This is part three of a short story that may or may not lead to some epic conclusion.
Keep in mind all of this is head canon and should not be considered lore. It’s basically a Stream of Consciousness; a type of writing I really enjoy. I have no idea where the story will lead. It runs on its own, free from plans and plots and everything else. In fact, it might not even be very good writing. Still, somewhere in the expansive universe of World of Warcraft I guess there’s a small shelf marked “Pulp fiction”.
You’ll find me there, probably.
I was somewhat inspired by the talk about virtual realms. Also, there’s probably some hints to the upcoming patch 5.4. Most of all it’s sort of a look at Cross Realm Zones from an azerothian view. You know, once upon a time it seemed as if you were all alone in the world. then nametags started popping up everywhere. Now? These days?
The world is crowded.
– – – – –
Of all the bars in all the world she had to walk into mine.
— Loremaster Mehannah (retired)
“Here kitty kitty!” Mehannah scampered across the floor on all four. The cat – aptly named Cat – retreated further behind a barrel of beer. There was a small alcove there, originally dedicated to some long forgotten godess or entity. Now – a cat-home. A refuge. A safe haven whenever Mistress wanted to feed it.
Cat hated fish.
Cat was a very peculiar cat. It’s hard not to be peculiar if you’ve grown up in an interdimensional spaceship made out of crystal. Cat had been left behind many years ago aboard Tempest Keep. An “adventurer” (rather more of a violent thief) had had to ditch Cat in order to stuff yet another shiny weapon inside the backpack. Somehow – as cats usually do – Cat found a way out. Mehannah found her. She was a bit dumbfounded when Cat screamed “Get away from me!” and then tried to bite her.
“Here Kitty!” Mehannah sighed. “Come out of there and eat something, Kitty.”
Cat shook her head. A sudden urge to lick her left paw left her open to an attack and Mehannah snatched her up. Cat made a halfhearted struggle but eventually settled in.
“Purr. Purr purr.”
“you know you really should learn how to cat, Kitty.”
“Excuse me?” said a voice from the doorway.
Mehannah startled. She turned around fast, Cat in her arms. Then:
“Hi sis,” Kittyanna said. She tried a friendly smile. It didn’t work as she had planned. Instead of a “You have no idea how much I’ve missed you I thought you’d died on all of us!” she got:
“You’re broke again, right?”
“What?” Kittyanna shook her head. It was an almost automatic response. She was broke, that was true, but she was also full of pride (a dangerous thing to be filled with these days). “No! I just wanted to see you!”
“Hannah, come on. It’s been … what? six years? Seven? Since we saw each other face to face?”
“I don’t count the years and neither should you. It’s not our ways, it’s human ways.” Mehannah sneered a bit. “Thanks for the postcard by the way. You might want to send one a bit more often.”
“I did! I told Shu to pass them on!”
“Phah! Shu!” Mehannah scoffed. “Another harebrain. So how much do you need?” She walked up to her sister. “Here, hold this monster.” She thrust Cat into Kittyannas arms; Cat jumped away and dashed out the door.
Kittyanna turned, slowly, brow furrowed. Then she turned to Mehannah, one hand half raised, mouth half open as if she was about to speak but forgot how.
Mehannah who crossed the main hall of the inn and slipped behind the bar counter. She pulled out a large, heavy iron box, fished a key from one of her pockets and unlocked it. She opened the lid, then stopped halfway in what she was about to do.
“So? How much?” She sighed. “What kind of harebrained idea of a business you’ve got this time?”
“I, uhm … “Kittyanna turned, looked at Cat who sat content on the porch following a butterfly with cautious eyes, then turned back to Mehannah. “That cat? It … does it realy speak or..?”
“It’s smarter than most cats,” Mehannah said. “Long story.”
“What? You think I came all the way to Nagrand from Pandaria just to borrow money?” Kittyanna thought about it, then sighed ever so slightly ashamed. “Again.”
“Uh-huh.” Mehannah nodded.
“It’s not like the Winter Veil Wonderland was a bad idea, mind you.” Kittyanna said. She crossed the room, sat down by the bar, dropped her backpack on the floor and drummed her fingers against the counter. She was nervous. She hoped it didn’t show. More things than pressing business ideas hunted her. She shot a quick glance at the door but nothing moved (except the butterfly).
“I’m sure you’d been stinking rich from it,” Mehannah said. “Just you shouldn’t have tried building it in Icecrown.”
“I wanted a natural feel to the icewater slides.”
“Yeah … but hiring ghouls as ticketeers?”
“Well, they were cheap. Unemployed and all.”
“Hey! I saved the world! What’d you do, huh!?”
“Kept my head down, my mouth shut and hoped no one would remember me.” Mehannah grunted. “Seriously, why does this family always have to end up at top of the Save the World-list? Wasn’t Icecrown enough?”
Kittyanna shrugged. After a few minutes of silent glaring at each other and other interesting things Mehannahs icy cold welcome softened a bit. She brought them a brandy each. Kittyanna nodded a short thank you, dug out an ebony pipe from one of her pouches and began to stuff it. She lit it with a small wooden stick that, somehow, just sprang up with fire when she muttered a single syllable word.
“I didn’t knew you smoke?” Mehannah said.
“Well,” Kittyanna puffed a few times. “I picked it up in hospital.”
“What? You’ve been in hospital!?”
“When? What? How long!?”
“About two years ago,” Kittyanna said, staring at her drink, surrounded by a cloud of smoke. “I almost fell off the back of a dragon overlord who was intent on torching the world. Some people didn’t like that, me especially. Cannie grabbed me, saved me. We killed that dragon good but … “She shuddered. Then she looked up at Mehannah. “Ain’t you gonna ask me about the eyepatch?”
“I figure you’ve lost an eye.”
“Wow, miss Superbrain strikes again.”
“Don’t get smart with me or I’ll close this box right now.”
Kittyanna blinked, hard. She really didn’t want to cry. She almost did anyway but there was no tears, just a soft sob, almost like a hickup.
Mehannah pretended not to notice.
“I lost an eye in that fight,” Kittyanna said, her voice quiet, almost a whisper. She drained her glass. “I was lucky. Some people lost a lot more. Some lost their life. I was barely alive when those of us who survived was ported back to Stormwind by Thrall.”
“Wh… Oh.” Mehannah poured them another drink. “I heard about that. News travel slow these days on Draenor but I heard about that orc going all important and stuff. He left the Horde, didn’t he?”
“Uh-huh. Left it to Garrosh, you know.”
“The sick one?”
“He’s not sick anymore. Just mad.” Kittyanna drained her glass, took a final puff on her pipe and cleaned it out in an ashtray made from the skull of an ogre. “Anyway, yeah – I lost an eye. Almost lost my mind. I’m no shaman anymore, in case you wondered.”
“Yeah I know,” Mehannah said and nodded. “Zavvie told me.”
“So you speak to the dead one but not Shu?”
“Come on, it’s not Zavvies fault.”
Kittyanna grunted. The anger subsided fast, leaving a sticky feeling of shame and guilt. There it was again, the almost-but-not-quite crying. She was a bit suprised when Mehannah put a hand on her cheek and said in a soft voice:
“Please don’t cry little sister. I’m not angry, I’m just … Aww crap. I’m no good at this family stuff unless it’s gold involved. Sorry.”
Kittyanna nodded. She felt relieved not having to tell Mehannah of the troubles after the Deathwing-fight. The madness, the pain, the escape, the love … the love of a human. Then of course the very strange pandaren who had taught her balance, harmony and how to fight with nothing but her hands (and chopsticks). She said:
“Well I guess the dead one fills you in eventually … So yeah, okay. I need some money. Not much. Just, well … Ten grand?”
“Ten!?” Mehannah looked shocked. Then suspicious. “You’re not thinking of another funland now, are you?”
“Uh-uh. I’m not thinking of anything but myself, to be honest.”
“Spell it out for me.”
“Well … I’m sort of in trouble with the law.”
Kittyanna nodded. Now she started to cry. She reached over the counter, grabbed Mehannahs hand in hers and pleaded:
“Please hear me out! It wasn’t my fault, really! Please dodn’t … Don’t tell mum, okay!?”
Kittyanna kept the vicegrip around Mehannahs hands for a bit, then she let her go, sank back and nodded a thank you as Mehannah filled up their drinks again. She filled her pipe, lit it, smoked nervously for a while. Then:
“I guess Zavvie’s told you all about that Pandaria hysteria, right? How people just flocked in droves trying to get there as fast as they could? All the riches?”
“Uh-huh.” Mehannah nodded. “I was tempted to go there myself but I didn’t want to leave the inn.”
“Yeah … So anyway, I went there. Got a special order, secured transport and all. Sometimes saving the world is a good thing I guess. And yeah, it was true: Riches all around, you know. I fullfilled my end of the army contract and then went my own way only I never read the fine print. So I’m basically gone rogue, just as Zavvie has. Deserter. The Alliance don’t like deserters.”
“You gonna pay your way out of it?”
“I thought so, yeah. Only … Well, it appears some people, military people, are a bit … greedy. You’ve ever heard of lord Perenolde?”
“The guy from Alterac?”
“That’s the one. He’s the one who’s promised to get me off the hook. So either I pay him ten grand or it’s Stockade-time for me. I try not to imagine what those bastards will do to a draenei. Half of them still alive probably have scars from when I took part in riot control. The other half is … well. Humans. Bad ones. Please? I’ve asked Shu but she’s still pissed off about that warlock fling.” Kittyanna sighed, drained her drink and got a new one. “Actually it was more than a fling but that’s over.”
Mehannah gave Kittyanna a long, hard, quizzical look. Then she nodded, ever so slightly. She pulled out five mediumsized pouches from the box. Heavy pouches. Each of them made a dull clinking noise as she placed them on the counter in front of Kittyanna.
“There’s four grand in every one of them,” Mehannah said. “I guess you’ll need some pocket change.” She chuckled, nodding at the brandy. “Don’t spend it all on drinking, sis.”
Kittyanna sighed deeply with relief. She smiled, leaned over the counter and hugged Mehannah. Then she slid off the barstool, stuffed the moneybags into her backpack and said while doing so:
“Thank you! Oh you’ve saved my life! Really! thank you!” She stopped what she was doing, looked at Mehannah and nodded. “I’ll repay you, I promise!”
“You said that the last time,” Mehannah said and chuckled. “Don’t worry about it. Whenever convenient, you know. Besides, I’ve got a good investment in an adamantium mine. this whole craze about vintage armors have revitalised mining operations in Outland, you know.”
“I will pay back all of it!” Kityanna nodded. She grabbed her backpack, headed for the door but stopped in the doorway. “Sorry to run like this but I want to get stuff out of the way, you know.”
Mehannah nodded. She waved her sister away with a “send me a postcard” but Kittyanna didn’t hear it. She was allready running up the stairs to the flight master.
Two hours later a human, dressed in black leather, called on Mehannah. He asked about her sister. She said she hadn’t seen her in almost ten human years. The human in black leather left her with just a bloody nose, a blackened eye and the words that rang through her mind all through the night:
“Tell your sis this, goat:
She messed with the wrong dragon …”