had worked closely with healers in many areas, and he had never seen a creature so emaciated. Not alive, anyway.

“So, you search for metal or gems. When you find one, do you trade it for food?”
He sought along the ground and found another piece to the pickax- the splintered remains of the handle. Abandoning it as useless, he continued poking around in the shards of rock. The answer he got was silence again, punctuated by the unsteady sound of the pickax striking stone.

As he continued to poke through the relatively clean rubble at the back of the tunnel, the pickax fell silent. He turned to find the woman hunched over, nearly fallen, clutching her arms over her sunken midsection. He rushed over to her, ignoring the sharp pains of the rocks underfoot. He grabbed an arm as she fell the rest of the way, helping her to sort of slide to the floor a little more gently than if she had collapsed alone. All the fur that was not glued down with filth was standing on edge, and she shook with small tremors. Her face was slack, eyes closed.

Her body tensed a few times in convulsions, and then then she was sick. The first major heave brought up the few bits of meat she'd eaten in a foul-smelling dark slurry. Keth gagged, clenching his mouth firmly closed against the reflex to empty his own stomach. Instead, he firmly kept the Tauren from sitting further upright, where the vomit would dribble down her front, or from slumping down further to lay in it. She heaved strongly again, and a little more of the dark slime fell from her mouth. Several further convulsions brought up nothing, but they took a heavy toll on the woman. By the time her shaking had subsided, she was senseless and limp in the instant exhausted sleep of a serious invalid.

Keth gently pushed her upright now, then guided her over to the other side against a small flat pile of the rocks she'd been breaking free of the hole. He positioned one of her arms up under her head, and the other beneath her face, creating a cradle that, if she was sick again, would prevent her from drowning in it. He dragged one of her legs to a bent position to be sure she could not fall out of the position he'd placed her. His self-control in working beside the healers had never been put to such a test. He was repulsed every time he laid a hand on her, touching on purpose the things he'd previously only stepped in due to the dark.

Keth stepped over to retrieve the glowing orb, and morbid curiosity made him cast the light over the puddle of sick. The darkness was brownish red. She was bleeding internally. That, and being unable to keep food down was a very bad sign, he was sure.

He moved the light up to the hole she'd been working in, stepping over her carefully. He was surprised to find a very large gemstone nearly freed from the rock imprisoning it. It was rough, with bits of rock still clinging to it's surface, but even through that he could see an orange glitter from it's depths. Keth reached into the hole and scooped out the shards and flakes of stone, inspecting. His instinct told him the gem was loose already, and only needed leverage to pop free. He reached further in the small crevice to feel with his fingers, memorizing by feel what his eyes could see. Then he set down the orb and traded it for the poor blunted pickax tool.

In the shadow, he guided the end of the tool to the spot he felt would be right, and then he used both hands to pry at the pickax. The slight wiggle on his end either meant the ax was slipping, or he was succeeding. He pushed harder. With a sudden POP! The ax came free from the hole and he lurched forward without the resistance. He scraped his hands against the wall and the pickax fell with a dull clatter to the stones, just missing the woman's head.

Keth retrieved the orb and brought it to the hole to see what he'd accomplished. The gemstone was gone, a small rounded socket where it had been. Keth searched the floor of the narrow tunnel, surprised when he finally found the jewel, it having flown an impressive distance.

Keth scooped it up and pondered a moment. Then he took the orb and the gem and began retracing his steps to the entrance of the tunnel. He moved faster with the light, not having to keep a hand on the wall, and able to see the places where the ceiling was very low. He saw signs of stress in the rock, likely from the quakes that had collapsed so many other tunnels. His imagination about the filth covering the floor was accurate, and he was careful to look down as little as possible.

He reached the cavern entrance, surprised to find the sky darkening already.

“Hey!,” he yelled. “Here's a gem for you, come get it!! She found one!” He stuck his hand through the cage door and waved the orange jewel as he shouted. He repeated himself several times before the gem was snatched out of his grasp.

It was a centaur he hadn't seen before. Maybe. They all wore variations of the same ugly face, had similar paint on their hides, and were a uniform shade of filthy with the same flies buzzing around their hindquarters.

“The woman in here found this. Does she trade it for food? Can we have water? She's very sick, I think she may be dying.” Keth said it quickly, for the centaur was turning away already. He paused to listen, though, and when Keth said the last word, he though the centaur understood him. A flicker of emotion crossed the warrior's hard face. Regret?
“She's very sick,” he repeated. “She needs food, she's starving to death. At least water! She must mean something to you, why else build a cage to keep her, why not eat her? She's going to die.”

The centaur advanced and launched into a litany of angry words, a veritable speech for one of his clan, as uncivilized as they were known to be. He rattled the tunnel door with the butt of his spear to punctuate some of the finer points he was making. Then his face became slightly softer, and his phrases were definitely tinged with sadness. Keth wondered what the Tauren woman had done to earn this kind of respect from such a singularly barbaric and ruthless race. The centaur speech ended with repetitions of a phrase, and then what might have been a superlative form of the important adjective.

Keth waited until the centaur was finished, and then made a gesture of confusion. “So yes you'll bring her food and water?”

The centaur stabbed through the woven door with the point of his spear. Keth dodged back, and when he stepped back up to peer through the branches, the warrior was galloping away down the path to the village, his flies left behind buzzing in confusion where he'd been.

Keth settled down on the floor to wait.
. . .
Tauren: Lomani, Kerala, Anura, Coqui, Chanchu, Pipapipa, Heget
Undead: Aziris

Posts: 110
Joined: March 25th, 2014, 7:35 pm

Re: Rescue (a Kerala story)

by redeyedtreefr0g » March 30th, 2014, 2:29 am

The moon had risen and nearly set before Kethrenorean was awakened with a sharp poke to his ribs, apparently having dozed off. He supposed that a night of traveling followed by a day wandering black tunnels would tend to catch up with a still body eventually. He groaned and rolled away from the offending spear.

The cage door was unfastened, and a cloth bag was passed through without a word.

While the tunnel cover was being re-secured, Keth brought the weak glow of the orb over to the bag to inspect its contents. Inside were several smaller bags: one contained dried bits of jerky, a corked skin with the most foul-smelling water in it. Keth was surprised when he came across a satchel of herbs and seeds from his own supplies. Also included in the supplies were several bags full of dried discs of dung, and flint for striking a fire with them.

He took the bag of supplies and hurried back to the Tauren woman. She was just as he had left her. He cast about in the cavern for a rock with a shallow dish-like shape, unable to locate one. Frustrated, he left again, searching. The only thing he found to serve was a humanoid skull. It wasn't in a pile of feces like the first one he'd seen, but it was still far from clean. He tried not to think about the scrapes along its surface from broad flat teeth.

Keth returned with the skull and dumped the supplies out of the larger cloth bag. He used a bit of the precious water to moisten the bag so that he could wipe out the inside of the skull. Keth grabbed a piece of jerky and ripped off a small piece, chewing. He was no healer, but he did know some of the herbs that were used in the healing draughts that he'd seen prepared. He searched in his satchel until he found three that might serve.

Bruiseweed was reputed to be fantastic at stopping the flow of bleeding in wounds. It grew in nasty-looking bunches with thin thorny stems. The flowers grew with thick bulbous bases and a crowded head of purple fuzzy petals. Placing the petals directly on a wound slowed external bleeding and helped form clots faster, while the powdered form was especially useful in helping to prevent bruising when taken internally.

He also found Liferoot. A water-loving plant, Liferoot grew along almost any lake or river that could be found on Azeroth, fresh flowing water being preferred over standing. The leaves were wide and triangular, with rounded edges. Most of the strongest benefits of the herb came from boiling the root itself to leech out its wonderful juices, but it was sensitive to both light and temperature. The dried root and leaves kept much better in storage than the extract did.

Last, and perhaps most common, was the simple Peacebloom plant. Used in everything from cooking to decoration, the simple white-flowering plant was found all over. Requiring only lots of sunshine, it could survive most normal climates from the drought-stricken plains of the Barrens to the plague-cursed lands of Lordaeron. The stems produced a white milky substance when broken, the flowers were sweet and aromatic, and the leaves made a fresh salad, and the ground roots made a wonderful soothing tea. He had a mixture of whole dried flower heads preserved in a packet, and roots as well, for it was one of his favorite teas.

Keth grabbed some Bruiseweed petals, the Liferoot bits, and put both a whole Peacebloom flower and several roots into the skull. He carefully ground the plants to a fine power. By now, the piece of jerky he was chewing was beginning to soften in his mouth, and his saliva was bringing out the flavors trapped in the dried meat.

Keth poured the herb powder carefully into the water skin, and then spit his mouthful of meat juice in after it. He swallowed the jerky and replaced it with another small piece, re-corking the skin and kneading it gently to mix the contents well.

He had no idea if his idea with the jerky would work. The woman needed nutrients, but she was starved too badly to keep down solid food anymore. He hoped that by chewing the meat and not swallowing the saliva filled with its flavor, that perhaps he was managing to extract its essential vitamins like boiling a plant could leech out the vital healing juices. It was worth trying, he reasoned.

He chewed about half the bag of jerky, and rather than swallow the softened bits, he started a small collection of them. He wasn't sure how long they might be stuck here, but he certainly didn't need nourishment as much as she did.

When he'd replaced the small amount amount of water that he'd used to clean the skull, he re-corked the brimming skin and mixed it once more. Then he took it to the sick woman.

“Hey,” Keth gently prodded her. “I've brought some water. You need to drink.”

The Tauren opened her eyes sluggishly. They were green. He saw them fix on his face for a moment, and then slide away to stare past him, unfocused. Her body twitched, perhaps in an attempt to move, and then lay still. Keth gently swung her legs around and pushed her onto her back. The curve of her neck acted sort of like a pillow, preventing her head from laying against the pile of rocks, or from being able to loll backwards uncontrollably. Keth brought the open water skin to her lips and let a tiny bit trickle into her mouth.

The woman coughed, then swallowed. Keth poured a little bit more. She swallowed, and her snout turned more toward Keth and the source of liquid. He carefully gave it to her, sip by sip, until he thought she'd had enough. He was unsure if she would be able to stomach the concoction at all. As soon as he stopped touching her, giving her water, her eyes closed again.

Keth corked the skin, and put away the supplies and tools as best he could. Using his feet, he cleared away a section of floor from the small pebbles and stones littering it, and laid down on his back. After a moment, he dumped out the sack of supplies, bunched up the cloth sack that carried them, and placed it under his head. He fell asleep listening to the slow breathing of his companion.

Keth spent several day nursing his patient, seeing no improvement. She'd been sick again sometime during the first night, but had had the presence of mind to at least turn her head. After that, she was able to keep down the water he gave to her often, in small doses. The first time he tried to feed her the softened jerky, she vomited it back up within a couple hours, and he had to start over to get her to keep the water.

She did nothing but sleep, if he was not waking her for water. Sometimes she groaned in a fever-dream, but he never heard a proper word from her. He could not return her to proper consciousness at all, and he knew that was a very bad sign.

The glowing orb went out the second or third day, and Keth built a dung fire for light. The tiny fire emitted very little heat and a lot of smoke, which thankfully rose and climbed the slanted tunnel ceiling to collect mostly outside their little dead-end alcove.

Keth left at least twice every day to return to the tunnel entrance, but another centaur never came at his yelling. Once, he thought he heard the clang of fighting.

Twice, small tremors shook the earth, raining dust and small pebbles down of the two of them. The main tunnel had a partial collapse within it, effectively halving the space of it. He'd had to bring a dung cake to that spot to be able to determine what had happened. He was able to clear some of the fallen stones to make the passageway easier to traverse, even in the dark, but it had taken him a whole day to do it.

Keth ate the jerky, chewing each piece as much as he could before he determined that the meat had given up all it could offer, and spit the juices into the potion. He'd made a paste of the rest of the healing herbs and painted some of her wounds with it. He had no idea if it would help or not.

The jerky ran out, and finally so did the water, even with him taking only a sip of it when he thought he needed to. The discs of dung were also nearly gone. Keth made his way in the dark to the tunnel entrance, determined to get someone's attention.

Keth reached the woven cage door and blinked against bright sunlight. He yelled until he was hoarse. He attempted to dislodge the door and realized that although it looked flimsy, the branches creating it were tough and much harder to break than he'd thought. He tried sawing at the thing, thinking maybe he could cut it apart enough to reach one of the ties.

He was still trying that, and yelling wordlessly when he thought of it, when a shadow suddenly descended on him. Keth blinked against the sunlight blazing around the dark figure.

“Why, Kethrenorean Forestwhisper,” came a voice in melodic Darnassian. “This is no time to play mine-slave to a centaur clan. You have work to do, you know.”

Keth only managed a croak of surprised and happy disbelief. The cage was suddenly ripped from it's anchors, and he found himself facing a lifelong druid friend, flanked by three Cenarion Wardens. Two of them were also Night Elves, but one was a Tauren standing at least half a foot over all of them. It was that one holding the cage door casually.

“Shano!” he finally croaked, accepting her hand to help him stand. “You found us!”

Shano Greenstar was the most beautiful Night Elf woman he'd ever met. Her hair was the bright green of the sun glowing through a leafy canopy, and her pale skin shared the same tint. Lithe and muscular, she was one of the healers who made the most use out of his botanical discoveries, even if the rest of the Circle needed time to analyze them.

“I don't know any other botanist who would change the color of a Wild Steelbloom plant to have yellow blooms, just because he heard that I favored yellow flowers. Those little seeds sprouted just as fast as I told you they would, and we followed the plants right to you.” Her green eyes twinkled with inward laughter from a face tattooed with a green mask. “But we must hurry. The centaur are distracted by some sort of attack, we must go quickly.” She began to pull him away.

“No!” Keth shouted, a bit more forcefully than he'd intended. “There is another prisoner here, a Tauren woman,” he looked at the Tauren Warden. “She may already be dying, but we have to help her. I have to try.”

Without a word, the Tauren Warden began digging in his pack. He retrieved a tiny lantern, with a pocket beneath it for storing flint. He quickly lit the lamp, and looked to Keth to lead the way. The others nodded in agreement, and Keth turned to lead them through the tunnel.

The others were not as fast as Keth, not having traveled this path as much as he had. He found himself impatient with them, especially when the bulky Tauren male had to get down on all fours to clear the low section, scraping his horns a few times in the process. They were coming to the bend in the tunnel when suddenly the earth shook around them.

Dread filled him at the strength of the tremor even as pebbles rained down. Shano began chanting a prayer to Elune, and the Wardens crowded close to her. The sound of shifting falling rock surrounded them. A large rock glanced off his shoulder and arm, dust flew in his eyes and into his lungs. He heard coughing next to him.

After a moment, the strong tremors gave way to weaker shivers of the earth, and then even those began to subside.

Miraculously by the grace of Elune, none of them suffered any severe injuries. Keth had an extremely sore shoulder, but nothing was broken, he thought. The Tauren had shielded Shano from a particularly large rock, which bounced off his huge neck as if it weighed nothing at all. Armor protected the other two elf Wardens. Gradually, the dust cleared. A second lantern was lit to help pierce the dusty fog.

Shano stood still a moment, sensing. “The path behind is still open to us, I can feel the air. I think your companion still lives as well?” The last was less certain. They continued on, Keth cradling his arm to himself to keep that shoulder from moving as much as he could. He rounded the bend in the tunnel and waited for the others to catch up with the lanterns. The Tauren warden came first, his lantern held high and casting a light brighter than the glowing orb had ever done.

Keth hit his knees in despair.
Before them was a wall of crumbled stone, sealing off the tunnel.

. . .
Tauren: Lomani, Kerala, Anura, Coqui, Chanchu, Pipapipa, Heget
Undead: Aziris

Posts: 110
Joined: March 25th, 2014, 7:35 pm

Re: Rescue (a Kerala story)

by redeyedtreefr0g » March 30th, 2014, 2:31 am

Kethrenorean touched the fallen rocks in a sort of shocked numbness. He could not believe that the one other person who had shared this ordeal, who had obviously suffered so much more than he and somehow survived, was now probably dead. Why was he the one to receive rescue?

Shano stood behind her friend, noting the extreme reaction. It was very odd, seeing Keth so emotional. He was always so detached and scientific, so logical, even when he'd been pursuing her romantically. He'd been.... passionless. Seeing him struck with sorrow so sincere and deep hurt her heart. She opened her mouth to say something, but stopped when her companion stepped forward.


The night elf botanist turned to the deep voice, finding the Tauren Warden standing next to him. He blinked.

“Keth, I cannot safely move the rocks with you there. Please step back. There is still hope to reach my sister.”

Keth nodded, swallowing the pain she'd seen in him. When he still didn't move, Shano put a hand to his shoulder to gently pull him back from the rockfall. His shell shocked state made his face devoid of emotion. He watched the clearing operation begin without expression.

In an effort to distract him from his thoughts, Shano said “Keth, please forgive me, my manners have deserted me. This is Walos Skyscream,” she gestured to the broad back of the Tauren man as he tossed very large boulders aside with seeming ease.

Skyscream flicked an ear toward them and grunted something that was probably a greeting. The sound quietly resembled the thunder for which he was nicknamed. It seemed to bring Keth back to himself.

“Skyscream...” he mumbled. “Nice... nice to meet you?” Skyscream stopped for a moment and turned back to look at Keth. He nodded at Keth in a more respectful greeting before turning back to continue clearing the debris.

Shano gestured at the other two Wardens, who actually looked almost identical, and somewhat familiar to Keth. They were working as a team to move rocks of a size that Skyscream was handling alone.“You might remember Eldinru and Ledinru, the twins?” The two paused in their endeavors for a bow toward Keth like mirror images.

Keth only nodded back to them in a manner that would ordinarily have been considered rude.“I don't know her name...” he said. The twins each heaved another rock off to their side of the tunnel.

Skyscream bent to remove a large rock from the pile. As he jerked it from its place, a small avalanche of rocks rolled loose from the top of the tunnel. The twins had to leap clear and Skyscream dropped his rock as well to step aside quickly from the tumbling stone. A gap appeared at the top of the pile. The acrid smell of extinguished fire filled the air.

Keth jumped forward as if to climb over the pile, but Shano snatched him back by his tangled purple hair. “Wait!” She shouted. “Let them expand it just a little, we'll need to bring her out this way.” She held him to be sure he would wait, then quietly began a spell. As she finished, a breath of wind blew gently past them, directed through the collapse to whatever space was beyond it. Shano worried much about the foulness of the smoke she'd smelled, and what it might mean for the woman they were trying to reach if a fire had been snuffed out. The breeze would bring live-giving air.

Keth waited for Skyscream to roll a few more large rocks down from the top, then he vaulted forward, grabbing Skyscream's lantern. He scaled the rocks rather clumsily, but he was up to the opening and through it in a flash of energy. Skyscream assessed the size of the gap for a moment, then he followed, twisting to scoot through on his back. The twins helped Shano to step up to the opening and they held the second lantern up behind her so she could navigate through the sharp jagged rocks. She gestured for them to stay behind.

The tunnel beyond was littered with debris, making movement difficult and treacherous. Keth and Skyscream were already far ahead, but the light, though dim, was still. Shano climbed around a bend created by another half-collapse of the tunnel structure to find her friends crowded around the far wall. Keth was desperately digging at the base of the wall, while Skyscream held the lantern up and was carefully inspecting the wall.

As she got closer, Shano realized that the wall of the cavern was actually further back. What she was looking at was a solid section of the cavern roof, having fallen like a giant block. She didn't see a Tauren woman anywhere else in the room. A tiny campfire was near where Skyscream stood. The fire had died, leaving two clumps of dried fuel only partially burnt. The only sound in the room was the shallow scrape of stone against stone as Keth dragged rocks away from the bottom of the block.

“Keth...?” Shano called after a moment of watching. He didn't acknowledge her. She saw Skyscream disappear around the other side of the block, the lantern set on the floor. She couldn't sense any other living being in the space with them. She stepped toward her friend sadly. “Keth, I-”

Skyscream materialized suddenly beside her and she stumbled back, nearly falling. He clutched the biggest rock she'd seen him with yet. His lips were pinched tight with effort and the muscles of his arms and neck were locked tight and strained. Skyscream took one more step to where Shano had just been standing, and he waited until Keth had mostly backed out of the hole he'd been making beneath the block. Then he kicked Keth. The skinny Night Elf rolled several times, ending up on the other side of the campfire. There was a loud THUNK as Skyscream dropped the huge rock. Shards of several smaller rocks shot out like shrapnel from beneath the monstrosity as it landed. Then Skyscream bent and shoved the boulder under the edge of the block, into the hole that Keth had made.

Keth's eyes blazed in the lantern light angrily. He didn't even try to stand, but scrambled back to block. Skyscream pointed him to a spot beside the boulder he'd just placed. “If she is safe, you can reach her here. The rock will support the load and keep you from crushing yourself. Scoop what you can back to me and I will clear it. Hurry, there is not much time.” The Tauren shot a look to Shano that silenced whatever she'd been about to say then. He knew what she did not sense.

Keth started shoving rocks aside from what may have originally been a small pile of them. Soon he was ducking down to reach the back of the hole he'd made. Then he was in the hole himself, and the fist-sized rocks came bumping out as he acted just like a mole to dig himself deeper. Soon he had disappeared up to his knees beneath the stone block.

Suddenly he was still. Then Keth's feet kicked a bit, scraped at the floor, scooted him suddenly all the way beneath the block. He'd be at the original wall now, if Shano guessed correctly.

“Pull me out!” Came his muffled cry. Skyscream, already kneeling to sweep out the rocks that Keth had been passing back, reached his large arm into the hole, flattening himself against the floor to reach further. After a moment, he shoved against the block with his body and grunted with effort, dragging Keth's legs out of the hole. Skyscream bent again and found another handhold, and jerked again. Keth came out of the hole on his belly with Skyscream's large hand clamped at his shoulder. Keth's arms were completely straight as he held fast to something. Skyscream reached in one more time and grasped what Keth had hold of. Together, they heaved and drew a dusty body from the hole.

Keth and Skyscream picked themselves up and dragged the limp form of a tiny Tauren woman further out from the stone block. Shano saw an impossibly thin skeletal form, covered in scars, infected wounds, and filth. The hands were red with fresh blood from raw fingertips, the dust around the eyes was dark from tears. The woman had been aware of being buried. Shano saw no sign of breathing.

Shano rushed to the body of the woman and turned her over onto her back. To her shame, Shano hesitated a moment in revulsion at the vile dirt all over her patient. Then she quickly began her prayer to Elune, punctuating every few words with a full-body-weight shove to the woman's chest to keep up the flow of lifeblood within the woman.

“Elune, I beseech you, let Your love, flow through me, to this creature, who needs it most. Let Us breathe, and with Our breath, return her, from the darkness, to Your light.”

Shano bent over the woman's face, but had to stop. How to give the breath of life?

Skyscream reached out quickly and placed his giant hands around the woman's snout so that he held her mouth closed as well as one nostril. Shano only tilted the woman's head further back. She inhaled deep and closed her eyes, and bent, surrounding her face with her hands as if to strengthen the connection of face to face. Shano pinched her nose firmly. She then blew everything within her lungs through the Tauren woman's open nostril. The breath of life flowed from her and into the woman's chest.

Shano broke the bond and sat back, inhaling for herself. She repeated the prayer, being echoed uncertainly by Keth, and then she gestured for Kethrenorean to give the woman his breath. He did.

A third time, Shano repeated the prayer. Kethrenorean said it with her, and Skyscream did his best as well. Shano could hear the twins reciting the prayer from the tunnel, their timing slightly off, but the words strong. Skyscream gave his breath to the woman.

Shano waited just a moment, losing hope. She began the prayer one last time.

Shano finished the first sentence of the prayer, when the woman suddenly spasmed. She sucked in a desperate breath, coughed, and inhaled again. Her eyes flashed open and she jerked in terror, her hands lashing out above her. Her flailing arm caught Shano and pushed her off-balance from her crouch. The Tauren breathed in and out too fast, not in a rhythm, panicked. Skyscream managed to capture the woman's hands, but that seemed to terrorize her even more. Her red eyes were wide and unseeing, her breaths began hitching with sobs and half-coughs that sounded as if they choked her.

Keth took advantage of Skyscream's restraint and lept onto the woman, grabbing her horns, his face right in front of hers. He spoke to her in rapid Darnassian, telling her that she was alright, his name, that he was there and she was safe. Skyscream repeated Keth's words in Taurahe, though the gesture didn't seem to matter. Every time the woman's eyes rolled away, Keth adjusted to keep his face in her line of sight. Her struggles continued, but their initial strength was quickly fading to almost nothing but twitches.

“It's ok, you're ok, it's me Keth, I'm here and you're safe.” Keth chanted. “You're ok. You are -”
Keth said a word that Shano did not recognize, harsh and guttural.

The Tauren woman froze at the word. Keth repeated it.

“You are uhosht, be calm. You'll be alright. Its Keth, remember. You're uhosht.” The woman's eyes stopped rolling, fixed somewhat on Keth's face. Her breathing slowed. “It's Keth, I'll take care of you. You'll be ok. You are uhosht.”

The woman finally achieved a focus on Keth's eyes. Her twitching stopped and after a moment, she breathed calmly. Her gaze listed out of focus, then came back to Keth. She sighed, her entire body falling limp then, her eyes closing.

Keth released his grip on the Tauren woman's horns carefully, letting her head gently loll to the side. He half stepped back from her, half fell. Shano saw that the entire front of him was cut and scraped from being dragged across the stones. Already, bruises were beginning to form, and the larger cuts were still oozing blood.

“We need to get out of here.” she said. She stood and offered her hand to Keth, who stared at it a moment, confused, before he grasped it and wearily let her pull him up.

Skyscream wordlessly got his hooves beneath him, then gathered up his sister in his arms. Skyscream was large even for a Tauren, and the woman seemed pathetically small and delicate, dangling bonelessly from his arms. He held her close, like a beloved child despite the crust of dirt, waste and vomit matted in her hair and fur, and the long swollen and oozing wounds throughout her hide.

Shano could not have done it. The expression on her face betrayed her disgust, but Keth could also see the surprise and shame she felt for having such a reaction. Her glance quickly found the floor and stayed there.

They stumbled back toward the cave-in. Shano carried the lantern and supported Keth, both his hands on her arm as he leaned heavily on her. Skyscream stayed against the wall to prevent his occasional awkward step among the rocks from throwing them both down on the sharp edges and points. It was slow going.

One of the twins had come through the gap, and waited for them. He and Shano helped Keth up and through the treacherous hole, and gave him over to the other twin for the short descent. They all had to help when Skyscream could carry the woman no further. Skyscream again turned backward to scoot through the passage, holding the unconscious woman against his chest with one arm. As carefully as they could, they inched the woman along with him through the gap, trying to keep her form atop Skyscream's body until he could sit up, then stand and gather her back into his arms. Then they all supported his balance as he carefully picked a way down the rockfall back to solid ground.

The trip back out of the main tunnel was much easier. Near the end when Keth saw soft daylight, Shano paused and put her fingers to her mouth to let out a shrill piercing whistle. They continued to the tunnel entrance.

Outside, the sky had turned fiery orange and pink with the sunset, and the air shimmered with heat. They all blinded at the brightness of it. Beside the ruined remains of the cage door, three great Nightsaber cats crouched, having heeded the summons. Muffled echoing sounds of battle came from down the hill.

The twins both mounted their beasts and retrieved their glaives. Shano helped Keth onto her own cat, retrieving her bow from its place. Together, they moved down the hill slowly, Shano and Skyscream on foot, the injured woman swinging with his steps.

The battle, Keth saw, was between the centaur and what looked like orcs and demons. He thought the centaur might be losing, but it was difficult to tell in all the chaos. Several combatants saw them, warlock and centaur alike, but their group crept along the mountainside without incident. Keth thought he saw one centaur staring at them, at what Skyscream carried. He thought that centaur raised his spear in a salute to them, but then he threw it into a demon and rushed into a fight. So maybe not. Keth did his best to maintain his balance on the Nightsaber, which should have been ridiculously easy on such a graceful animal. Still, he had to concentrate on the task through the burning and stinging of his battered body.

The group successfully escaped the centaur village and found the giant kodo which was Skyscream's mount. He managed to climb atop it without help, his burden being flopped gently to a shoulder temporarily. Shano helped Keth to climb up onto the kodo behind Skyscream, and made sure Keth had a secure grip on Skyscream's armor. Then she mounted her cat, and they charged away to where the burning red sun slowly sank beneath the jagged peaks in the distance, then turned North to make their way to the Cenarion outpost.

Keth and his fellow prisoner were saved.
Tauren: Lomani, Kerala, Anura, Coqui, Chanchu, Pipapipa, Heget
Undead: Aziris

Posts: 110
Joined: March 25th, 2014, 7:35 pm

Re: [H] Rescue (a Kerala story)

by redeyedtreefr0g » April 18th, 2014, 8:49 pm

Tauren: Lomani, Kerala, Anura, Coqui, Chanchu, Pipapipa, Heget
Undead: Aziris


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