Rulkan

Jun. 4th, 2016 02:14 pm
jinxandmore: (Jinx Bauble Blinkert)
Allyjames Honeystone, new-minted commander of the Alliance outpost in Shadowmoon Valley, regarded the handsome features of the orc woman before her.

Despite the fierceness of her countenance that was inherent to all her people, there was something careworn, and even trustworthy about her...and she had certainly proven her good intentions. But still...

"Ma'am...Rulkan...are ye sure? I've seen yer settlement above this cave. Yer people, or what remain o'them, they must be in need of yer guidance far more than I am in need of yer skills."

The orc smiled patiently. "Commander, every one of the true Shadowmoon clan that reside upon the hill are more than able to lead, and to follow their own conscience and will. That is why they left with me when Ner'zhul betrayed our people, and betrayed our ancestors for power."

Allyjames nodded soberly. "But still, ma'am--yer leadership is needed."

"No. It is not. And I have no need to lead. Unlike my former mate, I do not thirst for power above knowledge and true strength." The orc got down on one knee, not in deference, but better to see eye to eye with the young dwarf. "Commander, if I may...my people are gifted with the ability to discern the stars. This very land allows us a greater communication with the night skies; even the Prophet Velen, my dear friend and your comrade, has seen to the construction of an observatory to the south." Rulkan gestured through the twilight mists to a barely-visible tower in the distance.

"Aye, in Embaari Village, I've been there. The scholars there are quite busy with their star charts."

"Yes," Rulkan continued. "The Draenei people have their own methods, but they too feel the celestial ebb and flow. But Commander...what if I told you, that my meeting you was also written in the stars?"

Allyjames blinked. "I...well. I confess I wouldn't know what to think, ma'am. My people, that is, we dwarves, not all of th'Alliance--we aren't known for looking upwards. We are a folk of miners and diggers, and tradition holds that the Titans built our forefathers of earth and clay. As for me, I follow the path of the Light, which I'm sure ye've heard Velen speak of, altho' we dinnae ken much about the Naaru until the Draenei came to our world and brought O'ros with 'em...but that be a long tale in itself." The dwarf rubbed her temples. Trying to understand the idea of different timelines and temporal travel was hard enough to experience, and impossible for her to explain. She made a mental note to speak to one of the archmages about how best to frame the discussion with locals. "An' I have another concern."

"Speak, then." Rulkan smiled encouragingly.

"Ye...ye'd be the only orc workin' in the garrison. While I wouldna brook any insubordination from my ranks, well...there be some soldiers who remember all too well how th'orcs from my timeline" --she sighed, feeling the beginning of a headache-- "invaded my world and laid waste to a great many things, and Garrosh Hellscream is still on the loose here and is behind all th'badness, and, and, well, I cannae guarantee yer safety, ma'am."

"Do you doubt my skills in battle, Commander?" the orc had a twinkle in her eye as she spoke.

"Nae, not atall-atall. But infightin' distracts us from our mission, to stop th'Iron Horde. I cannae be dealing with nightly kerfuffles in my barracks."

Rulkan nodded. "I understand. Please understand, Commander, I wouldn't seek nightly quarter within your walls. I have my own rylak mount, and can easily fly back here at the end of each day to share fires with the rest of my exiled clan."

"Oh!" Allyjames breathed a sigh of relief. "Well, then, that changes things. Aye. Yes, even! Rulkan, I'd be honored t'have you workin' with me." The dwarf clapped the orc on the shoulder. "Now rise up, yer not so much tallern' me that I need worry 'bout gettin' a stiff neck."

Rulkan chuckled. "Very well, Commander. I will gather some tools from my hut and meet you back at your fortress. You chose an auspicious site, near where the moon rock fell. I am eager to help you and your people establish yourselves here. Welcome, Allyjames of the Alliance."

Allyjames grinned. "Aye, an' welcome to ye, Rulkan of the True Shadowmoon."

http://wow.gamepedia.com/Rulkan
jinxandmore: (Jinx Bauble Blinkert)
The dwarven woman cut an unusual figure as she made her way through the Mystic Ward of Ironforge. Not for her stature, but for her dress; where the rest of the citizenry and students going about their business wore soft fabric robes of varying colors and degrees of ornamentation, and a few followers of the SIlver Hand in gleaming plate, she was clad entirely in supple dark leather, with her flaxen hair was pulled back carelessly in two bunches. Only an outsider would have noticed the difference, however. As she passed small knots of people, both dwarf and gnome, conversing intently about matters of the arcane and the holy, none raised an eyebrow, even at the large basket she carried on one arm...or the two bright daggers at her waist.

She turned down a narrow, little-used hallway, and knocked at the fourth door down. It was answered by a friendly looking woman, with coffee-brown skin unusual to the mountain dwarves, and her dark hair arranged in neatly coiled braids atop her head.

"Cluny Gempebble! My it's been a worg's age since I've seen you last. Come in, come in...I was expecting Twigget with those herbs. Slow day in the trenches? Or are you taking up your mum's work with the greenery?"

"Och, Eddi, not on yer life. I'm not made for flower-pickin. Ma had to bar me from her hot-house when I was a wee lass, said my black thumb went to all ten fingers. Twigget's got a big bakery order and asked me to drop these off, and as for work...well...I'm under review, as they call it."

Edelgarde raised an eyebrow. "Review? That doesn't sound well. Is it classified? Sit down, I'll make us a nice cuppa."

"Thankee..." Calluna set the basket on the floor and perched on one of the two stuffed red chairs near the hearth. While Edelgarde busied herself fetching the tea service, she looked around the snug cell that the dwarven priestess called home. A cot with a brightly woven coverlet anchored one far corner, and in the other was a complicated roll-top desk, its myriad pigeonholes stuffed with rolls of parchment, vellums, and small crystal bottles of ink whose colors seemed to shimmer and swim. An earthenware jug held an assortment of quills and reed pens.

"You've fixed this place up right homey, Eddi. Tired of the wandering life?"

"Me? No." Edelgarde shook out a tea towel and laid it on a tray. "But since I started getting more orders for manuscripts and other things, I needed a base of operations, as I think they call it in your line of work. Now then, while the kettle boils, tell me what happened. You never could keep a secret from me."

Calluna grinned ruefully. "Aye, that I never. Ye'd make one hell of an interrogator, Eddi. Welp..." she shifted in her seat, "it's like this. There's a new batch of upstarts fresh from training. You know how it is to be young an' full of pepper. One of em, though, she's got a lip on her to match and she uses it mainly to kiss arse..."

"Cluny!"

"Och, language?"

Edelgarde made a face. "Not growing up with the number of siblings I did. But you're being uncharitable."

"Tis true though! This chippie, Dulcie Cruthers, that's her name, a human gal barely grown into her bosoms, is enough to make a saint swear, and believe me when I say I ain't the only one fed up wi' it. She's just latched onto me for to be wearin' my last nerve. I'll give ye a fr'instance. She was in a squad I led up into the Kun-lai hills to run recon on this gang of Hozen that were makin' raids on Westwind Rest. You know the place?"

"That base we helped establish with the locals? I thought the problem there was Yaungol marauders."

"Aye, so did we, but these blasted monkeyfolk are creeping in and making mischief. Stealin' bits and pieces, cutting loose the yaks the locals use. It's not for them having lack of their own provisions, so we went to scout em out, see if maybe the Horde was harrying them into the business. You know that Garrosh will use whoever he can get to get under our skin, and he'd use Hozen before sending in his own lackeys."

"Mmph. You don't have to tell me about Garrosh Hellscream. But better the devil you know, as they say."

"Right. Well. I took three scouts, including Dulcie. Not my first choice, but I thought if I could show her how it's done...anyway, we take our points, and hunker down, waiting to see if any Horde contacts came through."

"And were there?" Edelgarde set two thick mugs on the tray, and began to spoon tea leaves into a small red teapot. "Hope you like green tea, I picked up some up in the Jade Forest, now I'm hooked."

"Ta, that's lovely. Anyway. We'd only been there an hour or so, when a bird flies overhead. Not a native one. No, it were one of them messenger swallows they use between Thunder Bluff and Orgrimmar, gliding low with a scroll on it's leg. Great, I think, we can bug out of here and report back in time fer dinner. We'll get the Cenarions to send us a druid to track the flight path, figure out where the birds are coming from, get a marksman set up in a remote waypoint to intercept the communication or sommat. Nice an' clean. But then, gods all damn it..."

"Cluny."

"Och, Eddi, it's what I'm up against. Next thing I know the damn bird is droppin' dead from the sky in the middle of a the damn Hozen settlement with a shuriken buried in it. And you know they're all marked with the SI:7 sigil!"

"Oh no. That Dulcie?"

"Only her. Next thing you know, the whole encampment of em are hootin and whoopin' and racin about like loons. Them Hozen are plenty dumb, but not THAT dumb. We were lucky to all get out of there without being seen, the way they were carrying on."

"Oh, Cluny, I'm sorry. Were you able to report her? Surely there's something..."

"It ain't even that. It ain't even that she blew the mission. She's green, all greenies foul up. It's that as soon as we got back, SHE wrote to the home office saying that I had, how'd she put it, "lost my edge" and that we should have just charged in there and taken out the whole camp and blar blar blar. Not to Matthias Shaw, mind you, her lips don't kiss arse that high up, but to someone higher up than me all the same, and THEY took it to Shaw. I dunno who. Don't think it was Reznik, he's too cagey. So now I gotta haul my bum down to Stormwind and sit in audience of all the muckety-mucks and explain the reason I am wasting time is because some blasted brat barely out of pissin' down her legs thought she was doin' us a favor by baggin' us a squab to roast!" she punctuated her frustration by pounding the arns of the chair.

"So you're out of rotation until then? Here, cream and sugar?" Eddi passed her a mug.

"just sugar." Calluna plunked two cubes into the steaming tea and took a sip without stirring. "Och, that's nice."

"Good for what ails you, as Nana Butterberry used to say."

"And Nana Gempebble too. All Nanas must. And aye, I'm stuck here in Ironforge drivin Twigget to distraction whilst the papers get shuffled about down south and they call for me to 'defend my action'. It ain't me what should be defendin' nothin! She's the one who bolloxed up the play!"

"So tell them that. You've got a good case to have that girl disciplined herself. You have witnesses to her recklessness, right?"

"Aye, the other two, Dominic and Shadebough, they were just as cheesed as I was. They're both as green as she is, though, so I dunno what weight their words will carry. And it tisn't just this whole bureaucratic rigamarole. Eddi, I can do good work out there. I always have! It makes me itch t'sit around the house all day when I should be somewhere gathering intel. Right now I'm the best that the Hidden Circle has working with SI:7. I can't even look Hulfdan in the eye 'til this is over."

Edelgarde sighed and put her mug aside. "Cluny...I've known you since you we were a young girl, and me even younger. Remeber when we first met? I caught you sneaking a cheese out of the buttery, and you were so smooth about it that I didn't even register that you were stealing until ten minutes after you left."

Calluna chuckled ruefully. "Aye, I always had deft hands. Wasn't the first cheese, and wasn't the last. I was nicking it for my friend Gubbles back home, you know how gnomes are about anything dairy."

"I'll take that as a confession," Edelgarde said with a laugh. "I do miss Gubbles."

"She's still in Tanaris, her and Bipney Gobsmack on that cocked-up speedbarge they built after the flood. Bar fights and ice cream all day and having the time of her life."

"Good on her. But back to what I was saying. You are very good at your job. You always have been. Light knows you're one of the few agents I know of that isn't scarred from head to toe. You're cautious and you always get the job done. That's why I don't understand why you're so worried. They'll see you were in the right and put you back in the field."

"But the waiting, Eddi. The waiting! On days when Twigget goes out on whatever the Council bids her, I just about fly to pieces staring at the four walls."

"Sounds like you need a hobby."

"Och!" Calluna blew a raspberry. "Sucks to yer hobby. I need to work. Whole world's goin' to shite, poor wee Anduin laid up with every bone broken, Garrosh plannin' who knows what-all, and that creepy Wrathion, I know he's playin' everyone fer fools, I just KNOW it, and--"

"Stop."

"What?"

"Just stop. Cluny, you can't do it all. You can try, we all need to try, but you're going to run yourself into an early grave. Our people are hardy but we haven't mastered the ability to be everywhere at once."

Calluna grunted. "Huh. Tell that to the mages."

Edelgarde shook her head. "That cantrip of theirs doesn't count. When was the last time you took a holiday?"

"Och, er, um...well now, I dunno. About the time Twigg an' me set up house together."

"And that was what, five years ago? Cluny, you need time off. Use it. Relax. Take Twigget down to Booty Bay, it's nice this time of year. Go fishing, drink grog, watch the ships go in and out."

"DO IT. As your priest and counselor--"

"I didnae come here for that!"

"I don't care. I'm prescribing you some, what do they call it? R&R. Frankly I'm shocked that your higher-ups haven't done so already."
"Well, they can't afford t'go without me."

Edelgarde folded her arms and smiled. "Exactly. So why worry about getting reinstated? It's a sure thing. Now, shoo, I need to pestle up those herbs for ink, and you need to go pack. Come see me when you get back, and give my best to Twigget."

"Aw, Eddi..."

"I insist. Have a grog on me."

"Arright."
jinxandmore: (Default)
The lanes of Dalaran were bright, even in the late evening, thanks to the attentions of Windle Sparkshine each night. Jinx felt safe in the floating sanctuary as she ran her errands..."Still," she mused, "I miss my own home in Ironforge...or Gnomeregan." Though it warmed her heart to see people of all races and creeds mingling in the streets, she wondered how long it would take for old rivalries to flare up if the Kirin Tor hadn't shrouded the city with a pacifying spell. As she passed a sewer grating she could hear the clash of metal and the grunts of combat as people sparred in duels down in the Underbelly, where goblin bookmakers snickered and set odds for opponents.

Jinx shook her head. Old hatreds did not fade easily, and always left stains. This she knew firsthand -- she knew she could never fully trust a trogg, or a Dark Iron dwarf, for their collusion in the destruction of her hometown and the loss of her first husband and infant children. But years of travel and negotiation had granted her experience and patience in dealing with different cultures, and she was proud to serve as an ambassador and diplomat for the Gnomish people. She'd even managed to set aside her reservations against the followers of Thaurissan to broker a trade agreement with a splinter group of Dark Irons, calling themselves the Thorium Brotherhood. The process had taken her many years and many peace offerings of rare materials to their craftsmen, but in the end she was granted the highest status available amongst them, a feat which gave her great personal satisfaction.

She made her way to the Legerdemain Lounge, the largest tavern in Dalaran that served both Horde and Alliance patrons without prejudice. There was yet another convention of magi scheduled to descend upon the place and the chef at A Hero's Welcome, the Alliance-only pub, had asked if Jinx could deliver a catering order. The proprietor, Arille Azuregaze, spotted her as she entered, and set down the goblets he'd been polishing.

"Good evening, Mrs. Blinkert. How do you fare this night? Is that Miss Lee's stew I smell?" He spoke with the sonorous tones of a High Elf, unaffected by the mana-addiction that plagued his Sin'dorei kin.

"Oh, fine, thank you, and the answer is yes and no to your second query--it's Katherine's recipe, but I prepared it myself, with her same attention to detail, I assure you."

"Ah, that makes it all the more delectable, I am sure. Here, this is for you..." he passed her a small red sack bulging with gold coins. "...go buy yourself a treat. Can I interest you in a glass of wine? The conventioneers won't be here for another half hour."

"No, not tonight, but thank you all the same. I've got another errand to run...and I suppose it is a treat, come to think of it." Jinx waved and stepped out again into the brisk night air, and crossed the street to the barber shop.

Inside, a pert young goblin, her brown hair in a neat topknot, was directing two enchanted brooms with precise flicks of her wand. "Hey! Ya missed a spot! Yeah, right there! Good! Now where did I leave that thingy...woop, here it comes!" Jinx had to duck as a dustpan came sailing down from a shelf to receive the hair clippings being gathered up.

"Yipes! A potential customer! Sorry, didn't hear ya come in. How ya doin? I'm Kizi Copperclip, proprietrix of this fine establishment. What can I do fer ya? We got haircuts, hair stylin', hair colorin', manicures, pedicures, hornicures, hooficures, tuskicures, ear piercin', nose piercin', eyebrow piercin', piercin' piercin, nose jobs, ear jobs, anythin' but my job, cause you can't have it!" She burbled with laughter. "Oh, and no curb jobs, you gotta go down to the Underbelly fer those, capice?"

"Hmm," said Jinx, instantly charmed by the garrulous goblin, "I've had this same hairstyle for so long, But how much can you do with this?" She ran her fingers through the short-cropped strands, making her cowlicked bangs stand on end.
"Oh, I can set ya up fine! Here, jump up!" Kizi swung a barber chair around and snapped out a clean white drape with a flourish before tucking it around Jinx's collar. "Here, let's get ya started...ya ain't allergic to Khadgar's Whisker, are ya?"

"No, I don't think so..."

"Good! Cause I ain't had the release forms printed up yet." Kizi snatched a bottle of brilliant blue liquid and began sprinkling it on Jinx's head. "This oughta do it! Copperclip's Patented Trademarked Copywritten Proprietary Barbicidercide!"
"YEEEEOOOWWW!" shrieked Jinx as her hair began growing at a prodigious rate, cascading down past her shoulders!

"Aw, no, did that hurt? Gosh, I'm sorry. Maybe I should add an analgesic."

"No, no, it just feels...weird! I'm not used to FEELING my hair growing! Wow! You could sell that tonic to all the gentlemen of Gnomeregan who suffered alopecia after the disaster! You could singlehandedly help bring Gnomefros back into fashion!"

"Gee, ya think? Hmm. Maybe I could franchise! Anyway, now that we've got somethin' to work with here, let's get you lookin' pretty. How about some big puffy boar tails? Always in style!" Kizi seized a comb and pair of shears, and pulled over a tray of bright mithril barrettes and silver ribbons.

Jinx giggled. "No, no, I'm not thirty years old anymore. Something...sedate, I guess, but fashionable. I trust your taste."

"Ya do? Gosh, that's a first! Hee hee! I kid, I kid. Okay, let's see. And remember, the only difference between a good hairstyle and a bad one is...two weeks! Hyukhyuk! Here, have a magazine--" a copy of Lady's Gnome Journal fluttered out of the rafters into Jinx's lap"-- and let me do the heavy liftin'."

Jinx sat back and relaxed as the goblin snipped and combed. Kizi's touch was light and she hummed a slightly off-key rendition of the Booty Bay Boogie while she worked, clearly enjoying herself. Jinx smiled, delighting in the presence of one who is fortunate enough to work at a trade they take pleasure in.

"O-kay, let me just tie this here...and...voila! The new you!" Kizi held up a mirror so Jinx could see the back. Her hair had been parted down the middle and braided into two loops in an adaptation of a Dwarven style, tied neatly with ribbons. The upstart bangs she had struggled with for so long now fell neatly to each side of her face.
jinx held a hand to her cheek. "Oh my...I didn't think this was possible! Thank you so much. I feel like a new gnome!"

"Eh, it's my job." Kizi shrugged. "Let's settle up yer tab! Tips always accepted, no tip too large, wink wink nudge nudge! Hee!"

"You're worth every copper, Miss Copperclip. Here..." Jinx emptied the contents of the purse she had gotten earlier that evening into Kizi's hands. "..and I'll be sure to send business your way. You've earned a loyal customer tonight."

"Woohoo! Word of mouth is the best advertisin--cause it's free! No overhead! You have a great night, now, and come back whenever ya need a touchup--or a change!"

"Will do. Good night!"

Jinx strode down the street towards the Hero's Welcome inn. "I guess it is true what they say...a change is as good as a cure!"
jinxandmore: (Default)

A flash of arcane light, and the party of adventurers appeared in the Mystic Ward of Ironforge. They were a varied group, of nearly every race that was pledged to the Alliance, and all were female. Three gnomes, two dwarves, a human, and a draenei, and all bore expressions of shock colored with grief.

 

A brief awkward pause was followed by murmured farewells, and they moved out into the main concourse of the city, singly and in pairs to their destinations. The pink-haired gnome and the blonde dwarf took each other's hand and wordlessly made their way to a nearby house.

 

 

--

 

Calluna sat at her desk, gazing numbly at the two identical scrolls before her. A soft thumping sound was all she could hear in the next room, and she glanced over to see her beloved, Twigget, standing on a stool kneading sweet dough for the pastries she took to market every week. Calluna frowned as she noticed that the gnome wasn't herself as she worked -- she usually hummed with contentment as she crafted cookies and buns, but now she labored in silence, with flour smudges on her cheeks where she had brushed tears away.

 

Ach, thought Calluna, this day has borne naught but ill...it would be no shock if those buns don't rise. With a sigh she returned her gaze to the sheets of parchment before her. Identical reports of what she had witnessed, addressed to SI:7 and the Ironforge Intelligence Council. She forced herself to reread the sterile accounts of the horrors that had befallen, copied out twice in laborious Common script, hearing the voices of past instructors and mentors as she did so:

 

A rogue does not become emotionally compromised.

 

A rogue observes, and reports.

 

A rogue carries out orders for Crown and Alliance.

 

Observes and reports.

 

Remains detached.

 

Observes.

 

Reports.

 

A sharp snap dislodged her from the spiraling tension within her, and she looked down to see that she had gripped the arms of her chair so fiercely that a large sliver of wood had broken off in her hand. "Feck it. Feck it all to blazes!" she swore under her breath, and after a second's pause she grabbed another sheet of parchment and affixed it to the bottom of the scroll destined for the Ironforge agency. She picked up her usual pen, then discarded it and rummaged in a drawer for one with a different, flatter nib, and began to write in the old Dwarven runes she had first been schooled in. Her language, usually so coarse in the Common dialect, took on a smoother flow in the old tongue...

 

 

"My liege Magni and whomever else may lay eyes upon this document:

 

It is against my better judgement and training as a rogue that I include this appendix to my report, but my judgement as both a Dwarf loyal to the Bronzebeard crown, and as a citizen of the Alliance, I cannot keep my heart in check and must beg your indulgence. I have faithfully served both Crown and Alliance snce I first took up blades many years ago, and have never questioned orders, never sought to discharge myself from a mission. I do not seek to do either now, but I cannot remain silent with these thoughts. Perhaps you who are my superiors might offer me at the very least, some counsel wiser than that which I can offer myself—I am without formal academic education, beyond that which was granted to me by my training with His Majesty’s intelligence division and SI:7.

 

The main body of my report is true to my own eyes. Highlord Bolvar Fordragon, regent of the Stormwind Crown, was slain in cold blood before Angrath'ar by the Lich King. To his last breath, Fordragon was the epitome of both soldier and Paladin. His desire for judgement against Arthas Menethil even extended to the reckoning of his most recent victim -- Saurfang the Younger, the Mag'hari son of the general of Orgrimmar. I can also attest that the young orc died as valiant a death as his people could ever hope for, though it is not my place to report on such. He led his warriors to the aid of the Alliance forces already in place at Angrath'ar with bravery. I do not believe that young Saurfang would have sacrificed his forces to the whim of the Horde. I shall elaborate on this later.

 

As I have already detailed the horrible failure of the assault on the Wrath Gate in my primary report, I shall not repeat myself. Had I not been entreated by the great Alexstrasza and her prime consort Korialstrasz (note to royal archivists, please also reference the name "Krasus" when and if this dossier is filed) to deliver the shield of the Highlord to King Wrynn, I would have made haste to Ironforge at once to present my findings. I beg the pardon of the Crown for this. Surely an excuse can be made, since one does not find it possible to deny the request of the Great Aspects, particularly that of their Queen.

 

Stormwind was much the same as it has been since King Wrynn was returned to his throne. Until now I have had no issue with his majesty, certainly his aid towards the house of Anvilmar has been invaluable. I was surprised to see the Lady Proudmoore in the throne room; it is rare that she ventures to the Eastern Kingdoms, even to her native Kul Tiras. I am unaware of her reasons for being in Stormwind on this day, but her skill with the arcane is without peer and I can only conjecture that a missive was sent to her by a Kirin Tor representative present at the Wrath Gate.

 

Sirs, while I have clandestinely surveyed both Orgrimmar and the Undercity of Lordaeron manner many times before, I had never traveled under a general amnesty to the orcish capital. I can only repeat what many have said before about their Warchief: he is younger than I expected, and he is no mere brute. This is an educated person, he is not without compassion, and mercy is as important to him as honor. Thrall spoke to the Lady Proudmoore with a fraternal affection, and she was equally cordial and solicitious. Theirs is an abiding friendship without question.

 

I confess that my first close encounter with Sylvanas Windrunner was colored with resentment and mistrust on my part. It took every ounce of restraint within me to keep myself from leaping at this shade of a woman and slicing her to ribbons. I had no idea as to why the Warchief tolerated her presence. Even as she spoke, I doubted the veracity of her assertations. For the sake of the diplomacy that Jaina Proudmoore demanded, I stayed my blades.

 

Sirs, I also confess that I took advantage of the general amnesty to engage in some reconaissance of Orgrimmar. What I witnessed there shocked me.

 

I have already stated that I was leery of Sylvanas. But all intelligence concerning her bears a common thread: she does not trifle with the lives--or unlives--of her people. She protects them fiercely, and inspires in them a manic loyalty equal to her own. This has been documented time and time again. She does not squander them.

 

I saw the bedraggled survivors of the coup making their way from the zeppelin landing to the city. They were even more broken than one could imagine, and in that mangled gutterish Common they speak, I could discern that the massacre in the Undercity had been terrible for them indeed. These were not soldiers; they were merchants and civilians of their kind, taken down by the actions of Putress and Varimathras.

 

The sight of those blighted individuals leads me to only one conclusion: much as I was loath to admit it, Sylvanas was speaking truthfully. Somehow, her control of the Apothecaries was not complete. This was a coup.

 

 Lady Proudmoore came to the same conclusion. She tried to press this point with Varian Wrynn, but sirs, if I may be granted to speak freely about the human monarch: this man does not take wise counsel well, if even at all. I understand he has endured much recently, and his actions certainly were colored by the tragic loss of his Regent and Highlord, but his outright dismissal of Lady Proudmoore’s pleas for reason gave me pause.

 

What transpired during the assault on the Undercity is detailed in my main report, I need not repeat that again.

 

But begging your indulgence once more, sirs, I must repeat: I am not an academic, nor am I given to diplomacy. However, in this instance, I cannot stay my pen. It is my sincere belief that should King Varian Wrynn of Stormwind continue with this sudden crusade against the nations of the Horde, it will only lead to ruin. Whatever his feelings are against them, it is this humble rogue’s opinion that to engage war on yet another front means certain disaster. The human forces are stretched thin enough in Northrend alone. Even putting out pocket skirmishes by the remaining Defias camps in their lands is an ongoing chore.

 

Sirs, I entreat you thus: while it is not my place to advocate, please consider forging stronger ties with Theramore. Lady Proudmoore is young, yes, but she possesses a grace and wisdom even greater than her knowledge of the arcane, and her ties to the Kirin Tor cannot be underestimated.

 

Should we continue to place all our faith in the humans with a Stormwind crown allegiance, I fear for the repercussions. I cannot and do not trust Varian Wrynn to rule with a just hand, given what I witnessed.

 

I thank you humbly, sirs, for your reading of this. I will, as ever, submit to the deliberations of my superiors.

 

Calluna Gempebble, servant of Ironforge. “

 

 

 

As she signed the document, Calluna felt a burden lift from her mind. She blew on the ink to dry it, and re-rolled the parchment into a neat scroll before sealing it with wax and her personal signet. She finished as the mantel clock chimed the hour, and made her way into the kitchen, where Twigget was wrapping the finished rolls and buns for market.

 

“Here, love, let me help you with that”, and swiftly tied a swath of clean linen around the warm loaves the gnome had been struggling with. “Mm, these smell better every time you bake. Mrs. Tyrngaarde should be payin’ ye more!”

 

Twigget chuckled quietly, her pink pigtails bouncing. “Flattery will get you extra helpings. Here, I’ve saved you some buttercakes, would you like jam?”

 

“Ta, no, the touch o’ your hands is sweetening enough, dearest.” Calluna slid into her chair as Twigget set two plates on the table, piled high with the delicate, soft cookies that were her specialty. They ate in silence for a moment, savoring the rich biscuits, then the gnome pushed her plate away still half-full and sighed.

 

“Love? What is it?” Calluna had never known her to leave a meal untouched.

 

“I know what you were writing, Cluny.”

 

“Eh?” she set her buttercake down, half-eaten. “Well…what of it?”

 

Twigget sighed again, staring at her hands on the table. “I don’t have to write dossiers like you do, and I’m not an ambassador for the gnomes, like Jinx or Tezzin. But I saw the same thing you did in that Varian..and it scares me, Cluny. It scares me to the bone,” she looked up at Calluna, tears welling in her brown eyes, “but what scares me more is this: what if Magni doesn’t take it seriously? Your people have had close ties to the Stormwind nobles for generations. I don’t know what I—what we will do, if they discard what you say as ramblings.”

 

Calluna stood, and moved behind Twigget’s chair, placing her hands on the gnome’s delicate shoulders. “Love, I can’t say that I know. I’ve never done anythin’ like this before. My record has been pristine, but not exemplary…and they cannae call this treasonous, for it’s not my King I speak against.” She gave a comforting squeeze, and Twigget reached up to cover her fingers with her own flour-dusted ones.

 

They remained like that for some time, pensive, before moving off to bed in silence. The scrolls lay on the desk until morning.

 

 

 


jinxandmore: (Default)
Darling, I can't sleep although I'm weary to every last bone. The accomodations here at Valiance Keep --that is what they have called the landing settlement in the Borean Tundra-- are comfortable enough, but my mind is racing. Perhaps adding to this testament will help me to unwind.

Directly after I last wrote, I had to stop in the Tinker Town quarter before embarking on the tram to Stormwind. Gelbin Mekkatorque had summoned a small delegation of our people to his chambers! He didn't keep us long, only to impress upon us the need to be good and honorable representatives of the Gnomish race to whomever we encounter in the lands of Northrend. I gave my assurance that I would do just that...and I knew, my dear, that if you had been at my side you would have done the same. "We are a proud people, but we are not without humility as well, bought at a steep price." Poor Mekkatorque, he carries so much responsibility! But I'm proud to have campaigned and voted for him in the past, and would do so again at the drop of any article of headgear. From there I departed to the Deeprun Tram, where they still haven't been able to solve that rat infestation problem. Ugh!

The last time I was in Stormwind was some months ago; I hadn't seen the new docks. They're impressive, nearly the size of the city themselves, and guarded by seige engines! Unfortunately one of them fell entirely to pieces as I watched the Dwarven artillery corps practice their manouvers--and not a gnomish engineer in sight to administer repairs. I winced in shame, thinking how my dear mother would have been able to diagnose the malfunction with ease. I didn't have time to dally and watch the mechanics since my boat was about to cast off.

The new steamboats in use are swift and comfortable, and I even encountered some old friends aboard the Kraken (such an ill-conceived name, really)! You might recall Raani's elder sister, that loquacious huntress named Uusefin. She's usually unflappable and merry company (although she's oblivious to her misuse of the Common language--Raani said something once about a traumatic head injury when the Exodar crashed, I'm not certain), but the poor thing spent most of the journey hung over the railing plagued with terrible seasickness. I had a packet of gingermint pastilles with me but they didn't do her much good, nor did the ministrations of that mysterious young human cleric, Chloris. Chloris is kind and competent at her calling, but such a cipher that I don't even know her surname. Perhaps she's adopted the Draenic custom of not having a secondary appellation? Ah, well, it matters little. Poor Uusie was absolutely viridian with her gastric misery and it took both of us to help her down the gangplank, with her ursine companion Ioanni bringing up the rear. I've never seen a look of consternation on a bear's face before!

Valiance Keep is far more impressive than I expected. There's already a busy wharf, civillian recruits bustling here and there, liasons and signup sheets and workshops and military drills and regimentals and calvary horses and masons and carpenters! In the midst of all the din I was waved over by a human officer, I believe his name was Blythe? I had my documentation ready, and he certainly seemed relieved upon perusing it and spotting my name. "I've heard about you and what you did in Outland. To be honest, you're a cut above these poor saps," and he jerked his thumb at the line of humans and dwarves waiting to add their name to the enlistment rolls. Let me tell you, Tezzin, there was grumbling, and I worried for my head until I realized they were grumbling at Blythe and not me. Ordinarily I would have given him a piece of my mind for being so flippant! Imagine, denigrating the perceived quality of aid being offered! How typically human.

Forgive me, Tezzin. That was uncharitable and prejudiced.

I wish I had taken an earlier boat, that I might be able to write down my first impressions of the landscape. Other than the ice floes and gray stretches of sand that I saw from the deck of the Kraken I haven't been able to explore past the walls of the keep. After spending so many months traveling around Draenor it will surely be nice to see something more...mundane, I suppose; although nothing compares to my memories of the Gnomeregan that was.

I miss you, dearest. But I am resolute, and comforted by the knowledge that one day you and I will be reunited. I would ask you to hurry...but I don't even know if time runs the same way for you in that place, so instead I maintain, and hope, that you look forward to homecoming as much as I do.

I remain as ever, your

Jinx
jinxandmore: (Default)
The second floor balcony would have made a fine peoplewatching vantage point for anyone else, but Calluna was bent over a black leather boot in her lap, sewing in a thick woolen lining. A pipe was clenched between her teeth, sweetly fragrant smoke wreathing her flaxen head while she hummed tunelessly, a slight frown creasing her plain, open features as she worked.

A crash and clatter from inside brought her back out of her thoughts.

"Twig?" she called into the room behind her. "Twigget, yeh want me to do the dishes? Yeh put on such a nice spread t'night, its the least I can be doin'."

"No, no, I'm fine," a patently Gnomish voice replied. "I just fumbled the saucepans is all. Just put them away when I'm done drying?"

"Anything fer you, me treasure." Calluna grinned and turned back to her leatherworking, but frowned again at the sight of a garishly-robed figure bulldozing through the strolling Ironforge pedestrians below. "Aw, seven hells...what's that arseface doin' here." She stood up and deftly knocked the ashes from her pipe, before calling upon years of espionage work and blending into the shadows around her. Once stealthed, she vaulted lightly over the balcony railing and flattened herself against the front door, waiting for her prey, who huffed and puffed his way closer...closer...and raised his hand to knock...

"HEY, BURDIE." Calluna appeared from the dimness and fairly bellowed her greeting without a trace of warmth, surprising the unwelcome visitor so that he fell backwards onto his rear...which was large even for a dwarf. Smirking, she crossed her arms in front of her and offered no aid as he struggled spluttering to his feet. "What brings you up the mountain, little brother? Not enough souls to save back in Brewnall, or did they finally kick yer arse out for lack o'fashion sense?" She eyed his attire, a cacaphony of magentas and greens. "Och, yeh bloody peacock."

Trying to look unruffled, Brother Burdock smoothed his caftan over his considerable belly and managed a perfunctory bow.

"Cluny."

"Aye, Burd."

He clasped his hands before his girth and tried to look officious. "I came up here straightaway as soon as I learned, to tell ye..."

"Honey? Who is it?" A chubby, rosy-haired gnome peered over the balcony. "Have we got company? I could put out some tea and we have leftover peach pie and oh, it's YOU, Burdock. I'll just get back to the dishes then, good night, don't fall off the road on your trip back down...much." The gnome turned on her heel and went back inside.

"Err...Light bless, Twigget Wizzlebee..." Burdock waved weakly as she retreated. "She doesn't like me much, does she Cluny?"

"And what gave yeh that idea? Oh, could it be yer rantin' on about the evils of nethermancy, when she's never squished a wee bug with her powers? Or mayhap it was yer sermonizin' against cohabitations n' gender-biases in love? Pfaw, like ye yerself ever loved anythin' but a full plate at dinner, five times over. An' don't be actin' like ye want t'cozen up to me n'her now fer any reason other than her bein' a world-class pastry cook, yeh grubby mongrel! Is that why yeh trudged up here? Fer pie n' tea? Yeh can shuffle yer lardness back down th'hill and mooch of Ma n' Da fer sweets, ye'll not sully any cup in MY house!" Calluna turned and made to go back into the house.

"Naw, naw, Cluny! It ain't that, listen!" He grabbed her arm with a fleshy paw, and immediately released her after a freezing glance. "Err, bygones, bygones...naw, naw, I just came from the folks, see?"

"Da?" Calluna's eyes went wide with alarm. "What's wrong wi'Da? Is he well? Or Ma? Or wee Rugie n' Yarrow? What happened?"

"They're fine, Cluny, it ain't about the folks, or our wee siblings neither."

"Then what? Get to the point, man!"

"I am iffen ye'd let me!"

Calluna opened her mouth to berate him further, then shut it, glaring at her brother with her lips set in a thin line. Burdock took a deep breath.

"It's Fionnghuala."

"Eh? Nulie?" Calluna brightened. "She's back, is it? Och, that's lovely! We ought t'have a nice fete for her, we should. She been promoted? What's her rank in the Dawn now? Captain Nulie...no, Major Nulie! Colonel Fionnghuala Gempebble, och, how proud are Ma n' Da? Me own big sister, a grand homecomin' from the warfront!"

"CLUNY! That ain't it!" Burdock was wringing his hands, tugging on his sparse beard. "She's back, but she's...DIFFERENT!"

"Wotcher mean different? War does things to a body, I've been out there, I know. Course she ain't gonna be the same! She's likely improved from the flirty flufflehead she was before...oh, och, did she take a wound? Is she scarred? Och, her pretty face, she was always the looker of the family!"

"Naw, Cluny, not like that, she...she...she..."

Calluna rolled her eyes. "What, WHAT. Say it, dun spray it, Burd. I got no time fer ye if I'm to fit in a celebration before I take my assignment next week, they're sending me up Northrend way fer reconnaissance."

Burdock fairly bawled. "I came here t' WARN yeh, yeh can't be lettin her NEAR yeh, for what folks'll THINK of us, the Gempebble NAME!"

"What. What. Did. You. Say?" She balled her hands into fists.

"Th' FAMILY NAME..."

"Burdock. Get the feckin' hell off me doorstoop."

"But..."

"You said the SAME BLOODY THING when me n' Twigget bought this house together." Callunas voice was low and edged with ice. "I didn't tolerate it then, and I'll not tolerate yer gobshite now, speakin' that way about our--no, MY elder sister. You n' yer sanctimonious prattle about pride of name n' neighbor...th'only shame I've ever felt in me life was knowin' that Ma n' Da had the misery of you for their oldest son! GET YERSELF LOST!" And with that, she whirled inside and slammed the door.

Twigget came rushing down the narrow stairs. "Honey? Oh, honey, he's gone and riled you up again. What was he on about this time?" The little gnome ran over and took both of Calluna's hands in hers, rubbing soothingly. "Sweetie, you're all tense."

"Nuh." she grunted. "'E came here to rant on cause Nulie's come back from th'front an' he don't approve of her no more...not that he ever did much in th'first. Yeh know she was always a bit ehh...well, free with her charms, aye? Her bein' such a pretty thing, all the fellers would be chasin' her knickers and she never bothered t'run that fast away." Calluna chuckled weakly and shook her head, before caressing Twigget's face tenderly. "Looks like I'm not th'only Gempebble sister in the bad graces of that fat idjit."

Twigget sighed and returned the gesture. "Cluny, you can't let him get to you. I mean, you can, but just not that much. He's not worth it! Let's concentrate on the positive. Your big sister's come home! We'll have her over for a nice supper, and you can catch up, and introduce me, and I'll make a lovely cake...not necessarily in that order. I should bake the cake first!" With that, she gave an impish grin and winked, and they both giggled.

Calluna hugged Twigget tightly. "Darlin', yeh know, yer people aren't given to bein healers of Light, but yer a balm for what ails me, every time."

The gnome smiled and toyed with one of her pigtails. "Well, it's getting late, love. Let's go to the bedroom and I can keep playing doctor, hmm?"

"Och, yer NAUGHTY...an' I like it!" Squeals of laughter followed them into the bedchamber.


---


The deathcharger clopped slowly up the snowy road loading to the gates of Ironforge, ridden by a heavily armored and shrouded passenger...the only identifiable feature was the end of a long, pale blonde braid over their right shoulder.

The hardy mountaineers on watch that night, still unused to seeing any member of Mograine's Ebon Blade pass among them, peered closely at the traveler, fixing their eyes on the badge worn prominently at the rider's waist. It bore the seal of Varian Wrynn, king of Stormwind, and though the mountaineers relaxed their grips on the weapons they bore, they kept them at the ready nonetheless.

The path evened out its incline, and the rider tugged on the reins of the lichly mount, then wrapped them loosely around the saddle horn. Hands thus freed, she reached up and slowly removed the plate helmet that had obscured her features.

Any dwarven male would have once turned his head to gaze upon her. Anyone at all would have called her lovely...once. Now her perfect features were transformed by a waxen pallor and eyes that glowed with a preternatural phosphorescence. Now they stared at her for entirely different reasons...and she was not unaware of the change.

When she spoke, her voice was as hollow and cold as a cavern:

"I'm home."
jinxandmore: (Default)
Dearest Tezzin,

I wish every day that i could at least write to you at a fixed address so that I could share even the smallest mintutiae of my days with you; isn't that the right of a spouse? To natter on about the mundane? Instead I'm following the suggestion of our daughter and have decided to keep this journal.

So!

Surely by now the word of the crises in Northrend have reached you in your master's sanctuary. I can't imagine why he keeps you in sabbatical there, when your skills are so sorely needed by so many -- he has always been inscrutable to me. Nevertheless, even a humble nethermancer like myself has been called upon to help the forces against the Lich King; after seeing the devastation his armies wreaked upon the new harbor in Stormwind (and after all the hard work put in by the Dwarven masons!) I couldn't ignore the threat. Even though Varian Wrynn is only newly returned from his, well, let's call it a detainment since I am ignorant of the details; and I haven't had a chance to acquaint myself with his politics, I took it as a good sign that he is open-minded enough to count a young Sin'dorei woman amongst his closest comrades. He also cuts quite an imposing figure! I'm feeling confident that we'll see a lasting peace forged between Horde and Alliance with his help. What a fine legacy for young Anduin to inherit! I'm sure that grave little boy is glad for the opportunity to be a child again. Highlord Fordragon has been sent to Nothrend as well, and though I'm sure Anduin misses his friend and regent, surely it's a small price to pay for being reunited with his father.

Fortunately the libraries of the Explorer's League contain many map folios as well as accounts from good Brann Bronzebeard. Dearest, you know I'm no adventurer, but reading Brann's research notes and status reports is such a comfort before any journey. I tell you, if I ever have the privilege of meeting that dwarf, I shall impress upon him the need to publish some compact traveler's guides!

You will be so proud of Landra, and of Raani as well, who is still boarding at our home. Our daughter is doing great things with her fellow pages of the Silver Hand, helping the Vindicators in the Exodar. She still finds time for her artwork, and indeed, I'm going to run out of walls to hang the lovely paintings that she sends me! Raani has been working hard as well, and although I fear she may never be rid of the stammer that hampers her speech, her command of Common is excellent. She's a joy to have around the house, and has turned her room into a small workshop where she crafts lovely trinkets with gemstones. It's so nice to see tinkering being done...

But I digress, darling husband. I've packed my bags, given Raani the housekeys, gotten Feathers and Suntalon from the stables and will be heading to catch my tram to Stormwind soon. Steam-powered sea routes have opened up from there to the western peninsula of the Borean Tundra and the Alliance have built two posts there--one of them staffed completely by our people! I don't really know what to expect otherwise. I've gotten out my credentials from the Argent Dawn and other entities in the hopes that I can be granted safe passage as a diplomatic representative of Gnomeregan.

And as always, my dear, I strive to live by your example of benevolence and charity.

Ever yours,

Jinx

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