Episode 14: Closure
"Mi see dat dig still runnin'," Xon'cha shouted when he saw us rolling up.
"They had some problems with shipping," I told him, "but I suspect they will straighten it out soon."
I unloaded my gear and handed it to Johnny. "Can you take care of this for a while, my friend?" He responded by putting his hand on my shoulder, and I thanked him.
Without asking, I removed a heavy, canvas sack from Xon'cha's office and I filled it with ore. When it was as full as I could manage, I tied it closed and heaved the load over my shoulders.
"I delivered two of those conscriptions, but Devil's Spire has been razed, and there was no one left to accept the third.
"I fetched the Horde's ore and I returned it back here. I don't know what fair compensation is for all those tasks, but I'm in a generous mood, so I'll accept some of the ore as payment, instead." I was in no mood to deal with the red- haired Troll, and so that would have to do.
# # #
Kaja wore an oily cloth apron today, to protect her regular clothes. She sat behind a work table, assembling a rifle.
"I didn't think you were coming back." Her face showed a mix of worry and relief.
"I was afraid I wouldn't make it." I set the ore down inside the door. My smile was genuine. I hated to see her worry about me, but it warmed me inside to think that she might.
"You look like hell." She set her apron on the table and took me by the hand. "Let's get you fixed up."
Kaja led me out of the valley and into The Drag. "Dare I ask what happened to your clothes?"
I folded my ears back so she wouldn't see them blush. "I ran into some... difficulties... with the Goblins," I said in lieu of an explanation.
"Bargained the clothes right off your back, did they?" She winked and smiled at me. "And I always thought that was just a figure of speech."
Despite my wounded ankles, I felt like I could walk on air. I didn't ever want to let her hand go.
She led me up a lot of stairs, and to a modest home that had been carved into the sandstone. She peeked her head around a corner, "Mom?"
A young Orc woman stepped out of the kitchen with a flour-covered apron. "Kaja? What are you doing here?" She had chiseled features and a mischievous smile. Kaja stooped over so that the woman could kiss her on the cheek. She grinned wide. "And who is your... nearly-naked friend?"
"Mother!" Kaja gasped, "Brick's been injured. Can you just help him, please?"
The woman took us both by the hand and led us inside, "Oh, if I can keep your father together throughout all of the centaur wars, then I'm sure I can fix this too."
"Mother?" I mouthed to Kaja.
"Agra and Gorrum raised me from a calf. Gorrum is an outrider. He and his men saved us when our village was raided. Agra is the only Mom I really remember."
She put a hand up to Kaja's cheek and cupped her face. "Oh, and she was a handful too. You grew up too fast, my dear, too fast."
# # #
Kaja was wearing her lace top as she swept the floor. She looked my way and put a fist on her hip. "For a guy without a gun, you sure come in here a lot."
"I'm sorry." I stared at the floor, worried that I had worn out my welcome. "I was just wondering if you had a shovel I could borrow."
"It's for a shteowachi," I explained.
Kaja stepped to the back of her shop and started sifting through a pile of dusty items. "I grew up with Orcs, so I don't know squat about Tauren rituals." She handed me a small, camp shovel. "But do you always bring a fishing pole to a funeral?"
"No, not usually." I looked at the pole in my hand and thought about how much I missed Urlug. "Perhaps you could come with me. I could show you."
# # #
A little north of Orgrimmar, the sand of Durotar gave way to the rich soil of Ashenvale. There, I built a bonfire and buried the fishing pole in a long, narrow hole. The hole wasn't very deep, but I didn't figure that it really needed to be. It's not like scavengers would dig it up.
I replanted a tiny sapling on top of it to symbolize rebirth.
It may sound strange, but my people believe that love is stored in the heart and grief in the lungs. So, I sang the old songs to speed Urlug's spirit on its way. I sang into the fire and I let the flames lift my air into the sky.
Kaja held my hand, and I think that helped too.