Pitch's mind was still whirling the next morning as he flew over the snow, heading to the shrines where Ursoc's children lived. He was boggled about not knowing they existed, and hoped that they could shed some light on what was going on.
He had to change his plan when he swooped low over the Rage Fang Shrine and was immediately bombarded with spears and arrows from the hostile furbolgs. He quickly flapped out of range, then waited for them to settle before landing quietly behind a bush and switching to cat form. He snuck through the camp toward the cave in the back, and had almost made it when one of the guards suddenly turned toward him, sniffing. Pitch froze, but the furbolg roared and charged at him. He was left with no choice, and brought it down quickly.
After killing the poor creature, he was about to continue when he noticed something strange about the corpse. The furbolg's blood was tainted black, and bubbled and steamed when it hit the snow. Pitch stared at it until it had soaked into the ground, then he quickly turned to another nearby furbolg.
This one's blood did the same thing, and Pitch swiftly collected some of the blood in a spare vial from yesterday. It swirled and steamed, but didn't eat through the glass, to his relief. He pocketed it to take back to Thayreen, then changed back to cat and approached the cave, heart in his throat.
The shaggy white bear inside looked like any other bear except for its size, and the spark of intelligence in its eyes as it regarded Pitch. He wasn't surprised in the slightest when Orsonn spoke.
"I once roamed the Grizzly Hills, son to the great Ursoc, who ruled over this land," he said to Pitch, sounding almost wistful. "But now... now I'm doomed to spend the rest of my life in this cave." Pitch cocked his head. "I don't understand, mighty Orsonn. But can you tell me what's wrong with the furbolg here?" Orsonn shook his huge head as he tried to explain. "If I wanted to I could fight my way out of this cave. It's my father, Ursoc. He has returned from the dead-" Pitch blinked; the rumors were true! "-but he's not the same." The druid's ears and eyebrows went up incredulously as the great bear told him the story of what had been going on. When he had finished, Pitch sat still for a long minute, thinking. Finally he looked up at Ursoc's son. "I'll see what I can do," he said simply, and Orsonn nodded.
Pitch flew to the Heart's Blood Shrine as fast as he could, taking care with his approach this time. The furbolgs he saw looked as aggressive as the others, so he again dropped down into cover, then snuck out in his cat form. He was more careful this time, and reached Kodian's cave without incident.
Ursoc's daughter resembled her brother, except her fur was a rich light brown. She looked at Pitch with the same intelligent gaze as she commented, "I've not seen a stranger come here in some time." Pitch pricked his ears. "Stranger? There was one here? Who was it?" "A furbolg named Tur Ragepaw," she answered. "Not one of ours. This one came from the southern lands. He was of the Timbermaw tribe. He wanted to see Ursoc; he seemed to think that Vordrassil's taint could be purified and used to save my father." She shook her head. "It is foolish to entertain such hopes. You will agree when you see the darkness that has afflicted him like I have." Pitch lowered his head. "I will see what I can do," he said, echoing the words he had just spoken to Orsonn. Then he quickly turned and left the cave.
As he crept through the furbolg camp, he suddenly thought of something, and changed his direction toward a furbolg off by itself. Finding a good spot, he crouched, made sure of his footing, and leaped. The furbolg didn't even know what hit it.
His hunch had been right- these ones were tainted just like the others. He quickly scooped up some of the blackened, bubbling blood in his last vial, then stoppered it and took to the air again. He had to get back to Hierophant Thayreen fast.
She took the vials of tainted blood carefully. "I'll have to test this," she said. "Did you speak to Ursoc's offspring?" Pitch nodded, then proceeded to tell her everything he had learned while she did something to the blood samples, something that involved a few rather complicated-looking spells. She finished about the same time that he did, and looked up. "The corruption present in this blood is identical to that of the slime. I don't have a good feeling about this." She straightened up, frowning slightly. "Ursoc's children are wise. Their words explain much of what we've seen so far. But we're not done yet."
"The druids of old seem to have had good reasons for destroying Vordrassil. We cannot let the furbolgs regrow it," she continued. "On the other hand, saving Ursoc's spirit hinges on the magic contained by the sapling. You will find it in the middle of Grizzlemaw, inside Vordrassil's old trunk. Take a torch and burn it, then bring me Vordrassil's ashes. It is my hope that once purified by fire, we may use its magic to cleanse Ursoc's spirit of its dark taint." Pitch looked at her sharply. "Cleanse it?" he asked, and she nodded. "One other thing, if the furbolg regrew it once, they can do it again. We can't let them do that. You'll have to find the seeds. Bring them back here, I'll make sure they're disposed of properly." Pitch nodded once and set out.
The seeds were hard to find, but Pitch managed it. He was helped somewhat by the fact that the furbolgs were all fighting each other; there seemed to be a war between two factions going on inside Grizzlemaw. He finally found the seeds and hurried down to the bottom.
He took a moment to stand before the tree, head bowed out of respect. Then he set the torch to it and watched as it caught, burning down to ash surprisingly quickly. He scooped the ashes up into a small leather bag, shifted to a bird and took off again.
And now I'm afraid I'm gonna be a tease and leave it there. I'll finish it up tomorrow, it's just getting way late and I may need help with actually fighting Ursoc, so I'll get that done tomorrow and wrap up this story. Then Pitch can finally go back to Stormwind and Shaur.
Also, I picked up Flyleaf's new album last week, and have been listening to this song almost non-stop since. I'm not quite sure why yet, but it makes me think of Pitch and Shaurria every time I hear it. Plus I just love it. <3