She should have been back by now, the queasiness inside him echoing the growing worry of his thoughts. However, whether the trepidation could be attributed to the lateness of her return–which wasn’t uncommon for patrols in recent times–or had something to do with the present rolled up in a blanket not far from him, was debatable.
“You’ve been weeding the same spot for a good twenty minutes now,” a deep, amused voiced sounded from behind him. When his Tauren friend started and nearly fell, and his large, muscular arms windmilled to keep his balance, the Orc grinned, his lips pulling back from his short, lower tusks, and strong, blunt teeth. Surprising a Tauren was about as exciting as it got around here, aside from the occasional raids, and Thratar Warseeker had to get his kicks where he could.
A multiple-campaign veteran, he’d grown weary of blood, guts, and glory, and set out to find greener pastures–literally. While wandering the plains of Mulgore he’d come across Bregan’s village, and set out to find the peace known to the strong, but silent, Taurens. Thratar felt he’d had a modicum of success: he’d befriended the Taurens, especially the younger ones, earned his keep through manual labor, and helped with the odd hunting party, or two. The Taurens may not agree with the exact level of said success, but this was the calmest, most peaceful, his life had ever been. He couldn’t deny, though, that the drums of another life had slowly begun to beat within him once more.
Bregan snorted but didn’t make eye contact, instead keeping his eyes on the offending patch of dirt in front of him, as though to blame it for his lack of situational awareness. Finally, though, he sighed, looked up at his companion who’d moved closer, and gave a small, sheepish grin in return.
Bregan hadn’t known what to think when the green-skinned Orc had suddenly appeared in their midst like a whirlwind. A war-weary wanderer, the others of the village had been hesitant to let him among them. Bregan, on the other hand, had looked beyond the race and betrayal of the recently deposed Warchief, to Thratar himself. This didn’t mean they’d been fast friends from the start; it had taken time to earn the trust and bonds of friendship. Now that they were there, though, Bregan considered Thratar as he would a brother of the tribe.
“I’m nervous,” Bregan said lamely, and looked back toward the hill, hoping in the seconds his attention had been diverted that she’d appeared. The horizon remained stubbornly empty.
“You’ve known each other your entire lives, Bregan–there’s no reason to be nervous. If you’d gotten your thick skull out of the way and looked to what was in front of you, you’d be long wed by now. In fact, if you’d taken much longer I fear you’d have forced Talida into asking you to marry her,” Thratar joked, and Bregan gave a tiny huff of laughter.
He looked up at Thratar, whose grin had grown further, and gave a full-fledged smile in return. Some of the tension drained from him, the way water drained from the fields after a large storm–slower than one might like, and while not completely, it would get there eventually.
Bregan shook his head at his foolishness, swinging his large horns almost the length of Thratar’s arms and deadly capable of skewering an enemy, and sighed. He reached out for the blanket-wrapped flute, which he’d painstakingly carved for her over the last several weeks, and picked it up. As he stood, he had to keep himself from clenching the present too tight. Wouldn’t that be a kick in the head? Breaking the flute mere minutes before giving it to her simply because he couldn’t control his nerves.
Still, despite Thratar’s humor he couldn’t shake the bad feeling that continued like an ache in the bones that promised foul weather.
“I’m also worried,” he continued, “because she should be back by now–all of them should be,” he said, and quickly amended his statement at the end to include the rest of the patrolling party. It wasn’t that he didn’t care about the others, because he did, just that Talida was far more at the forefront of his mind at the moment, and every moment between.
“They’ve been kept busy due to the recent…tragedy,” Thratar said, hesitating on the word and not wanting to bring any remembered pain about their leader, Cairne, to his friend. The Tauren were a people who felt deeply, and Cairne’s death was a wound still fresh.
Thratar cleared his throat and continued; “The Grimtotems and quilboars have been causing havoc, the filth, which means for the patrols it’s about taking longer and being more cautious than usual. There’s nothing for you to–” he stopped, and a frown formed as he looked to the hill Bregan had been glancing at the majority of the day.
Figures had appeared on the crest of the hill, the late afternoon sun making their outlines clear against the horizon, and there were far too few outlines.
A horn sounded from the hill, and one responded from the village, followed by a burst of Kodos and their riders heading to aid the party. Bregan was right on their heels, but despite his long strides it was impossible to keep up with the Kodos. He came upon them just as the first rider was helping an injured Tauren onto a Kodo, and the blood froze in his veins.
When Thratar finally managed to catch up, all of the injured had been loaded and were heading as quickly as possible back to the village. As the riders, Kodos, and injured passed, Bregan still standing at the top of the hill, looking beyond–the bundled blanket held loosely in one hand. Thratar looked to one of the riders, and with a small shake of her head he knew why Bregan wasn’t with them, and why Talida wasn’t, either.
He walked up to his friend, the grief and bitterness burning his throat as sure as if it was fire, and placed a heavily calloused hand on Bregan’s arm.
“The Grimtotems…” Bregan started, and had to swallow before continuing, “they took her, or killed her, the party wasn’t clear on which,” he finished, and dropped to his knees as a sob escaped his throat.
Thratar gritted his teeth against the pronouncement, because not knowing if she was dead or alive was worse than knowing one or the other for sure. It was a long moment of silence between them, with only the wind rushing across the plain, promising rain.
“You’ve got to help me, Thratar,” Bregan choked out, his voice barely more than a whisper. “I have to get her back, dead or alive. I just have to. You’re my best chance for that.” Bregan looked up to his friend, whose hand now gripped his furred shoulder. “Please…” he started, but Thratar nodded before he could continue.
“You don’t have to say another word. Of course I’ll help,” Thratar said, and helped his friend to his feet. There were things Thratar had to get to prepare, but they’d be off within ten minutes. Despite his quest for peace, Thratar had kept his pack at the ready–just in case. Good thing, too, because they had Grimtotem to hunt.
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 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