As they came upon what was once the Great Arena of the Guru’bashi Empire (so said Kheiro, yet again), Liam stood in awe for a moment. He had not seen a gladiatorial staging area before, though he had heard stories of them when he was younger. He couldn’t help but imagine the arena full of frothing spectators and noble warriors.
“Mmmm, on occasion yes” said Kheiro. “It’s just as likely the Gurubashi were serving up prisoners as a sacrificial form of entertainment.” The Tauren surveyed the stadium before turning back toward the main road.
Thus far the trip had been a calm one. Rather, the trip had been pleasant once Liam had been calmed down and they indeed did not come upon (nor hear) any type of raptor after leaving Grom’gol. They spotted a few gorillas, which if left alone would return the favour in kind. Drake got his gruff up when they passed within relative distance of a large jungle cat. However, the cat seemed to recognize it’s disadvantage and had simply pounced back into the brush.
“Kheiro, someone’s on the road ahead.” Liam pointed at the individual roughly one hundred yards away. Drake closed his distance to his master quickly upon hearing the words, his own eyes taking in whomever was awaiting them on their path.
The Tauren stared as well. “Human. It’s a male…can’t tell much else from the shadows and this distance.” He paused a moment, undoing the strap that held his massive axe in place. “Never hurts to proceed…cautiously.”
As they narrowed the gap between them and the individual, Liam, Drake, and the Tauren were all on guard. Liam had two arrows between his boney fingers, though his bow appeared loose in his arm. Kheiro did nothing to hide his hesitation as they approached, but noticed first the man was a tattered mess at best.
The human looked to be of middle age, though was incredibly worse for wear. His shirt and britches were tattered and hanging from him. He was walking at a snail’s pace and limping quite visibly. When he saw Liam and the others, he raised a hand which shook nearly as much as his voice. “I…I..am…unarmed…Please…I mean no trouble.”
Liam and Kheiro stared at him, and exchanged uncertain glances. Drake continued to let out a low growl as the man approached them, now pleading as he saw their weapons still at the ready.
“I’M HARMLESS! I HAVE NOTHING! I wish to cause you no trouble, but if you have even the slightest water to share I would be grateful. Otherwise, just point me to the nearest town!” He was panting at this point, nearly down to one knee. Liam figured it took most of his energy getting that worked up.
Kheiro lowered his axe towards the man slightly. “What has lead you to such a destitute state of affairs?”
The man sighed. “Shipwrecked. Was being transported to Stormwind when it hit in an instant. Damn boat never had a chance.”
“What do you mean you were being transported?” Kheiro’s brow furrowed slightly. One had to look very closely to even notice. “And where are the others from this ship?”
“I don’t know. Many I saw were dead. I don’t know if it was all of them…I can’t even say how I’m here.” He caught his hands on his knees and regained himself after a few moments. “Look, truth be told…I was a smuggler. Not a very good one mind you, because I got caught. Myself and some of the other passengers were being taken to Stormwind.”
Drake barked and Liam knew the dog was thinking the same thing. One survivor seemed too good to be true. Not that Liam was any expert on life and death given his current state of existence. But he knew if there was still hair on the back of his neck, it would be on end right now. Still, the man did look to be on last legs. “I don’t believe him,” Liam said to the Tauren, “but I can’t deny he looks like some water would do him good.”
Kheiro closed his eyes a moment before nodding in agreement. He put his axe on end and untied his canteen from his belt. The man reached out for it, but Kheiro merely placed it on the ground in front of him. “I do not mean to be insulting, but I feel comfort in keeping my hands on my axe the closer you get to me. It will maintain an understanding.”
Liam was laughing in the back of his mind. So the Tauren did have a sense of humour…even if it was an imposing one just the same. Still, the dog wasn’t laughing or even backing down in the slightest which kept Liam equally as alert. The situation was not sitting well, and he knew Kheiro knew it too.
He watched the man practically extend his arm out of his shoulder just to reach the water without getting too close to the Tauren. He sat flat once the canteen was in his hands and relished the feeling as water flowed into his body.
“Thank you. This is quite refreshing. I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t come along.” It was a miracle he could get the words out with how fast he was drinking the water. Liam shook his head as the poor fool even choked a moment from drinking it too fast.
In that moment, Kheiro let his guard down as well and the tattered man knew he had his moment. He kicked his heel into the ground and in a flash pushed himself forward and drove the toe blade in just below the knee of the mighty Tauren. Liam’s giant ally dropped to one knee almost immediately, having to use the axe to catch himself.
Instinctively Liam had the two arrows in his hand knocked and was ready to let both into his target when the net toppled him and Drake at the same time. Before any of them could swear about what happened, they were surrounded.
“This would be the moment where laying down your weapons would be the wisest course of action.” The tattered man in dire need of water moments ago stood over Liam and his comrades, a wide grin on his face.