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An Unfair Advantage

--by Krelle


Krelle nodded sympathetically at the miserable gnome. Slim was, as usual, pretty deep into his cups, but she could pick out most of what he was saying despite the slur and strange accent.

"E's gonna 'ave me 'ead, onna-onna shtick, a' an e'll lame it a no-gnon-gnomshickle," the gnome mumbled into his hands.

"Aww, c'mon, Slim," she said softly in Gnomish. "It's not your fault you lost a shipment. It's not like you're into barratry. Just tell him the ship sank. It's the risks of the trade."

Slim let his head sink through his hands until his forehead rested in the puddle of beer on the table, then shook his head slowly, rocking it side to side. "Ningún bueno, mujer, no good. I mished the nave, s'my error… "

Krelle let out a little sigh. "So go get the booze, Slim. Fel, if you're life depends on it, get moving. What are you sitting around this dump for?" she asked, waving a hand at the smoky taproom of the Blow-hole.

Slim slowly tilted his head back so that he was peering up at her, his round nose resting on the edge of the table. His bushy eyebrows formed a pleading inverted-V as he mumbled something completely incoherent.

"You did not just say that," she stated flatly, easily guessing his meaning.

"Yer mah only espe, sen'ra, I c'n't go…"

"You're actually asking me to go to the Hinterlands? You want me to, what, exactly? Head up through the mountains, past elvish settlements, through worg-infested woods, past some of the most vicious trolls in Azeroth, find safe passage down the Overlook cliffs and then go swimming along the turtle-infested shore until I find some sunken boat full of booze?"

The poor gnome had sat back in his chair as she spoke, his face again hidden in his hands. The misery surrounding him was an almost palpable force.

Krelle hid a smile. "Am I right, Slim? Is that what you came here ta ask me ta do for you?"

He nodded, not looking up.

Krelle sighed, leaning back in her chair. She absently palmed a small round pebble from her vest, dancing it across the back of her knuckles and through her fingers as she thought. After a moment she shrugged. The pebble disappeared. "Ok. I'll do it. But you're gonna owe me big time."

His fingers parted, revealing two booze-reddened, bleary eyes. "Really? Nigu menti?"

She gave him her best pokerface. "Big time," she repeated bleakly. The gnome gulped but nodded quickly.

Krelle nodded. "I'd best get going then. It's a long hike to the Overlook ledge."

The small forsaken hopped off of her chair to go, but froze in surprise as Slim half-fell off of his seat, suddenly weeping, and staggered over to envelop her in a whiskey-soaked hug. "Grati, sen'ra, grati!" he managed. Krelle winced slightly at the smell, firmly pushing him back a step.

"He botherin' you, Ma'am?" a burly orc bouncer asked as he loomed out of the shadows. Slim stepped back apprehensively at his tone.

"Naw, it's fine, Rok. He's just a little tanked," she answered. She brushed off her vest as the orc gave Slim a parting glower. "Dry out, Slim," she continued in Gnomish again. "I'll be calling on your services when I get back here with the booze."

The gnome nodded nervously as she left the bar, wondering what someone like her would ask of someone like him. But really… what choice did he have?

Krelle paused outside the tavern as her sight readjusted to the bright light of the afternoon sun over the water. She shook her head with a sigh as she headed off towards the flight master. Slim was an old business partner - used to be Nerrok's main supplier of rum, in fact - so she didn't mind trading favours instead of coin. Besides, she wouldn't really have to hike all the way to Revantusk.

She'd been there before, after all.

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