Distance

The following morning found us wrapped comfortably about each other. It was early yet, and I knew that Nara would have to prepare for duty soon. I had business to attend to myself, so I was not going to cling to her and plead for another rut before the day officially began. It turned out that Naragah was not going to let me out of the bed without a morning wrestling match, and we were both pleasant with the afterglow as we used the basin of water and clothes provided to bathe each other before dressing. There was no lingering sentiment weighing the both of us down as we went our ways for the day, just warm tingles and anticipation for the evening.

I stepped out of the Inn, and took a walk around the Trade village, and stopped for words with those that I had developed a working relationship with. It is amazing how friendly Trolls can be when you get to know them. Tari'qa, a deep blue Troll standing in the Trolls typical slouch greeted me warmly as I approached. He was always interested in what I had found while out doing my thing in the barrens.

"Hey Mon. What chu got for me today?"

"I have some raptor eggs that I pillaged from a nest at the edge of their den.. " I pulled out the pouch I had carefully packed the eggs in. "I also have some meat from the raptor that thought to challenge my right to pass so close to it's nest."

"Well it not be tinkin much now is it."

"You have such a way with words Tari'Qa."

"Well you not so bad for uh Blood Elf, Nietiron. I do business wit chu any time."

"So how much are these worth right now?"

" Moorane will give ya a good 70 copper pieces for each one. She make da best egg bread."

"So. What will YOU give me for them?"

"You not gonna check with Moorane?"

"Of course I am. But I am here first. I thought I might give you first crack at them. Besides. You would not cheat me because then you would lose my business, and I know how hard it is to make a living out here in the barrens. " My glowing eyes fixed on his dark amber eyes, and his brows shifted minutely as he considered my words. Within seconds, his decision was made.

"I will give ya 71 copper for each one. I love Moorane's egg bread."

"Fair enough. You have a deal."

Coins were handed over, and eggs changed hands.

"It is always good doing business with you Tari'Qa."

"You stay away from da voodoo mon."

I didn't respond to the familiar chastisement. I had confided in him the studies I had done, and the offer I had once accepted. He had gotten angry, and refused to do business with me for a good month before I had finally cornered him one evening when he was headed to his lodgings, and forced him to tell me what he knew of the darker arts. Pain, Life stealing... curses... Things that no good priest should dabble in... It was too late. I had already gone there, and it was a struggle to not use the knowledge I had gained. I was grateful that he had forgiven me the choices I had made, and was a somewhat advisor as well as a casual friend. When Naragah was not available to socialize with, Tari'Qa and his brother Grenthar would join me at the table to discuss philosophy of all things...

It was several hours later, stomach full from a meal, when I heard the commotion outside... I would lay money on a bet that it was my sister. Cerna had followed in Father's footsteps... She was a Paladin. It turned my stomach to think of what she had to do to become one... But who was I to judge her? Hadn't I done equally distasteful things to learn the things I had learned? I made my way to the entrance of the Inn, and spotted Cerna making the aquaintance of Sunwalker Lonaki. I looked at her mount, a horse in full armor, glowing with the power of protection spells. Tethered to the saddle was Sable... He was stomping in place, staring at me... Impatient with his restraint. Finally, he let loose with a long squawk, giving an abrupt flap of his sturdy vestigial wings. Cerna looked first to Sable, and then her eyes found me at the entrance to the Inn... She turned back to Sunwalker Lonaki spoke a word, bowed, and then strode towards me. She made no extra noise, and I marveled one more time how the Paladins could walk in their armor without making inglorious amounts of noise.

"Nietiron. It is good to see you again brother. There is much I have to tell you..." Her voice was just as musical as always, but there was a new flavor to the blessings that hovered about her. News indeed.

"Come. The food here is good, and you have been traveling long. I will listen to your news. But first, I must greet Sable."

"Of course. He's been impatient to arrive, and barely settled each night. He's missed you, as have I." She nodded her acknowledgement and headed into the Inn.

I approached Sable, who was pulling against his tether to reach me, crooning eagerly. Were I not in a place where tears were seen as weakness, I would have been openly weeping. Instead, my jaw was tight and my eyes burned as I stepped into range, and wrapped my arms around his head as he shoved it into my chest with aggressive affection. I hugged and scratched him behind the stiff tuft of feathers guarding his ears, and then all the other places I remembered that he liked to be scratched, and finally, when he'd received what he felt was enough, he gave me a sharp peck on my shoulder and an angry and demanding squawk. I understood it despite the fact that he could not speak as I did. He was very intelligent.

"I know." I said quietly, trying not to draw too much attention from the Orcs. The Taurens would understand, but the Orcs would think I had gone off my rocker. "I didn't have a choice but to leave. Mother would not just give you to me, and I had to pursue my training in the Priesthood."

His vivid eyes narrowed at me as he sniffed at me, smelling more than just my scent, but everything about me. His feathers ruffled up in hostility and he offered a growl.

"You are either commenting on the taint of darkness in me, or you are commenting on my current companion. If it is commentary on my training, then I accept your disapproval. If you are judging my companionship, then I don't. You will meet her soon enough."

He muttered with a series of sullen chirups and growls, and I grabbed his beak, pulling him closer to meet his glowing eyes with my own...

"You are with me now, and we will not be parted. You have no reason to be jealous of my companions. "

"Oi! Ya talk ta yer mount like it understan's ya?"

It was an Orc. Maleg. The expression on his face was hard to read. He looked like a combination of confused and angry. Orc's don't like to be confused. It makes them angry... So maybe they weren't so hard to read.

"He does." I replied simply, but my body was still taut with the readiness to defend myself should this Orc react violently to his confusion. He wasn't one of the more intelligent of his kind.

"Oh..." He looked at Sable his brows puckered in a scowl, but his eyes betraying a little awe. "Um... How?"

"He's is a rare hatching, and he's very intelligent." My voice was conversational, though Sable cast a look at me from one eye as my holy power built up.

"Rare spawn? My mudda gots one of doze." He smiled hugely and shared some personal history. "She's uh Hunta. She's got uh black lion. He's mean."

"Extraordinary. " I commented, then added as his expression grew confused again. "That is fantastic Maleg... Are you on patrol?"

Reminded of his duty, he quickly nodded, and jogged to catch up with his patrol partner.

I watched him go, and then I quickly released Sable's tether, and led him to the stable where I pointed out a stall, and told him that he needed to remain there until I came for him again. He grumbled, but ruffled his feathers as he examined his stall, satisfied that I didn't close the door on him. I filled his manger with fodder, and gave him a serving of grain. On my way out, I spoke to the stable master, advising him to leave the black Hawkstrider alone, and to not touch the door, or he might get injured.

Once satisfied that he would be comfortable, I left and headed in to the Inn where my sister waited for me with news that I might or might not be pleased to hear.