The End of an Era: Highmountain Discovered

September 10, 2017

A calm evening upon Thunder Bluff started as any other with the exception of the rather large gathering of people around the ceremonial fire among the highest bluff. Abrahof Ragetotem sat down with the crowd at the top row, remaining unsure what the proper protocol was, wishing to avoid any issue. He stared down at the rather old shu'halo, his voice though loud but soothing, addressing the crowd. "Welcome one and all once again to our Tall Tales ceremony! The Redwood are proud to continue this tradition, once started by the Earthspear, passed down to their allies the Stormfist, taken up by their friends of Gor'Watha, to be revived and brought back to the shu'halo by us. For tonight's first tale, an invigorating story of loyalty in the face of adversity, Kor'kron Ragjaw of the Warsong!" The crowd met the orc with a majority cheers, but not without a sizable amount of insults and boos just before he began to speak, Abarhof listening intently yet keeping his eyes on the old bull. 

 

After the night's stories he gathered his things, his centurion emblem, two totems used as blunt weapons, and Horde provided backpack from enlistment. He slowly made his way down to the center where Tanahrok and his braves stood gathered, checking all of their equipment. Abrhaof greeted the group, "If I could speak to you all for a moment." he started, "I am curious of what you all do around here. I've heard many stories about you." Tanahrok kept speaking to the group, oblivious to Abrahof, though a brave turned to intercept him, "If you wish to speak to the chief you will need to speak far louder than that. Hearing is not something that improves with age." Nodding Abrahof tried again, "If I could speak to you for a moment! I have heard many things about you and the tribe!" this time with far more success. The surround braves snickered as Tanahrok looked up to Abrahof, acknowledging him, "Relax my boy, I have trouble hearing but I am not deaf, at least not yet" he joked. "Of, of course Chieftain, I am sorry." "What!?" the Chieftain replied teasing the officer. Abrahof took in a deep breath to reply back, but was interrupted by the Chieftain. "I kid this time. I heard you just fine. Just a small joke I like to play. How may I aid you on this wonderful night?"

 

The two spoke at length of Abrahof's travels and times within the Horde, clearly showing his commitment to his people and the greater confederacy that they find themselves in. Upon discussion the two determined Abrahof would make a fine fit for the tribe, discovering it to be acceptable to keep his Ragetotem name as a reminder where one comes from just as so many others have within the Redwood. They stayed around Thunder Bluff for some time after their talk and at the end of Mu'sha's following cycle, it came time for his first Rites of Passage. Honor his choice was, though perhaps a poor one in hindsight, to start strong within the tribe and prove his skill and commitment. Abrahof's challenge:  Attempt to defeat a brave of the tribe being only an initiate himself. Preparing themselves Abrahof relaxed his body, his totems still hanging in their straps as he eyed down the brave and his large maul. Checking the brave's stance, Abrahof saw it was poor, loose, undisciplined, the maul too large for him, and stood his ground as the the Chieftain started the fight. The large brave charged, a quick step to the right and a punch downward to the braves left shoulder already left him tumbling forward into an uncontrollable fall. Turning, Abrahof took his totems out of their straps, ran over to the fallen brave his last stride crashing upon his back winding up what would have been a killing blow to the head. Abrahof stopped just above it with his hoof pressed into brave's back, "Grab something smaller. That club is too big and I want a real fight." Impressed yet slightly insulted, Tanahrok agreed and asked the brave to use another, lighter, weapon to try again only for the same yet slightly longer outcome to take place minutes later, "Your braves need proper training."

 

Tribesman Abrahof was then tasked with doing just that, training the braves. Although not as high of status, his skill was undeniable and training was desperately needed. The shu'halo untrained can often hold their own against a single Alliance soldier, perhaps even two, just because of their sheer size. However, any solider worth their salt and with proper training would see the mistakes in form and reliance in brute strength, something that needed to come together in a very proper and focused way. Real armor was slowly introduced, crafted by orc and Ragetotem smiths, weapons were balanced and form was introduced to handle both heavy headed mauls and evenly displaced swords. Those braves who refused to let go of their shields were instructed in formation with shield walls and improved materials, spears becoming more than just for the hunters of the tribe. Training continued for months among the Hunter Rise. Abrahof's dedication, time, and knowledge of form and battle granted him the official title of Brave from the Chieftain, an honorary promotion counted towards his Rate of Wisdom.

 

Brave Abrahof Ragetotem, a fitting title for him and none too soon. Word had gotten back to the Bluffs that Legion activity had increased dramatically, entire geographic zones were being invaded right in the heart of Horde territory, the Barrens fairing worst of all. Given the permission from Chieftain Tanahrok, Abrahof and some fellow braves enlisted as auxiliary forces within the Barrens under Suarfang's command, helping protect the small outpost left north west of the Crossroads. It had seemed like endless demons, be they small or large, swarmed their positioned. They held fast with other auxiliary forces, Abrahof shouting orders much as he used to. He saw the tribes hard work finally come to be as guided strikes and walls of shu'halo held the line against demons thrown against them. Although many injured, nothing serious came to the tribe by the end of the marathoned defenses. With the Barrens largely re-secured they returned to the Bluffs, reporting back to the Chieftain of their success. Impressed and proud of the responsibility and initiative shown, Tanahrok offered Abrahof his last Rite of Passage, the one of strength. Although tougher than all that came before him he did learn much from it after passing: not all strength comes from your body.

 

Elder Abrahof Ragetotem, Redwood representative upon special request to the Highmountain of the Isle, returned after spending months among their own, although lost, people. Amazed at what he had found, the Highmountain tribes with a home that rivaled Thunder Bluff and territory free of marauding centaur, raiding dwarves, undead plague, and sneaking elves, Abrahof presented his findings to the Chieftain. Once finished Tanahrok had informed the elder of their first official course of action along side the Horde to aid in the Legion war effort; stamping out cultists in within the Eastern Kingdoms on behest of the Warchief and her officers. Meeting up with what was known as the Ironsworn Regiment and another known as the Phoenix Highguard, Tanahrok's war ready tribesmen set out across the sea to ensure the Horde remains strong and resilient in the face of multiple enemies. As the Highguard took guard upon the northern sections of Arathi and the southern end of Hillsbrad, Ironsworn and the tribe took further south to Arathi, stationing themselves in Hammerfall.

 

The battles were light at first. Weak troll raids, fanatic cultists, Alliance scouts, lesser elements all besieged the Horde forces with little reason to believe a strong presence in the area. After a night of raiding the Witherbark trolls for information and greater evidence of cultist activity, they had returned to Hammerfall seeing crushed guards and two twilight elementals rampaging through the encampment. One of which was locked in combat with the Black Bride and her Royal Dreadguard detachment, the other had just finished smashing a hole into the ground as a Hammerfall guard dodged the slow yet powerful attack. Immediately the tribe formed rank, Abarahof in the back already preparing a binding to immobilize the elemental and have it crumble to its base parts. Distracted, the remaining 12 foot tall shu'halo faced off against the 20 foot tall elemental crashing their weight into one side causing to to tumble over. Quickly, hammering mauls smashed away at its looser parts much like one would hammer a stake into the ground or knock down a concrete wall with a sledgehammer. Already shocked and upon the ground, Abrahof's binding took effect easily dispersing the corrupted earth onto the ground as the energy returned to its respected planes of existence, the Black Bride and her guard taking care of theirs near simultaneously. After ensuring everyone was okay an Ironsworn ran out of the main building, "The Chieftain, Tanahrok, he is not here!"

Days passed as search parties spread out among the immediate area but soon realized they were surrounded by agitated and raging elementals of each type. Cultists could be seen in the distance performing their rituals. They were surrounded. One evening Abrahof had realized something must be done as he set off to scout the ridges himself making his way north. Avoiding any sentry elementals and cultists he had found himself overlooking a ritual of cultists along the stone of binding keeping an object suspended in the air surrounded by runes. He slid down the ridge a bit for a closer look, ensuring he did not get spotted by the elementals giving watch. He peered into the ritual keeping his attention at the focus of the ritual. Upon further examination his heart skipped a beat, sinking low into his body as he saw Tanahrok, limp and almost lifeless at the center. Keeping focus on the patterns below, he attempted to move the earth, even if so little, to disrupt the ritual but no avail. Instead he alerted the corrupted elements on watch to his position, finding himself needing to flee quite quickly to the relatively safety of Hammerfall to report his findings.

 

Reaching Hammerfall he informed both the tribe and the regiment of what he had seen, preparing them to set off for the final rescue the next night. A small squad of seven would attempt the rescue, five from the tribe and two specialists from the regiment. Climbing the same mountain pass as before, they came across the ritual unmoved, but under far heavier protection. Knowing the ritualists and the runes were the key to ending whatever incursion they had befell them, it was their primary target to clear out Hammerfall and rescue the Chieftain. Raising a mighty earth elemental himself, Abrahof Ragetotem led the charge commanding his elemental right at the circle of blasphemous magics crushing a cultist where he stood causing a twilight element moving its way into combat to fall apart, its magic dispersed and causing the other cultists to falter and run, the guardian elementals crumbling the same. Staring up at Tanahrok, they quickly moved to pat out the runes, a brave standing underneath the chief to caught the soon falling body and brought him Hammerfall be be looked at.

 

Alive but weak, Tanahrok clung to life but inside he knew his time to return to the Earthmother was coming close. He laid upon a prepared table as most beds and hammocks could not support shu'halo. Dawnleaf, one of the mystics of the tribe and member of the Cenarion Circle, stayed watch over Tanahrok while he rested and recovered as tribesmen and Ironsworn soldiers came to see how he was doing. Abrahof, returning to Hammerfall from other duties, was quickly approached by one of the priestesses of the Regiment, affectionately known as Nym to him after all she had done for the tribe, softly spoke to him stating that he should see the tribe immediately. Placing the supplies down, he went off with her to the large yet dilapidated building upon the hill entering to see Dawnleaf and Togakwunu standing before the entrance to Tanahrok. Stopping Abrahof before he entered, "The Chief... Tanahrok" Dawnleaf started, "has returned to the Earthmother, just as we all will one day." Togakwunu continued, "He had contemplated and talked it over with us, the Redwood should now be led by someone else, strong and resilient, young but wise, and with dedication to the tribe." Togakwunu's head dropped, "Go and see him one last time before preparing the rites, Chieftain." With that, Abrahof walked in with a heart sunk so low the Stonemother could claim domain if she wanted to offer a prayer before preparing for the laying of the former Chieftain at the Red Rocks.

 

Days had passed since Tanahrok's passing, the journey north was a confusing one. The cultists were defeated in one last decisive battle, the Forsaken marched in with a detachment of orcs for Hammerfall to reign in control of Arathi, and yet the tribe felt nothing but sorrow for the loss of their chieftain. All were gathered upon the steppe in which all great chieftains are placed to be brought back to the Earthmother. In the attendance were many from the campaign, the Ironsworn, Pheonix Highguard, the privateers of Resolve, representatives of the Frostwolf Clan and even those not apart of the fighting offering gifts and services for the parting Chieftain with the consulate of Forsaken offering the best gift of them all; their promise not to raise him into undeath. The gathering had lasted a few hours with many words and tears exchanged before Abrahof had brought it to a close by lighting the fire under Tanhrok's raised alter, waiting for all to disperse after before proceeding down the trails to the Bluffs.

 

The chilled breeze of Thunder Bluff hit against his face, the wind causing his braids to fly along with it. He stood among the group gathered at the ceremonial fire among the highest bluff. He softly cleared his voice before addressing the crowd;

"I am Abrahof Ragetotem, son of Hannurk of the Ragetotem, Veteran of the Horde and now Chieftain of the Redwood Tribe after late Chieftain Tanahrok Redwood. The Redwood, a tribe created of those less fortunate, alienated, dismissed, and left alone who's only goal has ever been to defend our people has been through much. Our strength lies in each of our individual skills and the bonds we form as new brothers and sisters among our own. I come to you today to offer an opportunity to join us among the mountains of Stonetalon, and beyond, to fight back the Legion as they taint the land the Earth Mother has so graciously given to us. The privilege to destroy any and all Alliance who dare trample on our ancestral homes across the world! Be it here in Mulgore, the Taunken villages of Northrend, the Highmountain of the Isles, or the Yon'gol of Pandaria, the shu'halo will not be pushed back behind a wall like before! For the tribes, For the Horde!"
 

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