Gustav decided to have a look around the town while Rose was speaking to the representatives of the Brotherhood in the chapel. His views on the light might not have been too welcomed amongst the more strict adherents that congregate here. He strolled leisurely toward the market, hoping to see what sort of things the local blacksmiths were up to. Peering at storefronts, he spotted someone he hadn’t seen in quite some time. He crept up to the grocer’s store and waited to surprise the troll inside.
“Well, fancy meetin you ‘ere.”
Venn invited Gustav to take a seat in the kitchen. Their walk from the shop had been peppered with small talk. The local market scene, the undead in the area, the strives the Argent Crusade have made all come up.
“How’s th’ wife?”
That was the thing Venn was dreading hearing.
Hiram trudged through the snow. It was up to his knees, and slowed him considerably because of it. The groundskeeper was somewhat less troubled, being fully grown, and strode through the white landscape with relative ease.
“Why exactly did I have to come along on this trip? Father was seemed to think I’d learn something, but I think I’m more likely to get frostbite.” His words crystallized in the air, turning to fog in the harsh Gilnean cold. The groundskeeper trudged a few more steps before stopping to speak.
“Perhaps, mi’lord, he wants this to be somewhat metaphorical?” The groundskeeper knelt down to examine the snow. “Let me try to make more clear his lordships intentions. Do you know what we’re after?”
Hiram rolled his eyes and huffed. “The peasants claim to have seen a rabid wolf.”
The groundskeeper stood up and drew his rifle, pulling back on the bolt to ready it. “Correct mi’lord. Do you know why this needs to be investigated?” He trudged on in a new direction, Hiram scrambling to keep up.
“Because a wolf is dangerous and the people are afraid?” He spoke with the confidence afforded only to the very young. The groundskeeper squinted and scanned the brush.
“Not quite mi’lord. A wolf is a dangerous thing, this is true, but they seldom attack people, and therefore can be left to their own devices by and large. The people are afraid also, but people are easily frightened…” He held his hand up to signal for silence, before drawing on his target. Hiram’s eyes shut reflexively as the loud crack of gunfire startled the wildlife. When he opened them, the groundskeeper was several paces ahead of him. Dashing as quickly as his short legs could carry him, Hiram gave chase.
“Then why are we after this…” Hiram looked down to the animal that laid twitching on the forest floor. “Fox? It was a fox?”
“A rabid fox, your lordship. We have hunted this beast because it is diseased.” He drew back on the bolt once more before firing into the small animal again. “An infected fox can easily spread its filth to our animals, or wild beasts in the surrounding area.”
“I see…” Hiram watched as the groundskeeper tied a line to the beast to drag it back home for disposal.
“That is how it threatens us. We cannot abide such a blight on our lands.”
“Is that why we’ve built this wall?” Hiram mused aloud.
“Now you’re catching on.”
“Hullooooo? Anyone in?”
Gustav knocked on the door then waited for an answer that never came.
“Nope. Ah dunno, she must’ve ‘ad business somewhere.”
“What now then?”
Gustav and Rose looked back to the door and paused.
“Well, ah could leave a note?”
Huvi trudged up the steps to her house. She’d just finished a disastrous job that ended with half the company fighting the other half. Reaching for the knob, she paused when she spied the paper stuck to the stone entryway. Smoothing the page, Huvi began reading aloud.
“Dear Huvi… Oh spirits, Gustav was ‘ere and ah missed ‘im. Ah finished up in Northrend and ah’m back now. Yeh weren’t ‘ere, so we’ve gone off sight seein. Ah’ll be back ta see ya before too long though. Gustav.”
Huvi folded the note and went inside. “‘is day just gets better ‘n better.”
Freij slammed three orc heads on the counter-top; their thick braided hair entwined in her fingers. The man behind the counter jumped, the sudden noise rousing him from his mid-afternoon daydreaming.
“I got three here. Pay up.”
The man behind the counter squinted at the grim collection of heads she’d brought him and removed his glasses.
“You just got the heads? Where’s the rest of ‘em?”
Freij scowled and spat back, “I can carry more if I just take the heads. If I bring the whole carcass that means I kill less orcs. You want me killing less orcs?”
“Look, I don’t want to get into a thing here…” The man dropped the topic, taking note of the elven woman’s intimidating stature. Her height alone was enough to give most people pause; the muscles made her downright terrifying. “Ten per orc, so thirty all togeth-“
“Ten?!” Freij slammed her other hand onto the countertop with a loud bang; the orc heads almost jumped with surprise from the force of the blow. “It was 30 each just a few months ago!”
“Yes well, a few months ago the alliance was spending resources on Ashenvale. Today, it’s 10 a pop.” He made a wide sweeping gesture with the glasses he held in his hand. “Now, are you gonna walk out with 30 coins, or three severed heads?”
Freij dug her fingers into an orc’s scalp. She clenched her teeth and tried to bore a hole in the man’s face with her good eye. The cracking of bone snapped her out of it, as the orc’s melon gave way to her powerful grip. She quickly swiped the small satchel of gold from the man’s hand and turned to leave.
“Just be glad I’m not leaving with four severed heads you cheap bastard!”
The sun was starting to go down over Northrend. Gustav watched as the continent slowly shrank away in the distance. The vessel they’d taken passage on was picking up steam now. They’d be back in the Eastern Kingdoms by morning.
“Imagine you got places to be when we get back ta civilization?”
“I have a few places I’d like to see. What plans do you have?”
“Headin ta Ironforge. Gonna look up me sister.”
“How do you think that’s going to go?”
“Can’t be much worse than th’ last time ah saw ‘er.”