Cindereon Extinguished: The New Strength of the Redwood
Tanahrok Firetotem, presumed Chieftain of the Firetotem tribe and not yet made Redwood, walked Azeroth for more years than many could easily count. Old, wise, and yet still healthy and active, Tanahrok was able to both command respect from the tribe as well as offer deep compassion for many of its members. Since Cairne's meeting in Mulgore, the founding of the united tribes under the Bloodhoof, Tanahrok looked upon the future with great hope. As the tribes circled together, Tanahrok spoke of his tribes history and hardship just as others spoke of their own tribes finding he was not as alone as he had thought prior. At the meetings closure, he offered to the other tribes present that he wished to return to their ancestral land and would proudly accept any who would become the new defenders of the western pass into Desolace. Though a few initially took on the task, not a substantial amount that would be able to hold the pass against a prolong assault.
Knowing this, Tanahrok brought the tribe deep into the mountains once again to train, grow, and teach the tribe the ways of the Firetotem. He told them all the story of Cindereon, of their fierce battles through the generations that protected the rest of Stonetalon and the northern parts of the Barrens from further centaur attacks. The years passed and the tribe grew. Some more came to join the splendid isolation of the Firetotem, knowing full well their long time goals and history. Others within the tribe settled down and created families. Young Firetotem started to fill the secluded village in the relative peace of the mountains. As Ragetotem, Mistrunner, Bloodhoof, and Runetotem built the tipis, wigwams, and longhouses of Thunder Bluff, the soon to be Redwood built family and tradition. It was in this building of tradition that complicated the transfer of the Firetotem, now without the consistent blessing of Cindereon, to become the Redwood; the stained tribe named for the trees and rock that surround them and the blood that was spilled over millennia.
Years passed and the tribe slowly grew from a handful of families and individuals into a full village of a few hundred. Travelers, adventurers, Horde soldiers, sentinels, all passed through the roads beneath the Redwood's mountain home with little to no clue there was an active tribe dedicated to defending the path from the centaur tribes to the south. They would occasionally send a representative down the mountain path to meet with traveling adventures to hear the stories of the on-going Gelkis and Magram war, of carefully planned Horde attacks upon the Maraudine Clan, and peaceful passage of age old kodo to their ancestral graveyard. Although keeping as anonymous and mysterious as possible to many travelers, especially passing sentinels, rumor had spread of a unknown tribe living in the mountains of Stonetalon, wary of all who had passed their over watch.
Tanahrok knew that as the tribe grew they would not be able to stay as secluded as they were now. Rumor spread and connections with the world outside would have to develop. They would have to meet with the fellow shu'halo tribes soon, preferably on their own terms. The newly named Redwood would have to adapt, become more open, and more decisive. It was at this time Tanahok and a party of Elders and War Braves made the journey east through Sun Rock Retreat, then south through Malaka'jin, following the roads further to the Honor Hold Post and the Crossroads, before cutting back in Southwest to Camp Taurajo and eventually Thunder Bluff. It was there that Tanahrok, along with the elders and brave escort, had announced public initiation into the tribe. Scrolls were written, stamped, and sent out throughout the Horde to inform its citizens of this stalwart and very traditional tribe. Though the Horde was locked in a campaign against the Lich King, Tanahrok's vision was focused upon the cousin Taunka to the North. Quickly he made edits and revisions to their scrolls, importing that any refugees from the north are welcomed into the tribe as the war against the Lich King and the Alliance destroy and scared their homes and ancestral lands.
Upon sending these out he returned to Stonetalon to continue his work as Chieftain, growing the tribe and maintaining the mountain choke hold into shu'halo territory. Time had passed, and Tanahrok had grown a few Taunka into the ranks of the Tribe. Peace had largely blessed the mountain passes and the tribe was satisfied with all that the Earth Mother provided. That is to say before all changed for the Redwood. Still in the process of enforcing this change among the elder members of the tribe, Tanahrok had them gathered looking over the great Charred Vale. He had explained his philosophy to the group, using the setting as a metaphor for his sermon. Not 5 minutes into his explanation, the ground trembled beneath them and the elder tribesmen pointed in horror past Tanahrok demanding his attention. Upon turning his head he saw the earth crack and rise wholly as the peaks of the mountains crumbled. Soon lava had raced down upon the growing geological shift, Tanahork's whole body turning to the devastation. The long blackened trees were soon covered with the molten rock sliding down into the vale, their tops burning with it, upon the other side of the falling mountain range steam was see rising as the other half slid into the ocean.
The elements and the Earth Mother cried out in agony, Tanahrok and the other shaman of the tribe felt it all the same. He tried to cry out for Cindereon, the vales defacto occupant as all others were guests in his domain, but no answer was given. The circle of shaman tried, their voices and gifts combined, but to no avail either. Not soon after they had felt the givings of their own range with mountain slides to the south and north. Quickly the tribe shored up its homes, braves and Hunters rushing families out of their shelters with concern of collapse as others tried to loosen guide lines and tighten lashings. The mystics of the tribe quickly started their work upon the earth, crying to the Earth Mother for help in stabilizing their home. For what had seemed like a life time only truly lasted for no more than 15 minutes and in that time, the Earth Mother had answered their cries. The ground beneath them stabilized, shifting into place with little movements only filling empty pockets of earth below the surface.
Though their worries were not over; raging elements crawled from the earth down in the vale, attacking the fleeing wild life and harpies that once inhabited it, what few had remained. Looking down upon their bluffs they could only watch as wyvrens and chimaera fled and fought back against the intrusive elements, some roosting upon the cliffs above the tribe staring down just as the shu'halo did, the chimaera's corrosive breath concerning the braves and hunters who watched them wearily. Soon, a wing of black dragons were seen descending from the north, large and intimidating they circled the cooling lava, finding places to perch and wait as they eyed their future meals within the mountains and woods.
Upon seeing these dragons, whom Tanahrok knew possessed immense destructive power, again called upon Cindereon for aid as he had in centuries passed but again to no avail, they were alone. Tanahrok commanded the hunters and braves to grab for their bows and to collect the strongest arrows they had, the biggest long barrels for the veteran braves, and to take cover among the rocks if the dragons ever chose to peer across the molten lake. Positions were manned, families were hid, totems placed, the Earthmother called, and the sky darkened to a blood orange. Black ash arose from the northwest and the dragons let out synchronized cries, ones that seemed to call for unity among their kind. Two dragons flew from their perches across the gorge to the shu'halo, "Fire!" screamed War Barve Torahate, as the tribe let fly all of their readied ordinance onto the two dragons, falling one immediately staggering the other one to the point of retreat only to call for more.
The dragons descended upon the tribe's village, no more than 100 staunch shu'halo against a swarm of black dragons. Tanahrok unleashed the elemental powers he honed over the years gathering moisture from around the air into icicles the strength of steel, one ripping into a dragon's soft left underbelly and exiting the lop right torso, almost tearing a wing off in the process as the dragon flopped upon the cooling lava below. Not all attacks were made with the same success. A young brave, one who was not completely tested, faced off upon a dragon in the center of the village. With a tough leather bound shield with the mark of the tribes in one hand, an iron club in another, he dodged, weaved, and blocked the dragons fire as he charged forward. As he reached striking ranged he lifted his hand above his head to come down upon the dragon, only for the dragon to flap back and upward, its head snapping down at the young one chewing off his whole top torso, the legs and abdomen standing there still releasing what blood was left as it flowed over the body and onto the hard rock.
The battle raged as squads of braves fought of single dragons, circles of shaman took the rock form around them propelling it into the attacking dragons, druid mini-enclaves called upon the power of Mu'sha and An'she dropping the force of the sun and moon upon the glorified lizards. The Braves and Mystics were not the only ones fighting. The chimaera too, inspired by the beast keepers and druids of the tribe, the took flight attacking the dragons with their corrosive breath as lines of fire and poison crossed the skies. Corrosive venom tore through a dragon's wing, causing it to crash into the side of the mountain. Another dragon, its wing blown apart by An'she's vengeance crashed down upon a longhouse, killing the children of a displaced Runetotem family inside, not yet having the strength to support such weight upon themselves like an adult.
As the tribes tenacity was increasingly evident, the dragons' attack faltered. Some retreated while others were left alone to be slaughtered, a few submitted only to be chained down by the tribes beast keepers, the now friendly chimaera singeing them with their breath. Tanahrok looked upon the devastation of his village; two longhouses lost, tipis burned to ash, wigwams simply knocked over, charred corpses, half of a bitten shu'halo in the village center, children crying and some of his best braves unable to fight on. He dropped his head, gravity taking full control of it with no resistance from his body, and wept. The tears almost evaporated immediately after touching the sun scorched rock. He lifted his head with what little emotional strength we had, "If we were not the Redwood before," peering to the legs filled with rigor mortis in the village center, "we definitely are now! For as long as our blood can still stain these lands, no foe of the shu'halo shall ever overcome us!"
Only from here will we see what is left in store for the Redwood Tribe...