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"Neither of you will survive the night," the orc said.

Vindicator Maraad and Sentinel Commander Lyalia ignored him. He had made similar threats every night since he had been captured. Lyalia poked the campfire with one of her moonglaive's blades, repositioning a log. The flames roared briefly. The light played off Maraad's hammer, sending thin, flickering violet rays across his armor.

"The night elf will die first," the orc said a few minutes later. "I will make you watch her die, draenei. I promise this to you." He shifted his posture, and the shackles on his wrists jingled softly.

Maraad didn't bother responding to him. "You should sleep tonight, Lyalia," the draenei said.

"So should you," she said. "But since you cannot, I will not." Even as she stirred the ashes in the fire, her eyes swept over the wide, open terrain. "Besides, he is talkative tonight. Maybe he will finally tell us his name." She gave the orc a level glance. "No? What is the harm in a name if we will not survive the night?"

The green-skinned prisoner glared at her but said nothing.

"Suit yourself," she said.

The sun touched the horizon.

***

"What exactly do you mean," Haohan Mudclaw asked, "by 'When Thunder blow, Thunder gonna blow big'?"

The hozen farmhand loped along the roadway through the heart of the valley, keeping pace with Haohan's cart. "Since you been gone, Thunder not go."

"'Not go'?"

Mung-Mung waved his hands in front of his nose as though smelling something foul. "Me not want to be around when three days of dook comes out of his ooker."

"Wonderful," Haohan said. The last thing he needed to deal with today was a constipated mushan. "Mix up some olive oil into his feed. Should clear him right out."

Mung-Mung shivered. "Did. Began two days ago. Still nothing."

Haohan stared in disbelief. "You've fed him oil for two days? And nothing?" He shivered too. When Thunder blow...

They passed the next half-mile in silence. "You know, Farmer Fung arrive early. Already at your house," Mung-Mung said.

"Good. Wait," Haohan said, giving him a suspicious look. "What are you thinking?"

"Mung-Mung think that grouch obsessed with fertilizer."

Haohan grinned broadly. "And maybe he'd like fresh ingredients. That's the best idea I've heard in weeks." One problem solved, hopefully. "Who else is at the house?"

"Geezer." Old Hillpaw, he meant. Not a member of the council but a neighbor. "Gina." Haohan's daughter.

"Who else?"

"Just them," Mung-Mung said.

"Where's Nana and Mina and Tina and Den?"

"Jade Forest, still."

"Still?" Haohan frowned. "I thought they'd be back today. I wanted this to be a full council meeting. What about Yoon?"

"He went with them."

"Oh." Now Haohan remembered. Yoon was planning a food-delivery contract with some dwarven masons on behalf of the Tillers' Union.

With a light touch on the reins, Haohan steered to the right, and the two horses turned onto the road to the Mudclaw property. Mung-Mung continued to knuckle-walk alongside the cart but made no move to jump on. He didn't trust horses. Haohan preferred mushan leads, too, but that Alliance quartermaster down at Lion's Landing had offered to trade two healthy horses for a cartload of carrots, and that was a deal a Mudclaw couldn't pass up. He had to admit the horses were a lot easier to handle. Even well-trained mushan had a tendency to wander a bit on the reins.

Mung-Mung suddenly sprinted ahead and climbed a signpost, peering into the distance. "Uh-oh," he said.

"What?"

"Listen, boss."

"Your ears are better than mine," Haohan said.

"I hear virmen," Mung-Mung said.

Haohan sighed. "Let's scare 'em off before they annoy anyone to death."

The Untamed Valley

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