((Note: This story was an entry in the Zephyr Crew's story contest for...some month or another, I want to say November? At any rate. The following story contains happenings of a slightly PG-13 nature :P ))
"Mmm...I don't like this..." No Grimtotem grunted, tugging at his beard fretfully.
"I know, I know..." Pook said soothingly as they ran through the overgrown forests of Feralas, trying her best to mask her own worry. "I'm not sure what happened..."
The Gryphon and the Wyvern both that they'd been riding out of the Moonglade had touched down in the wilds, refusing to go any farther instead of following their trained flight paths. There had been a wild, fearful look in their eyes, and there were indeed dark storm clouds gathered on the horizon, thick and rolling, punctuated by flashes of lightning. No had slid off the Wyvern's back, holding a cautious hand out at Pook, motioning her to stay put until he had assessed the situation, but the Gryphon had twisted out from under her, dumping her unceremoniously on the ground. The Wyvern, not about to be outdone in crazed behavior, had uttered a strange cry and taken flight as well, the both of them quickly disappearing back the way they'd come. No had uttered a heartfelt and vitriolic string of words in his odd Taurahe dialect, and Pook had grinned as she picked up about half of it. Half was enough to make her blush as it was.
They made an odd couple, at first glance. No was not especially large for a Tauren, his build generally one made more for speed and agility than brute force, but he was covered in scratches and scars, marring the dark fur that was characteristic to the Grimtotem tribe who were widely regarded as driven, ruthless and violent when compared to their generally more peaceful brethren on the Bluffs. But Pook was also not that tall for a Night Elf, her coloring running lighter and her body slighter than most. While she was generally not scarred, the tip of one long ear was slightly misshapen, as if it had been gnawed on. She slipped her small hand into his massive one as they ran, the silver chain hung with stars around her neck bouncing musically against her chest.
No's eyes darted around, surveying their surroundings quickly and uneasily as they pushed through brush and moved around trees, flinching at every shadow, his free hand going to one of the two matching swords hanging at his hips every time a small animal dashed across their path. Pook was more concerned with watching him as they ran, frowning with concern at his discomfort, gauging the severity of their situation by his reaction to it. "There's a Grimtotem encampment near here," he rumbled deeply. "If we can at all avoid it, I don't want to go anywhere NEAR it."
"Do you think word of you would have spread even all the way out here?" Pook asked, a hint of worry creeping into her voice. While No was a Grimtotem he'd been outcast from his tribe, and the Matriarch herself, Magatha Grimtotem, had ordered him executed for his perceived failures to fulfil his duties.
“It’s hard to say...” No said, a deep frown creasing his features. “I just don’t want to risk it.”
Frowning, worrying, running...it more or less defined their life these days. Not only were they pursued by the Grimtotem, but a demon, a Pit Lord had taken up residence in the soul of Pook’s oldest and dearest friend Erunamo...at times, much more than a friend. She had taken perilous steps towards taking up her destiny to save him, becoming what enigmatic figures and supposed prophecies had referred to as the Lightblade, dealing with dangerous artifacts from a past and a fate she thought she’d managed to avoid entirely.
And the worst part of it was that it seemed as though this was only beginning. As if the true danger was hovering on the horizon, just waiting to strike...
And with that thought the skies opened up, rain falling in thick sheets on the running Elf and Tauren, making their path even more obscured and dangerously slick with mud and debris. “We have to get out of this...” No scowled, his hooves finding no purchase on a muddy hill. Pook’s eyes scanned the horizon, as far as she could see through the falling rain at any rate, and finally picked out a cave on the side of a nearby incline. They scrambled for the cave, lightning striking a nearby tree that cracked open in an explosion of fire and sap. No whisked Pook farther away with one strong arm and they clambered up the rocks unsteadily. He let out a sharp hiss as his foot went out from under him, gouging his leg on a sharp stone, and Pook took his arm, helping to steady and pull him up.
After a difficult climb they finally collapsed into the small cavern, gasping and panting. No looked around cursorily, seeking out and quickly dismissing any possibility of threat, and Pook’s nose twitched as she scented that whatever animal had used this place as shelter had long since moved on. No hissed again as he touched his leg gingerly, and Pook caught his hand with a smile.
“Stop...stop. That’s what I’m here for, remember?” She said, pushing dripping wet hair out of his eyes gently with her other hand. She twisted her wrists and her hands glowed green, the soft light illuminating the cavern briefly, and his dark-furred skin knit itself together again.
He caught her face in one hand, drawing her eyes up to his and running one thumb along her cheek with an affectionate smile. “Thank you. Truly.” He rumbled.
Pook sighed and smiled back at him, leaning forward to brush her lips against his, and then helped him out of his waterlogged armor, laying out her own cloak and shoes beside them in the somewhat vain hope that they would somehow dry. He set aside their packs, going through them briefly to make sure nothing had been ruined in their flight and the subsequent storm, and then she settled against his chest as he sat in a somewhat labored fashion, avoiding putting his weight on his bad leg, looking out the cave mouth to the howling storm outside. There was something...not right...about this storm. It was too sudden, too violent. It was almost...angry. Lightning flashed almost continuously, blindingly, and the younger trees were bent almost double with the force of the wind. Closing her eyes, she tried to concentrate on No’s heartbeat under her ear instead of the fearsome tumult outside...
I will have you again, Sinae...you will be mine...
Pook blinked, startled, and then shook her head slightly...she was imagining things.
No peered down at her curiously, feeling her tremble in his arms. “Cold?” He asked, stroking a surprisingly gentile hand over her wet hair.
Pook shook her head again more firmly. She didn’t get cold, really...one of the rather odd quirks about her. One of a few.
“Just thinking about things, about the way they’re going...about Mazrethok and Magatha and C’thun...” She sighed and looked up at him with a rueful smile. “But that’s supposed to be your job, fretting...”
“Mmm.” He grunted in his usual monosyllabic fashion, returning her smile and gathering her into his warm embrace, resting his chin on the top of her head. “I suppose.”
The both of them sat in silence for a while, looking out at the mayhem being caused by the wind and the rain from their relatively safe vantage point, and after a time Pook pulled back, looking at No with a small, curious frown.
“You’re doing it again...” She said, brushing the backs of her fingers down the side of his face, and he blinked from his reverie.
“Doing what?” He asked, looking at her sidelong with what someone who didn’t know him well wouldn’t have been able to identify as a hint of guilt around the set of his eyes.
“Thinking about something...” she said, tilting her head as she regarded him.
“Mmm...like you said, just dwelling. Moping.” He said with a half-hearted grin.
There was another sudden strike of lightning outside, directly outside the cave, and Pook and No both jumped, startled. And faintly, very faintly, Pook could swear she heard laughter in the wind...hard and cruel...and familiar...
No frowned at her with concern and she realized she was trembling again, a look of fear on her features. “Shh...it’s all right...everything will be all right...” he rumbled soothingly, holding her close.
I don’t want you... Pook said to the voice inside her mind, holding No tightly. I want this...I want him...
She took No’s face in her hands to emphasize this point, to herself and to the voice she was sure she knew, and kissed him firmly. No blinked in surprise briefly and then let his eyes drift closed, returning her kiss fervently, his arms moving around her back to hold her to his bare chest with a tenderness surprising for his size.
As the wind and the rain howled outside the cave, impotent in its fury at being unable to reach them, the Elf and the Tauren found their own peace and their own happiness in one another’s arms for a time, moving together in the dark, ignoring the voice of the storm.