Green Hills of Stranglethorn - Chapter III

Hemet Nesingwary

World of Warcraft

The Humans trained their sights on the panther as it ran along the edge of the tree line. The barrels of their guns moved in perfect parallel tandem. Barnil gave me an urging glance but I shook my head no. This hunt was for the Humans, not Barnil or me. Erlgadin fired a booming shot, missing the panther altogether. Apparently he was unprepared for the violent kickback of the rifle blast.

His gun tossed back violently in his arms. The barrel swooped sideways and came up beneath Ajeck's rifle. Ajeck had chosen that exact moment to pull her trigger. The rifle, the aim now knocked clumsily toward the tree line, went off with a distinct boom. A flock of birds screamed out of the canopy, scattering in every direction. A plume of smoke rose from the tree. We watched in awe as a tremendous branch fell squarely on the fleeing panther, breaking its back.

As the weeks passed our stockpile of panther and tiger skins grew immense. I decided it was time for the expedition to shift our focus to a new challenge: Raptors.

The Humans, while appreciative of the training Barnil and I offered, decided to refrain from hunting with firearms. Ajeck was much more comfortable with a finely strung bow and Sir Erlgadin never left camp without his sturdy crossbow.

We set out at first light, heading south past the Tkashi Ruins. Barnil voiced concern that we might encounter members of the Bloodscalp Tribe. I reminded Barnil that the Bloodscalps were more concerned with destroying their tribal enemy, the Skullsplitters. Needless to say, Barnil was not comforted in the least. I, however, had a loaded rifle, a satchel full of gunpowder and three deadly hunters with me to ease any concerns of an unfriendly ambush.

I've stood before a towering Infernal on the battlefield, the army of the Burning Legion advancing from all directions. An unruly band of Trolls seems as harmless as a jackrabbit in the hills of Dun Morogh.

We passed the Tkashi Ruins without event, much to Barnil's relief. The party proceeded to head westward, toward the Great Sea, skirting the Ruins of Zul'Kunda just to the south. As we ascended the high sea bluffs we spotted our first Raptor.

The beast never so much as detected our presence. In fact, the only greeting he received from the expedition was a bullet between the eyes. Sir Erlgadin let out a hearty *hurrah* as Ajeck nodded toward me with keen approval. I sifted through my pack in search of my pipe, hoping to enjoy a celebratory smoke. Barnil began to scurry up the hillside to retrieve the Raptor's corpse. I stared at the fallen beast with the satisfaction that accompanies every big kill.

But I could not bask in the glory of the kill for long. For when I turned my eyes toward the horizon, several silhouettes appeared cresting the hill, just above poor Barnil. *Flee, Barnil!* I shouted. Ajeck, Sir Erlgadin and myself loosed a volley of bullets, arrows and bolts over Barnil and toward the pursuing raptors. One of us landed a kill amidst the confusion.

Our hastily aimed shots were enough to buy Barnil's escape. Barnil clamored back down the hill and rejoined the party. We scurried off into the jungle; a pack of ferocious Lashtail Raptors stalking our every move.

The hunters were now the hunted.