Tahtonkah rose shortly before the sun rose, as was his normal habit. He splashed a little water on his face to clear the sleep from his eyes. He turned to face the east as the sun rose over the horizon. He still marveled at how beautiful this stark land, these Barrens, could really be; and how different from his own home in distant Mulgore. He gave a silent prayer of thanks to Father Sun and the Earth Mother, and offered some pollen in their honor. He also thanked the Rock People of the mountain he had slept on last night for their protection. His brother had been trained in the ways of the shaman and had taught him how to be notice and be respectful of the World around him.
He gathered his few belongings, slipped the pack on his broad back and picked up his trusty rifle. He spent a few moments making sure that it was loaded, the barrel was clear and no rust had appeared. He also checked the large hammer was in good order and hanging loose enough from the pack that he could pull it off with just a moments notice. He ate a quick breakfast and prepared to start the days business. Where is that cat] he thought to himself. Placing his fingers in his mouth he gave a loud, sharp whistle.
From a little ways down the ridge, a stand of bushes started to shake and out stepped the cat. "Come, Echeyakee, it is time to go." He started down the mountain and would soon be on the plain below. This part of the Barrens was known as Agama'gor and was inhabited by a very unusual race of beings.
These creatures had, somewhere in their ancestry, a relation to the wild boars. They actually named their differing tribes after boars â€“ the one around him called themselves Quillboars. He had first encountered their kin in Mulgore, where some of them had invaded the Brambleblade Ravine near Camp Narache and had also defiled an ancestral burying ground in Mulgore itself. When he had first encountered these creatures, he had tried to converse with one. All it did was issue it's squealing war cry and attacked him. He tried on several different occasions but all with same result. Now, he doesn't even try, they are kill on sight, especially after he say what they had done to the once lush canyon now called Brambleblade. As Tahtonkah trotted down the mountainside, his partner Ecehyakee running by his side, he reflected on how he and the great white lion had become his constant companion. All Hunters have their own unique bond with the natural world, just like Shamen and Druids. The Hunter though, is more connected to the wildlife. He had been doing some work around the important trade hub known in the Orc tongue as Crossroads when he had been approached by a she-orc named Sergra Darkthorn. He had done some tasks for her in the past. She had told him that there was rampaging lion wreaking havoc in some of the farms in the northern barrens. He still remembers her words "Whitemist, Echeyakee in the Tauren tongue, is the king of the savannah cats. He hunts with such stealth, they say he's like a thin, white mist on the earth. And he kills so fast his prey has no time for fear, or pain. The Tauren say he is both mercy and death."
She had given Tahtonkah a horn that, when blown, would have called the cat to who ever winded it. She asked that he kill the cat and brings its hide back so she could show the farmers that the threat had passed. Well, he had did as she had asked, but when he saw the great cat, Whitemist, Tahtonka felt a calling within his soul. He and the cat stopped and stared into each others eyes and bonded. He still felt proud that the cat would honor him so. This was the only task for Sergra that he did not complete to the letter. When she saw him coming back into Crossroads with Echeyakee by his side, she knew what had happened and she also knew that the lion would not be bothering the farmers anymore so she was satisfied.
While in Crossroads he had met an Orc named Mankrik, who had recently learned that his mate had been killed by the pig-men. He was consumed by rage and asked Tahtonkah to aid him in exacting vengeance on them. Mankrik had said "Perhaps you know the pain of uncertainty, perhaps not, Tahtonkah. But know this: I stand here every day, from the sun's rising till its decline, scouring the horizon for more of those monsters. I've killed every pig man I've come across since, but my thirst for their blood is far from quenched. Perhaps instead of heading north to the Crossroads I should have headed to Taurajo. Please help me. Kill them. Kill as many as you can. Bring me their tusks, and we will celebrate their deaths together." Tahtonkah could only imagine how much it galled the proud warrior to ask for help. He could not leave the Crossroads as there had been increased attacks by the Alliance on this important Horde outpost. "Yes Mankrik, I will aid you in this. I too have sen the depradations of these pig-men on my himeland.
"Thank you Hunter. Bring their tusks and we will create a trophy mound!"
Tahtonkah then travelled several days south along the Gold Road till he reached the area known as Agama'gor where this tribe of pig-men lived. He had been killing them for several days now and he had decided that he had enough of their tusks to make Mankrik a proud trophy mound. He reached the dry grasslands and started to head toward Camp Taurjo. He had not travelled more than a few hours when he was brought up short. Before him, grazing on the tough grasses, was a huge kodo. Tahtonkah was trained as a skinner and a leatherworker as he had nimble fingers. What a hide that beast has he thought to himself. It would make many fine items. "Come Echeyakee, we have work to do". He moved downwind to the beast and he and the cat approached as stealthily as possible. When Tahtonka felt they were in the perfect position, he turned to the cat "Echeyakee, we are up to this battle. Move to the beast's side and I will take the front." The big cat crept through the grass until it was close then it pounced, raking the might kodo with class. At the same moment, Tahtonkah opened fire with his rifle, pumping round after round into the beast. The kodo fought valiantly, stomping with its massive feet, smashing with its large head and neck.
It took some time but eventually they wore the beast down. With a loud groan, the magnificent kodo dropped to its knees, then fell over on its side. Tahtonkah approached the beast in awe, he had never seen such an example of kodo. "This one must be the Grandfather Kodo, Echeyakee" he said. He looked down at the cat and saw that it was battered and bruised. "Rest friend", he said "while I tend to your wounds."
Tahtonka, after treating Echeyakee's wounds, went about the task of skinning the great kodo. It took several hours, but at last, the task was done. He was able to obtain several nice pieces of leather as well as some meat for several meals. He knew no one would believe him about this creature so he decided to take one of its hooves back to Camp Taurajo to show them. Packing up everything he and his companion started their journey back across the Barrens to the Camp. Upon arriving there late that evening, he found Jorn Skyseer still awake. In his excitement, he rushed up to the older Tauren to show him what he had done.
"That is good, young hunter. You have met the beast named Lakota'mani." He gave Tahtonkah a knowing look and continued "Lakota'mani is called "Earthshaker" in our language, and his steps are like gathered thunder. He is with you now, and his courage mingles with yours. Together there is no conflict you cannot face. Walk tall, Tahtonkah. Walk tall, Earthshaker."