Monday, March 23, 2009

Neg and Tinea Part 1: Hanging In The Balance

Neg is AFK for Spring Break, so to keep the Butterfly from becoming too idle, here's a Neg Adventure. Enjoy!

It was a peaceful day in Terokkar when Neg came across the giant caterpillar dangling from a rope trap. Wary of the Broken Draenei that stalked the worn paths of the forest, the tauren hunter preferred to go cross country; at least in the woods she had equal advantage of terrain. She was familiar enough with the wildlife by this point, so she did not expect to encounter anything she couldn’t deal with as she traveled west to Hellfire. Coming across a large, fur-covered larva, on the other hand, was something completely new to her.

Negathle had dealt with insectoids before – she had spent years in South Kalimdor battling the Aqiraji from the Barrens to their heart in Silithus. She learned how they fight and how they think, and, to her great frustration, how they defied being tracked. Their undying drive for imperialism and unending greed disgusted Neg to the point of blinding fury, and most of her work in Ahn’Qiraj was volunteered. But the insects of Outland were not like the hive-minded Qiraji. These creatures were calm, reclusive, and capable of independent thought and life, despite their choice to live in colonies. Even if they were related to the hive-creatures of Kalimdor, she recognized in them those qualities that she prized so much in herself. While she had considered taming either a wasp or a moth as a companion, she pushed it off. The thought of subduing such a free, independent mind disgusted her. No, if she were to befriend one of the insects of Outland, it would be of their own volition.

So it was with great surprise and anger that the hunter came upon the trapped caterpillar. She knew that the moth larvae existed in Terokkar, and was even considered a delicacy amongst the Broken despite the sharp bristles that covered their bodies, but she had never seen one before. She had assumed that the alien denizens of the forest had actively hunted them on foot, not through the devious methods of bait-trapping. It was honorable to track and subdue prey in person, but to hide in the shadows, using trickery and stealth for passive trapping, was sickening to her. There was no pride found in inciting unnecessary fear and pain in another.

Upon Neg’s entrance to the clearing, the caterpillar began bristling in anticipation of defense. It contracted its body, extending the thick covering of undulating hairs. Its head shrank into its body, and its many feet folded on themselves. It appeared nothing more than a great burr suspended in air. Neg looked up at it silently, examining the rope that had contracted around its lower half. Fortunately, the creature was not like the gigantic grubs of the Plaguelands that were little more than mobile bags of puss. Rather, it had a strong, chitinous frame that prevented the rope from pinching it in half. Her eyes followed the path of the rope across the pulley limb to its anchor on another tree. It was a simple trip trap, and, sure enough, there was a scattered pile of bait-berries below the captured prey.

Its supposed-captor’s silence caused the quarry to slowly peak out from its protective ball. Seeing the tauren staring up at it, it frantically attempted to double up on itself in effort to crawl up the rope. But the slick quality of the cord didn’t allow any grip, and watching the creature’s miserable twisting and spinning caused another surge of annoyance within Neg for the trappers that caught it. Still without a word, Neg set about releasing it.

The anchor of the rope was on a limb about an arm’s length above her head; the Broken Draenei must have had to climb up the tree to tie it down. There was not much excess rope tying it off, making her think the trappers cared little for the condition of their prey once it fell. Neg scowled in her frustration.

She looked back over at the caterpillar. It was still now, watching her with tiny black eyes that glistened from beneath waves of bristles. Neg cocked her head, looking at it from an angle, thinking. Slowly, she unsheathed her skinning knife.

“RIK-TA!” she screamed at the hanging creature, jumping out at it aggressively.

Instinctively, it curled up again, its hairs expanding in every direction. Neg deftly cut the rope above her head, and the ball of spikes fell to the ground, the rope screeching as it was dragged across the pulley limb. The caterpillar bounced once, twice, then came still.

Sensing firm ground below it, the moth larva extended its body and speedily crawled away into the underbrush, the rope trailing behind it.


Anonymous said...

Interesting... isn't trapping something us hunters do?


Anonymous said...

Coolness, please continue =)