Thratar slung his pack over his left shoulder, the strap settling comfortably on its accustomed spot, and headed back out the door. Since the pack was ready, the time he needed to prepare for their rescue mission had nothing to do with supplies, and everything to do with information. He strode purposefully over to the longhouse, essentially a great meeting hall where the Tauren could gather to discuss matters, socialize, sell wares on certain days, or just congregate in general. It was also where they set up the triage for the injured party.
The first drops of chilled rain fell on his hot, acid green skin, the anticipation of skirmishes and battle pumping small amounts of adrenaline through his system and heating his blood. The wind buffeted his back, as though to urge him along faster, and it quickened his pace as he crossed the center of town. Dirt and dust kicked up by the wind stung his face and exposed skin of his bald pate, and got caught in the long, black braid of his beard. He grumbled at the last, but continued on. He’d meant to cut it off, as though to rid himself of that part of his life forever, but she’d always liked it. Thratar couldn’t bring himself to lose the last remaining memento of her and their time together, so he bellyached and complained but never followed through.
As he approached the steps of the longhouse lightning flashed in the distance, temporarily illuminating the swaying tall grass and dark, brooding sky. Scant seconds later the thunder replied, rumbling like an Earth Elemental’s rocks grinding together as it moved.
It’ll be on us soon. Thratar spat, but mounted the stairs and walked into the building, trying to put the growing storm out of his mind. It would make it harder to track the Grimtotem, and Thratar sent a whispered prayer to his ancestors, asking for their help in helping his friend’s lover.
When Thratar’s eyes adjusted to the lower light of the fires, he saw the pallets on the floor laid out for the injured. The village didn’t have an overabundance of healers, just three in all: one old, one apprentice to the old one, and Talida. At the thought of the kindly female Tauren, Thratar’s eyes searched the hall for the shale grey fur of Bregan, an anomaly in comparison to the more reddish tones of the village. He found him kneeling next to the pallet of one of the patrol, helping them to drink whatever concoction the old Priestess healer had brewed.
“You are a good friend to help him this way,” the whispered voice of the old Tauren priestess came from beside him, making him twitch his hand for one of the axes at his belt. He never had liked the way Eyota could move so silently for someone with hooves, but he did his best not to let it show, and to give proper respect to an elder of Bregan’s tribe.
Thratar grunted, but didn’t look her way. “I am a selfish Orc, whose desires and thrill-seeking happen to line up in such a way it appears I’m a helpful friend.” Thratar’s uncharacteristic honesty set him back on his heels. It was so unlike him.
Eyota’s raspy laugh finally turned his head to meet her watery, kind, and piercing brown eyes. Though Taurens tended to be taller than Orcs, Eyota’s gaze was even with his, despite Thratar’s slouch. The years of her life bent her spine till she needed a cane to help her walk.
“You may yearn for battle, yes, but you also yearn to help your friend. Do not discount the good in your motives as easily as that,” she finished, and placed a three-fingered, soft hand on the tense muscles of his scarred arm. “Now help me over to the bed, and remember: the Shu’halo do not easily give their companionship, and not to one they deem unworthy.”
He dipped his head and lowered his gaze, the Old Crone’s words churning in his mind, and helped her to the bed where Bregan still knelt.
“You may speak to Kachada–he is the least injured of the party and not under a sleeping brew,” Eyota rasped, as Thratar helped her sit on the opposite side as Bregan, who glanced up at her approach. When she was safely on the floor, Bregan stood, nodded to the old healer, and the two of them went to where Kachada sat.
While Kachada was not the most experienced of fighters, Thratar had to give him grudging respect on how often he practiced to improve his skills. Even going so far as to ask Thratar for help a few times. Now, his right arm was splinted and bandaged, having sustained multiple breaks to the bone. His other hand tightly gripped the blanket over his lap, as though he thought it would disappear if he let go. As they approached Kachada his hazel eyes filled with tears, and when he closed them the drops spilled over the creamy, copper fur of his cheeks. Thratar had wept such shame before, and like recognized like.
“Please, Bregan, forgive me. If only I’d been better–”
“We do not have time for this, Kachada, please just tell us what you can,” Bregan said, not unkindly, but firm nonetheless. Kachada’s mouth had snapped shut at the words, but he nodded and swallowed the remainder of his apology.
“We were on patrol just past Camp Sungraze at the Wildmane Water Well, and I guess some of the Grimtotem must have broken through the defenses at Stonetalon Pass. They set upon us like a swarm, and we tried to beat them back, but there were just too many,” Kachada paused, and squeezed his eyes closed. It was a long moment, but before Thratar prompted him to continue, Kachada took a deep breath. “Of the seven of us on patrol, two were killed, four injured, including myself, and Talida…I didn’t see what happened with Talida,” Kachada confessed, and bowed his head so he didn’t have to look Bregan in the eye.
Bregan leveled a look at Thratar, a spark in his eye, but Thratar kept his hope reserved for more concrete news, though he couldn’t begrudge his friend the emotion.
“Try talking to the ones who live at Camp Sungraze–they promised to watch over the dead until we could get them for proper burial,” Kachada added, though did not look up at the pair to impart the news.
Bregan turned on his hoof and fairly ran from the longhouse. Before following, Thratar clapped a heavy hand on Kachada’s shoulder and briefly tightened his grip, and as he removed his hand the young Tauren’s shoulders started to shake, though no sound came from him.
When Thratar exited the longhouse, the rain fell in earnest and the sky seemed to split from the electrical discharges, racing across the sky like cracks in glass. Bregan was at the posts where the kodos were kept, their thick, leathery hides slick from the rain. He was gesturing and yelling at another, older, Tauren. When the sky lit up again, Thratar grimaced and grit his teeth. Bregan was arguing with the village leader, and it didn’t seem to be going his way.
This could get ugly. Thratar sighed, and the thunder boomed its agreement.
Becoming: Bregan’s Story, Chapter One
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