The burly orc adjusted the leather straps of her pauldrons and tugged on thick, metal-plated gloves before hefting a crescent-bladed axe to her shoulder.
Her companion was similarly outfitted, an enormous tauren covered in plate and well-practiced with his shield and mace.
They hardly noticed the cold after the climb into the pit, although Icecrown was many times colder than any natural winter that had ever existed in Kalimdor. Both paused for a moment, excusing the hesitation by glancing at their abandoned packs or testing a weapon.
"Well, let's get this over with," the orc said gruffly. She stalked towards the edge of the pit, away from what little glow could reach the center. Her companion followed, stepping in front of her and raising his shield.
As they neared the wall of the cave they slowed, listening intently to the sinister rustle of their quarry. Steeling herself, the orc lit a flare and tossed it lightly over her partner's shoulder. It landed just ahead of the pair, illuminating their target.
The writhing mass of thorns stood as tall as a full grown orc, and when confronted with the light immediately lashed out, striking the tauren's waiting shield. He grunted at the impact, weathered a few more bone-shaking hits, then returned fire with his mace.
His goal was not to kill the plant, but rather subdue it. He smashed each vine that snuck around his shield into the ground, stunning several. As he continued to taunt and goad the plant into attacking him, his orcish companion darted in, axe raised, and began to hack off tips from the incapacitated vines. She worked quickly, darting in and out to snatch the hewn pieces from where they lay squirming and toss them towards the center of the pit.
This went on for several exhausting minutes before the plant gave a sharp hssss and the lesser vines retreated. Now both orc and tauren tensed, willing themselves to be more alert, more resilient.
From somewhere within the wriggling nest of vines emerged a conical bulb. It arose on a vine thinner than the others, and what it lacked in thorns it made up for in the snarling, toothy maw. The bulb hissed, and as the pair watched, a second bulb snaked up to meet it.
"Two pods? Earthmother help us," the tauren breathed.
The bulbs attacked, aiming at the heady scent of flesh hiding behind the shield. The tauren fought back, shield flashing in time to parry both pods. They bounced off and immediately struck again, and the tauren was kept busy merely avoiding the attacks. While the pods were occupied, the orc slashed at their vines, hoping to lop off a bulb. This drew their attention, and a previously-severed vine emerged to encircle her ankle and tug her off balance.
The raw end of the vine oozed a viscous, awful-smelling liquid that made her armor boil and smoke. The orc roared in pain, but managed to twist in time to avoid a pod hurtling full force towards her chest. In the same moment, she bent, severing the vine around her ankle from the plant and rolling to her feet in one smooth motion.
Her companion was still shielding himself from more blows, but was now managing to return every other attack with a swing of his mace. The orc pulled herself together and charged back into the fray. A bulb left off attacking the tauren to harry her, snaking eagerly towards her neck.
The tauren struck, cracking it solidly on the head. It fell unceremoniously to the ground, briefly stunned. The orc darted forward, pulling a prong-like tool from her belt that she used to pin the bulb's vine down while she hacked off the head.
The tauren gave a cry as the second bulb flashed past his shield to punch full force into his bicep. He groaned, regripped the shield, and swung it around as the bulb struck again. This time, the pod bounced wetly off the plate, flopping stupidly until the orc's blade flashed quick and deadly. Now in retreat, the orc scooped up the severed head and backed away, brandishing her axe. The tauren remained in front, ready to confront any leftover vines that may attack.
Back in the center of the pit, the tauren cleaned and repacked the heavier pieces of his armor, then set about nursing his bruised arm. The orc remained in her armor, having switched her axe for a pair of tongs which she used to stow each of the thorny vines safely in a reinforced leather pack. Each of the pods she packed separately, and after sealing all bags carefully put the whole lot into a larger leather pack. It twitched as the vines inside suffered their death throes, and occasionally groaned and hissed as the pods snarled their annoyance.
Only now did the orc begin to remove her armor in preparation for leaving, and the tauren waited patiently, offering her a flask when she had finished. The liquor was harsh, fortifying her strength after such exertion.
"Thanks," she muttered, wiping her mouth and handing the flask back to her companion. "How's your shoulder? Did it break the skin?"
"No," the tauren replied, wincing as he moved the arm tenderly.
"You were lucky. Just last month Mareg broke a bone, and she's one of the strongest shielders we have. And before that, Jotesh was poisoned pretty badly."
"Lucky indeed," he agreed. "I'll be glad when we get some new inspiration for crafting. These Lasherweave pieces are ten times of impossible to get."
"Be careful what you wish for," the orc cautioned. "Who knows what other horrors might make for good druid armor?"