Superglue made this chapter readable. It’s been in puzzle pieces forever.
You’ll probably be able to guess which line is my favorite in this one. Hint: Sarah says it, and I hope you’ll laugh as opposed to wanting to choke me with a shoestring. :runaway:
Le dork = me.
Uh-oh… meet the fam’!
“Ey, be careful with ‘im now, missy Nebula!” a hoarse voice called from the crowd, followed by mostly undead snickers.
“Rrr,” was her only reply.
Thomas preferred to look anywhere but the person in front of him and the creature they were both sitting on. He caught Vo’don’s eye, and the troll offered a blank half-smirk in support. Then a voice called his name, and he turned around.
Two female trolls approached, very similar in looks and with the same blue, rich hair – but that was the end of the similarities. One wore black and had a thin, dark bandana tied just above her eyes, as if she intended to use it as a blindfold. The two nasty-looking daggers in her belt only made it more obvious than needed what profession she held.
Her maybe-sister on the other hand dressed in easy, brown leather armor, but seemed to have left her weapon at home for the moment. Each one of them lead a raptor mount across the open area. As they got closer, Vo’don walked over to meet them. The three spoke – or rather, Vo’don and the maybe-sister spoke, while the rogue lady stood in silence and just watched. She only nodded when her companion smiled her final approval. Grinning, Vo’don looked around and waved at Rohdjinn and Dosha to come over. They approached, and accepted the raptors’ reins when offered.
The younger trolls looked upon their borrowed use of transportation with no little sense of wonder. Dosha, especially, looked intently at the rogue to be certain of her approval. She, in turn, merely shrugged and gave her raptor a pat on the neck. Rohdjinn was already letting “his” raptor sniff at his hands while murmuring to it, making sure it knew he was friendly.
Vo’don had already moved on to a third troll stranger, this one male, leading yet another raptor. They spoke for a little while, then the other troll handed over the reins. After letting the raptor sniff at him, and softly hissing to the beast while rubbing its neck, Vo’don climbed into the saddle as easily as he took a step.
Thomas wondered at why the trolls apparently had not brought their own mounts, but refrained from asking.
As soon as Dor’ash moved up beside Sarah’s horse, on a monstrously large wolf, they only had to wait for the two young trolls to sit up properly. Thomas grasped the shoulder he held even tighter as Sarah got the undead mount to start moving. It felt like riding a living horse, but at the same time not. The movements were familiar, yet mechanical. This horse would never sidestep or get other ideas of its own, because it had none.
But it was a means to get out of the camp, and flanked by Dor’ash and Vo’don, Sarah steered her mount towards and out the gate. The wolf, the raptor and the dead horse all moved in wildly different ways, but they set an even pace and continued briskly up the road. Focusing on trying to deal with his situation, Thomas stared straight ahead and only heard the heavy patter of the other two raptors following.
It did not take long until they reached the main road, and as soon as they did Vo’don called for a halt. The horse obediently slowed and trotted for a few steps to follow the other mounts, but Thomas suspected it could have stopped still anytime Sarah wanted it. If she had believed she could stay in the saddle.
Sliding to the ground, Vo’don drew the dagger Dor’ash had given him before going to fetch Sarah from the inn. At the troll’s nod Thomas offered his hands, and the knife sliced the ropes binding him without cutting his skin. He massaged his sore wrists while Vo’don sheathed the weapon and returned to the saddle. As soon as Thomas placed his hands on Sarah’s shoulders – still not too happily – the journey began anew.
They were silent at first, glad to be out of Grom’gol but wary of the environment. Yesterday remained fresh in mind. Vo’don and Dor’ash took turns riding in the front, one of them always flanking the horse. Thoughtful of the wounded, but they did not want this to look like a prisoner convoy.
Sarah especially was silent. That was another thing. She didn’t even move or make a sound for drawing breath, no more than her horse did. Like a statue, and the hard shoulders Thomas held did not help that image. At least yesterday, she had been talking, although she had not said much that had not curled his skin.
It should have been a relief. Yet, knowing why she did not speak, and why she crouched in the saddle, touched a vein.
“Does it still hurt?” Thomas finally asked, unable to contain his grudging concern any longer.
She did not answer immediately, like she needed to collect some strength for it first. Then:
“Nah.” Sarah paused for a moment, then shrugged. “Well, maybe. I think pain is different from how it used to be when I lived. But I don’t know. I don’t remember how it was to be alive.”
Thomas wondered if that was to be counted as a curse or a blessing. As if she had heard his thoughts, Sarah spoke again.
“Ain’t too bad,” she said. “No memory’s fine. Those who remember too much just wallow in self-pity all day.”
“You really don’t remember anything?” Thomas carefully said.
He couldn’t help it. A morbid curiosity tugged at his mind.
The hood rustled as Sarah shook her head. From his vantage point he could only vaguely see the motion itself.
“Nuthin’,” Sarah said. Then she added, more gruffly, “an’ I like it that way. All I know is my name.”
Her tone said that the discussion definitely was over, and Thomas decided not to try his luck. Just as he had settled for a silent journey, however, she suddenly let out a hoarse cackle.
“Oh, but this is so cute,” she rasped, smirk audible in her voice. “A paladin sharing a horse with an undead and asking her personal questions. Is it the new troll man and night elf woman trend, I wonder?”
Riding beside them, Vo’don looked at Sarah with a frown. It probably did not help that Thomas made a strange noise – trying desperately not to laugh. He’d had no idea that that rumor existed within the Horde, too. The laughter uncertainly stuck in his throat at the sight of Vo’don’s suspicious expression, however.
“Whatcha sayin’?” Vo’don demanded in Orcish. Difficult to tell how much he had understood of Sarah’s words, but from the look on his face he must at least have caught “troll” and “night elf”.
“Sarah…!” Dor’ash growled, throwing a glare over his shoulder.
She ignored his warning completely, and cackled out in translation what she had told Thomas in Common. For a moment Vo’don just stared at her. Then he leant forwards, chortling so hard it looked as if he would fall off his sprinting raptor. The beast itself threw its neck to the side and gave him an odd look. A call from behind let them know that Rohdjinn wanted to know what was so funny, but Vo’don just waved at him to wait.
Over Sarah’s shoulder, Thomas saw Dor’ash shake his head while looking up the road.
“We don’t speak with trolls about those rumors,” Sarah grunted, smirking. It sounded as if she had meant to say that in a sing-song voice, but it came out like a series of wheezes and squeaks that made it difficult to tell what she was saying.
“And we don’t speak with night elves about it,” Thomas offered, the cheerfulness letting him forget that he did not feel like talking to night elves or humans for quite some time after yesterday.
“Oh mister ‘Sodstone’,” Sarah said, “there’s only one single, Orcish word that can encompass my feelings right now. Kek.”
One of her hands rose up over her shoulder, polished bone fingertip pointing at him.
“But,” she said, smirk changing, “before you get too fond of me, don’t forget that you owe me your life.”
“Don’t worry, she’ll have to kill me before collecting that,” Dor’ash called over his shoulder, snorting out a chuckle.
“Thank the Light,” Thomas grunted, caught between a wince and an uncertain smile.
He settled on the wince when he heard Sarah murmur in her gritty, hoarse voice.
“It’s on my to-do list…”
They made good time, stopping only to let the living mounts rest at the guarded camps set up by goblins along the way, to offer safety for travelers. As the day wore on and they got closer to Booty Bay, more and more people moved along the road. None caused them any trouble, although the sight of a human riding an undead horse with a Forsaken did draw glances from Horde, Alliance and goblins alike.
At one point Thomas took note of how Vo’don pulled Dor’ash aside and they muttered amongst themselves. Shortly thereafter Dor’ash sat cross-legged some ways away, leaning something against one knee and writing on whatever it was with a small, thin dagger more reminiscent of a scalpel. Sarah padded over to him and they spoke, until he swatted her aside. She retreated, snorting with laughter.
Later, when Thomas got his parting gift, he would understand. Right then, he left it unquestioned.
It was still between midday and evening when the jungle opened up before them and they saw the cliff separating Booty Bay from the mainland. Dismounting by the mouth of the mouth of the guarded cave, they headed inside under the curious gazes of the bored bouncers. There were always a lot of people moving here, leaving and arriving, and the group stayed tightly together not to lose each other, or any valuables. It would be easier to count those who were [i]not[/i] pickpockets, here.
Several stables for mounts had been carved into side tunnels of the main road through the mountainside, to make use of the cool underground and save precious building space for housing in the town. Booty Bay’s core construction, made up of stairs and bridges as it were, did not suit any beast large enough to be ridden.
Goblins who took their job very seriously guarded these hollows – air came in through barred holes in the walls, and only a very noticeable explosion would remove those iron bars.
While Vo’don and the others haggled with the stable guards as per goblin tradition, Thomas made a few inquiries with a couple of the small, green men.
The goblins were used to odd questions, and would answer them as long as a coin was involved. Thomas made sure that Edward and the others had not been seen in Booty Bay. It made sense, if they had wounded and feared poison they should have headed for either the rebel camp or Duskwood, any human settlement closer by than the distant port town. Still, no harm in making sure there wouldn’t be any sudden arrows or daggers coming at Thomas or his Horde friends.
Of course, no telling if the goblins had been paid to lie – but then, not like they had reason to lie to somebody who could offer them yet another piece of silver, if they had already been bribed once. One did not make good business without being able to switch sides when it felt right.
Also, considering that the Horde-hunting humans had reason to raise a ruckus about a poisonous Forsaken and a traitorous paladin, they could not have entered any town silently. The elves might have wanted to remain mute about their failure, but their companions probably wouldn’t bear the slight stoically.
What he found out, he reported to the others as they headed towards the exit. No such stories seemed to circulate, to general relief.
Not that the caverns were perfectly cool, but the sunlight outside momentarily blinded Thomas and stung his skin. Booty Bay was always loud, with voices and feet clattering against wood. After the long ride, it seemed a little overwhelming.
They broke free of the main stream of people heading in and out of the cave, and Dor’ash turned to the others.
“The two of us should go and find a healer,” he said in Orcish, one big, green finger tapping Sarah’s shoulder. She seemed to hunch even more after the shadows inside the cliff, as if the sunlight blasted her even harder now. “You go and see if that goblin ship is in port.”
“Let’s meet in an hour by da big stair, then,” Vo’don agreed, nodding.
The group split, but Thomas threw a thoughtful glance over his shoulder, seeing Dor’ash and Sarah walk off. Her hunch made her smaller than before. He towered over her, walking slowly so she could keep up with him.
Why not carry her? Apart from that she might claw his eyes out. That didn’t sound as likely to Thomas as it should have, though.
Then people got in the way, and the strange pair disappeared out of view. Shrugging, Thomas returned his focus to the wooden steps before him. He and the trolls headed towards the pier where the Maiden’s Fancy could be found when docking in Booty Bay. Luck stayed with Thomas this time – the ship was in the harbor, bound for Ratchet in a couple of hours. The coins he had left covered the fare, and after haggling he had enough money left to leave him hope of finding a cheap sword once he got to the Barrens – where the prices were not set by the “hey pal, you’ve got an entire jungle between us and the next friendly settlement”. In the Barrens at least, one had the time to see the monsters coming in a distance.
Well there, it should not be difficult to find somebody who needed a few beast claws or such, that they did not feel like collecting themselves. Simple, not quite honorable jobs, perhaps, but he needed to get some funds back before he could make it to Theramore.
With these vague plans in mind he stuffed his ticket into a really deep pocket – resting his hand over said pocket while following wherever Vo’don led next, to make sure the small but precious piece of paper would not be stolen.
The docks were always busy, but they managed to find a pier that was not completely overrun by people running back and forth to load or unload the ships. There they sat down to wait for a while before going to meet up with Dor’ash and Sarah. Although the midday heat had passed, the cooling breeze from the ocean felt sweet against Thomas’ hot skin. He couldn’t tell whether the trolls were at all concerned with the sun now, or even had been when it was at its worst.
Dosha slung her long legs over the side of the pier, dangling her four toes just above the waves. The only reason that at least Rohdjinn didn’t do the same had to be the fact that his feet probably [i]would[/i] reach the water if he did. Considering that the goblins and pretty much every other inhabitant of the town used the shore as a garbage dump, that did not seem like a pleasant idea.
It did not escape Thomas, the look on the young troll’s face when Dosha rolled her shoulders and leant backwards in a cat-like – a [i]large[/i] cat – stretch. Neither the way she glanced and winked at Rohdjinn. The paladin caught Vo’don’s eye, and he just threw his gaze upwards with a fond snort.
Few human teachers would look kindly upon their young apprentices having such interests for each other, but the raptor charmer just shrugged it off. Perhaps it really was simply natural in their culture. Thomas first feeling was one of disbelief, but he pushed it aside – it was not his business, and if the two youngsters fancied each other they had certainly not let it cloud their ability to survive so far. It was one of those differences one had to face and accept when meeting other cultures. Moments like this told him that he still had to work on that, annoyingly enough.
The sun beat down on the town and the waves, carving deep shadows into the cliff sides and, in the distance, the huge statue of Baron Revilgaz with its arms stretched out and insincere grin aimed towards the open sea. Lazy sea birds floated through the humid winds, screeching only rarely. In that peaceful setting, Thomas listened with fascination and occasional interjections to aid in the struggle with the languages, as Vo’don told him about the distant Sen’jin village and how the trolls had made their lives in Durotar. Every now and then Dosha and Rohdjinn tried to help.
Without Dor’ash and Sarah as translators, the human and the trolls had to work their way through the language barrier on their own again. In a way, Thomas actually enjoyed that. It tested his own knowledge of Orcish as well as Vo’don’s skill in Common, and no morbid jokes – well, at least not Sarah’s level of morbid, trolls too had a taste for gallows humor – threatened the peace.
When they went to meet Dor’ash, they found him waiting by the stair to the town.
Alone, and with a troubled look on his face.
When questioned, he grunted and pointed up the stairs, addressing the trolls first. Thomas understood enough. She was gone, without goodbye. Even so, Dor’ash turned to the human and translated.
“I had to find a mage to make Sarah a portal to the Undercity. The healers we found here said they couldn’t do much more for her.” Dor’ash rolled his shoulders. “Serves me right for wanting to avoid that in the first place.”
They started to slowly move down the docks while talking.
“Will she be alright?” Thomas asked. He did not realize until he had spoken, that he actually cared about what would happen to Sarah. The shaman’s distracted scowl made him wonder if there was something more to this, too.
Dor’ash’s lips stretched the tiniest bit. But when he spoke, the crease on his forehead remained.
“Probably, since she’s still able to move and talk. The apothecaries don’t seem to need much more to work with.” He paused, then scratched his head. “The priests did say something about the process being ‘centaur on the agony scale’.”
“The what?” Thomas asked.
“Sarah once claimed it was an in-joke,” he said. “They judge how much something will hurt depending on what they wish to inflict on certain people. As far as I understand ‘Arthas’ is the highest.”
“Not too surprising.” Thomas could not decide whether to be amused or uneasy. “Centaurs are…?”
“They don’t care much about centaurs.”
Thomas remained silent for a brief time while Dor’ash and the trolls exchanged a few phrases. By the sound of it, the agony scale was not universally known. Rohdjinn did chortle, but Vo’don only grinned slightly with a frown, and Dosha looked like she was stuck between humor and suspicion.
Finally, the question that needed answer could no longer be held back.
“And humans are where on that scale?” Thomas asked.
“Just below the Scarlet Crusade. Which is just below the Scourge.”
Letting out another grunt, Dor’ash shook his head.
“I don’t like it. I don’t like dumping her with the Apothecary Society, but her wounds are too severe for normal healing.”
It sounded odd, like a confession straight from the shaman’s gut. He had certainly not needed to say it, but it was almost painfully honest.
Vo’don’s low growl said that he had both understood and agreed. Whether that meant that he did not like the Society, or worried about Sarah, remained unclear. Thomas felt that that may be one of the other things he should not dig deeper into.
While talking, they reached the dock where the Maiden’s Fancy waited for the loading of the cargo hold to finish. Judging by the shrinking heaps of crates and barrels on the dock, it would not be long until she could set sail. Thomas looked up at the tightly bound sails, grateful that nobody asked why he simply did not seek out a mage willing to make him a portal to Darnassus. It might have saved him a lot of time, but he did not feel like trusting his luck – the elves in the jungle just may have gone home. There was no way to know that.
Aside from that, he currently did not feel friendly enough towards the elves to willingly drop right into an entire capital of them. Shaking off those thoughts, he turned to his companions.
“What will you do from here out?” he asked.
“Raptors,” Vo’don said with a shrug and motion inland. “Not done here.”
“You’ll have to find a new place to hunt for them, no?” Thomas said, frowning.
But Vo’don just shook his head dismissively.
“No problem. Lots here.”
Nodding, Thomas looked up at Dor’ash, who shrugged as well.
“I’ll follow Vo’don and the kids back to Grom’gol and then take the zeppelin to Orgrimmar. Sarah will seek me out once she’s restored.” He gave Thomas a half-amused, half-sincere look. “Don’t worry about us, paladin. You just make it to Dustwallow and onwards alive.”
And don’t let all this trouble we’ve had be for nothing.
Dor’ash probably did not mean it that way, but as a genuine wish for a safe trip. Still, Thomas took it to heart seriously.
“I’ll never forget what you’ve done for me,” Thomas said – or at least, that was what he meant to say in Orcish. He knew that he did not quite get it right, but though Rohdjinn slightly smirked, the others nodded understanding.
“And ‘bout dat,” Vo’don said, cracking a grin as he reached for one of the bags on his belt and nodded at his apprentices. “Dem kids make in night. Here.”
He produced a flat item adorned with feathers and familiar colors. Smiling widely in gratitude, Thomas held out his hand and accepted the gift.
This totem was a little larger than his old one, and turning it over he saw that it had text on the backside than the one he lost in the jungle. Thomas squinted at it for a moment before looking up.
“I can’t read orcish runes very well yet,” he admitted.
“Da same as old,” Vo’don said, then pointed at Dosha and Rohdjinn. “Dem names too. And…” his big blue hand waggled in Dor’ash’s direction.
“I wrote ‘This human knows more honor than many of them’, and my name as well,” the orc said. Then he added, with a roll of his eyes, “Sarah wanted to sign it too, but I didn’t let her since she admitted that she wanted to write ‘dibs!’ in Gutterspeak.”
Thomas had to chuckle, remembering the brief exchange he had witnessed at one of the watch posts along the way.
“Well,” he admitted, “she’s sadly right, isn’t she?”
“I’ll do my best to keep her away from you,” Dor’ash said, grinning.
“I am most grateful.”
Carefully, Thomas stuck the totem into a pocket in his shirt, trying not to let the feathers get ruffled. Then he straightened up, looking between the four of them.
“Thank you. I don’t have enough rings with the Silver Hand sigil for you all,” he said. His smile faded momentarily. “To be honest I doubt Edward will rest until I’m excommunicated from the order.”
Dor’ash absentmindedly translated that to the trolls, watching Thomas the entire time. Finishing, the orc slowly spoke Common again.
“And what arguments would he bring to Eitrigg’s honor brother?”
It took a moment before that one clicked, because Thomas was not used to hearing that particular human called by such a name.
“Sir Fordring?” he said, then shook his head when Dor’ash nodded. “It is merely whispers, of him succeeding Uther Lightbringer. In either case, Edward can lie with more witnesses than I have.” He wryly smiled. “Think nothing of it. If they no longer want me, I will still offer my services to Theramore.”
Only later would he wonder if Dor’ash’s not mentioning the near-legendary orc warrior by title, meant that they were friends.
Vo’don listened to the orcs new translation, opening his mouth to speak. But a cry from the Fancy, first in Orcish and then in Common, summoned all passengers to the ship with a warning about being left behind. Pushing aside whatever he had thought to say, the troll grabbed both of Thomas’ hands and gave them a squeeze.
“Live. We meet again.”
“I certainly hope so,” Thomas said, smiling from his heart.
The paladin grasped each of the others’ hands in turn, then stepped backwards towards the impatiently waiting ship.
“Aka’Magosh,” he said, raising his hand in a final goodbye.
“Spirits go with you,” Dor’ash replied.
They watched him board the ship. The sails fell free of their bonds, filling up with wind and the Fancy made its familiar, slow crescent move in the port before turning towards the open sea. More than one passenger had people standing on the dock to see them off, and nobody particularly cared about who a human paladin may have been in company with – or who he waved goodbye to, and who waved back. Not in this mixed town.
The ship’s slow twist brought Thomas out of their sight, and the crowd began to dissipate. The three trolls and the orc still stood for a little while, watching the vessel move further and further away with their strange little human friend.
“It’s a long trip back ta Grom’gol,” Vo’don finally said. “We bettah find an inn here for tonight.”
Dor’ash just nodded, his gaze thoughtful. Figuring the orc would speak his mind when he felt like it, Vo’don turned. His hands rose and brushed Dosha’s right shoulder and Rohdjinn’s left as he passed between them.
“An’ when we get home, you’re getting a raptor mount each.”
He walked on without looking back, leaving them staring after him with open-mouthed disbelief which soon turned to wide grins. Had they had any less pride, they would have literally bounded after him. As it were, they walked – although he could hear their feet against the wooden stairs with more pep than usual. Vo’don smiled to himself.
Good kids, and they had deserved their reward for putting up with all of this.
Dor’ash smirked, following the three of them up the dock.
It took a while to find an inn where the price was somewhat reasonable and they could put faith in getting a wink of sleep despite the livid town life outside the walls. Once in their rooms, Dor’ash signaled at Vo’don that they should talk. Rohdjinn and Dosha cheerfully promised to stay in the inn and completely ignore the fascinating town all around them when Vo’don told them so. This was one jungle the teacher was not prepared to drop a couple of youngsters in just like that. Lucky that they still were high on his promise of their own mounts – they would have obeyed anyway, he knew, but probably not smiling.
He followed Dor’ash back out in the sunlight, and they moved to a shaded corner where they could have a talk in peace. Although they did not speak at all first. Neither of them needed to say anything, or gaze towards the ocean and the ship that could no longer be seen, to make themselves clear to each other.
Once they got back to Grom’gol, Vo’don would write a message to Vol’jin, for Dor’ash to bring along when he went to leave a report to the Warchief.
“Well,” Dor’ash said after a moment, cracking a grin. “Shall we toss a coin about who gets to inform the goblin Baron about the angry Skullsplitters up north?”
Vo’don let out a frustrated grunt and shook his head.
“You ain’t able ta grow new hands, mon.”
“Eh. I’d like to see them try.” Dor’ash jabbed his thumb towards the spiraling wooden bridges leading upwards between buildings. Revilgaz could seldom be found elsewhere than at some point up there. “Let’s get it over with. He doesn’t need to know the gritty details, like who caused it.”
Although just to be sure, the orc lowered his voice considerably at the last part.
Vo’don rolled his shoulders and stretched his back with a sigh, peering at Dor’ash the entire time. Coming back down to eyelevel, he spoke.
“Dis be da kinda thing you keep dat skinny girl for, ain’t it?”
“For tossing at angry goblins? Oh yeah.” Dor’ash laughed as they started their climb. “She’s easy to throw and she scratches like a wildcat.”
Vo’don just shook his head, although he smirked at the idea of using a Forsaken like that. Yet in his mind, nobody set themselves on fire just to be nice – if Dor’ash chose to trust an undead, that was his business, but Vo’don would rather see the Horde free of them. His gratitude remained muddled with suspicion of any ulterior motive that woman might have.
[strike]And if you needed to throw anyone at something, a blood elf worked just as well.[/strike]
While Thomas set off towards Kalimdor and whatever awaited him in Theramore, somebody else had already reached her destination.
In the depths of the Undercity, the light from a green torch flickered over Sarah’s thin, blackened form. She laid on a metal table, one with leather restraints flopping down its sides at key places. She didn’t move, even as an apothecary and a priest busied themselves with removing the last shreds of burnt cloth stuck in her skin. Philip Grayburrow stood beside her with notes in hand and speaking to another apothecary, who leaned his skeletal self on a staff.
It was a small room, one of many belonging to the Royal Apothecary Society. Tables cluttered with various tools and strange items stood in one corner, thanks to the torch casting very unpleasant shadows over the walls. The only thing more unpleasant than that were the strange odors fleeting in the air. It was impossible to tell whether they came from within the room or found their way inside from other places.
“… but it’s better you ask her about the details,” Philip concluded. “That orc of hers remained too close for me to ask her properly even when she was well enough to speak.”
The listener looked down at Sarah’s face.
“Unfortunate that you lost the bottle, I must say,” he said.
Sarah lolled her head to the side, turning her hollow eye sockets at him.
“Forgive me, I feared that the elves would notice me doing something if I hadn’t acted quickly,” she said. “It would have spoiled my chances.”
“Not too big a loss, considering the amusing results,” he said.
“Thank you, master Faranell.”
“Now, do tell about the details. You are sure that it was toxin 86b and not 86d?” The master apothecary held up a small, black bottle labeled with the latter name.
Sarah heaved herself up enough to nod, then flopped back.
“Absolutely certain,” she said. “I failed to do much damage, but the scratches caused a brown discoloration of the specimens’ blood. Also, it hurt like hell after I swallowed it. The following inability to move may have been only due to the fire, but I felt better after Philip gave me an antitoxin.”
While the others spoke, the two men involved with cleaning up Sarah’s body finished and stepped back. The apothecary went to fetch one of the smaller tables. Spindly metal tools rattled at his every step and when he set the small table beside the big one where Sarah laid. Then he and his companion stood by, waiting for a signal to continue.
Faranell sighed as he put away the bottle.
“I fear your guinea pigs probably survived, although they must have been in a fair amount of pain,” he said. “And how did you explain to your orc and the trolls about having this poison at hand?” He obviously didn’t care much about the human prisoner.
With a snort, Sarah’s mouth twisted into a sneer.
“Dor’ash is a fool, and the trolls would believe him. He trusts that I keep a thing or two… for safety’s sake,” she said.
“Hmm…” Faranell pursed what little remained of his lips. “I don’t really like that there’s a shaman always following you around, Nebula. He will see too much one day.”
Sarah wriggled her fingers dismissively. It took some effort, however – the burnt muscles had almost stiffened completely in the dry air.
“I assure you I will have no difficulties backstabbing him if need be, master Faranell,” she said. “I joke so much about killing him that he can’t believe I ever would do it.”
“Listening in on them talking, I’d vouch for that we won’t have to worry about that,” Philip offered. “The orc expressed annoyance about her carrying around toxins, but let it slide almost immediately.”
Sarah nodded approval, weakly scoffing. After a moment, Faranell shrugged.
“Fair enough,” he said. “But you will answer to me if anything goes wrong.”
“Certainly,” Sarah agreed. “I take full responsibility for my pet orc.”
The head apothecary was far beyond blinking, but after a moment he snickered at the pick of words. So did the other three men.
“Pet orc. I like the sound of that,” the priest said. “Sounds useful.”
“Expendable,” Sarah corrected.
Faranell started to speak again, but a knock on the door cut him off. He turned around with an arguably surprised look. The others followed the motion, Sarah straining her head upwards just a little bit.
“Enter,” Faranell called.
When the door opened, one could hear distant screams from other rooms in the area. An undead man draped in dark robes walked in, closely followed by a succubus with a curious look on her face. The warlock waved over his shoulder, and his tame demon kicked the door shut. What little, grey wisps remained of the man’s hair fluttered around his sunken face in the draft.
At the sight of these two, Sarah fell back with a loud, annoyed grunt. This was ignored.
The warlock nodded at the head apothecary, while the succubus just hovered in the background. She looked at everything with increasing interest.
“Master Faranell,” the warlock said in greeting.
“Ah, Nebula.” Faranell motioned at Sarah without turning back to her. “Visiting the sick?”
“I just happened to hear about it and came down immediately, of course,” the warlock said, nodding again.
“Didn’t want to miss the screaming, eh?” Sarah dryly said.
The warlock stepped closer and bent over her.
“Arthas, you look horrible,” he said.
“You’re not exactly the picture of beauty yourself, Patrick.”
He chortled and turned back to Faranell.
“Do you mind if I stay?” Patrick asked, although it didn’t really sound like a question. “I would feel just awful leaving her like this in your care.”
“If you wish to,” Faranell said. He turned towards his assistants. “I am satisfied with the answers I’ve gotten. Let us begin.”
Philip bowed and left the room, while the other apothecary went to fetch a few vials and boxes which he set down on the tool table. The priest, meanwhile, bent over Sarah and began clasping the many straps fastened to the table she laid upon. Patrick moved aside to let the priest do his work, then stepped back and grasped Sarah’s stiff hand in his bony one once her arm had been secured. She turned away at first, but then lolled her head at him again.
After a moment, she tapped a fingertip against his hand.
“Be silent,” she said. “I still don’t want to know anything and I never will.”
He smiled coldly and stroke her cheek.
“I know,” he said.
She pulled her hand back from his, but the restraints trapping her made it impossible to move away. He grasped her fingers once more.
“Don’t worry,” Patrick said, “I said I wouldn’t tell you anything and I won’t. I kept my promises even when we were alive, little sister.”
Growling deep in her throat, she turned her face away from him. Faranell moved into her vision, twirling a scalpel between his fingers. He had set the staff aside, supporting himself on the table instead. Weak in body, perhaps, but determined to do the jobs that interested him.
“I’m a big girl,” Sarah said. “Be honest, it’s not centaur on the agony scale, is it?”
“Mmh… no,” Faranell agreed. His assistants moved in the background, picking up the tools they anticipated he would soon ask for. One of them opened a metal box, and a sickeningly sweet whiff of raw, ripening meat added to the scents in the room. “I estimate that it’s somewhere between gnoll and worgen.”
“Feh. Well, getting here was Arugal, so it’s looking better at least.”
Nodding approval, Faranell bent over her and raised the scalpel.
In all honesty, even as Sarah was writhing under the knife, she felt grateful – it did distract her from the hand grasping hers, from that both known and unknown brother. Her fingers twisted mindlessly, clenching around Patrick’s grip and she could have ripped her own hand off for it. He just stood there, unmoving, listening, watching.
In her own silent mind, she wished that her fingers could have curled around a big, green finger so thick she could hardly reach around it with one hand. Then maybe it would not have hurt so much.
But, for more reasons than one, it would have been too dangerous for Dor’ash to be there and see any of this.
I’m such a hypocrite. I can’t stand reading and watching horror, but I adore writing eeky things like the above I say it again. Forsaken antics are hilarious :mwahaha: pets Patrick 'ooosagoodlittlecreep? Yes you are, yeees you are… now there’s somebody who’ll clash with Dor’ash later on if I ever get to it. Whee!
Okay, I admit. Those two troll ladies who let Dosha and Rohdjinn borrow their mounts were cameos by sis and her best friend’s alts. Although that same alt of sis’ was the shaman troll showing up at the end of Wail, Baby, Wail, but we’ll ignore that. Since I’m confessing things, Rohdjinn is my best friend’s char. They threathen me with pointy stuuuff! (broken off bits of chocolate :D)
Urgh. I should be writing job applications… and be nervous of hearing from those I’ve sent some off to.