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Everything Good Comes To An End

Started by Rhonya, January 15, 2019, 01:47:56 PM

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Everything Good Comes To An End

Running paws behind me. A dangerous low growl sounded and urged me to keep running. Keeping still now could mean my death, his nose worked far better than mine. Trickles of sweat ran down my neck and back, making lines in the dark brown mud that covered most of my skin. I was in my element, this was my life. The jungle was alive around me, huge colourful birds squawking in indignity as I chased them from their hiding place by running through the bush they were in. As I rounded a sharp corner around a tree, I was suddenly grabbed by the back of my neck and part of my hair, sharp fingernails digging into my skin uncomfortably. I let out a surprised gasp.

“’Oo ‘a. ‘A nee’  ‘a’efu’, ‘ii’e ‘oo.” A deep voice sounded above me, speaking in such bad Orcish that he garbled all the words.
Yet, seven year old me understood them perfectly.
“I was bein’ careful, pap! And dun call me little, I be seven already!” I pouted up at him as he was still lifting me in the air, but on his face was nothing but amusement, a large, wide grin visible around his long tusks.
Behind me, something small, orange and black came tumbling from the bush, growling in a very threatening way. As threatening as a few months old tiger cub could be, that was.
My ‘pap’ lifted up the squirming tiger cub in his other hand and without another word, started to carry us both back to our little home. He wasn’t much of a talker, my dear Qa’ajn. He was a slender, wiry Troll with very spiky hair going everywhere. His power could be felt though if you were nearby him. His connection with the living things around him. I’d seen him do his magic many times, life and death, the entire circle of life that he served. I looked nothing like him, of course. My skin was grey, my hair red. And the biggest difference, I was an orc and not a Troll. It didn’t seem to matter to him though, he had taken me in as his own child all the same.

We reached our little hut without any incident, both me and the cub sulking all the way, not happy to have been interrupted in our play hunting. Qa’ajn placed us down on the wooden floorboard inside and gave us both a little piece of raw meat before he turned around again and went to work on the herb garden outside the hut.
My anger forgotten, I focused on my food instead, snuggling close to the little warm tiger body that was beside me. “Ya nearly ‘ad me dere, Lian.” I snickered before stuffing my face with meat. My speech was a lot better than Qa’ajns. He actually did teach me to pronounce things mainly right, he just didn’t care to do it himself much. Even though that meant he also taught me a very heavy accent.
Lian only responded with some loud and messy eating noises, but I could feel his affection towards me. We’d been together a few months now, after Qa’ajn had found him as a newborn, sleeping next to his mothers corpse and had brought him home to me.

Now, more than twenty years later, I was sitting against the huge bulk of the same tiger body. The scenery was different, not a warm humid jungle but a forest. I was different. A grown woman now, nearing thirty years if I had kept my counting right, part of a Clan of Orcs. So much had changed during that time, so much had happened. But he’d always been there at my side. My protector, my best friend, a piece of my heart. And now he was dying.
The years had taken a heavy toll on him. His breathing was laboured, his eyes closed. My hand moved to gently stroke the ever so soft fur of his ears and they twitched in response, but he didn’t wake up.
“O’, Lian… It be a cruel t’in’, time… We didn’t ‘ave enoug’ of it toget’er, ya and me. But it be time, no? I ‘ave ta let ya go..” The words were thick with pain, tears streaming down my cheeks. I wasn’t ready to let him go. But he was declining fast. He couldn’t hunt anymore. He nearly only slept and he was in pain. It wasn’t a life I wished for him, it wasn’t worthy of the strong proud tiger he’d been through his life.
My hands trembled as I grabbed a little piece of paper and some coal from my bag and started to write. I wasn’t good at writing and my trembling only made it all the worse, but I was sure Arhnum would understand the meaning of the words, even if they were all garbled up and smeared out.

A few days. Maybe. A few days to say goodbye to the one who’d been there from the start. A few days to say goodbye to part of myself. It wasn’t enough. But I didn’t have a choice.

Because I knew all good things have to come to an end sometime.

"For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack."


Normally I was too stubborn to let myself be carried when injured. Normally I never would’ve asked for the massive Tauren to lift me up and carry me downstairs. But I think he felt it, that this time I couldn’t bring up the strength to endure both the pain of my injuries added to the pain I felt, knowing what we were going to do.
So I asked him to carry me and he did so, without any question, without any complaint. Arhnum was very careful, gentle. He had to be, because those massive arms could crush me in an instance, compared to him I was the size of a child.
I led him to the right place. Lian was there, lying below one of the trees, eyes only half open. I could feel that he knew what we were here to do. I felt the sadness, the acceptance, the underlying pain. But most important of all, I felt that he agreed.

Arhnum placed me down, gently, offering me his arm to lean on and together we walked towards the tiger up ahead.

“Here, sit. Hmm-hrm,” Arhnum said, his deep voice comforting. I did so, sitting down next to Lian while Arhnum greeted the tiger.
“Ah, hello Lian,” he spoke. Lian acknowledged him, setting his eyes on the druid that towered over him. Lian looked bad, his fur dirty, his eyes somewhat unfocused and bloodshot. He made a gentle growl in the back of his throat to me when he felt the pain of my wounds as well. Even at this time, comforting me, worrying.
Arhnum sat down as well, his massive bulk dwarfing both Lian and I, casting a shadow over us both.
My voice trembled as I spoke. “I just-.. can’t look at dis anymore. ‘Im sufferin’. In pain.” 
Understanding, Arhnum gave a slow nod. “Do you wish to speak to him a little while first? I can wait to one side.”

I thought about this, but then realised… there was nothing more to say. Nothing that Lian didn’t know yet, nothing that he could not feel already. The bond we had was stronger than ever, feelings and even pain shared between us, but also the understanding that this was a new road we’d both be going into, without one another, in a way. But such a bond could never be broken, not even through death. So I shook my head in answer while I reached my hand to softly stroke the orange and black fur on Lians side.
He closed his eyes, lowering his head. He knew. Oh, he knew, really well.
“’E knows. I ‘ave not’in’ more ta say. ‘E knows it all already.”

Arhnum stood. With a flash of light, his form started to twist and change, slowly taking the shape of a large cat. Even now, he was large. Though where Lian was striped and orange, Arhnum was an earthy brown colour, more resembling a lion.
After giving my best friend a last hug, I leaned back a little.

It was time.

I watched them both, not saying a word. My throat was clenched shut, I couldn’t speak, even if I had wanted to.
Arhnum seemed to hesitate a moment, but then his nose twitched and he took a more confident stance. The large lion-like cat very gently rubbed the side of his head against that of Lian, a sort of re-assurance. Lian accepted it. He just seemed to be waiting, lying still.

The ways of nature are cruel. We learn this early in our years. Perhaps family members that die, perhaps a companion or a pet. No matter how much it happens though, no matter how resilient we think we have become to this, it always hurts more than we remember from earlier times. When Arhnum placed his massive jaws around Lians neck, it was as I could feel them on the back of my own neck as well. When the loud crack sounded through the empty clearing like a gunshot, it was as if someone had forced a hot poker down my spine. I thought I’d been prepared. I thought I could handle it. I had been wrong.

Lians form fell lifelessly to the ground. The light in his eyes was gone, snuffed out. But so was the tension in his body, the waves of pain that had come from him the past weeks. My trembling hand reached out and for the last time I stroked his still warm body, placing my hand on a leg that now belonged to an empty, soulless husk.

I hadn’t even noticed that the Arhnum-lion had stepped back, hanging his head down low. I heard him inhale before he started to growl. Rumbling roars, the sound carrying far, resonating through my chest as well.
“Ya rest now, dear one.. We’ll meet again, someday.” My voice was soft, broken.

Arhnum stepped from behind the tree, back in his normal Tauren form. He looked as sad as I felt. I suddenly realised what I had asked of him to do. What I hadn’t been able to do, what I had been to weak for. Finally the tears came, streaming down my face while Arhnum spoke in a deep and comforting tone.
“Hm… We all return to the Earthmother eventually. It is the order of all things.”

I looked up at him. “T’ank ya… I’m sorry I ‘ad ta ask dat of ya.” I felt an odd feeling of shame coming over me and suddenly I was very glad I hadn’t asked anyone else to come here. I’d never let any of the clan see me like this, besides Trakmar. It did show how much I trusted Arhnum and as I realised this myself as well, I also fell a huge wave of gratitude for the massive Tauren being there.

He spoke again. “It is… my honor. And my burden.” Arhnum nodded before continuing. “Hmm-hrm… do you wish a burial? A pyre?” He paused a short moment. “I could… give him to the Earthmother.”

I hadn’t even thought about that yet. I sighed, my hand still resting on the soft fur of the body in front of me. “’Ow would dat go?” I asked, not knowing that much of that side of druidic magic.

“Hmm, his body would be â€" changed, given to the life around him. The trees, the earth. The birds, the beasts. Returned to the balance. He would be part of it again, and still.” Arhnum nodded.

“I’d like dat, I t’ink..”

“You’ve said your final farewells?”

“One moment..” I suddenly realised, I wanted to have something. Something physical, even if it had nothing of his soul anymore. It had still been a part of him, part of the being I’d loved with all my heart. So I leaned in and gently pulled one of his last large canines loose, clenching my fist around it.

The Tauren next to me started speaking, standing next to me. His presence was comforting, very welcome, his voice soothing and washing over me almost like a blanket of a sort. I realised he wasn’t speaking to me, but in some sort of prayer.

“Great Earthmother. She who breathes life into all, tonight we return to you your son Lian. He was born, lived and passed as part of your great balance, a true son of the wilds…
May the light of An’she and shadow of Mu’sha neither blind nor obscure his spirit, may it live on as part of all life.”

Arhnum raised his hand in the air. I remained quiet, somewhat subdued by my grief.

“May he run forever in pursuit of the prey, may the prey now be sustained by the gift given unto the verdant wilds… May the cycle repeat ever, lived on… Earthmother! Grant this son your blessing and guidance into your embrace!”

At those words, he raised his other hand as well, before moving them down again quickly. Instantly, a bright light started to shine. I watched in wonder as I realised what was happening. Lians body was changing in that light. Withering, disappearing as if taken into the earth. Slowly it turned to dust entirely, until there was nothing left.
But the earth around him was changing too. An odd green shimmer surrounded us, life blooming up, green sprouting from the earth where Lians body had been.

“Hm-hrm.. Earthmother be praised.” Arhnums voice brought me back to the moment and I sniffed lightly, my hand clenched around the only part I still had of Lian now, his tooth.
The Tauren pressed a hand to his heart and his forehead, before looking down at me. The light around us was fading again, the magic disappearing.

“Do you wish to return to the others?”

Did I..? I didn’t think I did. Not yet.
“I’ll-.. stay ‘ere a moment, if ya dun mind. I’ll walk back later.”
A massive, furry hand patted my shoulder at that answer.

“Take care of yourself, my friend. If you ever need me, I am only a letter away.”
And with those words, his form shimmered once again. But this time, it was the familiar massive bear that looked down on me with kind eyes, his nose lightly sniffing me before he turned to lumber away with heavy steps.
I looked back to the empty spot in front of me. The feeling of the hot poker was still there. In my chest. It overshadowed the feeling of the pain of my burn wounds. Alone now, I finally gave in to the crushing pain and sadness, curling up on the spot. I couldn’t even cry, I could only gasp for air, my breath coming in rasping fits.
Something large and warm lay down beside me, a soft whine sounding close to my ear.
Timur, giving his comfort, keeping watch, while I felt like I was dying.

I wasn’t alone. I had others. Trakmar, Timur, Cera, my clan… Yet, this pain was my own. I’d carry it. Treasure it. For it was for my best friend, piece of my soul, piece of my heart. As he would always be.

"For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack."