Very few people ever described Lauren Montrose as patient. Nonetheless, even after three chilled and rainy days in Stormwind, the warrior sat on the stone veranda of Trias’s Cheeses watching the endless ebb and flow of travelers navigate the cobbled streets of her home city. She kept to a quiet and darkened corner, a place where she hoped to see yet not be seen. The spot afforded her a clear view of the office of the Royal Defense. He’d been there once, a month ago. There was no reason to think he wouldn’t come by again.
The blonde ran a sharpening stone along the length of her sword, looking up from time to time to nibble a piece of Dalaran sharp that rested on her knee and check the street for familiar faces.
A cry sounded from around the corner and up the hill. Wren turned toward the commotion just in time to see a green-haired masked gnome on an onyx black mechanostrider skid on one leg as she tried to execute the sharp turn on the wet stone street. Yellow sparks fanned out from the metal limbs that scratched and scrabbled, desperate to regain traction. Excited onlookers poured into the auction house courtyard and gasped as the clockwork bird’s talons grabbed the seam between two flagstones and lurched forward, careening the gnome toward the portcullis.
Lauren was on her feet immediately when she heard the alarm sounding from the bank. When she spotted the rider making her getaway, the warrior grabbed her rifle and hastily unwrapped it from its oilcloth. Recalling an overheard conversation between a drunk gnome and a drunker dwarf in Ironforge, she took quick aim at the mechanostrider’s hip joint and pulled the trigger. The thief, mount and all, rolled a complete revolution in the air and slid thirty feet on the ground before coming to rest at the foot of one of the gate guards, who quickly knocked her unconscious with his blackjack.
A smattering of applause and wolf whistles rang out from the crowd at the head of the avenue, which Wren acknowledged with a wave. She was in the middle of rewrapping her gun when she heard footsteps running toward her.
“That was incredible! Just fantastic, miss! Have you ever considered joining His Majesty’s Finest?”
The blonde looked up to see a panting, flushed face partly obscured by a pair of wireframe glasses. She blinked once, allowing the question to simmer in her mind for a moment before bursting into raucous laughter. Wren wiped a tear from the corner of her eye before picking up her pack and gun and roughly shoving the astounded clerk into the flowerbed, a self-satisfied smirk on her face.
Lauren giggled her way toward old town Stormwind, waving again at a couple of her admirers who stood on the porch of Weller’s Arsenal and clapped as she walked past. By the time she’d reached the canal bridge, though, reality had seeped in like the rain through her shoes. She was no closer to finding the silver-tongued stranger and had no clue how to find him. With a downcast gaze she made her way into the Pig & Whistle, walked straight to the bar, and knocked on its wooden surface.
“What’cha need, love?” The tavern keep leaned over the railing of the stairway that led up to the balcony.
“Mug of ale and whatever’s hot to eat,” Lauren called back.
“Have it right out,” the heavyset man said and continued up the steps.
Wren leaned her back against the bar and undid her ponytail. She shook as much of the rain as she could coax out of her long blonde hair before taking a seat near the fireplace. The girl leaned her elbows on the table and her forehead against her hands. She’d barely stopped long enough over the past weeks to realize how tired she was. She closed her blue eyes and gently drifted off, waking with a start when the tavern keep set a wooden tankard on the table.
“Here you go, hon. That’ll be twelve silv—er, make that eight. Didn’t see the pin.” He pointed at the Argent Dawn insignia on Lauren’s cloak. Wren dumped a small handful of coins into her hand and counted twelve silvers out, handing them to the man. “It’s just eight, miss, since you’re—”
“Just keep it,” she interrupted, rearranging her cloak to move the pin out of sight. Wren then turned her attention to the bowl of stew on the table. The barman shrugged and walked back toward the kitchen, only to turn his attention back upstairs when a voice came from above.
“What do we owe you, Baxley?”
“You know it’s on the house,” replied the tavern keep.
The stairs creaked. Lauren took a long drink of ale. “And you know I would never presume.”
“Oh, Roswell, almost forgot. You going to see Father Gavin anytime soon? Tell him I managed to get another keg of Darkbriar malt and put it back for him.”
Wren set the stein on the table and looked up. She immediately sprang to her feet, toppling her chair in the process. “You!”
The stranger stood at the bottom of the stairs. He quickly glanced up at the balcony, then vaulted over the railing toward the door. Lauren weaved her way between the tables and flew out the door, fifteen steps behind her quarry and gaining fast.
writing/the silver cord ch 05.txt · Last modified: September 3, 2011 by Dave Leach