Green Hills of Stranglethorn - Chapter II

Hemet Nesingwary

World of Warcraft

The beast was a male Stranglethorn Tiger. Before I could cock my rifle, Erlgadin raised his crossbow and fired upon the beast. The bolt missed its mark and caught the beast heavily in the left flank. The tiger made a futile attempt to flee but its wound was too grave. The beast stumbled for a few tragic seconds until Barnil finished the kill with a thrown axe.

The kill brought about a festive mood amongst the expedition. Barnil poured mead for all to enjoy. But our festivities were short-lived. As we were preparing the corpse for transport back to base camp we were all caught off guard by a horrendous growl. In all my years I have never heard anything so blood curdling.

On a rocky precipice above, silhouetted by the setting sun, I could make out the largest cat of prey I have ever laid eyes upon. I was able to loose one clumsy volley with my rifle, but the cat held his ground. He growled once again, this time louder than the first, and vanished.

We gathered our belongings and headed solemnly back to camp.

I had promised the expedition that we would spend the next day hunting panthers, as their furs are in high demand throughout Azeroth. It only makes sense that such demand should exist with all of the able-bodied hunters, trappers and fur-traders off giving their lives so valiantly in the name of the Alliance.

Ajeck and Sir Erlgadin were anxious to learn how to hunt effectively with a Dwarven Rifle. I had the two humans leave their primitive range weapons at base camp. Barnil and I outfitted them with some of Ironforge's finest firearms.

On this day we ventured to the south, following some fresh panther tracks. Soon we reached a ravine spanned by a tremendous rope bridge. I could not help but to think of Brann's descriptive writings of this region when I saw the engineering marvel. So often it was assumed that the native Trolls were a primitive and uneducated race yet as I gazed upon the master craftsmanship of the bridge I was able to recognize the skill with which the Troll builders overcame the seemingly impossible feat.

Before long, Ajeck tracked the panther to the southwest. We walked quietly, guns at the ready, in anticipation of our prey. A snapping of twigs from a nearby copse of trees drew our attention immediately. Something was in there. One stern glance at Barnil was enough to convey my thoughts. Barnil slowly lowered his rifle. This kill was not for us; it was for our Human companions. Countless panthers had lost their lives in front of our smoking barrels. This kill would be for the Humans.

Both Ajeck and Sir Erlgadin stood poised, guns leveled at the bristling overgrowth at the base of the swaying trees. The midday sun beat heavily upon us. A slow trickle of perspiration trailed down from Elrgadin's temple as he pulled the pin back. Upon the sound of the click, the thick flora parted and a large black panther -- a beautiful specimen -- darted out onto the plain.