((Another really long post! It was a pleasure to write with Dorritow, Keltyr and most of all, Hammaryn.
Why is Dir always in trouble? He seems to attract it like flies to honey.))
It was early in the morning as Dorri dashed up the stairs. “Right, Ysani said this is definitely what she drinks!” Dorri shoved the bottle into Keltyr’s hands as she made it upstairs. He and Dir were lounging on the stairs, waiting for her.
With a grin, Keltyr opened the bottle and began dropping small bits of mushroom into it. He closed the cap and then shook the bottle before handing it off to Dir.
Dir accepted the bottle with a raised eyebrow. “I know you said not to do anything stupid but I am compelled to point out that everything about this qualifies.” He gives a big grin anyway while hoisting himself off the stairs. “Wish me luck.”
His soft boots barely made a sound on the tiled floor as Dir casually strolled down the steps, into the bar. Grabbing a couple of glasses from the polished wood counter, he set the bottle in the center of the table with one of the glasses next to it. His glass he filled with uncontaminated burnwine, using the silver flask he fished out of his shirt pocket. Cool, calm and collected, Dir sat back and waited for Hammaryn. She should be passing through the bar at anytime, if she kept to schedule.
Hammaryn stomped into the bar a few minutes later. She sat down on a bar stool, removed a large book from her backpack, and dropped it open onto the bar with a loud slam. Arille the bartender winced, then looked over at Hammaryn and rolled his eyes. She seemed not to take any notice of this reaction, let alone whoever else she may have disturbed.
A low chuckle greeted her from a table nearby. “Problems, Ryn?”
Hammaryn looked over her shoulder to glare at Dir. “Good evening, Dir. Now leave me alone.”
Dir shrugged nonchalantly, taking a sip of his drink. “A shame. I’ve this nearly full bottle of burnwine to share. Excellent year. Aged just right.”
She turned around slowly, narrowing her eyes at him. “What do you want with me?”
Rolling his eyes, Dir shook his head. “I’d have an easier time getting loose from a bear trap then getting anything from you. Do you want some or not?”
Hammaryn sat there for a moment, mute, scrunching up her eyebrows. Finally she nodded to herself and closed the large book. “Fine.”
Dir grinned, but not too widely, and leaned forward. He grabbed the neck of the ornate bottle and, with a flick of this thumb, uncorked it. The rich scent of heavy booze rose from the glass as he poured Ryn a generous measure.
Hammaryn got up from her bar stool and sat down at the table across from Dir, still eyeing him warily. “What’s the occasion?”
“I didn’t think we needed one to drink ourselves into a stupor.” Dir took a sip of his own drink. “Just the usual alcoholism.” He gave the woman ungraciously sitting across from him a once-over, knowing she would bristle at his overt appraisal.
Dorri peered around the corner, grinning from ear to ear as Kel came up behind her to do the same. “Light, he’s playing it for all its worth. She’s either going to drink with him or punch him.”
“If we’re lucky,” he whispered in her ear, “she’ll do both.”
“Speak for yourself.” Hammaryn took a swig from her drink.
Chuckling over his glass, Dir replied “I can make up an occasion if you truly need one.”
“I think I’m fine with silence, thank you.”
“Tell me, does it hurt to have your plate panties wedged so tight they are at risk of cutting off your circulation?” Dir smirked.
Hammaryn slowly set her glass down on the table, and her upper lip curled into a snarl. She reached back and slapped Dir in the face.
Keltyr poked Dorri in the side, as there was momentary silence throughout the entire room, driven by the echoing slap. “Hah, you’re buying the drinks tonight. Speaking of which, I need one.” He pulled her down the last few stairs before she could point out that she usually bought the drinks.
Dir’s face burned where Ryn’s palm had connected, as if he needed proof she wasn’t a dainty lass. He grit his teeth but refused to let his smile drop from his face. His eyes burned though, almost as hotly as his cheek. “And here I thought your skin would be just a tad thicker by now.” Gingerly, Dir set his drink on the table.
Her eyes burned with rage. “I can’t stand you.”
Eyes narrowed, Dir growled back. “Funny, I can’t recall ever doing anything to you to warrant such vitriol. I assume this is another close-minded attitude you enjoy stewing in? It’s hard to keep track. You have so many.”
“This one is well deserved.” She took another large gulp of her drink. “I don’t know why you want to drink with me anyways, since I’m not interested in your advances.”
The smirk that lit Dir’s face was rather nasty. “Oh, this isn’t about sex. Not at all.”
Her forehead scrunched up. “Then what exactly is this abou…” Her voice drifted off, eyes widening as she turned her head to stare at an indiscriminate area of the bar. “Did you [i]feel[/i] that?”
Dir’s face turned cautious as he looked around Ryn to stare at the bar as well. “Feel what?”
“THAT.” She started to stand up, nearly knocking over her chair. “How can you not feel that?!”
“Maybe if you describe it to me?” Dir eyed the bottle of drugged burnwine.
She took a few careful tiptoes towards the bar entrance. “Maybe Dalaran is on fire?”
Dir hid a grin in his hand as he watched her. “Your personal part of it probably.”
She cautiously walked back to the table, leaning on it. “What?”
Shrugging, Dir refilled her glass. He pushed it towards the wobbly woman as she stared off into space. “Take a drink. You need it.”
She flopped back down into her chair, taking a dainty sip of the tainted burnwine. “Maybe we should tell someone. Maybe the scourge are invading again. Dir. Dir. This just doesn’t feel right. Dir.”
“Just relax, my dear. No one is invading.” Propping his head on his hand, the blonde paladin watched his comrade’s reason slowly float away.
“Are you sure? Because I think we should be prepared if they are.”
“I’m not sure it’s possible to be more prepared than the entire armories we all keep in our rooms. Now think happy thoughts.”
“I just think if they are invading, and Dalaran is on fire, we should definitely tell someone. Can you not feel how hot it is in here?!” She picked up her book from the table, fanning herself with it. “Being prepared didn’t save Silvermoon.”
“Hot, hmm? I’d suggest you lose some of that heavy plate but I’m not in the mood to be slapped again.” Dir winked at the flushed girl. Ryn’s pupils were dilating as the drugs coursing through her system worked their magic.
“You’re right.” She started unbuckling straps on her armor with lightning speed, dropping her shoulders on the floor with a loud clang. “If we need to evacuate the city we’ll have to move as fast as possible.”
Dorri watched from a nearby table with her jaw half open. She was so distracted that she barely had time to rescue her mug from Keltyr’s greedy grasp. “Hey, order some more!” She drained the mug and slammed it back on the table.
“Um.. okay.” Dir’s own face wore an expression of genuine shock. He struggled to recover his usual charming facade. “Maybe you have had enough to drink.”
Dorri scowled, grabbed a roll off her table and tossed it at Dir’s head.
Hammaryn didn’t even seem to notice the flying baked goods, tugging off her gauntlets and setting them on the table. “Dir? You’re not getting ready.”
Dir turned around to glare at Dorri when the bread bounced off his head. He rolled his eyes at her glare and frantic pantomime as she pointed at Ryn. Fine! he mouthed the word at her. Swiveling back around, Dir raised an eyebrow at the sweating, stripping Blood Knight. “Ryn, dear, I’m only wearing light clothes already.” He motioned to his nearly sheer billowing silk shirt. It was cut so low, a huge portion of his chest was visible.
She stopped mid-strip, her eyes wandering down to his barely covered chest, and sniffled. She put her hands up to her face, and started to loudly bawl into them.
Dir squeezed his eyes shut. “Oh Light, no.” He snuck a peek at Ryn only to see her hunched over crying, her shoulders convulsing with the force of her tears. He shot a “Why me” glance at Dorri before saying “Oh please, don’t cry.”
Dorri scowled at her wine. “She’s bloody crying? Light, crying is not what is supposed to happen.” She looked at Keltyr, who just gave a characteristic shrug.
“Cloth is just…not…” she choked out the words in between sobs, “going to save us.” She started a shaky attempt to put a gauntlet back on.
Standing up, Dir reached over and took away the gauntlet Ryn was unsuccessfully trying to stuff her hand in. “I promise you that nothing is happening and we are completely safe.”
Hammaryn blinked doe-eyed at Dir, tears still streaming down her face. “How can you promise that?” Her voice was almost a whisper.
Dir almost didn’t resist the urge to melt in the face of Ryn’s breakdown. He had to remind himself that this teary-eyed, vulnerable girl was the same vicious face-slapping self-righteous woman who adored to look down on him. He really wasn’t succeeding. “The alarms haven’t sounded and…” he sighed, “ I won’t let anything happen to you.” He refused to turn around to see the smirks that were most likely gracing Dorri and Keltyr’s faces.
The thought that perhaps this trick was on him did cross his mind.
Hammaryn smiled up at Dir, reaching her arms out for a hug.
The moment hung on indecision. Dir debated in those few seconds. She seemed in genuine need in her drug-addled state but what if she went psycho and punched him again? He could hardly hit her back. Why was he debating? He knew he was going to do it. With a resigned sigh, Dir gently wrapped his arms around Ryn. He pulled her tight, tucking her head beneath his chin.
She nuzzled into his chest and let out a contented sigh. “I’m sleepy.”
Dir sighed. “Of course you are.” Uncertain of what to do, he patted her back. He wished he could glare at Dorri.
Hammaryn nodded. “I’m gonna go home.”
There was relief in Dir’s voice when he said “That sounds like an excellent idea. I’ll walk you home.”
Hammaryn gave Dir’s arm a squeeze and pulled away from the hug. “Okay.” She started for the door, forgetting her armor where it had been dropped.
Dir turned around to shoot a hateful look in Dorri and Keltyr’s general direction before following Hammaryn outside. He purposefully left her armor on the bar floor for them to take care of. “Here, give me your arm. I don’t want you to fall.” He didn’t mention that Ryn swayed at an alarming angle when standing still.
Hammaryn stumbled towards Dir, wrapping an arm around his. “This was nice,” she said as she nearly tripped over her own feet.
Trying not to rub his cheek in stinging memory, he said “Is it?”
“Yeah!” Her eyebrows furrowed in concentration. “I think?”
“Okay. Sure!” Dir equivocated. He gently steered the intoxicated woman towards the Silvermoon portal. It was a task made harder by her insistence that she stare upwards at the starry sky.
“This is beaaauuuuuuutiful!” She exclaimed as she nearly fell over into a statue.
Yanking her back upright, Dir laughed. “I must admit, you are incredibly pleasant right now… and rather funny. A shame you aren’t always so. You have a nice smile.”
“Dir.” She frowned. “I forgot what I was gonna say. But you have really nice hair.”
“So I’ve been told.” Dir pulled her through the shimmering portal leading to the spires of Silvermoon City. Within an instant, he was half-pulling, half-guiding the staggering woman through the lush courtyards of the palace.
Hammaryn was stopping in her tracks every five seconds to stare in awe. “This is AMAZING!”
Dir paused, staring upwards at the towering buildings. The sun glimmered off spotless marble and ornate fretwork. Magic suspended potted greenery where it should have been impossible and everything shimmered with a hint of arcane. He’d not taken a real look at his home city in ages and he was a bit taken aback at how beautiful it was. “Yeah.. you’re right. It is amazing.”
Hammaryn planted her butt on the ground, sprawling out on the pavement. “It’s so nice. We should just sleep here. I wanna sleep at the orphanage. Dir?”
“While that is a nice thought, I don’t think going to the orphanage is a good idea.” He winced as he said it. He could only imagine what the matron would say to Ryn showing up at her door, higher than the surrounding towers.
She pulled her arms in, folding them over her chest. “Sometimes I miss going home. Don’t you?”
For a moment, an image flashed in Dir’s mind. Shining blonde hair, laughing blue eyes and the deep, sultry scent of exotic perfume. “I miss my mother.”
Hammaryn’s voice became quiet. “I miss my mom too. And my dad. Very much.”
“My father wasn’t worth mentioning. I was raised by my mother. She wanted better for me than her life. Sadly, it didn’t work out that way.” Dir plopped on the pavement next to Ryn, leaning back on his hands as he sunk deep in memory.
Hammaryn rolled over onto her side to face him. “Why are you sad?”
Dir pasted on his trademark smile, easing the old mask back into place. “I’m okay. Maybe when you wake up, you can go to the orphanage.”
“Are you coming with me?” Hammaryn smiled hopefully.
She just HAD to look so vulnerable, didn’t she. “If you still want me to go with you when you wake up, I will.”
“Oh, good!” She rolled over onto her other side and curled up into a fetal position.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa! Don’t sleep here. C’mon, the chapterhouse isn’t far.” Dir held out his hand, attempting to rouse Ryn from her stupor.
Hammaryn sighed and took his hand. “Fine.” She pulled herself up to sitting. “Maybe Fabrio will come with us.”
“I wouldn’t bet on it. That would involve dangerous activities like ‘leaving his office’ and ‘facing the sun’”. Dir snickered.
“We can get some muffins. And then take him running. He is getting FAT.” Hammaryn giggle-snorted.
Dir laughed as he pulled Ryn’s hand through his arm in a courtly gesture. They looked as if they were merely strolling, enjoying the sunshine, as they headed towards the Bazaar. “I would think the muffins would defeat the purpose of the run if he’s so very fat, my dear.”
“Oh no, it’s never too late to start. We should ask him when we get home.”
“The day you can get Fabrio to stop wheezing when he climbs the stairs is the day I pledge celibacy for 6 weeks.” after a moment’s thought, he amended that. “Make that in shape. Running at least a mile effortlessly.”
Hammaryn patted Dir’s arm. “Oooookay! I hope you know what you’re doing!”
Dir opened the chapterhouse door, ushering Ryn into the cool dark. “My dear, you won’t even remember this conversation.” He laughed.