A bright and sunny day swam over Thunder Bluff like a blanket, bringing good tidings and fair moods to its denizens. All around the tauren were busy and no moment was wasted to trade goods or hunt for hides and other materials. However, to the Elder Rise, a large, elderly tauren was still slumbering in his hut, undisturbed by the activity of the city.
Rheb slowly swam through his brothers and sisters, ensuring that his hand was tight on the bridge’s railing. He grumbled and fussed as some tauren accidentally bumped into it, almost like leaves to the wind. It wasn’t their fault by any means but his large frame was perhaps the major problem with these accidents. After all, the bridge only span so far and there was a large bustle of activity throughout the city.
He finally trailed his way into the Elder Rise and gazed about, looking worse for wear and a scolding expression latched onto his face like some scorning parent. His eyes locked to a particular tent and headed toward it.
“Rawn!” Rheb yelled, sounding a bit irritated. “Get up, you old cow! Don’t make me act like mother or father when you shirk your responsibilities!” Rheb kept grumbling as he headed toward the tent but something didn’t seem right. It was as if he was the only one around and his words reached nobody, like some apparition clouded this area of the Elder Rise. He stopped right in front of the tent and examined it. Soon after his expression turned from a scowl to a grimace.
Within the tent was Rawn, an old and elderly tauren who was a few inches more taller than Rheb. Large patches of gray covered this tauren and a wrinkled face showed much wisdom to his years. He was laying on a mat made of cloth when Rheb entered and was laying still, as if all the physical movements of this world had no effect on him.
Rheb looked over Rawn and knelt down. A fear stabbed itself into his mind, a painful realization of what would occur should he check the old tauren’s body or hinder it in any way. Why should he conclude his fears when he could spare himself the agony and simply walk away? Would it even be any better to be left unaware than to find closure?
The stench of death slowly revealed itself within the tent. All was silent, only the sound of one heartbeat echoing, pumping as Rheb’s hand slowly moved toward Rawn’s chest. Rheb touched the graying and withering hairs and pressed down ever so gently. Rheb widened his eyes, gasped quietly to himself, then lowered. After a minute of gazing at Rawn, Rheb slowly lowered his head to the old tauren’s chest and wept quietly.
Rawn had passed in his sleep.
It was quiet now, no signs of any bustling or words being exchanged. The day had quickly passed since then and a ceremony was taking place below the buff at the graveyard. There were many tauren present, but the symmetry of this ceremony felt disturbed as many different others were also attending, those others being a part of the Alliance. While the numbers were erratic those of the Alliance were a mix of different races and all were silent during the ceremony as well even despite the glares and stares they were acquiring from the Horde people in attendance. This was no time to fight and it would certainly be an insult to he who had passed if blood was shed.
Rawn’s still body was resting on an altar when Rheb finally walked up the aisle and in front of the crowd. He gazed about, an unrecognizable face peering at them, almost as if a shift of personality had just taken place in this one single day. Rheb let out a quiet sigh and began the processions once he found the courage to start.
“We gather here today to witness the passing of a good friend. Rawn was my brother, as many of you know, and he was simply more than a brother to me, he also taught me many things about companionship and strength.” Rheb’s glance went to the Alliance group near the back and then returned to the general crowd. “It is a sad day to see such a good brother of ours depart, but this is the cycle of life. When we are born we are also to die, so says the Earthmother. Like the passing seasons all must have an end.”
The tauren uttered some words in their native language and then lowered their heads in respect. The Alliance members attending also uttered some words in their respective languages and lowered their heads as well. After a moment, Rheb continued the procession. He took some powder and spread it across Rawn’s body, then sprinkled some oil.
“Bless you, Rawn, and may your spirit revel in never-ending peace within the afterlife. Let your sorrows dissipate and your agonies vanquish, your hates disappear and your regrets diminish as you enter into the Earthmother’s care and bastion of tranquility. By this act shall I give your body to the Earthmother and release your spirit from this plane of existence.”
Once Rheb finished spreading the oil he took the ceremonial torch sitting beside Rawn’s body and ignited it. He said a prayer in Taurahe and then ignited Rawn’s body. Everyone lowered their heads and prayed as Rawn’s body slowly turned to ash. However, Rheb watched, watching the hair and flesh burn, smelling the acrid smoke and stench of death and decay fill his lungs. He took it all in by force when his body refused. He wanted the memories of Rawn to cling to him no matter what, to never forget what Rawn had given him, what was sacrificed to reach this point. In hopes to remember Rheb continued watching and clogging his lungs, like the sting of a learning experience which should be remembered forever.
The procession disappeared an hour early but the Alliance members and Rheb all gathered near the altar, staring at the dark smudge left behind by Rawn’s body. Since then nothing was said and they all simply stared at it, lost in their own minds.
“Can’t believe he’s gone,” Cham said, finally breaking the hour-long silence. Some of them looked up to Cham while the rest stared at the smudge on the altar. Khaadgrim nodded, who was still looking at the altar when Cham spoke.
“A tragic day indeed,” Khaadgrim said. “It was inevitable, being how old he was, but I was hoping this day would prolong itself until some peace was acquired.” He shuffled his helmet side to side and let out a drawn-out sigh. Demura put her hand on Khaadgrim’s shoulder and smiled.
“We’ve been here too long,” she said, now smiling at everyone else. “He wouldn’t want us to be crying over him like this, right? Let’s at least be happy he’s finally at peace now.” Some nodded, others were still silent. Even so the words were as loud and clear as the night was present over the group.
Rheb continued to gazed at the altar with a sullen expression. He gently swept a hand over the smudge and wiped it off the altar. The others lifted their gazed and looked to him like he broke the spell enchanting them.
“The cycle of life,” Rheb quietly murmured to himself. “Brother always had so much to say to that. He had much to say about everything. Even if his lung hurt he always wanted to talk about what was going on today.” Rheb chuckled. The others joined in agreement.
“I think,” Cham began to add, grinning, “when Khaad hurt me Rawn was always there to patch me back up or heal me a bit.” Khaadgrim grinned under his helmet and nodded to him.
“I recall he and Reichel to have some conversations about the Earthmother and Elune,” Khaadgrim mentioned, still looking to Cham. He nodded with a smile and petted the mace on his back.
“Ain’t that right, Reich?” Reichel’s spirit popped out from the mace and her ghostly head nodded.
“We could have discussed about everything, but….” Her voice trailed off and everyone was about to creep back into silence until Kardus broke out loudly.
“Jeez! I hope you young sob-stories don’t act like this at my funeral! This is just depressing!” He looked at everyone else and chuckled. Everyone broke into soft laughter and felt a bit less upset.
Cham started out again. “He was a good guy. He’s in a better place now. As long as we’ve got each other,” he looked to everyone else, that smile still on his face, “he’ll be happy up there, I’m sure of it.”
“Smart words for an idiot,” Khaadgrim blurted out, grinning.
“Hey!” Cham retorted, and then everyone burst into more laughter.
“Ah, friendship,” Berlshenk finally said, letting out a weary sigh. “I’m certainly surprised we’re all still intact. I guess we’ve got somethin’ special.”
“Bah!” Barzik blurted out. “We married ‘er somethin’? We’re all just smart folk, that’s what! Bother with the damn other side when we’ve got more worse problems workin’ up!” Some chuckled here and there but to all they agreed to this.
Rhemis looked over the group with a stern face. “We are facing great challenge during these times. It would be prudent for us to work together as we’ve being doing. I’m sure you all agree.” Again, the group nodded, sure of this fact as well.
Cham hopped off the altar and twirled about, bringing out a trumpet all the while. “Hey hey hey now! I just realized, this shouldn’t be so bad! Death shouldn’t be so tragic! In fact, we should praise the guy and do a little song for him! Whaddya say?” The group looked to each other and then to Cham, who was already blazing out notes from his trumpet. The tune was whimsical and caused everyone to reach a sense of celebration.
Berlshenk and Khaadgrim looked to each other and smiled. Berlshenk unstrapped his backpack of endless storage while Khaadgrim unbuckled his shoulder pads of infinite storage – both of which had odd magical properties no one could understand. After some rummaging the two took out intricate violins from their respective storages and began playing along with Cham.
“Say, is my guitar in there?” Demura asked, looking to Khaadgrim. The Kor’kron nodded as he continued playing and soon after Demura joined in with her guitar. The group created a majestic melody with their instruments as they rang throughout Thunder Bluff, taking those young and old, stressed and agonized to slumber. The melody continued to grow as the others joined in with their instruments, from the bass violin to the accordion and flute, piccolo, drums and even the bagpipes. The group continued to play songs until the end of midnight, where they would remember this day as the friends of a fallen comrade.