Chapter 9: The Akelarre at Orhi

The letter had been delivered right after the whole episode with the Drakes - fascinating creatures, by the way, Txatxu had written his pater about them, but Orkatz apparently ignored it - and Txatxu had no choice but to go really. He wasn't too thrilled about it, the akelarre was scary at the best of times. But he knew it was his due as one of the sorginak, he just hadn't been too lucky with them.

"I've failed my very first one, that is bound to be an omen to something", he had thought to himself as the winter went by in what he hoped might become his home one day. "And I need more time to get acquainted with all that was Andorra. Hadn't I been sent here to revive the Basque in the area and please the Gods? Well, that takes time!" Still, he knew he didn't have a choice, and just as the passes began to clear he had had Antonio informed he would be away until after the Solstice. Antonio asked him if he wanted a horse or grogs, but he just thanked the Archmagus and said it was not necessary. More farewells, to Valentino, Kallista and Vares; to this and that grog and some of the convenfolk, and he soon departed.

The first couple of days were easy. He knew the area well enough by now that navigation proved little of a challenge. Besides, the mountains had always been his home, they would take care of him. Then he decided to fly a little, and it was his first bad decision. Flying over the Pyrenees is quite the experience. The view is absolutely beautiful and one can't help but be overcome with a sense of awe - that is until the hawk bolts painfully down on you. If you're a shapeshifter, and not an actual bird, that means your chances are better but as you try to escape onto one of the nearest trees and change into an eight foot giant at the same time it will, undoubtedly, give you a cracked rib at the very least. In Txatxu's case it meant several scratches on the face and arms, a ruined vest and several sore points pretty much everywhere.
Dinner was his favourite part about that entire day.

With such a fortuitous start, the sorginak got somewhat sullen that he had to travel so many miles just to attend the akelarre. Why couldn't it have been nearer? The Orhi peak was sacred, he knew, but there were other places! Wasn't there a cave near Andorra? He remembered hearing something about it, and decided it would be good to explore it sometime soon, after he got back. With these thoughts and the memories of the covenant and the friends he had already made there, his mind was at ease once again and the next few days were more enjoyable as he recovered enough to walk painlessly.

Travelling by foot was definitely harder, but he had decided not to shift into an ibex or dog for the moment - the hawk had indeed taught him a lesson. Still, since he had resumed the journey he had already covered some thirty miles, perhaps fifty or so in total. With another hundred ahead of him and longing for some good company, he made his descent from the slopes following the Riu del Joel. There was bound to be a village or a city on the way, and although it was a significant detour, he had time...

The village was there allright, and although the villagers were suspicious at first, soon the children were seeking him to hear stories or play, and the elders warmed up to him. Among the children, Paulin was the shiest and quietest, but Txatxu could often see him standing at a distance, listening to his tales. Not once he approached, but it was quite easy to notice he took to following Txatxu wherever he went.

This lasted only two weeks however, and Txatxu decided it was best to resume his journey to Orhi lest he be late and anger his pater.

He set foot on the road again, taking the path towards the mountains with renewed joy and energy.