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Richard Steelhindge stared out into the dank gloom of the marsh and wondered why he was there.

“You ever wonder why we’re here?” he asked his fellow guardsman Dexstar Brightshire.  The two of them were on day watch rotation of the front gates of Theramore. 

“It’s one of life’s great mysteries isn’t?  Why are we here?  Are we the product of some cosmic coincidence or is there really a god; watching everything, with a plan for us and stuff?  I don’t know man but it keeps me up at night.”  Dexstar replied thoughtfully.

“What?…I mean…”  That was all Richard managed to say before a shot rang out.  Dexstar turned and watched his friend fall to the ground.  He spun around and reached for his sword, but it was too late.  A second shot rang out.  This one struck Dexstar in the chest lifting him off the ground and forcing him to crash against the outer wall of Theramore.  Two Guards on patrol heard the shots and came running.  The third shot must have been a multi-shot for both guards collapsed.  The lookout in the tower, reached out for the alarm bell only to be violently attacked by a dragonling.  This surprised the young guard since the Dragonkin of the marsh were not prone to attacking the Alliance city.  Then he noticed behind all the dragon squawks the distinct sound of clicks, whirling gears and other mechanics. 

He may have had time to marvel at it but then as if to show how life-like it truly was, the dragonling incinerated the lookout with a breath of fire.

Most people would have thought Baaradon had chosen the absolute worst time to attack the Alliance camp for at that very same moment the Scarlet Blade were in the process of leaving Theramore.  Blade Soldiers drew their swords and took up positions to protect Captain Kreig as Baaradon made his grand entrance into Theramore. 

Captain Kreig, a powerful human sat upon his mount and frowned.  His face reflecting the hard years he had spent on the battlefield.  A long ragged scar marred the skin on his left cheek.  It had been rumored that a dragon in the badlands suffering its last throes clawed him as he’d pried out its heart. 

Kreig also wore a patch over his right eye which was said to have been plucked out by Thrall himself in combat.  This last however, was not believed by most of the Horde, for they knew that such battle would have ended with Kreig losing much more than an eye.  It was these types of stories and lore that help Kreig earn his fearsome reputation. 

“Tauren, you must have a death wish to come here alone.  You face not only The Alliance but the Scarlet Blade as well.  You must face me!  Do you even know..”  Baaradon cut him short.

“Know who you are?  Yes, human I am well aware.”

“You are either very brave or very foolish.”  Kreig remarked.

“I have been accused of both.  I have no quarrel with you this day.  I’m here for a thief.  He has some items of mine and I will have them back.  I am told he is a new recruit of yours.  He is called, Pilfer.”

     Pilfer loaded his kodo with supplies for the long trek.  He preferred traveling by raptor but they were more for traveling light when speed was imperative.  What the Kodo’s lacked in speed they more than made up for in their endurance over long distances and their ability to carry large loads; which was the current need.  As he finished up his last minute checks, he watched with great apprehension the grand precession of Captain Kreig and his personal guards. 

Pilfer was beginning to question his decision to join up with the Scarlet Blade.  He thought his crew must be fools to be following Kreig, but that only led him to wonder what that said about him since he had followed along with them. 

Pilfer was still thanking the gods that he had managed to avoid fighting for his life over that stupid robbery.  Kreig had been uncharacteristically merciful in not killing him and his crew.  He had noticed that it seemed more like Kreig had let him live and the crew were just not worth the effort.  He was usually very perceptive about such things but passed it off to overactive imagination.

     “Let’s mount up and please try not to get us into anymore trouble.”  Pilfer said in a warning tone.  Gar and Maricon both nodded silently and finished securing their gear.  That’s was when the first shot rang out.

     At first no one was sure what was going on; some hadn’t even heard it. Then, a second shot.  Guards looked from one to another, trying to determine where it was coming from.  Pilfer glanced up at the lookout for some sign of whether there was an attack or just someone have a bit of target practice.  What he saw was strange.  The lookout seemed be dancing, or at least, that’s what it looked like from Pilfer’s point of view right up until the man was suddenly consumed in flames.  Then a third shot and this time there was no doubt about what was going on. 

The forward Theramore patrol fell to the ground and the Scarlet Guard took up positions around Kreig.  Gar and Maricon reached for their weapons and Pilfer instinctively went stealth.  The group watched a large Tauren Hunter step out of the Marsh mist and cross the Theramore threshold.  Pilfer recognized Baaradon as the victim of their earlier exploits and as Baaradon and Kreig exchanged words, Pilfer began to flank the Tauren. 

Kreig grimaced at the Mention of the rogues name.  “How much trouble is that little elf going to be?” he wondered. He knew; however that he didn’t need this kind of trouble.  He’d recognized the Guild markings that adorned the Tauren, and the Mute Assasins were not a Guild to be trifled with.

“So, What is it you want Tauren, not that you’re likely to get it.  Just call it morbid curiosity.”  Kreig addressed the Tauren in a smug and powerful tone.

“I have come for the heads of Pilfer and his crew and also for the equipment they stole.” Baaradon replied flatly.

“The Scarlet Blade protects their own, lonely Tauren, but those three have been nothing but trouble since they joined us.  You are lucky, I am feeling generous today.  You may have the warrior and the mage.  They will also return what they have taken.”  Kreig gestured to the guards to move and make the statement a reality.

“And the Rogue?” inquired Baaradon.

“The rogue…I’m afraid, will have to remain with me.” Kreig explained sternly.  Baaradon seemed to be considering it, when he heard Felonius give a nearly inaudible growl. 

“Very well, I will take…”

     “Your last breath my friend.  That’s what you’ll be taking.”  Pilfer suddenly appeared behind Baaradon with his dagger at the Tauren’s spine.  “You made a mistake comin here.”

“And have made mistake making yourself visible.”  Baaradon replied calmly.   A thundering growl from behind them distracted Pilfer for only a moment but that was all Baaradon needed.  Before he could blink Baaradon’s massive hand was around his neck.  Pilfer struggled to get free but the more he struggled the tighter the Tauren’s grip became.

“It shall be your last.”

“Release him!  Release him now or you will follow him filthy beast!”  Kreig with sword in hand leapt from his stead and landed within striking distance.  Both Baaradon and Pilfer were surprised by Kreig’s concern for Pilfer’s well being, but neither showed it. 

Guards approached the standoff and dropped Baaradon’s belongings at his feet.  Now it was Baaradon who growled.  The sound was so terrifying that Kreig thought it could have been a weapon had the Tauren wanted it to be.  Baaradon hurled Pilfer like he was bail of hay then reached into one the sacks and withdrew his Dwarven Hand Cannon and fired twice. 

It all happened so fast; it took most a few seconds to catch up to what had just happened.   It was quite evident to all, however when Maricon collapsed.  Gar with a cry of fury charged Baaradon who dodged the clumsy Orc with little effort.  He stumbled pass the Tauren and landed with his face planted between the paws of Felonius.  Felonius’s attack was so brutal that several of the guard turned away to avoid being ill.

“Take your gear and leave Tauren, my patience wears thin.”

“Very well, Human.” Baaradon spat, as if the word human were a curse.  He gave a sharp whistle calling his Kodo, who then carried him and his gear off through the marsh.

       

Quistadora rose from the waters of the Lush Water Oasis.  The water trickled off her blue skinned body as she reached for a panther skin towel to dry off.  “Hey Baar baby, what took you so long?” Baaradon laid out the day’s events, including Scarlet Blade’s curious interest in Pilfer.   By the time he had finished his story the sun was beginning to set.

“My apologies Quista, I’ll have make it up to you.” Baar offered as he helped her pack her raptor.

“I’m gonna hold you to that.”  Quistadora replied.  “I’m headed back to Crossroads, you coming?”

“No, I’m gonna see if I can catch some more Deviant fish before I head back.”  Baar pull out his fishing pole and waved goodbye to Quistadora as she rode off to Crossroads. 

Too bad she never made it.

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