The Beginning of Teagan
Teagan ran for his life through the dry underbrush, clutching a full canteen of water to his chest. He knew he shouldn’t be running, he should be trying to conserve his energy, and not exhaust himself. But his mother needs this. She was giving any water she got to him, and he needed to help her as she had helped him. The wastrels down by the river never got up to anything, drinking away their pennies on foul-smelling ale.
Teagan had thought it would be easy to get a few canteens from them, but it seemed that with the rain, the booze they usually imbibed was also gone. Very poor reasoning on his part. Thus, he ran and ran. He couldn’t lead them back to his already weak mother, and younger siblings, but he could only get so far before they would get him. He heard their steps pounding closer and closer every second.
“Give that back you little grubby bastard!”, the lead pursuer called. “You don’t know what you are messing with!”
But Teagan ignored him. His pace eating away the ground in front of him, chest heaving, lungs bellowing. They closed the distance another few meters, but Teagan kept the lead by a few more. Ahead, a cliff rose out of the ground, and there was barely a path up it. Teagan would have to do something even more drastic, and he hoped his momma would forgive him for it.
“We will find you if you don’t give that back right this instant!”, a different pursuer called.
Again, Teagan remained silent. His stomach twisting and turning, both from lack of food and nerves. He raced forward, skipping steps on the already precarious path. His luck held true until near the very end. He slipped forward, rolling just over the edge, knocking the wind out of his chest completely. This was the end, he thought. With a bit of effort, he managed to mumble out a prayer to Mother Nature. She wasn’t a kind god, but she was never cruel. Fair in all things, life and death.
“Thy Forest Mother, Giver of Life, please help me now, so that I may help my family survive.” His voice a harsh whisper, eyes screwed shut, ignoring his surroundings. He knew that unless there really was going to be a miracle, nothing else mattered. He heard the crunching of leaves clearly through the rough shouting above him, cutting through whatever was going on like a knife. Hope bloomed in Teagan’s heart, and he nurtured it with all of his being. He felt the vibrations in the ground as all the men scrambled back from whatever had walked out of the forest around them, and Teagan knew that this was salvation.
Slowly opening his eyes revealed a strange sight. Five full-grown men huddled together against the edge of the cliff, looking down in fear at what seemed to be a yearling wolf. Barely more than a pup, but it held an unmistakable look of intelligence in its eyes. Stepping out of the dry underbrush showed just how emaciated it was, not more than skin and bones, yet completely unafraid of the humans in front of it. In fact, it seemed to be attracted to one of them. Teagan! He really was saved! Mother Nature has supplied her miracle, and now it was up to him to help his family.
Slowly, Teagan began sitting up, and when the pursuers didn’t make a move to stop him, he got up fully. He took slow steps toward the wolf who had stopped when Teagan had started to rise. As soon as his hand touched the wolf’s snout, a bond formed between them. It was like something had awakened within himself that he had never known. A deep hunger rumbled through his body, unlike anything that he had ever experienced before, even with the drought having driven up the price of food and the availability of water. He knew which way it was to get to his home exactly, and he knew that his pursuers wouldn’t bother him again.
Even if they brought up what had happened with a wandering justice, it wouldn’t get far. His stealing this canteen was far superseded by the fact that he was a druid. In fact, telling the world that he was a druid would help his family, and his mother would be so proud. And what he heard next made his blood run ice cold.
“We have to kill the brat before anyone finds out he is a druid. Powers be damned, he isn’t even ten years old yet.” Their apparent leader spoke.
Dread welled within his heart, and he couldn’t help but feel a primal fear deep within. He took off like he was shot from a bow, far faster than he had ever run before, and the wolf was just on his heels. The bandits from before having not expected this were soon found to be quite lacking in speed. Teagan and his wolf were even increasing in speed! Nothing could stop them, as they had to get home. Both to help their family, and to get to a safe place. The canteen still clutched in an iron grip. He ran, and ran, and ran. Before finally making it home.
Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, aside from the wilted grasses on their roof, and the dried husks of vines falling off in clumps around the aging house. The drought had hit the inlands worst of all. Teagan’s family was about as inland as you could get. He loped up to the door and very nearly shook the whole building down with how hard he ran into it. He didn’t even know his own strength. He managed to grab onto the door and open it properly with his second try.
“Mom! Mom! I have something for you to drink! You need it more than any of us!” He very nearly bowled over his younger siblings to get across the room to his mother. Forgetting all about his new companion as he barreled around. The wolf stepped in behind him regardless, looking about curiously, with the same intelligence as before.
“Teagan Garridson! Where in the hells have you been! You have had me up to my eyes in worry! Where did you even get that!” She couldn’t seem to see much but red at him having been gone for so long. Teagan’s siblings, however, did very much see the wolf stepping into their house. They leaped up in shock and fear to rush behind their mother, making her stop and look behind her idiotic son. Her shock mirrored her some of her children quite well. The other it seemed wasn’t even phased by it.
“Teagan. What. Did. You. Do!” His mother had herself leaped forward as if to throttle the offending child, but she managed to hold herself back just enough to not actually do so.
“I got you some clean water momma!” He dutifully replied, confused as to why she was so upset with him. He held out the canteen again for her to take, and with what seemed to be great reluctance, she accepted it. With a quick sniff, her whole face crinkled.
“Teagan, this isn’t water. This smells like Miller’s booze. Where did you get it?” The question posed as a trap, waiting for the foot to fall right into it. Teagan deflated as she spoke, and just mumbled out the answer, truthfully.
“From them wastrels down by the river, you always said that they weren’t doing any good for nobody. What’s the harm in it? Also, I may or may not be a druid now, bye!” He exclaimed the last sentence so quickly, that by the time Teagan’s mother had processed it, he was already out the door running as far as he could go.
“TEAGAN, YOU GET YOUR ASS BACK HERE AND EXPLAIN YOURSELF! TEAGAN!” But it wasn’t effective. He and his wolf disappeared, tails between their legs as they feared the fury of the mother.