Before Talida could get into what ‘business’ she wished to discuss, Rae made some small movement that distracted her, and had Talida yanking back on her hair again.
Bregan could only grind his teeth against Rae’s treatment, but Rae had something a little more productive in mind. When she’d shifted her weight, it had allowed her to pull a small, needle-thin dagger from a hidden sheath built into her boot. She took the opportunity and, quick as a snake, stabbed the hand Talida was using to grasp her hair.
Talida let out an unholy shriek and yanked her hand back. Rae wasted no time and sprinted toward her small band of companions, who scrambled to grab their own weapons.
“You’ll wish you hadn’t done that,” Talida hissed, and drew her weapon. The Grimtotem around her followed suit, and were letting out bellows of rage, ready to charge.
“And you can drop the weapons, or die where you stand,” Cheyanna’s voice sounded from the companions’ right.
Bregan turned in shock to find a cadre of the Horde soldiers, and though they didn’t outnumber the Grimtotems, they were ready to fight with numbers that evened things out.
Talida narrowed her eyes, and quickly considered her odds.
“This isn’t over,” she said to Cheyanna, murderous intent in her eyes, and with the briefest incomprehensible glance at Bregan she turned on her heel and ran. The Grimtotems followed her, and some of the Horde soldiers went to give chase, but Cheyanna stopped them.
“We need to get these fires under control before it destroys everything in the area,” she ordered, and the soldiers ran off, though somewhat reluctantly, to do as they were told.
“Thanks, mon,” Ja’Ghan prompted, as Cheyanna turned a considering eye to the ragtag group. She snorted at the apology.
“Don’t thank me–I was just doing my duty. I’d clear out before Zog gets here, though; he’s none too happy with your antics in our camp, and would give his favorite axe to get ahold of you all,” she said, and leveled an emphatic look at Bregan, who grimaced at the thought of being at Zog’s mercy once more.
“You do not have to tell us twice,” he said, and they started heading the way the prisoners had fled. As he passed by her, though, he paused for a moment. “I know you were just doing your duty, but thank you, all the same.”
She said nothing for a moment, giving him naught more than a blank face in return, so Bregan nodded once and started on his way again.
Just as he was about to be out of range to hear the words, she spoke; “A life for a life. There is no more debt between us.”
Her words caused a simple surprised stutter in his step, but he didn’t stop to say anything in return, and she knew her words would meet with a similar sentiment on his part.
Bregan caught back up to his companions, and they began heading in the direction Bregan supposed Rae and Ja’Ghan’s cave was located. With each step away from the smoldering Grimtotem camp, his injuries and pain nagged at him like carrion crows picking at a corpse, and his hooves grew heavy with exhaustion. By the time they were well away from the camp, he could barely keep his eyes open.
Ja’Ghan stopped them in a small clearing, sheltered somewhat by a miniscule grouping of scraggly trees on one side, and a small alcove of cliff face on the other. Bregan let out a snort of relief, and thought if he had to take another step his legs would fall off.
“We can set up camp here, for da night. Thratar, can ya get some firewood, and are ya fine wit havin’ first watch?”
“Sounds good to me,” he said, and headed out to gather some kindling.
“Good. Rae, ya should get sometin’ cookin’ fer dinner.”
“Hmph,” was her only reply, but she complied, and headed out to find some poor creature that didn’t know it was dinner yet.
“Anything I can help with?” Bregan inquired, though at this point it was more out of ingrained politeness than any real desire. Ja’Ghan chuckled, as he knew the Tauren was dead on his feet, and shook his head.
“No, mon–why don’t ya rest ’til dinner.”
Before the last word was from the Troll’s mouth, Bregan had fairly collapsed against a tree that groaned in protest of the Tauren’s weight, but held. He closed his eyes and fell asleep, though ‘fell’ might be too mild a word for the depth of the Tauren’s slumber.
Ja’Ghan laughed softly at Bregan’s comical fatigue, but quickly sobered as the humor of the young man’s profound betrayal and loss washed over him. No stranger to treachery himself, he knew once the shock wore off Bregan would be in for a rough ride.
At least he’ll have Thratar ta help him through it, Ja’Ghan observed, as the Orc made his way back into their camp, a decent bundle of wood clutched beneath his arm. Not ta mention he’ll be needin’ trainin’ when he get back. Though that was one aspect of Bregan’s future he wasn’t one-hundred percent sure on. Yes, the Tauren had made use of his powers in extreme situations, but would it be enough of a draw to pull him from his idyllic life in his village? Magic of any sort was not an easy path to take, and his life was going to be unstable as it was for a time.
Ja’Ghan shook his head at the thought, and waved Thratar off when he cast the Troll a questioning look. Then Thratar looked over to Bregan, and chuckled in much the same way Ja’Ghan had.
“He looks much like me after my first battle. I swore I could keep going, and next thing I knew I’d fallen asleep standing up in front of my commander’s desk. It must have happened to him before, because the quick, wily old bastard was up and catching me before I could brain myself on anything harder than my head–which likely wasn’t anything in the vicinity, but still,” Thratar finished, and a brittle smile broke over his face. “He didn’t survive a year beyond my joining his command, but he was as good an officer a grunt like me could have hoped for.”
“Life is a mixture of da bitter and da sweet–ya can’t have one without ta other,” Ja’Ghan commented sagely, and Thratar nodded ruefully.
“Ain’t that the Gods’ honest truth? I had hoped by moving out to the country to avoid such things, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be.” Thratar gestured to Bregan, and narrowed his eyes slightly when he caught sight of his friend’s wounds and bloody bandages. “Fool,” he sighed, though if the comment was in reference to himself, or his friend, was anyone’s guess. He went over to his pack to dig out some bandages, but Ja’Ghan waved him off again, this time in reference to the wounds.
“He not be bleedin’ ta death, and once I get some food in me, we’ll wash ’em out and I can heal ’em back up.”
Thratar nodded, and with nothing else to do got the fire ready for Rae’s return with their dinner. What were they going to do now that their little quest was over? It was hard to imagine returning to the village as though nothing had changed, when so much had. Thratar wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to get back into the fray. On the other hand he wasn’t much for the quiet life, as this recent foray into adventure had reminded him, and with all the subtlety and grace of an Ogre trying to tiptoe through a field of tulips.
What, indeed? he wondered, though he was thankful to put the question off until tomorrow as Rae returned with food. She’d managed to find a decent-sized stag, and Thratar was impressed she’d been able to throw the beast over her shoulders and bring it back to camp. Though he shouldn’t have been–Rae was full of all sorts of surprises.
They prepared the meal–succulent stag kabobs–and woke Bregan long enough to feed him, clean his wounds, and give him some much-needed healing. After that, with everyone wondering what tomorrow might bring, the companions turned in while Thratar took first watch. He gazed up at the stars, though they didn’t hold answers for him any more readily than his own mind, and kept watch over their tiny band.
What Thratar didn’t notice were the angry eyes watching some distance away, before moving on into the night, a new purpose setting their stride to one that was long and determined. Bregan turned over in his sleep, nightmares chasing him at the edge of consciousness as the words; This isn’t over, echoed through his skull like the ominous knell of a deep bell.
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 Ten
Becoming: Bregan’s Story, Chapter Eleven
Becoming: Bregan’s Story, Chapter Twelve
Becoming: Bregan’s Story, Chapter Fourteen
Becoming: Bregan’s Story, Chapter Fifteen
Becoming: Bregan’s Story, Chapter Sixteen
Becoming: Bregan’s Story, Final Chapter