**Before I post this, I suppose some introductions are in order. I don’t believe Duugvilder has made an appearance on the blog yet, but I expect we’ll be hearing a bit more from him as time goes on. He and Annie Mae were not supposed to be more than friends, but sometimes things work out very oddly. Even for little cowgirl gnomes. Today is his player’s birthday (Happy Birthday!) so I thought I’d get this story started in his honor today. We’ve written this together and hopefully there will be more stories about them in the future. Probably getting into all sorts of trouble. They’re trouble by themselves, so together? Watch out!**
The first thing Annie Mae did, upon realizing that she might actually be free of the cave, was blink squintingly at the sky. Damn, but it was bright out here.
The second thing Annie Mae did was decide that she was never again eating another mushroom in her life, even if it meant starving.
Her stomach growled.
This lead to the third thing, which was an intense craving for a bear burger. The kind with gooey cheese and grilled onions and thick slices of ripe summer tomatoes that you could get from street vendors in… in Stormwind.
“Fuckitalltohell. Where’d I leave my damn horse.” Meg, having some sense, was nowhere to be found.
So she walked back to Nordrassil, idly wondering if Duugvilder could cook bear burgers. And if he’d even remember who she was, for that matter.
* * *
“I’m sorry, miss, but you’re in no fit state for portal travel. You need to regain your strength.”
“I’m a gnome. I live underground all the time. C’mon, I can go!”
“No, you can’t. Not until you’ve had a few good meals and look a little less like a starved trogg.”
“I DO NOT LOOK LIKE A STARVED TROGG.”
Annie stared at the elf towering above her, a bowl of something wretched smelling in his hands.
“Fine. What do you have.”
“Soup, made from mushrooms and fresh greens. It will be a nice easy thing to eat.”
“Not eatin’ that.”
“Why ever not? It’s delicious.”
“Still ain’t eatin’ it. You got any bear burgers?”
The elf sighed and put the bowl of soup down on the little table in the room Annie Mae was “renting”.
“I do not have any bear burgers. With the great Bear spirits so nearby, we do not encourage eating bears here.” He changed tactics. “Is there anyone we can contact for you, to perhaps encourage you to actually eat something?”
“Dunno. I’ve been in a damn cave for a long while. Maybe Duugvilder? He might still live in Stormwind. Dunno. You’ll have to look him up. It’d be good to see him. I bet he could make a bear burger…”
* * *
Duugvilder – ahem, PROFESSOR Duugvilder – was finishing his work for the day when his teaching assistant, a studious-looking Gnome named Finbar, rushed into his office. “Master Duugvilder, sir…I have a message for you! It looks important! It came from a Night Elf!!!”
Duugvilder smiled at his overexcited protegee and extended a hand to take the scroll that Finbar was waving at no one in particular. The boy finally caught himself and handed it over. Duugvilder took a moment to savor the feel of whatever material the sender wrote upon, as well as the subtle, smoky hints of Cinderbloom that found their way into the cloth like paper. “Whoever sent this currently resides somewhere in Mount Hyjal. Nordrassil, most likely, as that is the largest and most secure of the Night Elf territories.” He smiled again at Finbar, unrolled the scroll, and started reading.
“Greetings, Professor Duugvilder,
I hope this message finds you healthy and well…”
The letter read friendly enough, at first. But as Duugvilder got deeper into it, the message took on a far more worrying tone. The news became darker and more troubling, the words starting to blur until only the most basic of comprehension could be made…
“Severe malnourishment and dehydration…
“…asking for you…bear burgers…”
As he struggled to make sense of what he had read, and to control the emotion the words evoked in him, he could feel the air around him getting warmer, dryer. The room was starting to feel smaller. His breath was coming in heaves, and tasted of a desert he hadn’t visited in quite some time. Steady, Duugvilder, he thought to himself. This will not help you, nor will it help heal Annie Mae. You must be calm for her. You will go to her, if only to be by her side.
He looked at his student’s shocked and fearful face, and knew that disaster had narrowly been averted. “Finbar, I need you to cover my classes for the next several days. Cover the next five chapters of the text, and issue a test if I have not yet returned. I have business to attend to in Nordrassil…”
“Master, what is it that could upset you into…?” The boy could not finish the thought.
“A loved one was injured and I must go to her.” Satisfied with the answer, and not willing to provide a lengthy explanation for what the assistant had seen with Annie in need, Duugvilder left the office, making his plans as he rushed to gather his clothing, armor, and weapons. Stormwind had a portal that took one directly to Nordrassil, so he could be by Annie’s side in short order. But his more immediate order of business would take him into Elwynn forest. Annie apparently craved bear burgers and, by everything Duugvilder held dear, his love would have what she desired. Even if he had to empty the woods to provide it.
Duugvilder found what he was looking for at the Eastvale Lumber Camp. They had a ready supply of bears – too many bears, in fact – and he was able to quickly procure some meat. He stopped by their local market and got some tomatoes as well; what looked to be the end of the funny colored, striped ones that so often came from the farms farther out from town.
Next stop, Miller’s bakery, for sourdough rolls, sweet and almost pungent smelling; then, a quick trip by Trias’ Cheese, and he was pretty sure he was ready to go up to Nordrassil.
He made one final stop to the small, single room that served as his apartment in Stormwind; although he had finally built a house for himself (and, soon, perhaps for Annie Mae, he found himself thinking) just outside of Redridge, he kept his original home as a base of business. Being close to docks, portals, and banks served him well in his professions. He collected what cookery he had, as well as a scroll he hoped he wouldn’t have to use, and made his way to the portal that would reunite him with Annie Mae.
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