I had, perhaps, imbibed more than was good for me when my sister paid me a visit in the beer garden of A Hero’s Welcome in Dalaran.
“Cynwulf son of Cynferth, you mangy son of a drunk whore, you better give me a good reason I don’t throw you out on the streets to starve!” she yelled. Oh, ow. She’s got a loud drill sergeant voice when she wants to use one. Ow.
I raised my head, tried to focus my bleary eyes on her angry form, then gave up and concentrated on making the words come out clearly.
“Because, dear siss… sister, I have just come from… from…” I paused. Where had I been? “Oh yeash. Alterac Valley. I was celebrating another glorious victory over the Horde. For Stormwind and… uh… Stormpike!” I yelled, trying to rise and give a salute.
In retrospect, I shouldn’t have tried to salute. I have no idea how I could have drunk so much wine, but it always makes me dizzier than whiskey, especially that great stuff from Halaa. Oooo.
Anyways, I, uh, fell over at that moment. The bench tripped me, or something. I don’t know, I was drunk, okay?
“Get up,” my sister Cynwise yelled. “Get up you sot. It’s time for you to stop living in the past and go to work.” She made a quick gesture, and a large blue demon burst into our plane, ready to do her bidding.
Apparently, her bidding was to go fetch a pail of water and throw it on to me. Repeatedly. Then, and I’m not sure how this happened because I’m positive I should have been able to outwrestle a demon, even if I had perhaps had a few too many bottles of that great Dalaran white, but that big blueberry hoisted me up into the air and marched me out to the Eventide fountain.
The crowd that gathered didn’t try to stop ‘wise when she cooly ordered the voidwalker to drop me in. No, they laughed.
I guess I must have been a bit of a public nuisance, to be quite honest.
I came up, spluttering, to the sounds of the citizens of Dalaran laughing at me. And there was my sister, my dark, ruthless sister, holding out her hand to pull me out of the water.
“Come on, ‘wulf,” she said. “You have work to do. No more fighting the same battles over and over in your mind. No more fighting the Horde and the Scourge. Come back to us.”
I saw then that my younger sister still loved me, no matter what the Scourge had done to me. And that all she had been offering me, all she had been offering me since I returned from Light’s Hope, was a chance. A chance to do better.
I looked at that hand for a long time. That hand, and the dark eyes behind it.
I couldn’t go on like I’d been going. The drink hadn’t changed anything. I was still a twisted mockery of my former self.
But my sister didn’t care about that. She still saw me as me.
Perhaps… Perhaps it was enough.
“No more fountains, ‘wise,” I spluttered, taking her hand.
“Why not, you drunk?” she said, pulling me out. “I’ll throw you in every fountain from here to Darnassus if I have to. You had enough?”
“Good, then there’s someone I want you to meet.”
I was wet, but I didn’t care. I’d had enough. If Cynwise wanted me to meet someone who would keep me out of the bottle, I’d follow her to Icecrown Citadel itself. Instead, she led me to the Stormwind Portal in the Silver Covenant courtyard. From there it was a quick walk through the streets of the Mage Quarter to the canals, and from there to a small, richly-appointed inn in the Park District. There was a pretty redhead sitting at one of the tables. She smiled when she saw my sister, but that quickly turned to a frown when she saw me.
“Outside,” she said in a low but urgent voice, rising quickly and moving towards us before we got too far inside. “Outside before you ruin the carpet.”
Oh. Right. I was still dripping wet. ‘wise smiled as she got out of my way.
“Mr. Grant gets awfully upset when folks come in and track mud all over his place,” the redhead said as she exited the inn. “I can’t imagine that he’d appreciate having rust spots on his expensive rugs. He imports them from Kalimdor, after all.” She laughed and looked at me. “You must be Cynwulf. You’re taller than I expected, honey.”
I raised an eyebrow in response. She laughed again. “Oh, this will be fun. I’m Waylan. And you’re my, er…”
“Apprentice,” ‘wise chimed in.
I blinked. ‘wise was looking at me, her eyes sparkling with mischief. I learned to be wary of that look when we were kids.
“I’m sorry. I’m to be your apprentice?” I asked, glad that I could not blame this on the drink. Thinking about it made me want some wine, though.
“Yup,” said Waylan.
“And what will I be learning?” I asked, wondering what new madness my sister had arranged for me.
“Why, how to make money, of course!” she smiled, patting me on the arm. “Put away that armor and you will learn to make a different kind of war. Your sister has arranged to have you learn the fine art of banking, ‘wulf. Isn’t that exciting?”
“Er, what?” I stammered.
“Banking!” she said, excited. “Finance! How to make money! No more living in the poorhouse for you! When I’m done with you you’ll be a titan of commerce!”
“But…” I was really out of my element here. “I’m just an engineer. An engineer who was turned into a Death Knight by the Scourge. What do you think I know about finance?”
“Aha! You know numbers!” said Waylan. “And that is where we’ll begin. Well, no, we won’t begin there, we’ll begin by getting you some decent clothes. Where did you get that armor, ugh, we’ll have to find something more suitable…” her voice trailed off as she started back towards the canals. I turned to Cynwise.
“You’re crazy,” I said, looking down at her.
“I raise demons for fun and profit, and you’re just now noticing that?” she retorted.
“I… ” the right words wouldn’t come out. “This is crazy. I know nothing about the Auction House. I’m a construct of the Scourge, made to kill. Not to make money with the goblins.”
She took my arm and started walking with me after the redheaded banker, who had stopped to talk to some people and was already animatedly gesturing in my direction. “You are no such thing, ‘wulf. You’re my brother, returned to me through some grace I can’t understand. But you need something other than war and death now. Something to replace the dreams of battle and bloodshed.”
I thought about that as we walked along. This was only crazy if I clung to the past. My drinking was a way to hold on to the past, even as I tried to insulate myself from it.
“Okay,” I said, after a few minutes. “Okay. I’ll give it a go.”
Cynwise smiled one of her rare smiles at me. “It’s good to have you back, brother.”
“Now get to work.”