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The Change
#1
It was a night like any other in Duskwood. Dark, unpleasant and smelling of dark magic. Yes, Hebry could almost smell the necromantic powers that soaked the soil. Yet, he wasn't afraid. He had been to Duskwood more times than he could remember and most of them, for the same reason. Raven Hill Cemetary – an endless source of gold, jewellery and rotten undead.

There were so many crypts here, that the possibilities for valuable artefacts were practically endless. And the walking corpses of the owners kept the average grave diggers away. So, Hebry knew that he'll find something good here. He always did.
He had left Credo in the stables of Darkshire. The horse didn't appreciate the smelly tombs very much and he was going to be an unnecessary weight. So, now Hebry stepped through the rusty gate of Raven Hill on foot with a hand on his sword hilt. Like always, his black hat was covering most of his face, but a slight smirk could be seen right under its trim. The Battlemage was pretty confident in his success.

He stopped for a second, just to mutter a quick spell. A flame appeared above his palm and Hebry held it forward to throw some light on his path. He continued walking and soon he spotted a crypt that looked interesting. The heavy stone doors looked like they were busted open quite recently. Probably by the eternal inhabitants, who decided to take a stroll of death.

Just when he headed for the dark maw of the crypt, he heard a noise. It was so quiet, that, if Hebry wasn't alone here, he would have missed it. Yet, in the moment the sound reached his ears, his blade almost flew out of its scabbard. It took only a second for the mage to take his battle stance, while the tiny flame engulfed his whole hand. Whoever was stalking Magister Runetouch was in for a nasty, flaming surprise.

He didn't move for the next few seconds. And he didn't hear anything else. Just when he thought that it was the wind playing games with his imagination, some new sound cut through the darkness. A low, but powerful growl.

“Worgen!” Hebry muttered quietly. “You're quite far away from your territory, puppy.”

Just when he thought that a single Worgen would be an easy obstacle to overcome, a wild howl cut the quiet night in half. A second one followed, then two or three more. All of them – from different directions.

“Shit.” Hebry exhaled. “Now we're fucked.”

He just stood there. He knew he was surrounded and had to come up with a plan. And he had to do it pretty damn fast. The crypt was about fifteen meters behind him. If he could reach it, maybe he'd force the Worgen through the busted door and defend his position easily. Yes, this was the only option.

The mage turned around quickly and Blinked to the entrance of the tomb. When he looked inside, he realized something. There was no hope. A huge beastly figure was standing just about two meters in front of him. Hebry turned again and decided to run in the opposite direction, but he quickly understood that this isn't an option either. Five more Worgen emerged slowly from the shadows, with their heads low and their teeth bare. The low snarls they let out could mean only one thing – they were hungry.

In the next few moments Hebry didn't think. He just did what his instincts and years of training told him to. As one of the Worgen jumped in his direction, he quickly ducked and slashed through the beast's belly. The blood splattered all over the mage, but this was his last concern right now. The animal, on the other hand, fell to its side, twitched two or three times more and lied still forever. The rest of the group attacked at once. Hebry dodged two of them, but the one in the crypt jumped on his back. He felt large fangs, sinking in his neck and everything went black.

***

“Oliver, this one seems to be waking up!”

Hebry could feel a massive headache. Yet, he heard the unfamiliar, deep voice. He was too tired to open his eyes. All he could see was eternal darkness. He realized it was just the back of his eyelids, but it felt so black and deep.

“Check his bindings, Jitters.” Another voice ordered.

Suddenly the mage felt cold metal pushing against his wrists. He heard the ring of heavy iron chains, as he tried to move his arm. He was chained? A sudden rage and desperation overwhelmed Magister Runetouch and he finally found the strength to open his eyes. Not only that, but he bared his teeth and let out a wild, strong growl, as he pulled the chains forward with no success in breaking them.

Wait, what? He growled? What, in the name of the Nether, was going on here? Despite that his eyes were open for several seconds now, the picture before him began to sink in just now. First thing he saw was a Worgen, pulling back from him. He tried to move back and away from the hideous monster, but he realized he was chained to some boards and he couldn't move in any direction. He could just stand there.

“Easy now, friend.” Said the second voice. “Don't be afraid.”

Hebry turned in the direction of the voice, just to see another Worgen. Just now he noticed that both of them were wearing proper clothes. Not the rags that he was used to seeing on other Worgen. What was going on here?

“Who are you!?” Hebry tried to say, but only a few strong, wild barks came out of his mouth.

He looked down to himself and saw fur. He saw paws. He lost any will to talk or fight his chains. He finally remembered. His memory provided some dim flashbacks. The crypt, the Worgen, the skeleton warrior that attacked the pack before they could eat their prey. He remembered the months of free running through the Duskwood forests, killing and eating innocent animals. Even travellers at times.

Then he remembered the trap, clenching his foot. The nets that were thrown over his body. And how he was dragged to Raven Hill and forced to drink some odd liquid. He whined like a scared dog. Actually, he was a scared dog. He was a beast now. An animal.

“I think he calmed down, Oliver.” The first Worgen said.

The second one went closer to Hebry and looked into his eyes.

“Do you remember who you are, friend?” He asked calmly.

The mage nodded a few times.

“Good. Can we trust you not to attack, if we free you?”

Hebry shook his head. He couldn't trust himself, let alone put these, obviously sentient Worgen, in danger. While they were beasts only on the outside, he felt a monster deep within himself. The Worgen before him took out a vial with the same liquid that he had forced down his throat earlier.

“Don't worry, friend. You'll be fine. You survived the hard part.” He opened the vial and brought it to Hebry's mouth. “Drink, friend. It will help you reach some sanity after just a few more doses.”

The next days Oliver kept asking Hebry if he feels ready to be freed. The mage kept answering the same way. Despite that, he soon found the ability to form single words and Oliver and Jitters kept feeding him and giving him that strange liquid. They threw some light on the events during the Magister's blackout. They told him of Deathwing, of the Gilneas wall and all the major events that hit Azeroth, while Hebry was running wild and free in the forests. When he was able to form proper sentences, he began asking questions. Unfortunately, they didn't know, if Credo was still in Darkshire, which was Hebry's biggest concern.

About a week after he woke up, he finally agreed to be freed. Oliver and Jitters gave him some clothes and a lot of the potion they used on him.

“Drink this once a day, brother. It's very important not to forget. We don't want you turning back into a beast.”

Hebry nodded. He stayed with the men for a few days more, when he learned to control his form to some extent. Then he left for Darkshire to find Credo. Luckily, the horse was still in the stables. The innkeeper had made countless many attempts to put a new rider on the horse, but Credo threw them all off. At first the horse was scared by the wolf stench, coming from the mage. But after some time, he calmed down. He realized this was still his old friend and comrade and accepted him once again.

Hebry mounted his faithful friend and rode off. Nothing had changed. He still had his sanity, which was questionable even before the Worgen attack. Now he just had a bigger challenge to fight – himself. He went back to Raven Hill to thank the two men and get the recipe for the potion, so he can prepare it himself. Then, he rode off into his next adventure.
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