“Gyaahhh! Wait uuuuup!” Akeelah ran after her older sister and her friends, her hooves thudding softly against the green earth of the forest floor. The seven year old ran as fast as her little hooves could carry her as she slowly began losing sight of the older kids ahead of her. She began to pant, and cried out once more. “Kereenaaaaa! Stop, PLEASE orI’mgonnatell!” A small gasp escaped her mouth as one hoof caught on a rock, sending her tumbling forward to the ground with a dull whud sound.
She grimaced, her lips trembled, she balled up her hands into fists and she pushed herself up. “YOU’RE NUTHIN’ BUT JERKY LOSERS ANYWAY!” Suddenly her eyes widened as she gasped and put her hands over her mouth, looking this way and that.
She’d been told about this part of the forest, by the southern mountains that lay between the rest of Terokkar and the holy temple of Auchindoun, the city of the dead. There were rumors here of dark and dangerous creatures, not to mention evil spirits. The adults always chided the children for spreading such rumors, of course. Ogres were rare in Terokkar, mostly sticking to the northern mountains close to their menacing gronn masters. The orcs were scattered and rare, and certainly none of them would venture to Terokkar. The closest tribes were the Frostwolves in the open plains of Nagrand to the west, and the Shadowmoon in the same-titled valley to the southeast. They were also harmless, keeping to themselves and preferring to battle with the ogres if any humanoids. The arakkoa were even less encountered, mysterious figures that to many might as well have been fairy tales, sticking to the highest reaches of the highest mountains and the tallest trees. Finally, tales of menacing spirits from Auchindoun were outright punished. It was one of the most holy sites of the draenei, and it would not do to speak of their honored ancestors coming back as no more than common spooks.
Akeelah began to dig into the ground, intending to crawl into a hole and hide herself there until her sister and her friends came back. Her hands moved at a frenzied pace, fingers digging into the ground.
“Spluh.” She gave up, collapsing belly down on the ground, sending up a cloud of dirt. Her tail twitched and she sighed, rolling onto her back and staring at the canopy far above. The crystal terrocones glittered in the shafts of sunlight streaming down between the clusters of leaves. Akeelah sat up and pulled up her dress a bit to check her aching knee. Sure enough, a gash met her eyes, blue blood slowly appearing in it as it made its way out of the wound. She placed a hand on top of the wound and a glowing rune appeared in front of her forehead, her hand glowing for a moment before she took it away and watched in fascination as the gift of the naaru slowly began to mend her wound. “Heh heh hehhhh. Notta problem, cuza the Naaru.”
She looked up with a smile on her face and blinked at the large dark brown owl perched on a branch above her. It peered down at her with gigantic yellow eyes, large eyelids blinking once.
Akeelah stared at the bird in amazement. “You guys can talk?!”
“Oh, right! ‘m sorry! I’m Akeelah! Rahna’s my mom and Zemar’s my daddy. But he’s gone now, he le-”
“Who?” The owl repeated, tilting its head farrr to the side until it was nearly upside down.
“Are ya deaf or somethin’?” Akeelah got to her hooves, folding her arms. “I SAID-”
The owl screeched, causing the little draenei to squeak and fall to her rump. She widened her eyes almost as big as the owl’s. “S-scary! Don’t do-YIAHHHH!” She screamed as the owl screeched again, and scurried away from it. Movement in the trees above her by several creatures caused the sunshafts to flicker as they passed across them. Akeelah gasped and broke into a full run, as bird squawks and screeches filled the trees around her. There was a wooshing sound as a net shot out from the treetops and landed on top of the little girl, causing her to fall and flail, getting her limbs tangled up in the netting.
“HELP! HELP! DAMSEL IN DISTRESS!” She paused for a moment as she finally saw her captors, making their way down to the ground. Feathery colorful bird people with thin black-clawed hands squawked and chattered to each other in their strange language as they made their way to the girl, one of them picking up the net she was contained in and slinging her over its shoulder. She resumed her screaming. “HELP PLEASE CUTE LITTLE GIRL CAUGHT BY UGLY STUPID SMELLY BIRD MEN KEREENA MAMA ANYONE PLEASE HELLLLP!” Her net was lifted away from the back of the arrakoa carrying her and held in front of it. It opened its beak abruptly in a loud and angry squawk, causing her to cringe and shut her mouth, staring at it fearfully.
The journey continued in silence, further into the dreaded virtually unreachable heights of the southern mountains of Terokkar Forest, to the dark homes of the dreaded arakkoa.
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