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Chapter OneEdit

by Nerrok

Nerrok focused in on the darkness, inhaling the rich grey incense smoke through his flaring nostrils as he kept his eyes firmly shut. Bare-chested with his black bandana wrapped securely around his head, he sat cross-legged in front of a small campfire, alone, deep within the woodlands of Nagrand, the Orc's ancestral grounds of Draenor. Feeling the flame's heat lick at his thick green skin, he allowed himself to once again be enveloped in the spirit of The Wilds in yet another attempt to make contact with those of his bloodline. He'd been trying for weeks, now; ever since speaking with Greatmother Magatha in Garadar, the urge to make contact with the spirits of his unknown past had become more powerful than ever. He had followed her instructions for the ritual down to the letter, gathering enough herbs and oils for the ceremony from all across Outland in order to try, and try again, until he got it right. Still...So many attempts and nothing so far. He refused to let the lack of results stymie his efforts, however...And thus he continued, night after night.

His concentration was beginning to wane as the hours passed. He found himself thinking of Taai and their last moments together before he was sent back through the portal, of Krelle and her grinning face as he had kissed her on the forehead, saying goodbye to her as well. "Take care of the place while I'm gone, Squirt. Got a feeling this deployment is gonna be a long one", he had said to her. It was only because of this break in his concentration that the sound of a twig snapping underneath the foot of something large in the nearby darkness was able to break his meditation, a solitary eyelid rising instantly to seek out the source of the sound. The other soon followed as he heard nothing but silence for a long while after, as he slowly rose to his feet, turning in the direction of where he had heard it from.

He'd sensed a malignant presence trailing him for the last few days, now. How he had managed to do so without catching nary a scent of whatever it was, surprised him. His senses seemed to have come alive, moreso than they were already trained to be, after spending so much time in the home of his ancestors. He had no doubt his daily rituals had something to do with the strengthening of these abilities, but the fact that whatever it was that was trailing him had managed to stay downwind of him for this long had him curious. Whatever it was, it had been trained in the ways of The Hunt...and it was quite good at it. Nerrok wasn't used to being the prey, and the simple fact that he was being tracked and couldn't do anything to stop it, to put it simply, pissed him off. One of the many things he had to work on, he reminded himself as stared narrowed-eyed into the shadows...Control of his anger. "You can come out now", he growled, hands curling into large, iron-like fists. "I don't like this game anymore."

What happened next did so with such speed and ferocity, even Nerrok's reflexes were tested to their limits. The sound of churning earth from the opposite direction of where he faced caused him to turn around, just in time to see the head of the largest bear he'd ever seen charging toward him, head down in a ramming motion. Nerrok thought the beast was large enough to give Misha, Rexxar's pet, a run for her money as he placed both of his palms flat on the bears head and jumped skyward, legs spreading over the animal so that he leap-frogged over top of it, hitting the ground in a crouch and looking over his shoulder to prepare for the next attack. The creature's momentum was so great that it couldn't stop before it charged headlong into the trunk of a large tree, its girth breaking against the wood and splintering the thing nearly in half, its base cracking and tumbling to the forest floor with a mighty crash. The hulking beast roared in a combination of pain and anger as it regained its composure, shaking off the slight daze it had acquired from the impact as it turned around to face Nerrok again, snarling savagely as saliva dripped from its maw, filled with saw-like teeth.

Nerrok did his best to analyze the situation, size up his opponent and look for some type of weakness, before the next onslaught. The creature had him cut off from his gun and his polearm; both were leaning against a tree that was on the other side of the huge bear, so that wasn't an option...At least for the moment. He'd have to maneuver it around a bit in order to get to them. He noticed though that the creature seemed to have that in mind as well; it hesitated to charge again, something that no simple enraged wild animal would do when it had its prey cornered and defenseless, like it had Nerrok. It was then that the hunter noticed the black, swirling markings on the beast's brown fur along its hind legs and flanks. This was no normal bear; those were druidic runes, he realized, which would explain why this particular creature had managed to avoid the various traps and such he'd set up around his camp. It could easily shift forms, taking to the trees, the water, or even the sky, to avoid them. The realization made him grin, his fangs glistening in the faint glow the campfire cast outward.

He stood up, then, rolling his neck in a slow, deliberate fashion and hearing a few responsive bones pop loudly as a result. His hands reformed into fists as he chuckled, a rumbling sound originating from deep within his cavernous chest. This only seemed to enrage the bear further from the crazed look of bloodlust in its eyes, which was exactly what Nerrok wanted as an idea began to formulate, in his mind...To goad it into another charge. She'd managed to get past all of his defenses...Save for one. He quickly and discretely added up the angles and calculations in his head, taking a step backward to line up just right as his eyes darted toward the treetops, for the split second. He'd have to time this perfectly.

"Nightshade, I take it. Pleasure t'meetcha. Y'know I usually don't hit women...But in your case I think I'm gonna make an exception."

His statement achieved what he'd wanted it to, an earth-shaking roar bellowing forth from the bear's throat right before it charged at him, once again. The orc dove to his right, sliding roughly along the forest floor as the creature sailed past where he once stood, yanking a stake out of the ground as he flattened himself against the earth. The tripwire attatched to the stake was set off as a result, and a large, heavy tree branch suspended out of sight along the forest canopy swung down like a pendulum, missing Nerrok by perhaps an inch as it slammed into the bear, mid-stride. The impact sent the beast tumbling to the side, collapsing onto the forest floor with a low, painful groan.

With the creature hurt and muddled, Nerrok wasted no time, quickly getting to his feet and making his way to his weapons, extracting his serated hunting knife from his pack and closing the distance between the wounded druid and himself, preparing to slit the beast's throat and end this particular chapter in Tong history, once and for all. He was stopped short, though...as he felt a searing pain pierce his shoulder, from behind. He roared, more out of anger than anything else, as he looked over his shoulder to see the shaft of an arrow half-buried into him. It was soon followed by another, again and again, until the majority of his back and arms were riddled with them, his skin on fire with agony. The knife fell from his hand and he stumbled. Too quick for a loss of blood, he realized that the projectiles must have been coated with some sort of tranquilizing poison as his legs turned to mush, his head colliding with a stone along the ground with a sickening thump, opening up a large gash across the side of his head.

Nerrok's vision quickly blurred, and the last thing he remembered seeing before his eyes blacked out and his mind shut down, was the figure of a lithe, naked night elf female limping toward him, and the feel of her tongue sliding over his face, lapping up the blood oozing from his head.

Days later

An intricately carved wooden box was delivered to Kya's doorstep. The note attached read: "To Qal'Tirrin, my love. I hope you like it.", and inside would be a large, orcish heart, wrapped in the bloody, tattered remains of Nerrok's bandana.

Chapter TwoEdit

by Kyanali

Kya's need to run had been extreme lately. She often found herself setting off on her course twice a day instead of just once. The mental clarity was addictive and soothing as was the rhythmic tone of her body as she rolled heel to toe each foot. Kya pushed herself a little harder than normal today simply because she felt she needed every muscle ready, to fight on command, when the demand called. Her anger and disgust at Nightshade distracted her from feelings she'd rather not face right now. Focus was her friend.

She was so focused coming home that she barely noticed the box on her step awaiting her like an angel of death. The moment she saw it, her heart dropped and an anguished whispered wail of "no" escaped her lips. She moved towards the distinctly decorated box like a jumper drawn to the edge of her destiny.

Kya fell to her knees with tears pouring down her face, squeezing her eyes shut and lifting her face upwards. WHY now? Her soul screamed at the unfairness of it all. Whomever fell victim to Nightshade was undeserving and the stress level of the Tong was as tight as overstretched twine. It landed upon Kya's shoulders to act now, and she knew it was her only salvation. She could not sit here without looking in that box forever.

Kya considered there might be latent evidence on the box, so she rummaged in her bag for the silk handkerchief she carried with her always. Using it to gently lift the lid, she reeled from the stench and what she saw inside. For it wasn't the heart she saw first, it was a black bandana - the bloodstained but unmistakable remains of Nerrok's bandana, wrapped clumsily around one of the biggest hearts Kya had ever seen.

Something broke inside Kya as she sobbed silently over the box. NOT NERROK!!! Kya could see it in perfect clarity - Nerrok's silent vow to spare the rest of them. He was clearly the most capable and had unsurpassed courage and will. It was entirely logical he had attempted to obliterate Nightshade without backup. His honor was too strong to endanger a single Tiger but himself. It was too much. Then it suddenly occured to her that illusions could be powerful. She gasped and quickly replaced the lid. Kya ran as fast as she could to the Office in Stormwind.

With the box tucked protectively in one of her smaller bags, Kya flew throught the streets like a hawk focused only on its prey. She'd not used her comm on purpose. Von did not need to know about this yet. For all the stress he was under, it might just break him.

Arriving at the Tong office, Kya fumbled with the security code then finally threw the door open. Yelling at the top of her lungs, she headed for the back labratory.

"ANYONE HERE?!"

Hearing her shout echo in the emptiness, Kya’s anger, mixed inextricably with fear, surged through her veins. She knew she could not handle this alone. Kya needed to get to the Booty Bay office and quick. Surely someone would be there. Kya flew like the wind through the streets of Stormwind, tossed her coins at the Gryphon Master and sped through the air, clinging to the gryphon as it was the only thing she had to cling to. She jumped off just as it landed and hopped straight off the roof, rolling as she hit the docks. Then she scrambled herself up and burst into the Booty Bay office, breathless and sweating with desperation.

“ANYONE HERE?!!” Kya dug the box out of her bag and set it carefully on the table, hearing footsteps. Please don’t let it be Von, she thought.


Chapter ThreeEdit

by Krelle


Krelle's hand was on her dagger as she heard the charge to the door. She slid into the shadows, ready to throw even as the door burst open to admit a near-hysterical Kya Nali.

"ANYONE HERE?" Kya bellowed even as the Forsaken faded back into sight behind her. Kya spun around at the sound of her footsteps.

"Oh, Krelle!" Kya exclaimed, stareing at Krelle first with a look of relief, then of horror. Oh gods, I can't tell her - why couldn't it have been anyone else?

"Kya?" Krelle resheathed her daggers, moving slowly as though near a skittish animal. Kya just stared at her. Krelle's gaze went from her to the box on the table. Sheesh, another one? We really oughtta off this druid. She's upsetting the humans.

"Oh, I see," Krelle said, summoning some sympathy. It was Kya's man after all. "It's ok, Kya, you're safe here. She's just messing with us. Look, for all I know these are monkey hearts, eh? Don't let her rattle you so much, it's what she wants."

Kya was still staring at Krelle, one hand over her mouth. Krelle frowned at her. Why is she afraid... of me?

"Kya?" she asked, her tone a bit harder. "What is it?"

Kya's mind was racing, tyring to find a way out of this, but she knew it was too late to go back now. It was only a matter of time 'til Krelle heard about it.. may as well face the music.

In the end though, she couldn't find the words. Krelle watched her open the box with shaking hands, then step back quickly - out of range.

Krelle was expecting another child's heart. The size of the one in the box made her freeze even as she instantly recognized the bandana crumpled around it.

Neither Tiger moved.


Her mind reeled. A scream echoed in her head, the wail of a child left behind. Clovers on the walls. Ivar's face, the bear-hug he always left her with still around her shoulders as she sees the list of the slain. The tunnels of the Undercity around her. "I don't get close to anyone," Lil tells her. "They leave. They always leave." Nerrok.


Kya stared at Krelle with one hand over her mouth. The girl froze as she looked into the box. Slowly, a look of inhuman horror spread across her face and she shook, staring open-mouthed at the box.

Kya jumped in shock as the Forsaken slapped herself across the face hard. And again.

"Krelle!" She took a step forward, half raising a hand as though to stop her, but Krelle stepped back, staring at the ground and trembling.

The girl spoke, spitting out the gutteral sounds of the Forsaken tongue. She shook her head violently and turned away, her back to the table.

Kya watched anxiously. Krelle's hands were on her dagger hilts as she stared at the door to the room, rhythmically flexing around them. She was speaking quietly, working something out. Her tone was cold and cynical. Eventually she nodded once and straightened her shoulders. She ran a hand through her hair, turning back to the table. She started slightly as she saw Kya, as though she'd forgotten she was there.

"Krelle?"

The girl reached into the box, pulling out Nerrok's bandana and shaking it free of the heart, letting the thing fall back into the box. She shut the lid, frowning at the rag in her hand. "I'd better wash this. He'd be pissed to lose it."

Kya stared at her. The dread and fear had left Krelle's face to be replaced by the usual small sardonic smile. She watched as the Forsaken crossed the room to wash off the bandanna in a bucket of water.

"Heh. Clever girl, almost had me there," she murmured as she knelt.

Kya stepped forward as a glimmer of hope came to her. "Then you don't believe that it's...?"

Krelle snorted derisively. "Do I look like a mark? Be sensible Kya," she said as she stood, wringing out the cloth. "Nerrok's more or less invincible. All this shows was that she nicked his bandana, and that some orc somewhere bit it."

"But -"

Krelle turned on her then with a sudden heat. "Listen, Nali, they might'a tussled, sure. Fel, it's even physicall possible that she could'a killed him. But I'll be damned if I'm gonna freak out over a damp rag. If she wants me to believe that Nerrok's dead, she'd better send his head in the next box."

Kya took a half step back, nodding.

Krelle glared at her, then tied the damp bandana around her neck. "I'll hang onto this. Kya - listen, obviously you gotta tell the others n stuff, but when you do, you make it damn clear we're not buying this, right?"

"Right."

Krelle nodded firmly. "I sure as hell ain't buying it."

Chapter FourEdit

by Taai

The short sweet time of honeymoon bliss lingered upon Taai's lips. Nerrok had carted her off atop the flying wyvern, armored mount, a cottage at the base of a giant waterfall. Water, sands and gorgeous heat, baked their moments together. Life was so totally perfect and happy.

A passion laden kiss had her smiling silly, as he dropped her off atop Booty Bay's bank roof. Promises to be safe during his deployment, letters to written , loving farewells, she waved as he flew off towards his new assignment.

Unable to reach him on his comm. after a few days, began to make her fret, but she kept reassuring herself, all would be well.

Chapter FiveEdit

by Kyanali

Kya knew she had to tell Von about the latest delivery. He deserved to know and she could not keep the news at bay any longer. He was still in danger and like it or not, she had to care about that. Thing was, she really did not want to pester or interrupt him in his need to remain distant. She tried the comm. Three times. No answer. She decided the only way to get through to him was with a letter.

Von,

I tried to reach you to no avail. There is no easy way to say this. Another delivery has been made and I wanted to tell you about it before the news got around to you through the grapevine. Please, don’t do anything rash. You need to be among friends and not wandering about alone right now. I still worry for your safety. I know you can defend yourself just fine. I never doubted that; I trust you as much as ever. It’s not you I distrust. It’s her.

I won’t beg. You know me better than that. Just – be careful. I wish you were not such an island. You have an entire family here worried about you. Not just me.

There’s more, but I can tell you at a later point.

-Kya

After sending the message through the fastest means possible, Kya called out on the comm. for any Tigers available to come urgently to the Booty Bay office. As they arrived, she broke the news and gently added the part about Nerrok’s bandana, being careful to stress it was not definitive proof.

With each new arrival she kept asking, “Has anyone seen Taai? She’s not answering the comm.” Kya glanced at Krelle, who was in complete denial. Maybe that wasn’t such a bad place to be. Kya began to feel sick to her stomach over Taai and the unborn child. The bandana was surely not proof, but how the heck were the words going to sound to her? Kya cursed at Tai being gone, longing for his wisdom and calmness - the rock they all leaned on. Kennia would be here any moment, certainly; she’d been exhibiting a ton of fortitude lately, but how would she take this blow? Kya just stared at the Tigers around her and sighed into the silence.

Then she straightened up her shoulders, “Let’s talk about options at this point. Any ideas?”

Chapter SixEdit

by Rob

Rob leaned back against the wall. His arms were crossed over his chest and his head was tilted downward, however his eyes were fixed on the box. He wasn't in any position to say whose heart was in it, but all indications suggested it belonged to Nerrok.

He heard the call over the communication device. Everybody was taking it differently. Some were on the verge of tears. Others were in complete denial. Taai, Nerrok's new bride was nowhere to be found. Rob tried to keep his deep emotionless expression set in stone. What could he say? For all he knew the only thing left of the mighty orc hunter was right there on the table.

He rubbed his chin for a moment, trying to think of something he could say. He had to keep a positive outlook, if not for himself, then for the sake of the others at least. He was far more concerned with their feelings than his own.

After a moment of silence to make sure nobody else was going to say anything, he spoke up. His head still turned toward the floor. "Well, what I think is.." He paused in his speech as heads turned toward him, shifting his weight uncomfortably.

"I ain't a doctor, but we can't be sure this isn't some poor peon's heart right? For all we know somebody with a grudge against us stole that bandanna and left it here to mess with us. I mean, if it were his head or something..." He stopped mid-sentence, figuring that wasn't a very comforting way to go. "Fel, all I'm sayin' is that until we see him, we ain't gonna know whether he's dead or alive. You all know better than me who might have had it out for him, so why not start there?

Chapter SevenEdit

by Krelle

Krelle let out an explosive breath. "THANK you, Rob!"

Rob shrugged uneasily, having said his piece, and leaned back against the wall.

Krelle looked at the others assembled in the office. Some were nodding, others still cast horrified looks at the box, or were near to tears. She ground her teeth together, anger welling up inside her. She didn't know where the anger came from, so she blamed it on the others. Why were they buying into this crap? Surely they couldn't be so stupid as to believe the lies of a psychotic cat?

Even a month ago she might have left it at that but Krelle had changed since she started running with the tigers, and largely due to the influence of Nerrok. She'd become harder, more cynical, and more confident. Now he was off on another long mission, and he'd left her in charge of things, hordeside. She wasn't going to let everyone fly to pieces. That would only dissapoint him.

"Tigers," she said in a cold, dispassionate tone. "There's not a soul in this room who hasn't had practise twisting words and tricking marks. You all know how it's done." She stepped forward, making sure she could see everyone's face.

"People will believe a lie, however unlikely, for two reasons: if they really want to believe it, or if they are afraid to believe it. We've all spent the last week wondering when this druid would come after us, how long it would be 'til the next box. This," she lay her hand on the carved wood, "This is the culmination of a deliberate attempt to instill fear and panic. How often in the past have we used these methods ourselves? Light knows I have. And it works.

"It works because marks are stupid, and they don't know better. But I look around and I see the smart ones, the ones who've got this game figured out. Use your brains, Tigers, and stop listening to naive fears! We're being played! Until I see some proof - and I'm talkin' Nerrok's head - then I'm not buying it. This isn't the time to freak out. We need to keep our wits and ace this druid, not run around crying like frightened children.

"Now. I'm going to go and find my mother, and I'm going to tell her what happened. I'd take it as a very great kindness if that box wasn't lying around stinking up the room when we get here. She's been all weepy lately, and that's not going to help anything," the forsaken said in a cold tone as she stalked towards the door. She paused, one hand on the latch and the other on a dagger-hilt, and spoke quietly.

"We can prepare for the worst without assuming it, and you'll all come to your own conclusions. But if anyone acts like Nerrok's dead in front of Taai..." There was an audible creak of leather as Krelle's grip tightened. She left it hanging for a second, then visibly relaxed.

"But you guys wouldn't do that anyway. Would you."

The creak of the door was loud in the silence she left behind.

Chapter EightEdit

by Taai

The dagger flashed in a stream of sunlight between the leaves of the jungle's ceiling. Taai bent working the skin off a raptor expertly. Several other pelts were laying staked to dry. Sweat dampened her temples and curled the hair about her neck as she shaved the heavy leather. She had left her comm. off during her journey's into the forest deep. Straightening as the last section came free, she arched, cracking her spine.. absently wiping a hand across her forehead. A sparkling rainbow danced over foliage from her ring, making her look down upon the symbol upon her finger, instantly bringing a smile to her lips.

Nerrok. Kings! How she loved him! Her thoughts traveled again to the times spent, placing her hand over her lower belly. She still recalled how he looked running after that little orc boy's escaping frog at the fair. Granted the hopping frog made him twitch, but still...she could not stop grinning.

Suddenly she went still. Goosebumps rippled down her arms. It was too quiet...her gaze shifted to the trees around her...then she instantly relaxed, breaking into a warm smile as Krelle stepped from the shadows.

"Greetin's ta ya Krelle, wot brings ya out this way?"

Chapter NineEdit

by Krelle

On some level, she knew that her plan was risky. But she was pretty sure it would work. Pretty sure.

Lady, help me.

It hadn't taken long to find out that Taai had gone hunting in the jungle. There's only so many places one goes when one is dressed in comouflaged combat leathers carrying the poles to set up a skinning rack.

As Krelle walked through the jungle paths she considered her options. Taai had been feeling motherly and emotional lately - apparently a pregnancy will do that to a human. Unfortunately, this meant Krelle probably wouldn't be successful appealing to her cold, logical side. When a child runs crying to their parents about another person being stupid, the parent's first instinct is to try and take the other person's side and figure out what's going on.

That wouldn't do.

Krelle paused, hiding behind a leafy fern as a pack of three large raptors loped by. Hunting, no doubt. Another advantage to not being alive. She didn't exactly smell like fresh meat to the animals.

Her mind went back to the problem as the raptors passed. In order for her to make Taai believe that the message was a bluff... she'd have to be the scared child running from monsters. That would make Taai's emerging motherly instincts kick in, surely. She'd have to be the strong one, the comforter. And with any luck, in "convincing" Krelle that Nerrok was still alive, she'd convince herself. We believe what we want to believe, as long as we are not buys believing what we are scared to believe.

Her brow furrowed as she crossed a small stream. She was confident in her logic, and she knew she could make it convincing. The risk was in the acting. Hakk had taught her that the most convincing way to lie was to make yourself believe it. For some reason, a part of her mind was screaming that this was dangerous, that it was a terrible idea. She shook her head stubbornly. It was a good plan. She'd be able to keep her story straight in her head, surely.

Anyway, it's not the same, this time. It's not.

She brushed her fingertips against her cheek, against the black four-leafed clover tattooed there. Lady's luck be with me again.


"Greetin's ta ya Krelle, wot brings ya out this way?"

Taai's smile faded as the girl stepped forward. Her gait was jerky and unnatural, and there was a chilling look of horror on her pale face as she slowly turned to look at Taai.

"Mother?"

The knife fell, forgotten. Taai was instantly at the girl's side, her brow creased with worry. "Krelle? Wot's wrong, hun?" Fel, she looks like she's seen a ghost! She reached out to put a comforting hand on her shoulder.

The girl shied away violently, stumbling as she backed up. She fell to her knees on the damp loam of the forest floor, sobbing in Orcish. "Iya... kro nacht, kro nacht... erra najal!"

Taai had picked up some Orcish and the girl's words made her blood run cold. She knelt in front of Krelle, taking her firmly by the wrists. Her tone was soft, though. "Krelle, love, ya gotta talk sense! Who bae leavin' ya? Yer not alone dear, I'm right here. Hey... shhhh, s'okay," she said as Krelle leaned forward against her. Her arms circled protectively around the girl's slender shoulders and she rocked gently back and forth as her adopted daughter cried, waiting as patiently as she could for the sudden storm of weeping to pass.

"It's okay, hun, it'll be alright," she said soothingly as Krelle pulled back a bit, still hiccuping sobs as she rubbed her eyes under the bands of her mask. Taai left her hands on the girl's shoulders, and this time she didn't pull away. "Tell me wot's wrong, Krelle."

"It's the drui-id..." she managed.

A sudden protective fury filled Taai's heart. That light-forsaken she-demon would pay, and it would be in blood. She kept her tone comforting. "Wot has happened?"

"Sh-she sent a me-essage to the To-ong... she s-said she ki-illed himmm..."

The words cut like a knife. A thousand emotions welled up inside her - fear, anger, denial... she clung to the last one. "Impossible," she stated flatly.

Krelle looked up, her face a study in misery. "But she had his bandana! It had blood on it.. she must'a stolen it when- when she..."

Taai tightened her grip on Krelle's shoulders, resisting the urge to shake her. "Tell me wot happened," she commanded.

The girl flinched slightly, then stammered out the story. The box, the heart, the bandana. "Ro-ob said it was a bluff, but how ca-an he be so su-ure..."

Taai had been scouring the girl's words for a trace of proof, but her initial denial was only strengthened by the lack of it. She let out a long sigh and pulled Krelle into her lap, resting her cheek against the girl's hair as she slowly rocked her. She spoke, then, the comforting words of a mother. Her tone was soft, but gently chiding. Surely she had more faith in their hunter than that? It was only a bandana - brown bandanas weren't hard to find. How silly she would feel, when Nerrok came back to them.

"You won't tell him, will you?" the girl asked then, in a small voice.

Taai smiled, triumph swelling in her heart. "Of course not. Dinnae worry me dear, this'll stay between us two."

Krelle sat up straighter, letting out a shuddering sigh as she wiped her face. "I'm sorry," she said, downcast.

Taai gave her a little kiss on the forehead, then pulled her in for a last protective hug. A small part of her whispered black what-ifs in her mind, but she shoved them away. She had to be strong now, for Krelle - and for all the family. She'd straighten out the others. Nerrok would be proud of how she'd handled the pressure, not flying to pieces like a useless chit.

The two tigers gathered up the skins together. Krelle's demeanor changed as they worked and Taai was delighted to see her laughing and joking as they walked back to the Bay. As the girl hopped through the underbrush in front of her, the same protective feelings welled up again. No one threatened her family.

It was time to do something about the druid.

Chapter TenEdit

by Taai

Taai ran swiftly down Booty Bay's docks, racing from the demons that plagued her mind. Von found Nerrok's gun! By all the Kings! She could only be so strong..doubts started to chip away from her resolve. The young rogue moved, nimbly climbing the rooftops and there she sat, staring out over the waters, absently watching a boat to Rachet.

Krelle.

Their adopted and beloved daughter. One hand hovered protectively over her still flat abdomen. Life was never easy she thought, iffin' it was, it would be boring and dull. Yet.. how to find the energy to stay strong, to believe what she knew in her heart of hearts to be true. Her husband did not perish. He was alive.. somewhere, somehow.. she would stay steadfast with hope. Be insurmountably strong. Not only for herself, but for her family as well.

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