The heat was overwhelming. I was plodding along the path to Camp Taurijo, my mane and fur a matted mess from the sticky concoction of sweat and blood caused by a brief run in with some wandering centaur scouts. I was injured but I knew it was not serious because all I could think about under the heavy heat of the mid day sun was how much I would have enjoyed being offered another task that took me to one of the Oasis.
There was no such luck that day though, I had been offered a modest reward from a middle aged orc named Gazrog whom I found outside the Inn at the crossroads with barely enough money to eat. Apparently his cash had been stolen, by Raptors of all things. I didn't bother asking him how he managed to get mugged by animals, I didn't really care. Unfortunately he detected my skepticism and began to swear that they are intelligent creatures and that it was a coordinated attack. I guess he could be right, but every time I have encountered one it seems to act alone and generally doesn't put up too much of a fight.
In any case, I accepted his offer and started asking around. My limited tracking abilities were useful, but ultimately there were just too many of the beasts wandering about to get a real bearing on where a pack of three could have gone. I decided to head south to Camp Taurijo to ask around.
After visiting the inn to pack up and gather a few items I may need I headed for the town's exit. The defenses at the Crossroads were a sign of it's dwindling popularity with only two lonely guards lazily eying the people coming and going. They seemed uninterested as I passed between them and through the wooden pikes that made up the towns walls.
The air was hot and dry, and there was almost constantly the slightly crunchy texture of sand in my mouth which made the rather short journey seem excruciatingly lengthy. I hadn't noticed any other travelers on the road for the past mile and just as I was contemplating why it was so isolated I spotted a few Centaur running parallel to the road. Their tendency to attack anyone outside of the safety of the towns on sight made me a little cautious but they were keeping their distance, just scouting I suspected. Due to the unprovoked Centaur attacks lately, most travelers used Wyverns to get from town to town which is what I probably should have done. I had chosen to ignore safety however in the hope that I would see some clue of the Raptors whereabouts by traveling on foot.
I watched the pack of Centaurs gallop into the distance ahead of me, I stopped walking and squinted in the sunlight to try and make out where they had gone. They seemed to have stopped a few hundred yards up the path. I turned to judge how far the Crossroads were, I would never make it. I realized then that they were not simply scouting, they were ensuring that there was no one else on the path that was close enough to help. I swung my pack off of my shoulder and started digging through my things for my Hearthstone but as usual it was too weak to use when I really needed it. I stopped there for a moment staring at the dull glow of the stone and listening to the pounding of the centaurs hooves get louder and louder. I could not think of any way to escape, I would have to fight.
I left my bag on the ground, stood up and closed my eyes. Concentrating hard on the faint whispers of nature over the rough laughter of the approaching centaurs. I could feel the strength of nature dormant all around me, waiting to be unleashed at my command. I opened my eyes to see the centaurs no more than 20 yards away and closing fast. Using the words that are now second nature to me I focused on one of the three centaurs and began to speak. Immediately thick vines started growing out of the desert ground and tugging at the centaurs legs. He tore through the initial vines but they quickly became too many and too thick for him to pull through. He was trapped but already hacking at the vines with his sword in an effort to break free.
I turned to another centaur and quickly started channeling another spell. Seconds later hundreds of vicious insects swarmed the beast stinging furiously and bringing him to his knees. I turned to the third centaur but it was too late, I barely had time to raise my staff in defense before he had knocked me to the ground. I got to my feet as he was turning to make another pass and yelled out towards the pale moon, barely visible in the mid day sun. The sky darkened above us briefly and blue flames ignited the skin of my charging foe, but he kept running towards me. I dodged the initial charge and slammed my staff into his ankle as he passed. The centaur yelled in pain and limped closer to me swinging his sword carelessly. His smoldering fur was taking its toll, he was in far too much pain to put up a serious fight. I let him get as close as I dared and used both hands to smash the end of my staff into his neck. He gasped for breath and dropped his sworn. I hammered at his neck again with my staff and he let out a pathetic squeal before collapsing onto the ground in a smoking heap.
I righted myself and turned to my two remaining enemies. The smoke from the now burning centaur corpse to my right had driven off the swarm of insects and the second centaur jumped towards me and smashed into my with his shield. I stumbled backwards and toppled over the corpse of his fallen friend. Before I could get up the centaurs two front hooves ground into my leg likely shattering the bone. I screamed in pain while the centaur smirked and reared up to stomp on me a second time.
I am a Tauren and I am by no means frail, but this body could not stand up to the strength of a centaur. I rolled out of the way as his hooves pounded the ground only inches away kicking up a cloud of dust into my face. I closed my eyes and called to the Great Bear Spirit for aid. Immediately I felt the rage building inside me. My mortal body was whisked away accompanied by a brief feeling that I was falling very fast. I shook off the dizziness to find myself in a new body, the body of a bear.
I stood on my hind legs and roar furiously at the centaur causing him to stagger backwards in fear. The tables had turned and I was now the stronger of the two of us. I tackled the centaur to the ground and mauled repeatedly at his belly, biting and riping any limbs that got in the way. I could barely control the desire to eat the raw flesh, it took everything I had to control the rage of the bear spirit. The centaur had died, it's guts spilled and spreading a growing pool of bloody mud but I was still biting and clawing at the corpse.. I was losing control. I released the bear spirit and found myself back in my own body, my leg too damaged to stand. I whispered to the voices of nature who nourished my wounds. The bones righted themselves and the cuts began to slowly heal.
Mind mind was numb. I had trouble forming any thoughts at all let alone a spell with any sort of power. The entwined the legs of the last remaining centaur were breaking free and I was running out of options. I sloshed the centaurs guts out of the way of my pack and found my medicine bag. It had been given to me by my mentor, he had told me that the dust inside would give me the power to channel my most powerful spells beyond all fatigue. I found the bag and eagerly poured the dust into my hand. It had replenished itself again and probably saved my life. I threw the dust up wind and felt it tingle as it washed over me, each grain refreshed my mind like a drop of water on the tongue. I spun back around to see the last remaining centaur pull free, with my newly found energy I screamed at the voices of nature to give me their vengeance. I formed a ball of energy and threw it at the charging centaur. it slammed into his chest slowing him temporarily but he kept coming. I threw two more and he was seriously burned but still staggering towards me screaming about the deaths of his friends to a ridiculous biped. I looked skyward to the stars and began to speak their names. My hands lit with the same blue flame that had dispatched the first attacker but it did not burn. The flames grew larger and larger until they had engulfed both of my arms. I looked into the centaurs eyes just as he closed into melee range and unleashed the flames towards him. There was a high pitched wail as the flames leaped from my arms and wholly surrounded my target. He screamed in agony as his skin blistered and bones started to splinter. Abruptly the sound stopped, the flames that I had summoned from the stars had returned from where they came and I was once again standing alone on the path to Camp Taurijo.