A great golden vulture who's wingspan is nearly four-times that of her peers. She's larger even than a Kodo. Despite her size, talons, and corrosive spit with which she can defend herself—Maleche is a pacifist. She is said to be an omen of healing and abundance in the rare occurrence that she's spotted—nearly in all cases high in the heavens… embracing her lover, An'she.
Acting as a gatekeeper of life and death, it’s said she judges the dying of middle Kalimdor whenever she returns from G'Hanir. If one is pure of heart, she may grant a feather from her wing to save them even from the worst mortal wounds. Those who are unfit, though, are simply devoured after she allows them to pass.
Maleche heals the Broken HunterEdit
As told by Maplebrook
In a time long past, when the Shu’halo were still young and the hills of the Barrens lay not quite as we know them today, a great golden vulture named Maleche soared high over the plains. Her wings were colored like the last golden rays of An’she passing over the distant hills. They stretched across the sky, kissing the heavens much as he did. It is said she could soar well across Kalimdor without but once beating her wings, and she would glide across the sky circling him, singing praises to his beloved name.
One day, as she soared, she saw a Shu’halo hunter, clad in many fine hides far below. It seemed the prey he stalked had discovered him, leapt upon him, and left him maimed. She affectionately nipped at her husband before slowly spiraling down to investigate.
Upon landing, she found the Shu’halo lying with a broken leg amongst other mortal injuries. She hobbled forward to check if he’d yet passed and in the kicked up dust, the Shu’halo stirred and coughed. He hunched up to see what stood over him, and as the dust cleared, the great Vulture called out.
“Ho! Shu’halo! I’m sorry to disturb you in this final hour. I thought you had passed, but now I see that you haven’t. I shall respect your life… and wait until you’ve passed before I feast on you.”
The Shu’halo looked through squinted eyes at Maleche, “My. What a great bird you are. Your feathers are like snow and honey… your talons like a lion’s jaw. You surely must be the mother of vultures. You are of great power.”
Maleche twisted her head sideways and turned her eye towards the maimed Shu’halo. Many more words could have been said. She could have been deceitful, but in her cleverness… she saw it wise to test the hunter’s honor. She simply squawked, “I am.”
The hunter grew tearful as he laid his head back upon the ground. “I… do not want to die. But if it is time, I’ve little to bargain against you. I would be fortunate to serve as a meal for the mother vulture after I pass. I can think of little other use for my meat, but I have a request.”
Maleche bobbed and cocked her head, intrigued. “If you would carry me back to my camp, that I may see my wife a final time to have her blessing before I pass, my spirit would be grateful. I would strive to be a boon for you and ask that my ancestors join in my praise.” The vulture did not hesitate, and took each of his arms in a talon before gently lifting off. The hunter’s flight was gentle, as Maleche rode upon the thermal rises to bring him gliding to his camp… flapping her wings naught but once.
Upon landing, the vulture retreated into the advancing night to grant the hunter privacy with his wife. When the word reached her, she rushed to his side and held him in her arms while she wept. “O’ my husband, my tears have come in numbers since you’d gone missing. Now I rejoice for they are tears of relief. Your body has been broken like a clay vessel dropped upon a rock. It is truly a blessing that the Earthmother brought you back to me.”
The hunter sat up in her arms and faced her. “My treasured wife, the Earthmother did see fit to carry me back to you. The great mother of Vultures took me into her talons and brought me back that I might say goodbye. It is a great burden that I must tell you my time is at an end. Please be not troubled, for my spirit shall watch over you always. Know that I passed without fear, and with your love in my heart… overflowing.”
The wife swallowed hard to remain strong in front of her husband while he still grasped at life. She held him close and wept to herself until he told her it was his time. She gently laid his head to rest and kissed him softly before returning to her tent.
Once she was gone, Maleche hobbled forth back from the shadows and turned her head sideways to face an eye at the hunter. He nodded with readiness and the vulture threw her wings out wide with a mighty gust. Turning her head she began to preen her feathers, and then plucked one of the smaller ones from the base of her wing. The hunter watched with curiosity as she leaned forward and placed it upon his chest with her beak. He hunched upwards to place a paw over it and whispered, “I do not understand.”
Closing her wings, Maleche resettled her down and spoke. “I do this for you, Shu’halo, because I’ve found your heart just and honorable. In the face of death you did not fear, but only thought of those you loved. You considered the spirits and natural balance, and did not try to escape the inevitable. For this act of selflessness and courage, I have spared you. Take this feather and through it you will be healed.”
The Shu’halo felt strength return to his legs, and quickly stood. With a bow, he honored the great vulture, and made a vow. “Great Mother of Vultures, you have shown compassion and kindness. When death does finally begin to beset me, I shall make pilgrimage out to the rocks where you found me that you may have the meal you came for. Until that time passes, I shall speak praises of you to all who would hear me.”
As he returned to the camp to live the rest of his life, Maleche threw her wings open once more and rode the winds back to heavens to pursue An’she over the western rocks. The hunter kept his word; telling what happened until he grew old and left to pass away. The story still lives on today.