[Story] A Tangle of Brambles 109

Fog clings to the flanks of the hills this time of year, lending the whole place an air of mystery — and maybe melancholy, too. The mountains are close, so the snow starts to creep down and nestle in the low spots that never see much sunlight. And the rooms are cold, compared to home. Drafty and only a few have fireplaces, and those are too small to be much use. That’s if you can be bothered to find wood anyway. I don’t plan to be here long anyway. Rose was about to forbid me to go, until I assured her I’d come back this time. I don’t  know if she believed me really, but I said it’d be no more than a week. I couldn’t tell her everything of course, but I told her more than I usually do. I think it helped that I said I was doing a favor for Nash, she worries about him. She bought him another scarf and pair of gloves — nice ones too, made of good thin leather. I said he probably still had the ones from  last year, but she just gave me a look. And she left him a watch, one of those from the shop. It was one we’d had for a while and hadn’t sold, but still a nice one. There’s an engraving of the sun on the case, I think that’s why she picked that one. Or maybe she’d planned to give it to him all along.

I’m delivering a letter for him, for obvious reasons he can’t send it from Stormwind. I don’t have many contacts in Silvermoon — I can’t pass as easily there as he can here. And the recent fighting in Kalimdor meant no one was shipping anything. In the very beginning, I made some good sales of weapons and munitions, but after that the port was dead. There was no one to sail the ships, no one to unload them or pack them. Many were drafted into service to carry men over, a lot of whom never came back. Fortunately, after a war people like to spend money — they’ve just been paid and they’re grateful to be alive. That, and it’s nearly Winter Veil, always a good time for the shop. I promised I wouldn’t abandon them again this year, and I haven’t. I’ve been working extra, in fact, since the ports were dead. I made a stag to display in the window, it has little lights built in that light up in succession. It was her idea actually, but I have to admit that it looks nice. I thought it was a bit you know, elfy, but every evening people pause to look at it in the window. I’m not sure if I’ll make her something this year, I want to, but it’s almost expected now. I should do something different, but I don’t know what.

Hard to believe it’s been two years since that night that we met, whether by accident or fate. That’s the longest I’ve stayed with anyone, though she’s really only half mine. Some days, it feels like less than half. The younger me would have pointed out that half is more than none at all, and I ought to be happy with that. I try to, but it’s still uncomfortable at home. I can’t remember the time Josie and I have used any words other than “good morning” or “pass the bread, please.” I keep thinking of the ring that I found in the ruins of Gilneas, and every time I think it might be a good idea, I talk myself out of it again. Maybe because I know what the answer would probably be. I think of that first winter we spent together, in that little flat above the shoe shop, and I wish things were like that again. I think maybe they almost could have been, or maybe it was only because Josie was staying with Kor then.

And Pup has been acting like a boy does, with the added teeth and fangs. He was very nearly caught slaughtering sheep again, and Rose accuses me of being a bad influence. Look, I teach him plenty, but we don’t kill sheep together. That’s a wolf thing. In addition to his reading and arithmetic lessons, she’s sent him to see Sister Temperance, a priestess who lives near the edge of town. She’s one of them, bitten in Duskwood last year, and Pup has surprised everyone by going diligently to see her. I think his interest may not be spiritual, however, given that Miss Temperance is only a few years older than himself. Since his change, his eyes are wiser, he can’t really be mistaken for a child any longer. I don’t know what he’ll do once he decides he doesn’t want to sleep in the old store-room anymore. I think about bringing him here, to hone his skills and get some discipline from someone more detached than myself. I’m not sure if Rose would agree to it, but I think it would be the best thing for him. Then again, he could turn out like me. So maybe it isn’t such a good idea.


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