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jabadue

The Shattered Horn
#1
"Patience young Shu'halo. You will have your chance to do battle with the centaur soon."

Sorantho Ragetotem patted the young one on his shoulder as he moved back towards the center of the camp. The centaur were getting closer, and the tribe was going to fight. It was not a favorable fight - many of the younger ones had not fought a true enemy before. Sure, Ragetotems were known more for their battle prowess, but that did not make them natural warriors. They were as any other Tauren tribe. They were a peaceful people. Sorantho was no different, nor were those incharge, namely Sark Ragetotem, the Chieftain of the tribe.

The fire burned in the night as the moon shown bright up in the night sky. Sorantho had learned of the rumors of ships sailing towards their lands recently, but nothing came of it. What mattered now was the defense of the tribe. He was by no means a child, but he was by no means wise. Sorantho had only just gone through his rites of passage while hunting kodo just two years prior. But now... now was different. He had gained a measure of battle knowledge, but the young Tauren was no warrior. He prefered to pick flowers and study them, to help the Shaman find answers, cures to diseases and sickness - though such was rare amongst his people, let alone his tribe. Sorantho merely liked to help, and that was why he was put in charge of training the children of the Ragetotem tribe. There would be blood in the skies soon, and it was up to Sorantho to teach the young ones to the best of his ability, so that the blood was not theirs. A deep hatred for centaurs fueled his desire to teach the young.

"Brooding again are you?" Came a deep yet almost melodic voice.

Sorantho turned and a smile formed. His longtime friend Aratho stood before him. They embraced each other warmly and bumped their horns together as a sign of friendship. Aratho was no Ragetotem, but a Dawnstrider Shaman, and it was chance that brought the two to their friendship. Sorantho had been hunting kodo not long after going through his rite of passage, only this time, he had been hunting for food, and not as a trial. During the hunt, a large bull kodo had gotten the jump on him, and the herbalist had been trampled. Were it not for Aratho's skills at healing, Sorantho would have been crippled. Ever since they had been in contact... and even more... they were friends, almost like brothers. Aratho had saved Sorantho from being worthless.

"I am preparing myself... emotionally and spiritually for what is to come," Sorantho said glumly.

Aratho patted his friend on the shoulder, much like Sorantho had the youngling away from the fire, and he spoke in an almost gentle manner, "My friend. I will stand side by side with you when the centaur come. I spoke of our friendship to my Chieftain. He was pleased to see friendships outside of the tribes. Tell me... where is everyone?"

Sorantho shrugged, "They all wished rest, and I wished to stay awake. I offered to keep watch with one of the younger lads, and watch I have. The coming days will no doubt be a test. Tell me, do you know how the Bloodhoof tribe is faring in these times of war?"

"No so good. The centaur are constant, they will not stop, and Cairne and his lot are... well... I am not certain how much longer any of us are going to survive," Aratho said with honesty.

Sorantho nodded and turned to look out across the Barrens. Faint lights of other Tauren campfires were easily seen, though something caught his attention. Torches. He saw dozens of them moving towards his location. He stepped closer and looked to Aratho. Aratho frowned deeply, and Sorantho kicked out the fire. Darkness enveloped them, but still, the torches kept coming, and as they came closer, Sorantho saw the forms of the Centaur. At least fifty... maybe more.... against maybe twenty Ragetotem. Panic washed over the Tauren male as he turned and opened the flaps of the various Tauren sleeping about.

"Wake up, the centaur are coming," Sorantho whispered in a panicked tone.

Quickly the Ragetotems prepared themselves, each of the more older and elite of the warriors giving a nod to the young shaman Aratho. Sorantho picked up a large warhammer, a wooden one truly, and prepared for the coming attack. The young were herded to a seperate part of the camp, away from where the fight would surely be. Hooves clopped against the ground - both centaur and Tauren alike as formations were formed. Many of the elder Ragetotems stood at the front, and when the centaurs reached them, all hope of quiet dissipated. Plainstriders, even the Sunscale Raptors fled as Tauren and Centaur collided. Hammers, totems, and even axes cracked with centaur blades and shields. Battlecries of "for the Ragetotem tribe" and "for the Earthmother" filled the air as did the various centaur cries and shouts. The Kolkar were fighting with their own tenacity.... and indeed they outnumbered the Tauren by many.

Sorantho charged the first centaur he saw, his hoof cracking into its side as he brought the hammer down, crushing in the centaur's skull, but almost immediately after he felt a blade carve into his shoulder. Yet before Sorantho had the chance to respond, he saw a large staff bash the centaur over the head. With both a cry of ferocity and pain, the Ragetotem finished off the centaur that Aratho had started on. Both shaman and warrior went back to back as more centaur came upon them. Staff and hammer worked in unison, batting centaurs away like flies at first, yet as the night wore on, the blood ran thicker, and every single Ragetotem, and the single Dawnstrider could barely swing their weapons, yet the centaur pressed on, no matter how many fell, no matter how many died. The centaur seemed endless, and it felt like the end for the Ragetotem tribe.

Sorantho growled and grunted, the pain was beginning to overwhelm him with every swing of his hammer. He stumbled forward a bit as Aratho quickly worked on his wound, when a centaur thrust his blade forward. Aratho would have fallen if not for Sorantho, for the Ragetotem quickly used his giant hand to yank the sword away from the centaur. He winced in pain at the feel of a cut across his palm, but then he howled in fury as he lifted the sword awkwardly, and gave it back to the centaur - though not in the way the beast had intended - but rather, planted in the centaur's heart. Aratho couldn't help but chuckle at the manner in which Sorantho dealt death to that particular centaur. And as the battle raged on, and it felt more and more hopeless, the morale oddly seemed to increase as a wardrum could be heard in the faint background. Were other tribes coming to assist?

"Look! The Bloodhoof tribe, and several others! And... what are those?!"

The cry went up like a light in the darkest of caverns. Sorantho's eyes widened as the night sky lifted to dawn, and he saw the march of Cairne Bloodhoof, the other Tauren, and the green skinned strangers that marched side by side, led by one who seemed formidable. As they reached closer, battlecries went up, along with cries of "For the Horde!" The battlecry was a strange one, and as hope filled Sorantho's heart he heard the ragged cry of death. Turning, his heard sunk. Aratho stood, gasping for air. A blade had been thrust into his back, through his chest... a death sentence. Sorantho cried out as he prevented Aratho from falling. He eased his friend down as tears welled up in his eyes. He clenched his fists.... he had been distracted. He had failed his friend. Aratho, who had come to help, had given his life, and he was too distracted to fight, too distracted by the new hope that had briefly filled his hope. But now Rage filled his heart. The Rage of his tribe engulfed him, and he charged the centaur with a new found power, swinging his hammer with all his fury, with all his might, with all of his pain. Centaur after centaur felt his wrath, and no matter how deep, or how shallow, no wound seemed to deter him. Nothing seemed to stop him. Sorantho was stampeding through the mass of centaurs, a mass that was also being cut apart by the green-skins and the other Tauren tribes.

Help had come, but too late.

Sorantho's eyes darted to the fallen Aratho, and he continued his rampage, knocking centaur after centaur aside with fury and malice. And as he did, he charged one particular beast, horn first. Like a raging bull he did not stop, yet as he did, the centaur brought his blade down and caught it on his left horn. The blade had been swung hard enough to embed itself in his horn, but it did not stop the Ragetotem. He gored his foe, and swung his head around as if it were a bull trying to buck someone off of him. As the centaur fell dead and lifeless, so too, did his left horn. The rage, the madness, it all came to a close then as he fell to his knees. He held his broken horn in his hand, and moved to his fallen friend, his fallen comrade. His brother. He wept... and he wept...

...as the battle ended, and the green-skins were introduced as the Orcs, led by one Thrall, Sorantho said his goodbyes to his dear friend. He left his broken horn in the hands of Aratho. The grief would never leave him, and as he fell in line with the rest of the Tauren, as he took witness to history, he quietly promised that no more would he ever take his life for granted. The centaur would be driven away, these strangers, the orcs would be assisted... and every battle that Sorantho fought, every wrong that he planned to make right... it would be dedicated to his friend.

"I am sorry for your loss," one of the orcs in the marching mass of soldiers and tauren said, though Sorantho could not understand him, he did know what he had said.

As the night fell again and camp broke out, Sorantho approached his Chieftain, Sark.

"I would like to travel with the Dawnstriders on the morrow... if I may. Aratho was a friend...." Sorantho said respectfully, though with the tone of grief and sadness.

The Chieftain nodded, "Very well... you fought well Sorantho. You are a Ragetotem by blood, but never forget this day. Never forget your friend. Treasure his memories, as he is with the Earthmother now. Your horn was shattered on the day you avenged him. Sorantho Shatterhorn, this is who you are. Never forget that."

Sorantho nodded somberly, and moved to his tent, where he fell to sleep.

He was comforted by those words.
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