The tauren dropped a sheaf of papers on the orc's desk, where she sat inspecting the seams of a junior leatherworker's practice tunic. Her eyes flicked to the papers, then to her companion's face.
"The patterns for that Cenarion Circle request are in," he said by way of explanation.
The orc unrolled the documents with interest. She was silent for a few minutes while she shuffled back and forth between the proposed designs. The tauren moved to look over her shoulder.
"This one here isn't bad," she said, choosing one of the designs from the pile.
The tauren grinned. "That one was my favorite, too."
The orc ran her finger down the list of specifications contemplatively. "Of course it would have to be feathers," she muttered.
"Well, it is for a flying contingent."
"Yes, the Cenarion Circle Regiment of Emissaries and Messengers. That name will never stick." She stood and headed for the back room, where there was a compendium of materials for traditional druid leathers.
The tauren trailed after her. "I expected them to call it a "flock" or something, seeing as it's for flying druids..." He was rewarded with an appreciative laugh.
The orc flipped through the encyclopedia detailing the different types of birds and feathers available to them. She checked two references, jotted down some information on a small notepad she kept on her belt, and rifled around for some blank parchment and a quill.
"As I suspected, the only feathers really appropriate for this kind of design are protected by the Circle. We'll have to apply for access to them."
The tauren nodded. "It always works out like that. You'd think they would just bring us the permits already filled out!"
"That," she replied sarcastically, "would not be the proper bureaucratic method." She set up the model form along with a blank sheet of parchment and writing utensils on the desk in the corner. "You write it; your handwriting is better than mine."
He took the quill from her without complaint and began to copy the oft-used application. While he wrote, the orc hunted in the desk drawers for their leatherworkers' guild seal.
"Kodohide Leatherworkers formally requests access to Frayfeather Hippogryphs, currently under protection of the Cenarion Circle. Materials harvested include but are not limited to feathers, hide, talons, beaks. Said materials will be used solely in construction of Cenarion gear as per details outlined in Regiment of Emissaries and Messengers Uniform Update commissioned by..." The tauren looked around for the original request form. "Ah yes, Hadakha Treewalker, of the Cenarion Circle. Kodohide Leatherworkers vows to treat all beast sacrifices with the greatest of care and respect as outlined in the Approaching Nature handbook." He re-inked the quill and filled in the details and specifications of the gear design and the expected hippogryph toll. Then, below the typical druid greeting, he penned his and the orc's names.
After he signed his name, the orc signed hers, cast drying powder over the parchment, and folded the document into the envelope she had prepared. Then, she dripped a blob of melted wax onto the envelope and stamped it with their official seal.
The wait wasn't long. In as much time as it took for a carrier pigeon to wing its way to the Moonglade and back, the orc was opening a document proclaiming "This permit hereby authorizes Kodohide Leatherworkers access to Frayfeather Hippogryphs for use in Cenarion Circle leathers as detailed in the aforementioned commission until such time as the armor request has been fulfilled." It was signed and sealed by the Archdruid in charge of the Cenarion Armory.
Not long after, the leatherworkers were hacking their way through the thick undergrowth of Feralas, permit tucked safely in their bags. They had spent the past few days hunting hippogryphs and were nearing their quota for materials.
"I'm just saying, maybe they're going extinct because they walk into traps so easily," the tauren mused, disentangling a limp body from the final trap they had set. The orc snorted and began to truss the body for transport back to their camp where the rest of the carcasses were stored.
"Maybe being protected and without predators for so long has made them evolve to be less vigilant," the orc suggested. She brushed sweat from her eyes and wiped it on her leggings.
The tauren hummed. "I don't think evolution happens that quickly..." He was interrupted by a sudden screech and flurry of wings, and in the next instant was toppled over by an enormous stormcrow furiously scrabbling at his eyes. With a startled shout, the tauren managed to thrust the bird away from him.
Snarling, the orc was already rushing towards her companion, blood pounding in her ears and axe raised in a charge. A sudden flash of moonfire blinded her, and when the spots in her vision cleared, a dire bear was advancing on the tauren. She immediately dropped her axe and clawed at the armband on her wrist.
"Wait! Stop!" she shouted, waving the armband. The embroidery depicted the Cenarion Circle's crest and should have identified her as a Circle delegate to any experienced druid.
The dire bear ignored her, charging the tauren and swatting him with a mighty paw that made even him look small. He flew through the air, sliding to a stop against a moss-covered rock.
In battle, a comrade falling was something that simply couldn't be helped. The grunt charging beside you might collapse with an arrow through his eye, the commander next to you might be dragged off her worg with a polearm. A trained warrior simply kept fighting until the battle was finished and there was time to attend the injured and dying.
Not so in this case. The orc felt the all-consuming bloodlust claw up her throat. Scooping up her axe, she placed herself between the druid and the tauren and struggled to dredge up the few words of Darnassian she knew.
"Druid!" she bellowed, brandishing the armband alongside her weapon. "Cenarion! Leather!"
With a gasp, the dire bear shimmered into a willowy night elf wearing a Cenarion Circle patrol tabard. He held up his hands in defense. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I didn't see, I thought you were," he stammered in Common.
The orc barely heard him over the roaring in her head and the uncontrollable snarls coming from her mouth. "Heal! Help!" she shouted, gesturing to the still form of her partner.
The druid began nodding, eyes massive. "Yes, of course, I'll bring help-"
The orc charged, fangs bared, "RUN!"
With a squeak, the druid took flight, narrowly missing the swing of her axe. As he swooped away through the treetops, her enraged howl followed him.
Now alone in the woods, the orc threw her weapon down, cleaving deep into the soil. Still quivering with bloodlust, she stalked to the nearest boulder, hefted it to her shoulder with a grunt, and heaved it as hard as she could. It sailed through the underbrush, leaving a damp trail of crushed plants. The orc screamed at its wake.
Feeling slightly calmer, she turned and rushed to her fallen companion's side. With steady fingers she pressed a clean handkerchief to the oozing wound marring his face. He smelled singed where the moonfire had struck his mane. There were long gouges around his eyes, and blood matted his head and shoulders. The orc said nothing, simply keeping pressure on the wound and gently feeling for broken bones. All she could do was wait.