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Of Black and Gold

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It was in the midst of the Feast of Winterveil, and the blood elf huntress stood, hand steady on the hilt of a worn blade, the best she could afford. Her green eyes watered in the icy cold, blinking away wind stung tears as she watched the grass waver and move across the Barrens.

There! She squinted, and the shape of the leopard she had been tracking resolved out from the wind torn shadows of grass and branch. It yawned, topaz eyes blinking briefly. Her breath slipped soundlessly from her mouth, even as her fingers clamped down on the blade, then went soft as the ears flicked towards the sound. She glanced again at her feet. The trap was set. She rose from an easy crouch and her eyes locked with the topaz ones of the beast.

The leopard roared and leapt, fangs bared and claws unsheathed. Kora flung herself backwards, hoping the trap would hold long enough for her to convince the golden furred feline that she was not attempting to kill it, but befriend it. The cat yowled its displeasure, and a bladed paw raked through her shoulder in a lucky strike. Blood sprayed across the frozen ground, and the cat hissed and raged. Her hand briefly touched her shoulder, coming away bloody and then she held it out to the feline, ignoring the gout that ran from her shoulder.

A chant older than herself and the race she came from flowed up and out, wrapping a chain of the spirit around both the huntress and the cat, both who stared into the other's eyes, both needing something that only the other could give. Time slowed, and the wind fell silent.

The trap shattered and Kora's voice faltered, breaking the enthrallment. The cat leapt for her, she dropped the blade and threw up a hand. The crack of a totem hitting ground dazed both huntress and cat as a large wolf threw itself between the two. Kora made a wordless sound of protest as the cat skidded to a stop, fur rising along its back and the growl that issued from the wolf froze Kora in her tracks.

She recognized the pendant that hung around the beast's neck and realized abruptly that the wolf was not a wolf, but a shaman.

Lupine lips curled back and fangs bared as the shaman looked between the hunter and the great cat that hissed and spat. A voice flickered through her mind, and she tipped her head up, then down, an approximation of a nod. She didn't take her eyes from the gold fur. A small part of her will was keeping the feline still.

Her trap dropped at her feet, and she settled into the easy half-crouch, took a breath and the chant rose again as the shaman stepped aside. The cat leapt, and the trap held. As her eyes blurred she heard the shaman snarl, but her soul was locked to the chant her mind twined with that of the cat, she could not look away. When a heavy hand landed on her shoulder she blinked, dazed and trembling. Her eyes jerked up with a flinch, and realized that the shaman had taken his natural form, and a large tauren stood over her, holding her blade out. Then the feline nudged her hip and she realized just how cold she really was as she stumbled. But it was done.

"Thank you, Chieftain. I could not have-"

"We are a clan. You only had to ask."