Becoming: Bregan’s Story, Chapter Nine

Chapter Nine
Stupid, he chided himself, not for the first time since leaving his companions. The way to the Grimtotem camp had been uneventful, and Bregan had taken this decidedly ill omen as a good sign. All the ease was now being made up for, as he watched the seemingly never-ending battle between Horde forces and the Grimtotem warriors.

When do they rest? he wondered from his hiding place–a decent sized, scrubby bush. He lay on his stomach and watched from a clear space at the base of the plant, his fur blending well with the browned leaves. The predawn grey of the sky had barely begun to provide adequate light when the fighting began, or perhaps it had never ended and the forces had waged war through the night. Neither side was willing to give an inch, and it left Bregan to wonder just how he was going to slip behind the lines into an incredibly hostile village to find Talida.

He was still mulling over his options when something hard and sharp pressed in-between his shoulder blades. Bregan froze, not even daring to move his hands to show a gesture of surrender.

“Who are you?” the unfamiliar voice asked, his hostile tone setting the fur on the back of Bregan’s neck to attention.

“Who wants to know?” Bregan asked, uncharacteristically belligerent. He was tiring of the near-constant delays, and this person, whoever they were, was simply one more obstacle in the road.

The point of what Bregan assumed was a sword lifted and pressed even more firmly into the back of his neck. The steel broke his skin and stung as sweat trickled into the wound, and a line of warm blood trickled down his neck.

“I will not ask you again, stranger.”

Bregan might have huffed a sigh, if he didn’t think he’d skewer himself on the weapon.

“Bregan Sunfeather, from a village in Mulgore,” he responded through gritted teeth.

“Well, Bregan Sunfeather from a village in Mulgore, what are you doing here?”

“That is a rather long story, one I don’t have time to get into right now, so if you’d kindly let me–”

Before he could finish, the sword moved and the heel of a boot kicked across the back of his skull. Stars exploded across Bregan’s vision, and little silver spots, like water bugs gliding across the surface of the pond near his home, skated behind his eyelids in various directions.

“I told you not to make me ask again,” the voice said, and after another blow to the skull, darkness overcame his vision as he was knocked unconscious.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pain broke through Bregan’s skull in time with his heartbeat, and he decided he’d never get used to waking up in agony like this. He tried to move his hand to cradle his sore cranium, but discovered his hands were tied behind his back.

Well that one is new, he idly noted, and twisted against the bonds to check for any give that might allow him to escape. No such luck for him, and when he tried to sit up a bit, his shoulders screamed in protest, and the throbbing in his head tripled.

Obviously wherever he happened to be, it had been a few hours at the very least, and even if he could get free, his legs were numb from sitting in this position for so long. Slowly, so as not to anger his injury further, he looked up and cracked an eyelid to examine his surroundings.

It was a small wooden shack, and he was tied to a thick post in the middle of the room. There was enough extra space for two Taurens or Orcs, or maybe three or four of the smaller races, but what he saw reassured him, if only slightly. Grimtotems, like most Taurens, rarely had fully-wooden buildings; most had some kind of animal skin for the walls, roof, and such. This meant he was most likely captured by either Horde forces, or the Alliance–one being just a hair better than the other.

Though it was futile, Bregan continued working at the ropes binding him to the post, until a noise outside of the shack caught his attention. Before he could make up him mind on whether or not he wanted to continue to play unconscious, the door swung open and a Tauren and Orc came inside. The door closed behind them, meaning there were probably guards outside, and Bregan’s chances of getting out of here undetected continued to dwindle.

The Orc was the standard fare for his race–green, muscled, menacing, and with coarse, black hair in muttonchops along his jaw and in a Mohawk over his skull. The Tauren was female–though he didn’t estimate that helped his chances any–and her fur was white with cream colored spots, which matched her mane. She had no braids behind each ear, as Talida did, and her horns were shorter, but sharper, than his beloved’s. They both had a multitude of old, white scars over the bare portions of their arms that Bregan could see. Even as Rae’s voice echoed the words, ‘backwater front line,’ Bregan couldn’t help but wonder what a person would look like after experiencing a ‘real’ front line.

“Cheyanna tells me you weren’t lying about being from Mulgore,” the Orc sniffed disdainfully at Bregan, and it seemed even Cheyanna, who Bregan guessed was the female Tuaren, couldn’t completely convince him of the fact. “She’s right, in that you don’t look like the accursed Grimtotems, but they’ve been recruiting outside of their clan recently,” he said, and leveled a glare at Bregan. “This is the last time you’ll be asked, trouble-maker–what are you doing here? We haven’t received word of any adventurers,” he spat on the wooden floor, “coming to help.”

“I’m not lying; I am from Mulgore,” Bregan replied sullenly, as now his hands had joined his legs in being numb since he’d tightened the ropes with his struggling. “I’m trying to rescue someone from our village from the Grimtotems who abducted her. She was taken from us not long ago during a raid,” he finished, shortening the story and leaving out all that went on in-between then and now, and also neglecting to mention his companions.

The Orc chuffed his disbelief, and Cheyanna’s eyes narrowed, but she didn’t speak against his claim.

“You meaning to tell me, that little ol’ you was going to rescue your lost villager from an entire village of bloodthirsty Grimtotems?” The Orc scoffed and leaned forward to meet Bregan eye-to-eye. “You’re so full of kodo crap your eyes are brown, Bregan.”

The Orc stepped back and looked over to Cheyanna. “No food, and one ladle of water a day. Maybe that’ll loosen the spy’s tongue on what his real business was behind the lines,” the Orc finished, turned on his heel, and left the shack.

“Please…” Bregan began, but one look at Cheyanna revealed his efforts would be fruitless.

“I’ll have them bring in your water,” she said, her low voice unsympathetic. She turned to leave as well, but stopped with her back still turned. “We’re not idiots. Your story may be true, but you left out so much of it, it makes no difference. For your omissions, you will suffer,” she finished, and left.

Not long after, another Orc came in and, very sloppily, gave Bregan his ladle of water. Barely a third made its way to his mouth, while the rest dribbled down the front of his shirtless chest. The Orc’s grin was one of malice, and he chuckled as Bregan struggled to drink the precious liquid.

This does not bode well, he sighed, and Bregan shifted his body around, trying to alleviate some of the pressure and gain feeling back in his limbs. I wonder if they’ll come for me, he speculated, his thoughts reaching the bitter realization that he had abandoned his companions first, and nothing would hold them to rescuing more than just Talida.

So he settled in for what was sure to be an unknown amount of miserable time.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Seven days, and Bregan thought he was going crazy. The only way for him to track the time was when the Orc came in for his daily pittance of water, which had the obnoxious side effect of intensifying his hunger and thirst.

After three days, the Orc and Cheyanna had come back in to see if his situation would loosen his tongue, but he kept to the same story. They had come in yesterday, too, not long after being given his water, and tried again to get him to reveal his motives. Bregan could only give a weak laugh, and repeat his story verbatim. Cheyanna’s expression was speculative, while the Orc’s–whose name was Zog–merely scowled.

At this point, though, Bregan was becoming delirious, and could see things out of the corner of his eye. When he looked, however, nothing was there. He wasn’t sure how much longer he could take this, and it was a race to see whose patience ran out first: Bregan’s or Zog’s.

Bregan had managed to move his body around enough that at least some blood flow was making it to his limbs, but as he grew weaker he leaned more heavily against the ropes, and his left hand had been numb since at least the previous afternoon.

Fate, it seemed, was not in Bregan’s favor, depending on how one looked at it, and Zog’s patience reached its end first. Maybe something had happened to spark the rage dancing in the Orc’s eyes, or the slight flicker of sympathy in Cheyanna’s, but on the seventh day Zog came in with an ultimatum–talk, or face the whip.

Bregan’s eyes were dull when he looked up at the Orc, and he couldn’t fathom why he continued to refuse to tell Zog about his companions. His only excuse was that they might be able to accomplish, in secret, what otherwise would be impossible, because the Horde forces would be keeping a lookout for an Orc, Troll, and Blood Elf traveling in their direction. Talida’s rescue was worth him suffering in silence.

“Bring the whip and be done with it; I have nothing more to add,” Bregan croaked and coughed, his throat so dry his words were barely above that of a whisper.

“Commander, perhaps he is telling the truth,” Cheyanna said, but Zog turned a murderous look to her.

“But not all of it; I can feel it in my bones. A lie of omission is still a lie,” he hissed at her, and moved past her for the door.

“Come in and untie him, then carry him to the post in the middle of the camp,” Zog said, his voice dripping with such malice it was like acid on Bregan’s skin.

Two Orcs, one of them the Orc who gave him his water each day, came in and untied Bregan. Between the hunger and disuse his limbs would not support him, and the two guards dragged him, their hands supporting Bregan by his armpits.

Though he knew what was coming, his head was light and his laughter positively giddy at being able to change position for the first time in seven days. Not to mention leaving the stink of the shack, where he’d had no recourse but to alleviate himself where he was tied.

They continued to drag him to the center of the camp, where a tall post thrust upward from the rocky ground, and had metal rings in increments down one side. Zog threw a rope with adjustable leather cuffs to the guards, who put one cuff around his left wrist. The other guard took the rope, and with the help of a small ladder, threaded the remainder of the rope through a rung a few feet above Bregan’s head. They pulled hard on the rope, and placed the other cuff on his right hand. There was precious little slack, as his arms were straightened out above his head, and the front of his body resting against the scarred, and splintered wood. Even if Bregan lost his footing he would remain upright.

Zog came into his view on his left, and he turned his head and looked down to meet the Orc’s gaze.

“You’ll regret this,” he said, and Bregan only smiled as he heard the hiss of the whip across the dirt behind him.

“I regret nothing,” he replied, and Zog stepped back, a slight look of satisfaction in his hard, unforgiving eyes.

The first lash fell, and the sting drove a hiss from between Bregan’s teeth, the pain taking him by surprise. It brought the world into sharp focus just in time for the second one. He didn’t know whether counting would help, or make it hurt worse, so he concentrated on the ever-rising number in his mind. There was silence in the center of camp, or at least he assumed there was, as he couldn’t hear anything over the rushing blood in his ears. As he reached twelve, and waited to count up to thirteen, he heard an explosion a short distance to the right.

He must have been correct, in that everything was silent except the crack and impact of the whip, because the clearing suddenly exploded in noise, motion, and shouting. Bregan sagged against the leather, his vision blurry from the pain, as everyone around him forgot about the Tauren tied to the post, and went about trying to discover what had happened.

The acrid smell of gunpowder and smoke reached his nostrils, and Bregan could only laugh in great guffaws. It was adding insult to–literal–injury that he now faced being burned alive on top of what he’d gone through the last seven days. I only wish I had lived long enough to know if she was safe, he thought wearily, and waited for the scorch of the flames, that he could now see out of the corner of eye, to reach him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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 Eight
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

Author: lotwordsmiths

Hello, there! I'm Toni, and I've been writing and reading primarily fantasy stories most of my life. What really set me on the path to be a writer was my 6th grade English teacher, Mrs. Thomas, who told me she could see me as an author some day. I made Legends of the Wordsmiths to share my stories, and hopefully, (someday), the stories of others, too.!

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