The Rider’s resident Midwife and all-around stand up cat, Haemon Shadowind, was the second to write up First, Finest and Last. Here is another brilliant sample for your own FFL.
This is Era. There are many cat spirits, but this one is a favorite. Enjoy!
Any one of them could have been his first; they died and were born so often, who could even tell? And who cared? It had been millennia ago, before there were even trolls to pay their Mother worship, that the fire of instinct first seared his loins and forced him to chase down a mate, dig teeth into her scruff, and make her the unwilling bearer of his first cubs. No, it wasn’t good for him, and less so for her. It was merely the means to a necessary end: brutal, quick, repeated several times, and just like every subsequent encounter for thousands of years in thousands of lives. He couldn’t remember a single one.
His intelligent mind couldn’t remember his first, hidden away in the depths of time and feline memory, but it had been a troll only for lack of any other upright creatures to encounter first. There’d been no malice, of course. Only tame cats had the luxury of expending energy on hunting for sport. It was hunger that brought his weight down on the unsuspecting scout and shoved his fangs through bone and into brain. Remarkably merciful, really; a lesser cat would have taken whole minutes to kill by asphyxiation. He’d devoured the man’s heart (among other viscera), and months later when the man’s brother brought him down in a flurry of arrows, the honor was returned.
Mother had been his first, and should have been his only. She whom the trolls knew as Bethekk had given him life after life as well as death in between, and in return had asked nothing but eternal servitude. None of her children had ever had a choice, but neither had they any understanding to resent the lack of it. In recent years, with sentience as his sharpest weapon, he’d often wondered whether his new place was her choice, and if so, why. More seldom, and only in the quiet darkness when sleep and Shad had both abandoned him, did he ever think to wonder if she’d actually relinquished her control.
There was no question that Fells was his finest. His first too, in many ways, though thanks to Shad’s memories he was no stranger to the mechanics nor the sensations that awaited him in her arms. But flesh was one thing and love quite another, and not a damned thing could have prepared him for the rapture that took them both. It’d taken him three years to realize he loved her, another two to admit it, and six months more to get it right. It was all fucking wasted time, and with the first beatific smile she’d granted him in the darkness he vowed not to waste a second more of what little time the loas might leave them.
Laurus was his finest, a beast of a man who deserved nothing more or less than the most gloriously gruesome death he could deliver. As the slights both large and small piled one atop the other, Era spent his days groveling and his nights imagining the unending pain he’d inflict someday. Someday. But his revenge came unintentionally in the form of a thousand days of strained kindness that had only riled the mage further and chipped slowly away at the patience of his wife. For all he’d tried to steal her, it was none of Era’s doing when Laurus’s life finally walked out the door, leaving him with the empty silence of a house that was no home. Restraint proved to be the sharpest weapon the panther had ever wielded, and the only one that could salvage for himself the benefits of a life worth saving.
Shad was definitely his finest. When the priestess finally fell after months of battle against panthers both physical and spiritual, the elf should have used that staff to force him into absolute submission. Instead, the Will of Arlokk had been laid at his paws. Funny, how the offer of freedom had been the one thing that could have tamed him. He’d been appropriated to teach the elf the ways of the cat, but in the end he’d learned far more from the calm, patient kaldorei on whom he patterned his sentience. Even once they’d become equals, he’d learned the hard way that he couldn’t do it alone. For all his bluster, Era needed his elf like smoke needed flame.
Fells was his last. She was! No, he hadn’t come out for that. He was asleep. No part in it at all. Fuck you.
His last had been a hell of a fight, a fire-wreathed druid with more fury than skill, not that the latter was lacking. They’d circled one another, snarling, after Era’s pounce had been skillfully dodged and elven flesh had melted into fiery fur. The spirit he faced was a magnificent, beautiful beast, and he could see a bit of himself in it. Had things been different, he might have been on their side, serving Ragnaros for the lack of Hakkar. As things were not different, he felt absolutely no remorse for the dive nor the rake of claws that had blessed the charred dirt of the Firelands with a rain of blood and a bit of intestine to boot. He’d taken no specific joy in the kill, but eating the heart always did bring a smile to his red-stained maw. It was nice, sometimes, to be reminded where he came from.
His last was a council of three. Shad may have been employed by the Riders, but Era’d never taken one order from the man he called “Boss” purely in jest. He answered only to the three sets of all-too-observant eyes and ears that learned to echo his every sin, and to the three mouths that declared without words when he would eat, sleep, and have even an instant of privacy. They could be excruciatingly cruel masters, driving him like a mule for days on end, but the reward they granted him was beyond compare. He’d wouldn’t trade their smiles, their hugs, or their shrieky cries of “Dada!” for anything in all the universe.