My name is Pathia Wildmane. I was born into a very small tribe of Wildmane that made their home within the wilds of Feralas after emigrating from Desolace. My father is Urell Wildmane, a revered hunter, and my mother is Adne Wildmane, a leatherworker. I have a twin brother, Kitahl, who managed to squeak out ahead of me by a few minutes. He's never let me forget I'm the "younger" sister. Most of my tribe is comprised of hunters, and I tried very hard to learn those skills. I spent more time daydreaming than working on my archery though. When I was about 20 summers old, my parents bore another set of twins, almost unheard of among my people, another brother and a sister. There was a lot of talk about that at the time, but I rarely listened to it. I rarely listened to anything. Since the twins were even more trouble than myself, my parents turned their attention to my younger siblings. This left me with more freedom to explore the forest and spend even more time daydreaming.
So it was that one day I stumbled upon a huge portal near the northern border of Feralas. Of course, I had no way of knowing how to activate it or where it might go, not that I didn't try! I poked and prodded every stone, nook, and cranny on that thing. I threw herbs and potions at it. I even danced around it. I went back at least once a week; I felt drawn to be there. I asked the Elders about it, but they were reticent to share any information. No surprise there; they never told me anything I actually wanted to know.
It became a consuming need to know where the portal went and why it was in our forest. Sometimes when I was sitting and contemplating, nightmarish images swathed in a green halo would flash across the backs of my closed eyelids. Instead of being scared, the terrible visions made me feel purposeful and determined. For the first time in my life, I wanted to accomplish something - to vanquish the nightmares.
One day when I went to visit I found the area overrun by creatures I had never seen before, and they were definitely not interested in making my acquaintance. They were huge and green and had frightening long-snouted faces filled with pointy teeth. Some of them flew on great wings and others walked like centaurs and wore heavy armor. When I told the Elders about what I had found, they reacted swiftly and moved the entire tribe clear across Feralas. The resident Grimtotem were apparently less of a threat than whatever had crawled out of that portal.
The tribe prospered with the move, however, and we began to trade with the Tauren of a small camp near Wildwind Lake. I was now approaching the date of my adulthood ceremony but had yet to master the hunter's path. To say I was panicking was putting it mildly. Kitahl tried his best to help me learn how to shoot a bow and gun and how to tame a companion. The taming was the easy part. I had no trouble coaxing critters to be my friend, but they didn't seem quite as interested in fighting by my side as they did in eating my homemade bread. A lot of bears grew fat and happy in Feralas during that year. What I really wanted was a pet yeti, but that's a whole other story.
The ceremony marking adulthood finally arrived. Extended tribe members arrived to take part in the celebration, including Kym Wildmane, a druid from Thunder Bluff. I'd never heard of this Tauren city but was very interested. I pestered Kym for details about it and how Tauren had founded it. I became quite a nuisance actually as I gathered as much information as I could. Kym was always patient with me though and I appreciated that at the time. I even talked to her about possibly returning with her. I wasn't very good at much except cooking, but I figured there had to be a lot of mouths to feed in a big city.
Kym took a lot of interest in me at the time. I remember feeling grateful and a sense of belonging when I spoke to her. She asked me if I was happy and the short answer was yes, but the longer answer was that I knew something was missing from my life. I knew the hunter's path wasn't the one for me, but I didn’t know what else to do with myself. She blathered on about druids and I really only half listened, truth to be told. I was more interested in that whole bit about turning into animals than all namby-pamby nature balance junk. She talked almost as much as an Elder.
As part of the ceremony, an archery competition was held and all had proven themselves adept except me, of course. Much to my dismay, my arrow had found its mark in Elder Thal's backside. You would not believe the uproar that caused. I barely even broke the skin on his big grey rump! I told him if he was going to be judging archery he probably should have been wearing leather and not a skirt. My early wisdom was never fully appreciated.
When the others went out hunting to gather skins and meat to clothe and feed the tribe, I ended up wandering aimlessly through the woods. I was nearly ready to give up in defeat. I plunked myself down on a rock to have a good pity party and contemplated not returning to the tribe. Surely it was better to not return at all than to return in shame.
While I was sitting there, head in my hands, the perfect picture of misery and distress, an ironfur patriarch wandered over and sat down beside me. This, by itself, wasn't so unusual. I've always had a way with animals. Sometimes they followed me around even when I didn't want them to. It was pretty odd though when he started talking. That was when I realized I must have fallen asleep and was dreaming again.
To make a really long and tedious story short, the bear went on and on about responsibility and more of that balance stuff and something called The Dream. He talked about some stuff that sounded pretty scary at the time, scarier than Grimtotems and ogres by far. I think he knew I wasn't really listening, but he kept on talking anyway. Finally, he took my hand in his paw and dropped a large claw into my palm. The claw was etched with blue and green symbols that meant absolutely nothing to me but somehow meant everything to me at the same time. Dreams are like that, you know?
I woke up then. Well, actually, I fell off the rock then and landed on my face which is pretty effective at waking a person up. You always hear about Tauren going on vision quests and stuff, but I'll admit I was pretty freaked out when I realized that claw was still in my hand. Was it a dream? Wasn't it a dream? Was it something in the middle? To this day, I still don't know.
What I do know is that I returned to my tribe and showed the claw to the Elders. There was a whole bunch of that annoying murmuring and whispering that adults do when they're talking about you and you're still standing right there and can't hear them because there's some kind of mystic adult-adolescent sound barrier or something. Kym even got in on all that frantic gesticulating and yapping while I just stood thinking I should have just climbed a tree and become a squirrel.
When it was all said and done, they gave the claw back to me (and I still wear it to this day) and gave me the name Runeclaw, not very creative. I was hoping for something exciting like Ragetail or Irontooth. The only saving grace was that Kitahl couldn't say much since his name was just as boring – Flinthoof. Kym told me that I should come to Thunder Bluff and meet someone named Hamuul Runetotem. The Elders really, really liked that idea (me going off to Thunder Bluff), but I was pretty reluctant to leave my family. After all, they were all I had ever known and the most important thing in my life.
As fate would have it however, Kitahl immediately decided to go out and see the world. The little camp by the lake had become a full-fledged outpost over the years, and he liked listening to the tales from the travelers that passed through. I got pretty lonely without him around and it wasn't long after him that I left as well.
I don't mind admitting that it was a really, really long walk to Thunder Bluff. I almost gave up and turned around to go home more than a few times. There were centaurs in Thousand Needles, quillboar and more centaurs in The Barrens, and harpies and more quillboar in Mulgore. I could probably write three or four stories just on that journey alone. Maybe I will someday. I did make it to Thunder Bluff though, in mostly one piece even, and the rest, as they say, is history.