Kaled was rather impressed with how much blood was running down his arm. As Khaotic rushed him to the house, he held a cloth tight to the gash. Khaotic was muttering behind him. “You would find a way to get cut on a practice blade. Let’s hurry up and get this cleaned. I need to see if it needs stitched.” She had him kneel by the stream behind the house and began washing the blood off his arm, still muttering. “You’ve only been here two weeks, and you manage to do this. I hope you don’t lose a limb before the summer’s out."
Kaled just sat still and let her fuss over him. He didn’t mind her words and he rather liked her touch, despite suddenly feeling very self-conscious. She finally had his arm cleaned up and after an examination declared it to be not stitch-worthy, so she bound up the slash, then sat back and studied him a moment. “I suppose we’re done for today. If you try anything strenuous now that cut’s just going to start bleeding again,” she told him. He nodded, then looked up at her face. “Thank you,” he said shyly. She looked at him impassively for a moment, then suddenly reached out and ruffled his hair. “Don’t mention it. Since we’re done with anything physical today, why not come tell me how far your sword training went?” Kaled fidgeted nervously, then blurted out quietly, “I’d rather hear you tell a story. Can you tell me how you found Vhid?” He blushed furiously at his own daring and dropped his gaze, then peeked at her to gauge her reaction.
Khaotic sat back on her heels and sighed. After a long minute studying him, she said, “All right. Let’s get something to eat and find a more comfortable place to sit.” They went inside the house, where Kaled sat and nursed his wounded arm while Khaotic dug in the pantry for some bread and cheese. She placed both on the table between them along with a flask of moonberry juice, but while Kaled dug in with a good appetite, she just sat for a while, deep in thought. Her mind wandered far back, before her return to Eversong, back to when she was still an active soldier in the Horde.
The battle for Warsong Gulch had been over for a year, its memories behind her, for the most part. Now she was assisting the tauren in their battles against their ancient enemy, the Quilboar. Her detachment had been sent to aid with an assault on the Quilboar’s home territory, Razorfen Kraul. The mixed bunch of orcs, trolls, and a few blood elves kept apart from the tauren when they weren’t fighting, although Khaotic was eaten up with curiosity about them. She had her orders though, and kept her distance.
Not that she preferred the company of her fellow soldiers. Most of them were bigoted, muscle-brained males that tried often enough to delegate her to camp cook, or something similar. Luckily her commanders knew her fighting prowess and refused to listen to the dissenters, but the soldiers still managed to make her life hard at times. The loudest and rudest was an orc named Raugh, and he had quite a large following already.
He had found her sleeping spot this evening and spent the better part of an hour trying to get her to clean his filthy boots before finally giving up and leaving, his loud, condescending comments following him as he walked away toward the cookfires. As she tidied up the nook where she had set up her bedroll, Khaotic suddenly found herself thinking of Dral. He would never have tolerated her being treated this way, and would have had Raugh whipped for his behavior long ago. Not just because of their relationship, which they had managed to keep quiet, but because he truly thought of males and females as being equal; that was one of the reasons she had respected him so much. She wished he were there now, but knew it was pointless. He would never be there again, the dwarven hunter back in Warsong had made sure of that.
She felt her eyes burning and quickly turned her thoughts to other things. Tears were a weakness she could not afford to show these men; they had enough ammunition to use against her already. As she nibbled at her dinner of trail rations, unwilling to risk another meeting with Raugh at a cookfire, she thought back on the day’s fighting. Her small command of six had been joined by a pair of tauren trackers to thin out the numbers of the Quilboar’s pets, huge savage boars more intelligent than any she had seen before. They were enough of a challenge that her little party had been careful to attack no more than one at a time, any more and they might have had casualties. As she went through the day’s events in her mind, she suddenly recalled something else. Today had been her twentieth nameday.
Suddenly Khaotic wanted to get away from the camp and the other soldiers. She had an overwhelming urge to show these orcish pigs that she was worth more than any of them, but she wasn’t sure how. Then a crazy idea came to her.
She got up and crept toward the edge of camp. Her ghostly saber cat got up to go with her, but she made him lie back down. “Stay here, Gul, and make sure no one follows me,” she whispered to him, then snuck away. She soon found herself outside the camp’s limits and inside Quilboar territory. The enormous thorny branches everywhere gave her plenty of cover, but also hid her enemies, so she was extremely careful as she moved further and further into enemy ground. She kept going until she heard the snorts and grunts she was searching for.
Coming around one spiny branch, she found herself just within sight of a cluster of boar. She stopped and watched them from cover, then noticed one male standing away from the others, with recent cuts and scratches covering the places where the Quilboar hadn’t strapped on armor plating. He was a perfect target.
Using every skill she possessed, Khaotic managed to lure the lone boar away from the others’ sight and hearing. When she felt they were far enough, she mentally braced herself, then stepped out of her hiding spot and into the boar’s view. He snorted sharply in rage, and as she quickly prepared the cantrip she had learned long ago, he charged her with an angry squeal.
A few hours later, an alarm spread through the Horde camp. Somehow it seemed a savage boar had snuck through into the very center of the camp without being seen. As several soldiers rushed through, searching for their enemy, they suddenly came upon a very odd sight. Khaotic was sitting on her bedroll wrapping a bandage around her forearm. A few other minor injuries showed on her arms and legs, and by the way she held herself she probably had a bruised rib or two. And sitting at her feet with a very disgruntled expression was the boar they were searching for.
Raugh stepped forward and glared at her. “How did you get that thing in here, wench? And what do you think you are doing with it anyhow?” he demanded. She looked at him coolly. “Seeing as you’re not my commander, I don’t think I’ll answer to you,” she said calmly, which set him back a bit. Before he could come up with a retort, she added, “And I’d appreciate you not calling my new pet a ‘thing’. His name is Vhid.” Raugh was really angry now, and would have gotten an answer from her, one way or another, except that when he stepped closer the boar jumped to his feet and fixed one red eye on him, gnashing his teeth together in an unmistakable threat. Raugh stopped in his tracks, then grinned in triumph as they all heard the commander yell, “What‘s going on over here?”
Ortokk, the orcish commander of the detachment, walked through the crowd to stand next to Raugh and just stared for a moment, taking in the scene. The boar didn’t move except to shift his glare to this new potential threat. Ortokk looked from Khaotic sitting calmly on her bedroll, to the boar standing guard over its new mistress, to Raugh, who was standing with a sneer on his face, sure that Khaotic was going to be punished for her latest transgression. The sneer quickly turned to disbelief when the commander simply asked her, “And what’s this? Fighting the bloody things ain’t enough challenge for you?” Khaotic replied, “I figured you all needed one less boar to fight in the morning.” At that the commander laughed, then turned to the soldiers crowding around. “Alright, get back where you belong. Nothing to see here now.” As they all dispersed back to their own bedrolls, Ortokk called out, “You stay here a moment Raugh. I think I’d like a word with you.” The rest of the soldiers were treated to the sight of their commander giving Raugh a complete dressing-down as they went back to their beds.
Kaled’s polite throat-clearing snapped Khaotic out of her reverie, and she quickly came back to the present. She glanced at him, sitting across from her at the table and waiting eagerly for her to begin. Khaotic cleared her own throat, then started her story. “It was about a year after the battle for Warsong ended. We were helping the tauren with their Quilboar problem…”….