Friday, April 17, 2009

A reunion

(This is a belated reply to Pike's, "There Was One She Still Missed.")


I was stripping the corpses of my most recent Undead kills in Sholazar, looking for scraps of the valuable cloth they had, which I could sell, when I noticed the gorilla with me was hungry again. Reaching into my pack, I carelessly threw him a banana, and continued.

As I worked, I realised that I wasn't close to the gorilla at all. It wasn't really fair of me; he was a good pet, and his ground shaking ability knocked down many of the Undead at once, and made them easier to hunt. I could tell that he was unhappy that I had not really bonded with him, as well.

I had also tamed a cat recently, as well. Her teeth and claws were sharp, and she was the pet I took when I hunted with others, although if I was honest, I only really took her to impress the other people I was with. There was a stronger connection with her than with the gorilla, but not much.

Thinking of this, my mind suddenly went back to my boar, and as it did, my head lowered involuntarily in grief and shame.

The boar was the greatest pet I had ever owned. My parents had been boar farmers, and he had been a gift from them to me, as a tiny piglet, on the day of my Rite of Choosing, when it was discovered that I was to be a Hunter, only a bare few months before we left Draenor. He had stayed with me during the Crossing to Azeroth, and the Blood-induced chaos which followed. We had grown up together.

During the most glorious days of my life, in Ashenvale, when I had fought with the Warsong Outriders, against the Silverwings, the boar had been with me then. He had helped me win countless victories.

When we were alone, in Desolace, in my youth, and suddenly a Night Elf rogue would be upon me, and there was no other help for miles, the boar would be between me and them, taking their blows upon himself, so that I could fight them off and save us both. He would be grievously injured sometimes, after those fights; I had to spend hours bandaging him. Yet he never hesitated to do it, as many times as was necessary.

And for this service, for his sharing of my victories, and my losses, and his protection of me with his life; for his having spent most of his entire existence with me, I had rewarded him... abandoning him in a wooden cage, to rot.

At that thought, I knew I had to get him out. I hearthed back to Dalaran, where the sun was just in the process of slipping down below the horizon. I stabled the gorilla, and had been about to go and get the boar out, when I heard the sound, coming from the next stall.

It wasn't the usual squealing or grunting. It was a long, slow, keening wail. I hadn't heard it since my childhood; I used to hear it during my parents' work. It was the sound a pig made right before it went to the slaughter, when it knew its' life was about to end. It was filled with grief.

I went back out, and looked at the Blood Elf stablemistress.

"He has been making that noise ever since you left him here," she said to me. "Every single night, for months. In all of the years I've worked here, I've never seen an animal so unhappy."

I went back and let him out. There was a pause, as I don't think he believed it was really me, and then he leapt at me, snorting, snuffling, grunting, and licking my face, his own face still wet with his tears, which after a few moments, mingled with my own. The stablemistress smiled at us both.

"I gather you'll be taking him with you?" She asked me.

I looked down at the boar, who was still running in circles over the fact that I was back, and nodded to her, smiling myself now.

We went back to Sholozar together, and fought some more Undead for their cloth. I had to go a bit more slowly with him than with the cat or gorilla, but I didn't mind.

There were, so people told me, more formidable pets than a boar. Pet types which were fiercer, had claws. My boar, like me, also wasn't getting any younger, and there would come a time when we were both too old to hunt any more.

I could accept that. For a Hunter, a pet wasn't just another weapon. Most of the time, it was the only other company we had. A pet ideally was an extension and mirroring of your own soul.

A companion.

Others could say there were more effective fighting pets if they wished. The boar was mine, and we would die together, as we had lived together. As we sat together after nightfall, when I'd made camp in a safer part of Sholozar, I swore to him that I would never forsake him again.

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