Saturday, March 21, 2009

Pitchblack: Un'Goro Crater

Pitch hung around the house for a few more days after the others had left. It was lonely, but he wasn’t quite ready to leave. He hunted in the surrounding woods to replenish their store of dried and smoked meat, and to make sure all was well before taking off. On the third day he was very glad that he had stayed longer, because Jahira stopped by for a day or two, to visit. Jahira was another druid, and his favorite sibling; she and Alanon had raised Pitch for several years when their mother was struck by a terrible illness.

Their father had returned to the Emerald Dream a few months before Pitch was born, and Kelesaria had already gone out on her own. Alanon had left as well, but he returned home when he heard of their mother’s illness. He and Jahira cared for Pitch while their mother went to the Temple of the Moon for healing, and they were his biggest influence when he made his choice to also become a druid. Once their mother had recovered, Alanon and Jahira both left again, but Pitch remained close to them both.

Now, as she rode her saber up to the front of the house, Pitch bounded out to meet her in his cat form. Once she dismounted he rubbed enthusiastically on her legs as she walked to the house, almost tripping her. “Pitch!” she laughed at him. “Let me get into the house please.” He backed off, then changed to his elven form and followed her inside, where she set her saddlebags down and wrapped Pitch in a hug. “It’s good to see you too, baby brother,” she said warmly.

They spent the next couple hours gossiping at the kitchen table. Pitch told Jahira about Barraccus, as Alanon had told him too, and she told him tales of what she had been doing. Jahira was very curious about Barraccus, and asked several questions, mostly about his memory loss. "Have you tried asking the priestesses at the Temple of the Moon?" she asked him, and he shook his head no. "Maybe I'll stop by and ask them when I leave," she said thoughtfully.

The next morning they just puttered around the house, but by noon Pitch was finally growing restless. Jahira noticed. "You're getting tired of being cooped up in the house?" she asked him with a smile. "Yea, I was going to go back to Un'Goro for awhile, before you got here," he replied, and she nodded. "I wasn't going to stay long at any rate. You go on, I'll probably be right on your tail. And Pitch, watch out for the devilsaurs while you're there."

Pitch needed no further encouragement. He hugged Jahira goodbye, then set out for Astranaar to get a hippogryph to ride south. He took it as far as the goblin town of Gadgetzan, then went to get Mikhail from the stable keeper. He didn't ride the black saber often, preferring his own feet, but for long trips he liked to save himself a bit, and he enjoyed the companionship. As he saddled his mount, the stable keeper asked him where he was heading. "Un'goro," Pitch replied. "Ah, nice green place, I've heard," said the goblin. "Just watch out for the devilsaurs."

Pitch rode south and found the entrance to the crater. As he went down the trail, the terrain quickly changed from a rocky desert to green rain forest. He reached the bottom of the path and reined in Mikhail to look around. The ground was marshy here, with streams of varying sizes criss-crossing everywhere. He could see shapes moving in the light mist a ways off. Then he spotted the tauren standing on a stone nearby. He went over to say hi.

The tauren greeted him politely, and they started up a conversation. The tauren, who was also a druid, was there mostly to direct new arrivals away from the dangerous areas of the crater, and he told Pitch of several points of interest, drawing a map in the dirt. After he was done, the druids shook hands, and Pitch released Mikhail to make his own way, then continued in his cheetah form. As he started off, the tauren called after him, "Be sure you watch out for the devilsaurs!"

As Pitch ran out towards the middle of the marsh, he wondered what a devilsaur was.

When he reached the marsh, he saw that the shapes he had seen were raptors, big ones. As he watched them, he realized he was hungry, so he decided to do some hunting. He changed to his cat form and slunk through the undergrowth toward a lone raptor. About ten yards away, he stopped, gathered himself, and sprang.

After a brief struggle, the raptor was down. Pitch shifted out and started looking for his flints, but couldn't find them in his pockets or belt pouch. He stared at the dead raptor, for a minute, then shrugged to himself, changed back to a cat, and dug in.

As he ate, he found something hard and lumpy in the raptor's stomach. Curious, he dug it out and discovered a battered journal. It was still fairly readable, and he paged through it a bit. The only clue he found as to its owner were initials scrawled inside the cover. He recalled the tauren mentioning a camp on the northern edge of the crater, and decided to take the journal there.

He reached the camp after skirting some tar pits full of elementals, and shifted out of his cheetah form so he wouldn't startle the people there. The first person he found was a goblin, who pointed him to the back of the camp where the leader was. Pitch found the human, who introduced himself as Williden Marshall. Pitch showed him the journal. "Yep, that's mine. Thanks a lot for bringing it back, I owe you one," Marshall said. He eyed Pitch for a moment. "Say, you wouldn't want to do us a big favor, would you? We lost a couple boxes of important equipment when some of the dinos overran our camps. Mind going out and fetching them for us?"

Pitch agreed to help, but as the man told him where to find the camps, he noticed several small, living plants to the side. He stared at them, entranced, for a good while, feeling his predatory instincts rise up a bit.

Marshall's eyes went very wide when the night elf he was talking to suddenly disappeared, and he found himself talking to a large black panther. To his credit, though, he didn't skip a beat, and when he finished telling Pitch where to find the camps, the cat pulled his attention away from the walking plants and rumbled at him, then turned and loped off. Marshall had just enough time to yell after him, "Be sure to look out for the devilsaurs!"

Pitch was getting really curious about those devilsaurs.

He found the first camp without difficulty, although he had to stalk and kill a diemetrodon that had taken over the remains of the tent as a den. He located the crate and returned it to the camp, then headed out to the second location.

As he approached, he thought he recalled the tauren near the entrance telling him that this was one of the areas to avoid. He became certain when he neared the tent and started seeing huge lizards, like the thunder lizards native to the Barrens. He quickly switched to his cat form and snuck through the ferns up to the abandoned camp. After finding the crate, he stuffed it into his backpack, then turned to leave. He froze.

Walking straight toward him was the biggest monster he had ever seen. It walked on two legs, with tiny arms and a humongous head. Its long tail was held out behind it for balance. And its huge jaws were full of very pointy-looking teeth.

Pitch had a feeling he had found one of the devilsaurs.

He quickly switched to his cat form, but before he could sneak into the undergrowth the devilsaur spotted him. It let out an earth-shaking roar and charged. Pitch turned and ran. The dino was gaining on him though, so he gathered himself and put all his energy into a mad sprint. He managed to gain some ground on the devilsaur, and changed to his cheetah form for added speed. Finally the dino gave up and slowed, then stopped. As he ran back toward Marshall's camp, Pitch looked back and saw it walk nonchalantly off into the mist. He couldn't help it, and stopped just long enough to let out a triumphant roar at the retreating devilsaur.

Back at the camp, Pitch handed over the second crate, to the many thanks of the humans and goblins there. Marshall asked him if he had had any trouble, and he replied, "No, not a bit."


P.S. Pitch has dinged 53, only 5 levels to go until he heads to Outland!

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