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Fist Full of Steel -- (COMPLETE)
(( there willy likely only be two more parts left to write to this tale, for those that care ))
Part X

Her heavy paw darted out again, striking down at the water and the silvery, succulent fish hovering in the shadows of the slick bank. But her angle was wrong and the fish darted away in a panic as she splashed herself in the face yet again with chill water. She snarled and grumped, shaking her head furiously to clear the water from her bushy-browed eyes.

She watched the fish disappear down the current for a moment and then scanned the shadows up and down the bank again, hoping for the slightest hint at movement, but there was nothing. She’d fished too many days in a row here now, and would have to move on, or go back to stalking canny squirrels and too-fleet rabbits.

She grumped and ambled up the riverbank and pushed her way through the brush, wandering in not particular direction, taking her time to stop and tickle her nose whenever she came across a new flower or plant she’d never seen before.

Ashenvale was full of bodies of water, and she would find a new fishing spot eventually, as she had been doing for months. Being a bear pleased her, for now. She’d had trouble the first few weeks while in feline form with the forest predators looking at her hungrily from every direction. She had dealt with them then, when she had to – her claws were excellent for shredding. But it was much more satisfying to have those same predators run away from her mauling bear paws and leave her to her solitude.

A squirrel chattered indignantly at her from somewhere overhead, and she growled deeply in the back of her throat. Uppity squirrels! She had just as much right to be there as they did, and besides, she wasn’t interested in their puny nut hoards.

After about an hour of rooting around into whatever caught her fancy, she decided it was time for a nap, and went looking for someplace dark and cozy to take a snooze. When she did, she was asleep a few moments after laying her heavy head down on her paws, secure in a leafy, tangled bower where nobody would dare bother her. Or face her wrath!

She dreamed then, as she usually did. But these were the bad dreams – of loud, harsh voices and pokey sharp things, of bound wrists and ankles, of indignities heaped upon her and the others who shared her fate. She twitched in her sleep, growling a little, and her eyes watered, tears trickling down to dampen her fur.

She dreamed of things that she’d tried to forget, that hurt her to remember – of a life past that could never be again, and of the terrible things that had happened to bring her to where she was now.

It was strange to her, and confusing, that when she dreamed, she felt like there was part of her that was not really her. When she was awake, she was Bear! Or Cat! She didn’t think it strange that she could be any of these three things, depending on her mood or whim – it was just who she was. It was only when she slept, however, that she felt like there was more to herself that she didn’t know.

Sometimes she dreamed good dreams, and she hated those ones. Those confused her even more, and made her think of that mysterious Other her that she didn’t know, or didn’t want to know. But her dreams this time where mostly the bad ones, and that was all right. She was used to them, even if they sometimes still frightened her.

Her slumber usually ended with the dream of The Day when she became free. That day had been louder than most, with much shouting and screaming and loud clashing sounds. That day she was Bear in truth for the first time and burst her bonds, then fled in the confusion, only taking the time to savage just a few of her captors before bounding to freedom in the trees.

But this time her slumber didn’t end with that dream, no, she was awakened suddenly, and by what she didn’t immediately know. She twitched awake, suddenly alert, her glistening brown eyes open and scanning the woods from her comfy sleeping-place. Had it been a sound?

She puzzled about that for a moment, wondering what could have awakened her, but then her nostrils twitched, and she knew. That smell. That scent. That stench. She knew that!

Nostrils flaring, she heaved herself up and shook herself lighting to remove the worst of the ground’s clinging detritus from her fur. She growled to herself. It was a familiar, and hated scent. She set out, muzzle in the air, snuffling the air, trying to catch it again, trying to find out from which direction it was strongest.

There! She lumbered into a heavy run, weaving her way in and out of the trees as she followed the faint scent, tracking it through the brush and woods and creatures – who scattered out of her way – ignoring all other scents but that which she was fixated upon. She growled now without even knowing.

Finally, as the scent grew stronger, and very fresh, she slowed her pace, picking her way through the noisiest parts of the forest with care, so as not to frighten her prey away. Just up ahead now. Over this moss-covered rocky outcrop, over the big roots, and then she would see what could be seen!

But now she noticed other smells in addition to the first, but different. She didn’t recognize them and her ears twitched a little as she moved slowly forward, peering over the edge of one of the big, slick roots so common in Ashenvale.

Below her was her prey, but she frowned in disappointed at what she saw. The human lay sprawled on the ground, weapons abandoned as he struggled with the slime wrapping itself around his head, suffocating him. His fists beat at the thing, but they either rebounded off or sunk uselessly into the creature’s body. She watched him twitch and writhe with interest as he choked his last few breathes, inhaling some of the creature as it seeped down his throat and into his lungs.

Ugh, slimes! Nasty, nasty, she thought. No fun to play with, and disgusting to try to eat. Rubbery, and slippery, and well – slimy! She usually gave them a wide berth after her first encounter with one.

She sighed and slumped against the root, laying her chin on her paws. She watched the slime begin to dissolve the man’s head with some jealousy. He was going to be her plaything! It had been a while since she’d felt the heat of fresh human blood, or had its salty, metallic tang on her tongue. Humans were a bane to all animals, she knew, and particularly her. Her captors had been human for the most part – or at least the meanest had been.

Then she heard a deep-voiced shout, and an annoying feminine shriek and her head swiveled, eyes taking in the sight of two new arrivals to the scene of the slime’s conquest. It began sliding away in haste, recognizing the danger the new arrivals present to its enjoyment of its meal.

But no, up came sprinting, on stunty legs, the hairiest, ugliest little man-thing she could remember seeing, and it smote the slime a heavy blow with a hammer, that seemed to her much too large for his diminutive form, sending slime splattering all over him and his companion just behind him. There was an indignant shriek, and she that was the bear groaned and placed her paws over her ears in dismay.

The screamer was one of those strange, oddly colored, bunny-eared creatures she’d seen from time to time around Ashenvale. She’d never really gotten close enough to associate a scent with one of them, but now she was, and she would remember.

She watched in amusement as the stunty hairy creature wiped his hammer on the grass, then struggled to heave the human’s weight onto his shoulders while what remained of the slime slithered off. The bunny-eared creature made strange dismayed and dismaying noises as she touched the limp body of the human now and again as the smaller creature stumped away, half-carrying, half-dragging the human with him.

She sighed. No fun with humans that day, after all. Time for another nap, she supposed.

The next day found her having a different sort of fun. She was Cat! She crept ever so slowly along through the grass and moss, body low to the ground, her eyes fixed on the annoying squirrel just ahead. It sat on its haunches, licking it paws and running them over its face over and over, cleaning and grooming after the nutty meal. Nuts, ugh! Its ears swiveled and twitched, alert for the slightest sound that could spell its doom, but the Annoying Squirrel was oblivious to her presence just behind it.

Her eyes were wide and focused solely on the squirrel as she stopped moving and shifted her body a little, unsheathing her hind claws a little to dig into the ground as she shifted her weight to her bottom. It wiggled and swayed a little, her tail twitching imperiously of its own accord as she prepared to pounce. Just a little longer. The moment right the pounce was the most savory, after all – the anticipation of the leap and the squirmy, squealing capture. She wiggled a little more as her ears stiffened and turned forward, her whiskers standing out and bouncing a little as her lips curled back.

POUNCE! She exploded forward, air rushing past her face as the squirrel’s tail suddenly twitched as it realized its onrushing, unseen doom.

Then it was in her paws, squirming and chittering and screaming for help that wouldn’t come, and the next moment, her teeth were into it, one long fang sinking into its neck to delicately sever its spine, making it go limp.

Now THIS was certainly more fun than cold water in the face again, she decided – if not quite as filling as succulent fishy flesh. She let the squirrel fall from her mouth and batted it around a bit with her paws. But no, that wasn’t much fun. She shouldn’t have killed it so quickly. Letting it try to escape next time might be more thrilling.

She leaned down and picked the Annoying Squirrel (now dead, yay!) in her mouth and began to move away, tail swishing proudly in the air behind her. But then something made her pause.

“Hello there,” a voice said from not far away, and she froze. She turned her head slowly to find the owner of the sound, at the same time wondering how she had understood the words, since it hadn’t been Cat speak!

Troll. The word flashed through her head. She hadn’t seen many trolls before, and had dealings with them in her forest, that she could remember. She stood staring at the creature, who stood only a half dozen leaps away, watching her with a smile on her small-tusked mouth.

“Hello, who are you?” the troll asked curiously, cocking her head a little to the side. “Good hunting?”

She who was Cat was confused. Why could she understand this female troll, and why did this troll think she knew Cat? Cat was dangerous, and this was her forest! She let the squirrel flop limply to the ground and made a confused sound.


“What’s your name? Do you need help with anything today? My friend and I were in the area when we noticed you.” She shrugged and spread her slender, fine-boned hands.

She was confused. They had SEEN her? Impossible! Why should she, Cat, need help with anything at all? It was unthinkable. And confusing. Her head began to hurt. Troll-thing was starting to Annoy her.

The troll took at step forward and looked at her strangely. “Are you okay? Won’t you even say hello? My name is Dannae,” she said, and tilted her head slightly forward in a nod.

“Grrowr!” Cat said emphatically, telling this strange troll that no she did not need help, nor did she want to waste her time talking when she could be enjoying her Annoying Squirrel meal right at that moment if Annoying Troll hadn’t come along to interrupt her! It was both a statement, and a warning, and she hoped the troll understood.

“What’s the mat--.”

Cat hissed.

The troll took a step back and an alarmed look had appeared on her face, strangely pleasing Cat. Well fine – maybe Annoying Troll would allow her to have some fun after all. But harmless fun. Just make her run a little. No need to make her bleed. Maybe.

She crouched and began to stalk forward, tail twitching in the air, passing by the sad, dead, Annoying Squirrel with its glazed over eyes and lolling pink tongue.

“Um, okay. Oh no,” the troll said and began to back away a little faster, her eyes wide.

Cat grinned, showing her long, sharp, impressive and elegant fangs and leaped forward once just to scare the troll. She purred at the troll gasped and whirled, then began to run, looking back over her shoulder to see if she was being followed.

“Rowr!” Cat exulted and gave chase.

She let the troll stay just ahead of her, panting and gasping for air, and slowed her pace whenever the troll stumbled a little, not wanting to close the distance just quite yet. A runner! This would be fun, and exercise.

Or at least it would have been. A loud, fearsome roar startled her and she sprang sideways, whipping about in midair to see a very large bear charging towards her. It roared in challenge again as her tail whipped back and forth angrily. This was one of the largest bears she’d ever seen! Intimidating too, she decided, but not quite intimidating enough.

Cat blurred and she was Bear. She roared her own challenge back to the approaching male and reared up on her hind legs, making herself appear larger than him, ready to fall down upon him with rending claws the moment his charge brought him into range.

But the other bear skidded to a stop and backed up slowly, head swinging from side to side in apparent confusion at her counter-challenge. Ha, she had won!

“What just happened? What’s wrong with that druid?” the troll asked of the large bear, and she who was Bear’s ears twitched in annoyance. She could still understand the troll, but she wasn’t speaking Bear!

Her eyes narrows and she snuffled in surprise when the other bear suddenly blurred and changed shape, no longer looking fearsome, but still impressive in his new shape. To her confusion, it was one she also recognized, although it had been many, many moons since had last seen Shu’halo in her forest. Now that was strange, she thought – that word was both unfamiliar to her, and at the same time struck a chord deep within her that made her confusion all the greater. She dropped down onto all fours and tilted her head a little, studying the female troll and the Shu’halo curiously.

“Something very wrong,” the Shu’halo said, his voice deep and growly. He held out a big hand towards the troll, waving her back a little more. “Be careful Dannae. She is feral, in truth, and probably doesn’t even know what has happened to her.”

“Be careful Grey,” the troll said as the male Shu’halo stepped forward slowly, hands spreading slowly as he stared into she who was Bear’s eyes, fixing her gaze with his own to capture her attention.

She grunted and backed up a step, confused, and a little frightened (unthinkable!) by what was unfolding. This Shu’halo wasn’t a bear at all, but a pretender!

“Shhh, shhh, it’s all right. Be calm, I am no threat to you,” he said and lowered himself to the ground, sitting cross-legged, laying his hands on his knees, palms up. He continued to stare at her.

She was frightened now, much to her shame, but she would not back down from this Shu’halo! This was her forest, and she was Bear! Why had they come to bother her, to confuse her, to make her head hurt with things she didn’t want to remember? She struggled with all of this at once, and the pitiful growling whine that escaped from her throat made the look on the Shu’halo’s face turn to one of profound sadness.

“I know, I know,” he said, his voice strangely soothing. “It’s hard, and it hurts, but you must not run from me. Let me help you, Shu’halo. Druidess. Feel the Earth Mother around you – listen to her in your thoughts. You are confused, and afraid, but we can help you, if you let us.”

It was hard, and it did hurt. She was confused by what he was saying, but a small part of her seemed to whisper in the back of her head, saying things that confused her even more. There was no Other her! What was that voice saying? Unthinkable! What had he said? Afraid? She would show him fear!

She shook her head savagely and lowered it, eyes burning as she stared at the Shu’halo who made her head ache, then growled and charged forward, intent on bowling him over and then seeing what his innards looked like. Ha! She was Bear!

The male Shu’halo began saying strange words that she didn’t understand the moment he saw her begin to move, and she felt like the world was moving more slowly around her. Her thoughts became stranger still than they had been mere moments before. The male’s eyes were closed and his fingers curled as he chanted words that seemed to soothe her rage. He wasn’t even looking at her! The insolence.

She pushed forward, against everything that was trying to hold her back, but that was when the Other suddenly became louder than ever in her head, and she whined again. Leave me alone! She railed at the voice in her head. I am Bear! Don’t make me remember, she whispered to the Other as she realized she was no longer charging at the Shu’halo, but down on her haunches, sitting before him.

Without knowing why, she began to lower herself down, until her head was level with his own, and her eyes glistened sadly as she stared at his face, dreading what might come next. His eyes opened slowly, and he smile. He held out one hand, and placed it atop her furry skull.

“Be at peace,” he said softly, and she collapsed onto her side.

Greyfith stood beside Dannae, staring down at the female Shu’halo, her body curled up on itself, shivering, knees tucked near to her chest. She was dressed in tatters that barely covered her. Strange bare patches of skin showed around her wrists and ankles, and there were long lash-scars on several parts of her body.

“What happened to her?” Dannae whispered, head tilting to look at Greyfith.

“I don’t know, not for sure, but it wasn’t anything kind, that’s for certain,” he replied angrily, punching at one thickly muscled thigh with a fist. “There’s no telling how long she’s been living like this. She may be too far gone already.” He paused for a moment to stare down at the unconscious female. “And maybe I made a mistake doing what I did,” he finished, shaking his head.

“Why? Surely she’ll be grateful for having her life back, despite might what might have happened to her,” Dannae said slowly. “Right?”

Greyfith turned to give Dannae a long, considering look. “Maybe, and maybe she’ll curse my name for making her remember whatever she was trying to forget. Only a few druids in a handful of generations ever truly turns feral like this, and its usually a result of something grievous.”

“But – no, I don’t know. Would she have been better off the way she was?” Dannae asked, then crouched down beside the female Shu’halo to place one light-fingered hand against her head. “We should get her to Splintertree,” she whispered.

“She might have. She might have been happier. I can’t say, really. I’ve felt the call before – that desire somewhere deep within me, when I’m in one form or another, to stay that way, just for a little while longer, to experience what it means to be wild, to be free of any troubles beyond those most immediate, most visceral.” Greyfith crouched and gathered the female in his arms, lifting her gently and holding her close. They were far from Splintertree, but he would carry her. The burden was upon him now, and there was no going back to decide to leave her as she had been.

She was at Splintertree Post for many days before she finally awakened, and in that time, she dreamed – dreamed the good and the bad, and remembered. She relived everything that had happened to her over the years. At first it tore her apart inside, because the Other WAS her, in truth. Cat and Bear had only been an escape. They had been a comfort when she needed it. She’d been through terrible things, and had lost so very much, and had tried to run away from it all.

But now she was herself again, in her head and in her heart, and her memories of the bad days, and her days of freedom, and what she’d done, helped her heal, a little at least. As Cat, or Bear, she’d never really thought about the things she did, other than for their immediate value to her. The Carefree days of stalking and lumbering, of sleeping and eating and snoozing and Annoying Things were all comforting to her now. And the humans she’d killed.

She couldn’t say how many had died under her claws, but it was more than a few. She didn’t feel vindicated, or revenged. She felt – content. At least she felt that way for now. She remembered everything, and it would probably be some time before she could deal with it all.

The day she awakened was a pleasant one. Birds were twittering outside the building she lay abed in, and when she first heard them, she flicked her tail underneath her. She opened her eyes slowly and yawned before noticing the Shu’halo and the troll in the room, standing in the doorway, watching her.

“Hello,” she said, her voice throaty, and somewhat scratchy. It had been a while, after all, since she’d last spoken a word to anyone in her natural voice.

“How do you feel?” the troll named Dannae asked.

“Better,” she replied simply.

“How much better?” the Shu’halo named Greyfith asked I his deep, oddly pleasing voice.

She gave him a slightly withering look and raised herself up on her elbows a little. “I don’t feel like mauling either of you at the moment. So – better.”

Greyfith grinned, and Dannae shook her head, trying not to let her own smile show.

“What’s your name?” Dannae asked curiously.

She said her name softly, but so softly that they didn’t hear her correctly.

“Mahiah? Is that what you said?” Greyfith asked, his eyes gazing at her, making her feel a little strange.

She hesitated. “No – yes. Y-es. Mahiah.” It was a good a name as any, she decided. She could let herself have a new name, couldn’t she? If she could no longer lose herself in the wild, then maybe a different name -- a different life – would suffice.

“That was – quite the story,” I said, staring at Greyfith as we trekked our way through Durotar towards the gates of Orgrimmar. Mahiah was somewhere behind us, still stalking along in cat form.

“And all true,” he replied. “She is much different than from when we first found her. But every once in a while, something will set her off and she’ll turn feral for a time before she lets herself remember that she no longer lives like that. Those Venture Co. humans were what set her off. And no surprise too, considering that it was Venture Co. humans who first captured her in the first place.”

That made me miss a step. “Where – where was she abducted?”

Greyfith rubbed his chin for a moment, thinking. “Hm, Stonetalon, I think she said, once.”

I couldn’t breathe. I must have made some strangled noise, because Greyfith gave me an odd, concerned look. “Are you all right?”

“I – don’t know. I just – Venture Co. humans did this to me, in Stonetalon, after that day they destroyed our clan,” I said, staring up at him and fingering my broken horns self-consciously. “But I don’t remember anyone named Mahiah.”

“Hm, probably not, no. That’s the name she adopted when I misheard what she’d really said that day.”

My chest felt tight and I barely managed to squeeze out the next words, feeling light-headed. “What did she say?” I whispered.

Greyfith shrugged. “Miah.”
Part XI

To say that I was stunned by Greyfith’s revelation would be understating what I felt. He saw the look in my eyes, I know, but he didn’t push the matter – he simply stayed by my side the entire way back to Orgrimmar, noting that I kept looking over my shoulder to stare at Mahiah as she plodded along behind us all, occasionally darting away to bat at a beetle or something else that caught her eye.

Miah was alive? Miah was alive. She was alive! I couldn’t even think straight. My life – my entire life – after what had happened, I’d thought her dead, and here she was, no more than a stone’s throw away, and I could do nothing but stare at her. My entire life had been filled with despair and longing since the day I saw her dragged away from me while I was disfigured. She’d been alive the entire time.

I wanted to scream.

She reverted back to her normal form later that same day, not saying a single word about what had happened. I watched her, looking for my Miah in her, but it was hard. It had been so very long ago. I caught her glancing my way once or twice, and she smiled, twisting my heart. Oh Earth Mother, it was her. All the little things that had drawn me to her in the beginning, that had made us become friends – it had been Miah all along, touching me inside, and I’d never known.

I didn’t know what to do, or say, or even if I should. She had a new life now – who was to say she would even remember me, or want to remember those days? My life was those memories, and my near all-consuming hatred for those that had hurt us all. But here – here she had a new life and a family.

I moped for days, my mind in turmoil. I avoided everyone that I could, even her. But even as I despaired, my friends reached out to me. Both Greyfith and Dannae came to me one morning as I sat in a corner of my small dwelling, staring at nothing as my thoughts raged.

“Tell us what’s wrong,” Greyfith demanded, standing over me.

“No,” I said, not looking up.

“Tell us, please,” Dannae asked, crouching down beside me.

“I can’t,” I said, nearly spitting the words. “I can’t.”

Greyfith tucked on finger of his huge hand under my chin and lifted it, making me meet his dark eyes. “Tell us, Wrallac. We are your friends. Let us help.”

I tore my head away from his finger and squeezed my eyes shut for a moment, not looking at either of them. “All right,” I finally relented. “Listen, then. You know a little about me, and Greyfith, you know more than most, being who you are. But there’s more.”

And so I told them my story in its entirety, from my earliest memories as a young Blackhoof Druid, my relationship with Miah, the horrors that were visited to us all by the humans, my lost, wandering days, to my beginnings as a warrior trainee, to when I became a part of Ironsong. I finished with what Greyfith’s story days previous had meant to me – the revelation about who Mahiah really was, to me at least, and my confusion about what to do next.

The entire time, I refused to meet their eyes, and when I finished and finally looked back, I regretted it immediately. There was nothing but compassion and sadness on Dannae’s face, but neither emotion helped my turmoil in any way. It was hard to read Greyfith’s face – so stern did he normally look. But there was something in his eyes; something was reflected there that I couldn’t identify, but I didn’t like it for some reason.

Finally, after what seemed like long minutes, but could have only been moments, he stood and stepped back from me. “Your answer is simple. You must tell her.”

“What do you mean? Tell her who I am? She’s known my name all this time! She – she doesn’t KNOW me! She doesn’t remember.” I said and let my chin drop against my chest, tears of frustration leaking from the corners of my eyes.

I felt Dannae touch my knee, and I risked looking up at her briefly. “And maybe you’re so different from who you used to be that you appear as somebody else. You didn’t know who she was, after all, when you knew her as Mahiah. She’s never really mentioned anything about her days before we found her. Maybe she thinks you are gone as well?”

I hadn’t thought about it like that, but it was obvious, of course. I nodded slowly. “Maybe, but what – what if it doesn’t make a difference? What if in saying something, I ruin what friendship we have? What if I tell her, and she reacts badly? She has a new life.”

“Would you rather go through the rest of your life not knowing?” Greyfith asked me, his voice gruff. “You have to tell her, if not for yourself, then for her. Maybe she’s been feeling lost all her life as well? Did you think of that? Even if nothing good comes of it, at least she’ll know. Not knowing would be worse, I think.”

I looked up again, studying his face, his body language. Whatever had been there before was there now in force. He seemed angry with me, and I didn’t know why. But he was still trying to help.

I hesitated, still torn about this, but finally, I nodded in agreement. “I’ll tell her.”

It was days before I could work up the courage to approach her about it though, and in that time, I wracked my mind, trying to think of the best way to broach the subject without alarming her.

I decided to ask her to go to Stonetalon with me, to Sunrock Retreat, to show her something. Perhaps it wasn’t the best idea, thinking back on it, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

“Where are we going?” she asked curiously as she smiled at me.

We’d left Sunrock an hour or so behind us, walking the old paths through the woods that I remembered all too well. She’d already told me how glad she was that I was feeling better again, and not so moody, and had teased me about it for a while before growing bored when I didn’t react.

“To an old place,” I said softly, no looking at her. “I want to show you something, and tell you something.”

“Oh?” she asked, but didn’t press the issue when I didn’t respond.

We walked together, side by side, through the old trees and shadows. Seeing it all again brought back many of the old memories, and I struggled to remain calm. But nothing about where we were seemed to have any effect on Mahiah – Miah, I had to remind myself, shamefully, and that worried me.

When the ruins of our clan’s old home came into sight through the trees I nearly lost hold of myself – I almost broke and ran. I couldn’t do this. But I had to, no matter what. Right?

It took me a moment to realize that Mahiah wasn’t at my side anymore and I stopped, just at the edge of our former home, and turned to look at her. She stood, her former smile fading uncertainly as she looked at the blackened, charred, overgrown ruins over my shoulders.

“Where are we?” she whispered, and the tinge of fear in her voice hurt.

“Just a little farther, please,” I said, nearly begging, and I stepped forward to take one hand in my own, tugging her gently forward. It was the first time my hand had ever touched hers deliberately, and the shock of how familiar it felt gave me a little more courage.

She looked uncertain, but she seemed to trust me still, and followed, if hesitantly. I led her to the center of our clan’s small village, where the central fire had been – where our community had spent a large portion of its time together, and where our lorekeepers and storytellers had taught us all over the years.

I let her hand go and she stepped back, turning in a slow circle to survey the charcoaled remains of the village. When she faced me again there was panic in her eyes, and she shivered, fear sweeping visibly across her face.

“Why did you b-bring me here?” she asked me, almost pleading, her husky voice more high-pitched. Her eyes wouldn’t stay still, flickering back and forth at everything around us. I couldn’t blame her. Being there again was almost more than I could handle, but I hoped the familiar surroundings would help her remember who I was, when I told her, and that it would lessen the blow to both of us, being home, after so many lost years.

“Miah.” I said softly, her name rolling off my tongue. Her eyes snapped to me, wide.

“What did you say?”

“Miah,” I said again, and reached out to take her hands in my, pressing them gently between them, looking into her frightened eyes. She shivered when I said her name, and I felt that maybe I shouldn’t be doing this after all, but I had to see it through to the end. “I have something to tell you.”

I told her. Everything. The words spilled from me in a torrent. I could hold nothing back – not from her, not here. All my fears and years of despair and longing, all my desires to be gone and see her again in the Emerald Dream, all my self-doubt and loathing, my hatred, my continuing love for her, even when I thought her lost – I left nothing out. I poured my very essence out to her, hoping what we once had would come back to her, that she would be my Miah again, and that we could move on, together.

She shattered my struggling heart.

“I’m sorry, Wrallac,” she said, her voice earnest, the fear full in her face. There was pity there now, and compassion as well, and remembrance, but that was it.

“I’m sorry,” she continued. “I am not her anymore. I am not Miah. I am Mahiah. Can you try to understand that? I know this hurts, but that’s all – gone. It’s the past. Miah Blackhoof lived here, once, and was happy.” She hesitated, her eyes flickering away from mine before locking to them again. “She loved, too. She did, truly, with all her heart. But she is dead. Only Mahiah of Ironsong remains, Wrallac.”

I let her hands fall from me and stepped back numbly. This was – disaster. This was my entire life come back to haunt me and laugh in my face. “There’s nothing?” I asked in a pathetic whisper.

She shook her head firmly, but sadly. “I’m sorry Wrallac, but – all of this?” she said, gesturing around her. “This is best left in the past. The horror wrought here was too much, is too much.” She shook her head again, emphatically. “Too much. I am Mahiah, and my life lies elsewhere. As does my heart, I’m sorry.”

My eyes quivered and it took me a moment to remember how to breathe again. “You won’t even try, not for me? Is – is this other person – does what we had mean nothing?”

“What you and Miah had, you mean,” she said, her tone changing. “You both died a long time ago, Wrallac.”

“Who is it?” I asked, my voice changing too, becoming angry. I couldn’t believe this was happening. Not like this. It couldn’t end this way.

She tore her eyes away from me, refusing to answer. But somehow, in a moment of clarity amidst my own hurt and building anger, I knew.

“Goodbye,” she said, and was the last thing I ever heard from her as she turned and blurred into her traveling feline form, bounding away into the trees, leaving me standing amidst the ruins of my life, weeping tears of anger and loss.

I didn’t return to Orgrimmar until the following day, and I hadn’t really wanted to, but there were things I needed to gather.

I spoke to no one and returned none of the hails from those who recognized me. There was nothing to be had for me in Orgrimmar anymore. I tore my dwelling apart gathering my things. I didn’t care who heard, or what I was doing. I stuffed my things into my pack. I donned my battered armor, so familiar now, so comforting, and armed myself before strapping my pack to my back.

I had places to go. Humans to see. No amount of lives would make up for what they’d taken from me that day. Nothing would.

I left my dwelling, only to meet Greyfith just outside, coming to look for me. His brows rose as he took in my appearance, and I’m sure, the fearsome look on my face.

I reached across my middle for the hilt of one of my cared-for blades and let if fill my right hand – so familiar now, so comforting in its weight and feel.

“I – is that for me?” Greyfith asked. His voice was still friendly, even facing the unknown.

“No,” I grated, clenching my fingers around the rugged leather-wrapped hilt. “Someone else. Many someones.”

I paused, staring into his eyes, and he looked back at me, and I could see the remorse there, and it only filled me with more hatred.

“I’m sorr--,” he began, but I didn’t let him finish.

“Go to her,” I spat, then stalked past him, shouldering him aside. Oh how tempting it was to lash out at him, but no, I wasn’t that far gone, not yet.

I left the gates of Orgrimmar with the sun beating down on my head, leaving behind my past, and what I’d thought would be a new beginning. I left, hatred my only companion, my only love, with my fist full of steel.
(( definitely not the direction i thought this story would take at all, but it happens. i usually don't plot my stuff out in advance. i let it go where it wills, and this was one of thsoe times.

and it's done. maybe one day he'll show up in a different tale, but then again, maybe not. but Wrallac's story, such as it is, is finished. enjoy, or not, whatever. ))
Absolutely awesome, (even if I hadn't been in it Big Grin ) I had not read any of it before, so I got to read it all at one time! This is most entertaining, and I thank you for sharing it with us.
all right, fixed again.

upon discovering that blizzard added a blackhoof village in dustwallow (i was shocked, since there hadn't been a blackhoof tribe/clan existing before tbc as far as i'd researched), there'll likely be a sequel to this story.

outline is in the works.
This is amazing, as I've said before. God yes, sequel please. And give me proofreading rights so I get to see it first! /bribe
see, that's an impossible request, and you know it. mahiah would put out your eyes with her Branches of Fury attack first, i'm sure.
Silly bar! Thanks for reposting this. I didn't want it to get lost. Big Grin
Don't mess with the trees!

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."

~Bill Cosby

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