The Bearheart Chronicles: A Druid's Tale

BY : MelanaAdara
Category: +S through Z > World of Warcraft
Dragon prints: 1393
Disclaimer: I do not own World of Warcraft and I am making no money from this story. Only my original characters are mine.

This is a future excerpt from my ongoing story “The Bearheart Chronicles” which is posted on fanfiction.net. I wrote this after a particularly frustrating evening where the lack of flying hindered my questing to the point where I gave up trying. It made me wonder how my druid Arrentai felt about the situation. He, Gillaen and Nerissina (death knights), Josstellan (mage), Maelinastra (hunter)and Lizabetha (warlock) are all my original characters.

Gillaen

It was some time before I realised how unhappy Arrentai was in Draenor. He’d come through the portal with us serving as healer for our platoon. Mostly death knights we didn’t have much need for a healer and usually made do with the services of a paladin who had joined us a while ago. However he’d been injured during a skirmish in Pandaria and so been forced to remain in Azeroth until he’d recovered.

So Arrentai had volunteered, thinking he’d only be needed for a short time. We hadn’t known then that we’d be virtually stranded. The dark portal had been destroyed to prevent the iron horde from going through and the mage portals we’d expected to rely on weren’t always reliable. It was something to do with the fact that this Draenor was not part of our timeline I think. I didn’t really understand it when Josstellan tried to explain to me, but all that mattered was that if the portal wasn’t stable men and beasts didn’t get sent through. Losing supplies was one thing, but no commander was going to un-necessarily risk the lives of his men.

Anyway one evening I was strolling round the garrison checking that there were no problems needing my attention. Joss and Maeli had already retired for the night, Nerissina was working off her aggression on a training dummy, and the other off-duty men were amusing themselves in the inn or the barracks common room. I wandered out the back gate, stopping for a brief word with the sentries, and headed towards the cliff top behind the war tower. Out of the way of most paths and activities I’d found it to be a pleasant place to go when I needed peace and solitude. Normally no one else came here.

Laying my axe to one side, I sat down and gazed out across the landscape far below me. Beside me I felt the chill presence of the ghostly frostwolf pup that had taken to following me about. I’d guessed she was lonely trapped in between life and death, and I didn’t mind her company. So few creatures would accept me, I welcomed any that would.

I’d been sitting there for some time before I realised I wasn’t alone. Little Gelida suddenly froze into a pose of alertness as something caught her eye. Normally there was nothing here to spook her so I paid attention and followed her gaze. To my right there was a small area that was hidden from sight of the garrison by an outcropping of the rocks that surrounded it. At the far side of it my brother sat, right at the edge, his head bowed and resting in his paws. For a moment I thought nothing of it, then it hit me. His paws … he was in his worgen form. I knew he preferred to appear human, I seldom saw him as worgen except when he was in a combat situation.

Since coming to Draenor I’d not seen him shapeshift at all.

“Arrentai?” I called out to him. “Are you all right?”

For some moments he ignored me, then…

“Leave me alone,” he growled, his voice slurred. My normally sober little brother was drunk.

“’S’all right for you,” he muttered. “You got your woman here. You ain’t gotta sleep in a cold empty bed every night. I didn’t sign up for this shit. They said I could go home soon as the fighting was done, soon as this place was built. They lied; you lied. The damn portals don’t bloody well work”

Placing his paws on the ground he pushed himself unsteadily to his feet. I saw then a couple of empty bottles lying beside him.

He turned and took a step toward me and I tensed. He was dangerously close to the edge, one false step could send him tumbling over to his death. The water below wasn’t deep enough to break a fall.

“An’ another thing. D’you know what hell this place is for a druid?”

I shook my head. Like everyone else, I suppose, I’d assumed druids functioned normally here.

“Watch!”

He spread his arms out, lifting his head to gaze at the sky. Nothing happened.

“What?” I asked, baffled.

“I can’t fly. You don’t know how it feels, to soar through the air, to feel the thermals lift you, carry you; the freedom to be able to go where I choose. It’s gone. I’ve lost it, Gill, this damn world has taken it away and I don’t know if I’ll ever get it back. I can’t handle this anymore.”

He sank to his knees, head bowed; and his body began to shake as his sobs tore through his body. I scrambled to my feet and ran to his side. All I could do was hold him. I had no idea how to deal with my brother’s distress.

I stayed there holding him until at last he began to calm a little, relaxing against me as the alcohol coursing through his veins had its more usual sedative effect on him. The bottles that lay near us had contained the strongest liquor available here. I’d acquired it in the Spires of Arak and been warned it wasn’t for the faint-hearted. I never drank more than a glass at a time. How the hell had Arrentai got his hands on two whole bottles? He was going to have one hell of a hangover in the morning and be little use to anyone for a while.

In the meantime I needed to keep him safe until he was capable of walking. If he’d been in human form I might have been able to carry him but as a worgen he was taller, heavier, more solidly built than me. Besides I figured he could do without the humiliation of half the garrison seeing him in this state. With some effort I managed to get him away from the cliff edge, back against the rock face behind us, where I settled him as comfortably as I could and wrapped his cloak about him. He was asleep within minutes. I sat near him leaning against the rock watching him, wondering how I hadn’t noticed that my brother was becoming so depressed. We spent a good deal of time together both during working hours and off-duty. How had I been so blind?

 It grew darker as one of the moons set and I shivered a little as a cold breeze blew across the ledge, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle. It was not the bitter cold of Northrend where I’d served for so long. Towards dawn I dozed a little, waking as I heard Arrentai stir. I opened my eyes as he struggled to sit up. I said nothing, waiting for him to speak first. For some moments he stared at me, unfocussed, confused, pained. Then abruptly he turned away and vomited. His whole body shook with the force of the spasms that tore through him, but there was nothing I could do. What little healing ability I have left these days works only on myself and is barely sufficient to help me survive in battle.

At last, drained, he turned back and looked up at me. I could tell he was expecting the same dressing down that any other member of the garrison would have got in the same situation. And maybe if it had happened in front of witnesses I might have done so, in the interests of maintaining discipline. But what was the point in making him feel worse than he obviously did already? I held out a hand to him to help him up. He took it and rose unsteadily.

“Can you walk?” I asked and he nodded.

“Good. Move it.” I gestured toward the gate and he began to walk somewhat unsteadily ahead of me. I followed behind, collecting up my axe and the empty bottles. I wanted him well away from the cliff top before I let him out of my sight. As we neared the mine entrance, the young worgen blacksmith paused at her work and grinned at my brother. He ignored her and kept walking. She turned to glance at me.

“What’s up with him today?” she asked, concerned.

“Homesick,” I said quietly. She saw the bottles in my hand and put two and two together.

“Maybe those mages have got the portals back to Azeroth sorted by now. Then he can go and visit his wife. If not I’ll be quite happy to keep him company.”

She grinned again to let me know she was joking. I knew she was interested in my brother, she’d made that clear from the start, but she also knew he wasn’t available. Sometimes I think she used humour to mask her own loneliness. I had several worgen in the garrison; they were hard workers and I got on well with them, sharing the same origins. However most of them were women, chance had just worked that way, but it meant they lacked companionship.

I know some commanders were strict about their troops and staff getting too close, but it didn’t bother me. So long as it didn’t undermine discipline or cause trouble I didn’t care who shared whose beds. The trouble was, not many non-worgen were willing to take that risk. Someday I needed to try and sort out such problems, but for now my concern was my brother.

I decided to ask Josstellan about the portal situation. He was a mage, if anyone knew he would. I caught up with Arrentai at the gate. He was leaning against the wall doubled over in pain as his nausea had once again got the better of him.

“Come on, little brother,” I said lightly, “let’s get you to your quarters so you can lie down before you fall over.”

I looked around for some help and called over the first man I saw doing nothing, one of the kaldorei stable hands. Between us we got Arrentai across the garrison and into his room behind the town hall.

As he sat on the edge of his bed I helped him remove his soiled clothes and tossed them to one side. He doubled over as he began to retch again, the spasm over sooner this time but leaving him weak and trembling.

He looked up at me anxiously.

“Sorry, Gill,” he whispered, “but I need to piss and I don’t think I can stand.”

With a sigh I grabbed the chamber pot that sat in a corner, handed it to him and turned away to give him some privacy. When he’d done, I helped him settle onto the bed and pulled the covers over him.

“Feel bloody awful,” he murmured, drowsily.

“I’ll see if Fiona has something that would help,” I told him. “Just rest.”

His eyes were already closing as I stood up.

The kaldorei stood just outside the partly open door.

“Do you need me anymore, Commander?” he asked

“No, you can get back to work.”

Then I glanced back at Arrentai.

“Stay with him,” I ordered. I didn’t think my brother would be going anywhere but I didn’t want him left alone. The kaldorei nodded, walked into the room and sat on the bench opposite the bed. 

The first person I went looking for was Fiona. The worgen priest was a skilled herbalist and healer. I told her what was needed, a hangover cure and something to settle Arrentai’s stomach. Leaving her to deal with that I headed to the cottage that Josstellan and Maelinastra shared and knocked on the door. When there was no answer I opened it and went in. The place was deserted and didn’t look as though they’d been there for a while. Yet I’d seen them head this way last night.

I didn’t have time to hang around. A quick check with the sentry assured me they hadn’t left through the main gate, so where were they? I grabbed a couple of labourers as they were about to head for work and asked them to have a look around for the missing elves, then I turned my steps back to the town hall. I’d just reached the bottom of the steps when I heard the sound of raised voices.

“What now?” was my first thought before I realised they were coming from Arrentai’s quarters. I ran up the stairs and into the building. It took me some moments to make sense of what I was seeing. My brother sat on his bed, an angry snarl on his face. Nerissina crouched beside him, her arms round him, pinning his arms to his sides, but whether to restrain him or comfort him I wasn’t quite sure. He didn’t seem to be struggling. The kaldorei I’d left watching Arrentai cowered in the corner with Fiona standing over him. His face bore fresh bleeding claw marks.

“Get him out of here,” Nerissina snarled. “Now, Gillaen.”

I didn’t wait to ask for explanations. I grabbed the kaldorei by the arm, hauled him to his feet and dragged him outside. There, I handed him over to the nearest sentries with orders to lock him up until I had time to deal with him.

Fiona met me outside Arrentai’s door.

“What happened?” I asked.

“I came here as you asked,” she said softly. “Your brother was sleeping, but that … that creature was trying to take advantage of him.”

“Oh, Light!” I gasped, horrified. I knew such things happened. You couldn’t serve in the army for as long as I had and not know. But for it to happen here and to my brother. I swallowed against the bile that rose in my throat. She rested a hand on my arm.

“It’s all right, Gillaen, Arrentai wasn’t hurt, just frightened. He’ll be all right.”

I walked back into the room. Nerissina still held Arrentai in her arms but he seemed a little calmer. He looked up at me and I could see the bewilderment in his eyes. Still under the influence of the potent alcohol in his blood he hadn’t really realised what had been happening, only that someone had tried to hurt him.

“He needs to sleep and heal,” Nerissina said softly. I nodded and looked round at Fiona. She walked across the room and crouched beside Arrentai, studying him carefully.

“What did he drink?” she asked.

“Two bottles of Sailor Zazzuk’s rum, maybe more. I don’t know. I found 2 empty bottles,” I told her.

“How is he still even conscious?” she mused as she examined him.

“He threw up most of it this morning.”

“Good, that will help his system clear faster.”

She pulled a small bottle from her pocket, uncorked it and held it to his lips.

“Drink, Arrentai. It will ease the pain.”

Like an obedient child he let her pour the liquid into his mouth and he swallowed it down.

“Good, now I want you to sleep and give it time to work.”

“No!” he protested, but already Fiona was intoning the words of a prayer and his eyes closed, as he leaned against Nerissina.

“I’ll stay with him,” she said, easing herself onto the bed so she could settle him back against the pillow and still hold him.

I turned and walked out followed by Fiona. I was shaking with rage, close to losing control. I wanted nothing more than to get my hands on that filthy elf and rip him limb from limb for what he’d done to my brother.

“I’ve got to get out of here before I hurt someone,” I said. I knew from bitter experience what was coming next. I’d been so busy with administration duties recently that I hadn’t been on any active missions and I could feel the hunger growing in me.

“Fetch Ishaal,” I said. Fiona looked into my eyes and nodded. Coming from Lordaeron she was well aware of what an out-of-control death knight could do. She hurried out and was back with Ishaal within minutes.

“You need me, Commander,” the big Arakkoa said in his raspy voice. I nodded.

“I’m close to losing control. I need to get out of the garrison and go hunting.”

“As you wish, Commander.”

He turned and picked up my axe which I’d left lying on a chest nearby. I knew he’d return it to me when we were safely out of the garrison, but still I hated to see my weapon in another’s hand. He carried no weapon of his own save a slender staff but, a powerful shadow priest, his magic was more than capable of handling me, as he’d proved more than once before. Side by side we walked outside and headed toward the main gate. No one spoke to us; they knew what it meant when they saw us like this and they kept out of the way.

Once safely down the road Ishaal silently handed me my axe and dropped back. He would follow me, keep me safe, but let me have free rein on my killing so long as I made no attempt to harm any innocent. I left the road and headed out across the plains. There were plenty of beasts and enemies that would attack me on sight; in this savage world it was not difficult to sate my bloodlust.

By the time we returned to the garrison at dusk I had the hunger under control. I was exhausted and soaked in blood, very little of it mine. I stopped by the barracks to have one of the footmen help me out of my armour and left it there to be cleaned and repaired. Then I headed to the private quarters at the back of the town hall. Nerissina met me at the door to our room.

“Welcome back, my love,” she said, her husky voice quiet and reassuring. I took the hand she held out and let her lead me inside, too weary to resist as she helped me to remove the padded undergarments that protected my body from my armour. I sat on the edge of the bed and looked up at her.

“How is Arrentai?”

“He’s still sleeping. Fiona is with him, she won’t leave him alone.”

Gently she began to wash the blood from my skin with water she must have had ready for the purpose and I began to relax. That done she made me lie on my front and she began to massage the taut muscles in my shoulders and back. Her touch was firm but gentle, and it began to arouse feelings I’d thought long dead, but before I could do anything about it I fell sound asleep.   

I awoke at first light and lay there for some minutes just watching Nerissina as she slept beside me. We’d shared a bed since she had broken with Arrentai but had taken things no further. I think both of us were more than a little afraid to find what our limitations might be. The feelings I’d experienced the previous night had given me hope that there might be a future for us.

Reluctantly I turned away and got out of bed, careful not to disturb her. Quickly pulling on trousers and shirt, I hurried down the corridor to Arrentai’s room. My brother was awake and looking totally bewildered.

“What happened?” he asked.

“Don’t you remember?”

“No. not much. I remember feeling down because I was missing Lizabetha. I went to the inn for a drink… that’s it.”

He paused and stared up at me.

“Oh Light! I got drunk, didn’t I? That’s why I can’t remember.”

“Completely,” I agreed. “I found you up on the cliff top, totally smashed, bewailing all life had thrown at you. I stayed there with you all night and after you’d thrown up you slept right through yesterday.”

He groaned and buried his face in his paws.

“What the hell did I drink? My head is pounding.”

“Two bottles of Sailor Zazzuk’s. Do me a favour, little brother. Next time you feel like a drinking session come see me and I’ll keep you company. It’ll be safer that way.”

The sound of a smothered chuckle distracted us; we both looked round at Fiona.

“You’re obviously feeling better. I’ll leave you two alone.”

She rose from the cushion she’d been sitting on and departed.

“Get dressed,” I told him. “We’ll get breakfast, if you feel like food.”

We wandered across to the kitchen area, helped ourselves to some food and sat down to eat. Arrentai picked at his food.

“I keep feeling there’s something else I should remember,” he mused.

I shook my head. No way was I telling him what else had happened. That was something he never needed to know. For once I was glad my brother had been so drunk that he couldn’t remember anything.

I leant back in my chair and let my gaze wander. It was quiet, everyone was about their own business. Then movement at the back gate caught my eye as the two stray kaldorei walked in. Maelinastra’s cat bounded ahead of them.

“About time you two appeared,” I called out.

“Where have you been?” I asked as they reached us.

“Darnassus.”

Arrentai looked up at the mage.

“But how? They said the portals weren’t working right.”

“No, they’re still not, but I can hold a portal open just long enough for us to go through. It’s not easy, it takes some time to regain mana.”

He sat down on the nearest chair and bent forward wrapping his arms round himself. I could see that he was trembling. Maelinastra rummaged in the bag she was carrying and pulled out a vial of blue liquid. She held it out to Josstellan, helping him to drink it when his co-ordination prove unequal to the task.

“He won’t be doing that too often,” she said. “We wanted to spend some time with Kezieh. It’s so long since we’ve seen her and she’s growing so fast. But it’s too much effort for him. It didn’t help that we brought someone back with us.”

I turned and looked back toward the gate. I’d noticed the blonde haired woman walking in behind them, but hadn’t paid much attention. With so many women among the personnel she seemed to be just one more of them, and I hadn’t given her a second glance.

Arrentai, who had his back to the gate, turned, scenting the air.

“Lizabetha? Here?”

 He stood and walked toward her, catching her up in his arms and holding her close, oblivious to the people about him.

“I’ve missed you so much,” I heard him say before leading her back to us. He looked down at Josstellan.

“Thank you, my friend,” he said quietly.

Josstellan nodded in acknowledgement.

“We could see how lonely you were,” Maelinastra said. “We had to do something to help.”

“Arrentai, why don’t you get Lizabetha settled into your quarters, then show her around,” I suggested.

“Just one rule. She doesn’t know this place, so she doesn’t leave the garrison on her own.”

They both nodded, I watched them walk away then turned to face the kaldorei.

“I know you need to rest, but there’s something I need to tell you first.”

Quickly, quietly I told them all the details of the last two days, including what Arrentai did not remember. I figured they needed to know, the assailant was after all one of their race and should ultimately be dealt with by their authority.   

Josstellan and Maelinastra were naturally horrified.

“It happened here, Gillaen,” Josstellan said. ”I’m sure Khadgar would agree that it is your right to decide on the punishment, as would our leaders.”

“I don’t know,” I said softly. “I’m too close to the situation. I just wanted to rip the man apart.”

“But you didn’t. No. You are strong enough to handle this, my friend. We’ll stand by your decision.”

I nodded slowly.

“Okay. But I don’t want Arrentai involved. He doesn’t remember, for which I’m thankful. I don’t want to change that.”

We parted company soon after that. I had work to do and Josstellan needed to rest. I saw little of Arrentai and Lizabetha all day but we all got together at the evening meal. The change in my brother was marked. He was much happier although, he confided, still concerned at his lack of memory.

I told him not to worry, nothing had happened worth remembering. Light, how I hated myself for that lie, little knowing how it would all too soon come back to trouble me.



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