Aelflaed sat for a brief moment to catch her breath, dunking the rag she’d wrapped around her nose and mouth into the fountain, wringing it out, and mopping her face and neck. All around her people bustled past, carrying water. The Dwarven District was always tinged with a faint patina of smoke and dust… but it’d been a long time since there’d been a fire of this magnitude.
And it was her fault.
What had once been a small shop near the Engineer’s Guild Headquarters was now the remains of a raging inferno, thanks to a misplaced hammer strike, a spark, and a barrel of dense blasting powder. Fortunately, the shop had been vacant for a few weeks, and nobody was hurt, but the fire had damaged several roofs in the area. It was mostly contained now, smoldering in the hotspots of the building and pouring out billowing black smoke and steam.
Well, this is going to be the end of things. They told me I had one more chance – one more mishap of these proportions and I’d need to find some other way to spend my days.
The memories of a charred tent, three exploded cookstoves, several black eyes from random flying parts, a broken arm, and what had once been a rather elaborate tool shed flitted through her mind. There was no doubt that she’d had issues with engineering in the past.
The sound of someone clearing his throat loudly snapped her back to reality.
The Guild Master Sparkspindle shook his head sadly, his face kind, but resolved. I’m afraid you know what this means?
She sighed. Yes. I know.
You know I have a soft spot for you, but with this record, and only at the Journeyman level, I’m afraid of what you’ll be capable of once you reach higher levels in our organization. I know you love tinkering, but you could very easily blow yourself and half of Stormwind to the Nether!
She rummaged through her pack, eyes misting up slightly (and only partially from the soot). I suppose you’ll be wanting this then? She held out her hand, gently cradling her tattered membership card.
He stood next to her, resting his hand lightly on her shoulder, taking the card and looking at it. I know this is sad – but you need to find a profession that suits you, and I really don’t think Engineering is it.
Aelflaed nodded, wiping her eyes with the soot covered rag, waving half heartedly at the Stormwind Fire Brigade as their cart rattled by, heading back to the fire house. Apparently things were finally settled down.
He looked at her, grinning. You know, soot really doesn’t become you. You look rather like one of those raccoon critters. Why don’t you go get yourself cleaned up. You’ll feel better once you get all the ash and debris cleaned off.
Impulsively, she threw her arms around him in a bear hug – nearly tumbling the older gnome over with her enthusiasm.
Thank you for… well, everything. I’ll stop by and let you know what I decide to do, when I decide to do whatever I’m going to … well you know.
Three days later, as she sat in the Pig and Whistle plowing through a roast beef, alterac swiss, and horseradish sandwich (with extra horseradish), a dwarf came in and walked up to the bar next to her. He rummaged through his bags, handed her a large brown envelope, grabbed a piece of bread, threw a coin at the bartender, and marched back out.
Aelflaed wiped her hands, eyebrows crinkled at the dwarf, and picked up the package. She’d not been expecting anything from anyone – and certainly not the Engineer’s Guild…
Opening it, she found a note from the Guild Master:
To Aelflaed Larsdottir:
Enclosed is something you might find helpful in your decision making.
-Lilliam Sparkspindle, Guild of Engineers
She opened the folder it was attached to, and found a strangely written recipe. Some kind of chemical formula, she supposed – requiring various herbs and oils. She flipped back to the cover : Recipe: Goblin Rocket Fuel
Well… now that I could manage…
Elwynn Forest rested peacefully, the trees quiet in a light summer rain, plants and flowers unaware of the reign of insanity that was approaching.
Aelflaed charged out of the Stormwind gates, feeling Maera’s joy at being out of the stable for the first time in a week. The charger snorted, tossing her mane and pitching into a strong canter with enthusiasm.
Until she was reined to a screeching halt as her rider flew out of the saddle and knelt next to a small bunch of white flowers.
Maera? Do you think this is Peacebloom? It looks like peacebloom, see – this is the picture in my herbalism book.
Unceremoniously, Aelflaed ripped up the plant, roots and all, and offered it to the horse. Maera sniffed at the plant, giving the enthusiastic paladin a look that said clearly (in horse), You have *got* to be kidding me, and promptly ate the whole thing.
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