Bregan lay on the ground, flat on his back and struggling to breathe, while the cheery, late afternoon sun and dazzling azure sky seemed to mock him with their happiness in the face of his misery. Ja’Ghan deemed Bregan more of a threat to himself, and his companions, than he was to their enemies. In light of that sobering fact, Ja’Ghan was trying to teach Bregan the basics of magic control, but it slowed their progress. That, combined with Bregan’s anxiety over Talida’s fate causing twisted, painful knots in his belly, meant the lessons weren’t going over so well.
A green hand appeared in the range of his vision, and Bregan gratefully took Thratar’s offer of help. Bregan grunted as his ribs protested the movement, and his inspection of the borrowed, makeshift leather armor revealed a scorch mark from the lightning bolt the Shaman had thrown his way. Each breath was coming short, and the lack of sufficient oxygen had Bregan’s head spinning.
Energy that smelled of fresh-turned earth, newly shorn grass, and that sent a cool wash of relief like cold spring water through Bregan’s battered body, healed his injuries. The greenish glow faded from the troll’s hands, and he squatted back down, leveling an unsympathetic look from under his hairless, scowling brow.
“Ya not be tryin’, mon.”
The accusation stung with the truth, but instead of accepting the criticism with grace as he’d been taught, he boiled over.
“I can learn all this later! Right now Talida is suffering who knows what at the hands of her captors, and here I am trying to fiddle with something I haven’t needed to succeed for my entire life. It’s a waste of valuable time!” Bregan finished, and took a step toward Ja’Ghan.
Thratar put out a hand to halt Bregan’s advance, while Rae moved from a sitting position to a crouch, ready to leap at Bregan and Thratar to help her friend, her hand on a dagger at her dark leather belt.
Ja’Ghan hadn’t moved, and waved an unconcerned hand at Rae, who gave the troll a skeptical look, but her hand left its dangerous perch.
“What gonna happen if we get to da camp where dey keepin’ her, and ya magic harms her, or us, by mistake? Eh? Ya doin’ her more harm den good by bein’ bullheaded about learnin’ dis,” Ja’Ghan pointed out, his words holding a depth of knowledge on the matter that spoke from a place of experience. A shadow of something haunted and sad passed over the troll’s expression, and some of the rage drained from Bregan in response.
“I’m sorry, Ja’Ghan, I’m just–”
“Frustrated. I know–believe me,” Ja’Ghan replied, sympathetically, then stood to stretch his back. “We don’t have much time before we get to da Grimtotem villages here in da mountains, and I gotta make sure ya not gonna char us instead of da enemies. Da Grimtotems have split their attentions between too many fronts; attackin’ Mulgore when dey should be defendin’ their posts against da Horde and Alliance incursions in their territories; takin’ captives dey can’t properly cull to their ways. Ya girl be as safe as she could hope right now, but we aren’t as long as ya be untrained,” Ja’Ghan finished, his words hard and hitting home in Bregan’s mind like a blacksmith’s hammer finding its mark.
Bregan took a deep breath and sighed, the logic temporarily winning out over his passion for finding Talida. At Bregan’s slumped shoulders, Ja’Ghan nodded, then turned to squint at the sun.
“It be time for suppa, Rae, but keep da fire low–we near da damn Kobolds, and da last ting we need is one of dem Thunda Lizards tramplin’ us while we eatin’. Not ta mention a Horde outpost is near, and dey’ll stop us ta question us, and not let us to da Grimtotems,” Ja’Ghan spat, expressing his happiness at eating a lukewarm meal and sleeping on the cold, hard ground without a decent fire.
“Why would the Horde stop us?” Bregan asked, and set about to help Rae set up camp for the night, though he did his best to keep from grinding his teeth at the promise for yet another stop.
“Dey don’t generally like run-o-the-mill adventurers, like us, and dey’d be actin’ out of a place of concern for our well-bein’ by not letting us go. Plus, dey don’t want their companions on the front lines ta have ta worry about some hot-headed bungler gettin’ in da way, and den havin’ ta save ’em,” Ja’Ghan said, tone reasonable, but Rae snorted her opinion on the matter of Horde troops and their opinions of adventurers.
“In reality, they don’t want us stealing their glory. This is a backwater ‘frontline,’ and they need all the recognition they can get to get out of here and on to greener battlefields. Adventurers usually take what chance they have at doing just that,” Rae finished, and brought a small fire to life. She removed her gloves and stretched her delicate fingers over the fire’s meager warmth.
Ja’Ghan and Thratar both grunted their agreement, and ended the conversation in lieu of an equally meager, almost cold dinner. Forming a somewhat tight square around the flames, the group curled underneath their respective blankets and drifted off to sleep.
All except Bregan, who remained wide awake, staring at the the blanket of stars coating the sky. At this rate, his companions would never feel he was ready to help them retrieve Talida, and with each passing minute, concern for her safety grew like sickness in his mind.
If they’re concerned for their safety in the face of my magic, then there is only one choice. Bregan waited at least another hour, when Rae’s breathing was the last to even out in depth of slumber, before he slipped from the camp, as quiet as a shadow. I will find her and bring her back myself, or die trying; anything is better than waiting. He knew from earlier discussions that the general direction he needed to travel was east, and he set off on his way, sending a silent apology to his friend and their companions.
Please, forgive me.
Becoming: Bregan’s Story, Chapter One
Becoming: Bregan’s Story, Chapter Two
Becoming: Bregan’s Story, Chapter Three
Becoming: Bregan’s Story, Chapter Four
Becoming: Bregan’s Story, Chapter Five
Becoming: Bregan’s Story, Chapter Six
Becoming: Bregan’s Story, Chapter Seven
Becoming: Bregan’s Story, Chapter Nine
Becoming: Bregan’s Story, Chapter Ten
Becoming: Bregan’s Story, Chapter Eleven
Becoming: Bregan’s Story, Chapter Twelve
Becoming: Bregan’s Story, Chapter Thirteen
Becoming: Bregan’s Story, Chapter Fourteen
Becoming: Bregan’s Story, Chapter Fifteen
Becoming: Bregan’s Story, Chapter Sixteen
Becoming: Bregan’s Story, Final Chapter