Sennin gently rapped her knuckles on the polished wooden bar as she slid onto one of the stools. The Kaldorei rolled her stiff shoulders and hunched forward, resting her elbows on the cool surface while she reached behind her neck, fumbling with the first buckle of her scarred leather shoulder pads. Practiced fingers found each buckle in succession, and with a sigh of relief she dropped the armor to the floor. Absently, she rubbed the back of her neck, grunting at the tingle of pain from skin rubbed raw by the rough leather.
She passed the human bartender a gentle smile.
“The usual,” she said in lightly accented Common. She took the pint offered and took a long, thirsty drink.
“I don’t want to see the bottom,” she said absently. The bartender nodded.
“And, I need a room…. For a while.”
She sat on the stoop of the inn, legs splayed out at the knee, her bare feet balancing on the balls of her feet. She rested her chin in her hands, watching as Stormwind woke up. For all the cool stone and sharp angles of the city it teemed with life. One could drown in the activity, even here before the sun had fully risen. Humanity, if nothing else, was an industrious race – a productive, hardy people who closely guarded what they had. She supposed they had good cause what with how rough the world had been with them in recent decades. That sense of racial loss they cloaked themselves in was only something she had seen in the Kaldorei who were old enough to have witnessed the first war with the Legion. But, where those Kaldorei seemed distant and cold to her – though there were certain exceptions she could affectionately make – humanity seemed determined to take another run at life. They did not withdraw from the world or disappear into legend. They lived.
Still, even amongst the crush of life that occupied Stormwind one could feel alone. The city streets were alien, and humanity was not the Kaldorei. Here she knew very few faces, and even fewer names. Still, being alone was not necessary a bad thing. There was strength in reflection, in thought over action, and in waiting for clarity. She had learned this in The Barrens. Already, her time here was giving her pause and allowed such reflection on recent events. What was left of the Riders were now scattered, but they were still family – closer than blood in many ways. There was that, but her thoughts always seemed to drift back towards those final days and that final night in a pub in Ironforge….
She felt as distant from her kin as she did from the other races of Azeroth, and yet these words still had meaning. Now, more than anything, she considered the meaning behind them. “Our Pledge” was the loose translation, but it meant so much more. She mentally stretched, following the threads of memory back to when her father had explained the concept. Justice, he had defined it as. No, more than that. Nature’s justice. Perfect justice. All druids – and to an extent, all Kaldorei – sought balance, and that balance could only coincide with Nature’s wrath. She had thought she found Fal Belore in the Riders, but they were gone now…. And the world was still so unfair….
Sennin bolted upright to a sitting position in bed. There it was, just at the edge of hearing. Downstairs in the inn proper. Something….
She slid on a robe, belting it at her waist, and slinked, bare foot, out of her room and down the hall.
A man yelling. “That can’t be all you have!”
Then the voice of the bartender, high with panic. “I swear it is. Business has been so slow with the war in Outland!”
Sennin narrowed her golden eyes. Quietly, one foot on the first step, the other on the second. Some creak, and it is best to be cautious.
“Oy, not good enough, mate!”
The cocking of a rifle.
She winced at the sharp report, and bit into her lip.
Downstairs the hoodlum reloaded and rolled the bartender over onto his back to make sure he was dead. He began to gather up the coins that had been spilled in the struggle hurriedly. Surely the gunshot had been heard, and he’d need to make a hasty retreat. So intent was he on escape that he didn’t even notice the sound of shuffling feet on the stairs or the hulking figure now behind him.
Sennin roared as she backhanded the man upside the head, driving him into the wall. She intentionally did not put her full strength into the blow, and the man remained on his feet, dazed. She came back around again, and threw her paw forward against the wall. Between the stone and the large bear’s paw the man’s lower arm and hand crumbled into jelly, the splinters of the shattered gun stock slicing deeply into his mangled flesh. A moment later Sennin released and allowed him to fall to the floor, clutching his arm. She circled around him once and then smashed her paw into his chest, knocking him over onto his back. She moved a few inches up, her claws at the man’s throat, and settled her weight back onto her haunches so that he could breath.
“You are a hunter, are you not?” she asked calmly.
The man looked at her in stark terror.
“I can see it in your eyes. You prey on the weak. You are feral. You live by instinct. You take what you will, and should you be denied your prey you react as any predator would…. With bloodshed.”
Sennin lowered her great head so that the man could look her in the eye.
“I understand. You and I are predators. One and the same. However, you should never challenge a one who could so easily destroy you. That man you just killed was my friend, and I view my friends as a mother bear views her cubs. What does a mother bear do when her cubs are threatened?”
Fangs, coarse hair and claws retracted as she morphed back into her natural form. She closed her hand under the man’s chin as she swung around, grabbing the man’s head in a tight cradle against her chest.
“By the Light!”
Sennin smirked. “She fights to the death.”
She flexed and pulled, and felt his neck give way.
She let the body fall limp as she rose to her feet. On the arm, roughly stitched into the sleeve, was an insignia… Some sort of racket, she suspected. She turned away with disinterest to gather her things and leave, but then….
She turned back and glanced back down at the mark. She smiled gently.
Fal Belore. Justice. Prey.