Awoken by some nameless instinct, Saundin jumped and gazed around the tent. What had woken him was not immediately obvious, but the fact that he had fallen asleep was without question. It was, he reflected becoming somewhat of a nasty habit, further lending weight to suggestions by that whippersnapper Sohei that he should stop this stupidity and find a nice verandah on which to quietly moulder.
It wasn't that he hadn't tried, it just didn't seem that the life suited him. Far too many years in the warmaking profession seemed to have leeched the possibility for relaxation from his being. It was, perhaps a cautionary tale for those who were young enough to not fall asleep in the middle of the day! After all, he had followed the legions of those who had left the scorched and blackened Firelands into the brave new world. It wasn't even with some overly romantic notion of immediate riches, but more as a clean break with his past life and the chance to start again.
He had started by working his way around the coastline, in no particular hurry. His love of fishing meant that there was plenty to do, and a whole new variety of fish to discover. The first big dissapointment was when upon reaching Angles Wharf, he found that after all he had done in the past for the ungrateful ... he searched for a suitable curse ... Virmen ..., Nat, including the visits to Dustwallow Marsh and the treks all over thr countryside for long-forgotten fish and they were still STRANGERS. At that point Saundin nearly asked Nat politely to try fishing in full plate mail (and by fishing he meant exploring the bottom of the Narsong Trench). He would, of course have been happy to supply a disused armor set, and even throw in a free helping hand to heave Nat into the depths.
Now retired, and with such threats bothering Nat not the slightest, Saundin left for greener pastures. Literally. He had heard that during ones retirement, Halfhill was the place to be. So he stacked his gear in Yoon's hut and started tilling the soil and learning about the different vegetables. The life really didn't hold a great deal of interest, as there are only so many carrots and cabbages a man can grow, water and eat before you started to appear like a rabbit yourself. (It had been remarked on by more than one person that an adventurous eater he was not, and that a balanced diet did not mean varying the type of meat he ate! Like water off plate mail shoulders, such comments were dutifully consigned to the compost heap below Yoon's hut). He hadn't been back for so long that he wasn't even sure what he had planted, let alone whether the farm was even still there!
It was during one of those long nights, sick of trying to get the dirt out from under his fingernails with his dagger, that he, er, acquired some more illicit reading material. He had become quite the follower of a (he looked arount the tent for anyone who might care) Tauren Druid called Navimie. Of course he could never admit to such a habit so had the most recent of her writings carefully inserted between the pages of the 'Collected Wisdom of Uther the Lightbringer' which was sitting on the table in front of him.
It was these writings that had led to him sitting in this tent, rehashing the old memories, as, quite against his better judgement, he had progressed from mirth to skepticism to dabbling to ... well, addicted, to the habit of increasing his now significant stable of companion pets. Not just increasing their number, but nurturing them, caring for them and watching them grow (and, yes, fighting with them up hill and down dale). In fact, he spent some considerable time and no small amount of his savings, travelling over the entire countryside - not just the new land, but every zone, valley and mountain top in all the lands he had every been to, heard of or read about ... He was quite proud of the fact that he had specimens of almost every single one of the multitudes - in fact he was missing a mere two. TWO. One of these, the Qiraji Guardling, only appeared during the warmer months, and the other, well, it would not be a surprise to many of you to realise that the other was the almost mythical Scourged Whelpling. Even the very name was one to be uttered in hushed tones in Dalaran's hallowed halls.
While Breanni herself wouldn't know him amongst her legion of fans, he wouldn't have been able to go even a small percentage of his journey into this quest without her encyclopeadic knowledge of every little critter, it's likes, loves, habitat and perculiarities! Many had been the time recently when he had come to appreciate how little the mages of the Kirin Tor had charged him for one of their rings - Oh, certainly it was a significant expense, but to be able to teleport oneself to Dalaran without the need to associate with Mages on a constant basis was worth every copper!
Seeing as he was up, he wandered outside, and jumped on his trusty steed (he took a perverse plesure having a dragon submit to his will and carry him around given the trouble that dragonkind had caused him) to once again travel the wastes of Sindragosa's Fall. This circuit was the whole reason he was here in the first place, and he had done it so many times that both he and the dragon were basically on follow. There was no longer any thought involved at all, just the time wasted added to the tally he was mentally keeping. When he did finally find the Whelpling, it better be properly thankful or there would be trouble. He was busy contemplating whether three or four different meats was sufficient variety for the evening meal when he saw, far below him, one, just one, little whelpling, not yet taken by the undead who roamed the frosty plain.
He looked, looked again, and blinked, fully expecting it to be a hallucination brought on by eating too many vegetables. In fact he was now so fully concentrating on the speck far below that when his steed banked into a corner he tumbled from his seat and plummeted towards the ground. Later he would congratulate himself on this being the fastest way to descent in short order, and far from being asleep, he was now wide awake and called on the powers of the Light to protect him from what would have surely been a less-than-comfortable meeting with the earth.
He madly opened his backpack, strewing all manner of things on the ground around him, until (right at the bottom) he found his trap. Quite uncharacteristically gentle, he placed the trap down and baited it with some leftovers from lunch that he had been saving for the purpose. There! He had it! After checking the trap (twice), he wiped the snow from his shoes and hearthed back to the Inn, fervently hopig he would now return this way for many, many moons.
The whelpling was in need of some care and food, but they quickly formed a bond, the sort of bond that only two carnivores can, as Saundin spent the next weeks feeding the poor little thing the choicest scraps from his own plate. Was it worth it? Time will tell, but he was happy. No, that is far too mild. he was ECSTATIC. No more Tournament. No more icy wastes.
Breanni wasn't overly impressed when he stormed back into her shop in Dalaran to show her his little friend - she pointed out that it only had the common white colouring, and not one of the far more prized green or blue varieties. Saundin was almost to the point of picking her up by her pigtails when the impish grin creased her mouth. Gnomes! They just had to have fun at a good Knights' expense!
(Note: Like many others, I had to camp this little sucker. Also as the comments indicate on wacraftpets, I managed to get mine just after a restart, and took no small pleasure in mentioning in /2 that I had. Especially with CRZ, finding one of these is a nightmare, so I'll take my white Whelpling and upgrade him when I can get a stone!)