The Meaning of Family

-Written by Viridia

Chapter One - Meeting InterruptedEdit

The backroom of the fish house was crowded, and Viridia, as was now her long habit, slipped into the nooks of her mind as she crouched into a dark corner…

There was that undead guy again, in his suave hat, shirking around like the chieftain’s gift to all the land. He’d been running hard from some vengeful woman who apparently wanted him deader than undead. “Yah, typical,” Viridia thought, shrugging him off in her trollish manner quite easily. Too many dolts like him running around, getting whatever they deserved. She’d met him before, the insufferable flirt, and just as easily tossed him into the pool in her mind of other lechers. That she had to work with him was the only reason she even paid him any mind at all.

It wasn’t fair but Viridia found it convenient to blame Booth for bringing with him a flurry of events to interrupt the company meeting. Some Hounds had been looking for that night elf woman, Sunya, who was limping about with a cane barely able to breathe normally even while sitting. They’d tracked them to this hideaway in Booty Bay, it appeared, and spies were crawling all over the joint. Even if they weren’t looking for her, Viridia could feel the eyes all around and scrunched her knees closer to her body, up under her chin.

It seemed to have the humans, both Tai and Kennia, on edge all night. Everyone was debating the merits of whether or not to move. Viridia’s eyes darted around the room, not used to opinions being asked. A safe meeting place for both Alliance and Horde was almost inconceivable. The best they could do was try to find a less populated area to minimize interruptions. Viridia smiled a little bit, glad for the notion of going someplace less crowded.

Some Horde priest was independently bent on disrupting the meeting as well, poking his nose in where it didn’t belong. He kept asking around for someone to translate Tai’s words. Viridia watched while Vonnacht, the quiet night elf of carefully measured iterations, tried to get the undead holy man to move on without luck. Viridia kept quiet as Vonnacht’s temper flared; this elf was more than met the eye, she thought. Still, the goblin guards didn’t tolerate scraps on their docks, and it had cost Vonn the proverbial slap on the wrist from the guards. Viridia watched as Vonn took his beating stoically; Viridia knew what it was like to take a beating - and yet, the priest had fled so Vonn had accomplished what he wanted to. Viridia knew about that too; sometimes you had to play the game to get things done, even if that game hurt some.

Viridia returned her gaze to the gathered Tigers. She wasn’t anywhere near sure of how it all worked, but this was her family, for now at least. And she’d learned long ago that it paid to watch and learn. Her mind wandered as the events unfolded before her, creeping about the crevices of her own mind. Deftly she moved around the room, trying to stay out of sight. The little girl that she was at times (or was it always?) decided to begin having a little fun.

She snuck up behind Vonnacht, still distracted by the business on the docks, and pilfered his coveted hat away. Dancing around gleefully, she pivoted in circles around the elf. In her mind, Viridia thought herself invisible. And to be honest, she was good at sneaking and she certainly did blend in with the jungle - but this was no jungle; it was a crowded room.

Booth’s bony voice crackled out at her in a scolding tone, “Give that back ta ‘im, chick!” Viridia stopped mid-twirl long enough to stick her tongue out at him and cross her eyes. She covered her surprise at being seen by getting up on her tiptoes and plopping Vonn’s hat down on the elf’s head, avoiding his stern look.

Her next target was Kennia’s blade, the shiny pretty one, beckoning for her fingers, like so many other pretty bright things. She meant only to borrow it, not steal it, so she was sure blondie wouldn’t mind in the long run. With the patience of a child, Viridia eagerly waited for Kennia’s attention to be diverted in the flurry of spies around, and gently slipped it from its sheath. A fine blade it was, she found, as she fingered it lovingly.

Lost in the shininess, she stood in the center of the room, her mind wandering again. Smiling to herself, thinking she had again disappeared, she began to dance around, graceful in a zydeco-kind of way. There was no doubt this blade was of the finest quality, and it was balanced well… She imagined herself for a moment as a towering warrior woman but the weight of the dagger on her hip was too comfortable.

Sunya reached out uncannily and bopped a warning on Viridia’s head with her cane. Viridia was stunned, so sure that she could not be seen. This elf was good, she thought to herself, rubbing the growing lump on her head. Viridia mouthed at Sunya a silent “Ow!” Booth hissed at her, “Hey! I’m warning ya!” Viridia twirled right up into his face and gave him a pointed poke in the bony ribs, causing him to snarl gutturally.

Her eyes danced even more than her body as she dropped the blade into Kennia’s hands, watching the human’s gaze narrow at her. She knew that Kennia did not entirely trust her, but also saw the acceptance of her games, slightly tolerant but issuing a warning as well with just the glance. Acknowledging and respecting this with a nod, Viridia headed back to sit upon her crate in the corner.

Booth followed her closely and surprised her by hopping up on her crates and getting right up in her face. He poked her hard then and told her to stop messing around, or face his wrath. Sprite-like, Viridia gave him an impertinent big eyed mock-fear look and swiftly pushed him backwards off her crates. He flung the quiet warning at her from across the room, “We gonna have a little talk later, Missy.” Viridia merely rolled her eyes and went about checking her bags for crumbs of food, crawling back into her mind …

Chapter Two: Shake Your BootieEdit

Viridia was glad for the change of scenery. But it seemed the others were concerned about the trip, to the desert city of Gadgetzan. Despite the concern, the human named Tai joked with Viridia, his eyes sparkling with amusement, that running through dangerous territory might not be the best place to be stealing anyone’s weapons. Viridia pretended to pout but kept her hands to herself.

And they were short-handed. The human female, Kennia, had gone off to see the Hounds in Stormwind to try and work something out for Sunya. Booth had trouble with his comm thingie and had flown off to see someone who could do something about that. Still, Viridia was glad to see the other troll woman, Korttie, show up.

On the road from Ratchet, Viridia was distracted by pretty flowers just off the road and stopped to look at them, not noticing that Tai and Korttie had moved up the road - nor the Alliance patrol coming closer. She jumped straight up when an arrow sunk into her rump, yelping as her bootie sizzled with pain. Viridia ran off as several more arrows landed around her, slipping into the underbrush. Grateful for her green, leafy skin, she bit her lip as she pulled herself deeper into the foliage. The raiding elves finally moved on, and Viridia slipped into unconsciousness …

She awoke to find her head in Korttie’s lap. The trolless brushed Viridia’s face, telling her she was alright. Tai was nearby, busy putting away some bandages. Feeling her backside, it seemed her wounds had been tended to. She caught Korttie smiling at Viridia’s failure to be attentive. “Ah, let dem laugh,” she thought. She couldn’t help but notice they’d come back for her.

Setting off again into the ravine called Thousand Needles, Viridia started to regain her spirits. As they passed a Horde encampment, Tai whispered he was going around, but that the two trolls ought to stop for some supplies. Korttie finished up her errands and waited for Viridia; Viridia smiled, glad for the woman who had saved her from a lonely life of backstreet crime. Getting supplies was easy, though Viridia couldn’t bring herself to pay for all of them (old habits died hard); the lifts proved to be a bit more troublesome. Viridia waltzed towards the lift, in high spirits for having survived the odds thus far, largely unscathed.

The lift suddenly plummeted downward and still dancing to her own beat, Viridia leaped off the ground like a frog, fully intending to land square on the descending platform. “Aww, crap,” she muttered, seconds before catching her self awkwardly on the edge of the lift. Teetering for a precious moment, she crashed to the ground when the lift stopped suddenly. The guard nearby snickered, as Korttie came over, lending another gentle, helpful hand.

Still, Korttie wasn’t all soft and sweet. Once Viridia’s head had cleared of the cobwebs, Korttie commanded her to get her behind moving, in no uncertain terms. Viridia shook it and ran, vowing not to dance so much. They were about halfway across the sands of the Shimmering Flats when, trying to keep well ahead of the rest, Viridia stumbled on a scorpion as she topped a dune. The sting was instant and burned … Once again, Viridia crawled into the tunnels of her mind as the poison began it’s work …

Only half aware, Viridia had the sense of Korttie kneeling to check her and calmly informing Tai that they needed to act quickly and neutralize the poison. Korttie held Viridia’s convulsing body as Tai reached into his bags for some remedy. Viridia moaned, turning even greener than her natural green, and stirred, her head thrashing side to side. Korttie urged her to go ahead and get sick and be done with it, to feel better. Viridia’s stomach churned as she violently heaved, unfortunately, all over Tai. Brushing herself off and feeling good as new, Viridia belched and then grinned at Korttie. Korttie chortled, and glanced at Tai, her eyes taking in his shocked disbelief, both at Viridia’s ability to recover and the state of his clothes. Tai stood carefully, watching his armor drip onto the sands.

“Aw, mon!! I be sorry!” Viridia sputtered out to Tai, embarrassed at soiling the Boss man. In her unease, she withdrew into herself again, failing to notice that everyone else was urging her to get moving again. Fighting in her own mind with the voices that continually pummeled her when she messed up, she only became aware again when the human did the most preposterous thing. He actually turned his behind her way, and shook his bootie at her! Talk about getting her attention! Cheeks flaming, Viridia took off at a full run. She couldn’t even hear Korttie behind her scolding Tai for scaring off the young troll like that. Nor did she hear his meek retort that he really meant to tell HER to shake her bootie, not to shake his own at the girl.

Korttie laughed heartily all the way to the town, threatening Tai to tell Kennia on him. Viridia smiled; maybe this was family …

Chapter Three: Tough LoveEdit

The group of Tigers made it to town relatively safely, only to find even more trouble awaiting. Booth had arrived not long before them and was quick to motion them over to a quiet building, but their entry was blocked. Viridia noticed several Alliance humans getting all puffed up with ego and trying to pick fights. Viridia felt a certain budding obligation to stand by her new family, owing at least as much loyalty as they had given her on the trek here. She watched them curiously at first, then saw more bark than bite. Becoming bored, Viridia tired of the macho wars and started to slink away to find something to eat. As she was looking around with a growling tummy, Booth grabbed her by the ponytail and dragged her out of the town. "C'mon chick, we gots ta have a little talk." Viridia whimpered and kicked at his bones, trying to find some way to escape, but found that going along was easier than fighting. He was her co-worker, after all, and surely did not want to harm her.

"Ya' owe me an apology and I aim ta' have it." He peered at her waiting for her to reply appropriately. Viridia wiped the amusement off her face and tossed at him rather casually, "M'kay, I be sorry fer uh, fer dancin' and having fun with all de weapons, mon." His eyes bore into hers, almost hyponotising her into compliance. "Ya' been tickin' me off fer weeks! Ah ain't gonna' put up wit' it any more. Now say it like ya mean it!" he barked at her.

Startled and unsure why he was being such a meanie stack of bones, she pouted and said with real remorse, "'Kay, already! I don' wanna mess up. I gots ta work wit ya an' I be sorry fer makin' ya dis mad." She paused then, not saying a word for many minutes. Her emotions swirled in her head and words failed to form. She felt bathed in this incongruous moment, pieces of her mind clawing elsewhere for relief and finding nothing to cling to. "But uh, wat I do, huh?" she blurted. He had no idea that the amount of words she was managing to get out were more than the collective total of sentences she had said for months. The struggle for her to communicate well was furthering her frustration, and for the first time she looked at him with trepid fear.

Seeing her where he finally wanted her, he threw his bags down on the ground with a cloud of sand dust and clapped his hands together, snapping her attention to the intense gleam in his eyes. "Gonna teach you a lesson here and now. You ain't gonna' lissen' any udder' way." Booth challenged her to a duel. Confused, she looked at him in dismay. "Wat ya mean ya wanna fight? I no be wantin' dat! Wat if I hurt ya!" Snarling at that, he swung at her, slashing the air with anger and determination. He thrust his blade at her repeatedly, each time testing her reflexes. She carefully avoided each advance, knowing he had far more power than he was pushing on her. After a long dance of his advances and her avoidances, she finally screamed at him "Wat ya be teaching me here, eh? Ta lose muh patience and git MAD wit ya? FINE!"

She twisted his wrist the next time he stabbed at her and flung him on his back, her chest heaving with the effort of breathing. Straddling him she pressed her dagger into his neck, looking for flesh to cut and make bleed. Since he had none, she paused for a second. It was enough for him to shift his weight, toss her off him and slice at her thighs, scratching her. She sat back then, stunned that he would actually cut her.

"M'kay, now ya done gone and cut me!! Happy?!!" she hissed at him in anger. Sitting back she examined the bleeding wound on her inner thigh and stopped fighting back. He raised the hilt of his blade then and brought it crushing down across her cheek. She met his gaze full on and took the blow, detaching as the pain spread across her entire face. "Fine," she said quietly, hot tears dripping down her cheeks. "Don' fight no more. I be done," she said to him numbly, angrily wiping her tears away, then lowering her eyes once again to her thigh.

It was then he dove into her, dagger penetrating her stomach, knocking her clean on her back. She looked up at him with shock and disbelief. Gurgling in intense pain, she layed back entirely defeated. He hovered over her, pinning her with both his weight and the cursed stabbing. He whispered in her ear then, shoving the blade even further into her, all the way up to its hilt. "You listenin' now, sugar?" His breath on her skin was searing with the heat of his fervor.

Her eyes rolled back in her head, unable to even nod an answer. Slipping in and out of awareness, she looked into him incredulously for any resemblance of a soul. Even further shocked, she saw a glimmer of soulful brooding intensity. He looked oddly satisfied and utterly pained at the same time. "Yer lucky ah didn't finish ya' off like the rest of 'em." Her gut screaming, she held it all in, letting the torment build as only survivors know how to do. "Ah like you, and I gots ta' teach ya' this one thing. Don't pick fights ya' ain't gonna' win. I'm three times yer age and four times yer strength."

Finding a momentary burst of energy, Viridia pummeled her fists against his chest with fury and rage. "Ya gots some fine way of "liking"! I trusted ya and you stabbed me! How could ya??"

Easing down from the peak of his frenzy, he pulled both her wrists to his chest and replied almost tenderly, "Somebody had ta' show ya this. Better me than someone that ain't gonna' let ya' walk away, eh?" Quickly he pulled the dagger out of her belly, as she yelped out and then curled up into a ball. He pulled her to him and held her close then, stroking her back and pressing his face into her hair, trembling slightly. "Don't worry, Missy, you trolls heal overnight. Ain't gonna' be but a scratch by mornin'."

She moaned in his arms, too weak to fight, too stunned to answer. As he leaned in closer, touching her like no one ever had, she noticed that he, of all beings, was not repulsed by her leafy skin condition. He was stroking her with concern and remorse for having hurt her at all. The sudden realization of this made her burrow her face into his neck and bare her teeth sinking them into the bones that should have been his shoulder. Satisfied that it sent a jolt through him all the way to his toes, she groaned out indignantly, "That's fer hurtin' me, ya nasty bast'rd!"

She blacked out then, and he carried her to the Inn and laid her in a hammock. He fingered her wounds, checking to make sure they were mending as they should. Pressing his lips to her temple, he left her there and went about his usual unspeakable routines only the undead can dream of executing.

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