The frenzy in the camp was cacophonous as people rushed around trying to contain the flames. With each miniscule movement Bregan made, small, involuntary mewling sounds of pain escaped his throat, and sweat stung the wounds. Self-pity wouldn’t help him, or Talida, and he’d be damned if that was how he was going out. It took him two or three tries to get his hooves under him, allowing enough slack to test the leather cuffs and try moving his hands. Not to mention, as much as he’d like to just slump against the restraints and die in the flames, he didn’t fancy it’d feel much better than the lashes he’d just been given.
His right hand responded well, but he grimaced when his left hand did not comply, and there was no feeling beyond his wrist. If the worst that happens is I lose a hand for my stupidity, instead of my life, I’ll consider myself lucky, he grimly decided.
The cuffs were far too tight, and there was not enough slack for any leverage, not to mention he didn’t have the strength to do anything even if he had said leverage. He took a deep breath, stretching the wounds on his back till they felt as though they were tearing open further, and closed his eyes.
His magic had been incredibly elusive over the last seven days, and, he grudgingly admitted, he hadn’t had the confidence in the fickle energy to save his life. But it was the only thing left to him, so he did his best to shove the pain aside and reach down into his center, as Ja’Ghan had instructed. He found the power easier than he had during his tutelage, which likely had something to do with the imminent danger to his life, but finding and grasping were two different processes. It was like trying to catch an exceptionally slimy toad and keep hold, while the energy which moved as though it was alive, tried its best to get away from him.
As his temper flared with his frustration, it became harder and harder, and peripherally he noted that the temperature was rising against the right side of his body. With the next breath he pushed the irritation aside like corralling an obstinate kodo, and he held on to the energy with an iron grip. Whether it was instinct, or the learning Ja’Ghan had tried to drill into his thick skull, warmth was spreading throughout his body and limbs–even a faint tingle in his left hand–and strength returned to his body.
The glow around the inside of his eyelids faded, but Bregan’s eyes snapped open with a new-found alertness. When he twisted his shoulders against the minimal slack in the chain, his back twinged, but no longer screamed with pain. This time when he pulled on the chains and cuffs, the metal ring groaned beneath the pressure.
A fierce grin broke over Bregan’s face, and though his chapped lips split, he simply licked them and twisted his hands up to grasp the chain. With everything he could muster, he jerked the chain downward, and kept the pressure on until the movement of the ring stopped. He repeated this, what felt like a hundred times, all while the roar and flare of the fire grew ever closer.
The closest hut was being consumed, and with the help of the dry wind, a few embers found their way to Bregan’s whipping post. They caught, and the top of the pole began to burn. Almost there, he hissed, and with a final yank the metal ring came free. Fierce triumph coursed through him like the biggest adrenaline rush he’d ever experienced, and with a bellow backed by the fury of the last week of his life, he push kicked the pole. A great crack formed at the base, about half a foot from the ground, and if the area hadn’t been so noisy, the resounding crack would have been far more impressive.
Breathing like a blacksmith’s bellows, he walked back until the chain caught on the pole and wouldn’t allow him to go further, then he ran full-tilt and shoulder-tackled the defenseless post. The crack widened, and he barely caught himself in time before falling with the pole. It fell to the ground, splintered and completely free from the base, and he stood there for a moment, somewhat winded. When it impacted the dirt, it rolled, taking care of the flames, and leaving behind only the glow of embers.
A shout sounded from behind him, and he spun to see a Grimtotem charging at him with a particularly nasty-looking axe. The leash on his frustration snapped, and he reached down for the pole and swung it around at the Grimtotem, putting everything he had behind the swing.
Apparently, everything he had was more than enough, and the pole took the Grimtotem in the ribs. The reverberation of the impact trembled up through his arms, and he heard the ribs crack and collapse beneath the blow. The Grimtotem male fell, and though Bregan couldn’t see his face, the enemy did not get back up.
He held the pole only loosely in his hands, and dizzy from the exertion he fell to his knees. Whatever strength had sustained him was waning, and his head fell forward to let his chin rest against his chest.
“You get free from all this and decide to roll over and take a nap?” A voice hissed in his ear.
He jerked his head up, the verbal slap catching him off guard, and he nearly impaled Rae on his right horn.
“Watch it!” she complained, but did not lose the amusement dancing in her eyes. The lower-half of her face was covered, revealing only the green glow of her eyes as well as a couple of her scars, and the rest of the helm covered her hair. It would be difficult, at a glance, to determine who she was.
“Seemed as good a time as any,” he grumbled in return, his eyelids threatening to droop once more. Rae let out a piercing whistle, and an Orc in one of the Horde uniforms came running through the smoke toward them. Panic and violence welled up in Bregan’s heart and mind, and he staggered to his feet, tightening his grip on the pole.
“Easy there, Bregan–it’s Thratar,” Rae reassured him, and worked at the cuffs with her exceptionally sharp knife, but he did not loosen his grip until he could discern the Orc’s face. It truly was Thratar, and relief washed through Bregan, leaving him weak in the knees.
“You need to hurry; they’ll have the blaze and Grimtotems turned away soon enough, and I’d like to be gone by then,” Thratar huffed, his soot-streaked face had rivulets of sweat and blood running down it. Rae made a small grunt of combined annoyance and assent, and continued to work. She was being faster than careful, and though she caught his skin a few times, Bregan couldn’t find it in him to care, though he did distantly note that he could feel a couple of the lacerations to his left hand.
She got him free, and Thratar did his best to help support Bregan’s weight as he limped his way out of the camp. Chaos ruled, despite Thratar’s words, and though Bregan saw the bodies of Horde soldiers, there were far more dead Grimtotems littering the ground.
They were heading toward, but not through, the blaze. It seemed as though the Grimtotems had orchestrated some kind of explosion, and hit the other side of the camp while the Horde scrambled to stop the flames. What casters they had did their best to keep the fire contained to the camp, and away from the trees, and the trio were headed to a thick copse that had escaped the flames thus far.
Bregan went as fast as he could, which wasn’t very fast at all, and though Thratar labored under the weight of his friend, he didn’t complain. Complaining was a waste of breath, and Thratar rarely wasted the things he needed in order to survive.
They were nearly there when the wind blew a section of smoke clear, and Bregan turned his head slightly to see Cheyanna and Zog fighting. As he watched, Zog took a crack to the side of his head that knocked him out cold, and Bregan couldn’t help the smug satisfaction that wormed its way through him, until Cheyanna cried out.
She moved to defend her commander, and though she had done nothing to help Bregan out of his situation, she had not been completely for his torture, either. It made him grimace at his reaction, and a sense of panic welled up inside as a Grimtotem snuck up behind her as she dispatched the one who took down her commander.
As the Grimtotem raised his sword, Bregan staggered from Thratar’s grip, and with his hand upraised and held out toward Cheyanna he shouted, “No!” The energy, which had been so obstinate earlier, flowed out of him like the crack of the whip that had opened his back not so long ago.
The power, though weaker than it might have been if he was in better condition, cut across the backstabbing Grimtotem’s arms, staggering him and opening the skin just enough to make him bleed. The Grimtotem snorted in surprise, but between the distraction and Bregan’s shout, Cheyanna spun and stuck her own sword deep in the enemy’s gut. The Grimtotem lowed in pain, and fell to his knees, then the ground.
Cheyanna’s eyes met Bregan’s over the Grimtotem’s corpse as Thratar grabbed Bregan when he nearly fell over, too. Before the wind blew the smoke screen between them again, Bregan saw the other Tauren dip her head, and though the gesture was small, it was there. The smoke became dense once more, and he lost sight of her as the trio staggered into the shelter of the trees.
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 Nine
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