1. Nightfall

The warm sunlight was shining down through the treetops, sunbeams made dancing shapes on the green and lush grass in front of Fuzzy’s four-room cottage. His children playing in the distance, chasing some wisps. But there was no time to play for the old night elf, the sun was setting soon and the chores had to be finished before bed time.

“Girls…”, Fuzzy called gently to his children, “please don’t chase the spirits; They are trying to rest.” Their giggles echoed in the dell as they bounded around joyfully. Smiles painted their young, purple faces. Their long ears could hear the blades of grass dancing against one another in the soft breeze, but seldom heard the calls of their parents, of course. Ah, the care-free life of a night elf youngling.

“Time for bed! Let’s head inside before the creepy crawlies come out to get you!” exclaimed Fuzzy, as he picked up both girls and pretended to nibble their soft faces as if he were a creature of the night nibbling a fresh snack.

“But daddy, we’re not..” his oldest daughter, Elliana, began to say as a deep yawn took over her intended protest. “Well, maybe we’re a little sleepy”. The youngest, Averyn, was already falling asleep as she snuggled into the crook of her father’s arm. “I not sweepy”, she innocently declared. “Oh child, I beg to differ”, said Fuzzy.

Fuzzy carried them to their beds and tucked them in. He kissed each of them on the forehead before stepping quietly to their bedroom door, turning back to look at them with a proud parental smile. As he turned to leave the room, his own long blueish-purple ears entangled a set of chimes made from shells they brought back from a recent family trip to Lake Al’Ameth. The girls began to giggle at their father’s mishap, perhaps planned by the two coy sprites. Fuzzy gave a quiet plea, “Go to sleep, please”, and closed the bedroom door.

Their home is humble and welcoming, nestled just outside of Starbreeze Village. Surrounded by small brush and thicket, the homefront seemed like it was plucked from a fairy tale. Moonpetal Lilys were scattered in the field to the North. The glade to the East is often visited by fawns licking the dew off the grass at first light. Their quiet home is a safe haven from the recent invasions of the Burning Legion. Leaving his battle days behind him, Fuzzy chose a life of peace and tranquility in this quiet corner. He met his wife, Erinia, while visiting friends in Darnassus several years before.

“Do you have to go?”, she asked in hope but already knowing the answer. “Not at the moment, I already went to the bathroom an hour ago”, Fuzzy joked. “No, you asshat, tomorrow”, scolded Erinia. A smirk on his face, Fuzzy took his own life in his hands as he replied “Well, I’m sure I’ll have to use the bathroom tomorrow at some point.” His wife stared deep through his soul in a dark, piercing gaze that only a wife could muster. “Uh, yes, I have to go to the city and meet with Telonis. He has a few new leatherworking patterns for me. We’ll need those to make anything new if we’re going to afford the supplies we need for the coming season”. Fuzzy didn’t like leaving his family for the four day round-trip, but it was absolutely necessary.

Erinia let out a sigh before taking his hand in hers. She knew that she and the girls would be ok, but she always worried about these trips. Azeroth was not the same world anymore. There are all sorts of dangers that lurked in the shadows. Still, she couldn’t quite restrain herself from making her anxiety heard: “Please be careful, and don’t do anything stupid. And don’t buy any more Arathor Single Cask. You have two bottles you haven’t opened yet!”  Fuzzy smirked and replied “Hey now, those two bottles won’t last long, it’s too delicious!”  “Well, just don’t buy it. Get something the entire family can enjoy instead, like some Azsunian grapes or dried bilberries”, Erinia said. “Gross! Bilberries? More like dingleberries”, Fuzzy retorted. There was a stifled giggle coming from behind them. Erinia quickly spun around and demanded “Bed!” to the short elf-ling that had been found wandering from her slumber.

“We should probably get to sleep as well, I need to leave at first light”, said Fuzzy. “I still wish you didn’t have to go. The nights get so cold here alone.” His wife’s words brought guilt, but he knew he had to go for the sake of the family.

Dawn came and again brought the shimmering sunlight, shining through the smallest bedroom first. Unfortunately, this bedroom contained two very rambunctious daughters that would not have anyone sleep longer than they did. “Daddy! Mommy! It’s time to wake up!”, they cried happily as they flung open their door and ran into the main room on their way to their parents bedroom. They were stopped short by Erinia, already awake and helping Fuzzy with his armor. “Ooh, dad your armor is so shiny! Why is this stick glowing purple?”, asked Elliana. “That’s my bow. It’s probably best you leave it be, you don’t want to pull the string and hurt your sis…” but before Fuzzy could finish, the inevitable happened anyway.  “OW! Sissy!”, cried Averyn, as she quickly put her tiny hand to her face to shield the fresh welt left from the bow string snapping against her cheek.

The armor however was not as shiny as it once was. Years of sitting in a closet, only to be used during a long trip, have taken its toll on the chain mail. His rifle was in desperate need of refinishing, his bow could use a new string. His quiver of arrows was thin on supply. It had been ten years since he used his skills as a Beast Master Hunter in the war against the Lich King.

“Will you bring me something back?”, asked Elliana. Fuzzy, knowing full well he would get a rise from the children, said “We’ll see. I’m sure there are some fresh Nightsaber pellets I can bring back for you.”  A resounding “Eww, dad!” came from both girls. Fuzzy smiled “I’ll find something, I’m sure. Alright, time to set off if I’m going to get there by nightfall”. He hugged his children and kissed his wife goodbye before setting out on the dirt path to the city.

The road to Darnassus was long and wound through forests and past a Gnarlpine encampment. Luckily there was no trouble from the Gnarlpine ambushers this time. Any contact with them can delay the trip for several hours if things go poorly, and Fuzzy had no interest in taking one more minute than he had to. The scouting patrol lead by Moon Priestess Amara keeps the road guarded and clear. But the occasional large brown bear-pig looking Gnarlpine will venture onto the path hoping for an easy mark.

As Fuzzy neared the city gate, an awkward discomfort came over him. This was likely from some Strigid Owl that wasn’t sitting well. Maybe it should have been cooked those extra few minutes instead of being eaten so hastily, but there is nothing that can be done now and he was terribly hungry at the time. Perhaps some Moonberry juice would help once inside the city.

Fuzzy passed through the tall sentry gateway and gave a slight nod to the warrior that was watching him pass. The warrior nodded before being nudged by another sentry who whispered something to his colleague. The warriors stood at attention and gave Fuzzy a salute, something that was seldom done these days. Darnassus was more beautiful than Fuzzy remembered. The city had hues of purple, blue, and green. The gargantuan stone pillars reached skyward with green vines encircling their solid trunks. Patches of purple flowers line either side of the stone path leading into the city center. Just before the Warrior’s Terrace was a gathering of vendors for the Brew festival. Crowds cheered and carried on as they drank their fresh flagons. 

The river was so clear that you could see the minnows swimming. Just beyond the first bridge into the city, Fuzzy could see the large building shaped like a bear, a favorite of Averyn’s, which homed the city bank. The bank was a required first stop when arriving, since you dare not carry gold or silver pieces with you while traveling. If you were to get ambushed, you wouldn’t want to lose all your money!

“Hey Lairn! How are things?” Fuzzy said to the banker. 

A low growling voice returned the greeting “Fuzzy, good to see you my friend! What can I do for you?”

“A little walking around money, my good Sir. Enough for lodging, some snacks, and maybe a Moonsaber.”

“I uh, I don’t think you need quite that much. Your wife would have us both turned to sheep”, lamented Lairn.

Fuzzy laughed. “I think you’re right there. Let’s go middle of the road, how about a 1000 gold pouch?”

Lairn handed the pouch over the counter. The bag felt heavier than Fuzzy remembered, all those years away from the war had left him perhaps a bit weaker, and rounder, than years past.

The path beyond the bank led to the Craftsman’s Terrace. A quick stop to the Leatherworking shop was in order before stopping at the Inn for the night. The shop was above the Tailor and after an all-day walk those stairs looked daunting. But the evening rest was nearly here, what’s a few steps before bed?

At the top of the stairs Fuzzy took a moment to catch his breath. “Out of shape, old man? Need a cane?” Darianna, Telnois’ apprentice, was a fair-faced night elf of average height, strong shoulders, and dark green hair. And she was a great babysitter. “Hey, round is a shape. Aren’t you supposed to respect your elders?”, Fuzzy replied.  “Oh are you calling yourself old now?” Fuzzy’s grin dropped to an unamused smirk.  “He’s over there with a customer right now”, Darianna said while nodding her head towards the back of the shop. Fuzzy gave a friendly wink and slowly made his way to the back counter.

“Ah! You made it, and just before sunset. I have several patterns for you that I think will sell very well, especially being made by an Artisan such as yourself”. Telonis was such a kind trainer. Always patient with his apprentices, unless you happened to accidentally do some tanning on his favorite blanket instead of a new hide. “You are too kind, master trainer” Fuzzy said, reaching for his satchel to pay for these new patterns. Telonis kindly shook his head, “My friend, your money is no good here. Please, it is my gift to you for the help you lended to me last year rebuilding after the Legion….redecorated.” Telonis looked around as if he were remembering the invasion that almost completely destroyed his shop. 

Telonis leaned in and whispered “You seem to be doing well considering your condition. Have you told anyone?” Fuzzy’s eyes met Telonis’ and his expression became almost drenched in fear. How did Telonis know? No one knew, or so he thought.

“The alchemist gave me a potion which seems to be working. He made a mixture that blends nicely with Arathor whisky. I have enough to last me until they can find a cure.”

“My friend, I don’t believe there is a cure. I’m quite confident that this cur…” But before Telonis could finish, Fuzzy reached out and shook his hand. “Thank you, my friend. I better get to the Inn, the Sun is nearly in its own bed”.  Telonis bowed respectively to his friend and Fuzzy walked toward the stairs. “See you, Darianna. The girls are expecting another story about Alune when they see you next.”

“I look forward to it!” Darianna called out, as Fuzzy’s head disappeared down the steps and toward the Inn.

The room at the Inn was much quieter than the bedroom at home. A simple bed, soft blanket, and a lantern on a table. The only voice that can be heard is Fuzzy’s own. There are no disagreements about when to sleep or having a snack before bed. There wouldn’t be any midnight strolls back to bed after a soothing hug and reassuring whispers to calm the mind of a toddler. At home it might be hard to sleep knowing that these interruptions would be coming. At the Inn, it will be hard to sleep knowing that they cannot.

Author: Fuzzy