[Story] One More Chance XXVIII

She wasn’t sure how long it had been. She hadn’t been counting the days.

“There’s a letter for you,” the Grand Anchorite had said, and she’d felt her heart leap with hope even as she told it not to.

But when she saw it, she knew, even before she cut the twine that bound it and read her name in shaky script. She knew it was from him. It looked old and weathered, as if it had been forgotten, or as if it had traveled a very long way. Probably both, she reasoned.

The writing was large and shaky, like that of a child, and tears pricked her eyes when she realized that he must have written it with his left hand. An image came to her, of him hunched carefully over the desk, forming each letter with care, and it struck as her terribly sad and unfair.

Priestess,

Please forgive my delay in writing to you. I was terribly weak and needed time to recover. I found your prayer book among my things and I thought of you. They have sent me north on the ships, and I hope that you might join me here. There is a gift that I wish to give to you.

It was signed only with his name, and she thought that was a little formal. But maybe he was angry with her, and she could hardly blame him if that were the case, but then why would he have got her a gift? She could explain everything once she found him, and she was certain that he’d understand then. She turned the weathered paper over, looking for an address or some other hint; though she had never been there, she imagined that the north was a very large place. Still, she would worry about that when she arrived — tonight, she had a ship to catch.

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[Story] One More Chance XXVII

In the end it was neither a fish nor a naga that brought Malcos into the infirmary, but a bug. One of the luminescent giant wasps had landed a lucky strike with its stinger, right in the deep muscle of his thigh. The wound hadn’t healed, instead taking on the festering look of poison, and he’d wisely sought the advice of those more skilled at healing than himself.

“I told you to be careful,” Vassanta scolded him, but her grin gave her away. “The mighty Malcos brought down by a bug…”

He gave her a fierce mock scowl in return. “Hey, it was a big bug, all right?”

Hoofsteps scuffed in the doorway as the heavy door swung open, the anchorite closing it gently behind her. “Malcos?” What was he doing here and — her eyes narrowed — why was Vassanta with him?

Malcos shifted to see her, wincing a little as he did so. “Oh, hey Vajarra!”

Vassanta gave her a hard glare. “What did you do to him?” Vajarra demanded, laying out her instruments on the stone table.

“Me? I didn’t do anything!” Vassanta snapped back, and Vajarra hoped that she wouldn’t start shouting inside the temple.

Malcos hurried to explain, “It was one of those wasps, in the marsh.” Vajarra could see that well enough, knew the tell-tale signs of its poison. She wasn’t especially skilled in poison extraction, but fortunately there was a simple and effective anti-venom that had been developed during the draenei’s trek through the marsh. Prising her lips, she set to work, measuring the ingredients needed.

“I didn’t know you two were speaking to each other again,” Vajarra said at last, combining the anti-venom into a small glass vial.

Malcos lowered his ears with the look of a scolded dog. “Well we kind of… got back together.”

Vajarra nearly dropped the vial. “What?! Why would you do that? You know she’s just going to do the same thing to you again.”

“I am not,” Vassanta hissed, “And no one asked for your opinion, anyway.”

Malcos fidgeted, looking between the arguing sisters and back to the sharply arced pair of scissors in Vajarra’s hands that she was now taking to his wound, even as she argued.

“What are you thinking?” she implored him as she leaned in to investigate the injury.

“We just decided to give it another — ouch!” Malcos yelped a little as she pulled the end of the stinger out, hard and black and still dripping with poison.

“I told you it wasn’t any of your business, Vajarra, just butt out.” Vassanta was piping up again, and Malcos prayed that she wouldn’t infuriate Vajarra any further, at least while she had something sharp in her hands.

Vajarra frowned severely, dropping the stinger into a small bowl, and reaching for another vial of liquid. “Hold still, this might hurt a bit,” she said, as she poured the clear fluid into the wound. “Don’t you remember what you said to me in Theramore?”

Malcos grunted, gritting his teeth. “I’m having a hard time focusing, at the moment.”

“What,” Vassanta sneered. “When you went to him for “comfort”?”

Vajarra gave Malcos a look that was somewhere between horrified and infuriated. “You TOLD her?”

Malcos stammered. “I just told her we spent some time together… I didn’t tell her any details!”

Vassanta grimaced. “I don’t need to hear the details.”

“Nothing happened!”

“Of course nothing happened,” Vassanta snorted, eyeing her sister again. “It’s Vajarra.”

Vajarra could feel her hands trembling with anger, and willed it away, unwinding a clean bandage. Giving her hands something to do seemed to help. “If you want to be foolish and ruin your life, Malcos, that’s your business. But don’t come to me for “comfort” when she does it again.”

Malcos gave a harsh laugh. “You know, last time I saw you here, you told me to stay away from your sister. That I wasn’t good enough for her.”

She stared at him for a long moment before she answered. What had happened to him? “Maybe I was wrong,” she said at last. “Maybe you two deserve each other.” She affixed the bandage firmly around his thigh, fastening it. “Keep that clean and dry and change it every day. Come back if it doesn’t get better in a day or two.”

Malcos winced a little as she tightened the bandage. “I promise I didn’t tell her anything you said in confidence,” he said, rubbing his temple tiredly. “Besides, don’t talk to me about bad decisions, you ran off to the Ghostlands by yourself.”

Vajarra blinked, stunned, and Vassanta shot her a querying look. “You did?”

“It was important,” she said, gathering up her tools and materials. “And yes, I did. I think you know why, Vass.”

“Still chasing that blood elf? And you call Malcos foolish.” She had stood up from her chair, leaning against the doorway.

“Why are you even bringing that up?” Vajarra eyed him coldly. He wasn’t the elf she remembered from Theramore.

“Because you’re berating me for bad decisions, while you’ve done the same thing.”

“It’s not remotely the same thing, Malcos, and it’s cruel of you to bring it up.” Vajarra felt like she was going to cry, but she wouldn’t give either of them the satisfaction of seeing it.

Malcos snorted. “Why is it cruel?”

Did he really not know? “You know as well as I do that she likes to take things away from people. That elf was my friend.”

Vassanta threw up her hands in exasperation. “We’re talking about a blood elf, Vajarra. He would have murdered you twice as fast if he had the chance.”

“Wait,” Malcos said, holding a hand up. “Your friend… the blood elf that was killed… I’d have murdered the bastard myself if I had the chance.”

Vajarra spun on him, eyes wide. “What?”

“How could you — with someone who did that to your sister?” He had stood up, favoring his good leg, and in that moment he looked frightening to Vajarra.

“What? He’s not — I was teaching him about the Light!” She couldn’t believe that Malcos had fallen for more of Vassanta’s nonsense, he of all people who should know better. “He didn’t do anything to her! He’s the one who’s dead!”

Vassanta stiffened, gesturing to Malcos. “Come on, let’s go,” she said quietly, and Vajarra thought it strange that she would want to back away from a fight.

He ignored Vassanta, for the moment. “He deserved it! Him, and every monster like him.”

“How can you say that? He came to the Light to repent.”

Malcos snarled, “You can’t repent for something like that. It means you’re evil to the bone.”

“How do you know? Are you a naaru?”

He just shook his head, sighing wearily.

“I’m sure you’ve done things you regret, Malcos,” Vajarra said quietly. “Are you so perfect?”

“Of course I have, I’ve screwed up tons of times, I just–”

Vassanta was at his side, nudging him insistently. “Sorry, I’ll just shut up now,” he grumbled, wincing as he stepped onto his injured leg.

“Very well,” said Vajarra. She tucked the bundle of her equipment under her arm and pushed the door open, stepping out into the cool night outside. They would be following soon, and she didn’t wish to see either of them, not right now and perhaps not ever. She’d done everything she was supposed to, ever since she was small, and where had it got her? Far above, in the blue velvet sky, the twin moons crossed the sky as they always had, beside one another.

[Story] One More Chance XXVI

These days, Vassanta kept her distance from the Temple, but she had received summons from the Lightwarden himself. She felt her stomach twist anxiously, trying to imagine what wrong she had committed now. She’d been diligent in her training and her duties, successful in her assignments, and aside from her weekly trysts with Malcos, her personal matters were remarkably spotless. Besides, she’d realized long ago that the naaru didn’t have much interest in who she was sleeping with. Vassanta exhaled a breath of relief when she saw that her sister was not present; perhaps in a back room or maybe she had been sent away for other duties. She was just thankful she wouldn’t have to face Vajarra’s accusations again today.

She tapped her hooves together, saluting Adyen sharply. “Sir,” she said, as he looked up from his reading. For a moment she thought he had forgotten about sending for her, but a slight smile crossed his face as he rose. He was very tall, and struck an imposing figure despite his lack of horns.

“Vindicator,” he said, “I am glad you could come to see me.” She was thrilled to be addressed as such, not a lowly “soldier” anymore, but Vassanta watched him almost warily. He gestured to the bench, and she sat down, doing her best to sit comfortably with the two swords strapped across her back. The Lightwarden paused to stroke his chin thoughtfully, glancing back at the book lying open across his desk. “I’m very pleased with your progress of late, and I’d like to offer you a reassignment — to Shadowmoon Valley.”

Vassanta could only stare at him blankly. Only the most seasoned soldiers of the Sha’tar were sent there, the Legion’s doorstep, and she hardly counted herself amongst them. “Of course, sir, if you think I’m ready,” she stammered, still unsure if she’d heard correctly.

The Lightwarden nodded, looking pleased. “Excellent. You’ll be given use of a gryphon, many of the roads are impassible. You do know how to control one?” He arched a brow at her, and Vassanta nodded eagerly. “Take the evening to get your business in order. You may leave in the morning.”

Her head felt like it was overflowing, but she was sure of one thing — she had to find Malcos. She hurried through the stalls and crowds of Lower City to his apartment, taking the steps two at a time in her hurry. He should already be at home, but she paused and rapped on the door gently just in case, and she heard his little striped cat meowing behind it.

“Vass!” Malcos perked up, embracing her tightly, but he only took a moment to notice her excitement. “What’s up?”

It’s true she was excited, she could hardly keep her hooves still. “I was reassigned!” Malcos blinked at her, warily. “To Shadowmoon Valley, it’s a huge promotion.”

The elf sat down on the bed, scratching his beard. Why wasn’t he excited? “Shadowmoon… that’s where all of the demons are, isn’t it?”

Vassanta nodded. “Demons, and the ruins of Karabor. We’ll be right at Illidan’s front door. This is… it’s big, Malcos. It means I’m not a total screw-up anymore.”

He nodded, giving her a sad smile. “You were never a screw-up to me, Vass. And I’m just worried, I guess. But knowing you, it’s those demons who should be scared.”

She laughed lightly, sitting down beside him and leaning against his shoulder. “I promise to be careful.”

Malcos drew his brows thoughtfully, hesitating before he spoke. “Do you think it would be okay if I came out there, you know, to visit sometime?”

She didn’t think he was asking about whether it was dangerous. She thought that he still didn’t trust her, wanted to drop in and check up on her to see if she was running around with someone else. He had every right to mistrust her, but that didn’t make it sting any less. She managed a smile. “Of course it would,” she purred, reaching up to stroke his ear. “It’ll be nice to have you there. It gets lonely sometimes.”

He blinked, obviously surprised by her answer. “Really?”

“Really. If you want, I could show you around the camp. I’m supposed to report there tomorrow.”

It was a marvel to Vassanta that the Light could reach such a place, yet Xi’ri’s blades gleamed brilliantly below the churning green sky. Below, the battalions of Sha’tar stood awaiting their command, the blood elf Scryers just a short distance across the road. For the time being, their differences were forgotten, but Vassanta was certain that none of the draenei ever forgot completely, not really. Malcos stood silently, his eyes upturned to the sky, perhaps tracing the progress of one of the ethereal netherdrakes that flew there. “I didn’t know,” was all he could say, but it was enough. She reached over to touch his hand, briefly, and gestured back toward the camp.

The elf’s presence earned a few curious looks, but not many. Of late many had braved the demon-riddled landscape, and not all of them draenei. She could tell that he was reluctant to leave. “I’ll be all right,” Vassanta assured him again. “They wouldn’t have sent me if it wasn’t. I know how to fight demons.”

He laid his ears back with a grin that came across more as a grimace. “These ones are a hell of a lot bigger.”

Unconsciously, her hand went to the silvered pendant at her throat, tucked within her armor. It was a light and delicate thing, so unlike her, a gift — she tried not to think of it as a parting gift, but a reminder. “I’ll be careful. I promise,” she said, leaning in against him. “What about you? You aren’t going to be eaten by any giant fish, are you?”

Malcos laughed at that, surprising himself. “Hah… no, might have to watch out for the nagas though. They’re pretty vicious. And smart, that’s what makes them dangerous.”

Like demons, she thought, but didn’t say it.

[Story] Tempest X

We stopped in Ironforge to pick up some supplies, and Malcos said there was a dwarf he needed to see. I was surprised to see that she was older, and watched him with a mother’s wary eye. So she wasn’t an old fling, but I figured it was best if I didn’t pry. He gave her the paper with his new address, and she grinned and told me to keep an eye on him. Dwarves are smarter than most people at figuring things out.

Malcos also stopped in one of the places in the caverns. I get the feeling sometimes that his jobs aren’t always entirely above the table, but who am I to judge? He returned with his bags full, and a broad grin on his face. I didn’t figure he’d be grinning once we got to the portal.

You could feel the heat shimmering up from the red ground before the gryphon even touched down, a dark storm gathering over the mountains. “What a dismal place,” Malcos muttered, as he tied his packs onto his horse’s saddle.

I nodded, shielding my eyes as I looked south across the wastes. “If you think this is bad… the peninsula is worse,” I said, sounding more grim than I’d intended. I was worried that he wouldn’t be prepared for what we found once we crossed the portal’s threshold; but he said he had fought the Legion before, I had to hope that was preparation enough. Malcos glanced around, taking in the ruined landscape, and frowned.

The road was wide and appeared well-traveled, so when he spoke up I guessed it was more out of the need for distraction rather than boredom. “Let’s play a game,” Malcos said, leaning back in his saddle.

“What, you’re so eager to lose again?” I smirked. “Okay. I spy something… red.”

He laughed at that, and it sounded like it surprised him. “I was thinking more like, ask me any question you want. But the catch is, you have to answer it too.”

The truth was that in spite of the time we’d spent together, we hardly knew anything about the other. Usually, that’s just the way I liked things, to give myself some space. But I knew that wouldn’t work if I wanted to give things a real try, so I nodded. “Okay. You go first.”

I glanced back to watch Malcos curiously as he squinted up his face in thought. “So how many guys have you been with?”

I fixed him with a glare. What kind of question was that? “I don’t know,” I snapped back, “How many have you?”

He didn’t get mad though, he just laughed. “All right, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it that way.” I didn’t ask how he did mean it, I just kept staring grimly up the road.

There was a long pause before he spoke again, just the shuffle and scrape of our mounts’ feet on the hard ground. “Were were you born?”

That was a good question, no hidden implications there. “Shattrath,” I said. “How about you?”

“Just outside Astranaar,” Malcos answered, glancing up at the sky, seared with red.

I knew where that was, kind of, but I’d never been there. “Don’t you miss it?” I asked.

The look he gave me said it all, I wished I could have stopped and made him feel better, but I didn’t know how to explain it. “In some ways I do. But it wasn’t always easy living there.”

“Really? Why not?” I could see the portal now, still far in the distance, the sickly-green fel energy painting the sky.

He rubbed the back of his neck self-consciously. “Well… at least until very recently, in our society the majority of men were druids, and the women were the soldiers. So it was a little socially awkward, you could say.”

I nodded, I knew that much about night elf culture. “Sure, but times are changing, right? It’s not such a big deal anymore for a man to be a soldier, is it?” Such rigid roles seemed odd to me, where any draenei who wished to fight could become a Vindicator, man or woman.

Malcos shook his head, giving a meager smile. “Yes and no. Some people still cling to the old ways. And besides, after 1700 years, I wanted to get out and see the world.”

I grinned in return. I could certainly understand wanderlust. Being cooped up inside a temple was about the most boring thing I could imagine. “So where is your favorite place? So far, at least.”

He only hesitated for a moment. “That’s a tough one, but I’d have to say Winterspring.”

“Yeah, it was pretty there. The snow kept getting stuck in my hooves though.”

Malcos chuckled at that. “True, I didn’t even think of that. How about you? What’s your favorite place?”

My favorite place was the city, once sacked and now swarming with blood elf filth. Or maybe the serene plains of Farahlon, now reduced to nothing more than clouds and rubble. I shook my head, “I don’t really know, I still haven’t seen most of Azeroth.”

“I’ll just have to take you sometime,” Malcos said cheerfully. “I am curious about Outland, though.”

I tried not to wince at their name for it, I knew it wasn’t his fault. It wasn’t enough that our home was destroyed, but even its name was forgotten. “Yeah, you’ll like Nagrand, I bet. One day we could go there.”

“That sounds–” Malcos caught his breath, drawing his horse’s reins back to halt it. “Is that the portal?”

We stood at the crater’s edge, where the earth had erupted with a swarm of demons. The red ground was still charred to black and not a blade of grass grew over it. The grim stone doorway swirled with ominous energy, and I thought he might back out. “I know it looks dangerous, but the portal itself won’t hurt you,” I explained. What’s on the other side… that was a different matter.

He laid a hand on the dark stonework. I knew that the elves had portals that took them to the Dream, but I didn’t know if this was the same. I just stood close by, watching. “So strange to think that another world lies behind it,” he said quietly.

“Do you want me to go first?” I asked, reaching out to touch his arm gently, hoping to calm his fears.

Malcos shook his head. “That’s all right. We can go through together.”

[Story] Tempest IX

“Hey cutie! Gonna spend those tokens? I’ll give you a discount,” the Brewfest worker catcalled to Malcos as he walked by looking for Vass. He’d just returned from Stormwind after a successful bid for his job back, which had left him in quite a good mood. His boots crunched in the snow as paused then turned and smirked at the audacious gnome. He did have quite a few tokens burning a hole in his pocket. Less than a minute later he was fumbling to stretch the headband of the goggles the gnome claimed could make anyone attractive. He was just about to pull them on over his head when he spotted Vass, who was thankfully alone. “Hey Vass!” he called, with a cheerfulness that surprised him.

She looked equally excited to see him as well. “Hi!” she called back, quickly heading over to him.

“Check out these new goggles I got!” he said, pulling them over his eyes before jumping back and laughing as he looked at the draenei through them.

“Oh, from the gnome?” she asked. “I heard they’re a scam.”

The momentary amusement was well worth the tokens to Malcos as he barked out a laugh. “I think you look better with them off,” he said, pulling the goggles up over his head. He eyed Vass up and down, and gave her a feral grin. “Yeah… much better. I don’t really have a thing for male gnomes. Here try them, they’re great.”

She took them and fit them over her eyes and let out a giggle as Mal flexed in front of her. “They are pretty funny though,” she admitted before handing them back to him. She glanced over in the direction of the gnome vendor. “I’m think I’m going to try to get some of those little pants.”

Malcos gave her a horrified look. He thought he had successfully managed to squirm out of getting them after the tie yesterday. Vass caught the look on his face and let out a laugh. “For me!”

“Ohhh!” Mal let out a sigh of relief. “Oh yeah. I bet you’d look real cute in them.”

She flashed him a wicked grin. “Though you know, I still wouldn’t complain if you got some…” The panic once again returned to Mal’s eyes and he let out a playful whimper. He was almost thankful when a ram flew past them, nearly bowling them over, prompting them to find a new place to linger and a chance to change the subject.

They found a lonely snowdrift well away from the racing rams and hustle and bustle of Brewfest that seemed a nice spot to take a break from the festivities. Malcos plopped down in the snow with a crunch, allowing Vassanta to sit on his lap as to not let her dress get too wet. He still couldn’t take his eyes off her when she was wearing it, and he seemed perfectly content being used as a seat. She gave him a smile. “Kind of hard to talk with all of that going on,” she said, then looked away momentarily before continuing. “I have to go back to Draenor pretty soon…”

“Oh really? Perfect!”

Obviously this was not the response Vass was expecting, and shot a smirk at Malcos. “What do you mean, you’re trying to get rid of me already?”

“What? No, no!” He quickly pulled an envelope from his tunic. “I just accepted an assignment to go there. Care to show me around?”

She gave him a wicked grin and nodded. “I’d love to. That’s quite a relief actually, I was worried about going back.”

He seemed almost touched that he was a concern to her and smiled. “According to my orders, I’m to investigate the status of the gate on our side, go through it, and make a report of the status on the other side in…” he pulled the orders out of the envelope and glanced down at them. “Hellfire? That doesn’t sound like a nice place.”

“That’s near where I’ve been fighting. And, it’s not.”

Malcos gave a little frown. He then shook the envelope, and a small key fell out. “Good news is, they given me my own apartment rented out by SI:7 in Shattrath,” he shot Vass a meaningful grin.

“So you can have guests over now, huh?” she said, returning his wicked smile.

Malcos nodded with a grin and gave her neck a playful nuzzle. She laughed and pulled away as his beard tickled her.

“I’m glad you are coming to Draenor though,” she said, cuddling up against his chest. “When are you going?”

“As soon as I’m ready,” he told her. “I just came back here to find you and hey– I felt that,” he said said, glancing down at her tail that was hanging between his legs.

“What? I didn’t do anything,” she claimed, throwing a seductive glance his way.

“Uh-huh, I’m sure,” he said, tickling her sides to make her squirm in his lap. She giggled and attempted to tie his bootlaces together in retribution. He grabbed her arms in a bear hug before she managed to complete her dastardly plan though.

“Don’t make me have to pin you down!” she playfully threatened.

“Hey, if you want to be on top, that’s fine by me,” he assured her with a wicked grin, “All the better view for me!” He obviously hadn’t expected her to take up the offer, as he was caught a bit by surprise as she did just that, breaking free of his grip and pushing him down into the snow before promptly sitting on him. It was cold laying in the snow, but his mind wasn’t on his back or the snow melting into his hair. He shifted his hips slightly to readjust himself as Vass looked down on him in amusement.

“So…” she said, tracing her finger down his vest. Mal’s eyes went wide as he realised she wasn’t entirely just playing around. He leaned his head up and glanced down towards the road, which was thankfully for the moment, free of an dwarven patrollers. Not wasting any time, he reached under Vassanta’s dress and undid the laces of his leathers. She couldn’t resist teasing him though. “I don’t want you to get cold,” she said, pretending to get up.

“Trust me, I don’t feel cold at all,” he quickly reassured her, pulling her back down onto his hips. She giggled and leaned down and kissed him as he traced his fingers up the inside of her thighs.

[Story] Tempest VIII

I was headed towards tinker town when I heard Kerub’s voice from just inside the leatherworker’s shop. Not really eager to face the tram then Mathias, I decided to make a quick stop to say hello. “Eh, Mal!” she called with a wave as I entered the building. I was glad I didn’t have to duck my head at all when I walked in. Great thing about dwarves was they always built things at least three times bigger than they needed to be.

“Hey Momma dwarf,” I greeted her, kneeling down to give her a hug before sitting down on the floor with my legs crossed.

“Ey, ‘ow’s it goin’?” she asked.

“Uhh… good,” I told her, feeling the corners of my mouth twitch up. I hadn’t really planned on telling her about Vass and I. She’d probably smack me upside the head for taking her back.

“What’cha grinnin’ about?” she inquired.

My face had already given it away, and I knew she’d get it out of me eventually. Guess I’d just had to spit it out and brace myself. “Uhhh… I kinda… gotbacktogetherwithVass,” I said as quickly as possible, then ducked my head submissively.

Thankfully she put her fists on her hips instead of my face. “That Aldor cheating whore you told me about, eh?

I flushed a bit at that and turned my head away. “Yeah,” I admitted. It was too easy to forget about that mess when she was lying naked in my arms. No surprise my friends couldn’t forget so easily. I briefly wondered if I’d catch any flack for it from my buddies at headquarters. Probably best not to mention her there.

Kerub gave me a motherly sigh. “Aye, wellin’ ah’ be keepin ye a tankard of stout ready for when she blows ye off again like Wren’s old skin.”

I couldn’t help but grin at her analogy. “Heh, thanks Momma.” It was true too. There was no way this was going to last. But I wasn’t about to let her hurt me like that again.

She gave me a resigned smile. “I suppose Brewfest is the time fer addle minded luvvin’…”

I grinned and nodded. Kerub certainly had a knack for getting to the shameless truth of a situation. “That is where I ran into her again actually.”

She smirked. “N’ how far drunk was she?”

“Uhhhh… from what I hear, I was the one that was completely smashed,” I admitted, feeling the tips of my ears darken.

She looked like she was gonna say something, but then smiled and shook her head. “Ye, canna’ fell fer that again but ye’ll figure it out,” she told me after a moment.

“I tried to resist, I really did!” I told her. “I just… I guess I’m just lonely. It won out over good sense,” that more than anything was probably the key to all this. Loneliness. It was nice having someone to be with, even if she was someone I’d had an unfortunate past with. “But I am having fun,” I assured Kerub.

She gave me an amused smile. “Well, there is that. Have fun while ye are young-,” she laughed and then added, “-ish.”

I grinned, amused at my own shamelessness. “Yeah, yeah, I know. Seventeen-hundred going on twenty. I know, I know…” I wasn’t exactly sure how old Vass was, but probably too young for me. I wasn’t exactly mature for my age though. Guess that’s what you get when you do nothing but guard a forest and dawdle with lonely Sentinels for fifteen hundred years.

“Speakin’ of which,” she said abruptly, “My oldest is out adventuring now. I canna belive it. I’m gettin’ old.”

I laughed at that. The differences in the ages and lifespans of the races of the Alliance often led to amusing comparisons. “Hope you having someone keeping an eye on her,” I said after a moment.

“Nay, shes hangin’ out with a druuuid.”

“Oh dear,” I said, fully knowing what can go on in the woods. A young girl getting her first taste of freedom, and a druid that probably hadn’t gotten much action in his life… I decided not to share my thoughts about it with Kerub though. I’m sure she had enough worries as it was. “I’m sure she’ll be fine if she’s anything like her Momma,” I assured Kerub. Unless he got her pregnant or something. Was that even possible? Kerub broke me out of my train of thought before it got to far with a surprising question.

“So, that brings me to a thought that if, ye skin a bear druid, would he stay a bear? Or would he turn back into an elf?”

My eyes must have gone wide from alarm until I saw her smirk. I couldn’t stop myself from laughing, even as I told her I’d never had such disturbing thoughts. I reflected on the question a moment before replying. “I suppose upon death they would revert to elven form, so unless you skinned them alive as a bear it might not be possible… I can’t believe I’m even thinking about this,” I said bringing my hand to my forehead and chuckling.

“Eh, well it did cross my mind but…” she said, folding her arms. “But if she’s old enough to leave the monastery shes old enough to… have relations with kal’dorei bears.”

I swear I was almost giggling at this point. “Hopefully they’ll behave themselves,” I told her, even though I sincerely doubted they would.

“I was thinkin’ aye an elf skin rug wouldn’t go over well…” she told me with a wink and a smirk.

As morbid an idea as it was, I was still filled with such mirth I played along. “You’re welcome to skin my hide if I let Vass pull one over on me again,” I said, grinning.

She shot me wink. “I may let Wren give ye a tooth scar on ye arm.”

I didn’t offer any protest. “And I’ll deserve it,” I said. A bite by Wren would be better than being made into a throw rug.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the form of an kal’dorei woman enter the building. She gave Kerub and I a disapproving look, then crossed her arms and said in a very offended-sounding tone, “Did I hear someone mutter in very poor language ‘elf skin rug’?”

I couldn’t help it. I burst out laughing.

[Story] Tempest VII

It was hard leaving Vassanta’s warmth to get out a bed this morning, but I figured I’d get an early start and swing by Brewfest to grab a pint to give myself enough courage to ask Mathias for my job back. I certainly felt more confident, both from the reports I was about to turn in, and from having Vass all over me last night and this morning. Despite the bashing she had given my ego so many months ago she certainly was building it up again with her relentless desire for me.

I had a mug in one hand, the reins of my horse in the other when I spotted a Kal’dorei woman on a horse near the Barleybrew booth. My ears perked with interest. We certainly had at least one thing in common. I walked over to her and grinned. “Nice horse.”

Her eyes wandered over me and she gave me appeared to be an approving smile. “Likewise.”

“I haven’t seen many other Kal’dorei on one,” I said, trying to push a conversation.

She replied with a strange dialect I hadn’t detected in her previous response. “Don’t care for cats. Speaking of, you got a stray followin’ you ’round.”

Confused, I turned around, and unsurprisingly there was a strange cat at my heels. I was about to say they often did that because I had a habit of feeding strays, but she continued before I could reply. “Want me to kill it?” she asked casually.

I just blinked at her for a moment in shock. Abort! Abort! This is not wife material! “Uhhhh. No, that’s okay,” I manged to stutter out before stomping my foot near the cat to scare it away for the sake of its own safety.

“Carry disease, they do. You know that? Like rabid and whanot,” she said. I just bobbed my head while trying to figure out how the hell to get away. “You out here drinkin’ this early?” she asked.

“Just having a drink before heading off,” I immediately replied, sensing an opening for escape. “And I had it so… I must be off,” I told her, mounting my horse in such a hurry that I spilled some beer down its shoulder. “Uh, nice meeting you!” I said, as I turned my mount around for a quick exit.

“Okay, then. Wind at yer back, mate,” she said, waving to my retreating form.

By Elune! Aren’t there any sane Kal’dorei women left?
I wondered as I headed up the road to Ironforge. Oh well, at least I had Vass warming my bed and keeping me company during my search for a proper mate. I felt a tinge of guilt for what I was doing, but not much. After all, Vass was getting what I suspected all she really wanted out of me, and I was certainly enjoying every moment of it. I figured it was only a matter of time before she moved on to another, or I did. The only question would be who found someone else first. In the meantime, she’d be good relationship practice, as long as I kept that barrier between my actions and emotions up. At least my training at Ravenholdt and the slaughter of the corrupt furbolgs was good for teaching me how to do that, I thought with a grimace.