Although it was the dead of night, the diverse wildlife got about its business surviving. The nocturnal calls, cries and songs fill the atmosphere with life. A steady, heavy wind coming in from the sea caused the trees to sway and their leaves to rustle loudly. All of this made a surprisingly large amount of noise considering that it was stupid o'clock in the morning: And that noise was rather handy.
A well camouflaged figure crawled slowly and purposefully through the undergrowth with a near silent precision. The silhouette of a creature followed the figure through the thick leaves, making no noise at all as it did so. The racket caused by the windy weather masked the little noise the figure made. Its movements were timed well to coincide with the wind.
The figure looked windward, a very faint din of glowing green emanated from its eyes - highlighting the tips of the surrounding foliage. The eyes were alert and moving, darting between moonlit features of the jungle and movement. The following silhouette revealed glowing eyes of its own, yellow and much more menacing.
Glowing eyes didn't help with stealth much though, and as such the figure retreated in time with a gust of wind back into the thick foliage, the creature following it.
Not a moment later only a few yards away, an almighty ruckus started when a fleeing Gorilla was ensnared by two raptors. Although the large mammal put up a valiant resistance, it really was no match for the razor sharp claws of the two raptors. They made short work of the fight, and within less than a minute their large talons had ripped the gorilla to shreds. The two feasted on their kill.
The figure and the creature could not be seen or heard.
Killing raptors is not an easy task. They are big, powerful, vicious, perpetually angry with anything that moves and have very big claws. To top it off, they have keen senses and are not dumb. Knowing this, it made a lot of sense that Nemeth Hawkeye had put a call out to those under his command to act as predators against the native raptors to safeguard his Orcish allies at Grom'gol and its personnel.
The figure was an experienced Blood Elf Ranger named Lady Etris Roseshield. She had answered that call a few days earlier. The creature following her was her 'pet' Eihaeyda. Eihaeyda was an old crimson red Springpaw Lynx of a viciousness matched only by her size. She was herself a skilled warrior, but was a very moot and unassuming one - only releasing her full fury when asked to.
The term 'pet' can be used only in the loosest terms, as Eihaeyda was very much a wild animal. Etris had taken the time to negotiate with the Lynx for her help a few years ago. Etris did not pretend to have any ownership over the Lynx, but she maintained a definite aura of command over her. Still, it was Eihaeyda's choice to be with her or not, and so generally did as she was told in return for regular supplies of food and some occasional affection.
Etris had been tracking the raptors for 3 days and had so far 5 kills tallied. The thought of a weary supply train getting attacked by the creatures wasn't too pleasant, and she was going to ensure that would not come to pass. If only for the pay at least, it was a worthwhile job.
She had purposefully taken her time in executing her task. She was short for her race, and although toned and fit she was rather physically feeble too. Knowing full well her limitations with a sword, she opted to attack targets that she could pick off that were not in a large group.
The availability of very little reliable sustenance had forced the both the Elf and her pet to dine mostly on the meat from their kills. Etris knew that most of the plants were poisonous, and the Lynx was a strict carnivore. She had become inured and rather tired of the taste of raptor flesh - whomever stated that raptors tasted of anything remotely appetising was lying through their teeth. Their stringy meat was very unpleasant to tuck into even after considerable cooking - tasting weak and earthy - rather like eating mould.
The Elf kept her well trained eyes on the scuffle between the raptors and the gorilla from her new watch point afar. In the space of a few moments she had identified the gender of the two raptors and had an approximate age, and thus strength estimate, in her head. They were both young, and both busying themselves with their meal. She had used Eihaeyda's keen prowling abilities to help gather the locations of any other Raptors in the area, the big cat had communed with her that few were near.
The smell of flesh blood caught on the wind and over Etris' own keen senses. Now was the ideal time to strike. She could quite easily take on two of them at the same time with Eihaeyda's help.
She instructed her pet to charge with one trusting point at her intended target, and without a blink the lynx burst through the foliage at full speed and charged headlong into the market target. She leaped claw first into the raptor's neck, latching on and dragging the raptor down. The two beasts tumbled a yard or two before viciously setting into each other. Etris on the other hand, took her time with her first shot - steadying her breathing and took aim for the other raptor's head.
She was equipped with a Moonsight Rifle that she had built herself, and when she was happy with her aim, fired! The noise of the gun caused passive wildlife to flee. She quickly followed up her first attack with an Arcane Shot - she felt magic forcefully pulled out of her as the charged round left the barrel. Not a pleasant feeling, but necessary at times. Eihaeyda continued to maul her target. The elf was not one for chances, now that she had a couple of good hits she tossed down a freezing trap. This would deal with either of the raptors should they take an interest in her over her pet.
Not two moments after dropping it, she was was assaulted violently from behind - the force of the hit knocked her face first into the floor and nearly separating her from her weapons. Without hesitation she rolled to her right despite her back feeling like it had just been hit by a house. With a degree of grace she flicked herself upwards, sword in hand, and plunged it into her assailant's face.
She was lucky, the blow nearly killed the raptor, and it stumbled into her fortuitously placed trap. The trap triggered, sending a blast of ice cold air through its surroundings, frosting everything within a considerable radius and freezing her assailant in a solid block of ice. Etris was coated in a layer of frost from it, but didn't let it distract her from a fight that was now going awry.
She cast a regeneration spell on Eihaeyda, she didn't have time to ascertain whether or not the lynx needed it. The trap that she had sprung would only last another 9 seconds or so, she needed to dispatch one of raptors as fast as she could. She aimed at one attacking her pet. Her first two shots were both a little erratic, but she struck home on the third and forth.
Eihaeyda was, in all honestly, taking a serious beating. There was only so much the Lynx could do to keep the attention of their assailants, and the Raptor that Etris had targeted previously charged towards her. Seeing this, she instantly began to channel up an immense cacophony of hatred and fear inside her, and when the Raptor was only 5 yards away from her she unleashed the cascade of horror as an arcane-charged force directly at the beast. The feeling of such negativity coursing through her was a horrible experience every time she did it - often though, it was her sole life line.
The raptor instantly about turned and sprinted away, screeching loudly and consumed in abject phobia of the elf. Without wasting any time, Etris swivelled and fired a special shotgun-like concussion spread that hit the rapidly thawing raptor in the head. This shot was hardly lethal, but it was very disorientating, and caused the raptor to fail around in agony on the floor.
Etris knew this fight was lost. The one she scared off would return soon enough when the spell wore off, and the odds of success weren't great.
"Shindu dath Eihaeyda!" She called in Thalassian, "Nei'dor an!"
Etris gave the order to make a very fast retreat. She gripped her sword solidly and charged right at the only raptor in combat and swung violently and precisely at its left leg. Her purpose was to cripple the thing to assist their getaway. She stuck at its leg well enough to cause it to collapse into a heap on the floor where it was stood. Obviously, it was none too pleased with Etris' actions, and lashed out at her. She was hit hard by a flailing foot, although it did not stop her repeating her command to run to Eihaeyda, whilst picking herself up and charging away from the scene herself.
She barrel-rolled into the brush and immediately started running through the thick vegetation. She cursed as a branch whipped her in the face. Her breathing was deep and laboured as she exceeded her body's capabilities in order to escape. Eihaeyda was running behind her, and behind that she could hear the raptors charging through the same jungle as she. Without thought she barked another order in Thalassian to Eihaeyda: "Astar'anor!"
This was a warning to the big cat to get out of the way of a frost trap that she threw whilst running to slow their pursuers. One of raptors triggered the trap, sending a blast of freezing air past the two of them. Much to her chagrin, one of the raptors must have escaped its effects - the noise of pursuit had not died down.
Etris turned to garner whether or not the case was such, and readied her gun single handed with another arcane shot to blast their pursuers with. It was a good thing she did, as one of them, the one she scared off earlier, was only a few yards behind her. She was running sideways in order to bring her weapon to bear - and fired. The shot hit her assailant in the throat. Not dead, though, only dazed - but that was enough to buy precious time. They started descending an increasingly precipitous slope.
She turned back around to find herself face to face with a low hanging branch. Quite a solid low hanging branch. She hit it chest first without any time to brace herself or prepare for the impact. The impact sent her tumbling down the hillside with little control. Much to her horror, the ground suddenly stopped, and she was now free falling very quickly towards an ominous, mud covered floor quite a long way down. She didn't have time to right herself in order to land at least well enough to avoid serious injury, and hit the ground with a bone-cracking thud.
The first thing that Etris could feel was intense pain in her head. Her vision was slurred badly and she tried to agonisingly pick her head up off the muddy floor. She didn't get very far before giving up - it hurt too much to move. She tried to move her arms to pick herself up from the ground.
Etris screamed in pain as her left arm creaked at a break in the radius. The tension in her body caused more broken bones to become excruciatingly apparent - her right femur and both tibias moved both in places that they shouldn't. She could hardly breathe - it felt like she'd been stabbed in the chest also. The pain was unlike anything she had physically endured before. She sobbed, quite instinctively, as the sharp searing pains wracked her body. She continued to cry into the dirt for what seemed like hours.
After a long time of gentle movement, she managed to get herself in a position that she could tolerate. This was hardly comfortable, but she had little choice. She opened her eyes a bit more now her head wasn't swimming so much, and could finally makes sense of the predicament she was in. It was daylight, and she could see the coast from where she was lay. She must have covered some distance running.
The dull ache of her broken body was a constant presence. She didn't know how long she'd been where she was, but she did start to feel very hungry and quite thirsty. She tried to move the only limb of hers that hadn't suffered a severe break, her right arm, only to be dismayed at the sharp searing pain that shot through her wrist. She tried to move her fingers, but could only go so far before her strength left them.
Something nudged her back a little. Etris froze in terror, before a very deep and concerned meow-like sound came from behind her.
"Shindu dor'a rath athil." Etris said, explaining why she could not move much. Her voice barely topped a whisper. "Shar'nor calah adan'ar scaith, asto're dunadah cath."
Eihaeyda obeyed and trotted gauntly around to where Etris could see her. She nuzzled against Etris' head gently, obviously concerned for her well being. She breathed sharply as the lynx nudged her a little too much. Eihaeyda jogged off outside of Etris' field of vision, and trotted back a moment later with a dull green fruit in her mouth. She dropped it just in front of Etris' face, before chopsying uncomfortably at having the taste of the fruit in her mouth. She didn't like fruit much at all.
Etris looked over the fruit for a moment. She posed a question to Eihaeyda: "Thera anu'dur tel dath'us?"
Eihaeyda meowed back deeply and slowly a few times and motioned with her front paw over to the sea. She'd found it among the trees near the beach.
"Ethala da ca'le aman terro." Etris needed to know whether or not the thing was poisonous. Eihaeyda complied with the request and carefully sliced into the rich and juicy fruit with her claws, after which she shook the juice from her foot.
Etris used her better hand, albeit very painfully, to move the fruit close to her so she could smell and taste it. Thankfully, Eihaeyda had the sense to pick one that was not dangerous. Etris guessed it was a Gurubashi Nectarine or something similar. She timidly tucked into it as best as she could, and was immediately satiated by the rich sugary juice. She asked Eihaeyda if she could find a couple more, to which Eihaeyda eagerly agreed to do.
Etris stayed nigh on paralysed on the floor for a couple of days. She kept her movement to a minimum as not to complicate her broken bones. Eihaeyda, although told to go and get help, steadfastly refused. She'd told Etris that they were a very long way from any civilisation - especially so as she would have to either travel by the winding roads; or prowl, very slowly, through the jungle. Besides, even if she could get there in time, she would have difficulty attracting attention. Eihaeyda could only understand Thalassian and she wasn't exactly renowned for her conversational skills. More than likely she would be mistaken for a truly wild animal and shot at.
It was at about sunset that night when Etris started to have some difficulties with her thirst for magic. Being stuck on the floor of a forest for days and having nothing to sate herself with, Etris was in a severe bind. A sharp but small ache started gnawing at the inside of her head, and she started feeling very tired. This panicked her a little, and she shifted to see if something magical was in reach. It wasn't such a bright idea, as all of her limbs and her chest screamed in agony as she moved them from their resting places. Etris cried out without control, the immense pain knocked her senses for six. She was reduced to tears again as she leant herself back onto the floor.
Eventually she fell asleep, sobbing still, for the first time in three days, despite tying her best to stay awake. She needed to be alert should something unsavoury try to consume her. But her thirst, or more accurately her withdrawal, was starting to complicate her battle plan.
She awoke the next day at sunset. She was soaking wet - it must have rained whilst she was unconcious. Eihaeyda had piled a few more of the nectarines within Etris' reach, and was herself busy tucking into some prey of her own a little distance away. Etris tried to smell the fruits in front of her, but her nose was bunged up with excess mucus. The dull, sharpe ache inside her head had returned also. Etris re-evaluated the timescale that she thought she'd been there, and upped it by a few days.
She lost interest in the food for the moment, closed her eyes, and concentrated on the sounds of the world around her. Meditation was isn't the most time efficient way of controlling her magic thirst, but it was the only one available. After about 2 hours or so, after the sun had set and it was dark, she managed to enter the trance-like state that was necessary for her to concentrate on conquering her thirst for the next day or so. She was rather out of practice, as evidented by falling asleep again not long into the procedure.
She awoke. It was still dark, but it was raining heavily. Eihaeyda was gone, but the fruit that she had brought to her were still there, so Etris fed herself gingerly on the nectarines. They weren't all that filling, but at least they were full of sugar and carbohydrates, as well as plenty of juice, to keep her alive.
She paid no heed to the weather until she started to get a little discomforted by the wind chill on her sodden clothes and skin. The cold would not help her nose much either - still running nearly constantly and occasionally choking on. She scanned her surroundings looking for a place of shelter, and finding a tree with some low hanging broad leaves forming an inviting canopy only a few yards, she started to claw herself from her vulnerable position towards the tree. After a couple of yards though, the pain was too intense to continue. She resigned herself to the fact that she'd not be able to accomplish this in one go, and so turned her efforts to the gnawing sensation of her withdrawal. Before she did, she undertook the rather unpleasant task of blowing some of the mucus from her nose - It was starting to distract her. She held one nostril shut and breathed outwards through the other with force.
She was a little more successful this time in her meditation. Her trance held up for about 10 minutes before she fell out of it. This was starting to get difficult. The rain had not let up, she was lying in a pool of mud, and had a gnawing, empty and soulless hurt inside of her that would just not go away!
The rain continued until about dawn. By that time Etris had dragged herself a little further along, and was starting to suffer more withdrawal symptoms. She was producing tears and saliva constantly, and needing to urinate every 20 minutes or less, and her nose was still running profusely. She was worried that she would dehydrate, and was getting just a little more desperate. She was consumed by restlessness - not great given her predicament. She would try to move instinctively and without thought, but was soon stopped by her broken body. Eventually she had to be dragged further by Eihaeyda.
Every day that passed as she lay motionless under the holey canopy of a large leaf, she became more under the clawing withdrawal. Her mouth was now bone dry with a constant taste of dust, regardless of how often water passed her lips; and she had intense abdominal cramps and body parts would spasm of their own volition. She could not sleep at all because of this. Despite the pain of her body ripping her apart from the inside, and the withdrawal annihilating her mind, she continued to do her best to intrance herself to sate it.
Some fourteen (maybe more, she wasn't counting any longer) days after she first fell; she began to sucumb to delerium, mainly from being driven slightly mad by the increasing severity of her withdrawal. She paid no heed to her environment any longer, all she needed was a meekest dose of mana or magic and she would be quite fine, broken bones be damned. Fading out of conciousness for the first time in days, she lapsed into a tranced state.
Now she was unconcious, dreaming almost, her cravings had disappeared. This was what she was trying to accomplish each time she tried to meditate. Now though, she was only a spectator to her mind. Her dreams were intense, almost nightmarish in their tone but not imbued in fear. She battled enemies; climbed stairs in a Silvermoonesque city, blue and red; and sang in front of crowds of millions.
A rude awakening occured; followed firstly by the instantaneous mental barrage of her withdrawal, causing her to scream aloud and contort, which in turn ominously reminded her instantly that most of her limbs were broken. Finally she regained some semblance of where she was; Grom'gol.
The first thing she did was flail out and hit someone. There was mana in this person! Instantly she clawed out and grabbed this source of sweet, sweet magic with all of her remaining strength and sucked it out of them. The target was a Blood Elf priest, who instantly knew what was happening and tried to recoil, to no avail. She screamed out for some assistance whilst trying to remove the determined hand of Etris from her arm.
After a moment of struggling, an Orc gave his unvoiced suggestion on how to deal with Etris by giving her a hearty crack around the skull with the butt of his axe, knocking her out and ceasing the mana onslaught. Etris was taken to shelter, where she was interned and set upon by Blood Elf medics.