[Story] Tempest VI

Malcos squinted at the shaggy rams behind the tent, scratching his beard with one hand, his tankard still in the other. “At this point I can’t tell if these are rams or horses.”

Vassanta grinned crookedly and paused to wiggle her fingers in front of her eyes. “I know, I can’t feel my tendrils anymore. Pretty sure those are rams, though,” she said, leaning against the stout wooden fence.

The dwarf behind the gate gave them an impatient look. “Ye wantin’ a ride or not? Still have plenty ‘o kegs we need to bring up from Kharanos.”

“Let’s go!” Malcos said, emptying his mug. Vassanta blinked at him, puzzled. “Ram racing! Care to make a wager on who makes the most runs?”

She smirked widely, stepping up closer to him. “What are the stakes?”

Malcos chuckled, his hand sliding down her side. “If I win… I get you in that dress I bought you.”

Those were the sort of terms she could agree to. “All right,” Vassanta said, her fingers trailing over his. “But if I win, you have to wear some of those little shorts that gnome is selling.”

“Oh man, I better not lose,” Malcos said, laying his ears back with an exaggerated grimace that made her giggle. “You’re on,” he said, climbing up onto the back of the ram tied beside the fence.

“That’s cheating!” she shouted, scrambling to grab another ram’s reins. “You got a head start!”

“Better hurry then!” Malcos laughed, already halfway over the bridge. The road into Kharanos wound through the snowy hills, and during the festival was well-traveled by riders. Few were foolish enough to walk on the road during Brewfest; the combination of tipsy riders and ornery rams made it especially dangerous. Glad to be free of their pens, the rams raced along the hard-packed road, their broad hooves kicking up snow as they went. Vassanta had barely to touch her heels to her ram’s sides, her words of encouragement were enough — or maybe he wanted to beat Malcos too.

Ram riding wasn’t especially difficult, but it required quick reflexes in order to wrangle the barrels onto the saddle at a full gallop, and it took some practice. Otherwise it was all too easy to drop it on the road or have it tumble off the side, and you’d have to go back again and face a very angry dwarf. Fortunately, Vassanta had got the hang of it during last year’s Brewfest, so she was certain that she’d be able to make more runs before her ram tired. Each time they passed each other on the road, Vassanta would flash him a triumphant grin, and Malcos would just laugh in return.

When they reined up their rams, weary and panting, at the stable, Malcos swung down and patted his ram’s rump to send it away. “I hope you’re ready to pay up,” he said, rattling the tokens in his hand. “Count ’em.”

“Eighteen tokens, not bad at all,” Vassanta said, opening her palm to show her tokens. “Too bad it’s not enough to beat me.”

Malcos laughed, “Eighteen! A tie, what’re the chances?”

“I guess that means we both won, hmm?” Vassanta smirked back over her shoulder at him as she headed back toward the booths and tents. Besides ale, the booths had a wide variety of breads, cheeses, and sausages, all of which would serve as a good meal later that evening in the inn. She laid down enough silver to buy enough for both of them, and turned to Malcos again. “If you’re ready to go back up to Ironforge, I can pay up.”

Her dress was still safely in her bank vault, still neatly folded from when she’d placed it in, looking out of place among the swords and axes stacked there. The fabric still smelled of the spicy incense of the flames, and she felt a twinge of guilt as she thought back to that night. He’d been so kind, and she’d kept at her game, but here was her chance to make it right again.

They’d agreed to meet in one of the many inns, not far from the museum. It was a little quieter and less crowded than the inns near the city gates, and the walls were festooned with banners for the festival. The servers had a wide variety of ales to choose from; the special holiday offerings as well as the traditional dwarven brews. But Malcos wasn’t at all interested in the menu once she stepped through the doorway.

Vassanta felt naked and out of place in a dress, pretending to be something she wasn’t, but it was worth the trouble for the effect it had on the elf. He quickly closed the distance and placed his hands on her hips, “You look breathtaking.” It made her think of that night along the canal, with the bonfire burning long into the night. He’d said something like then too, but Vassanta hadn’t really believed it. She wasn’t sure if she did now, but she wanted to.

The rough dwarven building had a fireplace, as most did, and the embers still glowed brightly, staving off the biting cold from outside. Taking his hand, Vassanta led Malcos to the rug before the hearth and sat down on the shaggy fur, her hooves folded neatly beneath her. He settled behind her, wrapping his arms around her warmly.

“This is what you wanted, isn’t it?” She couldn’t see his expression, but she listened carefully to his voice. She was still uncertain, still afraid that he might turn around and bite her just as she had to him — and she would deserve it, too.

He just seemed puzzled. “What do you mean?” One hand hand wandered to her tail, the other was searching for the clasp on the back of her dress.

“You know…” she gestured vaguely to the room around them. “Us here, talking and… things.” He’d found the clasp, it seemed.

“‘Things’, huh?”

Vassanta agreed that conversation could wait for later.

[Story] Tempest V

There really wasn’t anymore to be said really. At least there was some kind of closure between us now, for whatever it was worth coming out of Vassanta’s mouth. The anger I had been feeling all morning had finally dissipated, replaced with a sort of melancholy. I briefly thought about returning to Brewfest and drinking myself into unconsciousness, but at the moment, even that didn’t appeal to me all too much. Maybe I’d just go for a quiet ride in the snowfields and listen to my horse’s hooves crunch through the snow for a while as I mulled things over. I was just about to leave when she called to me. I don’t know why I waited. Maybe there was just something unusual in her voice. I turned to her and she approached me, in a way oddly shy for her. “Can I uh…” She put her hand on my chest and leaned forward, her lips slightly parted for a kiss.

I felt myself wanting to return it, oddly desiring her comfort despite the fact she was the reason for my current emotional state. I caught myself though, and turned my face away, her soft kiss landing on my cheek instead. I squeezed my eyes shut trying to hold back the flood of emotion that threatened to overwhelm me. I’d buried my loss of her underneath so much rage, hatred, and distraction that I never had completely dealt with the grief of her sudden departure from my life. I let out a long, shuddering breath. “Vass…” Please, don’t. She must have heard the pain in my voice, because she retreated slightly.

She looked down for a moment. “Sorry,” she whispered, withdrawing her hand from my chest.

I wanted to grab her hand back and hold it to my chest… to lean my forehead to hers and forgive her, but I knew I was going to be hurt just like I had been before. “I just can’t… not again,” I said, not even able to look at her.

“What if it was different?” she asked.

Unbidden, my eyes popped open as I felt my heart leap in way I hadn’t felt it do so in far too long. Honestly, it surprised me. All of this was. I had thought the only thing I harbored for her was hate, but I couldn’t deny the passion it seemed I still held for her. I met her gaze, and I’m sure she could see the pain and confusion in my eyes. “I…” Don’t do this to yourself, Mal. Remember last time? “I can’t risk going through that again, Vass. What if that other guy shows up again? And if not him, the next one?”

“At least give me a chance to prove it, then,” she said, returning my gaze. “Just tell me how.”

Why was she going after me like this? She’d already gotten what she wanted out of me this morning. Part of me figured she was just playing her games again, but deep down I felt a hopeful curiosity stir. And after all the time I had spent chasing her tail, it was kind of nice being the one pursued, even if I couldn’t figure out her intentions just yet. I couldn’t be blinded by her stroking my ego though. If I let my guard down around her I’d just be a mouse between the paws of a cat. “That’s the problem, Vass.” I told her, trying to keep my voice stern. “You could be faithful to me, but if you do stray, I’m the one that’s going to get hurt all over again.”

“But you could end up happy too,” she offered.

Why the fuck was she doing this to me? “What do you want Vass?” I asked her, not hiding my sigh.

“At least a chance,” she insisted. She moved closer, placed her hand around my neck and leaned her face against my chest. “I missed you.”

I could feel my pulse quicken. Damn she’s good. I didn’t know what her motivation was, and even though I smelled a trap the scent of the bait was still enticing me. I took a deep breath, trying to get my resolve back. “I mean, are you just looking for someone to screw around with until someone better comes along, or are you actually looking to build a relationship in good faith?” I don’t know why I bothered even asking, knowing I couldn’t trust her to give me an honest answer. I broke her grip on me and moved back again so I could see her eyes when she responded.

She frowned as I backed off, and looked at me. “If I just wanted to screw around, I could have talked to anyone there,” she said, with some of her usual spunk returned to her voice. While it was a valid point, it wasn’t anything close to answering my question. I figured she was just trying to bend the truth to fit her intentions without having to risk flat-out lying to me. I had been trained to spot the subtle cues, but I was dealing with a master here. I stared her down, not letting her get away with it. Finally, she continued with, “I mean I do… but I don’t really know how.”

It was almost amusing how she skirted a direct answer, but then again, this was Vass I was dealing with. “Well, I think one aspect should be obvious,” I told her. She looked at me, offering nothing but a curious stare. I let out another sigh. “Faithfulness, Vass.”

She pursed her lips. “I was faithful to him, you know.” Not what I wanted to hear. My ears flew back, and I let out an angry growl. “I’m just saying I can do it,” she tried to explain.

“And when he shows back up again?” I snapped at her.

“He should have told me where he was going,” she said, staring me in the eyes. “He didn’t even care enough to do that, right?” And yet you still left me for him.

Thankfully (or not, depending on how this would ultimately unfold), the druid entered again distracting me from my anger. He seemed to be surprised or well-feigning it to see us still here. “I’m not interrupting anything am I?” he asked, eying us.

He must have thought I was nuts. Here I had drunkenly gone to bed with this woman, woke up and yelled at her loudly enough to for him to have probably heard through the walls, fucked her again equally as loud and hard enough to make even a dwarven bed creak dangerously, came out, ranted about how much I hated her, and now was standing a few scant inches from her. Ornasse and Naeva would have grabbed me by the tips of my ears and dragged me back to Ashenvale, and I wouldn’t have faulted them for it. Luckily for my sake, Vassanta was right about this druid, but hopefully a few months in the city would harden him. It made me smirk thinking about what I had been like fresh out of the woods. “We were…” I let out a bit of a cough. “Clearing up some past issues.”

He smirked, and replied to me in Darnassian. “Best of luck with that I imagine.”

I couldn’t help but chuckle, even if Vass glared at me, irritated for not knowing what was being said. “Elune save me. I’m hopeless and have no one to blame but myself for even considering…” I glanced down at Vass who had moved back a couple inches, but was still standing quite close to me.

“I see,” he said, shooting an annoyed look at Vassanta, most likely still irritated due to her earlier comments. “Well, if you feel you can trust her.” I almost laughed again, but managed to restrain myself. “I am not terribly adept with such matters myself, but I suppose it’s always best to follow your instincts.”

“Following my ‘instincts’ is what got me into this mess this morning,” I said, grinning and looking at Vass who was becoming more irritated by the moment suspecting we were joking at her expense.

The druid smirked. “No. That was following your primal needs, and by Elune ale is bad for decision making.”

I barked out a laugh at that one, it being so bluntly true. Vass gave me an alarmed look. “Don’t worry,” I said to her, slipping back into the Common tongue, “I wasn’t laughing at you. Myself rather.”

“I should probably be off…” he said, also returning to Common. “Best of luck to both of you…” he told us with a smirk.

I grinned. “Good luck with Vajarra,” I replied. He flushed furiously and sputtered before quickly retreating. Vass smirked at me, not bothering to hide her amused smile. “Whaaat?” I asked, throwing my hands up in mock innocence. “I was being sincere!” She just grinned and smacked my chest playfully. At least the interlude had finally helped me reach a decision. No, she couldn’t be trusted, that much I was sure of, but maybe… a plan had coalesced in my mind.

“I’ll have to learn Darnassian one of these days,” she said, walking her fingers up my chest.

“I’m sure you remember those few words I did teach you…” I gave her a wicked grin and slid my hands around her waist, pulling her hips against mine.

She grinned and let out a small laugh, then returned my seductive smile. “Yes, you going to let me practice?”

I could feel my body give an all too eager response. “Of course.”

“Don’t you have to go back to work soon though?” she asked, teasing me.

“Nope. I’ve got all day,” I responded, not bothering to mention I didn’t technically have one at the moment. I’d fix that tomorrow though.

“Hmmm, good, we should go down and get some more of those ales maybe too,” she offered as she ran her arms around my neck.

Brewfest with Vassanta? Now that was a party. “Sounds like fun,” I told her, and really meant it.

She grinned playfully at me. “I still think you’d look cute in those little pants.”

I couldn’t help but laugh at the thought of me in those Brewfest shorts. Dammit, she was already making me happy. I couldn’t remember the last time I had smiled and laughed so much. The mention of festival clothing reminded me of something. “Hey… still got that dress I bought you?” I asked, twirling her hair around my finger. I never had gotten to ‘enjoy’ her in it.

She gave me a broad smile and nodded. Unable to resist any longer, I tilted my head to the side and kissed her passionately, holding her body tightly against mine. When I pulled my head away to catch my breath she hugged me around my neck, her cheek pressed against mine as she whispered in my ear, “I did miss you…” I nuzzled her neck as she ran a finger along the length of my ear, making me shudder in desire. “And your silly ears.”

[Story] Tempest IV

I heard the door creak as the other elf left, I didn’t have to look. Even shaken as he was, he couldn’t muster enough anger for a proper slam. If he ever wanted people to stop walking all over him, he’d have to find some passion somewhere, no matter where it came from.

I looked back at Malcos, who was still nursing his coffee. He hadn’t even seemed to notice that Caelris left. He caught my look, and must have seen a challenge there. “I dunno, I’ve gotten to know her pretty well.”

Vajarra and him, really? That caught me off-guard. I could hardly imagine my sister even speaking to someone like him, let alone doing what he seemed to be implying. “Is that so? I didn’t think she liked elves anymore,” I said. Elves like you, at any rate.

Even hung over, he had plenty of fight in him. He grinned broadly for a moment, the tips of his teeth showing. That was one thing I liked about him, he wasn’t a pushover like that spineless druid. There were other things, of course, but I didn’t think he’d be interested in hearing about them right now. “She’s the one that came to me,” he said, picking up his mug again.

He had to be putting me on. But why lie about something like that? Maybe he was trying to make me jealous, I don’t know. If I believed a word of it, I had to admit I might have been. “Interesting. When was this?”

Malcos shrugged and then winced a little, as if moving at all hurt him. The poor guy. I’d warned him not to drink the Ogre brew last night. “Um… I don’t remember. Sometime after our little fiasco, when that druid ass dumped her.” That made some sense, but I still couldn’t picture Vajarra running into his arms, even for a rebound. Especially considering how hung up she was on that stupid druid.

“So before her little sin’dorei friend,” I said, raising a brow. “I guess she didn’t tell you about him.”

Maybe he did already know, because he just shrugged a little. Certainly not the reaction I was expecting — certainly not the reaction I had to the news.

“Never heard about him,” he said, refilling his mug. Dwarves did coffee well too, but that’s a necessity when you do beer well. “She did send me a letter saying she was heading to their lands though.”

Now I really did stare in disbelief. We were talking about the same person, right? Vajarra, who couldn’t find her way to the front door without help, had gone off to the Ghostlands? I just hope she didn’t go alone. She might be a pain in the ass, but she’s still my sister. To his credit, Malcos seemed a little alarmed too. “I didn’t get it until after I got back… do you know if she’s okay?”

I hadn’t even talked to her since the evening she came to yell at me about that damned blood elf, but I didn’t say that, I just shrugged. “I assume so,” I said. The temple would have noticed if she was missing, certainly, and I hadn’t heard anything about it from the other soldiers. I saw Malcos’ ear flick a little, and he pushed back his chair, walking over to the doorway. I was about to say something, try to keep him from leaving, but then I heard what he was up to.

“Hey, Caelris,” Malcos said. It sounded like they were right outside, I wondered if the druid had been listening all this time. “When was the last time you saw Vajarra?”

I couldn’t help but smirk at the druid’s stammer of surprise. “Wha — uh… a few days ago, I’d say,” he answered. “In Shattrath.” I didn’t understand why Malcos was so worried about it anyway, was he going to ride off to save her?

I gave him a dirty look as he came back inside. “So you two… are a thing?”

He sat back down in his chair, returning to his mug of coffee and taking a hunk of bread. He arched a brow at the question. “Erm… not really. We’re kinda friends, in a bizarre way.”

He was getting pretty good at dancing around questions. “Huh,” I said, leaning back in my chair and crossing my arms. “I had no idea she was playing so many of you guys. I’m impressed.” I still couldn’t believe we were talking about the same person, mostly I was just trying to get a reaction out of him.

It seemed to work, because he snorted a little and lowered his ears at me. “You of all people should know she’s not like that. She just came to me for comfort.”

Comfort? I had to laugh, not at him but at the idea of it. And did he really expect me to believe nothing had happened? “So did I,” I pointed out, “and you’re getting all pissy about it.”

Malcos continued to glare at me over his coffee. “I told you, it wasn’t like that. And why the hell would you need comforting, Vass?”

I knew he’d bring that up sooner or later, I was honestly surprised he hadn’t yet. I knew he’d find some twisted pleasure in the fact that I was back here — without Melikgaar. Given the circumstances though, I really couldn’t blame him, and I was sort of amazed that he was talking to me at all.

I shrugged it off, trying to change the subject. “How is your work going, anyway?”

He wasn’t falling for it. “Why are you here, Vass? I mean… really. What happened to that draenei you dumped me for?”

“I don’t know,” I said after a pause. There was no sense in lying about it, even if I’d wanted to, I’m sure he would have seen through it. “He hasn’t returned from his tour yet.”

“So you’re cheating on him?”

I gave Malcos a hard look. “If he can’t even be bothered to write and tell me he’s alive… I guess I am.” I frowned down at my coffee. “Maybe he just lost interest.” It wouldn’t be the first time.

He didn’t have to say anything, his smirk said it all. Like I said, I expected that.

“That’s not why I’m here,” I continued. “Though I imagine you find it amusing.”

His smirk widened. “I’m sorry I can’t dredge up much sympathy.”

“I didn’t ask for it,” I shot back, a little more harshly than I meant to. “Believe it or not, I’ve been too busy with my duties to worry about all of that.”

“Still slaying demons?” Malcos asked, and I nodded in answer. “I killed a nasty one in Winterspring,” he explained, laying his ears back. “It was corrupting an entire village of furbolgs, and threatening the last uncorrupted tribe of them.”

It was nice to talk about something normal, even if it was just for a little while. “Yeah,” I said, lacing my fingers underneath my chin. “Still a whole lot of them on Draenor, too.”

“I had to rip though a ton of them looking for my father’s body,” he growled, looking away. I stared at him for a moment before I realized what I was doing, and lowered my gaze, feeling embarrassed for both of us. He never liked to talk about his past very much, and I wasn’t going to pry, but I knew all too well what it felt like to have your father ripped away from you.

“Did you find it?” I asked quietly, and he gave me a look both startled and pained.

“No,” he answered at last.

I wished there was something I could say that would make it hurt less, but I knew he wouldn’t believe it anyway. “Sorry to hear that,” I said, and I meant it.

He looked over at me again, and I could see him trying to understand what I was up to. No tricks this time, Malcos, but he was understandably wary. A long silence hung between us and I felt like I had to say something to break it. I’d lay my cards down, and he could walk away, or he could ante up.

“Look… Malcos,” I said, wanting to take his hand, but I didn’t. “I’m sorry about how everything turned out… you know, with us.”

He was too surprised to say anything, I think, or he was still trying to figure out what to say.

“I uh… I just wanted you to know that,” I said, suddenly feeling like an idiot for bringing it up at all, and he just kept staring and not saying anything.

I think he started to, once, and decided to go back to his coffee instead. Finally, he eyed me warily and said, “It’s nice to hear you say it.”

Ouch. “But you don’t think I mean it, right?”

His moon-colored eyes stared back coldly, searching for some clue hidden in my own expression. “Do you?” Malcos asked.

“Yes, I mean it,” I answered, meeting his gaze. I don’t have anything to hide.

He shifted back in the chair, still watching me like a wolf watching the herd. “So why now? After our previous… encounters you didn’t even understand why I was upset.”

Truthfully, I didn’t know how to explain, and even if I could, I doubted he’d believe it. He didn’t look as if he was in the mood to believe much this morning. “I was just thinking about it a lot, while I was out there,” I said, “And there was yesterday.” And this morning… but again, I doubted that he wanted to hear that.

“Well,” Malcos said briskly, “I don’t know if it can repair the damage done, but I appreciate the sentiment.” He finished the last of his mug — he had to be on number five or so by now — and pushed his chair back as he stood up. He blinked at me in mild alarm. “Did I have my horse with me last night?”

I nodded silently, the words stuck in my throat. I guess that was all. He was folding, and I couldn’t be angry at him for it. I’d just thought maybe there was a chance, and maybe last night had been it. Maybe he couldn’t even face the idea of it while he hadn’t been drinking.

[Story] Tempest III

[[ This section was written by Caelris’s player. ]]

Preceding the infuriated shouts of protest was perhaps the deepest sleep Caelris could ever recall experiencing… and was quite sadly prematurely interrupted. With a sigh he rubbed his temples and crawled out of bed. His head may as well have been struck by a boulder before being trampled upon by a herd of tallstriders.

After redressing, Caelris stumbled out towards the common room. Tea would be good for this… he hoped. The cause of his ailment was painfully apparent; nothing less than the staple of dwarven society.

After watching the shorter folk at the festival he’d come to realize why it was that the dwarves were always such jolly folk: none were ever deprived a drunken state. Perhaps if he were still drunk he wouldn’t be suffering such a headache at present, but even the idea of ale made his stomach churn. With a sigh he rounded the corner only to be assaulted by the light and noise of the tavern.

His throat was dry and his lips were chapped, but he made his way to the bar. Bending nearly in half to speak with the dwarf, he croaked a request for water. The incredulous, and yet faintly amused look from the dwarf went unnoticed as the druid struggled to regain his bearings.

Not a moment after he’d gotten his mug of water, Malcos stormed up from the depths of the inn wearing a grim expression. Behind him were the soft clicks of Vassanta’s hooves against the stone stairs preceding her ear shattering voice… though perhaps that was the hangover speaking.

“Malcos! Hey!” she called out in protest, then paused as her eyes settled on Caelris. They regarded each other in silence, neither too terribly happy to see the other though nor were they hostile. Outwardly at least. “Stop that. Where are you going?”

Malcos muttered softly to the bar wench a request for ‘coffee’. Perhaps not such a bad idea… Caelris opted to try it if the water and time remedy didn’t help.

“Good morning to you, Malcos,” Caelris offered, doing his best to keep his eyes averted from the Draenei. He wasn’t greatly surprised when the younger elf looked up at him with confusion, perhaps a touch of bewilderment.

“Do I know you?”

“We met last night,” the druid explained with as much a smile as he could muster through the agonizing headache. He was only vaguely aware of Vassanta’s glare directed at the two of them. Such a charming woman.

Malcos looked thoughtful a moment, then nodded, “The druid… right. Forgive me if I don’t recall most of last night.”

Caelris nodded and opened his mouth to respond, though it was hard to ignore the contemptuous gaze Vassanta held on them. He turned to her and forced the most pleasant smile he could muster, “Good morning, Vassanta.” He half expected her to hit him, but she didn’t respond, which was probably a good sign.

After receiving his coffee, Malcos glanced back at Caelris curiously. “What was your name again?”

“Caelris,” the druid offered, “Wintersong.”

Malcos nodded in greeting and returned to nursing his coffee, never once bothering to look up at Vassanta. Caelris was quite relieved at that moment that her glare was not settled on him, but rather the young adventurer beside him. “I told you the truth about the druid, didn’t I?” she protested.

“I didn’t doubt that,” Malcos responded curtly and flashed a baleful glance at the Draenei. He turned his attention back to his coffee and drank sourly, ignoring her snort in response.

“Tell him,” Vassanta ordered, turning her attention on the druid.

Caelris blinked and looked back at her dumbly. “Of?”

“Tell him what happened! He doesn’t believe me.”

Bewilderment mingled with a rather startling boldness; what would she do if he didn’t relay the previous night’s events? Shriek at him? He bit back the surprisingly snarky commentary and rubbed his neck. Turning to Malcos he murmured in their native tongue, “I am not sure what I should be saying.”

“Don’t worry, she never makes sense,” he retorted, seeming almost pleased to be speaking in a tongue she couldn’t understand.

Caelris smirked, amused, and rubbed his neck again. “Well… in regards to last night it appeared as though you weren’t at all adverse to… er… procreation with her. That’s all I can assume she’s wanting me to relay and it is the truth.”

“She’s always up for that,” Malcos spat bitterly and flashed a glare at the Draenei who eyed him curiously.

The druid’s ears darkened and he nodded, “So it would seem.” He pondered a moment, then offered, “You had managed to drink yourself under the table…”

“And into the bed of the one I most despise,” he sneered.

Caelris was taken aback by this development. They seemed to get along well enough the previous night… while it was clear he wasn’t pleased with the turnabout, he hadn’t suspected such animosity to stem much deeper. “Oh…?”

“He thinks I forced him into it,” Vassanta protested. It was humorous how offended she was over the idea.

“There was no forcing, my friend,” Caelris offered to Malcos, speaking once more in the common tongue.

“I didn’t say that! I just told you I was drunk off my ass…”

“Then what are you so angry about?” Vassanta growled.

“Your sudden re-emergence in my life!”

“YOU came to ME!” Vassanta protested.

Caelris deflated as the two squabbled, not entirely familiar with such a mess.

“Why didn’t you tell me to fuck off?” Malcos hissed, shoving his coffee away from him. The ebony contents splashed onto the table in the sudden motion, but went largely unnoticed.

“I was enjoying myself.”

Malcos snatched up his coffee again and began to drink deep in a manner not unlike that in which he’d downed the vast amounts of ale from the previous night.

Caelris coughed and shifted, preparing to turn and walk away. This conversation was clearly escalating and he felt no need, nor desire, to stay and assist in sorting out their differences.

Then Vassanta’s attention fell on him in a heavy stare. Just the feel of her eyes upon him made the hair on the back of his neck stand on edge.

The druid turned and glanced at her searchingly, “What?” was all he could muster. Wonderful. She was watching him with her own defenses up. And she wouldn’t quit staring!

“If you have something to say, grow a pair and say it,” she snapped.

Caelris opened his mouth to respond, pausing as he heard Malcos choke on his coffee. He took a deep breath, focusing on maintaining patience. They were just words… and from someone who he found himself losing respect for with each encounter. Why should he care what she thought of him?

He didn’t.

Having enough of this dispute and having her frustration turned on him, Caelris shrugged, “Don’t drag me into your quarrel. It’s not my fault neither of you seem to keep yourselves in check when you’ve had too much to drink.”

“I’m not the one who had a problem with it,” she snapped.

“Nor do you seem capable of leaving well enough alone.”

Vassanta’s eyes narrowed and she eyed the druid over a moment, clearly offended. “Who are you to judge me?”

“I should be asking you the same,” he snarked back, feeling fury swell up in his stomach. He was only vaguely aware of Malcos’s presence as he watched on in silence.

“What?”

“Ever since we met you’ve done nothing but chastise and do your damnedest to emasculate me,” Caelris growled, feeling the anger grow all the stronger with each word exchanged.

Vassanta snorted in what could only be construed as amusement, “I was trying to help you, you moron.”

“Funny way of showing it.”

“I gave you a lot of advice. You chose to ignore it.”

“Everything you suggested revolved around procreation!”

Malcos spoke up at that. “Wait wait… let me guess. You’re new to Stormwind, and she tried to get you drunk to have sex with you. Am I right?”

“No no… even better, Malcos. He’s trying to bang Vajarra.”

Caelris choked on his words and coughed as his ears filled with color. He hadn’t been expecting her to bring up that... had he really been so obvious? “That’s not wh–” he sputtered, becoming increasingly aware of the eyes that were settled upon him.

“Yes it is,” Vassanta insisted, sharp amusement in her tone.

Malcos smirked and chuckled at Vassanta before turning back to Caelris, “Well, she’s a class act. I don’t blame you. Nothing like her sister.”

Caelris opened his mouth to respond, then spotted the smug smirk on Vassanta’s expression. She was finding pleasure in his discomfort and using his own feelings against him as ammunition.

Something stirred in his gut at that moment. Perhaps it was the combination of the horrendous headache and the stress of the current argument. Perhaps it was the younger Kal’dorei standing as witness to his humiliation… though most likely of all it was the last straw. For all the abuse he’d endured from the Draenei, she’d managed to finally cross the line she’d been skirting at for quite some time. Fury swelled up to the point where all was tinted red, and yet he managed to stay his hand for all his wrath. “You’re right, she’s not the conniving, conceited, manipulative harlot you are,” he growled at the Draenei, who merely raised a brow.

“There’s a lot you don’t know about her,” she assured him.

Caelris trembled, likely even visibly, at the remark. Now she was insulting Vajarra after already bringing him dangerously close to his own limits of rage. She had to be suicidal… and he had to be out of his mind to even consider violence by this point. Startled by his own feral fury, he turned and walked out. Perhaps the safest choice… he didn’t care if Vassanta considered him a coward from then on. He would likely make it a point to avoid the vile woman henceforth.

[Story] Tempest II

I was pissed off; angry at her and myself for my weakness of still desiring what her body offered and wanting to vent that hostility the most effective way I could. It was just a sick, sick reason to be having sex with someone, but I couldn’t stop myself. I’d played the dominance game before with Neera, but this was different. I could feel myself wanting to hurt her, to make her pay for all the rage, heartache and embarrassment she had caused me, but thankfully I was able to hold it together, though just barely. I don’t know how long I pounded against her. I wanted to close my eyes, imagine she was someone– anyone else, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the beautiful arch her back made as her hips jutted up eagerly meeting mine. The pleasure began to overwhelm me, and I reached underneath her chest and squeezed her as I assaulted her even faster with my hips. She just moaned louder, and I let myself go over the edge, for once in my life not caring if I had left the woman satisfied, though judging by the way she was gasping I didn’t doubt she had been.

I rolled off her, laying on my stomach with my head facing away from her, disgusted with myself. I felt her move in bed, closing the distance between us. She laid there, against my side with her face resting on my shoulder and her arm draped over my body as if we had just made love or something; it was unbelievable. All I wanted to do was close my eyes and go to sleep and pretend it had all been a bad dream, but my gut was churning. I couldn’t handle it anymore. I got up and pulled my clothes on in silence, then yanked the door to the room open. She called to me, but I ignored her, closing the door firmly behind me. I just needed a moment to think.

[Story] Tempest I

[[ This was co-written with Malcos’s player. Content warning for some language and sexual stuff. ]]

I’m not sure what woke me up, but even before I opened my eyes it was clear I wasn’t alone. I could feel the soft, warm body of a woman curled up against my stomach, my left arm wrapped snugly around her body with one of her soft mounds of flesh resting quite nicely in my hand. Savoring the moment, I gave her breast an appreciative squeeze, then stretched a bit before opening my eyes. My foot rubbed against a hoof. Apparently it was a Draenei. Probably some random hookup from Brewfest. It was unlikely Vajarra would have been there or would have hung around with me as drunk as I had been. I honestly couldn’t remember a thing from last night. I opened my eyes and soaked in the view of my companion’s beautiful skin, her satin hair, her… broken horn.

“What the fuck!” I screamed as I jumped out of bed so quickly one would have thought I had found a viper in the bed, but to me, that’s exactly what she was. I spotted my pants on the floor and pulled them in front of me as she rolled over and looked at me curiously. “What the hell are you doing here, Vass?” I spat out at her as I turned and quickly pulled my pants on, glaring at her over my shoulder.

She shot me an irritated look. “You invited me, stupid.”

“What? What are you talking about?” I snapped back at her while lacing my pants up.

She sighed and sat up, not bothering to cover herself as the blanket fell down. “Last night, you don’t remember coming here?”

I caught myself looking at what the lack of blankets had revealed, and jerked my head around at the rest of my surroundings, trying to keep my eyes off. I was far too irritated and caught off guard to think straight. “Where the hell is ‘here’?” I growled. There were no windows, and here with Vass I felt like some rat trapped in a hole.

“Kharanos,” she explained. “The dwarf town,” she added, a little exasperated when I didn’t immediately recognize the name. “Brewfest… ring any bells?”

I remembered Brewfest all right, but still had no idea how I had ended up in some dwarf town with Vassanta of all people. I rubbed my head, both out of frustration and a bit of a headache. “Yeah, yeah… it’s just… blurry. But why the hell would I–”

“You invited me in!” she insisted again, cutting me off.

“Why on Azeroth would I do that? I’d rather run around Durotar with my pants around my ankles!” I growled, looking around for my shirt. By Elune it was freezing in here despite the small fireplace. The cold stone of the floor was making my feet numb. Where the hell were the rest of my clothes?

She sighed again and got out of bed, walking over to the fireplace where she sat down in front of the hearth without a scrap of clothing on. Damn it was hard not to stare at her body. I kept having to force my eyes back up to her face. “At least come over by the fire,” she beckoned. I glared at her, trying to figure out what fucked-up mind game she was trying to play now. “I don’t know why, but you did… and you sure weren’t complaining last night,” she said, looking pointedly at me. Her face softened for a moment. “And I had a good night, even if you don’t remember it.”

I didn’t doubt that part of her story as my eyes fell upon on of my shoulder pieces stuck in a candelabra on the far side of the room from the bed. Whatever we had been doing last night, it must have been… passionate. I furrowed my brow and tried to concentrate, to drive out the thoughts that were coming to my head. I had to focus, stay angry to keep my head straight. “I thought you were with some tentacle-guy. Why are you here?”

She gave me a harsh stare, and said she was here for the festival, but didn’t seem interested in elaborating past that. The more vicious part of my personality hoped it had ended badly for them, but still why the hell did she have to end up in my bed? Despite the alarm bells ringing in my head, I moved over closer to the fire as I was quickly losing feeling in my bare feet. I stood at the opposite side, as far from her as I could while still benefiting from the warmth of the dying flames. After a few tense moments I finally spotted my socks underneath the bed and went to gather them up. I also grabbed one of my boots I found wedged between the bed and nightstand.

Her face fell a bit as she saw me pick up the shoe. “You’re leaving?”

I looked over at her a little bewildered at her question, not quite understanding why she would either want me to stay, or how she could even imagine my intention was not to stomp out with the hope I’d never see her again.

She smiled at me, that same seductive smile that had suckered me so many times in the past. “Are you sure you don’t want to come back to bed?” She nodded over to the mattress.

I’ve seen gnomish contraptions work for a moment, then sputter, smoke, and explode in a matter of seconds. That’s how my brain felt at this very moment. I just blinked at her, unable to actually form a coherent thought, especially now that she was walking towards me, her naked hips swaying as she walked. “Whaa…?” was the best thing a combination of my mouth and brain could offer at the moment.

“Do you want to go…” she nodded meaningfully at the bed again, and I looked back at it before returning my gaze to her.

Snap out of it, Mal. Snap out of it! My brain was screaming at me to run while the lower half of my body seemed to have me rooted in place. Focus! I willed myself to dredge up the memory of that awful day, and my desires retreated as I thought about what this woman had done to me. “I thought we had a mutual hatred,” I growled. “Why would you want to…” I waved my arm towards the bed behind me.

She came closer to me. So close I could feel the heat from her body. “I don’t hate you,” she said, idly running her finger down my bare chest.

It took a monumental effort, but I did it. I stepped back from her and pushed her hand away. “I’d hate to see how you treat the people you don’t like then,” I said, giving her a hard stare.

She seemed irritated by my reaction, and snorted. “Why are you being like this?”

Her audacity infuriated me. “After being brushed aside quite publicly in the middle of Stormwind, I haven’t quite retained the warmest feelings for you Vass!” Dammit, where were the rest of my clothes? I needed to get out of here.

“But enough to invite me to your room?”

“I told you, I don’t even remember how I got here. Last I knew it was late afternoon at Brewfest!” I shouted, finally raising my voice to a yell. No one knew how get me riled up like she did, with just the slightest effort.

“And you found me there… we came back here because it was getting late. With that druid,” she insisted.

I was about to yell more, but my intended words stopped as my brain tried to grasp the last bit of her sentence. With the wind knocked out of my sails like that, my voice dropped to normal. “Wait… what? A druid?” This story was just getting weirder and weirder.

“Yeah,” she said, waving her hand in the general vicinity of the rest of the building. “He’s in the other room… or he was.”

My brain was grinding to a halt again. Between the confusion, mild hangover, emotional strain, and attempting to argue with a completely naked, attractive, and apparently very willing woman, it was getting to be more than I could handle. “Wha… why…?” I shook my head, irritated I couldn’t think straight. “Could you put some clothes on?” I finally asked, exasperated with the situation. “It’s… distracting!”

She gave a pouting frown and went over to the bed and sat down. “Look, why won’t you just come back to bed? It’s cold out here.”

This was unbelievable. “What, so you can use me for sex and act like everything’s fine until I get attached again?” I shouted. “One stab in the stomach was enough for me, thanks,” I hissed at her, barely able to get the words out through my clenching teeth. A detached part of me questioned why being used for sex was necessarily a bad thing, but I repressed it quickly, trying to stay focused.

She folded her arms in front of her and turned her head and snorted. “Seems like you’re the one who’s doing the brushing off.”

I couldn’t believe she had the nerve to act offended after the shit she had pulled with me. “At least it’s in private without some other woman telling you to get lost,” I told her, shooting her nasty glare.

“Is that what you want?” she asked.

“No, I’m past that. I had finally put you behind me, and now this!” I shouted, gesturing towards her.

“No I mean…” She paused for a moment. “Is that what you want, do you want me to just leave?”

“I’d hope you’d get dressed first,” I snorted.

She frowned at me. “That’s not an answer,” she said. And dammit all to hell, she was right.

“Could you just please put some clothes on?” I dropped my voice for a moment before the frustration hit again. “It’s hard to… argh.” I could tell I was weakening. She probably sensed it like a shark smelling blood in the water.

“Since when have you not wanted to see this?” she asked, glancing down at her body.

“It’s not… that that I don’t want, it’s you.” I said, trying to look her in the eyes. That led to yet another round of pointless arguing.

“Stop being stubborn already!” she finally demanded.

“Look,” I said, trying to make myself clear. “I assure you had you approached me sober last night, there’s no way in hell I’d be here with you right now.”

“Yet here you are,” she said with that terrible, wonderful seductive smile of hers.

“Because I was shitfaced drunk last night!”

She gave me a playful grin. “Well that’s fine, we can get more beer. C’mon, I’m getting cold out here.” She patted the bed, still with that smile on her face. My eyes started traveling down her body again. It was over. She’d won this round and she knew it as well as I did, which just pissed me off all the more. “C’mere,” she beckoned again.

I took a step forward, then paused, like a mouse checking for a trap. “What do you want from me Vass?” What trick do you have up your sleeve?

She grinned at me and laid back a bit against the pillows. “You know what I want from you.”

“Just that?” I asked, looking her straight in the eye.

“For right now, yes.” A wicked grin spread across her face. “All right, maybe a hoof rub… maybe.”

An amused smirk spread across my face despite my best efforts at holding it back. I stood there a moment, the more logical part of me still suggesting I make a break for the door, but the rest of me… “Argh, damn it all.” I fumed, and quickly unlaced my pants and pushed them down to the floor. Soon as I was free of them I jumped onto the bed, roughly grabbing her legs and twisting them over to roll her onto her stomach as I pulled her around my hips. At least I wouldn’t have to look her in the eye in this position. She squeaked from either being startled or delighted– probably both, but whatever it was it didn’t matter to me. All I wanted to do was relieve my desire for her so I could finally think straight again.

[Story] One More Chance XXV

Vassanta was freezing, but she didn’t care. The snowdrifts and ice-rimed trees were a welcome relief after the weeks of searing heat and choking dust of the peninsula. And best of all, the ale was flowing freely: The dwarves of Ironforge were gathered for their annual celebration of ale. Brewfest — the holiday so brilliant, she wished she’d thought of it first.

The cheerful, red-cheeked dwarf handed her a ticket for a souvenir mug, and she waded through the crowd to the ticket booth. There, a saucy little gnome whistled and cat-called to the passersby, regardless of race or gender or anything else. Vassanta had to grin at her audacity. “Could I get my mug, please?” she asked, sliding her ticket across the counter. The pink-haired gnome reached deftly beneath the counter and brought out a stein made of blue porcelain and silver.

“Sure thing, honey,” she said with a wink. “Enjoy yourself!”

Vassanta couldn’t help but crack a grin. “I always do,” she replied, turning to survey the huge kegs that were set up around the perimeter. There were so many different ales to choose from, she wasn’t certain where she should start. Barleybrew was light and sweet, but she usually preferred the extra body and kick of the Thunderbrew’s wares. Then there were the ogres… Vassanta gave the barkers a dubious look. Ogre brew was certainly not for the faint of heart, and it was a guaranteed fast ride to being drunk. She twirled her mug idly, finally deciding a half-mug of Ogre brew would be a good opener. But as she made her way over to the keg, she paused, her eyes wide.

A night elf with pale blue hair was downing what couldn’t be his first mug, dribbling some of it onto his leathers. Vassanta felt a broad smirk cross her face, and she moved up to fill her own mug.

“So, have you saved the world yet, Malcos?”

She half expected him to take a swing, or at the very least huff and stomp off, but he did neither. Instead, he almost dropped his mug. “They’re back again!” he exclaimed, his wavering finger pointing somewhere into the trees beyond the fence. “The invisible rabbits!”

Obviously, Malcos had already been drinking for a while this evening. “Uh,” said Vassanta, cocking her head in the direction of the trees. “They sure are.” She looked back at him again, puzzled. Did he really not recognize her? He didn’t seem to be paying her much mind, crouching down to refill his mug at the tap again. She took him by the elbow and led him back near the fence, where no one could stumble over him. Leaning back against the railing, she eyed him over critically. He looked stronger and more seasoned, even though it hadn’t been that long since she’d seen him last. And if he looked like that with his armor on… she could only imagine what he looked like underneath. She couldn’t deny that she still found him attractive, even after all that had happened. Maybe it was the ears.

If he’d been more sober, he’d certainly have appreciated the irony of her coming back to him after her latest distraction had disappeared. Vassanta hadn’t heard from Melikgaar since he’d been reassigned, and that had been several months ago. If she’d wanted to find someone else, there was no shortage of willing soldiers in Shattrath, but Vassanta had — to her own amazement — simply kept waiting for him to return. She arched an amused brow down at Malcos, who had settled down in the snow and appeared to be stroking one of his invisible rabbits. So why was she drawn back to him, knowing the odds of him accepting her were slim? Maybe there was a little guilt, maybe because he was convenient… she found it difficult to admit the truth, but it was there, nagging in the back of her mind. He’d offered something that no one else would, not even the Vindicator. He wanted something more; something that at the time, she couldn’t provide. Now, she thought that she might.

But more likely than not, she had ruined all of that, and the pieces would never go back together. She could hardly blame him for that, it was her own fault. For one night though, she could pretend, and maybe it would bring some closure to both of them.

She glanced up to see Caelris eyeing her with what she guessed was a disapproving look. Druids often did that, in her experience. “What are you doing here?” she asked, arching a brow. “I don’t think they have any elf wine.”

The druid gave Malcos a polite nod, before he flattened his ears at Vassanta. “I thought it wise to learn more about the festivals of our allies,” he explained, tugging at his robe. She had the feeling there might be something else that he wasn’t telling her, but she didn’t feel the need to press. “Well,” she said, indicating the keg across the way. “I suggest you start with some Barleybrew, it’s not too strong.”

Caelris eyed a stumbling human warily. “Hm, I think I will pass,” he muttered.

“Damn, my ass is getting cold,” Malcos announced, and Vassanta snickered into her mug. The druid had to be freezing, he was wearing a thin robe, and no shoes at all.

“Yeah, maybe we should get back to the town. It’s starting to snow…” Vassanta stood, brushing the clinging snow from her tabard. “And my tail’s getting cold too.”

She gave a little squeak of surprise as she felt Malcos’ fingers on her tail. “I could warm it up for you!” he said, grinning broadly. This was going to be far easier than she’d expected. Caelris coughed and pretended not to notice.

“Oh?” she purred, “But you might mishandle it.”

“You’ll have to teach me the proper techniques,” Malcos said earnestly, which was sort of cute while he was drunk. “Just a minute!” he said suddenly, veering off to the fence, where his horse was tied. He wasn’t really going to try and ride now, was he? Vassanta had to hope that the horse had the good sense to go straight to the inn.

Malcos rode back, still clinging to the side of the saddle. “There!” he said, settling down on it. “Want a ride?” he grinned broadly down at Vassanta.

She felt her ears color as she nodded. “Why not.” Taking his hand, she swung up onto the horse’s back and put her arms around his waist. “We’ll meet you back at the inn,” she said over her shoulder to Caelris, who looked even more annoyed than before.

The horse did not seem to notice her extra weight, breaking into an easy canter as they rode up the road into Kharanos, just outside of the festival. The town saw plenty of extra business during the holiday, and the tavern was crowded with people, but they found an empty alcove to sit down. Caelris joined them a few minutes later, shaking the snow from his feet.

Malcos hailed the bartender and got a drink for each of them. Even Caelris tried his, though he made a sour face at it. “Why do the dwarves drink this?” he asked, squinting into the mug. They all talked for a while longer, though Vassanta could hardly remember about what; the ale and the warmth from the fire were making her sleepy. Malcos got up again, and she thought that he was leaving, but he soon returned with a set of keys. “There are two rooms left,” he said. “You’re welcome to share mine.” With a sly grin, he tossed one of the keys to her.