He was but nine years old when Liam’s family went to Stormwind for the first time. They had procured the services of a merchant who had docked at Southshore and made their way to the heart of the Alliance. They enjoyed their six weeks immensely, and on the return had found another ship. This one was traveling to Menethil Harbor, and so the Stephensons were content once more knowing they would simply have to find someone else to sail them back to Southshore.
That task proved a bit more difficult. After four days, Liam’s father convinced a fishing trolly to make the trek. There was promise of great pools of fish in Southshore (which was completely true), and that lit up the dwarf’s eyes enough to agree. That and the case of bourbon Mr. Stephenson had purchased in Stormwind.
The dwarf captain was a friendly sort. Liam found it odd that the two were nearly the same height, but then he hadn’t been outside of human settlements all that often and even in Stormwind his family had remained close to the park area. His mother had chosen the destination and always had an affinity for magical sorts. The Blue “something or other” it was called.
The weather could not have been better for sailing up the coastal area the dwarf referred to as the “Wetlands.” The winds curled north of the harbor and actually had them on course for a quicker destination than anticipated. It wasn’t until they had crossed The Drowned Reef that they ran into trouble. A storm had made it’s way inward, whitecapping the sea and making the water incredibly rough. The dwarf persevered and got them into a cove where they could at least take shelter. He knew his rickety old “ship” wasn’t going to be able to withstand the elements.
When they came out of the cove the next morning, the weather was calm as most were used to. Unfortunately, the ship accurately did not survive the storm. Liam was the first to notice, being a young adventurous boy and early to rise. When he woke the captain from his bourbon induced coma, the latter wasn’t all that happy. Even less so when he saw what was left of his ship. Fortunately for the dwarf, he wasn’t yet out of bourbon. All was not lost.
The four spent the better part of the morning looking for the best means out of the cove. Eventually, Mrs. Stephenson had discovered an area they would be able to traverse relatively easy to climb out of the cove. They would just have to swim across. It was decided they would leave the next morning.
When they finally reached the peak of the escarpment, all were relieved they at least knew where they had washed up. The dwarf spotted Stromgarde to the west -they were in the Arathi Highlands. The bad news was they still had several days of travel ahead of them.
The first couple of days proved to be most accommodating. The weather was fair, the breeze was comforting and even a stop to fish up some food proved most successful. In fact, the dwarf and Liam’s father alone probably caught enough for three meals. Well, human meals. Man, could that sea captain eat!
It was the third day when the four of them crested a hill and could finally see Thoradin’s Wall off in the distance. They pressed on a fair distance, inspired by the sight of the landmark that bordered the Highlands and the Hillsbrad region. Granted, Southshore was still a few days past the wall, but it was the boost their travels needed.
Roughly an hour after they spotted the Wall, Liam found they were confronted with a smell so nauseating that it was all he could do not to vomit the fish from the night before. The dwarf noticed it first, waving away the flies as he approached. A raptor. It had been dead for quite some time, and with no shade over this portion of the Highlands, had been baked quite thoroughly. Covering their noses and mouths, the group pressed on until they were far enough that the scent was no longer noticed. A mid-afternoon breeze helped with that task in a most timely manner. What it also did was carry their scent.
Not more than a few miles from where they had found the raptor corpse did it strike -the mate. Liam was walking behind his parents and ahead of the captain when it leapt down upon them. Liam’s father had pulled Mrs. Stephenson out of the way and the dwarf went to shelter the boy but was no match. He was knocked to the ground in the split second of chaos, leaving Liam fallen back on the ground, looking up. The raptor let out a shrill roar that froze Liam in place, terrified. He could still remember soiling his britches.
What he couldn’t remember, was what happened in those moments. All he recalled was the terrifying screech. It was all he saw in his eyes while events around him transpired. And then, they were burying the dwarf.
Kheiro was calling to Liam as his thoughts returned him to the present form of that awful screech. “We have been invited to sit before the fire for dinner. Come Liam.” The Tauren then proceeded to remove a bedroll and place it formally next to the fire and the Orc who appeared to have lit it.
Liam looked down at Drake. He liked his chances just as well with his canine companion, and the Tauren as well. But just the same, he was content to avoid that sound entirely between now and Booty Bay.