A summer night

A little story with the two sisters AND a flying dwarf like I promised, enjoy.

Nefernet felt dirty. By her side, Sethi was breathing painfully. The battle had been the hardest they had ever done and the brave wolf was badly hurt. He was limping and wining softly at each step. She took him on her shoulders to walk the remaining of the way home.

The summer night was clear and the moon was full and high. The streets of Dalaran were crowded even at this lately hour, and the air filled with fireworks. The Summer festival was at its full swing and the people she crossed in their summer outfits stared at her dark mail armour covered in blood, slime and dust with a sidelong look. She didn’t care, her only concern was dressing her wolf’s wounds and taking a hot bath.

The inn was lit and the common room was crowded, people singing and dancing, beer flowing from the barrels on the bar. Nefernet frowned, looked like the bath will have to wait. She followed the wall and get up the stair at a quick pace, just pausing to ask the overwhelmed waitress for some hot water and a meal. She entered the little room she was sharing with her sister. Neferna wasn’t here. The room was filled with the smell of plants littering the small table along with empty vials and Nefernet recognised some pigmy oil in the little cauldron. The only light in the room was the faint blue glowing of the alchemist’s stone and the starlight coming from the little window.

She gently laid down Sethi from her shoulders on his couch and stroked him to check for broken bones. One of his front legs had a weird angle, and he had several open wounds with a disgusting aspect. The hot water arrived at this moment and she used it to clean Sethi’s wounds before bandaging them. The wolf licked her hands giving her a grateful look before going to sleep instantly.

Nefernet began to put off her armour slowly, piece after piece. The fight had been rough on it too. It would cost her a fortune to get it repaired. She took out her gun and began to clean it with an oily rag but her hands were shaking badly. Her arms were aching and she had numerous cuts and bruises all over. Her head was buzzing and things around her were a little hazy.

The door banged open and the light flowing into the room blinded her for a second. Neferna was standing on the doorstep in a light green dress.

– Hey Sister ! she said giggling. Where have you been ! Come on with us, Gotri drank so much that Darkminus made him believe he can fly and he’s presently standing on the bar, flapping his arms and trying to take off. It’s so funny if you could hear him !

Nefernet gave her a funny look.

– Are you drunk ?

Neferna’s smile disappeared at once.

– No I’m not drunk, I was just cheerful but as usual, you spoiled it. You’re like an old hag. And since you joined this guild, you’re worst !  You’re so serious and boring when you come home. And anyway we have so few time together now and you spend it complaining ! I’m fed up with you ! I am going out tonight and will get drunk to the point I will believe I can fly too and you can stay here if you wish, I don’t care ! Or go with your new friends, if they are so interesting ! But leave me alone !

Blind to the blank look her sister gave her, she turned away and strode out of the room. The moment she crossed the threshold, Nefernet said with an exhausted voice :

– We killed Yogg Saron tonight.

Neferna stopped at once.

– You what ?

– We killed Yogg Saron.

Neferna turned back and closed the door quietly behind her. And this time, she looked closely at her sister, more closely than she had done for weeks. She realized how her eyes and cheeks were hollow. Her blue skin was covered with filth and blood. There was a big dark blue bruise on her left upper arm and another on her forehead. But what shocked her most was the strange look she had. There was a dark light in her eyes she had never seen before. And big tears were running down her face.

– Oh for Elune’s sake !

She just couldn’t say more. She took a piece of cloth and began to clean her sister’s face with gentle moves. More bruises appeared, and older wounds. Nefernet wasn’t moving or even talking anymore and she realized it was because she was too weak to do it.

Neferna searched in her flasks a few seconds and poured some wine in a glass, with a few drops of potion.

– Drink that tonic. And let me help you with those bruises and cuts. Is there other wounds I can’t see ? Any broken rib ?

With a few words of magic she healed her sister and helped her drinking her wine. A few colours came back to her face and she murmured :

– Sethi’s wounded too. His front paw is broken I think. Please help him too.

Knowing that her sister would not rest or eat while her wolf was injured, Neferna crouched beside the sleeping animal. The paw was not broken, it was just a bad sprain she healed easily. While she was there, looking for other wounds, Nefernet began to speak. Her voice was hoarse, as if her mouth and throat were as dry as parchment.

It whispered things in my head… Horrible things… So many voices I heard…

Neferna shivered, she felt the hairs on her neck rising. She turned around. Her sister was starring blankly at the wall, this strange and dark spark still dancing in her eyes.

– Do you still hear them ? The voices ?

– No. They are gone now. The monster is dead. Or at least it’s under control again.

– What do you mean by « under control » ? You just said it was dead.

Nefernet looked at her sister.

– Do you think you can really kill the god of death ? I don’t know. It looked dead but…

Neferna could answer nothing to that. Instead, she took the wet cloth again, and resumed washing gently her sister’s face. Nefernet closed her eyes and relaxed a little.

Then she took out the remaining pieces of her mail armour and taking another rag, she washed her entire body, and it felt like the battle was drawing away. Neferna healed every cut or bruise they found. The young druid was amazed at the number. Many of these injuries were not from tonight. She realised that her sister had been through very bad times these past weeks, without complaining once, without letting anyone know how hard it was.

Once they were finished, Nefernet put on a simple linen dress and let her sister untie her hair and wash it. Neferna realized she hadn’t seen her sister letting her hair loose for months. It was waist-long now, of that dark green that Neferna envied so much.

– Your hair is so beautiful ! Why do you hide it with such a tight plate and chignon !

Nefernet smiled and her sister realized she hadn’t seen her smile for days.

– I can’t fight properly with my hair loose on my eyes. How do you expect me to aim right ?

– There will be no fight tonight. And I know you can aim with your eyes shut anyway…

Nefernet smiled again.

– You sure ?

– Oh yes ! And put on that beautiful dress of yours, the purple one. It suits you so much. Let’s get some summer brew and …

– I’m not sure I want to drink or go out tonight… I’m not really in the mood.

– Well don’t drink then… Don’t worry, Gotri drank well enough for both of you… Darkminus saw to that… You don’t want to let the two of them together too long…

The name of the gnome brought another smile on Nefernet’s face. Despite Darkminus being a crazy gnome engineer who had blown up his house more than once, and moreover a warlock, he was one of her more faithful friends.

– Yes, sure, who knows where the dwarf could end if Darkminus is around… Didn’t you said he was learning to fly ? I thought you were the only one giving him flying lessons ?

Nefernet had a malicious smile on her face and her sister blushed. The druid tried to change the subject, even if she was quite happy, her sister seemed to recover from the shock of her last battle. She found the dress she was seeking in her sister’s stuff, a dark purple silk dress with golden embroideries. Not convinced, Nefernet accepted to wear it nonetheless.

A clamour came from the hall the exact moment the two night elves left their room. From what they could get from up there, it looked like the news of Yogg-Saron’s defeat had reached the tavern and people were celebrating more than ever. The noise was rising in the common room, and more fireworks were exploding outside.

The two sisters climbed down the stairs. A few people recognised the huntress and pat her on the shoulder as she passed, congratulating her. She didn’t even know them…

She could see a few fellow guildies among the crowd. Some saw her and waved, she waved back and followed her sister who led them to the inn’s backyard. The garden was crowded too but many familiar faces were there. First she saw Gotri. The red-bearded dwarf was dancing on one of the table, an hilarious gnome on his shoulders. Whatever the two of them were saying, the crowd looked delighted and was cheering them for more.

Nefernet could see many friends around them but her gaze stopped on one man, a mage, standing near the wall, smiling quietly at his friends masquerade. She loved that human. She knew humans lives were short as candles but who knows, maybe her life would end soon too, with the war all around. She had better love now than never.

His name was Ron and he was the first to notice the two sisters. His smile changed to a loving one when he saw the huntress and sparks came out of his hand when he waved at them. He began to elbow his way in the crowd.

From where he was perched, Darkminus had a broad view of the garden and he followed the mage’s gaze. When he saw the two sisters, he waved widely at them. He bellowed something in the dwarf’s ear who stopped dancing, waved with glee at the two approaching night elves and as soon as they were near enough, jumped down the table and ran toward the back of the garden, the gnome still clutching at his head and cackling maddeningly. Nefernet, her friend, her sister and the crowd followed.

There, something was hidden under a cloth. From where he was, still perched on the dwarf’s shoulders, the gnome made his announcement.

– Tonight, before your very eyes, I, Darkminus, will make this dwarf fly without any magic involved ! You waited the whole night for me to reveal my new invention, a brand new and very unique flying machine, fleuron of the gnomish aeronautic art.

Saying that, the mischievous gnome directed a wink at Nefernet. Knowing that this kind of look from her friend was often followed by loud bangs, sparks and heat, the elf made a few steps backward, quickly followed by her sister, the mage Ron and a few of their friends she spotted in the crowd.

Darkminus climbed down from the dwarf’s shoulder and pulled on the cloth. It revealed a simple wooden box on the top of which a velvet chair had been attached. The box was quite big and the drunk dwarf struggled a little to climb on it, refusing any help from the crowd, until Darkminus show him there were notches in the wood of the box to enable him to climb.

– Are you ready my friend ? Asked the gnome. Let’s get you some altitude !

Darkminus get a small objet from his pocket and disappeared behind the box. There was a faint « pshhh » and the gnome ran from behind and out of sight.

The crowd was silent, waiting, some people chuckling nervously. The only distinct sound was that « pshhh » coming from the box.

Suddenly, the box blew up, projecting the dwarf and his chair high in the sky, propelled by a huge red rocket. Many smaller fireworks were hidden in the box and came out flying in every direction, exploding with loud bangs, raining sparks on the panic stricken crowd and filling the air with light and smoke. Some went flying through the inn’s windows and cries of surprise or pain could be heard when the rockets exploded inside the building.

Chocking with the smoke and laughing, Nefernet lift a watery eye toward the sky, looking for the dwarf. She heard Ron mutter a few words of magic, looking at one point in the sky, and then she saw him. The dwarf had lost his chair, whose fragments littered the lawn, having luckily killed no one. He was falling slowly, thanks to Ron’s spell, and laughing loudly. He landed softly as the last rockets blew up here and there. A roar of applause greeted him and he was surrounded by people hugging him and giving him more beer.

Nefernet looked for any sign of the gnome but he was nowhere to be seen. She sat down around a table with her friends who were commenting the dwarf’s performance. After a few minutes, she found Darkminus staggering under a tray filled with summer brew. He was followed by the angry innkeeper pointing the tables to him. Once his plateau was empty, he followed the innkeeper inside, stopping just the time to send a wink to Nefernet. She smiled. It looked like the gnome had found a new job, at least until the cost of the damages he had done were paid.

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