Sunday, January 4, 2009
Boogga- Spirit Bound
Boogga could still remember when he first saw the great white lion lying in front of him. He had been little more than a stripling, charged by his trainer at the Crossroads to hunt down this beast and bring back his pelt. But when he first saw the lion, himself still a youngster with a scruffy, half-grown mane, he could not kill him, but tamed him to his side instead. When he got back to the Crossroads and presented the pelt still on the living lion, his trainer Sergra Darkthorn didn't scold him, but gave him a look of approval, tinged with new respect. The troll and the white lion had been together ever since.
But now, looking at his oldest and best friend, Boogga was eaten up with worry. Gabriel was getting old, he admitted that to himself, but he still didn't think that was responsible for the weight he had lost or the dullness of his coat. The stable master here at Stonebreaker Hold in Terokkar Forest was well-known for treating the animals under his care like they were his own, and there was a shaman here as well, so this was the best possible place to leave his old friend while he hunted or ran errands for the orcs. But still, he worried.
Samurai padded to his side and mreowled at her mate, who huffed at her in response as she rubbed her cheek on his head. Boogga had brought her into their "family" when Gabriel started showing arthritis in his shoulder, and couldn't run as far or fast or fight as hard as he used to. They had shared time with their master for a few years now, but with Gabe's failing health, Boogga had been taking Samurai out with him exclusively. And now it was time for him to leave again. The orcs wanted him to check on a caravan that had been attacked out in the Bone Wastes, to make sure they were all right and take some medicinal supplies to them. So the troll hunter rubbed his friend's head one more time then stood, called to Samurai, and headed out.
He wound up staying three days with the caravan, helping them tend their wounded and scouting the surrounding area against further attacks. Then a message arrived for him, from the Stonebreaker stable master. Gabriel had taken a turn for the worse.
Boogga rushed back, his raptor mount leaping stones and brush in its path rather than waste time finding a clear trail. He went to see Gabriel the moment he arrived. The big lion was in the shaman's hut, laying on his side with eyes closed and breathing roughly. The shaman was out but the stable master, Trag, met him at the door. "He couldn't stand this morning and then began to breathe like this. I got him to the shaman right away, and he tried to heal him, but couldn't. There is some... sickness, eating him up from the inside, he said," Trag told him. Boogga knelt by the big cat's side and softly called his name. One fuzzy white ear twitched, and Gabe raised his head and looked at his master with cloudy blue eyes. Boogga simply sat by his side, stroking him and talking to him, and after an hour or so Gabriel's breathing eased and he fell into sleep.
The orcs at Stonebreaker all knew of Gabriel's condition, so it was no surprise when Boogga was given no assignments the next few days. He and Samurai stayed at Gabe's side except for short hunts so the old cat could have fresh meat. His condition seemed to improve slightly, he even managed to take short walks a couple times. On the fourth day, however, he stopped eating. Boogga tried coaxing him with the softest scraps, but the lion would only lick it and turn his head away. Then an orc came to him and said that a message had to be sent to Garadar in nearby Nagrand, and Boogga was the only one they could spare to go. He agreed, but as he said goodbye to Gabriel, he felt his eyes burning. He quickly saddled his raptor and called to Samurai, then left before he shamed himself by crying in front of the orcs.
The message was delivered without incident, but the trip there and back took 4 days. Late on the third, when he crossed the border into Terokkar, Boogga suddenly felt something strange inside, like a part of him had disappeared. Heart sinking, he continued his journey and arrived at Stonebreaker late the next morning. Trag met him before he reached the shaman's hut, and the look on his face was enough. "He's gone, isn't he?" he asked Trag, and the orc nodded sadly. Boogga sighed and rubbed his face wearily. "I would like to bury him myself, mon," he said quietly, and Trag took him to Gabe's body then left him.
Boogga lifted the great body, wrapped in an old hide, in his arms. It felt lighter than it should be, as if the cat's spirit made most of the weight, and now that he was gone there was nothing left. Samurai padded at his heels as he carried Gabriel's body out to the river nearby. He found a suitable spot, then started digging, with Samurai helping as best as she could. When the hole was big enough he placed the lion's body inside and covered it with dirt, finishing with large rocks so the wild animals would not disturb him. Done, he just stood by the grave, lost in thought.
He remembered the many fights he had been thru with Gabe at his side. How he had fought with the Horde at Warsong Gulch, and the big cat had thrown himself in harm's way time after time, defending his master. He remembered when they first arrived at the Dark Portal, and Gabriel had stepped thru without hesitation, trusting that Boogga knew what he was doing. And he recalled how on the other side, when they had first seen the demon forces arrayed against them, he had had to call Gabriel back several times, as the lion had tried to charge the demons and drive them off.
Boogga had been standing there for some time, lost in his old memories, when Samurai's low growl brought him back to the present. The growl didn't sound threatening, so he didn't grab for his weapons as he looked for the disturbance. A flicker of movement to the side caught his eye, and he turned to see.
Gabriel stood about 10 feet off to the side, studying him. Boogga felt a shock at the sight, then looked more closely and noticed he could see the trees through the white lion. He turned to the ghost of his companion and knelt on the ground. Gabriel just stood there, his clear blue eyes focused on his master. He seemed to be expecting something, but Boogga didn't know what. Finally he just said, "You did your job well, mah brother, better than I could have asked. You earned your rest now. Don't worry about me, I got Samurai still to watch over me. I won't forget about ya."
At that, Gabriel's ghost slowly blinked his eyes, then started walking toward the troll. Boogga sat still as the cat came up to him, and felt a hint of a chill as Gabe rubbed against him for the last time. Then the big lion turned away, and as a stiff breeze suddenly came up, his ghostly form dissipated like mist.
I lost my dog of 9 years to cancer, about 4 1/2 years ago. This story is kind of a tribute to him. Hope you enjoy it.