Northshire was a two-day travel away from Stormwind City, nestled in the foothills of Elwyn Forest. It was a small, quaint village with only a few inhabitants. It was most famous for Northshire Abbey, which is home to the clerics of the Northshire Brotherhood. In recent years the Brotherhood agreed to provide initial training to the basic foot soldiers of the Stormwind army. As the number of conflicts throughout Azeroth rose so did the demand of soldiers. As far as I knew, it served mostly as the initial instance to separate the wheat from the chaff.
I never found out the contents of the conversation between Jasper and my mother. Although, I tried not to be too obvious in my inquiries about the conversation I did not learn anything about it. Both my mother as well as Jasper were evasive. As a matter of fact, I did not see Jasper for the following days after it, and he only came to see me off and wish me well when I was leaving for Northshire.
When I said my goodbyes to him – as well as my family, of course – I could swear that he seemed a bit touched. Almost like my mother, who was on the verge of tears, as he had been for days. I knew he had a soft spot for me, but this display of feeling made me a bit queasy. So, I was rather relieved when their silhouettes at the gate to Stormwind grew slowly smaller in the distance.
However, in the pit of my stomach a deep sadness had settled. It was my constant companion for the duration of the journey as there was little, I could occupy my mind with. The summer sun was burning from the sky, and it was stuffy like a sauna in the carriage. Sometimes I opted to sit outside, but the direct heat was not a better trade off to the inside of the carriage. Fortunately, I was travelling alone with only the driver and my small sack of belongings, so I did not have to listen to others complaining about the heat, while I myself moaned about it.
It was shortly after midday on the third day after my departure when I arrived in Northshire, and, although the sun was relentless it was a pleasant summer day. Beneath the shadow of the leaves the heat was bearable, and the occasional breeze did not only disturb the silence of the valley by rustling the leaves but also provided a cooling sensation on bare skin.
“This would be it,” the driver announced in his growling tone as I stepped out of the carriage.
“Thank you,” I handed him the fare of five silver pieces and tipped him two silver pieces. He said something but I was not listening, or even looking at him. My gaze wandered over the tiny village. The houses were simple and in good shape but few. They were arranged around a square at the steps of the abbey. In front of it, forming a half-circle stood wagons where tradesmen and – women praised their goods.
“Could you tell me the way to the next inn?” I asked, but received no reply. I turned around and found myself alone. I had not noticed that the carriage had already left again. I shrugged and shouldered my bag. I would simply ask one of the merchants.
The first merchant I approached was happy to help and directed me to the closest pub, just down an alley from the abbey. I thanked him and wended my way. The pub was easy enough to find, and did not differ to much from the Pig and Whistle at home. It was sparsely filled with people chatting and enjoying their drink and food. I approached the bar at the end, and inquired about a room I could rent. The bartender immediately led me upstairs to show me one, as he put it, “of the finest rooms in Northshire”. It was small, and furnished only with the necessities: a bed, a dresser, an armchair in the corner from which you see the apple tree right outside the window. An old, faded rug spread over the wooden floor to provide some feeling of coziness.
“How much?”, I asked.
“Fifty copper a night.”
“I take it”.
“I’m glad,” the innkeeper smiled and handed me the key. “The lavatories are down the hall.”
Then the door slam shut behind me. I flung my bag onto the bed and began examining the room. The furniture was old and worn, and so were the bedsheets, which fortunately, were clean and seemed to be fresh. Although I had known to not expect a palace suite, I could not help but miss my old bedroom, where no dust bunnies lived under anything.
At least the inside of the dresser is clean, I though as I unpacked the few belongings, I brought with me: mostly clothes, a book, two towels and my favorite kind of soap. Yes, I was very picky about my soap. After I had finished, I stepped outside, locked the room behind me and made my way down to the pub for a meal.
It did not take long after I had sat down at a table until some of the townsfolk came over and introduced themselves. Apparently, news of a newcomer travelled fast in small communities, something I had not been familiar with before. Several of the younger men tried to buy me drinks, but I politely refused, whereas the older men and women were eager to tell stories about themselves and Northshire, as well as inquire about my person. I, however, was sparse with information about myself, and thus, the older folk did most of the talking while I listened attentively.
Over the course of my meal, I learned a lot about Northshire, for example the kobold problem in the mines to the North, and the sudden appearance of the Defias Brotherhood in the valley. Milly Osworth, the owner of the Northshire vineyards was particularly anxious about the Defias Brotherhood. It seems that they were planning to occupy her land.
“Don’t worry, Milly,” Sergeant Willem assured her. “The Northshire Guards would never let this happen.”
“The Northshire Guards,” Milly huffed, but before she could utter what she really thought about the Northshire Guards, an elderly, balding man with grey mustache intervened.
“Now, now, Milly,” he tried to calm her. “You know they are doing their best. We all are.”
Milly did not reply, instead she rolled her eyes as she sipped from the glass in her hand. A moment of silence lay over the few people at my table. I could swear that there had been a sudden change in mood. The chattiness had gone as quicky as it had arrived, and everybody was sipping on their glasses in silence.
“Now, young lady,” the older man with the grey beard addressed me, breaking the silence. I would later learn that he was called Brother Danil and was a member of the Northshire Brotherhood. “What brings you to Northshire?”
“People usually don’t just come here,” Milly remarked, showing genuine interest.
“Oh,” I stuttered, taken aback by the sudden shift toward my persona again. “Um, I’m looking for a man called Jorik Kerridan.”
Just as I had uttered the name Milly choked on her drink. Swiftly she turned her head to the side and spit on the floor.
“Jorik?”, she repeated retching.
“Yes,” my eyes lit up. “Do you know him?”
Milly threw her head back and laughed. It was a loud, rumbling laugh and Brother Danil shot her a disapproving look.
“My dear,” she turned back to me with an amused look. “Everybody here knows Jorik Kerridan. He is the town drunk!”
“Oh,” my heart sank in disappointment.