first meeting pt 1

(( Set two and a half years ago, in Shattrath City ))

The Kaldorei girl sat cross-legged beside the shallow green pool on the Aldor Rise of Shattrath City, eyes closed; attempting to distance herself from the bustle and commotion that surrounded her. Men and women of all races, in garb suggesting a variety of statuses and profession, flocked between the several Draenic buildings constructed on the rocky outcrop. Several of them were conversing in a low, foreign tongue; others were carrying stretchers, in the far corner an elekk was being loaded with several crateloads of weapons. Shattrath City was a city at war, and there was not a moment of stillness or calm to be found within the stone boundary walls. The girl, whose name was Leafsong, was used to the tranquil, dull monotony of Nighthaven; and she was wholly discomfited by the swarming determination of the crowd around her.

A Quel’dorei of the Shatar, distinctive in their purple and orange colours, accidentally clipped one of Leafsong’s long ears with the hilt of his mace as he strode past; giving her a nod of apology as her eyes flew open. His apologetic grin quickly turned to an open-jawed expression of shock as she flicked up two fingers and said something unrepeatable. He carried on, shaking his head, as she turned back to her reflection. Her stomach released a petulant rumble and she reached for her satchel, the leather still stiff with newness, and began to rummage through it. Retrieving a slightly battered sandwich, she began to chew on it deliberately, head bowed.

Ashamal Shalah’man shoved his way through the crowd, a distasteful curl to his lip, with the grim, purposeful stride of a man who had to prove himself to past enemies. The crumpled colours of the Shatar were rammed in the corner of his pack, and war orders were clutched in his metal-gloved hand. He had just forcibly moved an ambling Draenei female from his path and was heading for the stables, when his attention was caught by a muttered utterance in an accent more often heard in the city slums, than high up on the prestigious Aldor Rise.

I hate ’em!”

His ears pricked, with the knowledge that eleven thousand years of life brought, he immediately located the geography of the speaker. Moonglade, Nighthaven. Low-born. He followed the path of the sound to its origin- a girl of his own species, who – from behind – appeared no more than a scrap of a child. She was hunched over the pond, devouring a sandwich with fixated gusto, a licked finger swooping down to scoop up dropped crumbs unashamedly. With idle curiosity, he stepped forward far enough to glimpse her reflection in the water’s surface. She was older than he had first thought, he realised with slight surprise, between one and two centuries. He had been mislead by the narrowness of her shoulders, the knobs of her spine prominent beneath the crumpled cotton of her top; the limbs which he had believed childish, were the result of years of stunted growth due to malnutrition or illness. She was slender, and taller than he had thought, her poor posture and hunched seating disguised a height which would not be far from his own – she was probably taller than most Kaldorei males, and carried her height with awkward gracelessness.

Her face was pale and fox-like, her nose long and her mouth slightly too large for her pointed jaw. Her hair was in a loose cloud around her head, curling, tangled and in need of a wash – he noted with some amusement that it had been poorly dyed the same diluted grassy shade as the colours she wore. Her best feature were her eyes, which were large and pensive, the pale and muted grey of winter cloud; but they were overshadowed by inherent suspicion, and the general sullenness of her expression. As he watched, she spat into the pond, cleaning out a corner of her gums with a small finger.

The gesture tugged at a memory which had been buried for a decade in the head of Ashamal Shalah’aman; buried beneath other recollections of his time in exile, his writings from that period, interwoven with strands of biting resentment. The girl, shorter then, dirtier, her hair longer and in a thin braid down her back; spitting into a Hyjal stream and rubbing her mouth with a bitten-nailed finger, while the pattern of ivy leaves was reflected on her narrow, naked back. The remembrance hit him solidly, like a dull arrow to the chest, and brought others with them. She called herself Twiglet – a ridiculous name, he had thought at the time, and probably not her real one. He stepped closer, his fingers loosening around the roll of parchment, orders temporarily forgotten. She had white hair back then, and she didn’t wear any shoes. She was sullen back then too, wore the most repellent expression you ever saw on a female. She..

She stole my money and disappeared!

With a swiftness that belied his age, he stepped forward into a crouch, gripping the girl’s sharp chin between his fingers. The remnants of the sandwich fell from her mouth as he twisted her head round and brought his face an inch from hers. Her brows drew together and she wrenched her face back, her expression contorting in anger.

Oi, mister, what-”

In that moment when her pale gaze first met his amber one; he knew her, and what was more, he knew that she knew him. She froze, and he saw disbelief and then horror flicker across her face. In an instant it was replaced by the cool disdain of before, retreating behind the armour of sullen adolescence. He reached out for her, the parchment dropping forgotten as he gripped her face between gloved hands, wholly without affection.

Twiglet,” he said, then repeated the name disbelievingly.

She recoiled from him, visibly, then cursed inwardly. If he had been unsure of himself before that moment, her reaction had proved him irrevocably correct. A cold smile crept over his features, and she felt her hands begin to shake imperceptibly, fingers clutching the strap of her satchel. A gent would step back and give a lady some room she thought to herself furiously, trying to control the nausea rising in her gut. He didn’t give her an inch, his horrid face glowering into hers. He hadn’t changed she thought to herself irrationally. He did not look the eleven thousand years he had claimed to her, though the fixation with keeping his body in prime physical condition had probably helped. It had been ten years with no picture to remind her of his face, and yet his features were branded on her memory. The fine-boned Highborne cheekbones and beard peppered with grey; the sunken, bruised tawny glare. His face still bore some resemblance to the handsome, ruthless youth he had been, but it was an old man who owned those features now. In Hyjal he had been clothed in worn robes and clutched a staff; now he was covered in armour and was wielding several menacing looking weapons, but he was unmistakeable. He was wearing gloves of black steel, but she could draw every line on the back of his hands from memory. She had only to close her eyes, and she could picture it resting lightly, possessively on her thigh.

She thought all of the above in a fraction of a second, before her overwhelming instinct for self-preservation took over, and she assembled her features into a blank stare.

I don’t know wh-what you mean. Now, unhand me, or- or I’ll call my Cenarion bosses! They’ll ‘AVE you!”

He kept his gaze on hers and his hands on her face, a coldness forming over his expression.

You’re in Shattrath, Twiglet. I’m in the Sha’tar. Your Circle can’t do anything for you here.”

As he spoke, she reached down to crumple her tabard between her fingers in an attempt to disguise the distinctive sewn logo of a tree with crossed branches. He looked down at her dirty-nailed fingers, then grabbed at her ear and yanked her cruelly to her feet. She let out a gasp and would have stumbled forward into the pond, if not for his pincer-like grip.

Agh! I’m with the Expedition-! They’ll ‘elp defend me from- from strange madmen!

You owe me my money back,” he said balefully, twisting her ear. “Or something else.”

Her face contorted and she struggled for a moment, he loosened his grip a fraction as he noted several curious stares from passers-by.

What money? What money? I don’t owe you no money, mister. You got the-the wrong girl!”

He brought his mouth to her ear, his breath hot on her neck, smelling faintly of gun oil. “I remember the whores I’ve had.”

She gasped, the pallid cheeks flushing as she winced at the harshness of his words. “I were not. I were not! I-I’m a respected business woman. I don’t know you!”

He scoffed as her eyes shone with false sincerity, flickering like a lizard. His lip curled hatefully as she cringed, unable to keep up the pretence. He leered, touching her cheek with mock tenderness.

You should know me, after what we did every weekend that summer.”

Two points of colour appeared high on her cheekbones as she gazed at him in horror, then dropped her eyes to the floor. An Aldor anchorite, who had been observing the odd couple for a while, approached and coughed delicately.

Is there a problem?”

No,” replied Ashamal coldly, dismissing the man with a nod. He tightened his grip on Leafsong’s arm until she let out a hiss of pain, her eyes blazing with antagonism.

F-ine, fine- perhaps we d-did know each other. For a bit. In the past. Now let go!”

You’re going to shut up and play by my rules now, so don’t f­-ck with me, or I’ll take my compensation now. I paid you enough gold to sink a damned frigate.” Here, he pointed a metal-coated finger at her, the black tip an inch from her nose. “And I didn’t get shit for it. Now, normally I give to the poor willingly, but I do not value criminals or those who break promises.”

She jumped as he slammed his fist into the palm of her hand, in a brutal gesture at odds with the refined drawl of his speech. The churning in her gut escalated as he muttered something to himself, dark and indistinct.

I- I fort it were a gift, like. Um- you said you’d been exiled! What’re you even doing ‘ere?”

He stopped mumbling and scowled at her, slackening his grip slightly.

I’m fighting the demons on the rim of this planet. I’m here in this city because I need rest from the hells I’ve seen.” Determined not to be distracted, he took hold of the cheap woollen collar of her threadbare jumper and turned her to face him fully. She flashed the familiar pale eyes at him before lowering her gaze to the floor. After a moment, she raised her face once more, resentfully.

You said you’d be confined to Winterspring and ‘Yjal forever. You liar!”

I was given the chance to win back my freedom by fighting in this war,” he responded after a moment, folding his thin lips together. She growled at him through her teeth very quietly, before forcing a bright, false smile onto her features.

Lovely. It were – lovely to see you again, but I’m a busy woman. Expedition stuff- better g-get goin’!”

Oh, no. No, no,” he replied swiftly, pinching her cheek without affection. “You’re coming with me.”


2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Cliffhanger! I really can’t wait to read more of your interp. of this RP, babe. It was so good! Can’t believe you managed to write like this right before your surgery. Perhaps the act of writing is calming.

  2. 2

    Sharaan said,

    This is fascinating :O I’ve always toyed with the idea of redoing some of my older intergral roleplays. Why is Aphel such a dick?

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