Trabyna looked deep into the tiger’s green eyes and let her spirit sink into them, as Thotar had taught her. She was vaguely aware of the animal’s snarling roar as she plunged into the deep, dark place outside of herself where she would meet the spirit of the tiger she was trying to tame and try to convince it to give up its life of freedom.

“You must remember Trabyna, that you can not master a beast,” said Thotar “you can only convince it to share its life with you. The relationship between a hunter and her pet is not one of master and servant, it is a partnership. You ask the beast to hunt with you, to fight for you and, if necessary, to die for you. What do you offer it in return? If you and your pet are hungry your pet always eats first and if you are both wounded, you tend its wounds before your own.” Trabyna nodded solemnly. “It can be a heady power to know that another creature will die for you. Don’t underestimate it and don’t take it lightly,” he continued sternly. “It is almost time for you to start training beasts so that you can have a pet of your own. You need to understand what a big responsibility that is.”

Trabyna, who had been feeling excited at the prospect of taming a pet of her own, started to feel quite daunted. She had never been responsible for anyone else before and had only recently started making her own way in the world, taking responsibility for herself. Now she was starting to realise what a serious business it was, that she would bear the responsibility for another life. A rare smile crossed Thotar’s face as he saw realisation dawning in Trabyna’s eyes. “I see you understand Trabyna. If you couldn’t understand you would not be worthy of taming a beast and I wouldn’t teach you how. However you are worthy so let us begin.”

First he taught Trabyna the short spell she would recite when she wanted to tame a beast. On its own, as a spell, it had little power; its importance lay in its function as a focus. Trabyna discovered that the act of taming was almost like deep meditation. She would have to enter a trance-like state where her spirit could negotiate with the spirit of the beast she wanted to tame. Any distraction would break the connection between her and the animal. Not only would she have to shut out anything going on around her but she would also have to ignore the beast itself; Thotar explained that the most benign beast would attack her once she attempted to tame it, its spirit struggling to remain free. Not until the animal’s spirit aquiesced and bound itself to Trabyna would the attack stop. If Trabyna failed to tame the beast, she would probably have to kill it. Once the beast agreed to bind its spirit to Trabyna’s the bond would still be fragile for some time. She would need to prove her worth to the animal.

For almost two weeks Trabyna practiced reciting the spell. Initially she found it extremely difficult to attain the taming trance. After a week she was beginning to despair of ever getting it right. Thotar explained that the taming wasn’t only about the animal surrendering a part of its spirit, Trabyna had to learn to surrender too. Trabyna had spent her whole life doing exactly the opposite. Her life with her mother had been difficult. Outwardly Trabyna had put up little resistance to Megdar but inside she had raged and fumed at her mother. Her spirit hadn’t been broken because she hadn’t let it be broken, because she had refused to surrender to her mother’s browbeating and complaining. Now she was being asked to forget the very thing that had enabled her to survive. She began to question whether the hunter’s life was for her at all.

Thotar was at his wits end. Trabyna was a very able student in everything but this and it puzzled him. One night, after another frustrating and unsuccessful attempt by Trabyna, he decided to walk up to Orgrimmar and talk to Ormak Grimshot about the problem, knowing that Trabyna was his protégé. Once Ormak explained Trabyna’s background he started to understand why she was having so much difficulty with the taming trance. The following night, as Trabyna struggled with the exercise yet again, he murmured “Trabyna, you’re not trying to tame your mother you know.” Trabyna’s eyes flew open and for an instant she wasn’t sure if she was angry. Then she smiled ruefully, “If only that were possible.” Thotar smiled back. “Just keep it in mind. It may help.” Surprisingly it did. By the end of that night’s lesson Trabyna had managed, albeit briefly, to enter the taming trance. By then end of the week she could enter the trance almost instantaneously, as soon as she started to recite the simple spell.

One morning, as Trabyna ate a simple breakfast at the Inn in Razor Hill, she received a message to go and see Thotar. Her heart leaped! Did he think she was ready to tame a pet? All at once she was excited but overcome with uncertainty that she was up to the task. Thotar gave her one of his rare smiles as she approached. “Good morning to you Trabyna.” He looked up at the cloudless sky, “I think today would be a fine day to tame a boar. Go and find a suitable specimen amongst the mottled boars nearby and see if you can convince him to hunt with you for the morning.” Trabyna’s heart was in her mouth as she left Razor Hill. It took her no time at all to find a boar. The boar was just coming into adulthood. Mature enough to be suitable for hunting, yet not so old his spirit would be too independent. Trabyna faced the boar and started to recite her spell, slipping easily into the taming trance as she did so. She recalled afterwards that it was a strange experience, like rushing headlong into a dark tunnel to emerge in a place where only she and the boar existed. Her spirit bowed to the boar and introduced herself, explaining that she needed the boar’s help for the morning only. Would the boar honour her by consenting to be her companion and teaching her the ways of the boar while they hunted together? The boar regarded her with angry eyes then gradually she saw its rage subside as it agreed to be her companion. Trabyna spent an exhilarating morning hunting with the boar; it was a quite different experience to hunting alone. As the sun reached its zenith, she turned to the boar and thanked it. Without a backward glance the boar ran off to join its companions.

The following day she repeated the experience with a surf crawler and the day after that with a scorpid. When she released the scorpid she returned to Thotar. He told her that, in his opinion, she was ready to tame a pet of her own but first she would need to learn how to care for it and train it. “Ormak Grimshot is the finest beast master I know, equalled only by Holt Thunderhorn in Thunderbluff,” he told her. “Why don’t you travel up to Orgrimmar and see Ormak? I know he’d be delighted to see you and he’d only be too pleased to share his knowledge with you.” “Would it not be troublesome to Ormak to have to bother himself with me, he’s so busy?” “Not at all Trabyna. I send all my students to him to learn how to care for their beasts. I think your lesson would be one he’ll particularly enjoy though,” replied Thotar.

Trabyna arrived at Orgrimmar in the late afternoon and went to see Ormak. He was delighted to see her and impressed at the progress she had made in such a short time. “I thought you had the making of a good hunter in you but I hadn’t expected you to progress quite so quickly,” he told her. Trabyna flushed with pleasure at the compliment. “Will you be spending the night at your mother’s?” Trabyna nodded reluctantly. “In that case come and spend the evening with me and Feng. You can tell me about all the adventures you’ve had and I’ll tell you about some of mine. I promise not to exaggerate,” he finished with a wink. “We’ll start the lesson first thing tomorrow; I’m less likely to be interrupted early in the day.”

After a tense meal with her mother Trabyna spent an enjoyable evening with Ormak. She realised afterwards that he had started her lesson that night. They spent the whole of the following day together as he taught her how to care for her pet, what food different beasts ate, how to convey her commands. He explained that if, as most hunters did, she trained a young beast its knowledge gathered in the wild would need increasing; it wouldn’t have had time to learn everything it needed to know. Over time, as her pet became stronger, she would need to tame other beasts and learn these skills from them then pass them on to her pet. “Do you have in mind what manner of pet you’d like?” Ormak asked her. Trabyna nodded but was reticent. Ormak understood. The first pet was special and not an experience to be shared; instead it was savoured and planned by the hunter alone. He would know soon enough.

That night Trabyna lay in bed at her mother’s house planning her trip to the Echo Isles, just off the coast near Sen’jin village. A few weeks earlier she had been asked to collect tiger skins there. On one of the smaller islands she had seen a young female, a magnificent animal, and noted this one in her mind as a future pet. In the morning she would return and if the gods were willing, the tigress would still be there. Trabyna imagined visiting her mother in the future with a tiger in tow and giggled.

The following morning she was up at sunrise and slipped out of the house before her mother stirred. Neither of them was much at goodbyes and it was too much like hard work to disguise her relief to be leaving. By the time she got to the coast it was almost midday. Trabyna wrapped her weapons in a waterproof cloth and swam towards the island where “her” tiger was, taking care to avoid the hostile makrura that infested the waters. As she walked up the beach of the island her heart leaped as she spotted the tigress. She was still there! Trabyna stood for a moment, watching it prowl up and down. It was a truly magnificent animal. Young, yet already powerfully muscled. Trabyna walked slowly towards it then stopped, putting down her weapons. The tiger paused its prowling and sniffed the air; it had caught her scent. In one fluid motion it turned and hurled itself at her, snarling.

In the dark void of the taming trance Trabyna’s spirit faced the magnificent tiger. The tiger’s spirit was almost mad with rage. Trabyna bowed “Greetings sister tiger”. The tiger snarled and tossed its head at her. Trabyna knelt down in front of the tiger. “I need a companion,” she told it “a hunter to hunt with. I need a sister to share with, to love.” The tiger continued to snarl but tossed its head slightly less vigorously. “I need one who is stronger and swifter than I to protect me when I face a foe greater than myself. In return, I will defend you and not carelessly ask you to face danger in my stead. Your hunger will be my hunger, your wounds my wounds, your life my life.” The tiger stopped snarling and eyed Trabyna suspiciously. Trabyna bowed her head and opened her arms to the tiger, “Sister Tiger, I offer you my spirit if you will become my companion.” Almost imperceptibly, the tiger nodded her assent.

The world grew bright again as Trabyna’s spirit returned to her body. The tigress stood quietly by her side. As she looked down, the beast returned her gaze and made a grumbling sound deep in her throat. Trabyna laughed “Hungry sister? I have some boar meat in my pack; I brought it especially for you.” Trabyna reached for her pack, crying out as she became aware of the pain in her arm. She fumbled in the pack with her left hand for the meat then examined her right arm as the tiger ate. The tiger’s claws had raked her upper arm, scoring the flesh. It would need dressing as the wounds were deep but Trabyna decided to wait until they had swum back to the mainland before putting a proper bandage on it – the sea would cleanse the wound and help prevent infection. She smiled at the tiger “Sister Tiger, I am truly yours – you have marked me for your own.”

It was late in the day when she finally got back to Orgrimmar. Resisting the temptation to introduce her mother to her new companion Trabyna headed up The Drag to the Valley of Honour and made for the Hunter’s Hall. Ormak looked up as she entered and the look of admiration on his face as he regarded the tiger made words unnecessary. “You have done well Trabyna, she is a magnificent animal!” A look of concern clouded his features as he took in the seeping bandage on her arm. “Let me look at that,” he fussed leading her into a corner and sitting her down. Carefully he removed the dressing and checked the wound. “It’s clean anyway, but deep. Let me re-dress it with a clean bandage. It’s not so easy bandaging your right arm is it?” he chuckled. As he re-applied the bandage he told her “You have been marked with the totem of the great cat. In the future you may have other pets and will tame other beasts but you will always have a special relationship with great cats. Have you thought of a name for her?” Unbidden, the tiger’s name popped into her head. “Her name is Samira,” she replied.

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