Disclaimer: I own nothing but Oryane. Blizzard, on the other hand, has a share in the custody of my soul...
Survivor's Guild 1: Oryane Harrow
I am going to die. Clearly. Obviously. These people want me dead, but instead of just doing it quickly and mercifully, they are going to have a show. And then they are probably going to cook what is left of me and have dinner, too. Dinner and a show. I don't think I'll much enjoy the show. What am I even thinking? Oh right. Death. There it is. Lots of teeth, it's got, Death. Light bless, I'm going to die.
Oryane Harrow was used to facing down the odds and winning. She considered herself a survivor. Her parents had been Gilneans before they disagreed with King Greymane over leaving the Alliance and uprooted, moving south to Stormwind. Oryane, a year old at the time, had survived the harsh journey through the mountains. Neither of her older brothers had managed the same. Her father opened a tailoring shop and her mother baked bread and sold it from a cart she pushed around the Trade District—a far cry from the positions they had held as advisors at court in Gilneas. Her father had fallen to drinking and died in a bar fight he'd probably started when Oryane was three. Her mother died in childbirth eight months later, as did the baby sister Oryane should have had.
Contrary to probability, logic, and statistics, Oryane had survived. She had survived the orphanage, running away from the orphanage, the streets; she had survived joining a gang of thieves and the last job, the one with the orcs; she had survived the trial, the Stockade, and the escape from it. She had survived her first meeting with the bandits that populated Elwynn Forest. She had survived sixteen years. I guess my luck has finally run out.
The wolf growled from across the clearing, lifting its head to stare directly at her. She shrank further back into the shadows beneath the trees, but Hedge laughed softly and shoved her forward. He was a rather putrid mongrel of a man, but she had seen worse. Sad, really. That there could be worse than him. That I've met worse than him. That he's going to be the last person I met in this life. He shoved her again and she heard one of the Cronies laugh. Hedge had three cronies, and four hangers-on. Pretty big group for forest bandits. She was surprised none of them had killed any of the others off. Suppose they don't need to kill each other when they can kill people like me. Including me. She took a long, shaking breath and was forced into the clearing by the tip of a sword tickling her back until she stepped into the moonlight.
"How did you get yourself into this, Oryane?" she muttered to herself. The wolf facing her growled again, its hackles rising in a challenge. She backed away as far as she could, but Hedge's rusted sword forced her forward again.
"No, no, no, Harrow," he huffed into her ear, his breath rancid and hot. She nearly gagged. "You want to join up, you got to pass the test," he sing-songed.
"That's just it," she muttered. "I have no desire whatsoever to 'join up.'" She had fallen upon Hedge's gang entirely by accident. Literally fallen and literally by accident. She had escaped the pursuit of the royal guards (led by the intrepid Captain Doormund, his mad ambition for a promotion, and his favourite scent hounds) by climbing a particularly full pine tree whose accommodating needles had shielded her from view and scent. And though the guards had given up the search (Doormund swearing to find her if it was the last thing he ever did), the bandits had made camp for the night under her tree. Exhausted from her recent escape and chase, Oryane had inconveniently fallen asleep and fallen from the pine into the midst of the bandits. Hedge, perhaps in twisted logic, perhaps as a joke for his own amusement, had taken this as a plea to join his crew. And since, he said, the boys and girls hadn't had any violence in the past few days, she would have to pass the test to join.
So it was with nothing but a newly turned ankle, a mere hour or two of sleep, and a fresh price on her head that Oryane now faced down the wolf across the clearing. "No weapons, no help, no mercy on either side of the fight," Hedge had explained as he led her to her doom. She felt like crying, but that certainly wouldn't help. I was meant to join SI:7. I was meant to know how to be invisible by now. Lady Elune, I'm only sixteen! I was meant to do a lot of things! But I'm going to die instead. "Bugger off, Harrow," she scolded herself. "Concentrate."
The wolf responded to the note of defiance that had crept into her voice and it took several paces forward. Her eyes widened and she froze. She forced her voice to be calm and gentle and unclenched her empty fists. "I was just talking to myself there," she said to the wolf. "On any normal day, I swear, I'd never be challenging you like this."
"Fight it!" one of the Cronies whispered from behind her. The wolf's lip curled back, baring its teeth.
"Oh, Light," Oryane breathed, willing the bandits to all just shut up. The Hangers-On were laughing quietly, and the wolf turned toward the sound, briefly. But Hedge shut up his followers and the wolf returned its attention to her, the far bigger threat. Noises in the night or a clear danger? I'd be concentrating on me, too. I am concentrating on me. I'm concentrating on me not dying here. Not dying? Who am I kidding? Are everyone's thoughts this disorganized when they are faced with death? This isn't even the first time I've been faced with death! Why am I so scared? Because I'm alone. No mum, no Maegan, no Shaw, no Gagey or Rylan or Kellar. Why am I alone?
The wolf was circling now, padding slowly closer and closer as it followed her around the circle of the clearing. She knew any second now it would leap at her and that would be the end. Kellar, what would you have done if you hadn't been an idiot and gotten yourself executed a traitor? Damnit, Kellar, I need you. What good is Kellar and Harrow if there isn't a Kellar? Though, I suppose in a minute here, there won't be a Harrow, either. She saw the wolf's legs tense. It gathered its weight, ready to spring. "Step one, always get a weapon," she muttered as she finally remembered, repeating a phrase Shaw had beaten into her head over and over. Little late for that now, she realized as the wolf, finally deciding that she was not going to back down from this challenge, launched itself at her, landing heavily on her chest, following her down as she fell.
The second it touched her, though, something happened. There was a tug, deep in her gut, and something pulled at her mind. She could feel the ground pressing against her back, the wolf's claws digging into her shoulders, its hot breath on her cheek, but it was all peripheral. It didn't matter. She stared the wolf directly in the eyes, its green, glowing eyes, and she knew it. She knew his very deepest secret, the brightest and darkest corners of his soul, and he howled as he learned hers. There was a flash of greenish light and, just like that there was a bond between them, like a line had been drawn from his heart to hers. He slid off of her and sat next to her, tongue lolling in a canine smile, tail wagging. She smiled as she sat up, wincing at the pain in her shoulders, but uncaring of it in the face of this new development.
"What just happened?" one of the Cronies asked stupidly.
"I wanted to see her throat torn out," another one whined. "Hedge, you promised me her throat torn out."
"S'not my fault," Hedge shot back, dumbfounded as the rest.
"We were promised blood," the largest Hanger-On spat. The others all began to nod and murmur in agreement. Hedge was still too stunned by the show Oryane had put on to respond. The gang began to form up and heft their weapons, all of them eyeing Hedge. He turned to her, eyes pleading for help. She looked down at the wolf, who seemed to raise his eyebrows in a show of Are you kidding me? Hedge began to cry.
"Don't worry" Oryane told the bandit. "You just have to pass the test." She turned and walked out of the clearing, ignoring the sounds of the nine bandits finally getting around to killing each other off. She stroked the wolf's head as he padded beside her, all the way back to the secret entrance SI:7 had carved into the wall of Stormwind.
"Heinrich!" Oryane shouted bursting into Honest Blades, uncaring that it was only six thirty in the morning or that every guard in Old Town would probably be looking for her. "Heinrich! Wake up!"
"Ory?" the blade merchant stuck his head over the railing and blearily looked down at her. "What are you doing here, girl? Don't you know the whole city's looking for you?"
"Shut up, it doesn't matter," she said excitedly, waving her hands as if to swat away his words. "Heinrich, do you know any hunter trainers?"
"Hunter trainers?" Heinrich yawned, waving her up the stairs. She bounded into his room as he set a kettle over the fire to boil. "Not until I've had some coffee, Ory, you know that."
"This is really important, Heinrich."
"Obviously. Or I wouldn't be awake so early. Now calm down, sit down, and tell me the story from the beginning while I slowly wake up." She did as she was told—for once—and ten minutes later, Heinrich was pulling on his boots. "Come on, girl," he said. "I'm taking you to Wulf and Sarisse. They'll know what to do with you. Where's the wolf?"
"Outside. I didn't think you'd want him in here."
"You thought right. What are you going to name him?" Oryane paused at her old friend's question.
"I hadn't really thought about it." The wolf came up beside her as she exited the shop, Heinrich locking the door behind her. "I suppose I can't just keep calling you 'Wolf,' can I?" she murmured, thinking. Heinrich smiled and led her around to the Command Center where a very awake, dark skinned woman opened the door at his knock.
"Heinrich!" she said, smiling. "Got anything new and shiny you'd like to share?"
"Sorry, Sarisse," Heinrich said. "I'm not selling today, unless you take commissions on the discovery of new students. This is Oryane."
"Not Oryane Harrow, I'm sure?" Sarisse said, rising an eyebrow. "Wanted for treason and all that?" Oryane blushed, but didn't back down.
"If it's any help, I'm innocent of the charge," she said. "I tried to stop Kellar from striking that deal."
"It's ok, hon, I'm not accusing you. I'm friends with Shaw and he believes you. So do I."
"That's new and unexpected," Oryane said, smiling in relief.
"You should really go see him; he's worried sick."
"SI:7 ops don't get worried sick," a new voice said from within the building. "But they do sit up all night debating whether or not to send an agent into the field to find the young girl who's run away from the city and into the arms of a pack of bandits. Hello, Oryane." The voice was revealed to belong to a tall, bearded man whose eyes had smile lines around them. "I'm Wulf. That's with a 'u' so as not to be confused with that fine animal at your side. May I?" He held out a hand to Oryane's wolf tentatively. She glanced down at her companion, whose hackles had risen slightly at the new people. She rested a hand gently on his back and he relaxed, looking up at her. She nodded and his tail began to wag again.
"Go ahead," she said to Wulf. He crouched down and ran his hands over the wolf, smiling.
"Extraordinary," Sarisse murmured. "I've never seen such a close connection before. And Wulf's only off by one letter." The pair of hunters laughed. "What's his name?" she asked. Oryane hesitated. They all looked up at her expectantly, even the wolf. She looked back at him, met his green gaze and smiled as it came to her.
"Syrius," she said. "There's no other name it could be." Wulf laughed again.
"I appreciate the mythology behind your choice," he said, holding out his hand to her. She shook it. "Welcome aboard, Oryane, Syrius. You've got some training ahead of you, but here's the good news."
"What's that?" Oryane asked.
Sarisse smiled. "You've already passed the test."
A/N: So it begins... I'll get around to writing the story that involves Kellar, the job with the orcs, and Captain Doormund eventually. I promise.