[Story] The Tea Party

Nash has been keeping secrets. Well, just the one secret that I know about, if there’s more I don’t know about them yet. And it’s not as if he did a very good job about keeping this one, either – I asked go with him last time and he took me. Because really, it’s not a big deal. So why wasn’t he telling anyone? That’s the part I don’t understand. Of course I don’t expect him to tell me every little detail, but meeting with another sin’dorei living in the city? I don’t know, it just seemed like something people might want to know.

At first I didn’t know she was, because she had an illusion that made her look human. She must be a mage of some kind to be able to do that. We went over the wall of her house and into the courtyard and just walked into the sitting room like it was nothing. I can assure you I was confused by that point. She’s sitting there expecting us, and sipping tea. Well, she expected him. But then she said she knew who I was, because Nash told her who I was. He didn’t mention that before, either. I didn’t like it, I smelled a trap. She’d caught him breaking in after his necklace, and rather than attack him or turn him in, she decided she wanted him to come pay her social visits. I assumed of course that she meant something else by that, which again isn’t my business. Nash is free to do whatever he wants with whoever he wants, I just would have liked to know, is all. He said it wasn’t like that, but I think it would have been, if she had her way.

She made us tea and gave us cookies to eat. It was bizarre. She was really nosy and wanted to know a lot of things about me. She started out talking about how I was an elf, which is always my favorite subject. Like did I live in the forest, and why did I come here? None of your damned business, lady. And how I could seek out other elves here and talk to them if I ever felt lonely or something. Those elves aren’t my friends, I don’t have anything in common with them. Whatever their reasons for leaving are their own and they don’t need to talk to me about it. I’d rather not have to speak Darnassian, anyway. That part of my life is done, thankfully.

Then she wanted to talk about herself. That was okay, and I have to admit it was kind of interesting just because it was so weird. She ran away from home because her father wanted her to marry some guy, I can’t blame her for that. I’m glad that custom never caught on among kaldorei, though I can see them being all for that. The guy she ran off with was a worgen who was there studying dirt in the Dead Scar. Because he’s a researcher, she said. Okay. That’s pretty weird, though I know I can’t say anything because Rose is a worgen too. I’m just glad she doesn’t go around sniffing dirt clods. I wonder if Rose knows him? I mean it’s dumb to assume that every worgen knows each other — I don’t know every kaldorei. But it is possible. This lady must have spent some time in Ironforge too, because she was asking about my time there. And she has a girlfriend who is a dwarf. Again, unusual but it’s not like I didn’t spend some time with dwarf women while I lived there. Can’t really blame her. She also likes dwarven ale and Gilnean wine. So her taste isn’t that bad.

Nash said he hated going, and I don’t understand why he did. Just tell her he didn’t want to. Sure, there was a risk she’d turn him in, but I doubt she would take it given that it would put her at risk too. But I asked if she’d be able to do an illusion for Nash, like she had. Just enough that he could go without a hat. At first she said she couldn’t because she’d need to maintain eye contact with the subject, but  I asked if the necklace could be enchanted to do that and she said it could. Nash insists he doesn’t need it, and maybe he doesn’t, but it couldn’t hurt anything. The only thing she said was to avoid the mage district, because they’d know it was there. I think it’d be worth it, but she said she’d need to redo the spell every week or so. Which means Nash would still need to visit her, and I’m not sure if he wants to. Maybe he deserves having to sit and listen to her talk every week for not being honest with people. I don’t know why it bothers me, but it does. I’ve never lied to him, or to anyone I cared about.

He also told the lady that Rose is my girlfriend. I don’t know why he’d do that, unless it was just because he didn’t feel like explaining it. He knows well enough that she’s not. Do I wish she was? Yeah, of course, but that’s not going to make it happen. Believe me, I’ve thought about it a lot. If I thought I could change her mind after all this time, I would have tried it. Though maybe that lady has some ideas. It sounds like her two are fine with everything, so maybe she knows something that I don’t.

[Story] Story a Week 31 – Dull

The Harrier frowned at his knife as he went to cut the twine from the package of parts on his work-desk. It had taken some sawing to get through, and the ends of the twine looked frazzled and frayed. Though it wasn’t his best knife, it was still a good one — he didn’t own any that weren’t — and it held an edge well. It must have just been too long since he’d remembered to sharpen it. That, he realized, or someone else had been using it in the meantime. That was possible, Pup was the most likely culprit, though he had a blade (or two) of his own. Or Rose or Josie could have just grabbed it off his desk for quick jobs, they sometimes carried their own, but not always. What reason was there for them to carry a knife around the shop? Going through town was one thing, but not here.

The shop was safe. He frowned at that word, too. Safe was boring, safe was predictable, safe was — like his knife, dull. The Harrier fetched his sharpening stone before putting it away, so he wouldn’t be surprised by it being dull when he next reached for it. Nash had pointed it out before, but he’d dismissed the idea then. He was still juggling shipments at the docks, still smuggling and re-selling. He hadn’t gotten dull. But like a knife, you could never really be sure until tested — and he had to admit that he did feel dull. The shop had meant to only be a cover for their other activities, but it had been profitable enough to take up most of his time. Especially around the winter holidays — which would be coming up soon enough — he had to work on clocks and watches full time to keep up with the demand. The money was decent, not as lucrative as other ventures, but it was steady.

He drew the blade along the wet stone, hearing the satisfying rasp of it against the metal. But what was he supposed to do about it, exactly? He’d been away from the game long enough that he couldn’t be sure of his street contacts. Things like straight up robbery or blackmail were out, they were just too dangerous and too easily tracked back to him. More importantly, any risk he took would also come back to everyone else — to the shop, to Pup, to Rose. And to Nash. Being a sin’dorei in Silvermoon was dangerous enough. To thumb his nose at fate by committing illegal acts was something else. He couldn’t be the one responsible for Nash being discovered, and for the rest of them being arrested for hiding him. Nash always swore he was never caught, but if he found trouble himself, Harrier was certain that he wouldn’t turn the rest of them in.

But didn’t he miss it, just a little? He had to admit that he did. He missed the danger and uncertainty, his heart racing with anticipation in the moments before they moved. He missed his talks on the rooftops with Josie and Nash. He missed sneaking Pup out past his bedtime. It was a risk that had brought him to all of this, his failed attempt to rob Rose. He’d found something much more valuable, but what was he doing with it? Nothing, that’s what.

Nash still went out most nights, sometimes he came back and sometimes he didn’t. The Harrier never asked questions. But tonight, he’d ask to go along. Maybe an opportunity would present itself.

[Story] Story a Week 26

[[ Halfway! I decided to do the actual “rabbit” story! ]]

The tavern had closed up for the night, though Blackbrew still talked at a back table with a few of his friends. Or “associates”, that’s what he always called them. Sorias thought that sounded more professional, and there weren’t any messy feelings involved. The dwarves often stayed up into the early hours of the morning — they might be surprised to learn how well they’d fit in among the elves. Sorias himself took some time to adjust to the different schedule, but as they rose late and stayed up late, it wasn’t too far off. In addition, being far under the mountain, the sun, moon and stars weren’t around to remind him that he really should be sleeping. There was a sameness to the city inside the mountain, the lanterns burned the same no matter the hour.

Sorias gathered the mugs and dishes onto his tray, dumping them into the sink behind the bar. He’d have to get to them before he slept, otherwise the mice would come in and start sniffing around. Blackbrew had a dog; a giant wrinkled drooling thing, but it had no interest at all in chasing the mice, so Sorias had to be on guard against them. He wiped up the spills and crumbs with a wet cloth, straightening the chairs and benches. Handfuls of sawdust from the barrel covered up the spills and drips on the floor. Sorias kept a curious ear toward the conversation as he tidied up, he didn’t exactly mean to eavesdrop, but it was hard not to overhear when the dwarves were being drunk and loud.

From the colorful language he could hear, Sorias guessed they were talking about politics. Dwarves had all sorts of councils and boards, and they were always having elections to elect people to them. Blackbrew often put up flyers for those he supported — usually business associates, Sorias noted — in the tavern. Sometimes they had special nights where all the money raised went to a candidate’s fund. Or, more likely, to his pockets. But Sorias found it all very interesting; back home there was no such system. Someone higher up always decided who would do what. He thought he rather preferred the dwarves’ way, where you could come from nothing and still end up on a council. Sure, it helped to have a good family and money, as with most things, but it wasn’t required.

Sorias squeezed past the table with the last tray of empty mugs. He wanted to take a break and join in the conversation, but he hadn’t been invited, and he felt too self-conscious just sitting down among them. Some of the dwarves he recognized, but not all of them, and who knows how they felt about elves. It had surprised Sorias to learn that some of them disliked elves, often a great deal. Some had never even met one in person, but they’d heard things from other dwarves and made up their minds without any evidence. The things they said seemed outlandish to Sorias, but he could only imagine what the elves in Astranaar would have said about dwarves. So probably it was just something that people did, no matter what race they were. Still, he did his best to be polite and friendly, even when a dwarf called him a tree-licking nutter or something similar.

There was a rabbit sitting on the table. Well, it was the size of a rabbit, and it looked like a rabbit, but it was made entirely of metal. Forgetting his shyness, Sorias drew closer to the thing. It paused, raised its head and turned its ears, with a quiet humming noise coming from within. Without realizing what he was doing, he reached a hand across to touch it.

“Ey, careful with that, lad,” said one of the dwarves. He had a very long brown beard, woven into two thick braids. He scooped up the rabbit and flipped it over. The underside was a tangle of gears and intricate metal parts, as well as a key for winding. The dwarf gave the key another few turns, and set the rabbit back down again. This time it sprang forward in a jaunty hop, and Sorias gasped in amazement.

“But it’s metal,” he said. “How–?”

The dwarf seemed pleased by Sorias’s interest, leaning back in his chair and smiling broadly. “That’s all clockwork, no magic at all. Jus’ a hobby of mine.”

Looking more closely, Sorias could see the hammer marks in the metal that covered the rabbit. Though they had been rubbed and polished, they were still visible beneath the shine. Sorias couldn’t imagine how much work it must have taken to make something like that. He’d seen dwarven smithing before, of course, fine swords and shields and armor, but nothing like this. This was magical.

“Do you think you could teach me?” Sorias asked. Blackbrew’s brow raised, but he didn’t argue.

The braided dwarf let out a braying laugh. “You?”

“Yes, I want to learn. It’s okay, right?” He glanced to Blackbrew again. “In my time off, of course.”

“Bout time you learned a proper trade anyway,” Blackbrew sniffed. “Can’t be a barmaid forever.”

The dwarf with the braided beard shook his head. “All right, kid. Come by my shop tomorrow. It’s ‘round the corner, with the clock on the sign.”

[Story] Story a Week 25 – Harrier’s Journal

[[ This started with the word “rabbit” but it’s not actually about rabbits so I’m not sure if I should really count it or not… ]]

Nash has really taken a liking to that rabbit. I have to admit I’m surprised, it just doesn’t seem like the kind of thing he’d really be interested in. But he’s made it a little house to live in, and wrote his ridiculous name over the door. He even went to the library to get a book about how to care for them — and used a fake name to get the library card. That’s a lot of trouble to go to for a pet rabbit. I suggested he could go to the market around closing time, they throw out the bruised vegetables or the greens and he could take some for the rabbit. No one would mind since it’s just trash anyway, it’s not even stealing. I think it’s made him gentler somehow, having someone else to take care of.

But maybe not. He’s getting restless without any jobs to do. I told him I’d ask around, but I’m a little out of the loop right now to be honest. The shop is keeping me busy enough with making watches and clocks that I don’t really need to find other work. I still keep up with my business at the harbor, but not much else. Nash says the watches are too complicated, but I think he could learn if he tried to. I knew absolutely nothing about how to make those things when I arrived in Ironforge, but it interested me so I learned it. I think that’s the key. He just needs to find that thing that he’s really interested in. He said he didn’t think it was rabbits though. I told him he could do a show with the rabbit, do tricks and stuff like have it jump out of a hat. I think people would pay to see that, but he’s worried that people would stare too much and he’d be discovered. So then I said he could wear a mask, as part of the act, but I don’t think he cared too much for that idea either. Maybe magic isn’t his area of interest either.

I don’t remember how, but we got onto the subject of what I would do if something happened here like in Dalaran, and elves weren’t allowed in Stormwind anymore. Obviously, that’s probably not ever going to, but I doubt the elves in Dalaran expected it either. Humans have definitely got weird ideas about elves and other races before, it’s not so odd to think that they’d do it again, especially if there was some big bad thing that happened to cause them to blame us. I’d want to go back to Ironforge if I could, dwarves aren’t usually as jumpy, but they are allied with the humans so maybe they wouldn’t let us in either. Nash said we ought to go somewhere neutral, like Shattrath (too weird) or the Darkmoon Faire (even more weird). Of all the places I could live, I think the middle of dark woods with mud and animal poop is probably on the bottom of my list. Nash seemed really excited about it though, he was saying I could sell my clockwork animals there. He’s probably right about that — they also have those tonk things that always need repairs — but where would I get supplies in a musty old tent? I wouldn’t even have a proper work area or lamp, either. But I went along with it. Doesn’t hurt to think about it, right? Nash said it’s important to have a plan. I don’t think it’s much of a plan, but he’s not wrong. I said he should do a show where he’s blindfolded and throws knives. I’ve seen some guys swallow knives, but I don’t think he should do that, I am not sure how safe it would be. Not that throwing knives blindfolded is really safe either, but at least he’s not the one getting stabbed if he misses.

And what if cursed Gilneans were thrown out too? I can’t imagine Rose ever leaving the city otherwise. I think she’d stay until they made her leave, or maybe fight them. Still, I went along with it. I said she could do acrobatics on her horse, something like that. She used to ride a lot, back in Gilneas. I’m not sure if Blackjack would be too interested in doing tricks, but it’s all imaginary anyway.

Nash is right, though. I should have a plan, I mean a real plan, if something were to happen. I have money saved up, but that’s not enough.

 

[Story] Story a Week 19

[[ Prompt: Dice

Yeah it’s Sorias again, haha. I like writing him! ]]

Sorias fetched another platter of drinks from the back room, opening the tap from the enormous barrel and shoving the mugs underneath. Inevitably, some spilled this way, but it was much faster, and if the patrons were happy, Blackbrew was happy. Besides, the stuff was stolen anyway, so he didn’t care too much if a little was wasted. He emerged from the back room with the tray of drinks, hurrying around to set one beside each person seated at the table. When he’d accepted the job, of course he hadn’t known exactly what the dwarf had in mind. But barmaid was certainly not what he expected. He wasn’t just serving drinks, though. He was watching the entrance for anyone suspicious, and watching the patrons for any weapons or otherwise out of the ordinary. When he’d first started, Sorias had asked what that meant, and Blackbrew said that he would know when he saw it. He was right about that. The dwarf had given him a dagger of his own, finer than any he’d had in Kalimdor. It was long and straight, with serrations along the sharper edge and a delicate curve to its tip. Sorias liked it a lot, it reminded him of an eagle’s claw. He had free rein to use it whenever he deemed it necessary — which thus far he hadn’t. But he liked knowing it was there all the same.

“Oy, elf!” shouted one of the dwarves. “We’re starvin’ here.” Blackbrew — and the other dwarves — never called him Sorias. He was “Stretch” to Blackbrew, and simply “elf” to the rest. That suited him just fine. He was all too happy to leave his old life behind. Sorias pushed through the swinging doors into the makeshift kitchen, piling a bowl with stale bread and some suspect cheese. Their food wasn’t the greatest, but no one came here for the food. It was an underground alehouse, like several around Ironforge, sort of an all-in-one vice central. Blackbrew held nightly gambling, as well as selling stolen and smuggled goods, occasionally a hired woman would stop by to work the crowd as well. Sorias knew of a few others, Blackbrew paid him to visit them and get information, but it seemed that Blackbrew’s was the longest-running. It likely had something to do with the hefty bribes paid to the guards. Sorias himself was also something of a novelty, he’d not seen any other elves in his time in Ironforge.

Most of the patrons were huddled around the dice table, stacked with piles of gold coins. Sorias had never seen that many coins in one place before coming here. They won and lost them like it was nothing at all. He hadn’t actually figured out the rules, they were complicated and seemed to change at the whim of those playing. Sorias heard the rattle of the dice in the shaker and then a tremendous roar from the dwarves at the table. He guessed something good had happened.

“Why don’t ye join us, Stretch?” Blackbrew asked, with a sly grin. Sorias knew what that grin meant. It meant he wanted to win back all the money he’d just paid Sorias this week.

“I don’t know if it’s a good idea–”

But before he could protest any further, he’d been herded into a chair that was much too small for him and was seated at the table with the others. He still had no idea how to play, but he wasn’t about to admit that in front of everyone and look foolish.

“Yer turn,” said the dwarf behind him, with a curly red beard. He pushed the dice shaker into Sorias’s hand.

Reluctantly, he shook it and poured the dice out onto the table. There was a collective gasp from the dwarves. Was that good? He had no idea. The faces of all five dice had threes on them.

“Bite my foot,” grumbled one of the dwarves, tossing his hat down onto the floor. “I’m out.”

Blackbrew grinned widely and pushed a stack of gold coins over to Sorias’s seat. “Well done, Stretch.” He had no idea what he’d done, or why it was good, but seeing the coins made his eyes widen. They were huge and heavy. He didn’t even know how many there were. It seemed the game was over for the night. The dwarves who remained moved to different tables to talk or do business. Blackbrew slipped the dice into his pocket and winked. “Now get back to work, Stretch.”

[Story] Story a Week – 18

[[ Originally this prompt was “coin” which grew into an idea about the Harrier’s first partner so… that’s what this is. There’s actually no coin in the story though 😛 This takes place in Menethil, when he’s just arrived in the Eastern Kingdoms. ]]

Sorias was cold, dirty, and hungry. It was much colder here than Astranaar had ever been, especially at night. Fog engulfed the docks and the bay like a giant hungry fish, swallowing everything up. He soon learned, as well, that he couldn’t expect a place to sleep. There was no large building that was open to everyone, all the little houses of the village were private — and had owners. They didn’t look too kindly on him trying to sleep in their stables, either. Meals weren’t served as a group, everyone prepared their own food in their own houses, and though Sorias checked the waste barrels in the evenings afterward, there was rarely any waste. He tried to fashion a fishing pole out of a stick and some discarded line, but he couldn’t find a hook. Probably the stick would have snapped if a fish ever tugged on it, anyway. There weren’t even any trees in the village, or he might have tried to sleep in one of them, embarrassing as it was. He told himself he wasn’t a tree elf anymore, but the situation was desperate.

He couldn’t go back, though. It’s not that he believed they were looking for him — he rather doubted that was the case. But now they had an excuse to call him an outsider, to fire on him if he returned to the town. He’d surely been branded an exile and an outlaw, and who knows what stories they’d made up about him. He didn’t care about that, he assured himself. But he did wonder what Risarra thought. He frowned, laying his ears back. Let it think it was her fault, because in a way, it was. A chill, wet wind blew in from the bay and Sorias shivered in his spot below the dock. It was muddy and awful, his clothes would be absolutely caked in it by tomorrow. He would have to find a place to wash them without attracting too much attention, if that was possible. The last thing he wanted was a bunch of dwarves laughing at his naked self.

Far up the road, his keen ears heard a jostling of metal, and he crept out from his resting spot to have a look. Despite the fog and rain, someone was coming into town, pushing a large wagon laden with all sorts of utensils and tools. Was he a traveling merchant? Curiosity got the better of Sorias and he came out for a better look. The dwarf was short and broad, as all dwarves are, and he had an enormous black beard that grew almost to the ground. He had on a floppy leather hat to keep the rain away. As Sorias watched, he began to pull legs out from beneath the cart, and unfolded a little canopy. He wasn’t likely to have many customers on this gloomy evening, Sorias thought. Before he realized it, the dwarf was squinting at him.

“What in blazes are ye?” called the dwarf. Sorias looked anxiously to the little houses, but no one seemed to have stirred — just yet. He didn’t want to attract a whole crowd. He came out from under the docks, trying to brush off the mud, but that just spread it all over his hands.

“I’m an elf,” Sorias replied. He thought it best not to cause trouble, though he had a dozen other answers he could have given. I’m a fog giant, or an overgrown murloc, or a ghost.

The dwarf snorted a laugh. “I kin see that. You fall off a ship or somethin’? Awful far from Kalimdor.”

Sorias’s ear twitched. “Yeah. Something like that.”

The dwarf scratched his beard thoughtfully as he looked Sorias over. He didn’t like the way he was doing that. “I might be able ta use someone like you,” said the dwarf.

For what? Pulling the cart? Sorias frowned. Even he had some dignity left. “What do you mean?”

“You look like you could use a job, am I right?” the dwarf asked, looking him over again. Sorias looked a mess, certainly. “I could use someone to help with my business,” he continued. “Someone who knows Kalimdor.”

Sorias didn’t think he knew Kalimdor very well at all, but he wasn’t about to turn down the offer. Maybe it was a trap of some sort, but he could sort that out once he’d eaten and got warm. He was sure he could overpower a dwarf if need be. “Yes,” Sorias said. “I could do that.”

The dwarf grinned broadly and clapped his hand to Sorias’s. “Good ta hear it. The name’s Blackbrew.”

[Story] Thorns – Harrier’s Journal

I went with Nash to look for eggs for the holiday. It’s really more for kids, I think, as there weren’t a whole lot of adults actually looking for eggs. But Nash never got to go as a kid, not to mention I am not going to pass up any free chocolate. I could have just bought some in a shop, but it’s more fun getting it for free off the ground, right? This holiday is a bit weird when you think about it. I’m not sure who hides all of the eggs, either. The kids kept finding more, so someone must have been placing them, but we never saw anyone doing it. Nash said he wanted to just wait for the guy and take all of them before he hides them. That would work, but it’s not really in the spirit of the whole thing. He also said we should just take some out of the kids’ baskets while they weren’t paying attention. Look, I’ve done some not so great things, but I’m not going to steal chocolate from kids. Besides, if we got caught they’d make us leave and draw a lot of attention, which is the last thing Nash needs. I finally talked him out of it. We didn’t get a whole lot, but we found a few that the kids had missed. There are always some hidden up higher and I got those ones, that the kids didn’t see or couldn’t reach.

There’s a booth where they sell things, baskets, toy rabbits, and things like that. They also sell real rabbits, I guess if you don’t feel like trying to catch your own. I got a black one and I pretended like I found it in the bushes. Nash had been all excited about one before, but then he kind of got cold feet. Like what if it dies? It shouldn’t die, I think rabbits are pretty easy to take care of. You just need to feed it grass and vegetables, maybe hay. We will need a little pen so it doesn’t get loose or anything. And I think it would be a good idea to keep the rabbit away from the furry people during the full moon. A rabbit would just look like a tasty snack to them if they’re in wolf form. Nash wanted to name it Mister McHoppers, which I think is a pretty silly name but hey, it’s his rabbit. He’s never had a pet. I haven’t either, I never really had any desire for one. I can understand where he’s coming from, because if it dies there’s really no one else to blame except yourself. That is a lot of responsibility. A lot of the sentinels have animals, but they’re not really pets so much as partners. But I remember Risarra showing me her saber cub right after it was born. I bet a nightsaber would be a pretty useful pet in the city, because it could guard your house.

Nash said it wasn’t exactly like he imagined it, but it might have been a little unrealistic. Like I think he thought chocolate was going to rain from the sky or something. It’s not quite like that. But he did say it was okay, which is something. I’m just happy I got some chocolate.