“Okay, you know where the Auction House and Bank are in Stormwind. Good,” started Waylan. “You obviously know Innkeeper Allison, which we will definitely talk about later,” she said, her eyebrows arched. “But that’s another matter entirely. Ahem. Moving right along.”
I was initially deceived by the flow of chatter coming from the pretty redhead. There was so much talking going on that I was certain it must be just babbling, like some of my sisters would do, and I started to tune it out.
But then I realized that she wasn’t babbling, but instead offering concise, pointed observations about everything around her. This woman may be 10 years my junior, but she’s far more mentally agile than I am. It was kind of depressing, actually — this would not be an easy trade to master, and I had barely taken the first steps yet.
“”wulf, do you have a horse?” Waylan suddenly asked. I think she knew my attention had wandered a bit and was jerking me back to the task at hand. “One of those non-screaming ones, something that’s less… obvious?”
“Yes,” I replied. “I have a horse from Eastvale.”
“Perfect!” she exclaimed, actually clapping her hands together. “That will make this so much more fun. I hope you were paying attention, since we’ll put it all into practice in the field.”
Uh oh. Caught.
“Let me go grab some lunch for us to take with us, and I’ll be right back.” Waylan walked quickly into the inn while I racked my brains for what she could have been talking about before proposing our little excursion. Complete blank. Oh well.
She emerged with a small satchel of food and waterskin – at least I hope it’s a waterskin – just as Billy the stable boy went running around the side entrance to the stables. “I tip him well,” Waylan said as she came up next to me, rummaging through the satchel. “Shouldn’t be long.”
And indeed it was not. Soon we were riding through the dappled shade of Elwynn Forest, me on my white charger, her on a sturdy pinto. It was a gorgeous day for riding.
“Okay,” Waylan began, after we’d gotten some distance from the city. “Just like I told you.”
I looked right at her and said, “I’m sorry, Waylan, but I have no idea what we’re doing out here. Aside from enjoying a nice ride in a beautiful forest.”
She grinned. “Good. Honest. Cynwise said you’d be honest to a fault. We can work that to your advantage. If I had an open face like yours, I could steal half the city.”
“I didn’t say anything before, so I’m glad you didn’t try to bluff your way through it. Good. We’re here to talk about what you do when you’re just starting out, which you are,” she said.
“It’s true,” I replied. “I am just starting out.”
“How much money do you have on you, ‘wulf?” she asked, digging in the satchel for something. “Aha, here they are!” she exclaimed, not waiting for my answer. This girl talked faster than all four of my sisters before a dance at the Abbey!
“I have a few gold on me, why?”
“Toss it over,” she said, bringing out two apples from the brown bag. I unhooked my coin purse and tossed it over to her; in one fluid motion she caught it, tossed it and the two apples into the air, and briefly juggled all three objects before flicking an apple over to me and catching my purse in one hand. I caught the apple without difficulty – it was a good throw.
“Have an apple,” she said. “That’s all you get for this exercise. Now, we’re starting from scratch. You have no money. You have a horse, which is a beautiful animal by the way, but I don’t have the heart to take him away from you. So you have an apple and a horse.” She transferred the money in my purse into her own and tossed it back to me. “Correction! An apple, a horse, and an empty purse. And your wits, I hope.” She paused to take a bite out of the apple, which caused her horse’s ear to cock backwards.
“How can you make money when you have nothing?” she asked, settling into her saddle.
I thought for a bit before answering. “Well, it’s not true that I have nothing. I have myself, my skills, and my abilities.”
“Okay,” Waylan said. “Expand on that.”
“Well,” I said, “There are creatures in the woods who I can kill for pelts and meat that people will pay for. There are pockets of Defias left who, while poor, also have some money. And while the people around here don’t give much, they will certainly pay for assistance I can provide.”
“True, true,” she said, crunching on the apple again.
“Uh, let’s see. I have professions I can use. I am a skilled miner, and the rock around here is pretty soft to work with. There should be copper and rough stone, which I’m pretty sure will sell well on the Auction House. Engineering is a bit tougher without more advanced materials, but I’m sure I could make something these people would want.”
“Yeah, you believe that ‘wulf, if it gives you comfort,” Waylan said, smiling broadly. “You were doing great up until engineering. You’re right about mining, but engineering doesn’t offer much to these people, or to anyone really, until a little later on.”
“Okay,” I said. “I can buy that.”
“Let’s ride a little bit, I have something I want to show you.” She led me off the main road, following the line of the northern hills, heading towards Northshire. Up ahead was the Crazy Cat Lady’s house.
“Donni and I go way back,” Waylan said, “but there are similar folks lurking about each one of the capital cities.” She pulled the apple back out and took another bite. “Why did I bring you here?”
I thought for a minute, watching the cats wandering in and out of that tiny house. Waylan took a last bite of her apple, then fed the remainder to her horse. It was a nice day, but it was starting to get a little hot. My horse looked back at me reproachfully.
“Tell you what, ‘wulf,” Waylan said. “Go out and start making some money, and think about things. I’ll swing by in a bit and see how you’re doing.” She grinned and headed towards the cottage in the woods, presumably to renew her acquaintance with the Crazy Cat Lady.
“Okay,” I muttered, looking around for signs of any Defias, or perhaps an exposed copper vein. “Maybe in an hour we’ll have two apples,” I told my horse.