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Chapter OneEdit

by Talula

“Secrets are not good for the spirit. They cloud the heart and block the Light,” the bartender said in his thick, rolling accent.

“You almost got your light blocked,” Talula spat back. “Lucky for you it worked out the way it did.”

“Each day is a blessing,” Shaarubo countered. “You should have more trust in your family and friends.”

Talula scowled at him and said, “No more tips for you.” She stormed out of the tavern and began wandering the streets of the lower city, considering the evening’s conversation.

Stupid Shaarubo had ratted her out for a gold coin. Although they expressed concern that she felt the need to hide her excursions in Outland, Tai and Kennia hadn’t been upset. Then again, she hadn’t expected they would be.

She bought a rat kebab from an Arakkoa she’d become friendly with and sat down to eat, pondering her situation. Kennia had quickly put forth that she viewed all of the Tong as family. Talula didn’t doubt that the warrior put all of the Tigers before a bank full of coin. Tai Jiang was another matter. To his credit, he gave some thought before pronouncing that the people were greater than the profits but the gnome wondered just how far those sentiments would carry.

She’d only seen Miss Ollie a few times since the incident with June Langley and she couldn’t help but hear the woman’s slurred words again.

"'S gonna've m'head, Lu."

The line was hazy between cherished family member and business asset. Was his declaration merely the afterglow of a joyous wedding of Taai and Nerrok or was it his true inclination?

She was glad that he felt family loyalty over the bottom line. It wasn’t great for business, but it suited her just fine. She finished the kabab and picked her teeth with the skewer. “It’ll be alright,” she decided. “As long as he doesn’t come to his senses and change his mind.”

Chapter TwoEdit

by Krelle

Talula scurried along the damp walkways of Booty Bay, her frown as dark as her leathers. Reaching for the door to her apartment however, she paused, some obscure instinct warning her to wait.

Surely Krelle hadn't gone ahead without her? There was a smell of sulpher in the air, though. Too much sulpher...

Talula yelped, leaping backwards as a sudden detonation from inside the lab shook the door on its hinges. A dark, foul-smelling cloud of smoke mushroomed out of the open window.

"BLOOD AND BLOODY ASHES!"

The door burst open and Krelle staggered out onto the walkway, waving the black sulpherous smoke into the night air. "Bloody, felsworn, thrice-cursed, light-abandoned, useless device! By the light and all that's holy... " she stopped suddenly, seeing Talula.

The room-mates stared at each other for a moment, the silence broken by the crackling of a burning something and the outraged bellowing of their upstairs neighbour.

"I didn't think you were - " Krelle began, speaking gnomish.

"I didn't think you'd - " Talula said on top of her.

Krelle laughed ruefully after an awkward pause. "Sorry Lu, I thought I'd give it a try on my own - you've been away for so long, I didn't think you'd come back in time."

Talula looked abashed. "I meant to come back sooner, there's been, um, complications."

Krelle nodded, easily dodging a hurled frying pan from the second floor. She bent down to scoop it up, gave it an apprasing look, then shrugged and winged it into the harbour. Their upstairs neighbour screamed bloody murder as she beckoned the gnome inside. "Come in, maybe you can show me what I'm doing wrong."

The lab was its usual alphabetically organized nightmare of materials and half-made machines but an area had been cleared away in the center of the floor. In the middle of the room smouldering inside a large soup-pot were the unidentifiable remains of a delicate device. Krelle's shoulder's slumped as Talula shut the door against the screaming of the goblin.

"Aw Fel. I'm gonna have to start from scratch."

Talula looked the firetrap over with a professional eye, giving the air a sniff. "Too much sulpher."

"Too much?"

Lu nodded, hopping up onto a bench to open another window. "Definitely too much."

Krelle sighed, giving the pot a vengeful kick. It skidded several feet across the floor, hit the leg of a worktable and split neatly in two, each half falling away from the remains of the experiment.

The Forsaken glared at it balefully, then shook her head in disgust. She turned her back on the entire affair, going to the cold-ulator to get herself some juice. She poured a mug for each of them, passing one to Lu as she plopped down on the bench beside the gnome.

Talula took the juice. "I'm terribly sorry about all this, Krelle. If I had been here - "

Krelle waved it off. "I shouldn't have tried it myself. I don't know nearly enough about alchemy basics yet. Your notes just looked so... well layed-out, is all."

Lu nodded sympathetically as she sat down on the bench. Krelle really shouldn't have tried the firetrap on her own, the principles involved were a bit beyond where she was at - but it would be rude to say so. And unnecessary.

Krelle gave the still smoking device a last baleful "I'll-get-you-next-time-gadget" look, then turned back to her friend. "Ech. I'll get more retractable flexors and another set of twig-pins, we can try it again when you're around." She took a deep drink from the sturdy metal mug. It was impossible to tell, what with her mask, but Talula got the distinct feeling that Krelle was eyeing her over the rim.

"So what have you been up to?" she asked curiously.

"Oh! Well, you know, the new security system for the office is taking up a lot of time, what with certain crucial elements proving to be less tractable than I'd initially anticipated..."

Krelle blinked behind her mask as Talula babbled a rapid stream of gnomish at her. Her own gnomish was comprised almost entirely of memorized words and phrases that she'd heard the translator speak over the months that she and Lu had been living together. It was enough for casual conversation and even basic discussions about engineering projects or Tong jobs, but she quickly got lost in Lu's rapid speach and technical terms. The tone, however, she understood perfectly well.

She nodded, feigning a sympathetic understanding until Talula finally wound down. She eyed her friend as the gnome took a long drink of juice.

"Can I help?" she offered, her quiet tone implying that she wasn't referring to the office security system.

Chapter ThreeEdit

by Talula

Talula looked at Krelle for a long moment. She was proud of the girl and admired her considerable talents. Sometimes, she envied her too. Krelle looked at the world in such black and white manner. There was right and wrong. There was good and evil. Us and them. She’d been given the gift of a fresh start and had taken every advantage of it. She was sweet and devious and helpful and ruthless and trustworthy.

And she was Nerrok’s Vanguard.

Krelle’s eyebrows twisted from eager curiosity to concerned frown as the silence lingered between them. “There’s, um… It’s the Dwarven Ale business. I have been trying to find ways of extending our profits in the Outlands. I didn’t want anyone to worry and I was trying to quietly avoid the demon’s teeth, so to speak. Better profit that way, right?” Talula gave her best convincing smile. It wasn’t entirely a lie, but it wasn’t the truth the girl was looking for either. Turning to the blackened converter on the floor she said, “Let’s see what we can salvage here.”

The two worked until the sky changed to a rosy pink, tinkering, poking, brainstorming. They talked Purity Legislation and about the Silvermoon gambit. They speculated on the giblet-giving druid and about whether Taai and Nerrok’s baby would be a boy or a girl.

“We’re going to need a couple of inlaid cylinders to finish this off,” Talula said stretching. “I’ll scoot up to Stormwind today and see what’s for sale.” The gnome watched as the Forsaken engineer adjusted the torque on a bolt and said “You know, when Master Nerrok finally retires to spoil his twelve grandchildren rotten, you’re going to be an excellent Tiger Master.” Krelle looked up from the converter, surprised. “No, I mean it. He’s taught you well, but you have a gift for business. I’d like your help on the Ale thing. Maybe we can figure out how to make it apply in the Horde lands as well.”

Chapter FourEdit

by Krelle

Krelle bent her head over the torque wrench, abashed at the compliment. She carefully refastened the chassis as she spoke.

"Well, from what I've seen from the books, we actually do a pretty brisk business in Dwarven Ale imports. The only other major player in the cross-faction ale trade is the Drunken Monkey Brewery. Well, and the goblins, but their supply isn't as reliable as ours 'cause the dwarves like jerking them around."

She leaned back on one hand, tapping the wrench thoughtfully against her knee. "Yknow... if you're looking for a new angle on this ale thing, you might wanna get in touch with the DMB. Normally we're competitors, but this legislation brings a new possibility to the table..."

Talula arched an eyebrow at her roomie. "What are you suggesting?"

"Well," Krelle said slowly, thinking her way through it. "I seriously doubt the dwarves would be foolish enough to trust a goblin to self-police the quality of exported ale - and self-policing from companies is the only kind of compliance they'll be able to enfore. I dunno how concerned they are about their reputation among the Horde cities, but I bet if it was put to them the right way..."

She sat up straighter, leaning forward with a predatory grin. "What if we cooperated with the Brewery - and stole the supply out from under the goblins? We could go to this Senator and point out how the dwarves have no control over what happens Horde-side, but that they can control who buys their beer. Then we promise to uphold this dwarven purity law in return for them only selling to us and the DMB. We could claim to be some kind of associtation - the "Kalimdor Ale Trading Association" or some pompous sounding thing like that. Between the two companies though, we could probably handle most of the Horde market - though restricted supply would inevitably lead to higher prices..."

Talula was nodding. "And part of the deal would be to restrict selling to the goblin traders. We could share a monopoly on the Dwarven Ale market with the Brewery and keep the goblins out..."

The forsaken nodded with a grin. "Now there's a proposal you can bring to this dwarf when you meet him. I'd clear it with the DMB first, but I bet they'd be interested, at least."

They hashed out the plan as they tidied up, talking over potential deals they could make with the DMB, counter-proposals the goblins were likely to make, and different ways to potentially approach the Senator about the issue.

Krelle shook her head ruefully as she put the broom away near the baskets and the bolts. "I don't see what all the fuss is about this ale stuff, to be honest. It's just a drink."

Talula grinned. "Different torques for different folks. Dwarves take their ale very seriously."

"As long as they keep letting us sell it," the forsaken replied with a wry smile. "So what're you up to today, Lu?"

"Oh, I think I'll try to contact the DMB. Their offices are here in the Bay after all, and I need to work this stuff out before I meet with the Senator."

Krelle nodded. "I was going to head back to Silvermoon today, but if you need a hand with the trolls I can stick around for a while -"

"No! No, that's ok, I don't want to pull you away from the negotiations. You did say that timing was crucial with them after all. I'm sure I can handle the DMB."

Krelle hesitated for an instant, then nodded casually. "Sounds good. I gotta go buy a wire saw."

"A wire saw? I've got one over by the washers..."

"No, I don't want to dull our good tools. It's just for a job, not an engineering project," she explained as she grabbed her gear.

Talula nodded, not asking the obvious. "All right then. I'm going to have some breakfast and get going. I'll see you later?"

Krelle nodded back, also not asking the obvious. "You got it, Lu." She stopped with her hand on the doorknob, giving the little gnome a smile. "Call if ya need anything. And take care."

"You too."

Chapter FiveEdit

by Kyanali

Kya's voice crackled over the comm rather abruptly, "Lu, you there? Oh crap!"

Talula stopped what she was doing, "That you Miss Kya? What's the matter?"

Kya's voice was resigned and deadpan. "Here comes Troubble. Be prepared."

A pounding on Talula and her roommates' door soon ensued. A quite annoying and childlike voice accompanied the pounding. Troubble whined, "TaLULULULULULULLUAH! Lemme in! I was in town and Kya told me how to get to your place. LUUUUUU! I know yer in there, I see the light! C'mon, someone tell Lu I wanna play!"

Chapter SixEdit

by Phealea

Phea had been sitting in the living room attempting to read while her roommates were occupying the lab. A large book laid opened upon the coffee table, full of complicated and seemingly unreadable texts. Phealea's lips however turned into a rather angry scowl as the banging on the front door began which was quickly followed by a loud child like voice asking for Talula.

For a moment Phealea took a sharp glance to her wand and then she shook her head and cursed whatever annoying gnome that was on the other side. She had to put that small weapon to use more times than she has liked in the past week and she figured Lula, would be upset if she frighten away her friends. She sighed and marked her page as she shut the book. Phealea stood up and walked to the door and stopped in front of it as another wave of loud cries erupted from the other side. Phea winced and then closed her eyes. She concentrated for a moment and pushed her annoyance to the back of her mind and put on a friendly smile as she answered the door. "Can, I help you?"

Chapter SevenEdit

by Kyanali

Troubble looked way up at the woman and said, "Is Lula home? I wanna play!"

Chapter EightEdit

by Phealea

She gazed down at the little child and raised a rather curious eyebrow. She frowned a bit as she looked down at the child for a moment and then leaned from the door and tilted her head. "Hey, Lula! There is a kid here to see you!" She shouted into the house, augmenting her voice slightly to make sure she was heard in every room of the house.

Chapter NineEdit

by Talula

Talula had almost finished packing for her flight to Stormwind when she heard Phea call out to her. She didn't know any kids in Azeroth. Leaving her half-packed bag on the bed, she went to meet her visitor.

Frustration replaced curiosity as she saw Tori at the door.

"I'm gonna kill her!" she thought viciously. Taking a deep calming breath, she forced a smile and said "Hullo Tori, I was just on my way out. What can I do for you?"

Chapter TenEdit

by Kyanali

Troubble lit up like a crystal when Lu came to the door and took a deep breath before blurting out with very animated hands,

"Ta-LU-la! BoyamIglad ta see you! I gots this idea see, and I don't know any gnomes around here smart 'nuf but YOU. Cuz I heard these big old dwarves talking and they're like, really dumb and stuff, and you just gottahelpmefigure the plans out cuz you're really really smart and stuff and we could make a lotta gold me and you! Comeoncomeon come on, see?! And all I need is a distilling lab to work in and Kya toldmeallabout you workinginlabs all day so I wanna play in your lab with you, pretty pretty puhhhleeeeeeeeeaase?"

Talula stood with one arm braced in the door frame, effectively blocking Troubble from entering, "Whom might you mean by 'big old dwarves', Tori?"

Troubble waved her hand dismissively. "Some Senators or something like that."

Senators, of course. Talula narrowed her large but shrewd eyes and asked with just a touch of impatience, "And you want to cook up -what- in my lab?" Troubble put on her most charming smile ever and softly emitted her answer, fully expecting Lu to get as excited as she was.

"Beer."

Chapter ElevenEdit

by Talula

"Ah yes. Kya is just so going to get an ear full when I get to Stormwind," Talula thought to herself as Tori ran her words together in one non-stop torrent of speach.

"There are lots of kinds of labs, Tori. This is not the sort that you make beer in." Talula leaned back as the young gnome's eyes got wide and her lower lip began quivering. Lu had seen that look on Troubble's face once before. This was going to go badly.

"YOUAREJUSTBEINGMEANANDSELFISHANDIDIDN'TTAKEYOURHAT EVENTHOUGHYOUSTOLEITFROMMEANDNOWIHAVEAGREATIDEAAND YOUWON'TEVENHELPMEWITHITEVENTHOUGHYOUHAVEALLTHELAB STUFFANDIDON'THAVEANYAND..."

SLAP!

Talula put her hand to her mouth, horrified that she had struck the girl. Tori stared back at Lu, wide eyed and shocked into silence. "I don't believe I just did that. I can't believe I just hit her. What do I do now?" Talula's mind raced trying to think of how to salvage the situation.

From somewhere in the back of her mind, she heard a voice, gruff, commanding, giving instruction "When faced with chaos, stay calm, keep clear, be decisive. If you hesitate, you will lose."

Talula saw the lip beginning to quiver again and sprung back to life a moment before the mother of all tantrums began.

"Tori, stop that foolishness at once. This is no way for a gnome to act. Were you raised by humans?" Talula paused for a moment considering that the girl had been, which explained a few things.

"Never mind that, you have two choices. If you are interested in learning to brew beer, we can see if we can find you a brewmaster who is accepting apprentices. You'll learn how to brew beer properly, not concoct some bizzare experiment that'll probably destroy half my lab. If you don't think you have the character to stick with an apprenticeship, then you can do some research for me. What's it going to be?"

Chapter TwelveEdit

by Kyanali

Troubble held her hand to her face where it still stung and considered her options. It was not the first time she'd been slapped and likely would not be the last. In fact, it reminded her of her now buried Momma, who hated having done it, too.

The lip quivering had more to do this time with thinking back on whose fault it had been that Momma ate the poisoned bloated fish which killed her. Troubble had been whining about the plate Momma had given her. It was smaller portioned than the rest and Troubble felt slighted yet again. She began to whine, and Momma, tired of hearing it, switched her plate with Torryn's, who had a bigger portion but it looked odd to Troubble. Troubble then whined about the fish looking sick.

Momma, to prove it was perfectly fine, took a stab of the bloated fish and ate it, since money was tight and no fish was going to waste in their home. The effects of the poison took hold within minutes. Plenty of time for Troubble to change her mind had she wanted to, but she remained sullen and stubborn and refused to eat any fish. It was only when her Momma sank to the floor that she realized something was not right.

Staring here at this silver haired gnome who had just cared enough to discipline her like she needed, Troubble thought there might be worse fates than ending up working with Talula.

She sniffled a big snot bubble back in and nodded her head, ponytails bouncing. "I can research stuffs. I'm good at finding. 'Cept when I get lost. Kin I light all the matches?"

Chapter ThirteenEdit

by Talula

Talula closed her eyes tight at the mention of matches. This could go very poorly. "Miss Tori. Under no circumstances are you to EVER enter the Lab on pain of very horrible things happening to you and I don't necessarily mean by my hand. Anytime the thought enters your head to go past this threshold - and I don't care how you manage to rationalize it to yourself - I want you to remember my voice saying to you right now that you are NEVER to enter the Lab. Under. Any. Circumstances. Do you understand?"

Tori nodded and Talula said "No. I want you to say the words." The younger gnome mumbled "I promise not ta enter the Lab under any circstandses."

"Good enough," the older gnome replied. "Now, here's what I need you to do. I want you to make a list of all the inns and taverns in Westfall, Elwynn Forest, Dun Morugh, Redridge, Loch Moden, and Menethil. You're going to go to each one and politely inquire as to the kinds of Dwarven Ale they serve, what other varieties they serve, and who their supplier is. Write that information down under each tavern name so that we know which information goes with which establishment. When you've done that, bring the list back to me. You will be polite at each place even if they are not polite to you. You will use a calm and soft voice when you speak to the innkeeper."

Talula reached into a nearby desk drawer and pulled out a pouch full of coins and a worn book. "Take these. For each innkeeper that helps you, give them one of those coins. The book is my atlas. You'll find many notes in the margins that should help you if you get lost. Take good care of it because I want it back. If you do everything I ask, we'll see about getting you that hat you wanted. Understand?"

Tori noddded and took the coins and the atlas reverently.

"Get going then."

Tori saluted and ran back up the boardwalk. Talula went back to her room, grabbed her bags and hurried to the Southern Skies platform. She tried to think about what she was going to say to Kya but all she saw every time she closed her eyes was Tori's salute and the ruins of Gnomeregan.

Chapter FourteenEdit

by Phealea

Phealea watched the two gnomes from the stairs. She hadn't realized that the kid was Kya's younger sister. She idly wondered if she was that annoying to Sarina. She watched Lula, discipline the younger gnome and she put a hand up to her cheek and grinned slightly. It was also at that time that Phealea decided to make herself disappear and made her way up to the Lab.

Chapter FifteenEdit

by Kyanali

The small gnomish fist pounded on the door of Kya’s apartment, knowing Kya had not been to the big house in weeks. "I know you're in there Miss Kya! What's the big idea of sending your little terror of a sister to get me, eh? What did I ever do to you but be your friend? Open this door this - "

Talula was stopped short by the door swinging open. Kya stood there in a midnight blue dress. In the middle of the day. Talula’s eyes were as round as a full summer moon. “Dang, Miss Kya. I mean…” Talula looked confused and tried to peer around her. “Am I, uh… interrupting something?”

Kya looked at her and sighed. “Is it really that unfathomable that I might just MIGHT wear something other than patchwork armor occasionally? I’m cleaning.”

Talula blinked.

Kya sighed, then motioned with a wide arm for her dear friend to come on in to see for herself. Talula entered, stepping over a few things on the floor. She stared around her at some boxes and bags of things piled about. There were dirty dishes in the sink and a diminutive cat sat on a windowsill, sharing space with two coffee mugs. Talula had never seen Kya to be anything less than military orderly. Kya’s decorating motto was ‘the barer, the better.’ In contrast, this looked like a hurricane had hit.

While Talula soaked it all in, Kya went back to unpacking boxes and putting things away. “So what’d you say about Troubble now? What the heck did she want with you anyway? She refused to tell me, said it was “nuthin’ but a little gnome bizness”. Kya laid all three pairs of her shoes on the closet floor, perfectly aligned and smiled in great satisfaction, tilting her head to admire the one aligned thing in her entire place.

Talula spoke in a monotone, her irritation held in check by a suspicion she did not want to make obvious yet. “Oh, you know. The usual. She just wanted concoct some kind of contraband in my home lab and have the Board of Unsafe Scientists of the Greater Booty Bay shut me down overnight and kick me out of my own home. Not to mention make my two roommates homeless.”

Kya grinned as she picked the coffee mugs off the windowsill and petted Oreo with a gentle hand. Then she poured an ominous amount of dish soap on her dirty dishes with the water running and started making a mess with the bubbles. She had a few land in her hair, and a smudge of them smear across her forehead from backhanding away some hair. “Troubble marches to her own kind of drum, Lu. I don’t dare dictate her actions.”

Talula just watched, half mesmerized. “Uh huh.” Talula paused for five long seconds. “Miss Kya?”

…”Well, I’ll do what I can Lu, but I have long since stopped trying to mother her. She gets herself into trouble, she needs to learn to face the music.” Kya turned then, a few bubbles dripping down her gown with Kya entirely oblivious. She looked Lu in the eyes for the first time since she’d opened the door. Up to her elbows in bubbles, Kya held her hands like a surgeon newly scrubbed.

“Sit down, Kya.” Talula said this so quietly Kya almost didn’t hear her. She hesitated and then sat into her chair at the table, watching Lu pull at the table leg to climb up on the other chair. Kya gave her her best whatever-do-you-mean smile, and waited, shaking the bubbles off her arms and hands over the floor. Talula, not buying it in the least, said simply, “You didn’t even ask me what she intended to concoct.”

Kya dropped her glance and reached absently for a pencil left over on the far side of the table. She slowly slouched into her chair, paused and then began toying with the pencil, bouncing the eraser end on the table in a series of dull thuds. Talula watched her gaze become distant and eyes glaze over.

“Alright, Kya, out with it.” Talula took the direct route, knowing Kya was not one to avoid things.

Kya looked up to Lu and smiled a gentle and accepting smile. “Well, you know, Lu… so much is going on lately. Lot of stress on Von, he’s not himself these days.” Kya paused, tears pooling up in her eyes, but lifting her chin to show a brave face and regaining her control. “And now this Nightshade devil – rearing her ugly self. He’s been walking around in odd getup and… waltzing off to places I have never heard of. I was my typical stubborn self… and told him I was not letting him out of my sight.” At this, Kya looked directly at Lu. “You can imagine how that went over. He’s so proud and independent, you know.”

Lu nodded, watching and listening to her dear friend.

“Well, Lu , the thing is, I don’t want to hold tight to him when he cannot stand to be held right now. So, we decided to take a little break of things.”

Lu hopped off the chair and padded right over, laying a sympathetic hand on Kya’s shoulder. Kya smiled brightly at her, placing her own hand atop Lu’s and her teary eyes now shining with an inner glow.

“It’s ok Lu, I am at peace with it all. Whatever happens, happens. I feel freer now, more honest. I want him to find his peace too, and if that is not me, so be it. I just want him happy.” Kya’s peaceful face turned dark with shadow for one instant. “And, I want Nightshade dead.”

Talula muttered, "You and me both."

Kya reigned her anger towards Nightshade in, tilted her face up to the light of the window and continued, “Von and I are not going to make any ordeal - no huge screaming fights. Neither of us is headed away from the Tong. We can still work together, no worries.”

She smiled into the quickly frowning face to reassure her. “It’s hard for me to go around telling everyone to give us some…space…” Kya looked lost for only a split second.

Talula rushed right in, “Don’t you worry about that, Miss Kya, I got it covered.” Kya hugged her then, trying very hard not to crack her little back in the force of it. Both women wore smiles of comfort and honesty.

“Thanks, Lu. Sometimes I don’t know what I would have done had you not waved at me that day in Booty Bay. You’re my favorite gnome ever. Don’t you dare tell Troubble that!”

And as she released Talula, Kya felt her angst lift entirely from all the worries she had had for the past several weeks. Too much time had been spent lately looking at just herself. Seeing this clearly now, her heart reached out to Lu and butted into her business like any decent friend would. Or maybe Kya was just a little anxious to get the focus off herself.

“Now your turn, Lu. What goes around, comes around. What’s with all the secrecy in Shattrath?”

Chapter SixteenEdit

by Talula

Talula started to shake her head and Kya frowned. "No, I mean it. If you're in trouble you have to tell us. We're your family."

The gnome squinted and rolled her shoulders as though trying to relieve tension in them. "You've... there's enough on your mind right now. I'm a gnome. Our problems are small." Talula tried her cheery grin which often helped her change subjects. Kya sat and stared, one eyebrow raised. The gnome's smile faded.

"It's nothing, really. I'm just... I haven't been sleeping well. Ever since I went through the portal. I'm not sleeping well. There are dreams that keep waking me up."

"What are you dreaming about?" Kya asked.


Talula squinted, her gaze far away. "I don't know. I never remember my dreams. I just wake up. Sometimes I'm sweating, sometimes I'm shaking. Once, I woke up shouting. I know because I heard my voice echo back from the canyon I was in. The magic folks have trouble out there, all the fel energy and the like. I'm not magical though. Never have been, much to the dismay of my mother and aunts." Talula gave a little smirk as if reliving some fond memory.

"So, come back to Azeroth for a while." Kya offered. Talula shook her head.

"It doesn't seem to matter where I sleep. Miss Krelle's become suspicious but..." the gnome's voice trailed off and she looked as though she was considering something.

"You should tell them. Krelle and Phea? They might be able to help." Kya put her hand on the gnome's arm.

"No. They can't. But maybe you can. Miss Kya, I need your help but first, I have a story to tell you."



see The Fly on the Wall for this conversation



The hour was quite late by the time they finished talking. Kya had suggested that Talula stay the night, but the gnome opted for the comfort of her Stormwind workshop. Her mind buzzed with thoughts as she stepped out into the night. She never heard the soft footfalls or felt the feral eyes of the druid on her as evil followed her home.

Chapter SeventeenEdit

by Kyanali

Kya had listened to her friend with concern and empathy. Her mind was spinning by the time Lu had finished her story. It continued to spin even as Kya leaned in her doorway, watching Lu head off into the night.

Sleep would evade Kya that night, laying on her back in her creaky old bed, with hands folded behind her head. Her mind would keep going over the things she had heard, like a tongue probing that hole when you lost a tooth as a kid.

Kya's restlessness was more than just for Lu, though. She thought about Nerrok missing and ached more than anything for him to be alright. She thought about Taai and whatever must be going through her mind, alone this still night. She thought about Krelle and her sudden withdraw, hoping she found the strength to face the hard stuff. She thought about Myrwen and was filled with both disgust and distrust. And lastly, just prior to sleep, she almost thought about Von, but firmly pushed her mind shut. That was not going to help her sleep at all. Tai would know what to do. She'd missed his supportive counsel and would be happy to have his input once again.

Finally her mind stopped its incessant whirling as it finally fell into a dull motionless sleep. The problems of the land were not to be solved from worrying nor staying awake all night long. Kya simply needed to figure out what to do. Doing something, versus nothing, always helped. At least it would keep her mind off the sense that something really bad was about to happen.

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