That was the thought that floated through the draenei’s mind. It was cold. His race were known to be resilient, especially in extreme climates, however with temperatures far below freezing even the strongest draenei would begin to feel the cold. As he shivered slightly, the paladin gently prodded his equine mount to pick up the pace. For the past few days the draenei had travelled through Northrend. He alternated between ground and air as he searched for what he needed. His thoughts turned inward, as he recalled why he was on this frigid continent of Azeroth, far from his home. His profession called for raw materials, and these materials could only be collected here. He needed gold, and his ability to craft armour and weapons for others was the only way he could make said gold.
During his travels through Northrend he had encountered various elementals of fire, earth, and shadow. These aggressive beings were not willing to be reasonable and share their wealth, on the contrary, they attacked any and all who would dare come too close to them. The paladin needed the crystals that formed a part of their being, and while it was possible for elementals to give up a part of themselves to others, these creatures were hostile to all and no bargain could be made. He had gathered many such crystals from these beings, having dispatched them to do so, and together they formed eternals, a crystal that was necessary to craft the items his customers wanted. However, the material the draenei sought most was titanium, a rare ore that was harder to come by than any other. Titanium was important in that when smelted with eternals of fire, earth, and shadow, it formed a substance known as titansteel, a material that crafted the greatest of armour and weaponry. Strong and powerful, the items made from it were highly sought after and sold for quite a high price. The armour the paladin wore had been crafted by himself, while his blade had been crafted after a long and tiring quest not long ago.
Over the sound of hoofs on frozen ground, the draenei heard something that shook him from his reverie and filled him with foreboding: battle. With no desire to waste any time, he urged his companion into a gallop. The horse and rider raced passed the snow-covered trees, and suddenly the paladin came upon a clearing filled with undead. In the middle of the fray stood a solitary figure who conjured spells and flung them at the scourge in what appeared to be a desperate attempt to keep them at bay.
The draenei jumped down from his horse, his hoofs deep in the white snow. He raced forward, his large two-handed sword held high. He met the undead warriors head on, his blade sliced through them with ease. The paladin smashed them aside with his armoured body, and burned them with the purity of the Light. The mindless undead were slow to recognise the new threat, thus the draenei was able to leave a sizable dent in their number. Many began to come after him, their rotting flesh no match for the might of a paladin with the Light on his side. The draenei vanquished many of the Scourge, and with a sudden sense that they now dealt with a greater threat, the mass of undead turned their attention to the new prey. The paladin was suddenly swamped with enemies. Not discouraged, the paladin used this to his advantage. He called on the Light to consecrate the ground beneath him over and over. The undead began to drop to the frozen earth without even the chance to flay their limbs at the living intruder. Realisation struck and the scourge fled in a panic.
One of the Scourge did not run. This brute appeared to be the leader of the rabble, and its mind was greater than that of its fellows. The death knight, formally a human, sneered at the draenei before he lashed out with his axe. The paladin jumped back, he had barely missed the swipe. The undead knight cast a spell of dark energy and propelled it at the draenei, its green light aimed at his heart. The blue-skinned paladin quickly shifted one hand from his sword, reached out to the Light, and a split second before the bolt could hit a near-invisible barrier formed that reflected the blast. Outraged, the death knight rushed forward to engage the draenei, however even with the unholy energy that endowed the undead with greater strength than any other human, he was no match for the larger and more powerful draenei. After they engaged blows several times, the death knight soon realised he was at a disadvantage. He barely escaped a lethal blow each time. Finally, with a quick move, the paladin’s sword moved passed the death knight’s defences and sliced through his neck, and separated the undead’s head from his body. The lifeless corpse fell to the ground, its head not far away, a look of surprise clearly visible through the dark helm. The draenei turned his attention to the one he had set out to rescue. He did not immediately see anyone, so the paladin quickly checked the ground, and sure enough, amongst the rotted corpses not far from where he stood lay the body of a tauren.
The draenei ran to the tauren’s side and knelt to the ground, placed his hands on the shaman’s chest, and poured the healing power of the Light into the tauren. The paladin was trained not only in the ways of channelling the Light to do damage, but also in the ways of healing. As such, the wounds that covered the shaman’s body began to close, and there was a sudden intake of breath into the bull’s muzzle. However, the tauren still remained unconscious. Puzzled, the draenei attempted to rouse the shaman, and shook him slightly. It was then that the paladin noticed that one of the wounds at the tauren’s side had not healed, and still bled profusely. Upon closer inspection, the draenei recognised the foul stench of the Scourge. Whatever infection the bull had suffered, the paladin did not have the power to help him.
He thought quickly and decided upon a course of action. The draenei stood and dismissed his mount, the mystical horse faded into a silvery mist. He immediately began to summon another mount to aid him. In a matter of seconds a large cobalt netherdrake appeared as if out of nowhere, it’s large scaled body surrounded by the energies of the Twisting Nether. The drake quickly understood the situation and lowered itself close to the ground, which made it easier for the paladin as he carefully dragged the wounded tauren across the icy ground and on to the back of the winged creature. He struggled to shift the bull, as a heavy being such as a tauren was no easy task to move, however the draenei was stronger than most. He had developed his muscular body from years of hard work smithing and fighting. Despite his smaller size compared to the bull, he held much strength compacted into those muscles.
“Jorus” said the draenei to his drake companion as his arms bulged with the weight of the shaman, the bull now secure on the drake’s back. “We need to get to Dalaran.”
The netherdrake nodded as his rider climbed on his back. The paladin settled behind his injured charge, quickly weaved his thick arms around the tauren’s waist, and gripped the saddle with both hands. The drake sent up a swirl of snow as his wings flapped and lifted them off the ground. They rose up through the tops of the trees. The draenei witnessed the undead soldiers scurry through the brush, the rabble flinched and covered their heads as the drake let loose a tremendous roar.
All the paladin could hear was the noise of the netherdrake’s wings and the wind in his pointed blue ears. The great weight that rested heavily on his armoured torso was the wounded shaman, the dark fur of the tauren flowed back and forth as the air rapidly shifted about them. The draenei leant forward, his bare chin almost against the bull’s left unarmoured shoulder, and listened for the sound of the tauren’s breathing. He sighed in relief upon the sound of life. The paladin carefully lifted his left plate-covered hand from the saddle, placed it on the shaman’s side, and covered the gaping wound that stunk of undeath. He closed his blue eyes. The paladin called on the Light, its healing power flowed from his hand and into the tauren’s wound. Yet again, the wound failed to close, however the flow of blood lessened, and the awful stench abated a fraction. Satisfied that he had slowed the pace of the poison, the draenei once again found his attention on the tauren’s breathing, which was slightly stronger. It now sounded less like a desperate wheeze and more like the shallow breaths of someone in sleep.
The growl of his netherdrake companion drew his attention away from the injured bull, and looked up and around the large bulk of the shaman to see the city of Dalaran as it floated in the sky. The magical place grew steadily larger as they approached, its many towers scraped the clouded sky. The vision of the city again reminded the draenei of why the magical place was there. Dalaran had recently been moved by magical means from its original home in the Alterac Mountains of Azeroths eastern continent of Lordaeron, to its new home above the Crystalsong Forest of Northrend. The reasons for the move were many, however the main one was that the blue dragonflight had threatened all magic users, and as a city of magicians, Dalaran needed to be on the front line. In addition, the Kirin Tor, the organisation that held the city, had proclaimed Dalaran neutral ground, and as such it was open to all those that would accept their sanctuary in exchange for doing no harm to bitter enemies while inside its walls. It was for this reason that the draenei took the injured tauren to Dalaran: there was no other way he could seek help without been turned away or attacked.
He snapped out of his thoughts, for the forest they flew over was made entirely out of crystal. Almost everything was made of crystal, and it had been that way ever since a great battle between dragons fought long ago. Every time the paladin and his netherdrake friend came through here they could hear the sound of the crystals song. As they neared the city, Krasus’ Landing came into view. This place was the designated area where winged creatures could come and go, and had been named after one of the greatest dragons of the red dragonflight. With as much care as possible, the drake touched down on the landing. The paladin slowly dismounted, been sure to keep one hand on the tauren to hold him steady. Upon the arrival of the injured tauren, a contingent of Horde soldiers rushed forward, their weapons remained sheathed due to the sanctuary granted them by the Kirin Tor.
“He has been infected with a rare strain of the plague,” the draenei spoke to them in fluent Orcish. “Is there a healer among you?”
Most of the Horde soldiers were taken aback by the draenei being able to speak their common tongue, however among the rabble of orcs, trolls, and sin’dorei, a lone tauren stepped forward, seemingly unsurprised by the paladins ability.
“I’m a druid,” said the grey-furred bull. “I might be able to help.”
With the aid of the some extra muscle, the task to lift the injured tauren off the back of the netherdrake was made a whole lot quicker. After they gently placed the shaman on the ground, the druid began to examine the wound on his brethren’s side.
“You tried using the Light to cure him?” the tauren asked.
“That’s right. I managed to heal everything else except for this wound,” replied the draenei as he kneeled to the side of the druid.
The bull nodded in understanding, his three-fingered hand gently prodded the infected wound. When he did so he immediately withdrew his hand as he sensed the evil that lurked within the flesh. Blood now oozed much quicker from the gash in the injured tauren’s side.
“I cannot help him here, but with some help from the healers of Dalaran, we can save his life,” explained the druid. “You did well keeping him alive. We can take it from here.”
Two heavy-set tauren stepped forward, crouched down, and carefully lifted the unconscious shaman, then proceeded to carry him off into the city. The tauren druid appeared to consider something as he stood up, then turned to the draenei paladin.
“If you would like to check on his progress, you are more than welcome. We will be in the house of healing closest to the landing.”
“Thank you,” replied the draenei as he watched the tauren walk away.
An emotion generally associated with negative feelings, and one that was reflected in the eyes of the Alliance soldiers present on Krasus’ Landing. The paladin was sure that they hated him because he aided their enemy, however he was not a member of the Alliance, so it did not bother him what they thought of him. And so the draenei ignored them, his attention focused at that moment on his netherdrake friend.
“Thanks for your help Jorus,” said the paladin while he gently rubbed under the drake’s snout, as he felt more than heard the rumble deep in the creature’s throat that could have been confused with a purr. “Have fun hunting.”
‘It’s not as fun when I need to avoid these foul undead’ Jorus replied, his thoughts communicated directly to his companion’s mind. ‘You know I’ll get sick if I eat one.’
The draenei smiled and nodded. “I’ll be finished in Northrend soon, so we can return to Draenor shortly.”
‘It will be good to see my family again,’ replied the netherdrake as he tilted his shark-like head to the side when he remembered his friend. ‘You know they are your family too.’
His smile diminished, but still present, the draenei nodded again, and patted his friend on his slender but muscular neck. “Off you go, I have things to attend to here.”
He noticed the sadness in his friends eyes, but knew that nothing he said would make the pain go away. The draenei was lonely more than anything else, but occasionally his past bothered him. Jorus nodded his head and turned sharply, extended his wings, and pushed off the ground with his strong hind legs. The netherdrake took flight, quickly descended from view, and headed to the forest below Dalaran.
He took a few seconds to try to not to think about his past, upon which the paladin turned, again he tried to ignore the stares and looks of contempt directed his way from the members of the Alliance. He shook his head slightly. The draenei turned to the stairway that led to Dalaran proper and began to walk, his gait long and purposeful. Almost immediately he was been followed by one of the soldiers, a fellow draenei.
The paladin heard his name called, but chose to ignore it, not in the mood to listen to what he expected was a well rehearsed and propaganda-laden speech. He headed down the street toward what passed for a place to heal the sick. Suddenly the draenei was grabbed by his right arm and jerked around so that he faced the other draenei.
“I’m talking to you, Daniel,” said the draenei warrior. “I know you aren’t deaf.”
“And you know that my name isn’t Daniel any more,” the paladin replied as he yanked his arm out of the warrior’s grip. “I changed it to Anarchei as soon as I reached the age of majority.”
“Oh, now I remember, Daniel was your adopted name, the one those humans gave you,” the warrior replied, his voice laced with spite.
“Exactly. Now, what do you want?” Anarchei asked calmly, a slight frown marred his usually calm features.
“You know what I want,” replied the warrior with a sneer. “I want to know why you are helping the enemy, or did you forget that the tauren are Horde?”
“And did you forget that I don’t subscribe to petty Azeroth politics?” replied Anarchei as he prepared to turn and walk away. He was under no obligation to continue the conversation.
“Petty? You think politics is petty?”
“No, I think politics is a discussion on how best to use violence to solve problems, I believe that being involved in the discussion is petty. Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s someone I need to see.”
Before Anarchei could get one step passed the warrior, he found himself roughly shoved against the stone wall of a building.
“I don’t think you understand what you just said, Daniel,” the draenei sneered as he used the human name to insult the other draenei, his two hands held Anarchei in place as he spoke. “You just insulted Velen, our leader on this world!”
Anarchei looked down on the slightly shorter draenei and snarled.
“What do I care?” he said, his sharp fangs flashed. “I’m not welcome on the Exodar, the supposed home of all draenei on this planet, so which is the bigger insult?”
With a shove he pushed the warrior away, and Anarchei stalked off. He had no desire to look back at the angry draenei. The paladin’s anger rapidly faded, to be replaced by thoughts of why he hated politics. The reason he discarded his human name was the same reason he was not welcome on the Exodar. By humans and draenei alike, he was considered a freak. It was nothing he said or did, but rather the way he was born. Not many are born that were like him, and those that were tried to hide it as best they could, for those that were revealed were scorned and exiled. It was partially because of this irrational hatred directed at him that he had come to the conclusion that politics was a waste of time. In the course of his life he had learned that working together and cooperation was more important than which side one was on, and that the only way to accomplish this goal was to be free from the oppressive whims of people who were willing to draw a sword first rather than settle things with words. Right now though, Anarchei had more important things to deal with than the past. The future of an injured tauren was now in the hands of complete strangers, and while the draenei and the tauren were both strangers to each other, Anarchei felt that a part of himself was invested in the outcome of what lay ahead.
On softer ground draenei and shu’halo are generally quieter than any of the other races on Azeroth, however when placed in a city where the ground is paved with stone, they are one of the noisiest. Around a neutral building were several shu’halo that paced, their bull-like bodies enclosed in various armours that ranged from leather to plate metal. They saw the lone draenei approach and halted in their tracks. They watched as the one who had helped one of their own passed them by and entered through the door.
Anarchei stopped for a moment. He saw no one at first in what he assumed was the reception room. He looked around the room and saw that there were some soft chairs and a desk with no one behind it. He was quickly pulled from his observations by the arrival of a male purple-skinned kaldorei, his golden eyes almost level with the draenei’s blue.
“Are you the one that brought in the shaman?” the elf asked, his tone gentle yet firm.
“I am,” replied Anarchei. “How is he?”
“I don’t think I’m the right person to explain it to you,” said the kaldorei. “I’m still in training to become a druid, so my knowledge of the art of healing is still lacking. If you’ll follow me, I can show you to someone who knows of what he speaks.”
The two tall men made their way down a corridor off the reception. The night elf led the draenei passed several doors, all closed, the magical lighting more at home in the forests of Teldrassil. The lights glowed a pale blue, and were attached to the walls by metal shaped like the branches of a tree. The young night elf halted at a closed door, turned to face the draenei, and gestured with his left hand.
Anarchei stepped forward, turned the knob, and opened the door.
“I have errands to attend to,” the kaldorei druid-in-training explained before he turned and left.
The draenei did not have a chance to thank the elf, let alone say farewell, before he was confronted with a familiar face.
“Ah, my friend, you have come,” welcomed the large creature, his three-fingered right hand reached out to clasp the right hand of the draenei. “I hope my apprentice wasn’t too rude to you?”
“Your apprentice?” Anarchei enquired of the shu’halo, to which the tauren nodded in reply.
“One would think it the other way round, yet it would seem even one such as myself has something to teach to the longer-lived.”
Anarchei nodded in understanding. He had experienced a similar situation in the past.
“But this is not what you have come to talk about,” the druid continued. “The one you brought to us, our kin…”
“Yes, how is he?” Anarchei asked.
“It is difficult to say,” replied the bull as he shook his head slightly. “The wound is different than that which we are accustomed to, and while it heals under our more difficult magic, it seems the infection grows stronger despite our progress in limiting its spread.”
“You mean it’s concentrating? Like a liquid that has boiled for hours?”
“Yes, that’s it!” the shu’halo wagged a finger. “Why didn’t I think of that?”
“Perhaps the longer-lived have something to teach one such as yourself?” Anarchei smiled, which grew into a grin when the druid began to laugh.
“Thank you for that,” said the tauren with a chuckle. “Although I think I may have lived longer than you, young one.”
“Details,” Anarchei replied with a wave of his hand, which solicited another laugh from the bulky creature.
“Well, now that I understand what is occurring with the infection, we should be able to treat it now,” explained the druid. “You can wait here if you’d like.”
The tauren gestured to a row of chairs before he turned to a wide door that the draenei paladin had not noticed before.
“How long do you think it’ll be before he is back to good health?” Anarchei enquired.
The tauren stopped and turned his head. “A few days at least,” he replied. “However when the infection is removed he should be awake in a few hours. Maybe you’d like to see him then?”
“I would appreciate it, thank you.”
The shu’halo nodded before he walked through the door and shut it behind him. The draenei was now alone in the small waiting room, alone with his thoughts.
A feeling that should always accompany meditation, something that the draenei always struggled to attain. Yet, he persisted, for he knew that if he did not undertake this daily ritual he would lose himself. So many times in his younger years had he succumbed to the easier emotions: anger, fear, hatred, despair. Almost all of that was behind him now. Almost.
In his time on Azeroth, Anarchei had learnt a few things. The first was that he did not like most people. Not because of who or what they were, but how they were, how they lived. All around him he witnessed the expression of the same emotions he analysed within himself daily, to understand them, and know where they came from. In so doing he was able to observe the world around him with clarity, he saw most people for what they really were, and he did not like it. These emotions often led to what must be a universal constant: violence, and of course, the accompanying pain and suffering. Not particularly keen to experience said pain and suffering himself, he had often wondered why others would wish to inflict it on their fellows. The answer was simple: power. And the more power you had, the less consequences you would face should any retaliate against your evil. At least, that was what usually occurred. He had observed many different races, and had reached the same conclusion for all of them. Even his own kind, been so good-hearted and willing to help those in need, were not exempt.
It began long ago with his adopted parents. He witnessed first-hand just how cruel humans could be. A few months before he was to reach the age of majority, he had come to the realisation that there was something different about him, something that he did not see whilst he lived amongst humans. When he raised this issue with the only people he had loved in his life, he was met with fierce rejection, and for the first time he remembered, violence. It was his ’father’ that dished out the physical abuse, his ’mother’ served up a plate-full of the verbal kind. Of course, he was devastated, and naturally had little choice but to flee the only home he had ever known. How he managed to survive on his own after that was still a mystery.
Now, years later, he sat in a rather uncomfortable chair obviously not designed for draenei comfort. He sat there deep in thought and waited. The door across the room was still closed, and Anarchei had not heard a sound since it had clicked shut several hours ago. Inside that room was a shu’halo, or tauren in the common tongue, whom lay unconscious and gravely wounded. With him were several of the best healers of Azeroth and possibly beyond. Dalaran had to have the best, being stationed above Northrend while armies fought below. With these thoughts, the paladin thought back to why he could not heal the tauren himself. With all the advances in knowledge about the plague, many antidotes and methods of magic had been developed to combat the disease. He himself knew them all, and had used them all in his attempt to save the life of the shu’halo. Nonetheless, his efforts were in vain. This new strain from the Scourge must have been recently developed, perhaps by the hand of the Lich King himself. Just a single thought about such evil incarnate made the sturdy draenei shudder. The last time he had encountered the Lich King had not been pleasant, to say the least.
The chair he sat on creaked, and not for the first time Anarchei wondered if he should have removed his armour before he sat down. However, his train of thought was interrupted by the sound of the door as it opened. He stood up swiftly as he realised what had happened, and he watched as a line of people from various races stepped into the waiting room, and then out into the corridor beyond. None of them made any gesture, nor did they glance at the paladin, they just silently marched out of sight. He felt a sudden cold in the pit of his stomach, but then he jumped slightly when he turned and was faced with familiar tauren druid.
“You need not worry, we removed the poison,” said the bull, a metal jar in his hands. “We had to cut it out in the end. First time I’ve had to use stitches, the wound cannot be fully healed with magic.”
“I see,” Anarchei replied with a sigh of relief. For a moment he was not sure if he should say anything, but his curiosity got the better of him. “What’s in the jar, if I may ask?”
“You may indeed ask,” said the druid, his voice deep. “Contained within this magical device is the evil we had to cut out of our friend in there. We will be keeping it safe and studying it extensively. This is indeed something new, and we need to find some way of quickly neutralising it. You were lucky getting him here when you did, most would have died and come back as an undead monstrosity.”
Relieved, and his curiosity satisfied, all the draenei could do in response was nod.
“You can go see him now if you’d like, although he is still sleeping, and will not awake for several hours” offered the tauren, then turned his head away for a moment as if he considered something, then faced the draenei again. “It is late now, you will be hard-pressed to find a place to stay the night. There is a spare bed in the room, you are welcome to use it.”
“Oh, no, I don’t wish to impose,” Anarchei replied as he raised his hand in polite refusal. “I will make do.”
“Nonsense!” bellowed the shu’halo, his voice almost made the paladin jump. “You have aided one of my brethren, and what is more, brought to our attention a new strain of plague. You are more than welcome, in fact you deserve it.”
“Well, if you say so.”
“I do say so,” replied the druid, before he lowered his voice. “Also, if you don’t mind me saying so, you do need to bathe.”
He raised his arm and took a sniff, to which the draenei almost blushed. He did not smell all that great. The battle earlier had only added to a few days worth of sweat and unwashed dirt.
“Come, I’ll show you where you can wash.”
With the tauren in the lead, Anarchei followed him out of the waiting room and down the corridor to a door with a water droplet painted on it. The druid opened it to reveal a room big enough for the largest shu’halo, a strange device attached to the ceiling, and a drain in the floor beneath it. On the wall near the door were racks with folded towels of various colours and sizes. The druid grabbed a purple one, which had the symbol of the Exodar embroidered upon it.
“You will find no need for soap, the shower will do everything for you,” explained the tauren as he handed the towel to the draenei, whom peered into the room with a sense of child-like wonder. “Never seen one like this before I take it?”
Anarchei shook his head.
“It’s pretty simple. Just turn that handle on the wall over there in the direction you want the temperature of the water to be. Red for hot, blue for cold. We find that having something like this makes cleaning our patients a lot easier, and it also helps when they start recovery and can do it themselves.”
“I see,” said the paladin. “Thank you.”
“No problem,” replied the tauren, before he glanced to his side, as he had noticed the appearance of his kaldorei apprentice, then turned to face the draenei once more. “My friend, I’m afraid I need to leave you now, this analysis cannot wait any longer. I trust you can look after yourself?”
After he received a nod from Anarchei, the druid nodded as well and departed with his apprentice in tow, the draenei now alone in the hallway with a towel in his hand.
The breath that flowed from the draenei’s mouth instantly formed a visible cloud, and almost as quickly disappeared in the frigid air. Anarchei had just come to the conclusion that he could not remove his armour in the shower, as it would not do well to have it get wet. He hated it when his armour got wet, it took hours to dry, and it felt horrible when he tried to move about in it. He had also concluded that it would not be a good idea to strip it off and leave it in the corridor. Who knows what could happen to it. He trusted the healers, but it was still a public place, and the armour was worth a lot of gold, especially to those desperate enough to steal it. He realised he had no other choice, so he turned and marched down the corridor back to the room with the tauren whose life he had recently helped save.
He closed the door behind him as quietly as possible, then Anarchei glanced momentarily at the shaman who rested peacefully, before he shifted himself behind the privacy screen beside the opposite bed. He proceeded to remove his armour as carefully as he could. He had no desire to disturb the shu’halo in the bed across the room. He felt slightly awkward as he stripped down to barely anything, especially with another being present. The draenei resolved that he should not worry, after all, the tauren was asleep and would not know. Still, Anarchei could not help feel that he was somehow being disrespectful.
As the last of his armour was removed, and arrayed on the bed neatly, Anarchei slowly peeled off his skin-tight under-armour and folded it neatly, its magically-imbued material unsoiled from days of action. To assuage any doubts that lingered, the draenei had decided that he would keep his trunks on, to at least make him feel a little bit better about being undressed in the same room as a patient. Anarchei picked up the small bag attached to his belt, reached inside, pulled from its magically-enlarged depths a clean pair of trunks to replace his slightly soiled ones, and then encircled his waist with the towel. Suddenly, a sound passed through the thin white canvas of the privacy screen, a sound that was an unmistakable groan. Anarchei froze, then turned to stare in the direction of the tauren shaman. Another groan, and this time the sound of a voice.
“Is someone there?” came the enquiry in Taur’ahe, the native tongue of the shu’halo.
He did not want to keep the tauren in suspense, so Anarchei replied in the same language. “Yes, I’m here.”
“Why are you hiding?” the shaman asked, his voice still hoarse but now a bit stronger.
“I’m not hiding,” replied the paladin, towel held tightly around his waist in one hand while he grasped his clean underwear in the other, he stepped out from behind the screen. “I was preparing myself for cleansing.”
The tauren, whom still lay on the bed but with his head turned to face the draenei, widened his eyes at the sudden appearance of someone he did not expect.
“You’re… you’re draenei,” exclaimed the shu’halo as he struggled to get up but grimaced in pain and fell back to the mattress.
“You shouldn’t try to move just yet,” Anarchei said urgently and stepped forward as if to help, but halted at the glare he received from the tauren.
“Where am I? What are you doing here? And how is it that you can speak my native tongue?” the line of questions poured forth, their intensity made greater by the frustration the tauren experienced at his situation.
“You are in one of the houses of healing in Dalaran,” explained the draenei, his tone even but gentle. “I am here because I needed a place to change out of my armour. As for how I came to speak your language, that’s a long story that you probably don’t want to hear right now. Suffice it to say, I can speak over twenty languages fluently, a necessity if you travel on this or any other world.”
“Well,” grumbled the bull. “That answers some of my questions, but not the one about why you are here. Last I heard, only patients used the cleansing rooms in the healing houses. You are no patient.”
“Yes, that’s true, I’m not,” Anarchei sighed. “I’m the one that brought you here, saved your life as a matter of fact. As a way of thanking me, I have been offered a chance to clean myself up and a place to sleep for the night.”
“You saved my life, huh? And what is the name of my rescuer?”
“My name is Anarchei. And yours?”
Unsure as to what to say next, a silence settled on the pair for a few moments, before Stronghoof broke it.
“Well, you better hurry up and go clean up. No offence, but you do kind of smell.”
With a soft chuckle in response, Anarchei nodded and reluctantly departed. The walk down the corridor was not entirely pleasant. Thoughts of the recent discussion and the frigid temperature clouded the draenei’s thoughts, his only consolation that he had hoofs, so he did not have to suffer the cold stone floor.
Art by SilverRuby
After he shut the door behind him, the paladin was again faced with a contraption that he had not yet had the opportunity to use, despite his numerous and broad travels. The draenei placed the towel and clean trunks on a hook on the wall, then removed his soiled underwear and threw them to the floor. Anarchei turned to the shower, stepped beneath it, and turned the handle on the wall in the direction that indicated warmth. Instantly a flowery-scented rainstorm poured from the ceiling, over his naked form, and down to the floor.
Anarchei sighed with relief as he felt the grime and sweat of several days fall off his body. With raised hands, he began to feel along the lines of his muscled form. He touched his pectorals, biceps, abdominals, quadriceps, and strong tail. The draenei massaged the soapy water into his light blue-tinted skin. He enjoyed the sensation as he cleaned himself, the feel of his muscular bulges, the draenei almost did not notice the tingle in his nether region. He stopped himself when he realised what he had done to himself. Anarchei grasped the handle and turned it to shut off the shower. Nothing immediately happened, except that the water no longer smelt of anything. He realised that it now rinsed his body of the soap, so Anarchei efficiently as possible rubbed off the suds that remained. In a matter of seconds the fall of water ended and left a wall of steam in its wake. He carefully stepped through the fog, gently pulled the towel off its hook on the wall, but left his clean trunks to hang there as he quickly dried himself. Satisfied, Anarchei threw the wet towel to the floor next to his dirty trunks and grabbed the blue-green underwear off the hook and carefully threaded his hoofs through them. He had no desire to get them wet. He pulled them all the way up to his waist, and sighed in relief. The draenei reached down and picked up the used towel and underwear. What sort of guest would he be if he did not clean up after himself?
Anarchei exited the room, shut the door behind him, and proceeded back down the hallway. As he walked, he made a mental note to tell his friends back home about the magical shower and whether they could possibly replicate the contraption. When he reached the room, the first thing he noticed was that the tauren now sat up in bed, naked expect for his underwear, his thick legs now dangled over the side, and he held his muzzle in his hands. The sounds of sobs and the sight of wet fur only added to Anarchei’s haste as he rushed forward and dropped his possessions on the floor halfway to the bed. The draenei crouched in front of the bull and gently placed his hands on Stronghoof’s shoulders, which shook with each pained sob.
“Why are you crying?” Anarchei asked, his voice made the usual roughness of Taur’ahe sound almost musical.
“Why did you save my life?” asked the tauren with a shudder.
“I would have done the same for any other,” the draenei replied.
“That is not what I meant,” Stronghoof explained.
“What do you mean?” Anarchei enquired gently.
Hands fell from his eyes to rest at his sides, which knocked the draenei’s arms off his shoulders. The tauren glared at the draenei with a look of resentment.
“I wanted to die,” the shu’halo struggled to say. “Why didn’t you let me die?”
Momentarily stunned to silence, his mouth slightly agape, Anarchei tried to respond, his voice barely above a whisper. “Why would you want to kill yourself?”
“Someone I loved with all my heart is dead,” Stronghoof replied as fresh tears formed in his eyes. “I don’t want to go on living without them.”
“I am truly sorry,” Anarchei apologised, an ache he never wanted to feel again began to form. “Who was it that you lost?”
Anarchei understood. The shu’halo took a mate for life, not like other races where one could fall out of love and end a marriage with divorce. A tauren who truly loved another, was bound to that other for life, a bond that was stronger than the most powerful magic. It was a loss that devastated when one of a pair departed life. Easier to bear in older age, when one had become accustomed to the knowledge that death would soon take them, but not so easy when one was young, and new to life and love.
He did not want to cause the bull more pain, but he knew that to keep one’s feelings bottled up was worse, so Anarchei plucked up the courage to ask Stronghoof the question.
“My mate was killed in the incident at the Wrath Gate.”
“I’m sorry. I was there, I saw it happen,” Anarchei said. With no desire to continue down that avenue, the draenei thought it better to talk about who his mate was, rather than dwell on such a horrible memory such as the Wrath Gate, however he was beaten to the punch.
“My mate was a warrior,” the shaman explained. “Huln Stonebreaker.”
“But that’s a male name…”
Stronghoof nodded with a sniffle. “That’s right. If you have a problem with that you can leave.”
“I’m not going anywhere,” Anarchei replied.
Abruptly, the tauren stood, his massive bulk meant that the draenei had little choice but to stand also and step back.
“You would be foolish to want to be around someone like me.”
“What do you mean?” Anarchei asked.
Stronghoof stepped forward menacingly, Anarchei backed up. He did not want to give the tauren any reason to get physical.
“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because I’m considered a freak by most people!” explained the tauren, his voice now louder. “Maybe because we belong to opposite factions!”
“None of that matters to me.”
“I don’t believe you,” Stronghoof said as he stalked forward again. “Put on your armour and leave. Now!”
“I’m not going anywhere, please, just calm down.”
Suddenly, out of nowhere, Stronghoof’s fist lashed out and punched Anarchei in the jaw, which knocked him back a few steps.
“Get out!” yelled the tauren, but Anarchei stood his ground and shook his head in refusal.
Art by Rov
Tears now fell freely, the shu’halo raised his fist again, but slowly lowered it, his eyes closed. Confronted with a distraught tauren, the draenei slowly stepped forward after a few moments and gently laced his arms around the bull, who proceeded to sob harder. Anarchei empathised with the poor creature.
“Everyone has lost someone in all this fighting,” he gently spoke into the tauren’s chest, Stronghoof a head taller than him. “I lost my parents when I was little. I grew up as an orphan until I was adopted by humans. I know it isn’t the same thing, but I can understand what it feels like, being alone.”
Still in an embrace, tears no longer in his eyes, Stronghoof pulled back slightly to look down at the draenei, face-to-face.
They separated, the tauren carefully found his way back to the bed and laid down, while Anarchei helped pull the blankets up to cover his near-naked form.
“I’m just going to get some clothes on,” explained the draenei, to which Stronghoof nodded in response.
Anarchei retreated behind the privacy screen and pulled on his black under-armour, its material clung tightly to his skin, which clearly outlined his defined body, while at the same time it provided warmth. The draenei emerged from behind the screen, found a chair against a wall and dragged it over to the side of Stronghoof’s bed, then sat down. For a while neither of them said a thing. Unable to think of anything else to ask, but with the knowledge that the worst was over, Anarchei broke the silence.
“Why did you want to kill yourself in battle?”
With a sigh, the tauren replied. “I couldn’t bring myself to take my life with my own blade, nor with poison. So the next best thing was to go out in a blaze of glory,” Stronghoof explained, then paused, as if to contemplate his next words. “But now that I’ve found someone who I can talk to, I don’t feel so reluctant to end it all.”
Anarchei weaved his hand around Stronghoof’s three-fingered hand and smiled slightly. “Why haven’t you spoken to anyone else before now?”
“For most of my people, two males in love with each other is shameful and disgusting, and any who engage in such bonds are to be shunned. Because Stonebreaker and I had such a bond, we were rejected by most of our people. There was really no one I could speak to about what happened, there was no one who could offer me what I sought.”
“The same prejudice exists with many of my own people,” Anarchei responded. “And despite growing up with a human family who shared the same dislike of same-sex bonding, I still knew deep down that there was nothing wrong with being in love with someone of the same sex.”
“You have no idea how much of a relief that is to me,” Stronghoof expressed with a sigh of relief. “You have no idea how much I’ve needed a shoulder to cry on. Thank you. For everything.”
“You’re welcome my friend,” Anarchei replied. “Any time you need that shoulder, just ask.”
The tauren smiled for the first time that night, then his eyes dimmed, eyelids closed, and he gently fell asleep, exhausted from the day’s troubles. The paladin sat by his side, hand-in-hand, through the night.
Silence prevailed in the darkness.
At least, it did for a while. The tauren in the bed across the room from the draenei talked in his sleep. He moaned, cried, pleaded for his mate to come back. Anarchei was awakened by the sounds that came from Stronghoof. He threw the covers off himself, and sat up in bed to look over at the tauren across from him. He noticed that the sheets had fallen off Stronghoof during the night. The big bull shifted about on the bed while his large hoofs occasionally kicked at the air. Anarchei stood up and walked over to Stronghoof, gently placed his hands on the tauren’s furry shoulder and beefy arm, and shook them slightly. It did not have any effect, so he then leaned over Stronghoof and grasped both shoulders and shook them harder.
“Stronghoof,” he said firmly. “Wake up.”
The dark-furred tauren’s eyes shot wide open. He sat up quickly, which knocked the draenei back. The bull breathed hard and appeared unsure of where he was, then saw Anarchei’s blue eyes as they glowed in the dark.
“Are you a death knight?” he asked, his voice barely above a whisper. “Have you come to finish the job?”
Anarchei, startled by the tauren’s words, waved his hand and a small sphere of light appeared mid-air, which illuminated the room like a candle.
“No, I’m not,” the draenei explained. “I’m the paladin that rescued you, remember?”
Stronghoof breathed a sigh of relief and fell back to the bed, and let loose a wince in pain as he did so.
“Damn it, I forgot!” exclaimed the tauren while a three-fingered hand held the wound on his side.
“Can I have a look?” Anarchei asked, hands stretched out over the wound.
Stronghoof nodded, a small smile graced his muzzle that seemed to convey gratitude. The draenei carefully checked the wound, being careful not to elicit a pained response from the tauren as he prodded the bandages.
“There is no bleeding, the stitches have held.”
Again the tauren nodded his head, and with a tired sigh, fell back to sleep. When he saw this, Anarchei picked the sheets off the floor and pulled them back over Stronghoof, then spared a moment to look down at the muzzle of the tauren as he slept. He had not thought about it before, but when he looked upon the shu’halo he could not help but think about how handsome he was. He shook his head to clear the thought from his mind and turned away with a sigh. The draenei went back to his own bed, and before he fell asleep he waved his hand. The light vanished.
Morning had arrived.
Anarchei woke up to see sunlight filter through the window. When he glanced over at Stronghoof, he saw that the sheets still covered the tauren. He assumed that the bull had slept better after the draenei had calmed the tauren down earlier. Anarchei got out of bed and walked up to the door, opened it, and sneaked his head out to see if anyone was around. The corridor was deserted. The draenei glanced back at the tauren and decided that it might be a good idea to get some food to eat. He stepped out and quietly shut the door behind him. Anarchei began to walk down the corridor, in search of someone who could help him. On his right, a door suddenly opened to reveal the kaldorei from earlier, who was slightly startled by the appearance of the draenei, his golden eyes glowed brighter as they widened.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you.”
“No problem,” the night elf waved it off. “I’m kind of used to big guys appearing out of nowhere. Can I help you with anything?”
“Yes, actually. I was wondering whether there was any food that I could get for myself and Stronghoof.”
“Yeah there is. We have a kitchen downstairs with a pantry stocked with food, and a daytime chef. But that is meant for patients only… however since you’re our guest, I suppose you can have some too.”
“I can pay…”
“Sorry, my master told me not to accept any gold from you.”
“Well in that case, can I at least cook the food myself instead of burdening the chef?”
“You will need to take that up with the chef, it’s their kitchen after all. Follow me.”
The kaldorei walked down the corridor and led the draenei through a door off the hall. This took them down a stairway into a cellar, which was in reality a fully stocked kitchen. Amongst the tables for food preparation and the fires that burned brightly against the wall, was a relatively short human female that wore a tall white hat that Anarchei recognised as something a chef usually wore.
“Hey, this is the draenei that brought in the tauren last night. Any chance he can use the kitchen to prepare some food?”
“Yeah sure, so long as the big guy doesn’t get in my way. I am busy preparing breakfast for the other patients.”
“Excellent,” the night elf responded and turned to face Anarchei. “I need to see to some patients, I’ll see you later.”
Without a chance for the draenei to thank him, the kaldorei was gone. Anarchei turned back to the kitchen with a shrug. The chef appeared busy as she moved about the kitchen, prepared food, and then cooked it. The draenei walked over to the pantry and explored the shelves. He discovered a large box that was cool to the touch. Anarchei grasped the handle and pulled the door open to reveal shelves of chilled food, like orange juice, eggs, cream, water, and butter. He grabbed a few of these items and closed the door to keep the cool air inside. The draenei was familiar with this device, he owned one himself. Anarchei quickly moved along and picked up some dried powder made from vegetable protein, various spices in small jars, some tomatoes, and a glass bottle of vegetable oil.
With the use of half an empty table, the draenei mixed the powder with the spices, added some water and eggs which formed the mixture into a dough-like substance, and then rolled it out into sausages. He then proceeded to break some more eggs into a bowl and whipped up the eggs with some cream, and cut up the tomatoes into thick slices. With some saucepans, Anarchei cooked the scrambled eggs, veggie sausages, and tomatoes. He added some vegetable oil to the pans to help cook the food and prevent it from being stuck to the pans. Once everything was cooked, he put the food on to two plates, then placed the plates on a large platter with the jug of orange juice and two glasses. Before he left the kitchen, Anarchei threw the mess of used bowls and utensils into a sink, which began to magically clean everything with soapy water. This was something he was also familiar with, his own home equipped with a similar utility. Once everything was washed, he placed everything on a rack to dry.
“Thanks for the use of your kitchen,” the draenei said to the chef while he grabbed some utensils and the platter.
“Not a problem,” she replied with a smile. “You aren’t a bad cook, and you don’t leave a mess. So no regrets here.”
Not sure how to take the human’s weird sense of humour, the draenei merely nodded and left. The trip back to the room was uneventful, except for the few times that Anarchei nearly dropped the platter of food. His hoofs did seem to be a bit of a disadvantage at times.
Stronghoof opened his eyes.
He was in a room within the house of healing. He laid on a soft bed covered by a sheet. He remembered the events of the previous day. His attempted suicide, his rescuer, last night…
He had never expected that a draenei would ever want to help a tauren. The Alliance and Horde rarely worked together, they were at war more often than not. He really could not make sense of it. Maybe, in time, the draenei would explain why he did what he did. But in all honesty, the reasons did not matter to the tauren any more. He was here now, and he knew that if nothing else, he could consider the draenei a friend and ally. Of course, he had other thoughts about the draenei, thoughts that he wished he did not have. He liked the draenei, not just because he was being a good friend to him, but also because of his physical attributes. He was handsome, and he found the draenei’s tail strangely attractive. The draenei shared many attributes with his former mate, first among which was that he was a very kind, compassionate person. This comparison drew his attention back to Stonebreaker. The death of his mate was fairly recent, but he had sort of come to terms with that already. His brush with death had been enough to settle his thoughts and emotions on the matter. He was glad for the draenei’s help, not only because he saved his life, but also because he had helped him overcome some of his negative feelings. But still, his thoughts about the draenei seemed inappropriate. The paladin had saved his life, and Stronghoof was certain that he did not want any more involvement with him then that.
The tauren’s thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of a tall blue-skinned draenei as he carried a platter of food and drink into the room.
“What’s this?” Stronghoof asked.
“Breakfast,” Anarchei smiled. “Hope you’re hungry enough to try my cooking.”
“Eh, it wasn’t necessary for you to go to the trouble,” the tauren said.
“It was no trouble at all,” the draenei explained as he placed the platter on his empty bed. “There’s plenty of food here for both of us.”
Anarchei poured some orange juice into each glass, then picked up a plate and a glass, and took it over to Stronghoof. He placed the plate and glass on a miniature table that was used to sit across a patient’s lap while they sat up in bed. About to place it in front of Stronghoof, he realised that the tauren had not sat up yet. He put the table down and moved over to the bulky bull, and helped assist the tauren to sit up properly with some pillows to support his back, the draenei’s muscles bulged at the strain to lift the tauren into position.
“Whoa!” Stronghoof exclaimed. “I didn’t realise draenei were so strong! You practically lifted my entire weight!”
“Well, if I wasn’t as strong as I am I wouldn’t have been able to lift you on to the back of a netherdrake, and hence you may not be here,” Anarchei explained while he placed the mini-table on to the tauren’s lap.
The tauren eyed the knife and fork. He looked unsure how to use them.
“Have you ever used a knife and fork before?” the draenei asked kindly.
“Well, my people do have them, it’s just that I’ve never needed to use them before.”
Anarchei proceeded to demonstrate how to use them. He cut up a bit of sausage and then picked up the cut piece with the fork and handed it to Stronghoof.
“This is how you get food from your plate to your mouth without getting your hands messy,” he explained.
Stronghoof took the fork, stuck the bit of sausage in his mouth, and chewed.
“What is the sausage made from?” the tauren enquired after he had swallowed. “It tastes a bit different.”
“Well, it’s made from vegetable protein, not meat.”
“I’m not like most people. See, I’m what some would call a vegetarian. It means I don’t eat meat.”
“But if you don’t eat meat, how is it that you are so big and strong?”
“It’s a common misconception that meat makes you big and strong. It’s the protein that does it. For me and other people who share my view, it’s more ethical to get my protein this way instead of killing an animal for it.”
Stronghoof nodded his head and continued to eat the food. Anarchei then picked up his own plate and proceeded to eat in the chair next to the tauren’s bed.
“You know, this tastes better than anything I’ve tasted before,” Stronghoof complemented.
“Thanks,” Anarchei responded with smile.
Both ate quietly for a while until the tauren cleared his throat.
“How did you become a vegetarian?” Stronghoof asked.
“A friend of mine introduced me to the idea.”
“Who was this friend?”
“A tauren,” Anarchei explained. “She was the one that taught me how to speak Taur’ahe.”
“What?” Stronghoof exclaimed, surprised.
“She was a druid of the Cenarion Circle. I spent many months in Moonglade a while ago.”
“What were you doing in Moonglade?”
“Well, after I ran away from my adopted home, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life.”
“Hold on. You ran away from home? And you were adopted?”
Anarchei chuckled. “Sorry, I forgot that I hadn’t told you this, at least, not properly. You see, my real parents were killed in the slaughter on Draenor. I was only a newborn at the time, so I don’t really remember them. Anyway, somehow I escaped death and I was found by a group of human soldiers who had wandered into the area looking for survivors. They brought me back with them to Azeroth before the portal exploded.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s all right,” Anarchei waved him off and gave the tauren a smile to show that he was not upset about the ordeal. “Perhaps if I was a little older at the time I would have some memory of what happened, but all I have to go by is what others have told me. Sometimes I wish I had a real family though. Which leads my story to my adoption by a human family. You see, they couldn’t have children of their own, something biological I think, they never explained it well. They wanted to adopt a human child, but all the children at the orphanage were either draenei children or teenage humans. They wanted a baby, and I was the only one there. They didn’t want to wait any longer, so that’s how I ended up with them. For the most part they were kind and compassionate people. They never struck me or yelled at me, well, at least, not until that night I told them a secret about myself. They didn’t want me to live with them any more, and I didn’t want to be near them either, so I ran away.”
“Why would they do that to you?”
“I don’t want to talk about it right now. It’s not because I’m upset, it’s just that it’s uncomfortable for me to talk about.”
Stronghoof nodded. “That’s fine, I don’t want to make you feel that way. So, tell me more about Moonglade.”
“Right,” Anarchei continued. “Well, I wandered around until I found myself on a boat to Kalimdor. After a long trek through the mountains I came upon Moonglade. I met a druid who thought that I may have latent druidic abilities, and he took me in for training. But after he realised that I had no talent for druidic magic, he asked me to leave. However, another druid, a female tauren, took pity on me and took me in. She rarely spoke Common except with other druids, so I started using Taur’ahe words. Eventually she started helping me speak the language.
It was during this time that I learnt that not many people in Moonglade ate animal flesh, and after hearing the old druid’s arguments against eating meat, I agreed to try going without. It stuck. But she was getting older, and was nearing death. I looked after her as payment for the good things she did for me. On her deathbed, she bestowed her worldly goods to me. After she died, I didn’t have much reason to stay in Moonglade, so I sold the druid’s home and most of her possessions. I left with a few sacks of gold and a few books.”
“Sorry,” Stronghoof condoled. “I shouldn’t have asked.”
“No, it’s quite alright. It was years ago, and we never really got that close. Still, she was a good friend.”
After a moment, the tauren could not hold it back any longer. “One thing I don’t get. Why would anyone think that you would have druidic abilities? I mean, draenei aren’t exactly known to possess such powers.”
“It wasn’t the druidic powers the druid sensed, but rather my ability to harness the Light.”
“What if something like that happened to me?” Stronghoof pondered in response.
“Why do you think that?”
“Ever since I reached maturity, I was a warrior. There had never been any druidic or shamanistic potential sensed within me. It was only a year into my mateship with another warrior that it was discovered that I had the ability to harness the power of the shaman.”
Anarchei nodded. “The difference between us is that you could actually be a shaman because you could use those abilities, while I cannot be a druid because I cannot use those abilities.”
“But maybe I don’t have the abilities necessary for shamanism after all. I can no longer hear the spirits.”
“They will come back in time,” Anarchei offered, to which Stronghoof shook his head.
“The spirits have abandoned me for my attempt at suicide,” the tauren’s voice almost broke.
Their food mostly eaten but now forgotten on the table, Anarchei tried to comfort Stronghoof. He placed his hand on the tauren’s forearm, but it was no use. The burly tauren had begun to cry.
The tauren cringed at the touch of the kaldorei druid as he inspected his wound. Several moments ago the night elf had come to check on his progress. A few steps behind the elf was a large bulky tauren, himself also a druid and the kaldorei’s mentor, who watched intently as his student went about his inspection. He had not said anything yet, which suggested that the elf had done everything right so far. At the wounded tauren’s side was another large being, not as big as a tauren, but still rather impressive nonetheless. The draenei sat on a wooden chair not designed for his size. He held the furry three-fingered hand of the tauren with his human-like one.
“The wound appears to have healed,” explained the night elf as he prodded the tauren’s side again. “Seems to be a bit tender though.”
“I noticed,” the wounded tauren said bluntly after he winced again, his grip tightened on the draenei’s hand.
“Do you think he is well enough to start moving around?” the draenei asked as he gave the tauren a look intended to reassure as he felt the increased pressure on his hand.
“I don’t see why not,” the kaldorei responded. “But I would like to remove the stitches first.”
After he received a nod from his mentor, the night elf pulled out some scissors and began his work. In a matter of minutes, the stitches were gone, a patch of skin that looked red and very raw was all that remained.
“Unfortunately, there may be a lifelong scar,” the elf explained as he discarded the bloody stitches into a bag. “But your other wounds have disappeared completely, thanks to your friend’s quick thinking.”
“The Light tends to heal better than other methods,” the draenei explained. “Not always, of course, but often. But then you know this already.”
The tauren that stood behind the elf nodded. “Different magic works in different ways. Nature is a powerful ally, as any druid would know. Still, it isn’t always the best way to heal a wound. Efficient, yes, but not always thorough.”
“So you really think I’m ready to start walking?” the tauren that laid on the bed asked. “I mean, I was near death yesterday as I understand it. I thought it would take days to heal.”
“I’m not sure how you were able to mend so quickly,” the tauren druid replied. “Perhaps your close proximity to a Light-wielder over the past few hours has had an effect. What do you think?”
“It is possible,” the draenei responded. “Some have speculated that some followers of the Light emit an aura that changes with their mood. Perhaps that is why.”
“Perhaps,” the tauren druid mused. “At any rate, Stronghoof appears well enough. Maybe you would like to assist him in getting around for a bit, at least until he can do it on his own comfortably. I’d have someone here do it, but we are a bit short-staffed at the moment. The front-line requires more healers it seems.”
“That won’t be a problem,” Anarchei agreed.
“Good. I have other patients, as do you Surfal. Come.”
The kaldorei nodded and turned to follow his mentor out of the room.
“Surfal?” Anarchei asked as he walked up to the night elf.
“Yes?” Surfal turned.
“We were never properly introduced. I’m Anarchei.”
The kaldorei looked down at the draenei’s outstretched hand, took it in his own and shook it, before he looked back at Anarchei’s face. “Surfal.”
“Thanks for your help,” the paladin said as he released the elf’s hand and smiled at Surfal.
“No problem,” the druid replied with a smile in return. “I’ll see you guys later.”
With a little wave at Stronghoof on the bed, the kaldorei turned and left the room, the door clicked shut behind him. Anarchei turned back to his new friend and saw that Stronghoof had tried to get out of bed.
“You sure you’re ready for this?” Anarchei exclaimed as he rushed forward to assist the tauren.
“I think I can manage,” Stronghoof replied with a wince as he moved. “I did get out of bed last night without any help.”
“Yeah,” the draenei agreed as he placed his hands on the tauren’s broad shoulders to prevent him from further progress. “But you were pumped full of adrenaline that time. You didn’t feel the pain. Now you can.”
“I guess,” the tauren acknowledged with a sigh as Anarchei released him. “I just don’t want to be in this bed any more.”
“Okay,” Anarchei nodded. “Will you at least let me stay close in case you need a hand?”
With the tauren’s nod in agreement, the draenei stood by as Stronghoof placed both hands on the edge of the bed and pushed. He tried to stand up on his own, his teeth ground together as he did so. With a groan, the weakened tauren managed to stand up on his hoofs.
“Yeah, it hurts a bit, but I’ve had worse.”
Anarchei knew that his friend had lied. Despite his outward appearance, the draenei knew that the tauren was in agony. He had seen other survivors of the plague, heard their screams as the evil burned them alive from the inside. The reason why no one ever heard of survivors was because most of them ended up crippled, unable to walk, while some unable to move at all. Many ended up with no desire to live with the pain any more, so they took their own lives. The fact that Stronghoof wanted to live, and was able to stand at all was a testament to his strong will. It was probably that same courage that led him to attempt suicide.
The paladin was shaken out of his thoughts by the sight of the tauren as he took small steps forward. Quickly he caught up with his friend. Anarchei made sure to stay at his side the whole time, ready at a moments notice to jump in and catch the bull if he were to fall. But he did not fall. One lap of the room later, the tauren breathed heavily, and moaned from the pain as he sat on the bed again.
“I think that’s enough for now,” the draenei said.
“No argument here,” the tauren replied between breaths as a slight smile appeared on his muzzle.
Night had fallen.
At the entrance to the house of healing stood a few tauren, a kaldorei, and a draenei. One of the tauren had a walking stick in his hand, and he clutched it tightly to keep him on his hoofs. The draenei was dressed in his armour, which shone even in the low light. The tauren wore a white shirt and black trousers.
“Your recovery has been remarkable Stronghoof,” Surfal expressed with a smile. “We don’t want to see you in here again any time soon, okay?”
“Sure thing Surfal,” Stronghoof replied.
“Farewell,” the tauren druid said before he turned and headed back down the corridor.
“Don’t mind him,” Surfal explained with a grin. “He isn’t big on goodbyes.”
“I noticed,” Anarchei responded and then paused. “So I guess we’ll be going now.”
“About that. Where are you going to stay tonight?”
“I have a room at an inn, I arranged it while Stronghoof was recovering.”
“Ah, good. Well, I’ll see you then?”
“Maybe. We might be travelling for a while. We’ll see.”
“Oh, okay. Well, goodbye.”
“Farewell Surfal,” Anarchei said.
“Bye,” Stronghoof said.
Once the night elf had vanished down the hallway, the pair faced the small crowd of tauren that had gathered, the same tauren that had helped carry Stronghoof the night he was injured. One of them stepped forward.
“I think I speak for all of us here when I say how sorry we all are for how we treated you Stronghoof. We didn’t mean the things we said. And for your mate, we offer our condolences. He was a great warrior, we are proud to have fought along side him in battle.”
All at once the tauren saluted in typical shu’halo fashion, turned about, and exited the building. They all walked down the street, their hoofs echoed off the stone ground. Stronghoof simply stared at the space they had just vacated.
“Are you alright Stronghoof?” Anarchei asked as he faced his friend, his hand on the shu’halo’s shoulder.
“Yes, I’m fine,” Stronghoof replied, his eyes moist. “I just wasn’t expecting that. I never thought I’d see the day when my kind would stop living in the past and embrace those like myself.”
“People change I guess,” the draenei shrugged.
“I guess,” the tauren agreed. “So, which inn do you have a room at?”
“The Legerdomain Lounge.”
Stronghoof nodded as they exited the building. The stars shone brightly as they walked. Stronghoof moved at a slower pace than what he was used to, his cane added to the sound their hoofs made on the cobbled street. Overhead, a drake flew low over the rooftops of the city. It weaved it’s way around the towers, before it dropped from sight in the vicinity of Krasus’ Landing.
“Stronghoof, what do you say we make a bit of a detour first?” Anarchei asked, a smile on his face.
“Sure, but why?” a puzzled Stronghoof replied.
“I want you to meet someone,” the draenei explained.
As the tauren almost struggled to keep up with the excited draenei, he wondered who it was his friend would want him to meet. They made their way through the streets of Dalaran until they found some stairs that led up to Krasus’ Landing. With Anarchei for support, Stronghoof managed to get to the top of the stairs. On the landing were a few soldiers of the Alliance and Horde, as well as some mages of the Kirin Tor. In the middle of the circular courtyard was a cobalt netherdrake.
“Jorus!” Anarchei called as he waved at his winged friend.
The drake walked over, his wings curled around his body to protect them from the ground.
“Stronghoof, this is Jorus,” Anarchei introduced the tauren to the drake. “He’s the one that flew us here to Dalaran after you got hurt.”
Stronghoof took a moment to take this in, then stepped forward, and leant heavily on the thick walking stick.
“I can’t thank you enough for your help Jorus. I’d give you a hug, but I’m not sure how to give one to a drake,” Stronghoof offered with a smile. “Plus I don’t think I can bend down too far with this walking stick.”
“Maybe I can arrange that,” Jorus said after his form changed before their very eyes, one moment a netherdrake, the next what appeared to be a tall quel’dorei with long blue-tinged hair that fluttered about in the breeze.
For a moment Stronghoof stood still in shock, not sure what had just happened. He could not believe his eyes, his muzzle slightly agape at the sight.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Jorus apologised, his blue eyes glowed brighter as they widened slightly. “I didn’t realise you had never seen a drake transform before.”
“Eh, what?” Stronghoof almost stuttered, at a loss for words.
“Most dragons can take the form of mortals,” Jorus explained. “I guess I could have told you that before I made the change.”
After a pause, Jorus perked up. “So, is your offer for a hug still available?” the elf inquired, a grin on his rather handsome face.
After a short pause with no response, Jorus stepped forward and wrapped his arms around the tauren. The taller being quickly came to his senses and returned the embrace.
“Any time,” the elf replied as he released his hold on Stronghoof and stepped back. “So Anarchei, when do we make our next move?”
“Next move?” the shu’halo asked as he turned to face his friend with a confused look on his muzzle.
“I probably should have told you this earlier Stronghoof, but I don’t exactly plan on staying in Dalaran for very long,” Anarchei explained.
“Why’s that?” Stronghoof inquired.
“This isn’t my home. I was only here in Northrend to find materials for crafting armour and weapons. When I was finished here I was going to return to my home on Draenor.”
“It’s called Outland these days,” Jorus explained, a bit annoyed at the name change.
“So you are leaving soon?” the tauren asked as his head drooped slightly at the realisation.
“Of course not,” the draenei explained. “I’m going to make sure you are alright first.”
“Oh,” Stronghoof responded as his muzzle drooped further, saddened that his new friend was going to leave soon.
“You can come with me if you want,” Anarchei offered kindly when he saw the tauren’s expression.
“Really?” Stronghoof perked up in response as a small hopeful smile appeared.
“Yes, really,” Anarchei replied with a smile, before he was almost knocked off his hoofs by the overjoyed mass of the tauren as he collided with him for a hug.
“For a moment there I thought you were going to leave me,” the shu’halo spoke into the pointed ear of the draenei.
“I’d never leave a friend in need.”
Two large hoofed beings waved as a netherdrake flew off in search of adventure, the people of this particular city bored him after all. The tauren and draenei turned and headed down the stairs that led to Dalaran proper, the tauren in need of some help from his draenei friend. The muscles of his body strained with effort as he held up the large bull. Once on the relatively flat street, the shu’halo managed to walk on his own with the aid of his rather large cane.
“So, what did you think of Jorus?” the draenei asked.
“He’s nice,” the tauren replied. “A bit weird though.”
“Dragons do have their quirks,” Anarchei explained.
“Well, since he’s the first dragon I’ve ever met, I’ll take your word for it,” Stronghoof said.
“Really? He’s the first you’ve ever seen?”
The shu’halo nodded.
As they walked down the street, a draenei in warrior armour stepped up to them.
“I see your buddy here is alive,” the warrior snarled at Anarchei, his fangs clearly visible. “Going to go have some fun with him now, hmm?”
Anarchei frowned and walked passed him, Stronghoof at his side with a confused look on his face.
“Hey! I’m talking to you!” the warrior grabbed Anarchei by the arm and jerked him round, only to have his face meet the paladin’s fist.
The draenei literally flew backwards and hit the stone wall of a building before he slumped to the ground, still conscious but dizzy. There was not anyone else on the street at that moment, so no one noticed the scuffle.
“Don’t you ever touch me again!” Anarchei growled as he stood over the warrior. “Got it?”
The draenei warrior nodded as he held the side of his face with his hand. Anarchei turned back to Stronghoof and continued to walk down the street. The tauren barely managed to keep up.
“What just happened?”
“Some people never change.”
Art by Neekko
The room at the Legerdomain Lounge was rather large. In fact, it seemed to be more of an apartment than a mere room at an inn. In what must have been the common area there was a sofa and a couple of armchairs that surrounded a low table with some books that lay atop it. Upon one of the armchairs, Anarchei sat with his arms crossed and a frown on his face. On the sofa, Stronghoof laid on his back as he watched the tail of the draenei shift back and forth, his cane against the arm of the sofa.
“What did that warrior mean when he said ‘going to have some fun with him now’?” Stronghoof asked.
“He thought that I was taking you somewhere so I could have sex with you,” Anarchei explained as his frown deepened.
“But… why would he think that?” the tauren inquired, still unsure what his friend meant.
“Because I’m like you,” Anarchei replied, the draenei’s frown now gone. “Plus I’m fairly certain that he thinks everyone like us enjoy having sex at every opportunity.”
“What do you mean you are like me?”
“I’m attracted to males.”
“Oh… I had no idea.”
“It’s not your fault. I didn’t plan on telling you, at least, not until you were ready.”
Stronghoof nodded. “I understand. I don’t think I was ready to know right now.”
“Sorry,” Anarchei apologised as he placed his hands on the arms of the chair.
“You don’t need to be sorry,” Stronghoof offered as he sat up on the sofa with a grunt. “I would have found out eventually.”
Anarchei nodded. “I guess.”
A short silence followed, both lost in their thoughts, both unable to look at the other, both unsure how to proceed. Suddenly a soft glow filled the candle-lit room. Anarchei looked around and his eyes settled on the tauren across from him. Stronghoof had begun to emit the glow, but he was not aware of it, his eyes closed as he leant back on the sofa.
“Stronghoof,” the draenei called gently.
“Yeah?” the shu’halo replied softly.
The tauren’s eyes shot open. He noticed the glow, brought his hands up to his eyes, and confirmed it.
“Why am I glowing?” Stronghoof asked with wide eyes, his breath suddenly deeper and more rapid.
“I don’t know,” Anarchei replied as he stood up, kneeled in front of the tauren, and reached his hands out to touch Stronghoof’s own. “May I?”
Stronghoof nodded. Anarchei proceeded to hold the shu’halo’s hands in his own, his eyes closed in concentration. After a short period of time, he nodded.
“I know why you are glowing.”
After a short pause, Stronghoof grew nervous. “Why am I glowing? Tell me.”
“It’s the Light,” Anarchei explained, a smile on his face as he looked into the eyes of his friend. “You are channelling the Light.”
A religion to some, a philosophy to many, the Light is a powerful force that exists within the universe. For all the beliefs of mortals, very few had unlocked the truth of the Light, and those that knew the truth were unable to share it with others. Those that took the Light as a matter of faith were least likely to welcome the truth. Those that were more grounded in reality were more likely to accept the truth, however not many were able to grasp it. The simple reality was that the Light was like any other force in the universe: it was a type of energy. Like nature, the Shadow, or the fel, the Light was an energy force that could be tapped into and used, for good or evil. It had no personality, no sentience to speak of. Those that thought so merely projected from their own hopes and fears.
The Light did not prod people to do good. People did good because they wanted to, just the same as people who did evil. The Light did not determine whether people would be good or evil. People chose those paths for themselves. Unfortunately, for many, those paths were chosen for them. Those that grew up in happy environments and were loved unconditionally were more likely to end up good. Those that grew up in unhappy environments and were unloved were more likely to end up evil. Children, from a very young age, had imprinted upon them the behaviours and attitudes of those around them. Fortunately, most children grew up to be mostly good, and it was they that would be attracted to the Light, although some chose to learn of the other energies of the universe. Thus would priests, paladins, mages, druids, and shamans come to the world. Those that grew up to be evil, although few, would learn of the darker energies. And so there would be warlocks and shadow priests. Death knights would come along later, an abomination upon the world, created by the Lich King for unholy purposes. Even among the so called “good classes” there would be those that chose a path of evil. Despite good intentions, evil would flourish so long as they had the support of their conscience.
The tauren had never practised the way of the Light. Not until now had any of his kind taken up that power, at least, as far as he knew. Stronghoof, a former shaman and a practised warrior, was told this story by Anarchei, a paladin. They sat in the lounge room of an apartment in Dalaran. Anarchei spoke carefully and paused when Stronghoof asked him a question. When his tale was done, there was a moment of silence. The shu’halo warrior had taken it all in. Only a few moments ago he had begun to glow with an aura of Light. Now he contemplated what his future might hold.
“I want to know something,” the tauren began. “You are a paladin right?”
“That’s right,” Anarchei replied from his seat across from the shu’halo.
“What does it mean to be a paladin?” Stronghoof asked.
“A paladin is a warrior primarily, but a warrior who has taken up the power of the Light as their ally. There are different kinds of paladins, as we can take on different roles if we so choose. There is a holy paladin, one who heals more than they fight. There is a protection paladin, one who defends others. You can tell them apart because they carry a shield. And then there is a retribution paladin, one who fights more than anything else. Don’t let the name fool you, paladins aren’t usually about punishment, at least, I’m not.”
“Does that mean you are a retribution paladin?”
Anarchei nodded, and pointed to his two-handed sword that lay against the wall next to his armour. “You can tell me apart by the weapon I carry.”
“I see. Tell me more.”
“Well, a paladin has more than a role to play. By virtue, most paladins will defend the weak and less fortunate.”
“Is that why you saved me?”
Anarchei nodded. “It is not so much an obligation, as it is a choice. You never asked for help, I never agreed to give it, however I did choose to help you regardless because I don’t like seeing people get hurt.”
“Even if they are your enemy?”
“I don’t think I have told you this, but I don’t actually side with any particular faction.”
“You aren’t Alliance?”
Anarchei shook his head. “I might have been once upon a time, but not any more. How about you? Do you consider yourself a part of the Horde still?”
“I’m not sure,” Stronghoof replied with a shrug. “I never really thought about it.”
“It’s your choice,” Anarchei expressed with some disdain. “Personally, I find politics distasteful.”
“The truth of politics is that it is a gun in the room, and people are deciding where it should be pointed. I honestly don’t want anything to do with it.”
After an awkward silence, Anarchei spoke. “So, tell me. Do you want to become a paladin?”
Stronghoof nodded. “I can think of nothing else I would want to do. I already have training as a warrior, however I don’t know the first thing about how to channel the Light like you do.”
“I can show you if you’d like,” the draenei offered.
“I’d like that very much,” the shu’halo responded with a smile.
His blue eyes glowed brighter slightly at the opportunity to teach another the way of the Light. Anarchei stood up from his chair and motioned for Stronghoof to do the same. Stronghoof grunted slightly, his wound still an impediment, but since the Light began to flow through him, the pain had dulled somewhat. He no longer needed the cane at least. Once they both stood face-to-face, Anarchei offered a warning.
“You must know: this is not something that can be mastered in a day. It will take weeks, maybe months for you to control this new power. I can certainly teach you the basics for now, however anything more advanced will require your complete devotion to the task. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” Stronghoof replied with a nod. “I understand.”
“Good, let’s get started.”
Over the past few hours Anarchei had taught Stronghoof some of the things a novice paladin would need to know. Auras, seals, and judgements were an essential part of any paladin’s arsenal. They had pushed the furniture in the room to the walls to give them space in the middle to practice. The draenei had started out simple. No weapons or armour, just the spells themselves. The tauren managed to grasp them fairly quickly. His aura flared first, then his seal was in place, and finally he targeted Anarchei and unleashed his judgement. The hammer made of Light dropped from above, and collided with the shield the draenei had in place.
“Excellent work, you got it!” Anarchei clapped his hands in praise as the shield dissipated, a smile on his face. “You’ve managed to learn something in a few hours that took me a couple of days to learn.”
Stronghoof blushed, or at least, what the draenei thought was a blush, as the tauren’s fur covered up his skin. “Thank you. I don’t think I could have done it without such a great teacher.”
“No, thank you for been such an excellent student,” Anarchei grinned. “Let’s take a break.”
Stronghoof sighed in relief and sat down on the floor and leaned back upon his three-fingered hands. Anarchei followed suit. After a moment of rest, Stronghoof’s curiosity got the better of him.
“I’ve been meaning to ask you… Why did you become a paladin? I mean, if you don’t mind me asking.”
“I don’t mind. There’s actually a bit of a story behind it. If you recall, I was in Moonglade for a while. After I left, I travelled to Darnassus, the home of the kaldorei. I was there to open an account at the bank so I could deposit the gold I had recently acquired, as well as some personal items I didn’t want to carry around with me. While I was there I encountered a night elf priest who recognised the Light within me. While I was certainly surprised that I could possibly channel the Light, I declined her offer to train as a priest. I wanted to learn how to use the Light, but I wanted more than just the ability to heal people or cast spells. The priest acknowledged my desire and told me that if I wanted to become a paladin, that I would need to go to the Exodar, the nearest place that taught people how to become paladins. So with that knowledge I boarded a boat to Azuremyst Isle, and found a paladin trainer. I worked very hard at it, and it took me a few weeks to master the basics. However, at this time it became known to those around me that I had no desire to bed females. Eventually they figured out that I only liked other males in that way. My secret discovered, I was told to leave and never return. In effect, I was exiled from my own people.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Stronghoof said softly but Anarchei waved it off.
“Don’t worry about it. I’m pretty much over it. Anyway, after that I took my training into my own hands, going from place to place, picking up knowledge and skills from other paladins as I travelled. It was around this time that I heard of the Burning Legion. These demonic invaders were a threat to all life, and so I left Azeroth and went back to my home world of Draenor, or at least, what’s left of it. I fought the demons for a while, but I eventually grew tired, so I sought refuge. It was while I was in Shattrath City that I managed to complete my training. As a paladin I have helped many people. I am kind of famous in certain circles. Depending on who you talk to I’m either a great hero or a degenerate mercenary. I guess you can’t please everyone.”
After a moment, when he took all this in, Stronghoof spoke. “After hearing that tale I want to become a paladin even more.”
Anarchei smiled and stood up. “If that is the case, let’s continue with the training. This time, you will need to wear armour and carry a weapon.”
“But I don’t have any armour, or a weapon,” the tauren explained as he also stood. “I discarded them when I thought I wouldn’t need them any more.”
“I see,” the draenei mused. “Well, I guess I’ll need to craft you some.”
“You’d do that for me?”
“Of course. I’m your friend, that’s what friends do for each other.”
“It’s just that I feel like I owe you for what you have done for me,” Stronghoof bowed his head.
“Hey now,” Anarchei stepped forward and lifted the shu’halo’s head up to look him in the eyes. “You don’t owe me anything.”
“Would you at least accept a hug as payment?”
Anarchei smiled and nodded. They stepped closer to each other, their arms reached around one another as they pressed in close. They stayed like that for a while, the tauren squeezed a little tightly, to which the draenei responded in kind. Both smiled and shut their eyes. This was true happiness.
“You know, I could get used to this,” Stronghoof said into Anarchei’s left pointed ear.
The materials required to craft armour are not cheap to buy. The draenei blacksmith however had plenty stored away in the bank, ready at a moments notice to craft any piece of armour that his clients desired. At that moment, however, he crafted a special set of armour for a friend. The anvil got plenty of use that day, the blacksmith’s hammer pounded away for some time as he crafted something of beauty. Beige-coated titansteel embedded with simple pale-blue gems, gold trim, and blue cloth. An excellent example of the fusion of form and function. Much like his own set of armour, this gear would fit his tauren friend well. All that was left to do was to craft a weapon. Unfortunately, he could not make a sword like his own, as it was unique. He could, however, craft a blade that was similar and almost as powerful. It took nearly an hour, but in the end he was pleased with the result. The blade was longer than his own, more suited for the larger size of a shu’halo than a draenei. It was certainly a heavy weapon, and would do a lot of damage when it came into contact with an enemy. However, for the wielder it would feel as light a feather. With his task complete, he stepped out on to the street and waved his friend over, who had sat on a bench to wait. He had practised his auras and seals to pass the time. When he saw his new armour, the tauren could not help but hug the draenei, albeit from behind this time.
“Thank you,” he whispered into his friends ear.
Anarchei laughed. “We can’t continue your training without armour or a weapon. It was no problem, really. Think of it as a gift.”
Stronghoof nodded and released Anarchei from his hold, and picked up the chest armour to feel its weight and examine the craftsmanship.
“This is really beautiful,” he said softly, as if in awe. “It’s just like yours.”
“Well, I thought you might like it. I’ve always thought it was the best looking armour around. And it’s very powerful too. Not the most powerful of course, but it gets the job done.”
“At least it isn’t a dress,” the shu’halo responded as he put the chest piece down to examine the leg plates. “That’s one of the things I never really liked about being a shaman. We wore a dress.”
Anarchei chuckled. “Even some paladins wear a dress, but not me. Can’t stand the sight of it.”
“Let’s take this back to the inn and have you try it on.”
They both hefted the heavy plate armour and carried it down the street to the inn they stayed at. Once back inside their room, Stronghoof began to put the gear on. The leather straps proved to be a bit difficult at first, however the tauren refused the draenei’s assistance. He wanted to do this himself. A few minutes after he had twisted and moved about, the armour finally covered the tauren’s body.
“There’s no helm,” Stronghoof commented.
“Well, you see, I’ve never been a big supporter of helms,” Anarchei replied as he brushed his left hand through his spiky white hair. “What, with the horns and all.”
Stronghoof saw the problem. The draenei had two thick horns that extended from his forehead and straight up as long as his hair. To get a helm on to that head would have been difficult. As a tauren, he knew how hard it was to find a helm that would fit him, and most of the time he would go without. As a master of various weapons, he was good enough not to need one anyway. So far he had managed to keep enemies away from his muzzle and he did not think he would need to make a change now. The power boost he would have received from the item would have been nice though.
The novice paladin picked up the new two-handed sword and felt the weight in his hand. He gave it a few swings through the air. Once he got used to it, the blade felt like there was nothing there at all.
“This is an amazing weapon,” Stronghoof exclaimed as he watched the blade move faster than he thought was possible.
“A little blacksmithing secret,” Anarchei explained with a smile as his friend enjoyed his gift.
“Are you going to get your armour on too?” the tauren asked, his new sword now thoroughly tested.
“Sure, give me a moment.”
In a quarter of the time it took Stronghoof to put on his gear, Anarchei had his on.
“Ready for more training?”
Suddenly, Anarchei rushed forward and swung his blade, a move that Stronghoof barely managed to counter. Stronghoof then used his strength to smash his sword into the draenei’s, who barely moved under the assault. Anarchei returned the blow, which managed to make the large tauren step back. Eyes widened, Stronghoof tried to fight back with all his strength, but it did not take long for him to be beaten. The draenei had managed to bring his blade inside the shu’halo’s defences and had the point aimed at his throat.
“You’re out of practice,” Anarchei said between shallow breaths, withdrew his blade, and stood back. “Let’s go again.”
Barely able to catch his breath, Stronghoof swung his weapon to meet the new onslaught from Anarchei. They continued like this for over an hour, Stronghoof neared exhaustion as each time he was defeated by the draenei in under a minute.
“How are you able to do that?” he asked his friend after he had collapsed to the floor and panted heavily while the draenei breathed like he had only run a short distance.
“The Light gives me strength,” Anarchei explained. “You need to understand that the Light is more than just casting spells. It can make you strong and powerful in both body and mind. Your mind is strong with all the magic you used as a shaman, however as a result you have weakened your body. You need to draw on the Light, whether you are about to cast a spell, or you are fighting with a weapon.”
Stronghoof nodded. After a few moments, his body emanated a glow briefly, and in an instant he was barely tired at all. Surprised, he looked up at the draenei that stood above him, hand extended to help him up. He grasped it and was half-lifted off the floor. When he released his friend, Anarchei backed up and raised his blade.
The training continued for several days. Anarchei was not easy on Stronghoof, but never brutal. He knew when the tauren needed rest, knew when a new technique was too tough for him to learn right away. He pushed Stronghoof to his limits, but never beyond them. The shu’halo sometimes did not appreciate how hard the draenei was been on him, but the way his friend treated him when they were not training reminded him that this was training, not a friendly sparring match. Of course, when it came to spell casting, Anarchei endeavoured to make the experience as fun as possible. During these sessions they removed their armour and wore cloth. The heavy metal was too much of a strain on the novice paladin. After the tauren mastered healing spells, the draenei decided to teach Stronghoof how to bubble. The proper name was divine shield, but its appearance had given it the nickname bubble. This was probably the most fun that the tauren had experienced since they had begun training. Once he had learnt how to master the technique, they had begun to bounce around the room with the bubbles. Off the floor, into the ceiling, and off the walls. Every time they felt nothing, the bubble protected them from the impacts. A thought came to him suddenly that he might surprise his friend, so Stronghoof targeted Anarchei and threw himself at the draenei.
Too late, they collided with one another. Their bubbles had disappeared a split second before impact. They landed hard, Anarchei with his back to the floor, Stronghoof above him.
“Divine shield has a time limit, remember?” the draenei grunted under the weight of the bull.
“I’m so sorry,” the larger tauren apologised as he quickly took most of his weight off the draenei. “I didn’t hurt you did I?”
“I’m fine,” Anarchei replied as he looked up at Stronghoof.
They stared at each other, both looked into each others eyes. They did not turn away, neither wanted to.
“Your eyes are beautiful,” Stronghoof said softly.
“They look like any other of my race,” Anarchei replied as he blushed slightly.
Stronghoof shook his head, leaned forward on his left elbow, and placed his right hand on the draenei’s cheek.
“That’s not what I mean.”
“What do you mean?” Anarchei’s voice barely above a whisper.
The tauren gently brushed his muzzle against the draenei’s lips. “This.”
Suddenly, their lips were together. Stronghoof engaged Anarchei in their first kiss. The draenei enjoyed it for a moment, and returned the gentle kiss in kind. A doubt formed in his mind, so he carefully pushed the tauren off himself slightly.
“Are you sure this is what you want?”
“Yes, I’m sure.”
They kissed again, this time Anarchei felt that Stronghoof’s large tongue sought entry into his mouth. He parted his lips and it slipped in to mingle with his own. Anarchei placed his arms around the tauren’s thick neck, Stronghoof shifted his left arm behind Anarchei’s back and his right behind his head. The bull rolled them over, Anarchei now on top. They ground themselves against one another, hands shifted about to feel each other’s bodies. The draenei had never before felt the way he did now. He had never experienced this before, and he enjoyed it more than anything else. The feeling of muscles and fur beneath his hand, the warmth of the body beneath him, the wetness of the tongue not his own. It was too much for him. Suddenly they both stopped and pulled away, their breath heavy, as they realised that they were both aroused.
“I want us to make love,” Stronghoof said gently.
Unsure how to respond, the draenei thought quickly for what to say. His thoughts were all over the place, but the one that nudged him at that moment was the one he knew was the right thing to say.
“I think it might be too soon for that,” Anarchei replied in the same tone. “We may be rushing…”
The draenei was interrupted by the sound of shards of glass as they hit the ground. The window had been shattered by the rock that was thrown through it. The rock landed near where they laid on the floor. Startled, they rolled off each other and sat up. Both stared at the stone. Wrapped around it was a note, with dark red splotches that could only be blood splattered on the paper. Anarchei reached forward and picked it up, unravelled the paper, and instantly dropped the rock, for it was made of saronite, the blood of Yogg-Saron, the old god of death. The note was written in rough Common, with a message that read: “Stay away from the tauren or you will die.”
The piece of parchment covered in dried blood that sat on the table emitted unholy energy. The draenei was troubled by this, not only because of the source of the power, but the greatness of that power also. He knew that he was no match for the writer of the death threat against him. He had sat down on the couch beside his tauren companion. Deep in thought, he had not realised that he had leaned up against the large muscular bull, who now had his arm around him.
“I think you should just ignore it,” Stronghoof said in an attempt to comfort the draenei. “We are in Dalaran, there’s no way that anything could happen here.”
Anarchei wanted very much to believe that, but he knew that the reality of the situation had escaped the shu’halo. The fact was that the one who had sent the threat was more powerful than he was, and with the most powerful mages of the Kirin Tor in Icecrown Citadel engaged in a battle against the Lich King, there was no one in Dalaran who could help them. The evil behind the threat was undeniable. The runic power he had sensed could not be disregarded. As a fully trained paladin, he knew who had written the death threat. If Stronghoof knew, he would agree with Anarchei that the best thing to do would be to run and hide. A death knight had penned that note, and not just any death knight. This one was powerful, possibly one of the highest ranking in the Lich King’s army of undeath.
“We cannot ignore this,” Anarchei explained. “The one who sent this note is more powerful than anyone in Dalaran, even more powerful than me. I think we have little choice in the matter. Either I stay here and face certain death, or I do as the note says and leave.”
After a moment of stunned silence, Stronghoof turned to face his friend. “You can’t be serious!”
“I’ve never been more serious in my life,” the draenei responded with a sigh as he shrugged off the tauren’s heavy arm and stood up. “It’s for the best.”
“No!” Stronghoof stood also and moved in front of Anarchei to face him. “Wherever you go, I’m going with you. I’m not leaving you, and you aren’t leaving me!”
The draenei thought it over and for a moment had resolved to tell his companion that he would not agree, but at the last moment he changed his mind and gave the tauren a nod. He was quickly surrounded by fur and muscle as Stronghoof gave him another bone-crushing embrace. They were interrupted, however, by a knock at the door. Stronghoof immediately jumped back in fear.
“It’s all right,” Anarchei tried to calm his friend down.
He turned and walked to the door, unlocked and opened it, to reveal Jorus. The netherdrake was in elf form, and entered the room, after which Anarchei shut and locked the door.
“I heard that there was a problem and came as quickly as I could,” the elf explained, and when he noticed the quizzical look on the bull’s face he continued. “Anarchei and I have a special bond that enables us to talk to each other with our minds.”
“What special bond?”
“Well, a few years ago my family was held captive by orcs in Shadowmoon Valley. Anarchei, who was an outsider, managed to gain the trust of the netherwing, infiltrate the orc camp, and freed many of the drakes held against their will. For his acts, I offered to be his companion. I would carry Anarchei on my back wherever he wanted to go, so long as it involved flying. Whenever I wasn’t needed I would teleport back to my family.”
Stronghoof nodded in understanding. “I guess that’s one of those times you helped others as a paladin, right?”
Anarchei nodded. “One of many.”
“One day I’d like to hear about the other people you have helped.”
“I’m sure he will tell you anything,” Jorus interrupted. “As soon as you are out of harms way.”
“Speaking of which, where are we going?” Stronghoof asked.
“Our home of course,” the elf explained. “Now gather your things, we don’t want to leave anything behind.”
With a wave of his hand, the room that had once served as a training ground for the two paladins, was rearranged as it was when they first arrived. All their belongings floated through the air and landed at their feet, armour and all. With no desire to waste any more time, they both quickly put on their armour and placed their weapons behind their backs. Anarchei then produced a small stone the size of his palm as if from nowhere, a stone with a strange symbol carved upon it.
“Come and touch the stone,” he beckoned. “This will take us to Draenor.”
They all placed their hands on the stone. Once in position, a soft green glow emanated from the stone, surrounded them, and a moment later they vanished.
The wind blew.
The land was covered in long green grasses that fluttered in the breeze. Here and there, pockets of trees erupted from the landscape, and large bodies of water filled in the lower areas. To the north-east, mountainous cliffs towered up to meet the pink and blue sky, while to the south-west a sheer drop led into the Twisting Nether. High above the landscape, small islands hovered gracefully, and sported either trees surrounded by grass, or lakes that lost their water to the land below in an endless cascade. This was Nagrand, one of the few remaining pristine lands of Draenor.
High in the cliffs that surrounded Nagrand to the east, a large shelf of flat land covered in trees existed. Here, in the centre lay a large clearing, to the untrained eye simply grassland. However, to those permitted to see it, what actually existed there was a small city, hidden by magical means. A miniature Dalaran, this city consisted of many towers made of stones of white, grey, light pink, and pale blue. Within the city limits were quel’dorei, or what appeared to be quel’dorei. In fact, they were netherwing drakes in disguise, or rather, in the forms they preferred to take. In the centre of the city there was a market, where elfs, ethereals, draenei, orcs, kurenei, and even some ogres all came to trade with one another. Only those that had proven themselves friends of the netherwing were welcome. Above the sounds of the market, on the balcony of the highest apartment within one of the tallest towers, a tauren, draenei, and an elf had appeared as if out of nowhere. The tauren was momentarily stunned by the view he took in, until his companion draenei explained where he was and the story behind it.
“You see,” Anarchei continued, after he had described Nagrand and the city to his friend. “The netherwing are not very trusting of outsiders. They have good reason to. After all, they are the hatchlings of Deathwing.”
“Really?” Stronghoof asked as he glanced at the elf beside him in a moment of fear.
“There is no reason to fear us,” Jorus attempted to calm the bull. “We have taken a different path from that of our progenitor. For the most part we are peaceful, however we do not take kindly to strangers.”
“The netherwing have been mistreated by many after the explosion that tore this planet apart,” the draenei added as he grasped the tauren’s arm gently. “This city is one of the few places that they have left where they can live in relative peace from those that would wish them harm.”
“I see,” Stronghoof sighed in relief.
“Can we go inside now?” Jorus asked with a note of displeasure. “This wind is ruining my hair.”
The other two took a moment to examine the elf’s long blue hair and restrained themselves from laughter at the dishevelled look the elf now sported. The elf gave them an angry glare before he stomped off, gracefully if a little forcibly he opened the twin glass doors that led into the apartment.
“I didn’t know dragons cared about their looks as much as an elf does,” the bull chuckled.
“Well, they like to look good,” the draenei explained. “And in their opinion, elfs are the best looking race they have encountered. Who knows, maybe been in that form for so long they have adapted a few of the traits one would expect of an elf.”
“Maybe,” Stronghoof’s voice trailed off as he saw inside the large apartment. “Is this your place?”
“Yes it is,” Anarchei turned to look at what his friend had stared at. “This is my home. Want to come and have a better look?”
The bull nodded. Once inside, the draenei gave his companion a tour. From the balcony was the main room, which contained a lounge suite made of plush black cloth, upon which the largest Jorus now sat as he brushed his hair. Beside this was a dining table with six chairs made of dark varnished wood, and beyond a kitchen with a large pantry, a strange door that was cool to the touch, and an oven and stove that looked like they were powered not by fire but by magic. When they were done, they joined Jorus in the lounge. Before they even had a chance to sit down and relax, the elf immediately stood up, his hair now as straight as ever.
“I need to go see my family and explain to them the situation,” he expressed with a look of seriousness. “Hopefully it will never come to it, but just in case, I will arrange some extra security for you two. I will be back later in the day to check on you.”
Without another word, Jorus turned, stepped out on to the balcony, and closed the doors behind him. Almost instantaneously he transformed into his natural drake form, took off, and flew out of sight.
After a short pause, Anarchei turned to Stronghoof. “Maybe this is a good time to settle in?”
They both methodically removed their armour and placed it in a neat pile against the wall, their swords against the stone with the rest of their gear. They were both in black under-armour, which was tight and left nothing to the imagination. Every bump of muscle, every curve of their bodies, every bulge was visible. Both did nothing to hide their looks. They assaulted each other’s muscled bodies with their eyes.
“Eh, Anarchei?” the tauren asked as he tore his eyes from his companion’s strong body to look him in the eyes. “Would it be possible to get cleaned up? I mean, I’m a bit sweaty from our training earlier, and I kind of stink.”
“Oh, ah, yeah, no problem,” the draenei responded reluctantly as his eyes met his friend’s. “This way.”
Stronghoof followed Anarchei down a corridor off the main room. They passed a few doors, but eventually the draenei opened the one at the end. Inside the room was a large bath set into the stone floor. It could almost be described as a swimming pool, with a bench that lined the edge so that bathers could sit while in the water. Anarchei crouched down and pressed a few metal buttons on the side of the empty pool, and water suddenly began to pour in as if from nowhere, with plenty of soap and bubbles to go with it.
“Just a bit of magic that the netherwing are fond of experimenting with,” the draenei explained to the confounded tauren.
Once the bath was almost full, the water stopped its flow. Stronghoof stripped off his under-armour and entered the pool. He turned around to face Anarchei.
“You going to join me?” asked the naked bull, half submerged in water and bubbles.
“Of course,” the draenei replied as he removed his own under-armour.
For the first time he had revealed his naked form to another, and as he entered the bath full of warm water, he could not help but feel a little bit excited, especially since his friend checked him out so openly.
“We both have sheaths,” Stronghoof said bluntly, not exactly what the draenei expected to hear.
“Well, from what I can tell, the draenei and the shu’halo share a few similarities,” Anarchei explained as he took a seat on the bench that lay underwater, his tail curled to the side. “We both have hoofs, digigrade legs, and of course horns. Our genitalia is just something else we have in common.”
After this explanation, they both began to clean themselves. Their hands shifted over their bodies, tauren over dark fur, draenei over blue skin, both felt the hard muscle underneath. After a while they could not hold back their peaks at one another. Eventually, most of the bubbles had cleared, which left their lower bodies mostly visible to each other. Stronghoof shifted over to sit beside Anarchei.
“Can I wash your back?” the shu’halo asked in a gentle deep voice.
With the draenei’s nod as consent, as well as his move to the centre of the pool to give the tauren access, Stronghoof began to wash his friend’s broad rippled back. He started at the shoulders and slowly moved down. He felt the hardness of the muscles slowly dissolve under his gentle massage. Anarchei groaned and shut his eyes. Not only did the touch of Stronghoof’s three-fingered hands feel good on his stressed back, it had also resulted in the growth of his arousal. He was hard, but he felt too good from the massage to try to cover it up. The tauren, being taller, noticed this new state of affairs, and bravely reached around with his left hand to feel the draenei’s cock. Stronghoof realised that while similar, the draenei’s penis was smaller than his own, in girth and length. Anarchei moaned at the the touch, and pressed into the furry hand. The tauren had also become hard, and pressed his arousal into the draenei’s back.
Art by Mehawk
Anarchei gently touched Stronghoof’s hand and guided him off his cock and turned around to face his new lover. They looked into each other’s eyes for a moment and then leaned in for a kiss. Their tongues met, the bull’s larger one overpowered the draenei and entered his mouth. Stronghoof reached around Anarchei and pulled him in, their bodies crushed together in the warm water, their hard cocks sparred for space. At that moment Anarchei noticed that the tauren was much larger than him in all respects, the pink bull cock a stark contrast to the dark brown fur. With no desire for the moment to end, they moaned and groaned as they felt each other up. Stronghoof shifted his hands up and down the draenei’s back while Anarchei felt down the tauren’s front. He slid his hands over the large chest, taunt belly, and down to his large ball sack, where he began to squeeze the objects within that were larger than his fist.
All of a sudden they were interrupted by a knock at the door. Jorus had returned.
The two hoofed beings had been stuck in place ever since the knock at the door to the bathroom. The smaller of the two whispered in the other’s ear that it was a friend. At that the large bull relaxed a bit. They were both still crushed up against one another, naked in the warm water of the large round bath, however their arousal had quickly disappeared at the interruption.
“When you two are finished in there, I need to have a word with you,” the voice from behind the door called out.
“We’ll be out in a minute,” the draenei called back, his eyes on the tauren in front of him.
The sound of footsteps as they moved away was invitation enough for the two to share a few short kisses, however they did not want to get themselves worked up again just yet. Anarchei separated himself reluctantly from his new lover and climbed out of the water, his naked form dripped water on the stone floor. He turned back to Stronghoof, who looked up at him as if to plead for them to continue.
“Sorry,” the draenei apologised. “But with Jorus around it would be too weird. You know that we share that link with our minds, and the closer he is the more he can feel. Even if we blocked each other out, he would still feel the strong emotions I felt, and I really want this to be private between us.”
The bull nodded that he understood and sighed. “I want that also.”
Anarchei extended his hand and grasped Stronghoof’s own and helped him out of the bath. The tauren had become much heavier than usual thanks to his now water-soaked fur. The draenei let go, turned, and walked over to the door. On a small table sat a pile of clean towels. He picked up two large white ones and threw one over to Stronghoof, who deftly caught it. They both dried themselves off. Both started at their heads and slowly worked their way down. The draenei finished first. His job was made a rather quick and easy one due to his relatively smaller body and the fact that the only hair he sported was on his head and just above his hoofs. The tauren on the other hand had a tougher time. Anarchei saw this and moved to give him a hand. With his half-wet towel, he helped rub through Stronghoof’s fur, slowly but surely he got his companion as dry as possible.
“Thanks,” the bull offered in response to the help he received. “It’s too bad there isn’t some magical way to get dry.”
“Hmm,” the draenei hummed as he finished with the fur around the tauren’s right hoof. “Maybe that’s something I can bring up some time when I have the chance to talk with the mages here.”
Anarchei stood up and threw his soaked towel to the floor. Stronghoof followed suit, a loud splash echoed in the room as the wet fabric collided with stone. As the draenei turned and picked up fresh clothing that had somehow replaced the stack of dry towels on the table, the bull could not help but stare at the thick tail that extended from the draenei’s lower back and down to the floor, the jagged edges along the top a strange but fitting addition. Anarchei turned back and handed Stronghoof a set of clothes, which to his amazement were just his size.
“Jorus made them,” the draenei explained. “He’s a very good tailor. All the fabric in this place he made himself.”
With a nod, the tauren carefully slipped into the clothing. He pulled the white underwear on first, which contrasted well against his dark brown fur. Then came the leggings which were black as night, and finally the shirt, a light pink affair that the tauren was not so sure about.
Art by tkd_bull
“Anarchei?” Stronghoof grumbled.
“Don’t like the colour, huh?” the draenei asked in return. “Don’t worry, I think it looks good. Besides, look at what he made me.”
The tauren finally noticed the fully clothed draenei. He wore the same sort of pants as him, but the shirt was a light purple instead of pink.
“Yeah, but that suits you,” Stronghoof almost whined as he picked at his new shirt with his left hand.
“No one will see you but us,” Anarchei explained in an attempt to calm the tauren’s doubts. “Besides, I think it shows off your arms really well.”
The bull saw that what his companion said was indeed true. The short sleeves made his muscled arms look much bigger than they really were. Not only that, his chest was clearly outlined in the tight-fitting shirt. He could not help but admire himself, and his doubts over the colour vanished.
“So what do you think?” the draenei asked as he struck a pose, a flex of his right arm created a bulge in his bicep that stretched the fabric to its limit.
All Stronghoof could do was stare.
“You guys coming out here or what?” an irritated voice yelled from the lounge.
“We better get out there before he starts ranting,” Anarchei said quietly with a smile as he stepped over to the door and opened it.
Stronghoof nodded and followed his new lover out of the bathroom and down the corridor into the main area of the apartment. On one of the lounge chairs was an elf, but in reality it was Jorus in disguise.
“Took you long enough,” the quel’dorei grumbled, his arms crossed in irritation.
“My fur takes a while to dry,” the tauren explained as he sat down beside Anarchei on the couch across from Jorus.
“Well, I hope you two had a good time,” Jorus responded as he uncrossed his arms with a smirk.
The draenei and tauren both glanced at each other briefly before they turned back to face the elf, Stronghoof a little worried, but Anarchei’s gaze calmed him down.
“Anyway,” Jorus continued as he leaned forward, hands together in front of him. “I have spoken to my family. They all said to say hello, and they have arranged to have a guard placed outside the tower just in case the unthinkable should happen.”
“Thank you,” Anarchei expressed with gratitude.
“No problem,” the elf waved him off. “I was also wondering if you two had any plans tonight, because my family has invited you to dinner.”
The both shook their heads in reply.
“Excellent!” Jorus said with a smile. “So what are we going to do until then? We have a bit of time to spare at the moment. Any ideas?”
“I’m not sure…” Anarchei trailed off.
“Maybe our new friend here can tell us a bit about himself,” the elf offered. “I’m kind of intrigued.”
“I don’t know…” Stronghoof tried to say.
“Come on,” Jorus prodded gently with a smile. “I’m not going to bite.”
“If you insist,” the tauren sighed.
“You don’t have to if you don’t want to,” the draenei offered, his hand wrapped around the bull’s in reassurance.
“No, it’s all right. I want to,” Stronghoof smiled at Anarchei as he squeezed his hand in return.
After a moment to clear his head, he began his tale. “Originally, I was a warrior. I was trained as one, simply because my people are very much connected to nature and if you can’t make it as a druid or a shaman, you need to find a different path to take. I chose the way of the warrior because I had a friend who took the training. It was this friend of mine that eventually became my future mate. We fell for each other rather quickly. After that it was discovered that I had a talent for shamanism. So, I was pulled out of my life of a warrior and began my training as a shaman. I learnt all there was to know. The spirits, the totems, the spells. Everything.
After keeping our mateship a secret for over a year, it was eventually found out that we were together. Thunderbluff threw us out. We found our way to Ratchet, where the goblins didn’t care about what we were. To them, business was important, and rejecting people because of certain traits meant smaller profits. So they gave us jobs. My mate became a guard in the town, while I worked as a healer part-time. I made more gold crafting gems and jewellery, and I am one of the few shu’halo to have mastered that tricky profession. We spent a year in Ratchet, making a fair living. One day we heard of the problems in Outland, and so we decided to go check it out. After fighting various hostiles, we returned to Ratchet. Not long after that, we heard of the Lich King and his attack on Azeroth. We took up our weapons and totems, and set off for Northrend. My mate heard of the offensive on the Wrath Gate and decided to help out. I went along, but stayed near the back of the Horde formation. The Lich King came. The Forsaken attacked them all. My mate was hit by their poison while I ran away in fear.”
For a moment Stronghoof was unable to continue his story, a wetness had come to his eyes. Despite his attempts to overcome the loss of his mate, sadness and shame welled up inside him just the same. Anarchei carefully placed his arm around his companion’s back, the tauren nodded his thanks at the comfort and offered a smile, a smile that the draenei returned. His strength came back and his eyes cleared a little, he continued his tale.
“After that the dragons came. Despite their calming presence, when I returned to find the body of my mate among the dead, I was unable to bear the strain of his loss. I fled. I eventually came to the conclusion that life wasn’t worth living. So I found a rabble of undead and lured them into battle. I had not worn any protective armour because I wanted it to be quick. I set up my totems and started firing spells at them, hoping to make myself a big enough target that they would come after me like a swarm. Well, it worked, they came. At that point, Anarchei showed up and started drawing them away, but not before they overcame me and infected me with the plague. Everything after that, you know.”
Jorus laid back against the soft cushion of the lounge chair, his arms behind his head. “Wow. That’s quite a story. So, I’m guessing the reason Thunderbluff exiled you is because your mate was male?”
“Well, you don’t need to worry about something like that happening here,” the elf explained. “Once you gain our trust, we are pretty tolerant.”
“That’s good to know,” the tauren replied with a smile.
“So, I’m guessing you two are together now, huh?” Jorus chuckled.
Stronghoof and Anarchei looked into each other’s eyes and both silently came to the same conclusion. They nodded.
“I thought so,” the elf smirked. “I thought I felt something interesting going on in the bathroom earlier.”
“Jorus!” Anarchei blurted indignantly.
“Yeah, I know,” Jorus responded, his hands in front of him, palms outward to placate the draenei. “From now on, when you two are alone I’ll wait until you give me the word so I know it’s safe to come back.”
The light in the room had steadily begun to grow dimmer as the light from the sun disappeared. As night fell, around the room the candles in brackets on the walls magically lit themselves.
“Well, it looks like I need to get going,” the elf said as he stood up. “I’ll need to get ready for dinner. I’ll meet you there later.”
With that, the elf, clad in his elaborate clothing, stepped up to a pedestal near the wall upon which sat what appeared to be an orb made of golden glass. He placed his hands on the sphere, and in a rush of blue energy, disappeared in a flash.
“What was that?” Stronghoof asked in awe at the sight.
“Oh, that,” Anarchei tried to explain as he looked at what the tauren stared at. “That’s a magical object that lets us get up and down the tower without flying. There aren’t any stairs here you see.”
“Ah, I get it.”
The draenei turned back to his mate and gave the tauren a quick kiss on the lips. “Come on, we will need a jacket at least if we are going to dinner with Jorus’ family. They are kind of uptight about appearances.”
“You mean, more so then Jorus?”
Anarchei nodded. Both of them shared a short laugh at the expense of their friend. The mirth died down eventually, and when it did, the draenei stood and led his mate to his bedroom. Down the corridor again, this time the door next to the bathroom. Anarchei opened it to reveal a room about the same size as the large bathroom. The outer wall curved, as this was a tower after all. In the centre of the room was what could only be described as the biggest bed Stronghoof had ever seen. It was twice as wide as an average tauren, and long enough for him to lay down in, with room to spare. Anarchei led the tauren to his wardrobe, which was a room in of itself, and laid out on a shelf was a new suit for Stronghoof, and a matching one beside it for Anarchei.
“Let me guess,” the tauren started, as he picked up the jacket. “Jorus?”
“Yeah,” the draenei answered as he admired the fine fabric. “He finds time for so much. Sometimes I think he has done more for me than I have done for him.”
The light outside had faded fast, so they donned their new attire and made their way to leave the apartment. They touched the orb in the lounge and were teleported to the ground, where an elfin warrior equipped in heavy armour awaited them. Anarchei began to walk down the street, Stronghoof alongside, their bodyguard fell in behind them. They headed down the street to a large domed building that had two tall towers made of pale blue stone on either side. As they were about to enter, a distressed-looking female elf rushed to meet them. She was dressed in a long golden dress that flowed behind her. She showed them a note covered in fresh blood. Anarchei took the note from who he knew to be Jorus’ mother.
“I went looking for him,” she spoke in a voice laden with sobs. “He said he would be back. I went to his room. It was a mess, and the note… the note was on the floor… in a puddle of blood.”
The woman began to cry in earnest, as the draenei unfolded the parchment with hands that shook slightly.
“If you ever want to see Jorus alive again, Anarchei and Stronghoof must come to this place before the sun rises. If any others follow, he dies.”
Below the scribble was a hastily drawn map that outlined Draenor, a large “X” marked a cave not far from the small city.
The wind howled.
A pale glow illuminated the land, the energies in the sky provided light in the dark of night. Two figures carefully made their way up a narrow path in the sheer cliffs. Hoofs crushed stray rocks into dust, their heavy bodies and strong legs very capable of the task. Both were adorned in the armour of paladins, a two-handed sword strapped securely on each of their backs. The shorter of the pair was in the lead, a blue glow shone from his eyes. The draenei had insisted that he go first, for he had more experience in the Light, and knew how to deal with the evil they slowly made their way toward. The tauren behind him had only just begun to learn the ways of the Light, and on his own would be no match for the power they would soon face.
The wind was a constant reminder of what lay ahead, its chill more than once produced a shiver up their spines. It was not so much the temperature of the wind that produced this sensation, but rather the sound it made as it travelled through the cracks and crevices of the cliffs. They both had the feeling that this was going to be the toughest battle they had ever faced, for both knew that there was no way that the evil being that had kidnapped their friend would give up their prize without a fight.
Eventually, they found themselves at the end of the path, a clearing of long grass and rocks awaited them. On the side of the cliff, a narrow crack just large enough for the tauren to walk through led to a dark cave. They stepped inside slowly, at any moment they expected an ambush. None came. The draenei used his eyes to see in the dark, as his race had the ability thanks to certain biological properties. He used this ability to guide them through the warren of tunnels and caverns. After a few minutes of nothing but darkness, they came upon a strange violet glow. Upon closer inspection, the source of the light came from a crystal, which hovered above the floor of the cave. The light illuminated a large part of the cave, which revealed pillars of rock that had formed over centuries from water that had dripped in through the cracks in the ceiling. Next to the crystal lay a gagged and bound elf, his pale skin tinted purple by the crystal’s magical glow. With no desire to waste time at the opportunity presented to them, the draenei stepped forward and kneeled at the elf’s side, and proceeded to ungag him.
“The crystal suppresses my magic,” Jorus explained, the elf glanced at the crystal. “I tried to teleport away, but nothing happened.”
Anarchei nodded as he examined his friend. The elf appeared unharmed, the blood from earlier merely a ruse to increase their concern and lure them here. As he began to untie his friend, a deep voice issued forth from the dark.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”
In the shadows, beyond the reach of the light, two eyes shone in the darkness, their blue colour an indication of an evil presence within. It was the death knight.
“I thank you for coming alone,” the unholy being spoke again, his voice echoed against the walls of the cave. “It will make our transaction much easier.”
“What do you mean?” Anarchei asked as he stood from his position beside Jorus, Stronghoof at his side now.
“Why, I thought it was obvious,” the death knight explained in a humorous tone. “In exchange for the elf, Stronghoof must give himself to me.”
“Who do you think you are?” the angry tauren yelled at the shadows, his body shook with rage at the death knight’s audacity, and stepped around Jorus. “I demand that you show yourself!”
The familiar sound of hoofs greeted the three as the death knight stepped forward slowly. Eventually, the evil being was illuminated totally by the violet light in the cave. The undead tauren wore black armour adorned with embossed silver skulls and bones, the hilt of a weapon in the same style visible above his left shoulder. The armour matched his black fur and horns, as well as the silver ring through his nose. Stronghoof gasped and pointed at the death knight with a finger that shook slightly.
“You… you’re Stonebreaker,” he said softly with a stutter, his muzzle a mixture of confusion and fear. “But… you’re dead.”
Anarchei turned his head to face his mate, then directed his gaze at Stronghoof’s former mate, and then back again.
“Confused?” the undead tauren chuckled. “I’ll explain then. Might as well, it may make things easier for you. You see, after the Forsaken killed most of the soldiers in front of the Wrath Gate, and the dragons had returned to Wyrmrest Temple, the Lich King came back to resurrect those that had died. Most were brought back as mindless undead, their minds and bodies too far gone to be of any real use, however a select few were made into death knights, myself included. I turned out to be one of the most powerful death knights the Lich King had ever created. Because of this, the Lich King promised me that I would get my mate back, so long as I pledged upon my unlife fealty to the Lich King. I think he feared the power I had, because that pledge bonded me to continued existence, and to break it by turning traitor would mean I would cease to be. So, out of love for you Stronghoof, I followed you around, disguised as a death knight of the Horde. No one ever suspected me, so long as I wore the right colours. While you slept I influenced your unconscious to think of suicide. The only way you could be my mate again was if you became a death knight like me, and you needed to die for that to happen. The undead legion that almost killed you? I arranged that, with the help of another death knight that had also come back from the Wrath Gate. However, thanks to the intervention of the paladin, those plans were ruined. So, here we are. My plans have changed a bit, but the result will still be the same. Now, I’ll ask again. Hand yourself over Stronghoof, and I promise, no one will get hurt.”
For a moment the three were stunned to silence by the undead tauren’s words. The cruelty of what he had done was such a shock to them. Never before had they seen a love so twisted that it hardly could be called love at all. It seemed that despite this, the tauren paladin was in thought on whether to give himself up or not. Stronghoof had no desire to see Jorus harmed, but he did not want to get injured either. In either case, his mate would be hurt the most if either of them were wounded or even killed. He knew that Anarchei cared for them both very much.
“Don’t do it!” Jorus yelled from his place on the ground as he struggled slightly against the ropes that held him bound tight.
“Silence!” the death knight growled, the evil voice quickly quieted the elf.
Anarchei was torn. He did not know what to say, or what to do. On the one hand he had his friend Jorus, his netherdrake companion for many years, and on the other he had his new mate Stronghoof, whom he could not contemplate a life without. He did not want either of them harmed, but if he knew anything about the evil in front of him, someone was bound to get hurt. However, his inner struggle was dashed when the tauren paladin spoke again.
“I will never give myself to you,” Stronghoof growled menacingly at Stonebreaker, his voice laced with spite. “Our love ended the day you died. The fact that you are responsible for my attempted suicide only makes this easier to say: I don’t love you, and I don’t want anything to do with you!”
“It doesn’t matter whether you come willingly or not,” the death knight crossed his thick arms, a smirk plastered on his dark muzzle. “The Lich King will bend you to his will and make you love me again.”
“That will never happen,” Anarchei declared, his mind decided on the matter. No one was going to submit to this undead tauren’s will any longer.
At this announcement, Stonebreaker laughed. Not a laugh of joy or happiness, but rather a laugh laced with evil.
“You are no match for me,” the death knight said with dark amusement. “A mere paladin and a paladin-in-training? You are nothing!”
Suddenly, Stonebreaker lashed out with dark energy. The pair doubled over in pain, Stronghoof fell to his knees while Anarchei managed to stay up. After a moment, the energy dissipated and the pain faded away.
“You are weak.”
He lashed out again, the black and purple energy like lightning as it streaked through the air toward the paladins. This time, however, they were ready and they shielded themselves. The attack was reflected back at the death knight, who in turn blocked it with his own energy shield.
“Hmm,” Stonebreaker mused. “Magic alone won’t win this fight. So be it.”
The death knight drew his sword from behind his back, the blade larger than anything the paladins had seen before. It was black as night, lined with silver skulls and bones, and engraved with unholy runes right up to the tip. The undead tauren lunged forward and swung his sword at Stronghoof. Anarchei stepped in front of his mate and took the hit with his own blade. Stonebreaker’s eyes widened at the sight of the draenei’s weapon, and backed away.
“Quel’delar,” he said plainly in astonishment. “But how? That blade was destroyed.”
For a moment no one said anything. Anarchei glared angrily at the death knight, his sword raised and ready to fight. Stronghoof had also drawn his blade, and held a similar stance. Jorus still lay on the ground tied up, now behind them and with no choice but to watch the battle in silence.
“It is no matter,” Stonebreaker concluded with a chuckle. “The previous wielder of that blade fell to the Scourge, and it will be the same again with you!”
The death knight quickly re-engaged the paladins in battle. He took them both on at the same time with little difficulty. Despite their best moves, the pair could not land a single hit on the undead tauren. He was simply too fast for them. Every swing was parried, every hit blocked by the burly weapon. Stonebreaker focused most of his energy on Stronghoof, his attacks inter-spaced with defensive moves against the paladins. They fought for a long time, occasionally they called upon magic to attack or defend. The intensity of the fight made it impossible to use their more powerful attacks. To do so would leave them open to a fatal blow. This, however, made no difference in the end. Stronghoof was worn out by the constant fight. He did not know enough about the Light to call upon it to give him more strength during battle, and his long years of being a shaman had left him with diminished physical strength than what he had as a warrior. His arms were tired, and the sword he held aloft in his defence was heavier than ever before. His moves grew sloppier with each moment that flew past. All of a sudden, the death knight landed a hit on the tauren paladin. The runed blade sank deep into Stronghoof’s flesh, his chest armour easily breached by the powerful undead tauren. With a powerful shove, the sword pressed on and came out the other side.
The paladin’s muzzle parted in shock, his eyes wide in pain. Dark red blood trickled down from the wound, and gushed forth as the sword was removed from his body. He fell to the ground, the pain unbearable. Anarchei had stopped in mid-swing when he saw what had occurred, unable to process what he witnessed. Stonebreaker stood back, blade lowered as he admired his accomplishment. The death knight watched as the draenei paladin knelt beside Stronghoof’s side and placed a hand over the wound. As hard as he tried, the Light simply could not heal the damage done. The evil power of the death knight’s blade made healing impossible. He did the only thing he could do, with knowledge that his mate was about to die, the blood now pooled on the cave floor a clear indication. He grasped the bull’s hand in his own and looked down at his mate as he slipped away from life.
The draenei had faced death before, been by the deathbed of friends, but this was so different. This was his mate, and all he could do was hold his mate’s hand. It was just so sudden. His mind was a blank, the shock had stunned him beyond any thought except the one that he could not rid himself of: His mate was going to die and there was nothing he could do to stop it.
With his last bit of strength, the tauren reached up to brush his free hand against the draenei’s left cheek.
“I love you,” were his last words, his arm dropped to his side, his eyes locked on his mate’s even after he uttered his last breath.
There were no thoughts, no feelings, except the great rage that filled the draenei. His tauren mate lay dead on the floor of the cavern, his lifeless body surrounded by a pool of blood. Anarchei was not aware of anything any more. Only himself and the death knight existed. Everything else meant nothing to him now. The death knight had taken his friend and lover away from him, had taken his life. There was only one way he could prevent the tauren been turned into an undead monster, and the solution was before him. He stood slowly from his position next to Stronghoof’s body, sword clutched in his right hand, his left pointed at Stonebreaker.
“You will pay for what you have done,” the draenei growled, his sharp fangs clearly visible.
Suddenly, as if out of nowhere, a great light filled the cave, its illumination touched everything in sight. The shadows dispersed, the darkness vanquished. The source of this brilliance came from the paladin, both hands now grasped Quel’delar, as he let loose a roar. Power. Great power surged through Anarchei, unleashed by his rage, fuelled by his love. The massive boost of energy was enough to startle the death knight, his eyes widened in surprise at this unexpected development. The Light streamed out of the draenei, it flowed like a smoke from a fire. Even his eyes had changed. Instead of their normal blue glow, they now shone golden, the Light poured from them like mist off a torrent of water. This was power unimaginable.
As quick as lightning, Anarchei lashed out with the Light. His arm stretched out, hand raised with palm outward. The stream of Light hit Stonebreaker with such force that it sent him through the air and into the cavern wall. The rock was cracked by the impact, however the death knight managed to recover quickly. He launched his own attack on the paladin. The undead tauren fought no longer to satisfy his corrupted love, but now for his own survival. There were no holds barred in this battle. Both used their magic and their blades, both seemed to be evenly matched. Anarchei wore an expression filled with rage, while Stonebreaker grinned to hide the fear that grew within. Their swords clashed, thrust and parry, parry and thrust. Their spells bounced off each other as they never managed to connect with their target. For some time it continued like this, dark against light. However, the tide was soon turned, and it turned against the death knight.
The draenei now had the upper hand. The Light continuously provided him with power, while it slowly sapped the undead tauren of his strength. With a sudden blast of energy, Anarchei roared. The force knocked back Stonebreaker, and in this moment he realised that his end had come. As if in slow motion, Quel’delar arced through the air, as it’s wielder guided it toward the tauren. The blade sliced right through the death knight, through armour, flesh, and bone. Stonebreaker’s eyes were wide in shock, his blade dropped from his hand. A line of blood began to leak from his belly. Gravity finished the job, his upper body unable to stay in its position, it detached and fell backward, his legs fell soon after that. A few moments of gurgled breath followed, as the death knight tried desperately to hold on to unlife. There was no way out for him this time. The Lich King would not bring him back, nor would he send an agent to do so either. He had failed. He gasped his last breath, the light of undeath left the tauren’s eyes.
Sure that the threat had been eliminated, Anarchei turned back to Stronghoof and knelt at his side. The rage was gone, now there was despair. His tears flowed freely, the power within him still strong. The draenei realised quickly that he had tapped an unknown well of power that he never knew existed, and before it disappeared, he needed to perform one last task. With hope that gave him the strength he needed, he uttered some words under his breath and placed his hands upon the lifeless body of his mate. The Light flowed from within him and into the tauren, Anarchei could feel his power diminish with each second that passed. Through it all his love for the tauren remained strong. Soon, Stronghoof’s body glowed brighter than anything he had ever seen. Then it was over. He had nothing more to give. The draenei felt something stir beneath him. It was the tauren, his heart had begun to beat again. The wound he had received from the death knight was gone, not even the faintest scar remained. The joy Anarchei felt at that moment overtook the feelings of despair he had felt only a few moments ago. It was then he saw Stronghoof’s eyes slowly open. There was a moment of recognition, before the draenei leant forward, his face directly in front of the tauren’s.
“I love you too,” he whispered gently, then pressed in all the way, his lips met those of his mate’s, and they kissed passionately for what seemed like hours.
“Hey!” a voice cried out in the now dim violet light of the cave. “While I find it really sweet that you two are swapping saliva, I’m still tied up, and it isn’t exactly warm in here.”
The two separated and shared a soft laugh together. Anarchei stood up, and helped Stronghoof up off the ground, the tauren a little stiff from been dead, even if only for a few minutes. The draenei crouched next to Jorus and untied him. Once the elf was free from his bonds, they all faced the crystal that blocked the netherdrake’s magic. With a swipe of his sword, Anarchei smashed it into thousands of shards, its power dissipated soon after.
“Ah, much better,” the elf stated with joy. “I can use magic again. Although, now it’s dark in here.”
Again the two paladins laughed. Anarchei raised his hand and a small ball of light appeared, which illuminated the cavern a bit better than the crystal ever did. For a moment, Stronghoof stared at the corpse of his former mate. He was unsure what to do with the body. As if he had read his mate’s mind, Anarchei spoke up.
“Jorus, do you think you could collapse this cave with your magic?”
“It’s possible,” the elf mused. “But if I do, I might not have enough energy to teleport us back to the city. That crystal did more than block my magic, it drained a lot of it too. But why would you want to collapse this cave?”
“I think Stonebreaker deserves a proper burial,” Anarchei said with resolve, his eyes on his mate, who looked back at him with the same determination. “He may have been corrupted by the Lich King and turned evil, but once upon a time he was good. I think we can honour at least that much.”
Jorus nodded. “We had better go to the entrance, wouldn’t want the roof to collapse on us.”
The group made their way back to the entrance of the cavern. Once they were all outside, Jorus turned to face the crack in the cliff face. He raised his hands, palms outward, and began to cast his spell. In seconds, an orb of energy appeared in each hand, and shot straight through the entrance and deep into the cave. He repeated the attack, again and again. The volley continued for some time, loud explosions of rock echoed as the magic connected with whatever got in its path. Soon the sound of large rocks could be heard as they broke away from the ceiling and fell to the cave floor. Jorus kept up his assault on the cavern until the collapse began to sustain itself. They stepped back as boulders and rocks bounced out of the entrance. Soon, a dusty haze formed that clouded their sight of the cliff, the dirt flowed around them and down the side of the precipice, only to be picked up by the wind and carried off. The dust eventually settled to reveal the entrance of the cave blocked by boulders and rocks. No one was going in there again.
“Let’s get out of here,” Jorus spoke softly after a moment of silence.
In an matter of seconds the elf had transformed himself into a netherdrake. The energy that formed a part of his being was weaker than it was usually, but thanks to his transformation, he was able to collect some energy from the Twisting Nether that surrounded the remains of Draenor.
‘There, I got some of my strength back,’ the drake explained, Stronghoof startled by the voice in his head.
“Did you hear him?” Anarchei asked as he placed a hand on his mate’s arm, to which the tauren nodded in the affirmative.
‘The connection between you two must have made it possible for him to tap into our link,’ Jorus explained, his head tilted to the side as he transmitted his thoughts to the two paladins.
“If you say so,” the draenei said in response. “You know more about the process than me.”
“So I’ll be able to hear everything you say while a dragon?” Stronghoof asked, no longer upset but rather curious and a little bit excited.
‘Perhaps,’ the drake answered, his voice carried with it a sense of being unsure. ‘I’m guessing that so long as the connection between you two remains strong, you will be able to hear me. So, can we please go now? As much as I like chatting, we really should get back.’
“Fine, let’s go,” Anarchei said as he stepped up to his flying companion and climbed on his back. “Coming Stronghoof?”
“Are you sure it’s safe?” the tauren asked, a little nervous as he stepped forward. “I mean, can you carry my weight?”
‘I’ve carried you before,’ Jorus explained. ‘I can manage.’
With a nod, Stronghoof climbed behind his mate, mindful of the draenei’s tail that now curled around his left leg.
“Hold on tight,” Anarchei spoke quickly as the drake had crouched lower and spread his wings in preparation for take off.
The tauren wrapped his arms around the draenei’s waist just moments before Jorus flapped his wings and took to the air. They all felt the rush of gravity as they fell for a few seconds, then the wings pulled them out of their dive and they glided for a while. Ahead, in the distance, they caught sight of the small city that was their home.
Wings flapped strongly as the dragon descended rapidly toward the tower. On his back were two large beings that when combined were almost equal to his own weight. The netherdrake was not daunted however, and he remained strong, even when he slowed his descent and landed on the balcony, doing so with as much grace as he would if he carried no extra weight at all. The pair dismounted quickly after which the drake groaned in relief and immediately transformed back into his preferred form, that of an elf.
“You know, you two really are heavy,” Jorus commented as he dusted himself off, even though his magical clothing repelled all dirt.
“That’s what happens when one is born either draenei or shu’halo,” Anarchei responded with a wry smile.
“Whatever,” the elf replied as he sniffed the air, his nose wrinkled as he recoiled in disgust. “You two need to bathe.”
The draenei and tauren both sniffed, and were also repelled by the smell. They stank. Their climb through the mountains and the battle they had fought meant they were now rank. Sweat, dried blood, dirt, and the distinct odour of their kind all mingled to produce something that was not very pleasant.
“You’re right,” Anarchei agreed with a sigh.
Stronghoof followed his mate to the bathroom. They did not waste any time. They washed and dried themselves as quickly as they could. The water in the bath now stank like they had earlier, while their bodies where clean and smelt vaguely of some sort of flower. The reason they hurried was because mere moments after they had shut the door behind them and begun to remove their armour, a large commotion could be heard down the corridor. Jorus’ family had arrived. When they returned, dressed in the clothes they had intended to wear to dinner earlier that night, they were greeted by many elfs. The females adorned in long dresses that flowed behind them, the males in formal dinner suits or semi-formal clothing. They all gave the pair a cheer as they appeared, many came up to them and shook their hands, or gave them hugs as a way of thanks. They were thanked by everyone that had gathered. Jorus’ family was not small.
“We have arranged a little party to celebrate our son’s safe return,” Jorus’ mother announced. “I hope you two can attend.”
“Of course,” Anarchei replied with a smile and a nod.
“It would be an honour,” Stronghoof said in his usual deep voice.
‘When my mother says a little party she really means she has invited everyone she knows,’ Jorus spoke, the mind link they shared private as his mother did not even flinch.
After the two paladins agreed, they all cleared out of Anarchei’s apartment, and headed down to the venue of the party. It was the same building that their dinner was meant to be held in, but now it seemed that a lot had been done to prepare for the change of activities. Instead of a small dinner with just Jorus, his family, Anarchei, and Stronghoof, there was now a packed room full of people. The large room, if one could call it that, was square in shape. The floor a polished stone of many colours, the walls much plainer with golden pillars that held up a heavy ceiling. At the centre of the roof was a great circular indigo dome, it’s semi-transparency meant that the night sky was clearly visible to all those below. Beneath the dome, suspended by magical means, a large crystal chandelier hovered gracefully, its golden light so powerful that it vanquished almost all shadow. Opposite the double wooden doors that led from the street into the magnificent building, against the wall stood a stage, upon which a band of various species played exotic music. In front of the stage was a space for people to dance, and many were there already. Around the edges of the room, there were large circular tables covered with white tablecloths, chairs arrayed around them. The room looked as if it was filled beyond capacity. There were many netherdrakes disguised as elfs, as well as several draenei who towered over most of those in attendance, and even a few orcs, who stood tall and proud unlike their distant relatives elsewhere. Everyone was dressed up in their best clothing, many of the outfits of strange combinations. While some wore more traditional clothing, suits and the like, others mixed and matched. Some wore frills around their necks and long socks that went up to their knees, others wore clothing so transparent that it left little to the imagination. It was obvious that the dress code was that there was no dress code.
Jorus was dragged off as soon as they arrived, his family wanted him to greet everyone who had come to the party. He did not protest. The chance to meet new people, as well as get acquainted with old friends, was something the elf desired very much. Anarchei and Stronghoof were occasionally offered thanks for their rescue of Jorus, however for the most part they were left alone. They stood against one of the walls, no desire at that moment to sit at a table or dance. Both of them were tired from their trials earlier, but they had agreed to come, and they did not want to break their promise. They were about to go and sit at a nearby table when a kaldorei stepped up to them and blocked their way.
“I was hoping to find you two,” the night elf said, slightly dishevelled in his button-down orange shirt and black trousers.
“Surfal?” They both blurted out in unison.
“What are you doing here?” Anarchei continued as he reached out to shake the elf’s hand.
“Well, I have a friend in Dalaran,” Surfal explained as he also shook Stronghoof’s three-fingered hand. “She’s a netherdrake, but she takes the form of a quel’dorei so that she can study magic there. Anyway, long story short, she heard about a party been thrown for you two and your friend Jorus. She told me that she needed someone to take with her, so I agreed, but as soon as we arrived she left me to go flirt with some of the males in the crowd and show off her new magical abilities.”
Before they had a chance to say anything in response, Jorus stepped in.
“Finally,” he said with a sigh of relief. “Got away from them. As much as I like chatting, there are limits to how much I can tolerate. So who’s this? He’s cute.”
Surfal blushed at this, his face turned a deeper purple.
“This is Surfal,” Anarchei introduced the night elf. “Surfal, this is Jorus.”
The two elfs shook hands, Surfal still with a slight blush on his cheeks.
“Jorus?” Stronghoof enquired after a moment, unable to hold back any longer. “Are you like us? Do you like other males?”
“Well, not exactly,” Jorus said slowly with a grin. “You see, I like anything that is as smart as me, and is something I can have sex with.”
They all shared a laugh at this pronouncement.
“But if that’s true,” the tauren continued after the laughter died down. “Does that mean that you and Anarchei have ever been together?”
“We talked about it once,” the elf replied seriously. “But we decided that we weren’t right for each other, and that we just wanted to be friends.”
Stronghoof nodded, and looked to his partner, who had turned to face him. They stared into each other’s eyes for what seemed like ages.
“So, now that they are distracted, maybe you and I can talk?” Jorus asked Surfal with a glance at the two paladins. “What do you do for a living?”
“I’m a healer in Dalaran,” the kaldorei explained with a smile. “A druid to be specific. I’m one of the healers who helped Stronghoof when he was infected with the plague.”
Jorus smiled at this, and led the night elf away from Anarchei and Stronghoof so that they could have a chat. Both paladins were still engaged in a look that breathed passion. Both draenei and shu’halo knew deep down what they felt. This was love, pure and simple. There was only one thing they needed to do before they made their relationship solid, one more step before the final hurdle. The party had started to wind down, and they both knew that it was time. They made their way to the stage and climbed up the stairs at the side. The band stopped their instruments, the dancers on the floor halted their movements.
“Stronghoof and I have an announcement to make,” Anarchei said in a loud voice, one that carried to every corner of the great hall.
He grasped his mate’s hand in his own and squeezed hard. This was it, this was the moment of truth, and for once the draenei was at a loss for words. The tauren noticed this, and wrung up the courage to say what needed to be said. He glanced at his partner, who’s eyes settled on his in gratitude for been able to find the words that he could not, and both smiled to convey that they understood one another.
“Anarchei and I are a couple,” he declared to the crowded room, all eyes now on him. “We are in love, and will be mated for life.”
There was a short pause as everyone came to grips with what they had just heard. Finally, the room erupted in cheers. There were shouts of congratulations, while others clapped. From their position on the stage they could see all the way to the back of the room. There, his back against the wall, was Surfal, who was pressed tightly against another elf. Jorus had engaged him in what could only be described as a passionate kiss. Both had their eyes shut, and were clearly oblivious to the world around them. Both paladins smiled at this, and a deep urge grew within them as they witnessed the passion of the two elfs. They turned to face each other, hands came up to wrap themselves around one another and pull their bodies tight. Their lips crushed together, mouths parted slightly. Their first public kiss. They could not ignore, however, the loud applause, cheers, whistles, and a few shouts to get a room, which had resulted from their display of affection. They separated, and stared into each others eyes.
“I love you,” Anarchei said as he peered up slightly at the taller tauren.
“I love you too,” Stronghoof replied with a smile, and leaned in to embrace his mate.
Eventually, the party came to a close. It was past midnight and many were tired. People said their goodbyes, and either walked through portals which took them back to their own cities, or went out on to the street, to teleport, transform into a drake and fly away, or just walk to enjoy the night air. The two paladins were exhausted and wanted nothing more than to go to bed. They made their way down the street toward their apartment. Neither had seen Jorus or Surfal since they shared a kiss on the stage, but neither were worried. They both knew where they had gone, back to Jorus’ room no doubt. They used the orb at the base of the tower to teleport themselves up to their apartment. They found their way to the bedroom, removed their clothing, and fell heavily upon the large bed. They lay there next to each other and shared one last kiss before they fell asleep in each other’s arms.
The rays of the sun streamed through the window and touched upon the face of the bull as he slept soundly. Wrapped around his back were the thick arms of a draenei, his light blue face nestled in the tauren’s dark chest fur. Stronghoof was awakened by the light that shone on his eyes. He blinked rapidly to become accustomed to the brightness. He felt the warmth of his mate’s body against his, and tilted his head down. Anarchei’s eyes were closed, still asleep. He tightened his grip around the smaller being, his arms wrapped securely around the one person he loved most. All the unhappy moments of the past vanished from thought when they were together. If he could, he would never let the draenei go, this moment being too pleasant to ever end. It was not to be however. Anarchei was roused by the pressure of the embrace, and a warmth greater than that of the morning sun. His blue eyes opened slowly and saw nothing but fur. He raised his gaze upward and caught sight of Stronghoof’s eyes as they looked down on him. Without a word between them, they leaned in toward each other and parted their lips, their tongues met, and they kissed. It was a short lived moment, both were still half asleep.
“Good morning,” Anarchei said with a smile after their lips separated.
“Morning,” Stronghoof rumbled softly, his muzzle also graced with a smile. “Sleep well?”
“Best sleep I’ve ever had,” the draenei replied, then grimaced. “But I think my arm has gone to sleep.”
“Oh, sorry,” the tauren apologised and shifted to let his mate withdraw the arm he had rested his weight on all night. “I guess we could have chosen a better way to sleep.”
“It’s not a problem,” Anarchei said as he gave his arm a shake, while his other arm stroked Stronghoof’s side in reassurance. “But yeah, next time we can try something else.”
They laid there for several more moments, each enjoyed the other’s company far too much to want to get out of bed. Stronghoof kept his arms around his mate. Occasionally he rubbed Anarchei’s back, his soft furry hands a strange feeling to the draenei, but one that he found most enjoyable. Anarchei brought his own hand up to feel along the furry chest of the tauren, the enormous pectorals hard under his touch, while the bull’s three-fingered hands traced along the lines of muscle on his mate’s back, smooth skin an alien feeling to the shu’halo but a feeling he could not help being aroused by. Their legs shifted occasionally, their massive muscles hard as they brushed against each other. Behind them, their tails twitched in sync with their pleasured movements. After they spent their few moments alone in bed together to explore each other, Stronghoof halted his movements, which caused Anarchei to do so in turn.
“Something wrong?” the draenei paladin asked as he looked into the eyes of the one he loved more than any other.
“Nothing’s wrong,” the tauren responded with a look that matched his mate’s. “I just wanted to say how much I love you.”
“I love you too,” Anarchei replied as he brought his hand up to stroke Stronghoof’s muzzle.
“I know,” the shu’halo sighed contentedly as he brought his own hand up to nuzzle the draenei’s cheek. “It’s just so strange how we fell for each other.”
“Hmm,” was all Anarchei could mutter as he pressed into the soft fur of the hand on his cheek, his eyes closed and a smile on his face. After a moment of enjoyment, he opened his eyes and looked up at his mate. “What’s so strange about it?”
“Well,” Stronghoof began. “For starters, we come from such different cultures. Secondly, we are both different species. You’re draenei, while I’m shu’halo. Then there’s the fact that, even though we don’t belong to them, our races belong to opposing factions that spend most of their time fighting each other.”
“Those are good points,” the draenei replied with a smile as he shifted on the bed to get more comfortable. “But what about our similarities? We are both males who are attracted to other males. We are both paladins. And, we both have experienced difficult lives, which despite all the challenges, we have managed to overcome those struggles and find each other. I think what makes us similar is what brought us together. What makes us different is just something we can either work on, or adapt to.”
“You are so smart,” the tauren said with a smile, a smile that grew when he noticed that his mate had blushed at his compliment. “And very cute.”
With that they shared a deep passionate kiss, their tongues entwined, while their bodies became a tangle of limbs and tails. They rolled about on the bed as they kissed, the draenei moaned while the tauren lowed. Eventually they needed to separate, both in need of air. At some point they had forgot to breathe, so deep was their passion for each other. As they both gasped for breath, they realised that they had become aroused, their shafts crushed together by their closeness. They stared deeply into each other’s eyes. Anarchei at that moment lay on top of the large bull, feelings of lust and desire mixed with passion and love drove him to the conclusion he sought.
“Stronghoof?” the draenei asked after they had both caught their breath.
“Yeah?” the bull replied, his arousal pressed against his mate’s when he shifted slightly, which caused him to groan in pleasure.
“Do you think it’s time we took our relationship to the next level?” Anarchei asked with a moan.
“I’m ready if you are,” Stronghoof affirmed, his arms wrapped tightly around the draenei’s waist.
“You sure?” the draenei asked again, a look of concern for his mate clearly visible on his face. “It’s not too soon?”
“It’s okay,” the tauren responded with confidence. “I want this. I want this more than anything. It will mean that we will be mated for life, and being mated with you is all that matters right now.”
“I want this too,” Anarchei said gently. “I want this to be special. Every time we have come close to being mated properly, we have been interrupted. But each time it had been impulsive. This time we are going to do things right.”
“This time it feels right,” Stronghoof replied in a soft voice. “But I don’t know where to begin. It’s been so long since I’ve done anything like this.”
“It may surprise you to hear this,” Anarchei said with some reluctance. “But before I met you I have never been with someone in a sexual way.”
“You’re kidding?” the bull asked with his mouth agape slightly, a little shocked. “You mean you are a virgin?”
The draenei nodded, a little ashamed at his revelation to the tauren. His shame was short lived however, when the shu’halo gave him a quick kiss on the lips.
“While I can’t believe that a sexy guy like you has never been with someone before,” Stronghoof began. “I think it’s hot. This is going to be really special.”
“You really think so?”
“I know so.”
Art by Kartos
They kissed again, but parted lips after a short moment. Stronghoof gently flipped Anarchei over and leaned back until he rested on his knees. He looked down on the draenei before him. He was muscled all over his body, hardly any fat at all. His blue skin was hairless and smooth, his tail lay between his splayed digigrade legs, occasionally it flicked from side to side in excitement. What got his attention the most was the hard shaft that was the draenei’s cock. It was not as long as his own, nor as thick, but it got him excited nonetheless.
“You are so beautiful,” the tauren breathed out.
The draenei looked up at the huge creature that towered above him, all covered in dark brown fur and huge muscles. The pink flesh of the tauren’s cock stood up tall and proud, much larger than his own, and below which hung the bull’s large sack filled with his mate’s seed. Stronghoof might think he was beautiful, but to Anarchei, his mate could not be described with words.
“I’d say the same to you, but I don’t think a word exists to describe what I see.”
The bull was at a loss for what to say, so he instead lowered himself until his muzzle came into contact with the draenei’s left nipple. He gave it a tentative lick and got a loud moan in response. He took this as a nudge to continue, and began to lather his mate’s body with his tongue. After one nipple was hard and erect, he shifted to the other, all the while Anarchei groaned at the attention. He had never felt such pleasure in his life, all he could do was clutch the sheets in his hands. Done with the chest, Stronghoof shifted his gaze lower and licked along the grooves of the draenei’s abdomen. His chin bumped against the tip of the hard shaft. The tauren’s long wide tongue extended and swiped along the length of the draenei’s cock. This action produced the greatest response from Anarchei. He moaned loudly and arched his back, his thick tail flicked in pleasure, as the tip of his shaft began to leak clear fluid. Stronghoof licked this up, unsure how to describe the taste, but he desired more. He took the head of the cock into his muzzle, and easily took the whole thing in at once. If the draenei had been in immense pleasure before, now he was about to go over the edge. He grabbed hold of the tauren’s black horns as the bull worked up and down his shaft. He was so close to release, he could feel the pressure build up in his balls, and his breath was laboured. Then, all of a sudden, Stronghoof pulled himself off the draenei’s cock.
“Why’d you stop?” Anarchei asked between breaths.
“Because you were getting close,” the tauren explained as he shifted himself around so that his large bull cock now pointed at the draenei’s face. “And I wanted to try something.”
Unsure if he would be able to take the large shaft above him, Anarchei started out slowly. He gave the head a lick, the earthy taste one he did not expect. He hungrily took the tip into his mouth, the size enough to stretch his lips to their limit, but he did not care. He took in as much of the bull’s cock as he could, careful not to touch it with his sharp fangs, but eventually it bumped into the entrance of his throat. As he did this, the tauren took the draenei’s cock back into his muzzle. Both moaned at the combined pleasure. As they bounced up and down on each other’s lengths, Stronghoof began to feel up Anarchei’s sack. This brought about more groans of pleasure from the draenei, who did the same in turn to the tauren, and received a muffled low in response. The feelings doubled whenever either of them made a sound, the vibrations on their shafts sent waves of pleasure through their bodies. Stronghoof then shifted his hand lower to the draenei’s tailhole, the entrance located at the base of his tail. He prodded the tight hole, but could not gain entry. He brought a finger up to the cock he still suckled, stuck it in his mouth, and coated it with his thick saliva. Satisfied, he tried to press into the draenei’s hole again, and this time was successful, a deep groan around his cock enough to push him closer to the edge. Anarchei was very close now, especially since the tauren now fingered his tailhole. Once he had grown accustomed to the new feeling of been penetrated by a finger, the draenei lubricated two of his own fingers and brought them up to the tauren’s own entrance. He felt around until he found it, and pushed against the opening. A few moments later and he was inside, the tight warmth on his fingers clamped down as the bull let loose his loudest groan so far. Anarchei felt the shaft in his mouth grow larger, in girth and length, the head by now had pushed down his throat as Stronghoof gave a shove.
The draenei’s excitement led to his own cock to grow in preparation for what was to come. Both males moaned and groaned, and in a split second from each other, they climaxed. They both felt thick warm liquid squirt into their mouths, they cummed for what seemed like forever. Anarchei was lost in a state of bliss, and all he could do at that moment was concentrate on each swallow as the tauren unloaded months of built up cum. Stronghoof was in a similar state, the salty taste in his mouth something he savoured before he swallowed. All too soon the moment was over. The draenei finished first, his load being smaller than that of the tauren’s. The bull continued to blast wave after wave of seed down the draenei’s throat, until eventually it tapered off into a small stream, and then ended. Stronghoof lifted himself off Anarchei and turned himself around so that he lay face-to-face with the draenei, who wore a look of unbridled pleasure on his face, his breath hard and fast. After a moment, when they both had caught their breath, the bull leaned in to kiss his mate, their lips parted as they shared what remained of the cum in their mouths. They embraced one another as they kissed, their shafts still hard between them. Eventually they separated.
“Stronghoof,” Anarchei began with a smile, a little short of breath. “That was amazing.”
The tauren smiled in return and stroked his hand through the draenei’s white spiked hair. “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”
“You mean there’s more?” Anarchei asked in astonishment.
“Yeah, much more,” Stronghoof replied and gave his mate a quick peck on the lips. “Remember how we played with our holes?”
The draenei nodded.
“Well, if you want, we could try to make love that way.”
“You mean, you can stick a cock into an ass?”
This time the tauren nodded. “It’s the best feeling in the world, well, in my opinion anyway.”
After a moment of consideration, his eyes shifted away from his mate’s gaze before they shifted back. Anarchei made up his mind. “I want to try it.”
“I guess the only question is, do you want to give or receive?”
The draenei thought about it for a moment. He had enjoyed the feeling of the tauren’s fingers inside him and he wanted that feeling again. He would have liked to plunge his length into the tauren’s depths, but he desired something more than that.
“What do you want to do?”
“Well, I’ve always received, so…”
“I want you to take me,” Anarchei said suddenly, the need in his eyes spoke volumes of his desire.
“Are you sure,” Stronghoof responded with a worried expression. “I mean, I’m not exactly small you know.”
They both looked down at the bull’s large shaft which was easily twice the size of the draenei’s. Anarchei reached down to stroke it in his hand, which caused the tauren to moan softly at the touch.
“I want this,” the draenei said seriously with a squeeze. “More than anything.”
“Get on your hands and knees,” the tauren said gently with a smile. “It will be easier if we do it that way.”
“But I want to see you while we make love,” Anarchei replied with some disappointment.
“We can do that,” Stronghoof responded. “But only once you have become used to me.”
Art by Rov
The draenei nodded and did what his mate asked him. With that, the tauren lifted himself off the bed and positioned himself behind the smaller draenei. He lifted the draenei’s tail up to give himself access to the hole at the base. He leaned in and gave the entrance a lick with his broad tongue, which elicited a loud groan from his mate. He continued to lap at the hole until his tongue pressed through the opening that had loosened up slightly at his attentions. His tongue managed to get halfway inside before his nose bumped against the tail. His mate continued to moan at the feeling of being penetrated, even if only by a bull tongue. The tauren dragged his tongue out, and then plunged it back in, and continued this motion for some time. He wanted the hole to be well lubricated for his large cock. Once he was happy that he felt enough wetness inside, he spat on his already wet shaft and spread the thick saliva until his cock was glossed all over. Then he wet his fingers and stuck one inside his mate’s hole. The draenei let loose another moan at the feeling, and groaned even louder when a second finger was added. The two fingers made a scissor motion to loosen up the still too tight hole. Eventually, the bull was satisfied and removed his hand.
“You ready?” Stronghoof asked his mate as he positioned his cock at the draenei’s entrance.
Anarchei nodded. With that, the tauren pressed the head of his cock against the tailhole, his right hand grasped the draenei’s tail while his left guided his shaft. With a sudden shove, the tip speared through. Anarchei let loose a pained groan.
“You okay?” Stronghoof asked quickly as he halted his movements. “Want me to take it out?”
“No! Don’t! Just give me a moment.”
They stayed in that position for a few moments until Anarchei nodded his head to indicate he was ready. Stronghoof took it slowly, bit by bit he slid his long thick cock into the warm tight insides of his mate. Every time he moved forward the draenei groaned, and every time he made a noise the tauren stopped himself and waited for the nod to continue. The pressure on his cock was incredible, and it took some willpower to hold back the thrusts that his instincts screamed at him to perform. He did not want this to be unpleasant for his mate, so he took his time, his love stronger than any biological voice in his body.
Eventually he could not advance any further. He was flush against the draenei now, his balls in contact with the smaller sack of his mate. They stayed like this for a while, both in a state of conflicted feelings. Anarchei felt a great fullness and an almost uncontrollable desire to push out the invader inside him, while Stronghoof felt an immense pressure on his cock and a pleasure greater than anything he had ever felt before. This was a first for both of them. The tauren began to pull out slowly, the draenei’s moans now less pained. When only the tip was still inside, the bull pushed back in just as slowly. This pattern continued until Anarchei started to groan, not in pain, but in pleasure. The thick cock in his ass had begun to feel wonderful as it slowly slid along his insides, every time it was pushed in and pulled out it brushed against something deep inside him that made his own length throb.
After a while Stronghoof picked up the pace, their balls slapped against each other with each inward thrust. His left hand on the draenei’s waist while his right held the thick tail in front of him. The tail was very wide at the base, almost as wide as the draenei’s body, but it tapered along its length until it ended in a blunt tip. The tail wiggled in his grasp, and he could not resist. He gave it a lick, which excited the draenei beneath him. He licked it again, but the tail seemed to have other ideas. Anarchei had his head turned to watch as he threaded his tail passed the bull’s lips and into his mouth. Stronghoof quickly got the idea and began to suckle on it, which caused the draenei to groan loudly in response. The bull continued to thrust into his mate while he sucked on the tail in front of him. Both actions were almost enough to overwhelm the draenei, the pleasure was just too much for him. His hard shaft leaked continuously now, and he was tempted to stroke himself. When he reached with his right hand to do just that, his arm was tapped gently by the tauren. When he looked back the bull gave him a wink and grinned around his tail. They continued like this for some time before the pressure built up in their balls. They were both close. Stronghoof stopped suddenly and pulled the tail out of his mouth.
“Want to try a different position?” he asked, to which Anarchei nodded in the affirmative, unable to speak as he panted slightly from their activities.
The tauren pulled his cock out of the draenei’s tailhole and the draenei rolled over on to his back. He looked up at the hulk of fur and muscle above him and his shaft squirted some precum at the sight. Stronghoof positioned himself over his mate’s entrance, his knees situated on either side of Anarchei’s tail, the draenei’s legs spread wide to give him access. He plunged in with a single thrust, which caused them both to cry out in pleasure. He began to push in and out again, but this time they could see each other properly. The tauren leaned down, his elbows on either side of the draenei, and engaged his mate in a passionate kiss. Their tongues danced together as Anarchei brought his muscled arms up to wrap around the bull’s incredibly thick neck. The feeling of been taken this way was greater than before. Been able to hold the tauren, and been held in turn, was amazing. The kiss they shared seemed to last for an eternity. The tauren continued to thrust into him, every time he did so he felt waves of pleasure roll over him, his own length throbbed in time with his mate’s movements. After a while, Stronghoof broke their kiss.
“Stick your tail in me,” he panted, his eyes locked on his mate’s.
With some difficulty he managed to locate the bull’s tailhole and nudge the tip of his tail inside, all the while the tauren continued to thrust inside him. They both groaned when the draenei’s tail hit its mark, the bull lowed deeply when more of the tail entered him. The feeling was almost too much. His shaft was deep inside his mate, while the tail in his ass got thicker and thicker the deeper it went. It had been so long since he had anyone stick anything in there, and the pleasure was indescribable. They were close now, so very close. They panted and groaned, both crushed together as they pulled each other in close, their tongues joined in a wonderful kiss. The draenei’s cock was nestled deep in the grooves of the bull’s abdominals as well as his own, both slick from the precum that had gathered there as it slid back and forth slightly with every thrust of the tauren above him. Anarchei could feel his sack tighten as his balls got ready to release. He had reached the point of no return. He moaned deeply into his mate’s muzzle as his cock grew suddenly, and then erupted in orgasm. He was so high at that moment, all that existed was his cock and the cock in his ass.
Art by Mehawk
Stronghoof felt his mate’s release between their bodies, and still locked firmly in a kiss, he also felt the spasms deep within the draenei’s tailhole. It was almost enough to send him over the edge, but what really did it was the sudden thrust from behind as his mate’s tail pushed in deeper than ever before, only stopped by one of the ridges halfway up the length. The tauren removed his lips from this mate’s and sat back slightly as he lowed deeply, his cock grew and then released its seed. A sudden warmth entered the draenei’s ass, his mate’s cum spread deep. They both rode their climax together, both in a state of pure bliss. They cummed for a long time, the draenei’s white seed fell over his chest and abs, some ended up in his mate’s fur. Eventually his orgasm died down, but the bull continued to thrust rapidly as his balls emptied their huge load inside the draenei. Some of it leaked out around the bull cock and on to his tail, but most remained inside him, its warmth very welcome. Slowly, the bull’s flow of seed ebbed, and then came to a halt. Exhausted, he fell forward on top of the draenei, being careful not to crush his mate with his weight. They shared a short kiss, both too tired to put in too much effort at that moment.
“How was that for your first time?” Stronghoof asked in a soft voice.
“Couldn’t have been better,” Anarchei whispered in reply, a smile on his face as he looked into the eyes of his mate. “I love you.”
“I love you too.”
They kissed once more before the tauren gently turned them over so that he now lay on his back, the smaller draenei now on top, the bull cock still lodged deep within him but his tail now free from the vice-like grip of his mate’s ass. The movement caused them both the grunt at the over-stimulation. They both held on to each other, both overjoyed to be together. Eventually they slowly drifted off to sleep, Anarchei nestled contentedly on the bed that Stronghoof’s muscled body provided him, the tauren pleased by the weight of the draenei on top of him. They could not have been happier.
The light in the room was dim when they awoke. Anarchei was the first to open his eyes, a feeling of fullness in his tailhole reminded him that his mate’s length was still buried deep inside. He shifted slightly and felt liquid slosh within, which made him smile slightly. As his moved his mate’s eyes flickered open, his muzzle graced with a smile when he saw the draenei above him.
“Sleep well?” Anarchei asked as he returned the tauren’s smile.
“Never better,” Stronghoof replied with a groan his mate echoed as his cock slid out of the draenei’s hole.
Anarchei quickly clamped down on his tailhole to prevent the escape of his mate’s seed. They were both covered in dried cum, and in desperate need of a bath, but right now they did not care about that. Their shafts had softened up to the extent that they now retreated back into their sheaths. A thought suddenly entered the draenei’s head, which led him to roll off his mate and sit up on the side of the bed. Stronghoof quickly followed suit, unsure what his mate had planned. They both stood up and turned to face each other. This was an important turning-point in their relationship, and Anarchei wanted to know for sure.
“I need to know something, and please be honest with me,” the draenei said with all seriousness. He received a nod from the tauren and continued, slightly upset with the topic he was about to raise with his mate. “I enjoyed what we did earlier, making love. But what I need to know is this: we are equal partners, aren’t we? I mean, we aren’t going to be playing the role of male and female are we?”
“No, of course not,” the tauren replied gently, which caused Anarchei’s eyes to become moist. “What gave you that idea?”
“I don’t know,” the draenei began to cry, and he sniffed. “Maybe because you had always been in my position whenever you made love, and I thought that, with the shu’halo…”
Art by Mehawk
“Aww, come here,” Stronghoof extended his arms wide as he offered his mate a hug, which Anarchei rushed forward to accept. “We are in this together. Whatever you or I want, we will do just that.”
“Really? You mean it?” the draenei asked as he looked up into his mate’s eyes, arms entwined tightly around each other.
“Of course I mean it,” the tauren said with a chuckle. “And here’s me thinking that you were always the strong one and me the weak one. I guess we are a little of both, huh?”
“Yeah,” Anarchei replied with a smile, which was quickly replaced when his mate engaged him in a short but passionate kiss.
“You all right now?” Stronghoof asked with concern as he stroked the draenei’s hair.
“I’m okay,” Anarchei said, his tears already gone. “I was just afraid I guess. I’ve never been in a relationship like this before, and I didn’t want to give up who I was, no matter how much love I felt for you, or how wonderful it felt to be on the bottom.”
“You don’t need to worry about that,” the tauren replied calmly with a smile. “You aren’t giving up anything. In fact, you are gaining something from us being together. You have my love no matter what, nothing will change that, because I know you would never do anything to hurt me. And I know you feel the same way about me, otherwise you wouldn’t be here right now.”
“Now who’s the smart one?” the draenei smiled back.
“Hmm,” Stronghoof mused, his hands now idle. “Maybe we are just smart at different things?”
“Maybe,” Anarchei chuckled. “You know, you are so cute when you are are thinking.”
“Are you making fun of me?” the tauren said with anger, but a slight smile gave him away. “I think you were making fun of me because I’m a cow, is that right?”
Anarchei backed away in mock fear, but he still wore a small smile of his own. He had never seen this side of the bull before, this playful side. Interesting. He turned and ran out of the room, the large hulk of a tauren not far behind him. He laughed as he was tackled to the floor, the soft rug in the lounge a slight cushion to his fall. For a moment they lay there, both panted slightly at the exertion. They were still a little tired from earlier. Eventually Stronghoof climbed off his mate and helped the draenei stand up. They faced each other for a long moment, both stared into the other’s eyes.
“I know I say this a lot, but I love you so much,” Anarchei said quietly, barely above a whisper.
“You can never say it enough,” Stronghoof stepped forward and gently cradled the smaller draenei in his arms, his mate also returned the gesture. “I love you too.”
They separated and Anarchei stepped back, his eyes fixed on those of his mate.
“Wait here, I’m just going to get something,” he said quickly before he rushed off.
A moment later he returned with two silk robes, the smaller a shade of purple while the larger a deep maroon. He handed the larger robe to Stronghoof and donned the smaller one, which fit perfectly over his frame. The tauren took a moment to ponder why he would need to wear a robe when he noticed that his mate was now out on the balcony. He quickly pulled on the robe and tied it off at the waist. A moment later he joined Anarchei on the balcony, his mate’s hand grasped his tightly as they shared a look that spoke volumes of their love. They both looked out into the distance, over the tops of the towers in the city, to the horizon beyond. There the sun had begun to set behind the mountains, its light had changed the colours of the clouds to orange and pink. The Twisting Nether, ever present, completed the impressive view. They stood there for the longest time and watched as the sun disappeared from sight, both unable to help themselves as the romantic scene caused their passion to bubble up inside them. They faced each other and embraced, their lips parted, and their tongues entwined.
This was just the beginning.