[Story] Thorns – Hangover

Harrier squinted at the array of tiny clock parts on his workbench. He could hardly focus on any of them, let alone remember how they were supposed to go together, with his head throbbing. He’d definitely overdone it last night, finishing his own bottle of Eversong wine, and most of Nash’s bottle of red as well. Normally he wasn’t so irresponsible, especially during the shop’s busy seasons.

Marjolaine stepped in from the front of the store, and gave him a suspicious look. “Are you going to have those orders finished today? Mister White’s already been in asking for his.” She wasn’t upset about anything at all. In fact, she probably hadn’t even thought about it today.

“Yeah,” he replied, picking up a gear and setting it inside the case in front of him. “Just — not feeling great.”

Thankfully, she didn’t say anything to that, only shaking her head and returning to the front of the store, where no doubt an impatient Mister White waited. She’d probably scold him later about drinking too much, but then again she might not. She and Josie were busy making plans for the farm, drawing out the buildings and where the crops would be planted, the places where the fences needed repairs, and what color curtains to put in the windows. They were excited, he could see it in their expressions and hear it in their voices. She didn’t care at all, and probably hadn’t ever. It had just taken him this long to finally see it, because he hadn’t wanted to.

So now what? Harrier had thought Nash would be excited about the farm, a place he could walk around freely and let his rabbit roam. But when they’d talked about it, he’d suddenly changed his mind, saying he wanted to stay in the city. It was impossible to tell with Nash if what he said was what he genuinely wanted, or just what he thought you wanted to hear. Harrier suspected that his decision to stay was the latter, but he’d been so strangely solemn about it. If they’d be staying here alone, wouldn’t he be at least a little happy about it? He had been there that night, at least as much as Harrier could remember, but he’d disappeared again this morning. Marjolaine simply said he’d gone “out”, which Harrier knew meant that he was probably upset. Had he said something stupid? It was certainly possible, most of the night was a blur. It wasn’t really fair to make Nash listen to his complaining, especially when it was about a subject he knew was sensitive.

But maybe once it was a reality, once it was just the two of them, and they could repaint and rearrange things as they wanted, he’d warm to the idea. Or maybe he’d decide to go to the farm after all. He’d asked if they would ever visit, but he couldn’t see any reason to. It would just reopen the scars all over again, and they were far too fresh and painful. Later that evening, when Nash returned from wherever he’d gone, maybe he’d be willing to talk.

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[Story] Thorns – The Farm

Rose went and bought a farm.  I can’t be too surprised, because she said she would, and once she sets her mind to something it’s pretty certain that it’s going to happen. But I thought it would take a while, or they’d give up looking eventually or something. It’s outside of the city, not too far from Northshire but far enough back in the trees to have some privacy. She insisted that I come to look at it after the shop closed for the day. I mean, it’s a farm. It’s muddy and it smells like shit. It has a barn already, as well as a house. Both will need a fair amount of work, Rose said that can wait until after the goblin holiday — which is good because that’s our second busiest time of year. A lot of people like to give clocks and watches for gifts for that. I thought there was no way she’d be able to do it herself, but then I remembered she did grow up on a farm, so she’ll feel right at home. Rose said she’ll hire some people to help though so it’ll get done quickly, spring is really rainy so she doesn’t want the buildings open for too long. She and Josie are already talking about what kind of animals they want to get, and what colors they’ll paint the rooms in the houses. It feels like everything’s happening without me, and I suppose it is.

When she was showing me the house, she showed me which room would be mine, if I wanted it. What I think doesn’t matter, it’s happening regardless. I don’t like the idea of leaving the shop empty every night, and I don’t want to have to walk into the city every day, nor do I want Nash having to pass through the gates all the time. Those guards are a little bit more on top of things, they check people coming in more closely than the ones who are already inside. I could stay here with him, I’d still have my work space plus a lot more. I mean, assuming he’d want to, but I think he would. I need to talk it over with him, and see what he thinks. Maybe he has dreams of hanging out in fields with sheep too, I don’t know. They’ll still come to work in the shop during the day — at least Rose will. Josie might stay behind at the farm, it seems she’d feel right at home there, and we don’t really need four people working the shop. Pup will probably go, too. He’ll come to the city for school but go home with them in the evenings, and I’ll barely see him. I know this is the push I probably need to finally let things go, but I still can’t make the jump. Not yet. The more time passes, the more foolish it is, I know that, but I can’t help imagining how things might go.

Rose will probably say I’m just being stubborn for its own sake, and why don’t I just go with them? A farm isn’t the forest, but it’s close enough that I’d rather stay here. I like the city. I like having people around and buildings and the feeling that I’m supposed to be here. I don’t think I’d have any of that on a farm. Maybe it’ll be a good thing, but that’s the thing about change — you never know how it’ll turn out ahead of time.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Teloth

Teloth poured the grain into the feeding troughs, laying fresh greens on the top for each hawkstrider. The barn was soon filled with the clatter of their beaks and contended chirps as they ate their morning meal. After they ate, he’d shovel out the dirty straw and replace it with fresh, then inspect the tack to make sure nothing was broken. The hawkstriders would be ready for their morning patrol. Teloth noticed that not everyone liked to ride, and he felt a little sorry for the ones who were left behind, but he supposed they didn’t mind getting some extra sleep. He picked up the rake and went to start cleaning out the aisle. The back door of the stable was open, and faced out to where the rangers practiced their aim at targets. It was still early enough that the draenei ranger was out there, letting loose a few arrows before going to bed. He had the night patrol, and slept during most of the day, so Teloth didn’t see him often. But last night Sunashe had suggested that he watch the draenei, to learn from his form. In truth, he was pretty intimidating — he stood far taller than any of the elves, and he didn’t speak much. He always looked as if he was about to crush someone in his fists, and his arms were muscular from years of practice with a bow. Teloth watched as he drew the bow back with what appeared to be no effort at all, loosing it with a fluid motion into the center of the target.

Teloth thought it would be a long time before he was that good. He’d picked up one of the spare bows in the storage room, and though its string was too loose, he could hardly pull it back. He hadn’t even tried to fire an arrow, he couldn’t get it to sit on the string at the same time he was holding it. Some of the rangers used crossbows, he’d seen them being tightened and cleaned. But Teloth wanted to at least try to learn a proper bow, so he could be a proper ranger. It’s not that he disliked caring for the hawkstriders, it was simple enough, but being a ranger sounded so much more interesting. He thought he could at least patrol during the middle of the day, when the birds didn’t need much caring. Last night, he’d approached Sunashe, who he knew was the one who did most of the training. No, he hadn’t exactly asked the captain for permission first, but surely it would be fine if Sunashe gave him a few tips? He couldn’t very well ask to go on patrol if he didn’t know anything at all. He was all right with his short blades; he’d used them to fend off trolls and undead in the past, but that was all. Living in the city, he didn’t have much opportunity to use them.

He wondered how Tystus was doing at his school. The ball had been far grander than he’d imagined, with food as good as any restaurant in Silvermoon, and the desserts were amazing as well. Teloth had to admit that maybe his little brother had been on to something. Teloth had lingered around the food and drinks, but in time he hoped he’d be able to dance. Sunashe told him that a few of the women rangers were single, but he wasn’t entirely sure. At the very least, he could start by making friends with some of them.

[Story] Thorns – Harrier’s Journal

Rose has been taking Josie out to the countryside to look at places for sale. I wish she wouldn’t do that during the busy season, because I hate having to work the front. I’m not good at being friendly and smiling at everyone when I’m trying to get things done. Pup tries his best, but I think customers would rather have an adult behind the counter. I’m glad the shop is doing well, but it’s hard to keep up with orders if I’m always having to answer questions. I set my stuff on the counter though so people can watch me if they want, I guess they like that. I’m also not happy about the idea of moving at all. Rose didn’t even talk to me about it, she just went out and started looking. No, she doesn’t need my permission, but it would have been nice, you know? I live here too, it affects me too.

She said she wants a bigger place with more rooms. Okay, that makes sense, I guess. Pup does definitely need his own space, and Nash might too. I can never tell what he’s thinking. There would be room for growing vegetables, and Rose and Josie are already talking about getting some animals or something. I don’t want to live on a farm, thanks.  I guess she did already talk to Nash though, and he’s mostly sold on the idea. I think because he thinks he can get a bunch more rabbits and he won’t have to hide under a hat all the time. Which I can understand, I guess. I’m just worried about him having to go through the guards twice a day. He already passes them in the city, but I feel like they pay more attention at the gates. I couldn’t ask him to put himself at risk like that, even if he is getting the illusion from the other elf, it seems really dangerous. And we’d have to ride to and from the city every day. I like being able to just go up to my room and sleep after working.

I mean, I could just stay here. Maybe that was Rose’s plan all along. I should be the one there with her making these decisions, not Josie. Maybe it’s her way of showing that what I think doesn’t matter as much, or maybe it never did and I’m just an idiot. That’s probably the case. But I still don’t know what I’m going to do. I guess it depends on if they find a place, and what it’s like. And it depends if Nash wants to go or not. I still think it’d be a pain to have to ride there and back all the time, I don’t have a horse either, and neither does Nash. Though I guess if we’re getting a whole farm, we can get some. I don’t want a horse. Machines are a lot more reliable, and they don’t bite. Or poop.

And if that’s not enough, Risarra wrote to me too. She’s got a boyfriend named “Bear”, which I can only imagine means he’s huge and hairy. I know I shouldn’t be jealous, if I wanted there to be anything, it could have happened when I went to visit. But I’ll never belong there, just as she’d never belong here. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t still hurt a little. And if he hurts her I’m going to poison him or something, I know better than to try to fight someone called “Bear”.

[Story] Thorns – The Shipment

Despite his attempts to distance himself from his kaldorei past, some nights Harrier still found it impossible to sleep. Most times that happened, he would find some work to do. The winter holidays were quickly approaching, the shop’s busiest time of the year, and he’d have to hurry to make enough to meet demand. He could get to that a bit later, though. Tonight he was expecting a shipment at the docks, the sort he didn’t want to unload in the middle of the busy morning. While Nash and the rest of the house still slept, Harrier put on his boots and cloak and went out into the chilly night.

He made his way across the roofs, not only because it was faster, but because he missed it. Maybe Nash was right, he had been too safe and boring lately. He preferred to think of it as not taking any unnecessary risks, but greater risk brought greater rewards. Hadn’t that been one of the first things he learned in Ironforge? The ships and their crews slumbered in the docks, only a few street lamps burned to light the way. Harrier made his way to a small ship on the end, its bow decorated with a leaping wolf. From its bared jaws hung a lamp, lit with a tiny green flame. Harrier rapped at the captain’s window, and a short time later he appeared on the deck. He was a gnome, Harrier hadn’t expected that. But he’d known plenty in Ironforge, and they were incredibly quick and agile, and stronger than you might think. They also had a certain knack for taking charge.

Harrier took some coins from his pocket. They would no doubt be the last, this was just to get things moving. “I heard you had a shipment for me,” he said, his breath steaming into clouds in the cold air. The gnome inspected the coins before dropping them into his pocket. Nodding, he motioned Harrier up onto the deck. There, the captain opened one of the cargo hatches and lit another lamp.

“First pick, just like you asked for,” said the gnome. “There you’ve got some orc weapons, axes and stuff,” he said, gesturing to a very long box along the edge of the cargo hold. “ Harrier wasn’t really interested in weapons — at least, weapons that large. They would be difficult to sell and would attract a lot of attention in the shop. The gnome also had a load of expensive fabric — not illegal, but he could easily resell it for a huge markup. There was a crate of books, they looked magical so Harrier opted to take those. Mages — and others — would pay through the nose for books, especially if they were of questionable legality. He was less interested in the goblin magazines, though he supposed he could sell them to kids who wandered in with their parents.

“Got anything from Silvermoon?” Harrier asked. The person who’d given him the gnome’s name had said he often did. He wasn’t exactly sure how a gnome managed that, which made it all the more impressive.

“Sure do,” said the gnome, hopping onto another stack of crates. “You got some mana crystals here,” he pointed. “Some Eversong wine and–” he paused and pried open the lid of a very small crate that was stuffed with straw. Harrier looked inside.

“It’s an egg,” said Harrier. What would he want with an egg? Unless it was made of gold or something.

“Not just an egg, it’s a phoenix egg.”

The elf had never had a pet, didn’t really have any desire for one, but he thought Nash might like it. He had no clue how to care for it though, let alone hatch it. “How do you–”

The gnome held up a finger and rummaged around in the straw, pulling out a sheaf of papers. They were instructions. Very detailed instructions. “Now, if you mess it up, I’m not responsible.”

“Understood,” Harrier said.

He gave the gnome the rest of his gold, while the captain called his crew to come haul the boxes onto the dock.

 

[Story] Brewfest

Brewfest is my favorite time of year. It always makes me feel a little homesick for Ironforge, standing out in the snow surrounded by dwarves, eating cheese and sausage and drinking good ale for once. They sometimes get dwarven ale in Stormwind, but it’s just not the same. You need all the atmosphere to really make it taste right. In the past few years, it’s expanded to have all kinds of other ales too — ogre (yuck), troll (weird), and Pandaren (pretty good actually). It’s fun to try the different ones, they’re definitely different and unusual, but I always go back to the dwarven ones. I will say the Pandaren ale is interesting though, I think it’s made with a different kind of grain, and it’s quite strong. They have food stands too, the cheese and sausage are my favorite but there’s bread too. It’s good to have something to eat to help balance all that ale.

We all went, I think Pup is old enough to go with Nash and I, but Rose said differently. Maybe next year. I think it’s so they can keep an eye on him, as if she thinks I won’t? I’m not that irresponsible. I hope she at least lets him try some, he’s definitely old enough. Maybe cursed Gilneans react differently? Though I’ve seen her drink wine plenty of times with no problem, maybe it’s something you have to learn to control though. Either way, he was really excited about the ram racing when I told him about it. I hope Rose lets him ride one, watching is fun but actually racing is the whole point of it. Even when you end up landing on your behind in the snow. I thought Nash would be happy now that he’s got his dumb necklace back, but he seemed really quiet. I know part of it is that he’s worried someone’s going to notice that he’s not a human. It’s true that dwarves (and gnomes) are short and could see his eyes easier, but I guarantee they’re not looking at people’s eyes during Brewfest. Coin purses, maybe. But most everyone is just focused on trying the ales and watching rams and having a good time. There could be something else, there usually is, but it’s not as if he’s going to tell me about it.

I tried asking about how his visits were going. I don’t think he likes them, I figured he’d at least like the company of another elf. I wouldn’t want to visit some other elf just because they’re an elf, but he seems to want that connection to his past. And she seems nice enough. She’s interesting to talk to, that’s for sure. I wish I knew how she was able to keep everyone happy like that, it would sure make things easier. I’m pretty sure Nash wouldn’t be okay with everyone being all together like that, and I know for a fact that Rose wouldn’t. Even besides that, she must have some interesting stories about hiding in Stormwind too. Maybe she even has some tips for Nash — although he can’t do illusions. Which is why he hopefully keeps going for his visits, even though he says he hates tea. What has he got against tea? It’s all right.

[Story] Berwick’s Letter

Dear Hethurin,

Greetings from Pandaria! I know it’s been a long time since we have been in touch. Xyliah and I have been here looking for treasure. There are hardly any outsiders here anymore, I don’t think we’ve seen anyone at all once we left the shrine. Still plenty of bears, of course, but they just go about their lives as usual. I like that because it means there’s no one else here looking for stuff. We have enough now that I think we should return to Silvermoon and sell it, most of it looks pretty good but there’s a few statues that I think will bring a lot of gold. There are also some old books, I can’t read pandaren so I don’t know what they are about, but perhaps a collector might be interested in them. We will have to bring back some spices as well, so Tik can make noodles for everyone. They never seem to taste quite the same when we cook them though, do they? I suspect the bears have some secret ingredient they aren’t telling us about.

Hopefully we can find a bear here who can make a portal. If not we might need you to come, if you aren’t too busy of course. I guess the fall classes must have started up, so you probably have a lot going on there. I also have one other request, if it’s not too much trouble. Once we sell our current stock, I’d like to see if there are still any properties available in the Ghostlands. It’s fine if we need to fix it up — well, I’ll probably hire your builders if it’s too complicated, but I can do some basic things. Like painting. I thought Xyliah would want to be closer to the rangers, because that’s where her sister is, but she said it would be okay being near the school as well. She’s a bit worried about spiders getting in, so I think she wants to be able to have it warded. It doesn’t have to be too big, just the ordinary rooms and maybe a few extra. We’ll need storage for things we’ve found that haven’t sold yet. We also had the idea to give each room its own theme, like we could have a troll room and put hammocks in, along with a lot of troll pottery and statues and masks and things. She even said her father could make chairs that look like they’re made of bones. Wouldn’t that be neat? I bet no one else has troll chairs. At least not any elves. I hope we can have a Pandaria room, too. They’re some of my favorite statues. Xyliah wants our sitting room to have fossils, that’ll be fun too, especially if I can find a really big skull.

If there aren’t any houses that need fixing up, just a plot would be okay, but we’d have to hire the builders to help design it. I’m really happy that she’s finally coming around to the idea. It feels a lot more permanent if we have our own place, even if we’re not there all the time, it’s still a place to return to that will be really ours. Everywhere else we lived has always belonged to someone else. I know she’ll never want to really settle down, I wouldn’t either, but it’s good to have something that’s ours. And you know, if we ever do need any extra rooms for anything we’d be prepared.

Do you need any decorations for the school, or antique books or anything like that? We even found some old pandaren weapons, but I don’t know if they could still be used or not. They’re probably better suited to decoration. Oh, and a big gong thing. It’s really loud. We might keep that.

Your friend,
Berwick