[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] Ashenvale – Nimrathis’s Visit

Nimrathis was thankful he had the dumplings in his pouch for the long walk back to his own camp. Bear had offered, and hadn’t seemed very interested in eating them himself, rather he had been roasting a fish over the fire when Nimrathis arrived that night. Maybe Bear was tired of them? Nimrathis couldn’t imagine getting tired of dumplings, perfect little savory bites surrounded by soft dough. But if that sentinel brought them to Bear every night, maybe he was. Nimrathis was certain he’d never get tired of them, no matter how many the sentinels brought him. And Zhyra did, sometimes, but her visits were rare. He was always glad to see her, because it meant she had brought supplies he wouldn’t need to go and get for himself — and of course, dumplings. Some nights he thought it might almost worth going back to the town if it meant he got them every night. It was something to consider, at least. But having so many people around made him nervous, even if they weren’t paying him any mind, their presence was there, like an insistent insect in his ear. It was much easier to keep focused here, away from everyone else. Short visits were fine, and Zhyra and Bear never stayed long anyway.

But Bear had said something that worried Nimrathis. He wanted nails and a stove, to make his shelter better, he said. Nimrathis thought Bear’s shelter was good enough — not as good as a cave, of course, but one couldn’t always find a suitable cave. It had walls and a roof, and didn’t fall over in the wind. Why did he need anything else? Because of the sentinel, Zhyra’s friend, the one who brought dumplings for Bear all the time. He wanted her to stay with him, and he thought she would like a nicer shelter. Nimrathis didn’t much like the idea, for one she would be there when he went to Bear’s camp. He might interrupt something he’d rather not see. And it meant that Bear would be staying in this one place, sending down roots. He would be far less likely to go to new places if he had  a real home and someone waiting there. What Bear had said was true: Nimrathis himself had stayed in the same cave for several years now. It was a good cave. But Nimrathis could leave anytime he wanted to, nothing kept him there. He was free to go where he wished. Now he was worried that the same wouldn’t be true of Bear.

In spite of himself, Nimrathis found himself curious about the sentinel. Of course he’d wondered what it might be like, having someone there all the time, to help him hunt and cook. He was more curious about the other things, but Bear didn’t talk about that despite Nimrathis’s asking. He was quite certain Zhyra wouldn’t ever want to do any of those things, at least not with him. Hearing about it was the only way Nimrathis would know what it was like. He supposed he could just ask her, but he wasn’t certain what her answer would be — or if he’d like it either way. Yes, part of him wanted company, but only sometimes. He valued his solitude and his meditations just as well, he doubted she’d understand that. He crested the hill leading to his camp, just as the morning sun began to filter through the trees. It would be hot today, and Nimrathis was eager to retreat to the coolness of his cave. And thankfully he had a few dumplings left, should he get hungry.

[Story] Ashenvale – Risarra’s Journal

I wrote my bear report and submitted it to Avanniel. I know she knows I wasn’t just observing bears, along with probably everyone else, but they didn’t say anything where I could hear it at least. I didn’t see very much of them, either. Maybe they didn’t like my smell and decided to stay away. I did see them at the edge of the camp at dusk when I was getting ready to leave. They ate some fish, which seem big and healthy, which means the river is doing well. I just wrote about their behavior and things like that, the female bear (Espen) doesn’t have any cubs, but she’s also a different type of bear I think. Bear said she’s from Northrend, and her fur is lighter in color, so it makes sense she may not want to have cubs with the other bears. Or maybe she’s just not sure about them yet, I can definitely relate there. I don’t know if he was talking about us or not, I can never really be sure. He did say he wanted to help raise a child if he had any. I’m not opposed to it one day, but I’m far too young to be thinking about that right now.

He had tidied up the camp when I arrived, not that it’s usually messy or anything but I could tell he’d straightened things up. Also his hair was long and unbraided, and had those little waves you get if you leave it braided for a long time. It looked nice. It made me feel embarrassed of mine, I used to have it long but it got to be such a pain having to comb and braid it all the time that I just cut it short. I can still tie it back a little, and it’s way easier now, but I admit it isn’t very pretty. If I was a priestess I would have time to sit and comb my hair all the time, but I’m not.

I brought the spider, and the berry muffins, and he also had some fish he’d caught before. He said he forgot he had them, how do you forget that? I think it would smell pretty bad to leave fish around, though I guess the bears would find them pretty quickly. I also am not sure where he got ice in the summer. We have a small shed for it, but by this time it’s usually pretty much gone. I know in the city they have ice that’s made by mages, but of course we don’t have any of those here, and I think most of the sentinels wouldn’t use it anyway. They might be right, and it has some magical residue on it, but when it’s really hot I think I’d take the chance.

We just talked about normal things while we cooked the food. Mostly about druids and places he’s been, things like that. I’ve never really been anywhere; to the edge of the forest and to Darnassus, but that’s all. I want to, someday, but Northrend sounded pretty awful. I don’t think I want to go there. He told me about his mother and how she really wanted him to be a druid. She died when Auberdine was destroyed, and he feels like she’d still be disappointed in him. I wanted to say that wasn’t true, but how would I know? I told him there are more important things, like being a good person and helping others. If she’s not proud of that, then I don’t know what else to say.

We watched the sun come up over the hill. It was so late I was practically falling asleep right there. I didn’t want to be rude, but I don’t know how he can do that, I have to be up right at dusk for my patrol every night. It was also awkward because I didn’t know if I was supposed to sleep out on the grass or what. There are some trees in the camp, but not many, and it would be difficult to sleep in the bright sun. He said I could use his shelter, which was okay, but then he said he could stay there too if I wanted. Did I? I said I did, maybe I just wanted to see what would happen. I’m not sure whose idea it was to kiss, maybe both. I haven’t kissed anyone before and I wanted to know what it was like. Now I know, it’s pretty good. Nothing else happened besides that though, but it was nice having him there, if a little strange. I was so tired that I fell asleep right away so I’m not sure what he thought about it.

 

[Story] Ashenvale – On Patrol

Risarra had trouble keeping focused on her patrol. The chance of any danger was slight; no orcs or demons had been spotted in the forest for weeks, and the midsummer bonfires burned brightly, lifting everyone’s spirits. The spicy incense still hung in the air, even this far from the town. But none of those were reasons to lower her guard, Risarra was well aware. She could hear Avanniel’s voice scolding in her head: Danger waits for you to look the other way. When you least expect is when it is most likely to strike.

She crossed the river at the bridge, pausing to look down into the clear water. Fish rested there in the shadowed parts of the bank, and she considered stopping to catch some. It would be rude to show up without anything to eat, worse than that, she’d be hungry all night unless Bear had some fish. What she’d agreed to was reckless and foolish, Risarra was well aware of that. And no doubt she’d hear about it tomorrow, Zhyra was sure to notice that she was missing, as well as Avanniel. She planned to make up an excuse, though she wasn’t sure exactly what yet, but she had a feeling they’d guess what she really had planned.

More than likely nothing would happen at all, just like the other hundreds of times she’d gone to Bear’s camp. He would eat, and she’d talk and that would be all. If he had any other intentions, surely he would have made them clear by now. Although he did come to town, finally, and maybe that was the reason she’d finally agreed to stay with him. She knew the real reason was because he wanted the delicious dumplings that they made in town, but it had still taken months of coaxing, and even then he’d stayed outside the edge of town, across the bridge. He brought a basket full of berries, which Risarra had given to the cooks. They gave her muffins baked with the berries inside, and she planned to bring those along as well. And he brought sticks. She wasn’t sure what to make of those, it was the oddest gift she’d received. He said the bear had wanted him to bring them to her, and she wasn’t about to argue with a bear. She stowed them in the little chest underneath her bunk, just in case.

She did consider what might happen otherwise, though. He might try to kiss her. She decided that would probably be all right, as long as the bears weren’t watching. Anything more than that, she wasn’t certain about. She knew what was supposed to happen, more or less — she’d seen stags and sabers, and of course she’d heard the talk from the other sentinels. But knowing and doing were two entirely different things, and she didn’t want to try it simply for its own sake. She’d seen how some of the sentinels acted around the druids, the way they tried to get their attention, always tried to talk to them and stand near them. It shouldn’t be like that, like some strange competition. Risarra reminded herself that Bear might not be interested in that at all, so she may be worrying about something that wouldn’t happen. It was a bad habit she had, one she endeavored to break. Just wait, she told herself, and see what happens, and then decide. She did want to find something to eat though. Fish were good, but ordinary. A nice roasted spider would do well. She remembered where she’d seen a nest earlier in the season, with luck they would be large enough to eat now.

[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.