first meeting pt 3

Want to see the shithole – (here, he pinched her neck as she muttered no, not really) – that the Darnassian government afforded to one of their oldest deployed soldiers? Classy, eh?” he commented sourly, tugging free the leather tie and lifting the heavy canvas entrance flap. The space within was spartan, only containing a padlocked leatherbound trunk, and a camp bed, lit by an oil lamp hanging from the ceiling pole. Leafsong craned her neck away, trying to see if any of the other soldiers were within hailing distance.

They probably gave all the good tents to the good soldiers. Ouch!” she squealed as he shoved her inside, both of them unable to stand fully upright. The small space seemed even more confined with the two of them inside.

I’m sure it’s more comfortable than whatever the Expedition set you up with.”

She hissed, pale eyes flashing, turning on him and planting her hands square on his chest. “Let me go! Let me go, I ain’t done nothing. Let me go!”

Ashamal looked over his shoulder at the shadowy figures of his comrades huddled around the fire. Although they were all veterans who had seen and heard far worse during the course of the war, he would still prefer to avoid undue attention. Reaching across, he tugged headband down from the chaotic mass of hair and over her mouth, grabbing the material tight at the back of her head. She almost choked as the cotton cut into the corners of her mouth, fear glowing at the back of her irises as he looked down his hooked nose at her, contemptuously.

Do you want me to bind you further?” he asked her quietly, his face as still as a statue, eyes blazing. “I have no qualms about returning you to the Cenarion camp missing a limb or two. You shut that big mouth of yours, or I’ll break your legs and leave you here.”

Her muffled protests gradually faded away as she took in his intent, her eyes searching his and judging the threat to be genuine. Slowly, never taking his eyes from hers, he loosened his grip on the headband, letting it settle around her neck. She swallowed, touching the corners of her mouth where the cloth had cut in. Lowering his voice, he slid his hand into his pocket and brought up his coinpurse, jangling it mockingly before her.

Then again, if coin will make you comply better, so be it. I seem to remember that it did, once upon a time.”

She cast her eyes to the floor in bitter humiliation, her voice – when it came – barely more than a whisper.

I don’t do that no more. And it were only you, you know that! I weren’t no whore.”

Very well. You’re free to go.”

Her eyes shot back to his in disbelief, and she stepped back a pace, gauging the distance between herself and the tent entrance. He was looking at her, still and watchful, as a cat might watch a cornered mouse.

Really? You won’t- come lookin’ for me?”

I might. Get moving.”

She didn’t wait for him to tell her a third time. Lunging forward, her satchel crashing against her thigh, she shot towards the tent entrance. As she passed him he reached out to grab her by the neck, pressing a square cotton pad against her mouth. She inhaled reflexively, then gagged, her eyes bulging as she felt her limbs begin to stiffen. Losing her balance, she stumbled forward and nearly fell forward out of the tent, the satchel dropping to the floor. He reached down to hook an arm beneath her skinny knees and swung her off her feet as her eyes rolled back in her head. Temporarily paralysed, she made a choked gurgle as he carried her over to the campbed and dropped her abruptly. Her head bounced against the coarse linen pillow and she blinked, numbly. Drawing up the trunk, he sat down on the leather and reached for his rifle, resting it lightly on his knee as he ran his eyes over her prone form. As the effects of the chemical wore off, she coughed hoarsely and turned her head, grimacing as she felt the stiffness of her shoulders.

So,” Ashamal commented in a conversational tone. “How about I tell everyone how your business was really started? That it had nothing to do with genius management or entrepreneurship, and everything to do with a convenient lump sum?”

She struggled to raise her shoulders, propping herself up on bruised elbows as the temporary paralytic wore off. As she shook her head frantically, her loose hair tangled in a cloud around her pale, anxious face.

You can’t! We won the Circle contract on the basis of our “success story”! Please, noone else knows about the money.”

He grinned at her savagely, leaning towards her, face framed by the greying curtains of navy hair. Touching her cheek, he dug his finger painfully against the bone. She cringed, dropping her eyes; though he could tell by the stillness of her face that she was not defeated, merely calculating the next move, the next manipulation. He held his finger there for a moment, face solid as a marble Suramar bust, when something in his eyes softened and he exhaled. For a moment, it was if they had been carried back ten years by a member of the Bronze Flight, and they were back in Hyjal; the street urchin and the exile. He withdraw his hand and lowered the rifle to the floor, shaking his head irritably. For a moment, he appeared every one of his eleven thousand years.

I have another idea,” he said oddly, and she realised that the war had driven him slightly mad. “You need some education before the Circle would even consider taking you on as a druidic student. And I wouldn’t mind some company on the road- my term of service ends soon.”

She raised her eyes, the rabbit invited to dinner by the wolf. There was some commotion outside, an argument quickly escalating to a muffled altercation; but the atmosphere in the darkened tent remained taut as an overtightened bow string. Her voice was quiet but level as she posed the crucial question, her fingers compulsively twisting the strap of her satchel.


He snorted, standing from the trunk with a stretch and a grimace. “This damned city stinks. You’d think that the refugees had left their sense of hygiene behind, along with their other possessions.” Fumbling inside one of the tent’s inner pouches, he pulled out a stick of violet-shaded incense, half-burnt, in an elaborate silver holder.

Where’s the damned flint-”

Looking around, his lip curling (quick to anger, she thought), he hissed a muted curse as one of the brawlers crashed against the outside of the tent. Elbowing the bulging canvas viciously, he turned back to the bed to come face to face with Leafsong. She stands no less than tall than I, he thought irrationally for a moment as she shot him a somewhat mocking look, holding up a small, red-headed match. As he opened his mouth, she reached forward and neatly struck the match off his front teeth; handing it to him as he swallowed the faint taste of sulphur. Handing him the little flame, she folded her lanky frame back down onto the campbed, bringing her knees beneath her chin.

Why d’you want me?”

He didn’t look at her, concentrating on fixing the incense holder to the hanging oil lamp. His voice, when he answered, was neutral.

Why shouldn’t I have a happy, young companion at my age? Someone to entertain me, to remind me not to be so damned cynical. Elune knows, with what I’ve been through, I should have turned to drinking by now! But I’m strong.”

Letting out a cackle, he turned to face her and reached down to stroke her ear possessively with two fingers, hinting at a somewhat less innocent side to his request.

Ignoring his insinuation, but not moving her head, she paused for a moment, before gathering her thoughts and replying.

You ain’t been nothing but ‘orrible to me. And do I look like a happy youth?” She shot the last part at him sarcastically, then jumped as the brawlers outside momentarily crashed against the canvas at her back. Glancing over her shoulder, she slid further towards the edge of the bed, away from the wall, then startled as her knees collided with his. He had pulled the trunk closer to the bed, taking advantage of their similar height to position himself alongside her, face to face, a few inches air between them. She drew back a fraction, warily.

You’re developing into a fine young woman,” he said thickly, in the practised murmur of the serial womaniser. His expectant grin was met with a frigid stare.

Your charmin’ words won’t work on me,” she muttered, lowering her face to the floor once more. “I only speak in business terms.”

He drew back slightly, raising his voice.

Ah, a businesswoman! That’s why you took my money, and used it to start up your little business. You did, didn’t you? Tell me the truth.”

She paused for a moment, watching him through the gloom of the tent, gauging the market value of sincerity. Finally, she shook her head, her voice faint, as if she was speaking from the bottom of a deep hole.

I ain’t allowed to speak about that.”

He leered, triumph in his eyes as he watched her rub the back of her grubby hand over her face, wearily. “So. Do you want to be my student then? My thero’shan?” After he noticed her shoulders slump with helpless acquiesce, he relented slightly. “You know, you’ll be paid. I’ll pay you twice as much as the Expedition is paying you. Write to your family, tell them that you’re starting new work.”

Something flickered in her eyes and she looked up at him, uncertainty mingling with disbelief.

Twice as much? ‘Ow do I know you’ll pay up?”

He bent his head forward and kissed her neck unexpectedly, rubbing his thumb over the damp mark he had made.

I promise that I will. I never break promises.”

She snorted, shaking her head, awkwardly.

You better not. I’ll cut your balls off in the night with my ‘erb cutter.”

He let out a rare laugh, reaching up to adjust the angle of the incense holder. For a moment, they both watched the purple smoke curl around as it hung lazily in the air above their heads. Leafsong, unused to the richness of the fragrance, stifled a sneeze.

Excellent.” Ashamal said after a pause. “Our first lesson will begin tomorrow. You can stay behind in the military camp while I’m on the front.”

She swallowed, her fingers fiddling nervously with the buckle on the front of her satchel.

And you’ll pay me every week in cash. With a receipt.”

Two hundred gold a day,” he said, watching her closely. “Yes.”

She gasped, her eyes as round as pennies as she stared at him, incredulous.

Two ‘undred- you’re letting me rob you a second time!”

Not really.”

Are you a fool?”

He frowned at her, but curbed his instinct to react angrily. “I’m no fool. I know that the money will help your family. I just want you.” His fingers reached out once more to touch the angular slash of her high cheekbone, made prominent through years of malnutrition as opposed to natural bone structure. “For company and such.”

And you won’t say nothin’ about your part in the GHE,” she clarified, her strange, pale eyes glowing dimly in the faint light thrown out by the dying lamp.

I promise.” he repeated, rubbing his fingers over the bridge of her long nose. “You’ll find my company quite pleasant. I’m not nefarious, I just get what I want.”

You’re a grumpy old man with violent tendencies” she countered, as his fingers progressed down the other side of her face. He shook his head, thoughtfully.

I wouldn’t beat you,” he said after a pause, nodding. “Unless you gave me a very good reason.”

She gnawed on her lower lip, then spat on her palm and offered it to him to shake. “It’s a deal, then.”

He gripped her hand, pulling her off the camp-bed and onto his knee. “Come here.”


1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Aphel said,

    A collection of some of your best posts of all time! I look forward to you making similar stories in the future, babe! The descriptions and dialogue were great. You took a good RP and converted it into an even better story.

    I wish I could write character stories like you! Sadly, my writing is broader.

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