The night was closing in on Darnassus as shadows descended on one of the city’s most exclusive centre districts. One of the dwellings, a spacious two-storey pavilion blazed from within like a lantern, lit by a fortune’s worth of candles. A chill autumn breeze rustled through gauzy veils that draped across the house-pavilion’s length; the only shields that kept the exposed dwelling from prying eyes, curious as to the occupants of these affluent homes .

Leafsong, clutching a bulging wicker basket of market-goods, turned onto the avenue that wound its way slowly between the luxury lodgings. A mounted sentinel followed close behind her, a predatory look on the handsome woman’s face as she crouched low in the saddle. Her eyes were fixated on the gawky, suspicious looking adolescent female; whose patched dress and general demeanour did not suggest that she belonged in such an privileged district. Leafsong, uncaring, continued to trudge along wearily; the handle of the basket digging into her fingers as she cursed the second melon she had rashly added at the last minute. The glow of two dozen candles caught her eye and she looked up, her jaw dropping as she took in the sight of the Shalah’aman family home, ablaze with light.

A few moments later, Ashamal Shalah’aman looked up from his book as his wife burst in through the curtains, pummelling her way through the flimsy fabric with a look of fury on her face. Dropping the wicker basket on one of the velvet chaises, she rotated slowly, taking in the lit lanterns hanging from the ceiling and the flickering candles lodged in ornate holders on the walls. The colour of her face had flushed from its usual sallow pallor to a blotchy apple-red.

“WHAT IS THE – meaning of this?!” Her initial bellow slid into a venomous whisper as he put a finger to his lips, nodding to the slumbering, blanket-covered forms in the crib beside their bed. In the Darnassian fashion, their sleeping quarters were on the lower storey; the elevated living room affording the better view of the city. Lifting the half-moon glasses from his hooked nose, he discarded the book and crossed the room to take his furious mate in his arms.

“Darling, you were longer than I thought,” he said as she went rigid against him, her eyes bulging with the effort of not erupting. “It’s tedious being unable to leave the house. When is your grandmother returning from Dolanaar?”

She wriggled for a moment, then tipped her head the slight angle needed to look him in the face, being only an inch shorter than he.

“Why are there so many bloody candles lit?! You know the rule is one per night. Those ain’t the soap wax ones, they cost a buggerin’ fortune!” she snarled, curly hairs escaping from her untidy bun.

He divested her of her (his) leather coat, expertly turning her around and guiding her down onto the chaise. Ignoring the old pain in his knee, he sank down before her, taking her cold hands in his.

“My fledgling mate,” he said patiently, rubbing his thumbs over her frantically twitching fingers. “I play to your pretence of poverty in Stormwind well enough, don’t I? I don’t protest when your insane budgeting means that I must read to the light of a single paltry candle. I don’t complain about our cramped quarters, nor the fact that we share our bedroom with the weekly shipments, nor that our little twins sleep in a crate.”

She gazed at him stubbornly, the star-cut lantern hanging behind her head illuminating her finely-cut features. He stroked the twisting locks that dangled behind her ears, his fingers coming away with a smear of earth. When his wife did bother to wash herself, she rarely did so thoroughly.

“You know that we do not lack funds. Elune has blessed us with monetary fortune as well as familial bounty” he reminded Leafsong gently, taking a seat on the velvet cushions beside her. She relented silently, her narrow shoulders losing their rigid cast. Reaching down for the basket by her feet, she lifted out something awkwardly wrapped in a scarf, passing it to him. He took it, raising a faded eyebrow, and unwrapped the package to reveal an ornate, dual-pronged bookmark.

“I knew you lost your old one,” she informed him solemnly. “So I got you a new one!”

He turned the wooden fork over, to see Darnassus Public Library etched on the handle. She looked defensive, her own eyebrows shooting up towards the patterned ceiling.

“What? You’re the public, ain’t you?”


1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Aphel said,

    Such a cute story. I love Leafie.

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