The Third War, Stonetalon Mountains, Kalimdor
The Dwarven Mountaineer continued his ascent of the cliffside. Grunting with exertion as he heaved his armored body up the craggy, slippery stone surfaces. It was raining, which was hardly the ideal climbing weather. Still, the downpour had its upsides, primarily in masking the Dwarf's approach to his prey.
The Mountaineer made his way through a lightly forested area of the Stonetalon Mountains. Even here in this rugged environment, the pines clung to the rocks almost desperately. The Dwarf crept forward, trying to stay low. Stealth was a matter of exactness, after all.
He stopped his advance when he spotted a clearing that lay several yards ahead of him. Icy blue eyes widened when they caught sight of their target. A pair of Tauren Braves, one male and one female.
A toothy, wolfish grin blossomed beneath the Dwarf's oily black beard as he reached behind him to grab his rifle from its sling.
This was almost too easy, Dornheim Sharpaxe mused.
Dornheim leveled his weapon at the pair of Tauren. The two were armed and armored but appeared to be foraging for herbs at the moment. The female spoke something in a language the Dwarf did not understand to the other Tauren, who moved to join her.
The sharpshooter peered down his rifle's sights. Biding his time for the perfect shot.
Wait for it…wait for it…
The roar of gunfire shattered the natural ambiance of the mountainside woods. The male Tauren fell to the mossy earth, a bullet hole piercing the side of his skull. A moment of shock briefly registered on the female's features, followed swiftly by unearthly rage. She bellowed a mighty battle roar tinged with the unmistakable sound of grief.
She swiftly scanned her surroundings but to no avail. A second blast rang out across the windswept peaks. The Tauren female fell to her knees, gasping for air as blood filled her mouth and lungs. Clutching the freshly made hole in her chest. She struggled to reach for something strapped to her back but was cut down by one final shot.
Dornheim moved into the clearing, a twisted, smug, yet satisfied smirk on his face. He scrounged through the belongings of the Tauren male, apparently finding nothing to his liking. He began to walk towards the female but stopped himself short as his ears picked out a strange noise.
It was a kind of faint muffled crying. Dornheim had never heard the likes of it before, so he proceeded with caution. Readying his rifle once again as he kicked the female corpse over on its side.
Then he saw something he would never forget. Strapped to the female Tauren's back, bundled in various warm furs, was the sight of a shrieking Tauren infant.
Dornheim's face blanched, his blood ran cold. "What…can't be…it can't be…" He stammered, lowering himself to get a better look. An infant white-furred Tauren infant cried out for her parents.
"What…what have I done?"
Present Day, The Drunken Hozen, Pandaria
Dornheim awoke from his reoccurring nightmare. Still slumped forward in his barstool, with half-imbibed drink cradled in one hand. He blinked the sleep from his eyes as he staggered to his feet. Finishing off the remainder of the Pandaren brew in his cup.
"Same old dream." He muttered somberly beneath his beard, heading for the exit.
It was raining outside. It seemed to be always raining here in the Jade Forest. The weather's similarity to his dream only darkened the Dwarf's mood further.
The combination of soured spirits and drunken stupor caused Dornheim to lose track of his feet on the many steps leading down to the town plaza. He fell face-first down the stairs, rolling down the stone steps in a disgraceful display of public drunkenness.
The fall had displaced some items in Dornheim's pack, spilling to the earth. Chief among them was a stuffed toy of a Tauren.
"Oh, Hannae…me daughter." The Dwarf whimpered pathetically, reaching to cradle the toy. "Forgive me…please…"
Post Third War, Stonetalon Mountains, Kalimdor
Hannae, a Tauren child with gossamer white fur and short developing horns, lay prone on the forest floor with a Dwarven rifle in her hands. She had been in that position for just over two hours now. Aiming her weapon at a stream of pristine mountain snowmelt water that trickled downwards from the precipitous clifftops.
A doe and her fawn cautiously entered the area, the mother leading her child to a source of water. Hannae, the inexperienced huntress, suppressed palpable excitement. She leveled the black powder rifle at the doe; while a finger moved towards a trigger.
A minute passed silently. The doe and fawn moved to the stream and began to drink, oblivious to the unseen danger. Five minutes past and the serene scene remained undisturbed.
Despite having been thoroughly instructed and guided to this moment, Hannae could not help but tremble. The thought of separating mother from child filled her with a dread that her young heart hadn't yet experienced. A life of seclusion among the windswept peaks of Stonetalon along with her reclusive father could not harden the young Tauren's gentle soul.
The mother and child drank their full from the stream without incident, vanishing back into the wilderness from where they emerged. Part of Hannae felt immense relief that she could not commit to the hunt; another part admonished herself. Believing to have failed her father's expectations and having wasted a golden opportunity. She lifted herself to her hooves, shoulders stooped, and heart crestfallen.
Dornheim emerged from the tree he was using as cover to conceal his presence. "Why did ye hesitate, little hooves?" He asked his adopted daughter softly, his tone of voice bearing no ill judgment of her.
"I'm sorry, Papa. I just couldn't." Hannae tried to explain herself, keeping her big brown eyes set on the earth beneath her hooves. "If the doe was alone, I could've done it…but…"
She lifted her head to meet her father's eyes. "They were a family. Like us."
Dornheim sighed not with disappointment but with understanding. He moved to embrace his daughter with a hug. Despite her youth, she was already nearly as tall as the Dwarf.
"Ah, think nothing of it, Hannae." Dornheim patted Hannae on the head as she sniffed, tears welling in her eyes as parental understanding overcame the urge to appear strong and mature.
"You're just in over your horns, is all." Dornheim wiped a tear from her furry cheek with his thumb, a smile blossoming beneath his black beard. "Let's return to camp. We'll have fish tonight, eh?"
Hannae nodded back, unable to resist the urge to smile herself. "Aye, Papa."