((Just a random thing I wrote up, in response to Arlston’s plotline!))
Lahkin lay awake, staring at the ceiling of his tent, as it was pitched in Northrend. It had been a long time since he had done something like this; it had been before he had settled in Pandaria with his family. Thoughts of that home beckoned to him, like the scent of fresh-baked bread wafting from a food stall at Half-Hill.
Yet here he was stuck, for sake of duty. He sighed. Were his good, comfortable days behind him, locked away in that sleepy valley where his children had grown up?
No, that was silly. Each day was as you made it. The good times stayed with you so long as you kept them with you.
These feelings, though–uncertainty, anxiety, restlessness, being the center of callous attention–he hadn’t felt those since he had founded Terra Incognita. Since that time, he felt he had travelled the world–several of them–coming to understand them and their people in ways the old Terrans never would. Or maybe they could. It had been nearly a decade since he’d spoken to any of them at length. They had likely changed too, learning and growing, just as he had. Indeed, several of them had grown up.
He had been so full of insecurity back then. Lahkin smiled, to himself and at himself. It was no real wonder. He had been young: truly young; yet had decided to take on a burden that some grown men never would: turning a bunch of misfits and cast-offs into a respectable order of the Light. And had done rather well for himself, or so he thought. It has been hard on him, but…
His thoughts turned to those still left, who had answered the call to help Arlston. In some ways, they had moved beyond him, bonding closer to each other, like soldiers in the same squad who had survived a hard war together. And in some ways, that was literally true, for Terra Incognita had been a military order of the Church and the Argent Dawn.
Yet where did that leave him? He wasn’t exactly a deserter, but no more than he was their leader now. They had moved beyond him, perhaps even forgot about him. It made him proud to see, reinforcing what he had believed of their capabilities when he had first recruited them. Yet it had also made him sad. He would never have that same comradery, because he had chosen to move on.
It was in his nature, the way of the Wind shaman and the way of the talbuk spirit, always seeking new pastures. He had always thought it a kind of freedom, being able to pick up his home and all that mattered to him and charge away across the plain, sometimes without warning, sometimes traveling for miles until he found another spot to rest his hooves for a while. And then moving on again when the urge or need took him.
Yet it was also lonely. And perhaps selfish? He had always loved each and every fellow soldier, farmer, healer, shaman, monk, student and teacher that he had met, had cherished their trust and their memories, but he never bonded to them. He had grown used to it; again, it was his way.
Yet it was also…interesting, coming back and seeing what the seeds he had planted had grown into. Or perhaps not planted. Spread like a wind blows the fluff of goatsbeard across a field. How much could he be credited for where those seeds finally lit and put out their roots?
Yet it was happening again now. Another change was on the horizon, and the storm was curling in his belly, begging to ride out, to sing in his veins and twirl like a monk dancing the twist of the Red Crane. The heads of the grass stems were bending under their own weight and would soon break loose. He could blow those seeds before him or simply hide in a crevasse and let the gale tickle his horns as he watched their journey, safe under the tough thorny carapace of a talbuk’s back, invisible to the rest of the world.
He had been doing the latter quite a bit in the years since he had left Terra Incognita. Some communities had fallen under his eyes, and in others, new heroes and companies had risen. And he had seen that some seeds landed in the same places no matter what the wind did, making him wonder if the world was a tiny place after all.
Lahkin smiled to and at himself again, shaking his head. He always had been so concerned about where he stood in life, and how he affected others: obsessed with making sure his influence had been a good one. He had even worried if being so obsessed about that influence made him arrogant and self-centered. It had been like he had had a terrible secret he had been desperate to tell, even while not knowing what that secret was. Assured of his brilliance and wisdom while also being painfully aware he perhaps deserved none of the credit, and was empty as a breath of air.
And now? He could see that the wind would blow, and perhaps some things would be knocked loose. New seeds would settle, old gnarled roots would dig stubbornly deeper into the earth. Yet the mountains would change their faces, given time. He had seen it many times before, hadn’t he?
Maybe he was just growing old.
But no. He was the talbuk, and the world only waited for his hooves to strike across it. The wind had substance–when it chose to. Then it was gone, only the whorling grass evidencing its passage.
That was his power, and he was content in it. Maybe he was and had been as important as air was to breathe, but no one would remark on it. In some ways, that was exactly what he wanted. One wise Pandaren general had said the best leaders were the ones never known, who taught their people how to lead themselves, before setting them free.
Lahkin turned over, hiking the bedroll’s covers further up onto his neck. Oh, he hoped that, that he lived up to that ideal, but he would probably never know the truth, either, and it was dangerous to assume any level of greatness. How often that had gotten beaten into him! Catching things on his horns.
In the end, no matter how daunting, his duty in Northrend was simple. He would do what he could with the powers and wisdom he had, and accept the things he couldn’t change. Others would judge him, and others might not understand his actions or why he believed things needed to be just so. So long as he could still ride the wind, that couldn’t hurt him; they would learn.
Or not. But he believed that, as the old Terrans had once grown and changed, so they would again. Not completely to his liking, maybe, but then, he had never been tamed, either. Lahkin sighed out, settling deeper into his bed. They would all be what they would be.
And the wind would always carry scents of his home back to him, like fresh-baked bread, reminding him of his family and of true peace. Lahkin smiled. He knew that was one pasture he would always return to, one that he could always claim as his.
Just not yet. There were seeds still to spread.