I've had this idea bouncing around in my head for when Rheugan ICly heads to Pandaria, but I hadn't been able to make myself sit down and write it out... until now. Writing stuff makes me happy. Also, that character development that I mentioned a few posts back but hadn't expanded on yet? Here's some of it right here. Enjoy!
“You don’t have to do this, you know.”
“Yes, Alanon, I do.”
“Leave him alone, brother. I’ll watch out for him, don’t worry.”
The leather was getting worn in places, but the stitching was still sound. Rheugan set aside the piece of armor he’d been checking, then reached for the next. Shaurria’s ear twitched at the movement, though otherwise the young druid appeared asleep, curled into a grey furry ball at his side. She didn’t want him to go, he knew that. She worried about him - they all worried. Pitch and Alanon’s near-argument over whether he should be “allowed” to go was still a very vivid memory.
Lark hadn’t argued, though he’d understood the look she’d given him easily enough. Make sure he comes back home. He wasn’t sure why she trusted him when he still didn't care much whether he himself lived or died, but he would do his best, for her and Pitch both.
He didn’t know what he expected to find out there. Pitch had told him of the Sha, of how they preyed on those whose doubt, fear, or anger overcame them. And yet he had no qualms about heading into their territory - he, who had spent the past two-and-a-half years and more fighting with his own rage and fear. But he had to do it. He knew that, even if he couldn’t say how he knew it. It was instinctual, the same way he knew that he loved Kyraine, or knew that he could trust the cat. Try as he might, he couldn’t explain it.
He had another reason he could explain, but he doubted the others would understand him. Theramore had only confirmed what the failed summit had already shown him - there was no peace. If he hoped at all to survive, he would have to learn to fight, whether he liked it or not. And if he was going to learn to fight, he had to put himself in the thick of things.
No more hiding where he was "safe," and no matter the cost.
He’d just finished checking over the last bit of his armor when Shaur’s head suddenly came up, and she stared into the growing dusk with ears pricked. Rheugan followed her gaze to see Pitch approaching, on two legs this time, his expression expectant. “Leaving tomorrow, Rheu. Are you all set?” Rheugan nodded as he began gathering up his armor. Pitch took most of it from him, the weight bothering the big druid not a bit, and he set out toward the Dwarven District and Arvoss’ home.
Rheugan hesitated before following, looking back at Shaur one last time. She’d unshifted, sitting in the grass and watching him with a small, sad smile. Wordlessly she held out her arms, and Rheugan turned back to give her a tight hug. “I’ll be back to visit before too long,” he murmured in her ear. Her smile grew slightly as she released him. “Know,” she said simply, then changed back to a cat and followed him as they headed toward home.
* * * * * * * *
Rheugan opened his eyes as the vertigo from the mage portal faded, blinking repeatedly as he looked around. The buildings around him were strange, but he paid them little mind as the cat surged up to the front of his mind. His gaze quickly riveted to the jungle visible outside the gates, and he felt the cat’s impatience as they both waited for Pitch to come through and join them. Keyed up as he was, the familiar touch on his arm made him jump when it finally came.
Big and small, the two black cats slipped like shadows out through the village gate and disappeared into the mists.