Chapter 3 – Sword in the Pen

“Airolem? Catherine?”

The two looked up at Davian as the children dispersed from his approach. Airolem slunk back and hunched down into her seat as Davian came closer. Catherine gave her a reassuring glance and then looked to Davian.

“I hope everything went well with Khaadgrim?” she inquired. Davian quirked a brow at her and nodded slowly.

“Did you notice us come in?”

Catherine giggled. “It’s rather difficult to ignore someone like Khaadgrim entering a room. We had to keep the children busy so they wouldn’t bother you two. Who are you?”

Davian reached a hand out as he introduced himself. “Davian Lyremin. Khaadgrim’s already told me your names but you probably knew that already.” Catherine shook the hand with a smile. As Davian turned to Airolem she dug herself deeper into her chair and gave Davian a rather scared look, covering most of herself with the newly-knitted blanket.

“I’m sorry about that,” Catherine said apologetically. “She’s wary around strangers.” Davian glanced at Airolem and nodded as she lifted the edges of the blanket around the bottom half of her face, twiddling her bony fingers and fidgeting in her chair.

“Um,” Davian started, moving a hand to scratch the back of his head, “Khaadgrim wanted us to head to the docks for something. Are you both ready to go?”

“So soon?” Catherine looked to Airolem quizzically.

“I-it must be b-bad right now,” uttered Airolem. “D-do we have to go?”

Davian felt another pang of worry come over him. “What’s going on?”

“Pardon,” Catherine said as she took the knitted blanket and folded it up, placing it upon her seat. Airolem retrieved the staff beside her seat and buckled it on her back. As Catherine went to retrieve her armaments from the nearby table Airolem took her hat off and swept her ashen hair back. The little Forsaken blinked several times and then tapped her unsteady fingers over her fleshless jaw.

“Could you tell me what’s going on, Airolem?” Davian asked. Airolem gasped softly as her head whipped to look at him. She twiddled her fingers, looking hopefully at Catherine but she was still preparing her armaments. With a groan of worry she finally answered his question.

“M-M-Mister Khaad wants us to g-go to Northrend.” Davian noticed it took a good amount of strength for Airolem to get her words out. She was shaking, face filled with fear and anxiety as her face contorted slightly in thought. As soon as Catherine returned the two looked to her as if expecting something.

“Why are we going to Northrend?” Davian asked, restraining his shock.

“You’ll be fine,” Catherine assured as she looked over to Airolem. “You’ve done this numerous times too, Lemmy, don’t worry so much.” Airolem looked up to Catherine and let her warm smile soothe her fears. Even though her shaking lessened the obvious face of worry was still there. Before they departed Catherine informed the caretakers of their leaving. And then after the children were finished saying their goodbyes the three headed out of the door and began their way to the harbor.

As they journeyed through Stormwind Davian felt uneasy. He knew people were staring as they passed by but Catherine did not seem to pay notice, keeping her focus straightforward as they walked. Airolem peered around and slunk down, tipping her hat to cover her face. To her the glares felt like knife stabs. Davian felt he needed to start another conversation to alleviate the tension.

“So what did you mean by ‘so soon,’ Catherine?”

“A few days ago one of our ships was attacked by the Kvaldir.” She kept her attention straightforward, still unmoved by the glares from the passing townsfolk and guards. “We managed to rescue the carriers aboard but the shipment still needs to be salvaged.”

“So that’s what we’re doing?” Davian was having trouble trying to believe her.

Catherine nodded matter-of-factly. “So as long as Khaadgrim’s with us you don’t have to worry about anything.”

“But,” Davian stuttered, still feeling worried. “It’s just one orc against giants!”

Catherine glanced over her shoulder and smiled. “A carrier never fights alone, as we say.” Davian frowned at the words, stopping to try and fathom them but shook his worry off and ran to catch up. As they neared the port entrance a group of unsavory-looking people approached and blocked their way through.

“Well well,” one of the thugs barked out, sifting through the others. “More traitors to the kingdom I see?”

Catherine focused her attention to the ragged-looking man who could have used a haircut a few years ago. “Could you move your friends out of the way, please?”

The thugs chortled. “Why?” asked the ringleader, eyeing Catherine up and down. “So you can spot your Horde filth about our city?” The thugs began to throw unsavory words at the three. Airolem wrapped her hands around herself and cowered, trying hard to keep her squeaking suppressed. Davian glared at the ringleader and growled softly, trying to keep himself restrained.

“What the hell have we done to you?” he barked out, catching the ringleader’s attention. He simply smiled and eyed Davian with a lifted chin, looking down at him like a dog.

“I see you’ve fetched yourself another traitor.” The ringleader grabbed Davian’s face and moved it left and right. “Pretty young slave; you’d probably fetch a good coin from the ring.” Davian slapped the hand away. Before the thug leader could react Catherine blocked his path.

There were no guards to be seen. The townsfolk passing by paid no attention but some looked as if praising the act the thugs were committing. A minor few glared at the thugs, eyes hopeful that the three would be able to simply pass in peace. Catherine and the thug leader exchanged a few words before a loud voice suddenly boomed from behind the group.

“What the fuck are you pussies up to!?” the angry voice barked out. Everyone turned to see a bald man approaching the group, his face not amused in the least bit.

The man was just about 6 feet tall, bald but bore a thick beard and had an eye patch over his right eye with a large, jagged scar coming from the top of his ear and passing over the patch to his right nostril. The man had a ragged brown shirt made of linen and a chain harness over it that kept his brown and black chainmail together. There was fur underneath his armor that looked old but functional enough to keep his body warm. As he approached, Davian could make out numerous scars over his body ranging from sword cuts to stab wounds.

“Piss off old ” the ringleader barely had a chance to finish his sentence as the man swung his arm and clothe lined him, causing him to let out a shrill of a squeak and slam hard into the cobblestoned floor. The other thugs recoiled at the act but did not have the nerve to do anything. As the ringleader groaned in pain the man grabbed him by the collar and hoisted him up.

“I fucking told you,” the man began, voice seething with anger, “to not piss around with them, didn’t I?” The ringleader was too dazed to respond so the angered man shook him up a bit to get his attention. “Hey, HEY! I need you to focus!”

The ringleader’s dazed eyes trailed to the man’s. Once he saw this the man resumed speaking. “You make’em unhappy you make the Argent Crusade unhappy and a slew of other good people unhappy. I find you pissing around with the FCU again I’m gonna throw you all off this fucking place.”

“What’s going on here?” A few guardsmen finally showed up and perused the group. The thick-bearded man looked at them for a moment and then shoved the ringleader toward his band of thugs.

“Nothing,” he said simply, queuing the thugs to leave. “They were just extending an invitation we politely declined.” The guardsmen felt apprehensive at the bearded man’s stare but simply nodded and dispersed, heading to their positions around the upper parts of the dock entrance. The three carriers settled down as the glares from the thugs disappeared around the corner of the buildings.

“You kids alright?” The bearded man asked, looking over the three. Catherine and Davian nodded while Airolem put out a sheepish smile.

“Thanks, stranger,” Davian commented. Catherine walked over to the bearded man and shook her head.

“Davian, this is Elijah Korsaw. His business is linked with ours and helps us with sea trading.” Davian furrowed his brows in surprise as the man gave him a crisp nod.

“I see you’re new,” Korsaw said. “To hell with the formalities for now though, Khaadgrim’s waiting for us.” They continued their way down the ramps of the entrance toward the shipyard. There were many people running around and unloading cargo from a variety of different ships parked beside the docks. Crates filled with goods were stacked upon each other all throughout the area with gatherers shifting them here and there to depart into the inner reaches of Stormwind.

Davian had never set foot within the harbor and all the activity awed him as they walked past the workers. In the distance he saw hulking figure in black plate armor looking towards them and could only guess it was Khaadgrim. The ship he was on was very large, adorned with two masts and a figurehead that resembled a praying woman with wings. On the end of the ship a word was painted elegantly in red and yellow which read “Redemption”.

“You gonna cream yer pants, boy?” Korsaw barked out, grinning wickedly at Davian.

“What?” Davian quickly shook his head and lowered it a bit, feeling embarrassed.

“I’m just fuckin’ with you, don’t make that look.” He chuckled as they approached the ship. As they walked up the ramp the nearby sailors saluted Korsaw, who saluted quickly in return. The ship’s deck was nicely polished but obviously looked worn out from activity. Catherine and Airolem made their way into the cabin of the ship but Davian was stopped short by Khaadgrim.

“A moment,” the orc said as he drew out a tabard and a rectangular metallic device from his shoulder pad. Davian unfolded it and realized the tabard bore the insignia of the Freelance Carriers Union. As he placed it on Khaadgrim explained the controls of the device. It was a radio with simple controls such as mute, volume adjustment, public and private relaying and a special emergency button in case of danger. Davian buckled the radio onto his belt and nodded, taking the instructions to mind.

“How long is this journey going to take?” Davian asked.

“Maybe a day or so,” Khaadgrim answered. “It would be best to relax. Perhaps you can find this time to get acquainted with your peers.”

They made their way to the cabin of the ship. “How many of us are there?”

“There’s you and me with Catherine, Airolem, and Robin inside the cabin. Korsaw and his sailors will assist us if the situation becomes too dangerous.”

“I heard we were going to fight Kvaldir.” Davian was obviously worried.

Khaadgrim nodded. “Whatever they can throw at us we can handle it. As long as you follow my instructions you’ll be fine.” Davian gave the orc a long look, nodding reluctantly. “Are you afraid?”

Davian shook his head.

“You should be,” Khaadgrim said. “It’s not abolishing your fear, it’s controlling it.”

They entered the cabin and then Khaadgrim stopped to gaze at the large machine sitting in the middle of the it. Airolem was knitting at the base of it while Catherine was sipping some tea from a wooden mug near a table to the side of the contraption. Robin was reading something on a hammock and glanced up to wave at the two.

“Captain!” she said energetically. “And Davian! It’s nice to see you again!” Davian waved back and then turned to look at Khaadgrim.

“Khaadgrim? Is there something wrong?”

“Wha’? Where’s that orc at?” A dwarf with a short, thick beard of tan color peeked from behind the machine. He had a short ponytail bound by a copper band and some dark red goggles on which he flicked up to reveal his bright blue eyes. The dwarf was armored to the teeth with grey plated armor and a mess of engineering equipment from explosives to repair all over his person. On his back was a goblin rocket launcher and to the sides of his waist dangled a stone mace and a razor-sharp axe. He was covered in soot and splotches of black that looked like oil stains and had an odor of metal and gunpowder over him.

“Barzik?” Khaadgrim spoke out in surprise. “I thought you were stationed in Ironforge?”

Barzik scoffed and went back to working on the machine. “It’s fine! Berl switched me with Vystrum so I could help out here!”

“Oh gods,” Khaadgrim said morbidly. He rubbed his face and then shook his head. “Of all the people to replace anyone.”

“Um,” Davian began with a confused look on his face. “Who’s he? And Vystrum?”

Khaadgrim waved an uncaring hand toward Barzik. “He’s Berlshenk’s younger brother.” The orc went toward the table and took a seat, taking the large bottle and pouring himself a mug of its contents. “As for Vystrum, pray you don’t have to work with him. That’s all you’ll have to worry about.” He lifted his helmet a bit and gulped the drink down.

Davian took a seat beside Airolem. “O-Ok,” he stammered, still feeling confused. Airolem scooted away from him a bit and then continued knitting. Davian looked around as the ship began to slowing depart from the harbor.

It was quaint, not too big or too small and just enough to accompany the crewmates and several guests. Unlike the ship’s outer appearance the cabin looked to be untended, paint chipping here and there and the wood worn and splintering. Even so the hammocks and small amount of furniture looked brand new; upon further assessment of the furniture Davian realized it was the paint’s doing rather than a mistaken observation. The furniture had many coats of paint over it that cloaked the worn out portions of the wood.

He then looked up at the machine. It looked like a glorified pulley system with a huge claw attached to one end of the rope. The whole contraption was made out of metal and opposite the claw was a control panel. A sudden slam resonated through the cabin and Barzik walked around the machine and pulled his goggles up again.

“The hell’s this?” he asked as he eyed Davian up and down. “He yer cabin boy, Khaadgrim?” The dwarf let out a chuckle as he took a seat near the table, taking a flask out from a pouch and drinking down its contents.

“Let Cham take care of the jokes, Barzik.” Khaadgrim slid his helmet back down and gestured to Davian. “That’s Davian Lyremin. Davian, that’s Barzik Riflemot, one of the head engineers of the union.”

Davian lifted a hand to shake but Barzik greeted his own way by slapping him on the shoulder. “Hope you got yer shittin’ pants on ’cause this is gonna be one hell of a ride!” A slight stain of soot imprinted onto Davian’s shoulder and he cleared it up by patting it. His sense of security diminished as he thought of the ways a Kvaldir could rip him up.

“Davian,” Khaadgrim said, looking to him. “This will be a long journey if you keep brooding about the ways you can die.”

“H-how did ”

“I know that face.” Davian tried to conceal his face by rubbing it but the orc knew what he was trying to do. “Anyways, how about we have a Q & A session while we’re still awake?” Davian looked out and watched as Korsaw and his sailors work around the ship. The presence of voices calmed him down a bit and he was glad there were people he could talk to without having them tear him to pieces.

“You probably get this a lot, but….”

The sun began its slow descent in the distance as the ship gently swayed among the current. A sailor yelled out their position and direction to notify everyone of the ship’s intent. After Korsaw was finished with business on the main deck he manned the wheel and let out a sigh, steering steady and losing himself in the reverie of the ocean.

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About Grim Meteor

Hello. I write, stream, read, dream, and uh, do other stuff. Thanks for stopping by.
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