The beginning of the Grimhorn Tribe guild.
Ironhoof Grimhorn was old and he felt it. His horns were grey and frayed, they pained him as much as his creaky knees. His druid staff was more a walking stick than a weapon of war. His tread fell heavily as he walked across the dusty summit of Freewind Post. The great wyvern Swiftwind who had carried him back here after all of these years waited restlessly on the largest perch. He could feel the beast's desire to ride the winds and hunt.
Ironhoof stumped across the dusty summit and cursed his cousin again. Arnak had split the tribe over his infatuation with the niece of Tauren Chief Cairne Bloodhoof. Arnak's foolishness almost led to civil war and only ended when a loyal young warrior raided the Grimtotem camp on Darkcloud Pinnacle. Ironhoof had returned to Freewind at Chief Bloodhoof's request to meet the hero.
Ironhoof approached Cliffwatcher, second in command of Freewind, who paced back and forth ceaselessly, muttering to himself. Cliffwatcher was apparently concerned beyond reason about something and did not notice Ironhoof's approach until he snorted to clear the dust from his nose. Cliffwatcher turned, came to a stiff and startled attention, clapped his right hand to his chest and banged his hooves together. "Hail, Elder Grimhorn." He said.
Ironhoof returned the formal salute even though his joints pained him to be pulled to that posture of discipline. "Hail, Cliffwatcher of Freewind. Greetings from Carine Bloodhoof and blessings of Thrall, Warchief." Still at attention, Cliffwatcher waited for Ironhoof's instructions. "Relax, Cliffwatcher. I am here at the request of Chief Bloodhoof but that business can wait. What troubles you and has you pacing like a caged stalker?"
"It is a small matter of respect and protocol, Elder. The Warchief's mission must be more important." Ironhoof could sense Cliffwatcher's reluctance and embarrassment, but decided to press on.
"No. Tell me what troubles you."
"Youngsters. Disrespectful, wild as young wyvern, roaming around without proper supervision…" He stopped when he caught Ironhoof's puzzled expression.
"Be specific," Ironhoof said.
Cliffwatcher pointed to the visitor spire area across a narrow rope bridge. "Trolls, Orcs, and Taurens. Ruffians all. Unseemly, a young cow camping unchaparoned with trolls and orcs. It is shameful." He snorted and shook his head. "I would not have allowed them to stay at all except they brought Windsong back to us."
Ironhoof laughed, and clapped a hand on Cliffwatcher's shoulder to show he was not laughing at him. "Oh, Cliffwatcher, you had me worried. Propriety and custom will fall to change. The Warchief calls all of us to battle, bull and cow. I seem to remember some unseemly behavior on my own part not so long ago. I'm sure there were more than a few times you slept next to a druidess and were glad of the warmth and comfort."
"But, that was war," Cliffwatcher began.
"And it still is. It still is. So, why are they all camped there?""
"The troll is not allowed overnight in the tribal area, and the orc is a…" Cliffwatcher trailed off obviously embarrassed.
"A what?" Ironhoof inquired in his best innocent voice, even though he could guess what troubled the commander.
"A rogue, Elder."
"Ahh," he said, nodding. "And their Tauren companions?"
"They refused to stay in the inn, Elder, unless their companions were allowed to as well,"
"Really?" Ironhoof asked a little taken aback.
"Truly, Elder, as Mother is my witness."
"Excellent! Commendable!" Ironhoof exclaimed happily.
Cliffwatcher gaped in surprise.
"My mission here, Cliffwatcher, is to help just such honorable cooperation to begin." Ironhoof explained. "Bloodhoof and Thrall have directed the creation of guilds, bands of ten or more to live and fight together."
"Taurens?" Cliffwatcher asked.
"The direction actually discourages single race guilds. It does not forbid it, and I'm sure such things will happen, but we are looking for teams that make use of the different strengths we each posess."
"Unbelievable." Cliffwatcher said.
"Change is the one constant." Ironhoof replied. "Now, two things; first, the restriction against trolls and orcs is no more. Horde are we all. And second; I seek a young warrior named Flatlander. Is that him?" He asked with a nod in the direction of the group on the visitor spire.
Cliffwatcher's jaw dropped again. But then he snapped to attention and clapped his hand to his chest. "I hear and I obey, Elder." He said. "I will make members of the horde welcome in all ways."
"Good," Ironhoof said. "And?" He added.
Cliffwatcher simply pointed to the visitor spire. "He is there, Elder. But he is a hunter, not a warrior." Cliffwatcher could not help the slight disdain in his voice; he was too long a warrior.
"Excellent!" Ironhoof exclaimed again as he turned to the visitors area. Then he turned back to Cliffwatcher, drew his tired, stiff body to attention and saluted. "For the Horde!" He cried. Cliffwatcher returned the salute with a tentative "For the horde," of his own.
"Is this another change, Elder?" he asked.
"Indeed. Use it. Horde are we all."
"I hear and I obey, Elder."
Ironhoof approached the group on the visitor spire slowly. The tauren hunter lounged against a large backpack. At his side a very large Durotar wolf lay quietly. The hunter's left hand gently scratched the wolf between the ears. His weapons and armor were obviously well used and cared for. Sitting nearby in close conversation a troll hunter and the orc rogue were discussing something lying on the ground between them. The young cow, a druid, was apparently meditating. Ironhoof had time to observe them as he approached. The druid looked well equipped and, from the health of her companions, apparently competent in the healing arts. The troll was leaning against a nasty looking boar. Ironhoof could tell there was a well-developed bond between them as well. The rogue was a cipher. He seemed well equipped in all except weapons. He carried only a couple of small knives.
When Ironhoof stepped onto the visitor spire, the druid's eyes opened and she turned to look at him. Her eyes were the most startling shade of violet he had ever seen. Those eyes so surprised him that he stopped. Taurens almost always have brown eyes. Rarely lighter and darker shades appear, even more rare are truly different colors seen. Grimhorn legend spoke to him of the violet eyes of the gods. She rose from her meditation and turned to face him. Ironhoof thought a look of recognition passed across her face, only to have it confirmed a second later when she bowed gracefully.
"Welcome to our humble camp, Elder Ironhoof." She said. The troll and the Orc looked up from their game of knucklebones, then they too rose and faced him. The bull, Flatlander, rose as well and bowed, standing a little in front of the rest of the group. The wolf came to heel and Ironhoof saw Flatlander's signal to rest.
"Hail." Ironhoof replied. "Thank you, I am afraid I do not know your name child. I am here to find your leader, a bull called Flatlander." Flatlander chuckled but remained silent.
"I am honored to present our party, Elder." She turned to the troll. "Copland is the youngest of our group. He is from Sen' Jin. He is a hunter and apprenticed in leather. He travels in the company of Bubbles, an excellent boar."
The troll bowed. "Peace Mon," he said.
Next, she turned to the Orc. "Elder, please greet Infamous of Orgrimar and the Horde." The orc bowed deeply but his eyes never left Ironhoof's face. Ironhoof was certain sudden violence waited there. "Infamous studies engineering." She added.
"I am honored, Elder." Infamous said. Ironhoof was a little surprised by the educated tone of the orc's deep bass rumble, but he knew other engineer orcs and he knew they could be civil or barbaric at need.
"Flatlander, is next eldest, Elder. He is from Crossroads, and a journeyman in leather. His companion is Teeth, late of The Barrens" Ironhoof felt surprise again at the location given for Flatlander's nativity but decided to let it pass.
Flatlander bowed again. "I, too, am honored, and curious," he said.
"And I am eldest of our group, Elder. I am called Naureen and I am from Feralas to the north. As you know, I follow the druid path, and I am an alchemist and healer."
Ironhoof blinked. Twice. He was surprised to find the elder of the group was female, and a druid to boot. "Will wonders never cease? Elder Naureen, I was sent to speak with Flatlander about his recent exploits on behalf of young Windsong, but I seem to be short on information. Will you tell me what happened? How your group came to defeat Arnak and return Young Windsong to her family?"
Naureen shook her head, "I will defer to Flat, Elder. It is his story. But please, can we offer you a seat at our fire first?
"You are most gracious Elder Naureen, but my knees are old and sitting on the ground very uncomfortable. Please Flatlander, tell me your story."
Flatlander smiled and bent to his backpack. "One moment Elder, I think I can help." He said as he began to pull things from his pack. He pulled a bundle of stout sticks and a piece of heavy leather from his pack. A few seconds' work and he held a three-legged stool that looked strong.
"I call this a camp stool." Flatlander said. "I got the idea from an engineer in Ratchet." He sat the stool a comfortable distance from their campfire and gestured for Ironhoof to seat himself. Ironhoof was doubtful but the nagging ache in his left hip would feel better if he could sit. Fitting thought to action, he settled onto the stool.
"Very well Flatlander, tell me your story." He prompted.
"Naureen flatters me, Elder. It is her story. She brought us together. She kept us alive." Flatlander said and turned to Naureen. Then he seated himself. The Orc and the Troll both smiled and winked at each, other then they seated themselves as well.
"Elder?" Ironhoof said to Naureen.
She looked down, obviously embarrassed.
"I guess I did start it didn't I?" she asked.
"Yeah, mon," the troll said.
"Uh huh." Came from the orc. Flatlander just nodded.
Naureen drew a deep breath and smiled at her friends.
"Very well, I'll begin. But you each must tell your parts." She said with a little stamp of her right hoof. She took a moment to compose herself and turned to face Ironhoof.
"I traveled from Orgrimar, where I had been for training. I was coming here to meet my cousin. Along the way I was gathering herbs. At the base of Darkcloud Pinnacle I was harvesting sungrass when that ruffian Arnak rode past with a captive tied across his saddlebow. I was shocked. I had heard that Arnak was causing trouble in the area but I did not think it had come to kidnapping and outright war. While I was standing there with my mouth hanging open two Freewind guards came around the corner chasing him. Hidden Grimtotem ruffians attacked them. Before I could help, one was killed. The other was badly injured and left for dead near the bottom of the trail."
Ironhoof caught the glint of a tear in her eye and the hitch of loss in her voice.
"I did what I could for the injured guard but he was fading fast and I did not have what I needed to help him to full health. I helped him get to a cleft in the rock to give him a chance against animals and tried to make him comfortable. I was about to leave for Freewind to get help when Flat, Cop and Inf came by. Flat saw the guard's blood on me and thought I was injured. He told Cop and Inf to watch for trouble then said something to Teeth. Teeth raced up, sniffed the guard, took two stiff legged steps toward the trail and growled. I turned to Flat and he asked if I was injured. I explained that the guard was dying and he pulled a healing potion out of his belt and gave it to me, but we were too late. The guard had gone to be with his ancestors."
She paused and took a sip of water.
"I told them what had happened and that before he died the guard told me that there was a price on Arnak's head. Flat looked at his two friends and they all nodded at the same time. Then he turned to me and asked if I would help them collect on Arnak's head.
"I told them that honor required that I try to rescue the captive.
"Flat can tell the rest of the story because it really is his to tell." Naureen stopped and sat down.
Ironhoof turned to Flatlander expectantly.
Flatlander climbed to his feet, commanded Teeth to rest and scratched. He leaned his rifle against his pack and assumed a wide stance. He began without preamble.
"We were going to Freewind because we heard in Camp Taurajo that the post needed help. Inf had a package that needed to be delivered and Cop was hoping to learn more leatherworking. He had heard about a leatherworker that lives in Feralas. We had met in Crossroads where we were all defending the place against an Alliance raid. We work well together.
"When I saw Naureen bending over the Freewind guard I thought she was hurt. She was very upset about the guard and I thought he was someone important to her so the healing potion was an honest gift."
"Even if it were our last one, mon." The troll tossed in with a wide and disturbing grin.
"Yeah? Well, we can always find more."
"Yeah. Relax, Mon. Boss Babe can make more," the orc said in passable imitation of a troll. Then he grinned too.
Ironhoof began to understand the bond they enjoyed. He thought he caught a slight blush on Naureen's face.
Flatlander continued. "Teeth had spotted the two ruffians at the base of the trail to the old camp. Inf took one and Cop, Bubbles, and Teeth went after the other. I backed up Inf and kept an eye out. We went up the trail and took out two more on the way. When we got to the top of the trail, we found that there was quite a settlement up there. At first we thought we were in over our heads but seeing us that far into their camp, most of them ran off towards the camp on the largest spire. The rest fled when Teeth and Bubbles charged, and Cop's shot sent one of them over the edge into the canyon.
"We were about to follow them when Naureen heard a scream from the other direction. She was certain it was the captive so we decided to go that direction.
"We were halfway across the bridge to the edge of the canyon when we all heard the scream again. We heard a deep voice cursing. We followed the sounds and found that Arnak had a little camp on the canyon edge.
"He was almost alone with Windsong and she was fighting for her honor with everything she had. Arnak was about the largest bull I had ever seen." Flatlander said.
"Seen bigger." The orc growled.
"Yeah mon, you look inna mirror lately?" The troll added.
Flatlander looked startled as if realizing for the first time how much bigger than everyone else he really was. "Alright, you two." He said.
Infamous stood up. "I'll take it from here, Flat." He said. Flatlander looked relieved and sat down quickly.
"When Flat saw what that slime was doin' he lost it. He roared, released Teeth to kill and shot Arnak all in the same instant. He was so focused on Arnak he didn't see Arnak's guards."
"Yeah Mon, but they saw him." Copland said, then he laughed out loud.
"Yep," the orc agreed. "They looked up and saw death and destruction descending on them like vengeance had taken physical form. One of them panicked and ran off the edge. The other threw down his sword and surrendered. I went after their druid. Naureen had done something and roots had come up out of the ground to grab him. Cop was shooting at Arnak and trying not to hit Teeth or Flat.
"Heh, I think I hit him twice, Mon." Copland agreed.
"Flat hit Arnak running, bowled him over and they rolled over and over fighting hoof and tail. Just when I thought they were going to follow the guard over the edge, they let go of each other and came to their feet. Then I was busy with that damned druid and I lost track of the rest of them. "Cop, your turn Mon." Infamous finished with a wide grin.
Copland rose to his feet.
"Ok Mon, I tell it to ya." He said.
"Flat, he an' da scum Arnak, dey be fight all over da place, Mon. Flat he cut dat dude bad. An' da dude he cut Flat pretty good too. Dey fight too close fer me to get a shot in but I tryin Mon. I tryin. Me Bubbles he workin' the druid wit Inf. Teeth he chasin' dem other two all over da place but dey movin' too fast fer him to get but a nibble ever' now an den.
"Naureen, she a healin machine, Mon. She heal Flat den Inf, she t'row one to me Bubbles and den back go she to Flat.
"Jus den it look bad. Flat, he hurt and stun I tink. He not fight no mo' and dat dude he windin up, goona do sumtin' bad to me fren. So's I shoot him. But dat no good he jus' get mad. Teeth he fit to take a chunk and dat dude hit him, hard. Teeth drop like stone, mon. Inf, he finish dey druid 'bout den an' he so bad hurt he jus sit down and look losted. Naureen, she see Inf gonna make it an' druid dead so back goes she to Flat but can't do nuttin 'bout stun. So she lets loose wit a bigun and gets alla Arnak's 'tention.
"Arnak, he 'bout half dead but so are we. Tings not lookin' good Mon, no, not good atall. I t'row 'nother couple at dat dude an' he jes shrugs me bes' stuff like fella in spring rain. I send me Bubbles in but he dead 'afor he kin get a tusk in.
"Inf, mon, he sumtin, he got hisse'f heal some from somewheres and I almos' see him as he float by all see through like he dead already an jus' a bad ghost. But I know 'bout dem sneakys, so I send me bes' shot and get a lucky stun. Inf, he hit dat dude from behin' send him stagger like two day drunk. Jus' den Flat shake dat stun and he go back ta worken on dat Arnak dude too.
"Naureen, she send Flat an all better an' den she done. She jest sit down and drink.
"So Inf, he hit an' hit, Flat he roarin like a bear wit a bad tooth and smack dat dude a good'n.
"Arnak, he strong, he suck it up and hit Flat hard. Saw dat bull fly, mon. Never in my life I see a bull fly by hisse'f. Flat, he land and get right back at it. Arnak, he lookin' ragged 'round da edges. "Ya look ta him an see we winnin' but he no quitter. He swinging, cursin' an fight some more.
"I shootin and shootin, Mon. Me little boom-stick him fit ta melt down. I be sure he not hep much but nuttin else can do.
"Dem two bulls dey nose ta nose swingin ta beat the ban. Flat he gettin' the best of it at las' an dat Arnak he fadin' fas' but he not done yet, Mon, not by a long shot. He t'rows a stomp wit the lightning and all, ya know? Stuns Inf good. Flat he shook a little too. So dat Arnak he smiles an draws a bead on ol' Flat's skull. I'm sayin 'bye ta my fren cause I know dat dude gonna lay him low. Tings look real bad. Den Naureen, she step back inta da fight. I thought dat other time was a bigun, she musta learnt sumtin' cause she let loose on dat dude an he jes' fold. He all done, I tink.
"Flat swing he axe so hard he take dat dude's head clean off. I tink he were a deader already but after that he not get any deader den dat. Fo' sure. Inf, he cheers "Fer da Horde" and falls over. Flat goes to he knees and looks aroun' fer more a dem baddies, but dey all head for quieter place.
"Now, miss Windsong, she comes over and tears her dress to make bandages fer Inf and Flat. She be cryin and sayin t'anks again and again.
"Naureen she t'rows a heal on Inf an' Flat den she sits down again. We set there lookin at Arnak's head an healin up. Miss Windsong, she ask Flat for escort offa da spire. He say sure an' da res' of us say so too. When we gettin' ready ta leave, Miss Windsong, she t'ank each an all of us. An den she pick up Arnak he head. She take it by da ear and hold it out to Flat.
'Please bring dis ta me uncle,' say she.
Flat a bit surprise but he say sure anyway. I be thinking she want ta shrink dat dude's head but she say her uncle be chief of da tauren in dat T'under Bluff place. He shore make a reward fer us h'ep her.
"So's anaway, we h'ep her get offen dat spire and off ta her family and den we go ta here.
"One o Flat's fren', he here and headed to T'under Bluff place so Flat ask him ta deliver dat head to miss Windsong's uncle. I guess he do dat cause you here huh?"
Stepping back to his place the troll bowed deeply to Ironhoof and retook his seat.
"Well." Ironhoof said after a short time. "Chief Bloodhoof sent me to find you. He thought that Flatlander was the hero that rescued young Windsong. She said that he had some help but she was not clear about who or how many. Truth be told, I think she is hoping you will come calling, Flatlander. She was impressed with you.
"Be that as it may be, I have a reward for Flatlander and I see I should reward the rest of you as well." Ironhoof rose to his feet and motioned a very young bull to join them from the main spire. The youngster, not a year past his adult passage, rushed across the bridge carrying a bundle wrapped in soft hides. He handed the bundle to Ironhoof and retreated the way he had come.
Ironhoof turned to Flatlander and unwrapped the hilts of a large two-handed sword.
"Flatlander, for service to the Horde, and to clan Bloodhoof, Chief Bloodhoof asks that you accept this token of respect and honor." Ironhoof extended the hilts to Flatlander and waited.
Flatlander was surprised and a little awed. He reached out and grasped the hilts. He drew a large two-handed sword that gleamed and shimmered in the afternoon light.
"Wow!" Exclaimed the other three together.
"Thank you, Elder." Flatlander said.
Ironhoof drew himself up and saluted each of the four. "For the Horde!" he cried each time.
"Now, two more things; before I leave I will write each of you a letter. Present the letter to any banker, even the Venture company town in Tanaris, and they will pay you a reward from my accounts. And second; Warchief Thrall has declared the creation of guilds. He asked me to sponsor a guild. I would be very honored if you would form a guild under my sponsorship. I know a good team when I see it. And, I want you to decide what name the guild should have and the crest you should carry. Any others you feel would be a good addition will be welcome."
"What will these guilds do, Elder?" Naureen asked.
"The Warchief and elders will ask you to do things from time to time, guard the innocent, hunt down and kill monsters, or deliver messages. You will be paid and rewarded as the situation requires, but you will not be required to undertake any single mission. The idea is that you band together and help each other. We are stronger together." Ironhoof replied.
Naureen nodded thoughtfully. Let us consider for a short time, Elder. We will give you our answer soon.
Ironhoof thought about it for a few seconds. "So be it . It is not a decision to take lightly. I will await your answer in the inn.
"And that reminds me. You are all welcome to stay with the innkeeper tonight. The post directive against housing non tauren has been rescinded." He added. With that, Ironhoof went back to the main pinnacle.
The sun was beginning to fall behind the mountains of Feralas when Naureen and the others asked to see him. His young helper brought the news in an excited rush.
"They just walked over and asked to see you, Elder." Littlehorn said excitedly.
"Relax youngster." Ironhoof admonished. "Where are they standing?" he asked.
"They stand before the tribal totem, Elder. Why?"
"Bring the tabards." He replied with a smile.
Ironhoof met the group at the tribal totem in the middle of the main spire. He saluted Naureen.
"Greetings Elder Naureen. Have you reached a decision?" He asked.
"We have, Elder. We will form a guild under your guidance, and with your permission we will name it The Grimhorn Tribe, in honor of our sponsor."
"Excellent!" Ironhoof exclaimed. "I am deeply honored. And who will lead you? Every guild needs a leader."
The three males responded together with wide smiles "Boss Babe! Where she leads, we follow!" They cried.
"Very well. Elder Naureen, I appoint you Tribal Chieftain and leader of the Grimhorn Tribe guild. I suggest you appoint these your staff. And, I have guild tabards for you. Have you decided on a design?"
"With your permission we will carry the Grimhorn crest." Naureen replied.
Unexpectedly a tear came to Ironhoof's eye. "I'd hoped..." He started and then stopped.
"Littlehorn!" he called. The youngster ran forward clutching blank white tabards and three vellum notes. Ironhoof presented a note to Narueen and then placed the blank tabard over her head. He repeated the procedure with each of the others, coming to Copland last.
Then he stepped back and banged his staff down on the hard stone ground.
"All here present, witness! Warchief Thrall and Chief Bloodhoof declare these honored here founding members of the Grimhorn Tribe guild!" He cried at the top of his lungs. Then with a muttered incantation he tapped each on the left shoulder with his staff. At the touch of his staff the tabards turned deep blue and then a golden border flowed down each edge from the shoulder. Finally, a golden tree appeared in the center of the tabard.
"FOR THE HORDE!" he cried at last.
"FOR THE HORDE!" the assembled replied.
And so the Guild was born atop Freewind Post in Thousand Needles.