Legendy Amateurs: Book One, Chapter Five

Landing back at the shrine, Zarahi shifted back to normal and staggered before sitting down. Another druid approached her to see if she was ok. Zarahi merely brushed her off and told the druid to simply find Delandros for her. It wasn’t long before he was with her and she explained her venture in retrieving the seeds. The Night Elf was clearly disheartened over the loss of his close allies and vowed the Legion would pay for what they’ve done. After a moment he was calmer.

“I apologize,” said Delandros. “I never took the time to ask what brought you to the shrine in the first place. What could have required the blessing of Rengar?”

Zarahi paused a moment, looking at him. “Actually…I be here for da Fangs.” She elaborated on the details of what the statement meant. Why she had been sent and the means of her arrival in Suramar lands.

Delandros said nothing for a moment, then finally spoke. “I will not lie. Had you said that upon coming here, I would have told you to take a walk. But your actions speak loudly, and you have done us a great honor today.” He paused and looked out at the region around them. “Rest for the night and tomorrow we will take the necessary steps.”

Zarahi smiled back at him. “But first, we gonna clear out da rest of the demons.”

The next day, it was before dawn when Zarahi rose and joined the fight. Those who had fought overnight had done well to hold ground. Reports suggested they didn’t really make any progress, but they had not lost any either. Delandros and others were already taking it to the demons remaining. He greeted her as she joined the fight alongside him. Suddenly, a green beam of light shone upon the shrine and the earth beneath their feet rumbled. Delandros was holding off a demon. “Verstok was protecting the shrine! Hurry over there. I have this under control.”

Zarahi bound her way up the shrine. The last thing she expected to see upon ascending the stairs was a minor pit lord. The four-legged monstrosity stared down, roaring at another druid that the blades would soon be his.

The druid snarled up at the demon.  “I will never let the Fangs fall into the hands of the Legion. Take a good look, because this is as close as you’ll ever get to them!” The druid, presumably Verstok, took off in his cat form and Zarahi foolishly lunged in and attacked the pit lord. With one swat it was clear even a minor pit lord was too formidable for her. Fortunately, that was when Delandros and the others chose to reach the conflict. The Archen Druids were able to overpower the pit lord and defeat it. After, Delandros looked around and realized the Fangs were gone. Zarahi explained Verstok’s actions and the Night Elf shook his head.

“I don’t believe it. He’s going to get himself killed.” He paused and then assessed the situation. “We need to go get him. Unfortunately, the other key leaders of the Archen Druids have perished in the conflict. I can’t just abandon the rest.”

Zarahi knew well what this meant. It was just like Malfurion sending her into the Dreamway without him. “I don’t know dis land well enough.”

“This is true, but fortunately I have a solution to that. Not only does Ebonfang know the area well, but he’s the best tracker we have. He’ll guide you far enough to find Verstok. Besides, carrying the Fangs he has to be afraid. Which means, he won’t be slowing enough to cover his tracks.”

Zarahi agreed with the analysis. But when she agreed to the plan, the last thing she expected was for Ebonfang to be a Nightsaber! The animal looked as reluctant about the relationship as the troll was.

Legendary Amateurs: Book One, Chapter Four

As she rode upon the Hippogryph, Zarahi was lost in her thoughts. A short time ago she was fighting the battle against the Iron Horde. She was a lower level commander but her execution and tactics had been helpful on more than one occasion. Suddenly she was summoned by Hamuul Runetotem and Malfurion Stormrage to create a portal. Then told she was the one going through it. Now she was the one seeking out an ancient weapon? It was almost too much even for her. Surely there would have been another Druid more suited. But while the confusion stemmed within her, she would never say no. Zarahi would always do what she thought was right. If those around her deemed it so, then she would follow.

Landing at the Shrine of Ashamane, Zarahi overheard a discussion between two Night Elves. One was clearly not pleased with the other and walked away. The remaining figure tended to an individual at his feet who was wounded. It wasn’t often Zarahi channeled nature for a spell, but she did so this time without inclination. The person on the ground began to ease and the Night Elf thanked her.

“No tanks be needin” she said.  “But if you can help me find Delandros, dat be good enough.”

She was surprised to find out that’s exactly who she was standing before. Zarahi handed over the signet. Delandros Shimmermoon accepted the blessing, and while he wanted to help he had more pressing matters to attend to. He pointed up to a Legion ship and explained they’ve been attacked more frequently with each passing day. Ashen were being captured. The Night Elf also feared his most trusted members may have fallen in the conflict. To make matters worse, they each carried Tel’andu seeds. When Zahari was clearly puzzled, he explained to the Troll the seeds were needed for a renewal ritual. The magic ward that protects the Fangs was fading, weakening over time.

Zarahi look around the land and then turned to the Night Elf.  “If ya be knowin’ where dey headed, I be happy to go hunting.”

Delandros sighed. “Your assistance in the effort is most appreciated. The forests to the north were the last time they were spotted. But that was some time ago. If our worst fears are true, please see if you can at least recover the seeds.

Zarahi nodded and made a few preparations before heading out. Several miles from the village she discovered the significance of the situation. Legion demons were roaming the forest. Fortunately, they were not concentrated in what looked like patrols. She snuck up on the first one with ease and almost took joy in spilling Fel blood. The feeling faded quickly as she found a body nearby. Not far from his outstretched hand was a pouch. Zarahi had the blessing of the Loa. One pack of seeds had been found, and quickly.

Bounding through the forest, Zarahi searched. Each demon she passed fell like the one before it. These were clearly only initiates and nothing actually powerful. But they were still enough in numbers and strength to catch the Ashen off-guard. The screams of a Night Elf sent her in a western dash. She came upon a burning tree hut, and a man was being choked by shadow magic spewing from a demon.

“I will never surrender them! The Fangs of Ashamane will be protected, and these seeds will be with me until my dying breath!” The Night Elf kicked and struggled to break free. The demon grinned. “Very well.”

Zahari pounced, raking her claws into the shoulders of the creature. He fell to the ground, caught off guard, and it wasn’t long before her thrashing and raking cat form had left it motionless. When she turned to the Night Elf though, it was too late. With a heavy heart she sniffed out the seeds and put them with the others that she had found. That meant only one more pouch to find.

Zarahi prowled the Mistvale for the next several hours. All she found was more and more demons. And more dead Ashen Druids. But the last of the seeds was nowhere to be found. She feared her search would end without success. Zarahi sat, resting a moment after what had been a long day already. She closed her eyes and listened to the forest. Her feral temperament faded again, and the breeze flowed west. Looking, she saw another tree hut and made her way over. The door was ajar slightly, and inside was a Night Elf.

“Can I help you?”

Zarahi was surprised to find him sitting in his hut amidst all the chaos outside. “I be lookin’ for someone. Da door was open so I-”

“So you just thought you’d walk in and go through my things?”

Zarahi tried to apologize. |Dat not be it at all. With demons all around, I be just tryin’ ta find dem. Thought maybe dey was dead in here.”

Again the Night Elf snapped at her. “Well, as you can see I am clearly not. Will you be leaving then?” He looked back towards the door.

Zarahi was becoming annoyed. Demons everywhere and here this elf sat not only with his door open to trouble, but more rude than a Blackrock Orc in the process. She shrugged him off and then turned out the door, cursing. She took a few steps before turning into her cat form once more. She was ready to bound off when something stopped her. Something in the air. She sniffed and recognized the scent. It was in the blood she had spilled most of the day. And it was coming from the elf.

Zarahi did something she rarely ever did. Shifting into her bear form, she charged the door and slammed it open with her momentum. It broke apart and as the elf jumped to his feet, she leapt and went cat form for the speed and agility. She barely missed him, landing on a table that flipped over as she caught herself.

The Night Elf grinned. “I didn’t think two druids would be that dumb. But I will take pleasure in spilling your blood.” In that moment the Night Elf was gone, an Eredar in its place.

Zarahi bared her fangs.  “Many bettah dan you have tried. But here I be.”

In an instance she was shackled with pain. She had felt dark magic enough to know it well. She recoiled in pain, but the spell seemed to stop. She knew it would be a moment before the next one. In the instance she shifted to bat and flew at the demon. In the close quarters she had no room to maneuver, just slamming into him with her wings and clawing at his face. The demon screamed and swung hard at her, knocking Zarahi away. She hit the wall hard and reverted to her natural Troll form.

The Eradar’s eyes widened. “A Troll?” He spat. “I will not only spill your blood, I will drink it as well!” He stepped slowly toward her, receiving nothing more than a scowl in return. “You are not worth the magic. I will take more pleasure in destroying you with my bare hands!” He reached down to grab her by the throat, and she used the moment to strike. Turning her head sharply she drove her tusks into his arm. One pierced it, and she painfully shifted back into a bear. Now she had the creature by the arm, in her mouth. With what strength she had, she charged hard and used him as a ram against the wall. Normally it might have been enough, but Zarahi had taken her share in this fight. She did the only thing she could think of. Calling down Moonfire they both screamed in agony. But eventually the demon stopped moving. Zarahi fell back against the floor in pain. She stared at the dead Eredar, swearing as she ate some healing leaves. They wouldn’t make her better but at least the burning pain would ease.

Once able to slowly move around once more, Zarahi looked around. The hut was like pretty much any other. A room with a bed, a window and a table. And now a great pool of demon blood on the floor and carpet. The rug had shifted in the quarrel, sliding several feet and taking some of the dirt with it. Enough that she could see something sticking out of the dirt. Barely, but it was there. She pulled herself over and dug out around it. A pouch, just like the other two. She now had all three. Wincing, she ate another small bit of leaves and got to her feet. She looked down at the demon once more before painfully shifting back into a bat and flying off.

Legendary Amateurs: Book One, Chapter One

“Zarahi,” the Stormcrow interrupted her thoughts.”Your presence is requested in Moonglade.”

The Troll looked at the Druid flying in front of her with audacity. “Do I be knowin’ you?”

In that moment, the crow transformed from it’s slender fowl form into a large creature, bigger than Zarahi and adorned in Earthen tones of nature. An aura of wisdom poured off of him.

Zarahi caught herself. “Archdruid Runetotem! I be apologizin’ for my ignorance.”

The Tauren shook his head. “It’s quite alright. More importantly right now we are preparing a ritual of great importance. We need your assistance. Please accompany me back.”

Zarahi would never turn down a request from Hamuul Runetotem. She revered him more than any other Archdruid…even Malfurion. For whatever reason, thought Zarahi, many other students fawned over Shan’do Stormrage. But Zarahi always found Runetotem to be the one she looked up to. Stoic, reserved when need be, and a wealth of wisdom without all the fanfare. And when need be, as ferocious a defender as she had ever known. No, she would not decline him. With that, they were off to Moonglade, home of the Druids.

The Archdruid spoke as they flew. “I’m pleased you came with me on such short notice. We have a great undertaking here in the Moonglade that is about to begin, one in which you will play a key role.”

Zarahi was confused. She was a Warrior. She spent her efforts fighting at the front of the Horde; even in Draenor she was put in charge of a large outpost by Vol’jin himself. Now suddenly Hamuul Runetotem had plans for her? Despite her admiration for the Tauren, it was hard to believe. As they approached the glade, he finally began to elaborate.

“The Burning Legion has invaded Azeroth, but for us to defeat them we must strike quickly and unexpectedly. We have discovered a Dreamway. A means to travel through the Emerald Dream. We will be able to traverse vast distances of Azeroth with just a short walk through the Dream. We can even access the ancient home of all Druids, Val’sharrah. Malfurion is preparing the ritual to open the Dreamway. Please summon Zen’tabra and Naralex to his side. Only with our combined efforts can we hope to succeed.”

As she nodded and turned away, Zarahi was still all but dumbfounded. Naralex and Zen’tabra? These were Druids who belonged in the glade. They had purpose there. But Zarahi still did not understand what she was doing there at this moment. But off she went just the same.

 

The Past Is Present

Siori sat at her desk, signing off on several papers that made their way in front of her.  Some were recruit applications (some of which did not get a signature), others supply orders for certain tasks.  A select few held details that only her and two other people would see or know about.  Today, however, this task was to be interrupted by a page.

“Yes Tobias, what is it?” As a guild leader and rogue she had a penchant for being calm, yet strictly to the point when need be.

“Well Miss Siori…um…well, it’s this.”

The young ones were always afraid to interrupt her.  It stemmed from a day she had received mail from her sister for the first time in months.  A girl came in excited to speak to her, and quickly ended up across a table with a dagger and a warning.  Okay, so she wasn’t always calm.

Siori took the envelope and noticed the wax seal immediately.  Rarely did she get sent anything in an envelope and when she did, his seal was never on it.  Hand written notes, signatures.  Even pseudonyms.  But in the years since Deathwing, she had only seen the seal once.  She disposed of Tobias and turned on her heels, envelope in hand.  Siori headed over to the closet, opened the door and then stuck a dagger point into a crack in the corner.  After two clicks, she pushed the back open to reveal a smaller room.  Making her way over to a chair and desk across from the cot, she slipped the dagger through the base of the envelope.  There was but a single piece of parchment in it.

“You made it clear to me that in the future you wished to remain on the sidelines.  You wanted to focus on the tactical side of things.  I vowed to not ask you to come back into the field and I’ve stuck to my word.  In the future, I will continue to do so.  But this isn’t the future.  This is the past, and we need you there.

~MSh

Siori read the note over several times.  She then walked over to the candle and burned it.  The last act before she left the room, was taking her sword off the wall.

Si90

Posthumous: Blue Sky Horror

“…Kheiro?”

“I do not know, Liam” came the Tauren’s response.  “Nor do I recognize the type of cargo it carries below.”

Drake was continuing to bark and gnash his teeth as the topside crew took in what they were seeing.  Liam knew something wasn’t right, but was in no place to think what it could possibly be.  Not on his wisest day.  “Flagsworth.  How long until we’ve passed Theramore?”

“At this point, be about twenty an’ we’re good and past.”

Liam looked back up at the zeppelin in the sky.  “Anyone care to guess how long before that thing is over our heads, going on the assumption that it stays its course?”

They muttered amongst themselves and then decided to simply watch for a moment or two and gauge the speed of the vessel.  The best anyone could guess was half an hour at best, and none of them could be absolutely certain.  Though Kheiro did suggest the ship was moving slower than normal, likely due to the blue object hanging below.  Had the group not been focused on the zeppelin, they might’ve noticed an equally pressing scene more quickly.  It was Morrison again who spotted it first.

“What in the hells has happened there?”  He was pointing at Theramore.  There was smoke pluming upwards from numerous points, and the stronghold had clearly been under attack recently.

“This is not good, Liam.  We must not be here.”  The words sounded strange coming from the Tauren.  Kheiro was always sturdy and grounded in his thoughts and his words.  These came with a hint of urgency that curled every ounce of Liam’s body and it was a feeling he did not want to experience.  Not in the moment, nor ever again.  He told Morrison to get back up in the nest and Flagsworth to open the sails to full.  He might not have known a great deal about being a captain, but he had a small sense of how to get moving.

“Kheiro, you need to tell me what’s going on.  What has happened here?”  Liam defied his body and remained calm as he processed what he saw.  Guards were dead.  Docks were broken and shattered.  Ships were sank in the harbor as it came clearly into view.

“I…do not know.  But the Alliance would not attack itself, so I can only fear for the worst.”

“Which is…?” Liam could read a map as well as anyone but wanted Kheiro to confirm what his eyes were telling him.

“Something has caused the Horde to attack here,” the words came out more as a sigh from the Tauren.  “I do not know what, or why, but as sure as I stand here now I believe it to be the case.”  He paused to look back at the zeppelin that they were seemingly inching away from.  “I fear that ship is no coincidence either.”

They stood and watched the ship and took turns taking in the damage to Theramore.  Even from their distance they could tell the Isle had faced a wrath that it had not expected, though the Keep still stood above the walls if one squinted through the smoke.  Flagsworth kept the ship at full speed and on a safe course, while Morrison would only come down if there was something dire or new to the situation.  It was all anyone could do to just wait out the situation.

Drake continued to bark, but even he had toned down to mostly a growl as they continued to push past Theramore.  The dog was as concerned as ever, but seemingly tired of barking for such a lengthy time and realizing he could do nothing about his agitation.  Liam felt much the same, almost helpless.  They were going to get past Theramore Isle as they had planned, but what would they find in Ratchet now?  All the confidence he had from the moment they took the ship began to fade to uncertainty.  What he had been told about a key point in Kalimdor, a continent he had never been to, lay waste before him.  Strategically speaking, something was going on in this land that even Kheiro did not know or suspect.  Not having the Tauren’s conscience and guidance and certainty was unsettling to say the least.

From their distance, they were finally in position to have a sound view of the cove just off from the harbor -though it was a fading one.  It didn’t have to be close up, or clear for very long, as even from their distance they could tell what Kheiro thought was exactly the truth.  As the Tauren pointed, Liam saw what a half sunken Horde ship looked like.  And it wasn’t the only one.  They saw several.  The Horde had in fact attacked the Isle.  Liam wondered who had won and if this changed anything.  His mind raced with “what if” scenarios about things he knew nothing even before the events he had witnessed.  His calmness remained on the surface, as he knew not what else to do.  He felt pangs of sadness as he briefly made out another body along the outer wall.  This soldier was far bloodier than previous ones he had seen on the other side of the wall.

Darker.

Redder.

Warmer. 

Tastier. 

Delicious. 

POWER! 

Morrison’s words rang out and Liam found himself perched at the edge of the ship, almost ready to leap into the sea below them.  He couldn’t explain how he ended up in the position, or how long he’d been there, but as he looked up they were finally past the stronghold.  However, the zeppelin had gotten there faster than any of them had expected and they found themselves now just far enough away to see it pass over the human settlement.  They were also close enough to see something blue drop off the bottom of the ship and slowly descend to the target below.  Truth be told, it did not happen slowly.  It was but an instant before it dropped and before it could even hit the ground, it exploded in a radiance of blue.

Posthumous: The Calm Outside The Storms

The clouds overhead continued to threaten rain, but thus far had failed to let loose.  Aside from the occasional drizzle, that had been the trip since their departure from Gadgetzan.  Had they sailed the deeper waters as a ship normally would, the weather would have been much more drastic.  Any of the crew members could see the storm off in the distance.  Were it not for goblins, of all people, they would have been smack in the middle of it.  Instead, they had remained fairly close to shore and thus even lost time through some careful moments of navigation, the worst of which came along the Eastern Mountains that divided them from The Shimmering Flats.

It was during this particular stretch that Liam actually interacted with some of the other crew.  He learned Flagsworth hadn’t always wanted to be a seaman.  He had heroic ambitions, but things just had a way of being the right place at the wrong time for him.  The cook had an odd name, but everyone called him Saunter.  Watching him walk out with a meal, beaming with pride, it was no wonder why.  The pride was well deserved, too.  Saunter could turn several nothings into one hell of a meal.  There was even a dwarf -a curmudgeonly fellow named Dugger who was in charge of the cannons.

Kheiro had provided more insight and history into the land.  Liam had remembered stories of people sailing to Kalimdor during the Third War, but Kheiro explained exactly how Theramore Isle came to be and the agreement made between the Warchief Thrall and Jaina Proudmoore that allowed the humans to still live there.  The Horde were forbid from attacking, but that didn’t mean everyone sat back.  Apparently there was even a group of Tauren that would occasionally venture close enough to try and cause trouble.  Kheiro had made it clear they weren’t Tauren to be proud of and they most certainly weren’t the Tauren in the Horde.

There was also talk of a rumoured Dragon’s Lair, but according to the Tauren, that’s all they were.  There could be someone who could confirm it, but he had not seen it with his own eyes and if the words did not come from someone Kheiro strongly trusted, he wasn’t likely to believe it.  Also if there were individuals who knew of the Dragon’s Lair, there was a good chance they never made it out.

Liam also made a point of taking time to himself.  With Drake by his side, he would look back on the things that have happened thus far.  He would take in memories.  Some were as if he were there in that moment, and others he could barely recall.  The biggest one that continued to plague him was the cause of his death.  He could not remember the cause, or even the time leading up to it.  It was as if he died and backtracked.  That his life and death overlapped one another.

It was this that troubled him on the day they were destined to pass Theramore Isle.  Knowing there were humans like he was, bantering about with their daily business.  Just as he used to.  Not a care in the world, nor a concern.  A small part of him was jealous, but it was the trying to remember those days that bothered him most.   He sighed heavily in the warm sun, the first in several days.

“Flagsworth.  Can we move out to sea and avoid the Isle entirely?”

“Not according to Mor’son.  He’s up in the nest and says he can still see it’s rough.  Least, that’s what he said a half hour ago.”  Flagsworth looked high up the mast and then out at the water.  Liam followed his view and it indeed looked significantly darker.  “Like th’ Tauren said.  Long as we don’t port, or get too close, shouldn’t be too concerning.  Well, so long as they don’t see no Horde aboard as we pass.”

Liam understood what Flagsworth was getting at.  Himself and Kheiro needn’t be out in the open for all the world to see.  Peaceful as they were, those on guard around Theramore probably weren’t the type to take chances…least of all with an Undead.  They’d simply have to wait it out in the Captain’s cabin.  With the Isle almost close enough to distinguish the stronghold from the horizon, that time wouldn’t be much longer.

Drake began to growl, which startled Flagsworth enough to take a couple of steps backward.  It wasn’t the crewman that had the dog rattled.  He was looking towards the marsh area beyond Theramore.  Liam squinted but given the sunlight and distance he couldn’t tell what Drake could be looking at.  There were certainly no signs for concern, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t something to be concerned about.

Liam felt the deck rattle a little as Kheiro’s weight glided slowly across the ship.  He had heard the dog as well and came to investigate.  “What does he see?”

“We can’t tell, Kheiro” Liam answered. “I don’t see a thing.  Would they have the range to attack us out here?”

“Mmm, perhaps,” responded the Tauren,” but they have no reason to.  Theramore defends rather than attacks.”  He raised a hand up to his brow and looked out.  Kheiro shook his head to suggest he couldn’t see what Drake was continuing to growl at.

The dog started to full on bark and gnash his teeth when they got several lengths closer.  Once again, those around Drake tried to see what upset the dog so much.  They were so focused on what the dog was looking at that Morrison was halfway down from the nest before anyone even clued in.

“You’re looking in the wrong place” he hollared.  “He’s not looking there, the dog is looking at the sky.  Right there.”

They all turned their heads further upward.  None was struck by anger, or fear, or concern.  They simply wondered what the Zeppelin was doing, and what was hanging below it?

Posthumous: Stars And Sand

Liam stood on the balcony of the inn and looked out across the desert.  It was a clear night across Tanaris, so even from Gadgetzan he could see as far as the northern Troll ruins and even make out the Silithus outline in the sky to the southwest.  Of course, Liam couldn’t have named any of those places before today, let alone determine where they were.  It had been a long day and he just enjoyed being outside.  While there was still hustle and bustle throughout the town below, it was somewhat quieter up above.

Liam had put a little faith in Flagsworth and entrusted in him the docking of the ship, and it pleasantly had gone off without a hitch.  He also kept his word with the alchemist when Drake awoke.  He spared him his life, though they did end up selling him to Nigstrom, the owner of the cage fighting that was an incredibly popular attraction.  It took several of them, but they convinced him that having a medic on hand would be good for business.

He left Flagsworth to determine who would be best for the transaction of goods versus new goods to transport.  Surprisingly, he selected Kheiro.  He said the Tauren was far wiser than anyone on board and Liam had to agree with him on that.  Plus, Kheiro knew the port of Ratchet rather well and that was their next destination.  It only stood to reason he could gauge what would be of value there, too.  Plus, he could be trusted not to run off with the gold, or blow it in a game of Bilge Dice or Kings…

Liam took the hint from a pestering nose and squatted down to give Drake a scratch.  A thorough one, almost making up for the days they had missed out.  As always, his thoughts came out loud to the dog.

“How did we end up here bud?” It was an answerless question of course.  “It feels like just yesterday I awoke in the grave, with no idea how I got there.  Now, we’re sitting here and I have no idea how that came about either!”

The dog looked at him, cocking his head slightly toward the boney hand scratching him behind his ear.  Liam looked at him and knew the dog didn’t have an answer.  He also clearly didn’t care what the answer was, he was just happy to be back with his master.  Liam was happy to have him back as well.

“Liam.”

He turned to see the Orc coming through the archway and stood to greet him.  The hulking green man stepped across the balcony and towered over Liam.  Not nearly as much as Kheiro did, but the height and girth was more than enough to show just how meager Liam was in his undead form.

“Are you all set, Logard?”  When they left the ship anchored just off the coast, the orc had made it clear he would not be returning with them now that he was no longer a prisoner.

“I am.”  He paused to size up Liam.  “I don’t do thanks well.  But, I owe you my freedom.”  His eyes focused on Liam and seemed to almost be looking into him.  “I don’t know what happened on that boat, but I do know that much.”  He didn’t say anything more.  He merely pounded his chest with his forearm, then turned and left.

Liam looked down at Drake.  “No, I don’t think I’ll ever find any comfort in an Orc’s presence either.”  He leaned on the hard rock railing of the roof and stared out once more.  Liam considered himself of reasonable intelligence, but he was at a loss for his current journey.  When he was alive, everything had purpose.  In the time since he was no longer alive, it’s been more of a take what came his way approach.  He wasn’t sure how he felt about that or how he felt when he thought back to how he became in charge of the ship.  What did happen to him anyway?  He was still in control, he just didn’t care.  And would it happen again?

“We have finished our exchanges with the merchants and other ships.”  Kheiro’s deep tone calmly interrupted Liam’s thoughts.  “I have done my best with what goods we had.  Your crew is taking the wagons back to the ship now.”

Liam stared an eye right through the moon as Kheiro knelt down to remind Drake he had not forgotten him.  The dog snatched the small piece of Talbuk Venison the Tauren had brought him and laid on the ground, tearing at it vehemently.  “You just have to keep poking me with those Captain comments don’t you?”

Kheiro stood and turned to Liam.  “My moments of casting an innocent jape have passed.  I speak now in the literal sense.  Whether it pleases you, or it doesn’t, you have been deemed the Captain of the ship.  The crew, as such, is yours as well.  Thus my remark.”

It didn’t matter what he said.  The moment the Tauren started talking, Liam felt like a jerk for immediately attacking Kheiro.  The adventure thus far could not have been much easier for him as well, and he was the only friend outside of Drake who Liam had in this life after life.  He looked to the Tauren to apologize but no doubt sensing that, Kheiro changed the subject.

“Ratchet is our destination, but our journey there might not be without obstacle,” he said.  Reading Liam’s face he continued.  “The Goblins, while honestly dishonest, have some interesting technology.  If that is to be believed, then hard rain is expected among the deep waters.”  He scratched his forearm slowly before continuing.  “The consensus is that we’re far safer not straying far from shore.”

“I see no problem with that,” said Liam.  “If it takes longer, that’s not a big deal is it?”

Kheiro looked at Liam as he always did when he was about to teach him something new.  “It is not a matter of time so much as a matter of where it takes us.”  The Tauren turned to look towards their docked ship.  “Unless marked as an Alliance vessel, few ships are welcome in Theramore these days.”