The Prodical Father Edit
It wasn't often the they all got together. Their home was full of chatter and joy. He leaned in the doorway and watched the scene as if he wasn't part of it.
The two families were gathered for an relaxed meal before the grand wedding the follow day. His eldest son marrying Leithien's eldest daughter. Ros'Vorontir and D'Seregon, familes eternally bound.
Renianna was fussing about herself in the long mirror, tugging at her dress and hair that she was clearly uncomfortable with. Njos' mother sat in a comfortable chair boring Ren to tears with the village gossip. Ren smiled and listened graciously. She occasionally glanced at him and he nodded at her in approval of her efforts.
"Those vegetables won't dig themselves up Njósnavélin." He turned to smile at his friend and business partner who was preparing their meal. They exchanged a moment, sharing the bond of fatherhood and companionship. "This is as close as we get to perfection." Leithien nodded sagely. Njos noted the sad undertone in his voice. Leithien gave him a gentle shove and he ducked out of the door. He smiled to himself as he paced to the vegetable patch, the happy family chatter drifted after him. Perhaps he and Renianna could salvage their marriage after all.
He playfully spun the small trowel he was carrying in his hand and dropped to his knees to unearth the carrots. The gravelly voice floated from behind bushes and shredded his hope. "How thweet. A thurprithe party for my home coming." The coarse voice lisped but the face remained hidden.
Njos stood and shifted his grasp on the trowel. He held it at his side like a weapon The sounds from the house changed as groans of disappointment echoed from the door. He glanced over his shoulder to see Ren on the path`heading towards him. The false sweet voice already gone and replaced by her formal tone. She was the ranger not a mother or wife when she spoke. "We've been called to duty. Nirenya has ben summoned to the city" He turned to her alarmed at the second statement, Nirenya was still a student. She ignored his expression as her sharp ears picked up the rough hidden breathing. "Get rid of him Kelu," she commanded. She turned on her heel and marched back to the house.
The bushes shook as the elf there shifted away. Njósnavélin knew he would never track him down again if he let him leave. Gripping the trowel fiercely he vaulted the fence and sprinted down the lane after the shadowy figure.
He stood on the walkway in Dawning Lane. The store visible from where he watched. A wretched elf wandered aimlessly near the doorway. That the buildings in this section of the city still stood was a surprising, that he and his daughter both had survived, a miracle.
Njósnavélin needed to salvage what he could from the ransacked store and make an attempt at rebuilding his business. The alternative would be to follow the less savoury routed he prefered to avoid. He had seen enough of it.
Strangely he found himself relying on the skills he father had secretly taught him to gain access to his store. Using the shadows to cloak himself he silently approached the wretched elf in the doorway, stunning it from behind he attacked it with his small sword wishing he had his father's twin daggers instead, but wasn't that really why he was here?
He looked down at the body of the now dead elf. His face unfamiliar. He was grateful. There were stories of people being attacked by their own loved ones, mothers driven mad with the craving attacking their own sons. He had strictly forbidden Nirenya from coming here, her mother's body had never been found.
He stepped over the threshold of the store, the scent of a multitude of herbs gently washed over him. He froze in place.
His eyes brimmed with tears, he took a deep breath and composed himself, he would not let sentiment get in the way of what he had to do. Behind the counter on the wall hung the framed tapestry his mother had made. "Remedial Libations" He paused to look at it and the memories washed over him. Leithien had proudly hung it there the day the store had opened. His family and his companion all there celebrating.
Behind him the sound of shuffling feet, he turned. The wretched elf lumbered forward. It's hair once golden now dirty yellow hung over it's face. Njósnavélin reacted instinctively as it lurched for him, stopping it in it's tracks. It fell face down. Horrified he stared at it. Leithien had had golden hair, long like this wasted and ruined elf. Shaking uncontrollably, he slowly turned it over. He recognised the face, but it was not his beloved companion.
Swiftly he made for the safe in the back of the store. Opening it he removed Leithien's small herb pouch and his father's neatly rolled up rucksack. Inside the rucksack were the twin daggers. He quickly attached their sheaths to either side of his belt, placed the herb pouch and some empty vials in to the rucksack, slung it over his shoulder and headed for the door. Slipping in to the shadows, he carefully made his way back to the guarded section of the city. Briefly he cursed himself for leaving the tapestry on the wall.
Njósnavélin slowly opened his eyes, he turned towards the source of light, warm fur brushing his skin. A crack of light poked in to the cave. The entrance was blocked by a huge wolf. The wolf stood and stretched, her hot breath steaming in the cold. He rose to meet it, their eyes level. The wolf lowered her head and nosed him in the chest gently.
'Off you go then' he whispered softly. The wolf turned and squeezed out of the cave then disappeared in to the woods. 'Enjoy your breakfast.' he muttered after her as he reached down to grab one of the warm furs. Cold had rushed in to the cave disturbing the warm air, and the small cat sleeping in the corner. He too scampered off in search of food, leaving Njósnavélin looking at the sorrowful camp fire that had gone out.
Pulling on his boots and wrapping the fur tightly around him he stepped out of the cave, and paced away from the entrance. Shivering, he emptied his bladder and sleepily trudged back to his camp. Suddenly he was struck and the complete lack of anything green and fresh. Everything was white and frozen, everything was still. A craving for ripe berries filled him, or a juicy slice of melon, something with zest, anything but the dried meat hanging in the cave.
Stepping back in to the cave he quickly dressed, the musky smell of cured animal skins bothering him. He shook his head, this was not right. Absent minded he reached for his pack, hoping to find perhaps some dried fruit but half knowing there was none, he rummaged around inside. Soft silk tempted his fingers, joy flooded through him when he remembered what it was.
He pulled out the the folded pouch and spread it in his lap. His daughter had made it for Leithien to use on his travels. She had enchanted it with her magiks so that anything stored inside would remain fresh. She had intended that he keep his food in it, but instead he'd stored his rare and precious herbs that he collected for their store. Sadness washed over him as he remembered his old life, his family, his master and their little shop of potions, all gone. The shop destroyed, his family and beloved friend lost forever.
Idly he opened the pouch, to inhale the scent of long forgotten herbs, he smiled. One leaf, carefully rolled and tucked in to a corner, caught his eye. One leaf, just one, it couldn't have been anything else. Slowly he unfolded it, bright green tipped with striking red, the bloodthistle leaf winked at him. Carefully he crushed the stem between his thumb and forefinger, red sap trickled down the curve of his hand. The loudness of the colour after living in such starkness was astounding, without a thought he licked the sap before it disappeared down his sleeve.
The copper taste flooded his mouth, the sap both burning and numbing his mouth. He stared at the leaf in his hand, incredulous at the thought it had been in his pack all this time. He tore off the tip of the leaf and pushed it in to his mouth, tucking it in to his cheek with his tongue then stepped out of the cave again. Still no sign of the wolf's return. Running his tongue over the leaf in his mouth, he savoured the taste of it. He rubbed his hand through his scruffy hair and ducked back in to the cave. He senses heightened from the leaf, he was assaulted with the stench of animal flesh, stale meat and sodden fur, he stumbled from the cave and retched in to the snow. How had he come to this? When had he abandoned his life's work? Tears filled him, and he sat sorrowfully in the snow, not caring at the damp and cold seeping through his garments.
Warily the wolf approached. She sat a few feet away from Njósnavélin, and stared at him intently. This was no pet. She was a riding wolf that he let run free, refusing to believe such a creature was a mere beast of burden. Still, Moro had happily carried him when he was too weary to walk. He had bought her while working out of Orgrimmar. His stomach knotted when he thought of it. Words drifted through his mind, assassin, thief, murderer. He shook himself, no. It was necessary. It was war. He had had a daughter to support. Putting her into training had been costly, without the store he had fallen back on his other skills. Most of his time was spent trading animal skins but there were darker tasks that he frequently undertook. He had promised Nirenya anything, had given her everything so that at least she could have some hope. He had known what giving anything had meant, but as he looked at his calloused hands he now realised that not only had he lost himself, but that he missed what he had been.
Njósnavélin looked up at the wolf, who was still staring at him. When their eyes met she looked over it's shoulder and raised her nose sniffing the air. He stood and followed her gaze. Everlook, as good a place for trade than any. He looked back to the cave and considered the stash of furs and skins inside. They would bring a tidy sum at auction, perhaps enough to pay for decent lodgings on the long journey south to Orgrimmar, easily enough to pay for a Zeppelin trip to The Undercity. Maybe, if he cleaned himself up, he could return home and think about hiring a stall.
He sneezed and rubbed his nosed on his sleeve, the dull headache of the Bloodthistle creeping up on him. He carefully folded the remaining leaf and placed it back in the corner of his master's precious herb pouch. Holding his breath he went in to the cave, and returned with his wife's skinning knife. Swiftly he raised his arm and drove the knife in to the ground. He nodded at the wolf. "Alright you win, time to head back to civilisation.'