A Journey of Many Steps, Teagan, Step 1
Teagan quite liked his home, though it seemed to have shrunk considerably over the years. His siblings took up much more space than they used to, and Oíche had grown considerably from her size when Teagan had first found her. Or rather, when he had been blessed by her appearance by Mother Nádúr. It was hard for Teagan to think that the summer of drought was over six years ago. The solstice in a few weeks’ time would mark seven years, as well as be Teagan’s birthday. He was nearly a man grown, though at times he rarely acted like it.
He had managed to keep his bond a secret, the drunks having moved on when they thought their game was up, sure that they would be swarmed by the army any moment for threatening the life of a new Druid. His mother knew of course, as well as his siblings, but their mother was a fierce woman, and she didn’t want her children to leave the nest before she was good and ready, so she told them to not talk about it, so they didn’t. Teagan loved his mother very much, but he was ready to see the world.
When the druids passed through town, they always knew that something was going on with Teagan, but they too had been warned away by his mother, they knew better than most why their god above all was called Mother Nádúr after all. Teagan wanted to explore his power, learn more than the simple parlor tricks that he had taught himself up til now. He could light a candle well enough, but what boy didn’t dream of shooting flames from his hands? Instead of calling forth a cup of water, he wanted to call up a tsunami to wash away a sea of enemies. He of course did not currently have any of those, but Teagan was certain that it came with the job, why else would he get the power to call waves?
His bag had been packed and repacked for well over a month know, though his mother had known something was up. She knew the glint in his eye better than most, and she had packed a few things extra, when he wasn’t looking. A few sandwiches, a handkerchief that she had embroidered with his initials, as well as a small journal, with the first page filled with a dedication to him, for when times got tough, as well as a note to write down his own journeys in the following pages, so that he wouldn’t forget any of the exciting things he experienced, so he could tell her later. She kept that conviction, never even entertaining the thought that he wouldn’t come home. Not even once.
With the next dawn, Teagan finally found the conviction within himself that his mother had seen well before. He roused Oíche from her resting place at his side and hefted his pack. The two cut a striking figure as they walked towards the rising sun, druid and familiar, going to learn about themselves and each other, but one thing is known by all that see them, that they will be together forever.
Teagan had just started to consider that maybe all this traveling stuff was overrated on the second day. He hadn’t gotten all that far, just to the next village over. It would take the average person a couple days, but Teagan and Oíche and gotten a bit excited at being on the road and had started running a bit. They made the whole journey in just the one day, and Teagan was able to get a spot in one of the low barns at the edge of the village. The person who owned the barn would probably be appalled that a druid was sleeping there instead of being a guest in their home, but the man had been tired, and just gave his permission so he could get back to his spot in bed.
The pair bunked down for the night and slept til a good bit past dawn. It was nearing midmorning when they first started to stir. Teagan was regretting running at all the previous day, the hay of the barn not nearly as soothing as his own bed had been. He contemplated for a while just turning around, but he tapped into the conviction that sat in his chest and steeled his nerves once more. He wanted to get a few proper adventures in before he turned around. He did sit up though, and wrote out his single day thus far, detailing it as well as he could. Adventures weren’t always life-threatening battles between good and evil, everyone could have an adventure every day, because it’s the memories we make, more than the things we do that matter. Do something that you like, something that you haven’t done before, something different. Maybe you have dessert for breakfast, maybe you go fishing, maybe you read a good book. Adventures are personal things we all do, not only what heroes do. So, the second page in his journal was filled, but he left the back if the first page blank, aside from a single mark, denoting his one day away from home.
Oíche decided that then was when she wanted breakfast, and she wasn’t going to wait around any longer for her smelly human to keep scribbling in his dead trees. She all but pushed him out of the barn, and into the light of day. Her nose leading the pair to a small bakery, where Teagan then went inside and got them some food. Some freshly baked chicken in a croissant roll, one for each of them, as well as an apple apiece. Oíche devoured hers rather quickly, but Teagan wasn’t one for rushing, or so he liked to think, so he ate at only a moderately fast pace compared to Oíche’s frenzy. Her reverie, and Teagan’s apple slicing was cut short by a scream from across the village, however.
Oíche alerted near immediately, being able to smell all the stale brown thing from here. She pulsed something across their link, and suddenly Teagan too shared the capability, though it did come with a bit of retching, from suddenly being able to smell how bad he was, as well as the scents wafting off of every chamber pot and out house in the general vicinity.
He reasserted control of himself quickly enough, having used a similar technique in the past, one of the few things they had been able to learn together. They both took off towards where the screams had come from in the next second, acting in unison as they shared information and stimuli through their link. Soon enough, the came upon the scene, sure enough the brown bear they had smelled was rampaging about. It was small, likely only a year old, if that. Its gangly legs barely able to keep up the running pace, the villager was setting running around the well in circles. He looked to have been sliced up pretty good, but he would live. Though what looked to be bite marks did sit in his shirt over his right shoulder.
Teagan rushed up immediately, having of course taken time to assess the situation properly, and not at all acting on instinct. He then leapt up onto the bear’s back, and then started holding on for dear life, as the bear came to a sliding stop to shake off the menace that was stopping it from getting a nice snack. Teagan had situated himself in an opportune position at least, the bear unable to take a bite out of him while the beleaguered villager took off somewhere else in the village.
Oíche was a bit more collected and came around to nip at the heels of the bear, trying to herd it out of town. This had some mild success, though it was slow going, as the bear’s attention remained firmly on Teagan. Eventually the pair managed to get it a bit into the woods, and Teagan finally had an idea about what to do next. His pack was still firmly on his shoulders, having been bound up tight when they left the barn. Inside the pack were a good number of sandwiches his mother had packed, and maybe if the bear was feeling peckish that would calm it down a bit. The only problem was getting them out of the bag. His next bright idea was to jump from the back of the bear into one of the nearby trees, so he could get a bit of distance between them to rummage around for the now probably thoroughly squished sandwiches.
He enacted his brilliant plan, rather flawlessly, incorporating Oíche’s sight from a different angle so he could get the best jump position. After hauling himself up onto the branch, and sitting down on it rather roughly, while waiting for the world to stop spinning, Teagan saw what he should have realized when he was coming up with this plan. The bear, climbing the tree after him. Because bears can do that. After his heart seized for a second, he jumped again, this time to a smaller tree, with the bear following, though definitely slower from having to climb down from where he had gotten on the other one.
This gave Teagan just enough time to undo the straps and buckles and find the wrapped sandwiches, in the nice handkerchief that his mother had made for him. He undid the small knot rather quickly and tossed down the first sandwich. The bear paused at that, going over to sniff what was decidedly good food before continuing the chase on what the bear was coming to decide was entirely too annoying prey. It rather liked the sandwich, which Teagan was happy with of course, his mother had made it after all! The bear looked up at him, and grunted as if for another, which he was happy to oblige. After tossing down another to the bear, he tossed one to Oíche, and ate one himself for good measure, the taste reminding him of home like nothing else so far.
Teagan decided that he could go home for more at any point, so he may as well give the rest to the bear, though he did want to acclimate to it a bit more. He felt a bit bad for the small thing, it looked like it was having a tough year, not getting enough to fatten up. He carefully climbed down the tree he was in, and sure enough the bear had calmed considerably. Though that could probably at least partially be attributed to the long shaking session that the two had engaged in. The bear ate the next couple of sandwiches out of his hand and accepted more than a few scratches behind the ears. His natural ability with animals now being able to shine through. Oíche even came over and have the bear a nice grooming, which helped to calm the thing considerably, having reminded the bear of his own mother.
Eventually the two were able to bring it back towards the village peacefully, where no small group of villagers had gathered, seemingly waiting to see if they had to go off to slay the foul beast after the stranger had ridden off with it. They startled a bit when Teagan came meandering back in, but his words calmed them considerably, “My name is Teagan, I am new at this whole druid thing, but I think we can solve this issue rather easily. This, uh, little guy is just hungry. I think we can set up a little thing out in the forest for him and he won’t come bother you all anymore.”
One of the villagers stepped forward and said, “What about Phil?! It nearly bit his arm off!” There was a small scattering of ‘Yea’s!’ and one ‘It did really do that, Janice!’.
Teagan wasn’t perturbed by this of course; he had the answers they needed! “Uh… Well he just took a little nibble; Phil will be fine! We just need to set up a small shrine for it and leave it some extra food. I bet the little guy will even become a protector of this place after that! Druid’s promise!” Teagan was fairly certain that wasn’t a thing, but he hoped no one would call him out for it. The villagers certainly felt their anger melting away a little, especially at seeing the bear lay down for some belly rubs. Some people did step forward to help with the process, much to the delight of the bear. They were used to druid’s being weird, but this was almost the weirdest thing they had seen one do, aside from the awful incident with that one duck druid a few years back, so they listened to the young man.
The bear did go on to become a guardian of a sort for the village, eating food they left on a small altar out in the woods, placed in the little glade where Teagan and Oíche had dragged it off to to calm it. Thus, ends page five of Teagan’s adventures, as it took a few pages to describe the whole thing, bizarre as it was. Upon hearing his first tale later on, his mother wasn’t sure if she should scold him or praise him, so she decided to do both. Oíche got the last laugh in the end that particular day, having eaten all the sandwiches that Teagan’s mother had set out for him while he was being berated.