16 September 2011

The Leatherworkers [Tier 11]

Crouched behind a prickly bush, the orc shifted with a grace surprising for her bulk. "'How much worse could it get?' he had to ask," she grumbled to herself as she moved quietly. A nettle poked into her side. Blowing out a soft breath, she tried to settle into stillness again.

Across the clearing, her companion was just barely visible as a dark shadow in a small cluster of shrubs. He was much closer to the trap they had set. The meat had long since begun to collect flies, and the fruit stank unapologetically. Fortunately, despite the sun, the upper reaches of Mount Hyjal remained cool even in summer.

Minutes passed. The orc was slowly stretching a limb cramped from hours of waiting when she first heard the shuffling in the trees. After more scritching and snuffling, an enormous bird entered the clearing and went curiously to the pile of food. Neither of the leatherworkers moved as it circled the offering, sniffed appreciatively, and began to eat.

The first time the orc had seen this kind of bird, she had laughed despite herself. Completely land-bound, with stubby wings on an enormous body, and two long, powerful legs, the bird was quite a sight. It was prized for its lovely - and more importantly - magical blue feathers. This one had not been plucked in quite a while and looked relatively normal. The orc kept her face grim, remembering the feel of the bird's foot cracking into her ribs as she cackled helplessly that first time.

Suddenly, the tauren exploded out of his hiding place, armed with ropes to net and truss their quarry. The orc sprang into action as well, helping him wrestle the bird to the ground and tie knots. After several breathless minutes, the tauren was sitting securely astride the subdued creature, which was hissing and scrabbling ineffectually with its claws. Even with his steel-enforced leather gloves, the tauren kept his hands well behind the creature's snapping beak.

"Now for the fun part," the orc said dryly. She reached across the tauren, separating the silken feathers. After a moment, she selected one, held her breath, and gave a sharp tug.

The bird squawked indignantly and began thrashing anew. The tauren rode this out patiently, checked the ropes were not fraying, and kept the head under control. The orc was already looking for another suitable feather. Another tug, another squabble. An hour passed before the orc had enough feathers for one piece. She sat back on her heels and exhaled, but stood and began gathering her materials when she saw the miserable tauren still astride the equally miserable bird.

The feathers were pressed carefully between two oiled strips of cloth, then wrapped awkwardly in a stiff leather roll. This she slung on her back before summoning her mount - a harnessed wind rider trailing a curious sling. The orc draped the sling around her companion and tightened the securing straps. She climbed onto the mount before asking, "Ready?"

He merely grunted, and she guided the wind rider into a low hover. The straps to the sling pulled taut, and the tauren grunted again as he was awkwardly tugged up and down. "Hate this part," he muttered, and began to saw tiny cuts into the rope. Immediately, the bird resumed struggling, snapping several restraints. "Getting the head..." he called, then quickly slashed the primary restraint and threw himself away from the bird. At the same time, the orc spurred the wind rider up, and it lifted both from harm's way. Incensed, the bird sprang to its feet and snapped at them as they skimmed above the trees.

The tauren bellowed in irritation and shouted, "It clipped my hoof!"


  1. Love the scene of these two farming for mats. The ambush of a plucky and apparently oftenly harassed bird was a nice touch. The part I especially liked was the detailed description of how the Orc carefully packaged the precious feathers for their transport.

    Most of the time we think of just /skin, /loot, and then dumping them into our bags. Nice way to slow down and show the care behind the art of being a Leatherworker.

    Keep the great storylines flowing.

  2. Haha! Good to see these guys again :D

    I watched UP for the first time a few weeks ago, and I can't help thinking of Kevin :P

  3. Lol. Wonder who was earning their Wilderness Badege? I think naturally the Orc was the grumpy old man.

  4. Thanks everybody :) I actually haven't seen UP yet because I live under a rock ehehe. When I wrote this, I imagined the bird as the Anzu model, since it reappears as Aviana's consort in a quest in Hyjal.

  5. Oh, Anzu/Blaithe, of course! That fits perfectly! Silly me :P