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It was a not-so-cold and not-so-blustery day in Ratchet. The AAMS office was looking kind of lonely, Yotingo thought. Most of the files and records were sitting on the floor in rows of boxes, waiting for someone to take them up to Caer Darrow.
They had been there several months. The Horde Branch of the AAMS wasn't getting as much business as usual, and as was the company's wont, that meant everything was slowed down internally and externally. Yotingo wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. On the one hand, he didn't have to go out in the snow and blowing cold to get letters delivered. (Not that they got snow in Ratchet, but that was besides the point.) He didn't have to deal with new recruits bumbling through their first deliveries, either.
On the other hand, he didn't get any tips anymore, and his paycheck was decidedly slimmer than he liked. It was sitting on the desk now, along with a few advertisements for the annual goblin footbomb tournament and a dingy letter addressed to him.
To him. Yotingo's line of thought shifted. Not to AAMS, and not to a Supervisor of the AAMS. That meant it was more personal, but it was rare Yotingo got personal letters.
Yotingo slid the envelope off the table and turned it over. With a twofold sense of hope and dread, he opened it up and read...
Dis be Vutago. I tink I be ya mother's uncle's brotha's friend's sista's nephew's wife's shaman's cousin. Eight times removed. Or sometin' like dat.
Anyways I figures dat makes us family, right? Blood is thicka den water, an' all dat.
So I's wonderin. Where is ya stayin, mon? Cause I be needin somewhere ta put me stuff an tings. An mebbe a lend of ya stuff and tings till I be gettin some a' me own.
I be seein ya dere later, mon. Gotta go kill dis naga in da pit. Hope ya is de good cook.
Vutago...it certainly didn't ring a bell. But family was family...right? If that was family. Yotingo wasn't sure if you could be a blood relation through a friend and someone's tribal shaman. Oh well.
Yotingo looked around the old office. It wasn't being used for anything, and it could do with some activity. The troll slowly smiled.
Pulling out a clean sheet with the official AAMS letterhead at the top, Yotingo pinned a return letter:
It always be good to see a long lost relative! I tell ya what, mon. Dere be an empty office down here in Ratchet ya can be stayin' at. Don't ya be messin' with the records, and don't ya be peekin' inta da back room, but I be sure it be big and comfy enough for yer needs.
Yotingo set the letter down on the table to be delivered later that day. The office was getting kind of lonely, and a house guest might be just the thing to make it feel a little warmer.
Warmer than it already got in Ratchet, that is.
Edited by Yotingo on 12/1/2011 10:00 AM PST
The beat of the island drums still echoed in Vutago's ears as he waded ashore to Sen'jin Village. The Echo Isles had been reclaimed, rebuilding had begun, and... everyone seemed to have forgotten about him.
His hut on the shores of southern Durotar has been destroyed in a raid from Northwatch Hold. For the past three months he had been staying with his trainer. Some of the others still hasn't gotten used to the idea of Troll Druids. The reaction varied from indifference, to shifty looks, to some of his former friends outright ignoring him now.
It was time for a fresh start. You couldn't get much more of a fresh start than having nothing to your name except the clothes you stood up in.
The letter to "cousin" Yotingo had been a long shot, at best. He only dimly remembered the name, and had probably gotten it wrong. Even if it did reach him, chances were he'd not want to know. He could be one of these new generation to whom family meant nothing, or maybe he was as destitute as Vutago. Oh well, apparently the sides of the streets in Orgrimmar didn't get too uncomfortable at night, assuming he didn't get eaten by something on the long journey north.
Vutago's trainer had given him just enough coppers to hop on a Wyvern to Razor Hill, where hopefully he could find a way to make himself useful to the Horde. He was still a little at odds with leaving the place he had made his home for most of his life. Fighting the Alliance was one thing, but what if he came into conflict with his fellow druids? How would he react? He tried not to think about it, but it kept nagging at the back of his head.
The view of the landscape below was amazing. He tried focusing on that to distract himself from his thoughts. It didn't really work very well.
By the time he landed at Razor Hill, he wished he had just stayed behind and rebuilt his hut. He could put up with the funny looks, he supposed, and the fishing was okay. Orgrimmar was big, noisy, and swarmed with people of every Horde race. He never had been good with crowds, and just what did people eat there, anyway?
Seemed there were only two real options - back south where he had just left, or onwards to the big city.
The inn sign caught his eye while he squatted on the ground attempting to decide. That was the return address he had put in his letter. He wasn't sure if he could face the disappointment of finding nothing waiting for him... but if he didn't check, he'd be wondering forever, wouldn't he?
"Vutago." he nodded at the innkeeper as he entered. "Was wonderin' if you mebbe had one o' dem letter tings for me?"
He stared at the floor while the big orc grunted, and turned to check the wooden rack behind him.
"Neva mind mon, I be gettin' outta ya hair." He turned towards the doorway.
"Wait." The deep voice from behind startled him, and he spun around, not daring to hope.
"Here." The orc thrust an envelope at him.
Vutago spent the next twenty minutes reading and re-reading the letter. He wasn't entirely sure what an "office" was, or what "records" were come to think of it. The concept of a back room, though... this place must be a veritable mansion. He had never lived in anything larger than a single-room hut (and more often just a corner of one) for his entire life.
Luxury accomodations and a relative to keep him company! Life had improved a hundredfold in just minutes. Now he just had to figure out how to get to Ratchet...
The alliance troops were getting closer, and their aim better. Vutago guessed he had taken a wrong turn somewhere along the path. The road to Ratchet was reportedly clear.
Turning back, he moonfired the closest one for the sixth time, watching him stumble and fall down the side of the hill. Perhaps it was time to try that little trick, the last thing his trainer had taught him.
He suddenly hunched forwards, as his gangly limbs shortened and his skin became covered in fur. Two seconds later, where once a Troll had been running, now a giant cat was bounding over the rocks. A blue cat. A blue cat with tusks. Still, hopefully the Alliance soldiers would think it was just another strange creature native to Kalimdor.
The correct road out of Durotar wasn't much better - the recent cataclysm had left the area flooded. There were even homes under water. On top of that, everywhere he looked it seemed someone wanted him to do their work for them. One orc too stupid to use a telescope, another who wanted him to collect crocolisk teeth for her. Seriously? Crocolisk Teeth? Then there was that annoying little Goblin courier, Borbitox...
"You may have heard of me. I'm Borbitox. Yes, THE Borbitox, author, explorer, and now courier to the stars!"
"Hmm. Well, I suppose it would be difficult for a savage from the islands to read my books. No matter, I'm trying to find Orgrimmar..."
"It be dat way, mon"
"Many thanks! Once I get there I'll be sure to send you a copy of my autobiography - Borbitox: A Life!"
The little goblin motored away on his trike, Vutago smiling to himself having just sent him back towards the Alliance camp.
Edited by Vutago on 12/2/2011 3:44 PM PST
The midday sun was shining down on the sleepy ramshackle town of Ratchet when Vutago finally crested the final hill. He had traversed the east coast of The Barrens rather than taking the road - it just felt safer that way. There had been an incident involving a lion, but nothing the Druid hadn't been able to handle.
The burly Orc at the blacksmith’s had pointed him towards the inn when he enquired about the whereabouts of one “Yotingo”. Vutago regarded the goblin-built buildings, many of which were barely holding together or had been patched up with boards and metal sheeting, with admiration.
“So many buildin’s. So big an’ tall. So… solid.”
Compared to his coastal village and its huts, Ratchet felt like a gleaming city to him.
As he approached the inn, he saw a goblin standing under an awning. A wolf dozed at his feet, its paws twitching occasionally.
“Nice wolfie,” said Vutago as he leaned down to pat it. The wolf sat up, peered at Vutago for a few moments, then curled back up and went to sleep.
“Say dere,” Vutago asked as he straightened up, “ I be lookin’ for Yotingo. He be a famous Troll in dese parts! You know where I can be findin’ him? He got biiiig house an’ everything.”
“He’s right ‘ere, buddy!” exclaimed the Goblin. At the Goblin’s voice, the wolf rolled on its back and peered at Vutago upside down.
“He is? I don’ see him…”
“Are ya really that blind?” the goblin said. “He’s right THERE.”
“Hey, jus’ cause I from de islands don’ mean you can be messin’ wit’ me brain like dat mon!” Vutago frowned at the goblin, then looked around, scratching his head. There was no one else about, and certainly no troll. The wolf followed his gaze, twisting its head back and forth until its ears folded under its skull, inside out.
“Sheesh. You gonna talk to him, buddy?” the goblin asked. The wolf twitched its flattened ears backward.
“I know dis one, “ said Vutago suspiciously. “You get de silly Troll talkin’ to thin air an’ all your friends start laughin'. Well no’ dis Troll!” Vutago turned to go.
“No, you get a silly troll bein' silly up front of the ‘mon’ he wants to talk to!” the goblin called after him. "Fine, ya keep having yer fun, Yotingo. I'm not bothering with this bugger anymore."
Vutago waved a hand and continued into the inn, followed closely by someone else.“Hey!” yelped Vutago as the wolf bumped into his legs. The wolf sat back in surprise, wagging its tail apologetically. Vutago just sighed and took a seat at a table.
The innkeeper sidled up to Vutago, cleaning a glass. “Name’s Wiley, kid. What can I getcha?”
“Say, you be knowin de troll Yotingo?” Vutago asked.
“Yeah, sure, he comes in here now and then.”
“Hmm. Any idea where mebbe I be findin’ him?”
Wiley looked to Vutago, then down to the wolf sprawling at his feet, then back to Vutago. “You met this troll before, right?”
“Ah, nope. We be distant cousins. I never be meetin’ him.”
“Cousin, huh? You don't look much alike. ...even less right now!” the goblin laughed.
“Ya, we be blood. Close as dis.” Vutago held two fingers up pinched together. “But we never doin’ de meetin’ ting.”
“You trolls! Crazy families!”
Vutago sighed. “So where can I be findin him? Or you gonna be as helpful as de one outside?”
“He's right beside ya, kid,” said the goblin. He held up the glass, spat on it, then went back to shining. “ Now ya wanna buy a drink?”
Vutago looked around him. The inn was pretty empty, apart from the two of them--and the wolf. The canine was dozing again. “Mon, dere's nothin’ beside me, dis table is empty!”
“Yeah...and on the other side?”
“Oh, no, I been through dis already.” Vutago sighed and propped his chin on his hand. He brightened as he came upon a thought. “I might as well be havin’ sometin’ while I wait, though. Ya can put it on me cousin's bill”.
“Eh, sure. That alright with ya, Yotingo?” the goblin asked Vutago’s left. The wolf looked up and barked at something outside.
“Heh, you're a strange guy, but...here. Drink up, kid.”
Vutago glared back at Wiley. “Like I be tellin’ de mon outside, no sense ya tryin’ ta fool de islander Troll by pretendin’ dere’s somet’in’ invisible dere!” He shifted as the wolf whined and put its head on his foot. “Mm, best get somet’in’ for de mutt, too.”
The innkeeper looked down at Vutago’s left. “Also on the bill?”
The wolf nodded.
“Ya, mon.” replied Vutago, not looking down.
The innkeeper had slipped a bowl of something towards the wolf before Vutago had even finished speaking. Wagging its tail happily, the wolf jumped up and gulped down the contents.
Vutago looked down at the wolf as the innkeeper moved on. “Mebbe I be askin’ you where me cousin is, Wolfie. You be makin’ as much sense as de goblins.”
The wolf tips his ears forward, and barked.
“Ha, dats right mon, jus’ as much sense!”
The wolf tipped its head thoughtfully, then barked again. Amused, Vutago reached into his pack and threw a chunk of meat towards the floor. Before it even landed, the wolf leapt, snatching it out of the air, and started chewing. Vutago, meanwhile, turned back to his drink and thought on whether this had been such a good idea after all. No “cousin”, a couple of smart-aleck goblins…and the wolf.
The wolf burped as if punctuating his thoughts. “Scuse me, mon,” it said.
Vutago nearly jumped right out of his seat. “Woah. De talkin’ wolf? Dis stuff be stronger den I thought.”
“ Ya, mon, strong...” answered the wolf, sitting up and setting its chin on the table. Vutago put a finger in his ear and furiously rooted around for a moment.
“Ya got somet'in' in yo' ear?” asked the wolf helpfully.
Vutago blinked, slowly taking his finger out of his ear. "I get it, now. You be some kind of druid, sent ta play tricks on me? Cept… never seen no druid take wolf form.”
“Nah, mon. Shaman,” answered the wolf. “An’ don’t be forgettin' da Druids o' da Pack. Not dat ya look like ya'd make a very good worgen.”
Vutago continued staring—first at the wolf, then at his drink.Then at the table. “So…er…what's de shaman doin all dis way in de big city?”
“I be livin' 'ere of course. Well, more back over dere--” The wolf pointed with his head. “--close enough, mon.”
“Can't imagine there be much shaman-in’ ta do round here,” Vutago said.
“Where dere needin' leadership, dere be bein' shamans,” said the wolf proudly.
“Leadin who?” asked Vutago.
“At da moment? Da AAMS.”
“Ohh, you mebbe knowin be cousin Yotingo den, he be big boss type there!”
“Ya....I knowin' 'im,” said the wolf with a sly blink.
“Any ideas where I can be findin him?”
“Right in front o' ya, mon.”
Vutago hit the table with his fist. “De Goblins keep playin’ games wit’ me, an’ now you do too! Jus’ be tellin’ me where he be livin’, I go find him meself.”
“He be keepin' a room at da inn 'ere. An' o' course, dere's da office.”
Vutago remembered back to Yotingo’s letter, and smiled. “Oh yeah, where be dis office?”
The wolf twitched his ears. “Dis way, mon.” The wolf-shaman padded out of the inn. Vutago quickly got to his feet and followed it down the street, to a small wooden building apparently used for storage.
“Dere ya go!” the wolf exclaimed as they reached it.
Vutago marveled at the building, pushing open the door and starting at the multitude of crates packed up against the walls. “Dis be huuuuge!” he said, walking around as the wolf curled up on one of the boxes. “All dis space an’ it just be ta work in?”
“Ta keep deliveries in, mostly. One time we be getting’ a whole buncha parrots dat all be singin’ weddin’ songs, an’ limeade ta go with it. But den a new courier came in and set half of dem free by accident, an’ I be getting’ thirsty... Dere used ta be lots more couriers 'ere. Now it just be gettin' lonely. Ya thirsty, mon?”
“Oh, sure, mon,” Vutago said, quickly closing a crate he had been peeking into. He looked guiltily back at the wolf.
The wolf jumped down off the crate and sniffed around, not seeming to have noticed anything. “Dere should be some limeade left over from dat delivery, actually. Right over…hm…”
Vutago slid off his pack and propped it up against the wall. He took a seat while the wolf searched. It tried prying open one of the crates with its nose, and when that didn’t work, it shifted into its humanoid form.
The fur became bluish skin, and a bright blue crest of hair appeared atop his tusked head. Once the paws had become hands, the troll dug more vigorously into the crate. “Dere!” he finally exclaimed, holding up a green bottle.
Vutago looked on in astonishment. “Heeeyy, you be a troll too! Why you not sayin’ so earlier? I t’ought mebbe ya be one of dem goblins or somet’in’…”
The other troll laughed. “Course I be, mon. What ya be t'inkin'? Haha, oh, mon, ya never be thinkin’ I was Yotingo? Haha! Oh…Now, for dat limeade…” He tossed the bottle to Vutago.
“Wait? You? Me cousin?” Vutago’s eyes widened as he caught the bottle. Yotingo nodded. “Me cousin!” He ran across the room and put him in a hug.
Yotingo smiled and returned the embrace. “Nice ta meet ya, mon. I not be knowin' I be havin' any cousins, but da more da merrier.”
Vutago frowned. “All dis time as da wolf and ya not be sayin’ not’in’ to me?”
Yotingo grinned. ”T'ings not always be what dey seem, ya?”
“So ya say mon, so ya say.”
Yotingo gestured around the room. “So, dis da office. Ya can kip behind dat crate over dere. I can probably be findin' ya a cot. Or a mattress. How's dat sound, mon? We be shippin' 'em from clear over in Stormwind.”
“Dis be luxury mon!”
“Dis place? Dis place be small in comparison to some o' da otha’ offices. It be a lot different dan da Isles. Or da jungle. But folks be friendly enough.”
“Friendly ya say. Even de goblins?”
“Oh, sometimes. Jus’ don't give money ta 'im until ya see da goods, if ya know what I mean.” Yotingo winked. He fished out another bottle of limeade and crossed his legs, relaxing back.
“No worries dere, mon. I not be havin money ta give em.” Vutago looked around the room, trying hard to imagine what the other, larger officers looked like. He couldn’t handle the idea of anything bigger.
Yotingo looked at him thoughtfully. ”So why ya bein' so down on your luck?”
“It all started wit’ de humies,” Vutago said. “Landin’ dere boats and burnin’ me hut down. After dat, I was helpin’ in de fight to reclaim de Isles. Took trainin’ as a druid--always liked growin’ stuff, so seemin’ de best path to go. Was tinkin’ mebbe we be havin’ a demand for druids, but…lookin’ like I be wrong.”
Vutago looked down at his feet. Yotingo smiled.
“It be a good profession. I rememba when dat be a pipe dream for most trolls. Not dat some tried. Kul'jin or somethin'… Old friend. Friend o' da elfies, too.”
“Yeah, dey be talkin’ about me visitin’ dem elfies some time. Not lookin’ forward to dat.”
“Why not? Dey be nice enough. Dem an’ da humies.”
“I don’ see any of dem offerin’ to rebuild me hut,” grumbled Vutago.
Yotingo grinned back at him. "I might be knowin' a few."
Vutago shook his head. “Prolly not be both'rin’ to go back anyway. Been getting’ de strange looks. Don' think de islanders trustin’ de druids. Best I be findin’ a life out here. Dere be nuttin left for me dere.”
“Good thing dere be plenty ta choose from here!” said Yotingo. “Who knows, ya might even be makin' a decent courier.”
“Curryer?” asked Vutago, confused. “You mean makin’ de currys?
“More like da carrys.”
“I was never de good cook mon. Ah, but at least da fish be free.”
“If'n ya get a fishin' license,” replied Yotingo.
Vutago looked confused. “Lice-ense?”
“Ya. Little piece o' paper sayin' ya can.”
“Dat be soundin like a goblin t’ing...”
“It do be a gobo town,” Yotingo pointed out.
Vutago frowned. “I know I can be fishin’, don' need no paper. Can remember how by meself!”
Yotingo shrugged. “Dat be okay, we be havin’ fishermen an’ cooks a plenty here. Or at least, paychecks ta pay for dem.”
Vutago perked up visibly. “Pay… checks?”
“If dey be payin’, I be checkin’ it for sure!” Vutago whistled. “Ya so rich here. Still findin’ it hard ta believe ya have all dis space AND payin’ for room at de inn too.”
“Da inn be more comfortable dan here. An’ I don't like bringin' work home wit' me.”
“T’ink I know what ya mean,” said Vutago. “Once brought me work home and stank de hut out.” He leaned back the wall, wriggling until he got comfortable. “I'll be settlin in here, I guess. Jus’ gonna need a few t’ings to get started.”
“Jest ask if ya need somethin',” said Yotingo.
“As ya be de rich workin’ Troll, could be usin’ some gold...”
“Try dis fo' startas.” Yotingo casually flipped a couple of coins over to him.
Vutago caught the coins with a flourish and pocketed them. “Ah! Many t’anks, mon! Mebbe you be callin me for me dinner later?”
Yotingo waved it off. “Come in anytime. Dere not much o' a schedule 'round dis place. Da only schedule we be followin' be da boss's. Or da customer's. Now as I said in da letter, ya be leavin' da crates an' records 'ere alone unless I sayin' somethin' else. An' no peeksy inta da back room, either. Dat company stuff.”
“Back room. Company stuff. Right. No worries dere mon!” Vutago glanced at the door set in the back wall. Yotingo nodded, satisfied.
“Hmm…ya. Dis is gonna work out fine.” Vutago smiled. “Juuus fine.”
“Ya jest keep on thinkin’ dat,” said Yotingo, closing his eyes.
((with apologies for the <cough> 7 month delay))
It was cold. Very cold. By Hakkar's nostrils was it cold. Nobody had said anything about Ratchet ever getting this cold, but it was probably something to do with Goblins. Especially the way the sky had just darkened like that.
((unbeknownst to Vutago, Deathwing had just returned to Azeroth, the elements were going completely haywire, and.. well, you all know that story))
Well, if there was one thing Vutago knew the solution for, it was being cold.
First off, chop some wood. Hmm. That would mean going outside... where it was almost certainly colder. Not to worry, because this place had plenty of wood already. Couple of empty crates over there just needed bashing up a bit, and there'd be firewood.
The fire needed something else to get it going, though. Usually he'd throw in a nice pile of dried leaves, but again that would mean going outside...
The back room had plenty of paper, Vutago discovered, as he peeked through the door. Tons of the stuff. And used, from the look of it, as it was all covered in writing. Well, he'd save cousin Yotingo the bother of disposing of some of the useless second-hand used paper.
As the flames started to grow from the crumpled-up letters, lapping at the broken pieces of crate, Vutago felt quite pleased with himself. Pleased enough to take a short break from all the hard work, and take a short nap.
Edited by Vutago on 7/27/2012 5:09 PM PDT
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