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When Kaetze met Utsu. (Closed)
((So a lot of you have seen Utsu and I interract in public and we figured an explanation was needed. Timeline, this event happened when Kaetze was 16 and Utsusemi was 27. Bearing in mind that Kaetze is now 24.))

A hot day in Durotar with the heat rising in shimmering waves through the air. Pools of nonexistent water glimmered far in the distance, tricking the eye in to thinking there was actual moisture to be found in this barren area. Some of the land's denizens were more visible than others in that heat, digging in the dust for tubers as the pigs were, or fanning themselves lazily with their wings like the harpies were. Well, some of the harpies anyway. A few were engaged in other activities. Namely the dive bombing of a girl whose red hair was poking out from underneath a crudely made straw hat. She was busy cursing loudly and fighting the harpies back with a staff as best she could. One harpy already lay bleeding and crippled on the earth, another was fleeing away to get reinforcements. A quickly chanted spell and a firebolt sped its way, reducing it to a heap on the earth as well.

There were still two harpies left, however, hammering away at the young girl. She was tired; her forearms were cut in several places from their talons, and worst of all she knew her mana wasn't going to hold out for much longer. She could take maybe one of the harpies out, but not both. A moment's thought and she realized that she could slow one down, cripple the other, and run like the dickens. She drew back, preparing to chant, when a rush of wind behind her accompanied by a resounded crack echoed in her ears. She never heard the crack, too busy going unconscious from the blow to the back of her head, her last sight the bright gold stars that exploded in to her field of view. Quickly it shot in to the black and she lay in the painfully hot baked earth, unmoving.

In the midst of wide open ground two forms slowly faded in to view, one undead rogue and his taller blue-haired troll companion.
The undead one spoke first. “Utsusemi…you do realize that maneuver is called ‘Stun’, yes?"
The troll shrugged at his companion. "What? It's stunned, isn’t it?" With the sudden appearance of the two out of nowhere, the harpies fled in a panic and abandoned the battle.
"Stunned? Try dead. Look at the blood." The undead rogue knelt and poked at the form with a bony finger, then sighed.
"No way, not enough blood. Night elves bleed like crazy after a head wound like that. Check it Father, I bet you five gold it's still breathing." The troll smirked and crossed his arms over his chest confidently.
"I’m not taking that bet." the undead rogue muttered, rolling the form over. A moment later he chuckled and removed the hat from the girl's head. "You said it was a night elf. And yet this looks to me as if it's a troll. Blue skin, tusks...." the rogue looked up at the troll and laughed.
Utsusemi scowled and scraped a fingernail along the pommel of one of his daggers. "It looked like a night elf at the time. Look at the ears! She had a hat on! The ears...."
"....look like a troll's ears to me,â€Â
~Better a cruel truth than a comfortable lie.~ (Edward Abbey)
((Timeline of 4 years later))

A familiar troll reclined in the shade of a stone spire, munching on a bit of quail and wrinkling his nose at the heat rising from the rocks.
This was a harsher area than even Tanaris. Tanaris had the grace of water pools that, in general rogue fashion, one could bypass any bandits standing around and fill your water skin there with little fuss.
But here, in Thousand Needles, the earth was stone and grit and towering spires that pierced the light of the sun and provided a few moments of slightly less scorching relief. It wasn't an easy land, prowled by the centaur and the ugly dogs that burbled when they attacked like some demented bird in canine form. They were everywhere, as were a myriad of other dangers to one that was less seasoned than himself.
Crouched there, finishing the quail and removing the grease from his fingers with a small slurp, he took a moment to enjoy the breeze as it filtered through the bindings of his leather and cooled his skin. He found himself alone more and more these days, having been deemed smart enough to safely preserve his own hide by his adoptive father. There was a certain amount of freedom to it, but there was also the beginning twinge of loneliness. But to be a rogue was to be alone, and so he did not question that things were supposed to be this way. One could not court the shadows silently with another following. It would get you killed.
The wind carried news far in this place. The stones funneled sound to ears that otherwise would not have heard. As Utsusemi took his moment of rest, his ears perked to hear the sound of combat. There was no real way of knowing exactly how far. But combat usually meant corpses, or at least weapons or belongings dropped in a panic to get away. Pickings to be had. He rose, shook the dust from himself, and mounted up, riding in the direction of the sound.
His ears turned, channeling the sound to give him a better direction. Beneath him his mount fidgeted against its harness, also hearing the sounds of combat. Though trained, raptors never really lost their lust for combat or for blood. He felt the muscles tensing under the saddle as it craned its head towards the excitement. He gave the beast its head and let it ride, taking stock of all poisons and other accoutrements of the trade.
The sounds crescendoed as he reached the heart of centaur territory. Cresting a hill, he looked down in to a small wash where they had set up their rude encampments.
There stood a young woman, a troll, in the midst of combat. Two centaurs slashed the air in front of her face with their hooves, attempting to strike at her. One was chanting a storm in to existence over the trio's heads.
A mage, Utsusemi noted, seeing the centaurs were frozen to the ground by blocks of ice. As he sat there, the raptor sidling and stomping at the site of excitement, she unloaded on them with arcane magics. The male centaur died, but the female was doing a great deal of damage with the storm that now struck, lightning sticking the earth around her.
A patrolling centaur took note of the situation and joined the melee as this was occurring. A look of panic crossed the troll mage's face as she realized what was occurring. Utsusemi could feel that events were not going to end well on this scene unless he intervened.
But why intervene? He thought. A corpse is easier to pickpocket than a live body. She might have magic items on her worth serious cash.
He dismissed his raptor. He stood there a moment surveying the scene. And then when a centaur landed a hoof to her forehead, sending a small rain of blood out from it to the gravel around her he knew he had to act. She wasn't going to have a body worth attempting to resurrect if he didn't move.

Stealth wasn't even necessary in these parts. The centaurs were easily angered and attacked in sloppy fashion. He sprinted down in to the wash and began to unload on the caster, who was building the storm to a whirling frenzy above the troll mage's head. Two shots from daggers weeping poison and the female was down. The storm died as she did, convulsing in the silt and grit.
The other male centaur was firing arrows at the troll mage, who had managed to also freeze him in to place and was now fleeing. Utsusemi stealthed, a sly smirk on his face. Might as well not waste poison already applied, he thought, and crept up behind the centaur. A backstab later and the centaur was also down, writhing on the earth. The rogue had not been kind, severing the nerves to the spine and leaving the centaur staring up at him in surprise as he found himself dying and unable to move.
There were days when one had to take some pride in their work, after all. That had been a fine bit of rogue craftsmanship.
Utsusemi holstered his daggers and cast a glance about, wondering where the mage had ended up. A second later he discovered her a few dozen feet away, bleeding and shaken. She had given up bandaging herself and it lay in her lap a woolen serpent spotted with blood where she'd pressed it against her forehead. She'd opted instead to go for her water, drinking it desperately the way a drowning man craves air. There was something about the trickles of water danced down her chin, how she crammed herself against the side of the rock edifice as if she were trying to draw strength from it...it caught his fancy. He stood observing her for a long moment until she noted he was there.
They eyed each other for a long moment, the wounded woman and the victorious man. Then she spoke quietly "Thank you. I don't know if I could've gotten away from that alive."
Utsusemi chuckled and shook his head, striding towards her. "You would be communing with the dead if I hadn't come along," he said. His usual tone was tinged with arrogance.
She bristled at the comment, her eyes narrowing a bit. "I almost had them."
"You had them until the patrol came along. And then you were toast... if I hadn't come along," Utsusemi couldn't keep the superiority out of his tone.
Her eyes shifted away from him and glared a hole in to stone wall opposite them. The rogue shrugged and returned to the corpses, one charred and two eviscerated. A few weapons, some silver, a few spare pieces of cloth. He began to pocket them when a hiss from the mage met his ear.
"Those are my kills!"
"In truth, the first one is. But I am responsible for the other two. And so I'm taking my fair share for saving your life."
"Damn rogues! Nothing but thieves, the lot of you!" she snapped at him angrily.
"Listen woman," Utsusemi shot back, "that patrol would've skewered you with arrows, then dashed your brains out all over this canyon with his hooves. You'd be a hell of a lot uglier and DEAD to boot. So let me take the stupid 5 silver and go on my merry way!"
The troll mage gave up on attempting to bandage her head and threw the mangled wool to the earth as she rose to her feet. "That's a pittance compared to what you can get and you know it. I weakened them...." her tone began to rise as she gestured with her hands."
"...and ~I~ finished them off! To the winner go the spoils!" Utsusemi threw up his hands in frustration. They stared each other down for a long second, teeth gritted at each other. Then, inexplicable, his shoulders sagged and he shrugged. "Whatever. You know what? You're welcome, here's your damn coins. Go get killed somewhere else." He threw them at her feet in disgust.
The troll mage blinked for a moment, staring at the coins as they rang off the rock and came to rest in the sun, dazzling her eyes with the light. The action, the voice, all stirred something within her mind. She squinted in the reflected light and cocked her head to the side. It felt like when one emerged from a dream, trying to piece together images that may never have been wholly formed themselves. From the past a face emerged, harpy cries, an inconsequential straw hat.

"You!!" Kaetze's eyes widened in shock. "You stole my hat! I remember you!"
Utsusemi's eyes widened in panic. He'd stolen from a lot of people. He'd pretty much made it a habit of ~not~ being seen during those times, but could not recall seeing this young woman recently. He frowned, deep set brow furrowing over his eyes.
There was something about the way that she scowled, her nose wrinkled up in annoyance that caught his memory. He similarly experienced the past swimming up from the dark, and he remembered a gangly, leggy, shrill troll-girl that had sworn vengeance on him for the theft of a particularly ugly piece of headgear.
The moment was broken up by an arrow whizzing between them and clattering off the wall. Both trolls' attention was immediately jerked away and suddenly they realized the sound of thundering hooves was approaching. Someone had alerted the camp to the death of their comrades and they were coming out en force to take down the trespassers. The young troll grew pale; Utsusemi himself balked, knowing they were outnumbered.
"RIDE!" he ordered her, summoning his raptor and leaping up onto it.
She looked up at him helplessly, then looked back at the centaurs coming.
"Oh cripes girl, you don't have a mount?"
She shook her head and returned her attention to the impending doom.
He saw her taking a step back and open her mouth to chant a spell, preparing for him to desert her.
Rogues are not known for the selflessness, so it surprised Utsu when he suddenly felt responsible for what was about to happen to the mage. Before he understood what he was doing, his arm was down around her waist and she was unceremoniously thunked in front of him in the saddle. Arrows were glancing off the ground around them as he put his heels to his mount's side, and they tore off through the canyon. The shouts rolled after them, unintelligibledss.
The troll mage kept her head about her and kept low. Utsusemi bent over her anyway. He had on thick leather, she only cloth.
It was only a matter of minutes before his swift raptor outstripped the speed of the centaurs. At that point he slowed down and they rode towards Freewind Post, unimpeded.
"Thank you," the troll mage murmured again. She refused to look at him when she said it, eyes studying the striations in the canyon's stone wall.
Utsusemi sighed. It was the perfect 'I told you so' moment, yet his normal need to point that out had left him. Instead he asked "What's the name of the troll I just rescued?"
No bristling. Her eyes dropped and now she was looking under his arm at the clouds of silt the raptor kicked up as they bounded along. "Kae'tze," she finally said after a long moment.
"Well, Kaetze, it's good we got away mostly unscathed. The healers at Freewind can put a salve on that cut and heal it up without even a scar. You'll be back to normal in no time." He paused, studying the braids on the back of her head, flaring bright red in the unforgiving sun. "I'm Utsusemi," he added as an afterthought.
Kaetze continued to observe the ground that flew by beneath them, noiseless. He, too, fell silent, directing his mount up the ramp, then up the lift to Freewind.
They dismounted and stood there for a moment. Kaetze was again staring off in to the distance. He took a moment to study her while she was forcibly not doing so to him. Time had been kind to her, VERY kind. He caught himself staring at the belt that was slung on her hips and looked away quickly.
"Mage, Utsu," he thought to himself, "You know they can’t be trusted."
The subject of his supposed loathing finally looked to him and cleared her throat. An awkward moment passed between them before she opened her mouth to speak. In an attempt to break the silence, Utsusemi had also started to speak. Their words collided.
"Well, I suppose I should..."
"You know really it was..."
They both stopped in surprise, then waited for the other to speak again. Finally Kaetze laughed, a light sound in the midst of the harsh landscape, and motioned for him to go.
Utsusemi started slowly, still wary of interrupting the young woman. "It really wasn't that big a deal. You hold your own well enough, given your level. You did weaken the third one before I took it out."
She shrugged a sardonic smile on her lips. "I was in trouble. It just angers me if I get in over my head. I hate needing help."
The rogue chuckled, "Your pride is going to get you killed if you keep that up. Accept it when it's offered. It won't be that often."
Kaetze nodded, dragging a toe in the dirt, letting the words sink in. Another moment of silence passed between them.
"Watch yourself," was all he said, then dropped to stealth. Kaetze looked up, then around her wildly. Surrounded by tauren and unfamiliar members of the Horde, she frowned slightly realizing she was in new territory. A wind stirred her braids up and she turned, thinking perhaps the rogue had snuck around behind her to surprise her. No one was there.
She was left on the mesa in the sun and the wind, alone.
~Better a cruel truth than a comfortable lie.~ (Edward Abbey)
((One week after previous events))

Kae’tze sat out on the front porch of the mage-hut in the Valley of Spirits, basking in the sun from above and the warmth radiating off the good red stone and soil. It was an unusual day, with a cool breeze blowing to temper the usual light and heat.
Behind her two troll mages chatted amiably about nothing at all, mentioning names and events that Kae’tze really had no interest in. Gossiping was about all that could be done in the mage-hut unless someone came in for training. She herself was there awaiting the arrival of a particular trainer who’d called her there to show her some new arcane magics. The teacher must have been detained elsewhere, though. Kae’tze had been there since the sun had first crept over the canyon wall and spilled golden down in to Orgrimmar. The drums would beat eleven times soon, and still she was there.
An orc came by with several scrolls in his hand and nodded to her in greeting as he ascended the steps. She slid to the side of the steps and smiled, nodding back, then returned to watching the play of light off the ripples of the large pool.

The snake vendor gave her a nod and a wave as he came striding back around the edge of the pool. “Eh Kae’tze!â€Â
~Better a cruel truth than a comfortable lie.~ (Edward Abbey)
((I'm sorry, but in light of recent events I've decided not to finish this story line. My heart isn't in it right now. Thanks to everybody who was reading.))
~Better a cruel truth than a comfortable lie.~ (Edward Abbey)

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