My favourite rare spawn in game is this fellow here, Humar the Pridelord.
Way back in vanilla, my husband started playing a hunter as an alt with the eventual intention of making it his main for a period. As he levelled he started looking around on the internet, researching pets and looking for interesting ones to tame. That search took us to Petopia amongst other places and in the end lead to the Barrens. As a low level Night Elf hunter on a Horde heavy pvp server this was not an easy plan, however he persevered and was rewarded by a loyal companion who kept him company for a long time. Then when I came to make a hunter of my own, I followed in his footsteps, running from Theramore up into the Barrens to tame my very own Pridelord.
There was however a problem, back then levelling pets was horribly painful and because certain pets had different attack speeds, sometimes you just had to let go… a process which always left me feeling devastated.
The hunter and her shadow, a huge black feline slid through the forests of Ashenvale, instinctively keeping to the shade. Their passage was silent, paws and feet making no noise as they glided over twigs and heaps of dead leaves. As they neared the border with the Barrens, the Night Elf slowed her pace, her unease translating itself to her companion. The cat whined softly, rubbing his head against her leg. ”Sshh”, she reached down and stroked his thick fur, “almost there boy, almost there”. In reply, he licked her hand, his tongue rough as bark.
They picked their moment, waiting until the Orcs guarding the rampant were distracted by a party of young Trolls, arrogant and brash on their first trip to Ashenvale. Moving in tandem like a well oiled machine, they worked their way deeper and deeper into enemy territory. The cat scouted ahead whilst the Elf shadowmelded beneath the heavy squat trees. Had any eyes seen them, it would have been clear that this was an old familiar pattern.
On a hill over looking the Crossroads, they stopped for food and to gather their strength for what was to come. Thick steaks for the cat, donated by a dinosaur whose curiosity had done him no favours and dumplings from home for the hunter. After they ate, they stretched out and gazed down at the busy town beneath them. ”Remember all the fun we had here boy?”. The cat purred, rubbing his head against her. “Hunting all those cowardly Horde. There was that warrior, the Troll, we chased her half way to Orgrimmar didn’t we”. He growled, showing a touch of fang and she smiled, patting him. “You liked the taste of Troll didn’t you boy”. The two of them lay in companionable silence, reliving their glory days, as they stalked living prey across the barren landscape of their memories.
As dusk fell, an observant watcher would have seen two moving shadows drifting towards Ratchet. A hunter, her violet skin and height marking her as a Night Elf walking lightly in the pawprints of a large black cat who ran a little ahead, turning back every minute or so to make sure she was still there. As they covered the dusty ground, the hunter’s thoughts returned to the first time she had followed this path. That nervousness in the pit of her stomach, the tension in her grip on her bow, both feelings she had thought were long gone came swimming up from the dark depths of her memories. Sensing her distress, the cat paused for a second, licking her hand to reassure her.
Just above the Goblin settlement of Ratchet, they came a halt, pausing to listen to the sounds of drunken partying mingling with the drunken yells of the dock workers loading ships for Booty Bay. Closing her eyes for a moment, the hunter let her thoughts drift back to the days when she too had frequented those parties, waking up to a throbbing headache, foreign sheets and the golden eyes of her cat, regarding her and her new friends expressionlessly as he guarded her belongings from quick fingered thieves.
“Almost there boy, almost home”. The cat whined in agreement and led the way, past gnarled and twisted trees, their thick branches providing the only shade and through thick grasses which cut at your legs, flicking back like whips. Before she realised it, they were back at that spot, the right place under the right tree. Sitting down, their backs to the broad trunk she tried to put her thoughts in order. Stroking his fur, she found herself gazing down at the white marring the thick black coat. In her head, the white hairs melted into snow and the temperature dropped as the parched earth grew a snowy blanket. Out of the shadows, the bridge at Dun Baldar crystallised into being. The acrid smell of gunfire caught the air, the heavy thud of war drums and the twang of her bow strings replaced the Goblin sea shanties but most importantly, the large feline shape at her side, the shadow which tied all these memories together bounded like a kitten through her subconscious.
Ragged breathing pulled her from the safety of the past, “it’s alright boy, you’re home now”, blinking back tears from her silver eyes, she held him close. She felt the last rough stroke of his tongue across her hand, one last goodbye before her friend slid into the realm of memories and dreams, leaving her alone beneath the open sky. Digging the grave was easy, leaving him in it, far harder. Looking down at her closest friend, so small and somehow diminished in death, she found herself cursing her race, condemned to keep leaving those she loved in the cold damp earth.
Walking away, followed by nothing but her own lengthening shadow, she wiped away her tears. Then before beginning her descent into Ratchet, to the tavern in which she intended to drink until all this was just a bad dream, she looked back. There in the half light, she saw him again, standing proud before the tree. A sea breeze caught the branches, shifting the light and revealing nothing but long grasses, shattering the mirage. “Goodbye old friend and good hunting”, raising her hand in farewell, the hunter, her heart breaking headed into town alone.
Now of course, it’s a different story as all my hunters have more than enough room to house him. That emotional bond with my virtual pets is just as strong however, the one thing guaranteed to make me mad in pvp is to persecute my pet. You can /spit spam me until I’m drenched or laugh at me until you cry and you won’t get a reaction. Hurt my pet though and you better be ready to die, over and over again.
Congratulations Erinys! What a fantastic story! ^-^ As you are aware for your prize you can choose any one of the $10 companion pets from the Blizzard Store. Just let me know which one you would like and we'll work out the details from there!