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by Netah


"Dusk is dead."

Netah Grimtotem's ear twitched slightly as she walked through the camp in Stonetalon Mountains, but otherwise her expression didn't shift. "Finally, hm?"

The elder Grimtotem's hand came down firmly on her shoulder, halting her progress. "He was killed."

Netah turned, arching an eyebrow, her mouth set in a neutral grin. "Is that so? Some kind of drunken brawl? Or did he go after the wrong man's woman again?"

"Murdered, by an outsider. There are witnesses."

The young Tauren woman's grin faded and her gaze moved out to an unfocused point in the air. Her ear twitched again. "I see..."

The elder met her gaze and nodded to another Grimtotem beside him, clad in the dusty leathers of a messenger, accompanied by a Windserpent. "As you can see, this matter is of importance to the Crone. We cannot let such things happen to our tribe members without repercussions. An example must be made."

Netah closed her eyes in a silent nod as the messenger stepped forward, his fingers dripping a dull, rusty red color. He wiped a swath of blood down either side of her dark-furred muzzle, marking her.

"Netah Grimtotem, as the eldest surviving child of Dusk Grimtotem, you are tasked with bringing his killer to justice. Bring her to us, that we may seek revenge."

She nodded again, bowing curtly, and listened as the messenger described what had been witnessed. Her brow furrowed and then she shook her head, looking to one side. Idiot. In full view of who even knew who, so blatantly. So obviously. She would be one of the first people to admit that Dusk had it coming. He was only her father in the sense that he had donated the requisite materials at her conception, and in that her mother was one of not very many women at the camp who could point to him and say, "Yes, him, he's the one," as opposed to, "It was likely him, or one of three or four other men." And there had been known by-blows older than her as well, although they had unfortunately inherited their father's lack of sense and had been lost to various accidents, or not accidents.

She turned on the heel of her hoof, clenching her fists angrily once she was well out of view of the camp and on her way to the Barrens. It was just like him to do this to her, leave this on her shoulders. The one contribution he'd made to her life since the night he'd gone stumbling into her mother's tent. Others would have been notified, and this too was of course a test. Always a test. Not being the one to present his killer to the Crone would be a personal failure on her part, a failure she could not afford. Her surveillance of the tavern in Ratchet, of the wayward Tracker and his pet Elf, had brought little of practical use.

She could use it now, though.

She strode up to the couple sitting alone against the fence, nuzzling one another in a sickeningly open manner. There was no time to put on her usual airs of mysterious smug superiority.

"Where is she, Snow?" She demanded.




Hours later she dragged herself, coughing and spluttering, up the shore in Dustwallow Marsh. She laid on the sand for a few moments, catching her breath, and then cracked an eye open as a Murloc patroller watched her from a distance.

"Mrrgghhhllrraarrgle?" It said mostly to itself, curiously.

"Don't even THINK it," she snorted, her breath raising a puff of sand as she pushed herself to her feet.

Slipping and falling into the ocean as Bloodaxe swung at her, the blade of his axe singing through the air within an inch of her muzzle, had proved to be fortunate - and likely the only reason she was alive now. Once under the water she was able to evade someone swimming in full armor and a helmet, obscuring her path with pellets that spread murk after her. But she had gotten away at the cost of nearly drowning, not daring to surface again until she was about to pass out, and her lungs ached and burned.

There was a noise behind her. She whirled, crouched low, her daggers in her hands and watching the underbrush intently. She remained frozen for some time, waiting, before she started to relax again. Likely a rabbit or--

The noise sounded again. She spun, looking around, her ears perked to catch any nuance, but there was nothing she could see...it was indescribable, the sound she heard. Hooves? Or barking? Possibly laughter?

The sounds of pursuit.

She didn't like the taste, the feel to the air...it was too heavy. A metallic, sulphuric tang settled in the back of her throat and she uneasily started to lope through to the Ogre camp, where she could purchase a flight back...no. That might be a bad idea...best to just run it the whole way.

As she ran, she tried to avoid looking directly into the shadows, where it seemed there were shapes moving, watching her.

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