A Glove Story

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Stoen
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A Glove Story

#1 Post by Stoen » Sun Dec 01, 2019 8:47 pm

The soft snow had started to fall over the small, Pandaren marketplace. All over, the cheery bearpeople were selling their wares. Adopting the Azerothian traditions of Winter Veil was still a recent concept for them, but they were doing their best. Some were wearing red puffball hats, some were eagerly singing translated version of classical Winter Veil hits like “Om nom nom” and “Nom om nom”. Goods were sold and wrapped in shiny foil, soon to be hidden under whatever equivalent to a Winter Veil tree the families could get their hands on.

Amidst their legs - doing his best to scurry amongst the crowd - was a small Gnome. Pandaren had not yet learned the art of looking down while walking and he had to be careful in the group. Still, Stoen had a mission. He still had no idea what to get Lumililja for Winter Veil. He knew perfectly well that he would not have peace of mind until this matter was settled. His eyes darted over the wares in the different stalls. A big staff with a keg attached? No. Perhaps a sign with a badly misspelled “Hapy Vintor Well!”? No. Whatever he got had to be special, something that would let her know how much he cared.

He approached a stall that looked promising. They had jewelry. Something shiny and golden would not be enough though, it had to be something that connected with her. He stood on his toes to look over the selection, his eyes barely peeking over the edge of the stall. The pandaren vendor noticed him. “Oh hello there!” cheered the friendly voice. “Looking for anything special?”

Stoen nodded eagerly. “Yes!”

“I see,” nodded the Pandaren. “What are you looking for?”

The small Gnome hesitated. “I don’t know,” he admitted. “But it has to be special! It’s a present.”

The Pandaren considered this. “Perhaps a ham?” he suggested.

Stoen shook his head. “No, like it.. Something romantic please.”

The vendor scratched his beard in contemplation. Stoen wondered if he was the first customer to ever reject the idea of a ham. “How about,” said the pandaren as he raised a finger in triumph of his idea. “A honey-glazed ham?”

“No, it.. I don’t think a ham is a good present.”

“Two hams?”

“No, that.. Um..” The small Gnome hesitated. “Sir, is this a jewelry store?”

The pandaren shrugged. “No, we sell hams.”

“Then what’s the jewelry for?”

The vendor looked over his shoulder at the display. “Oh, they’re for attracting customers. Our hams are precious as jewels, get it?”

Stoen nodded, quietly pondering how to best leave this conversation. “Sir, I’ll just look around the marketplace for a bit, it.. I’ll come back if you change your mind!” he nodded eagerly.

The pandaren vendor waved as Stoen walked back into the market. The gnome sighed. He needed something spectacular for Lumililja, something that would immediately tell her just how much she meant to him. His eyes scanned the surrounding stalls. Silverware. Too practical. A pot of flour. Way too practical.

He had almost given up when he saw a Kaldorei in the distance. She was dressed in white. Her staff carried a crescent moon at the top, clearly a priestess of Elune. That was not too unusual but Stoen’s eyes fixed themselves on her gloves. They were an orangish white and carried a pale, blue gemstone at the wrist. The Gnome let out a little gasp. They were perfect! He ran up to the Kaldorei, doing his best to keep his gaze on her as he weaved himself between the legs of the pandaren crowd. “Ma’am!” he shouted out, waving his hand in the air. “Miss ma’am, can I ask you something?”

The Kaldorei raised her eyebrows as the Gnome ran up to her. “Yes, sir? What can I help you with?”

Stoen stared at the gloves in wide-eyed wonder. “Where did you get those gloves?” he asked.

The priestess shrugged. “Friend made them for me.”

“Do you think your friend would make a pair for me?”

She nodded in affirmation. “Oh, absolutely!”

Stoen sighed in relief. A pair of gloves would be perfect. They would keep Lumililja’s hands warm, they look good doing it and it would let her know that he paid attention when she talked about her taste in clothing. Practical and special all in one.

The Kal’dorei hesitated a moment. “Wait, he may be dead, come to think of it," she said scratching her chin.

The Gnome blinked. “What?”

“Yeah, last I saw him, he was most definitely being swallowed by a dragon.

“So he’s dead?”

She shrugged. "I mean he's swallowed at least."

“Oh,” muttered the Gnome. “My condolences.”

“Huh? What for?”

Stoen hesitated a moment. “For your friend.”

“Oh,'' she shrugged. “Thanks.”

“So, er..” Stoen wasn’t sure how to really communicate with this woman. She didn’t seem to be completely there. It was entirely possible that she had sampled some Pandaren brew thinking it was equivalent to the Kal’dorei stuff. “So do you know where your friend got the recipe for those gloves?”

“What gloves?”

“Your gloves!”

“Oh!” she giggled and looked at her hands. “Some ancient mogu recipe, I think? He said he found it engraved on a wall in some mogu temple up North? I think. I wasn't really listening to be honest.”

Stoen nodded and thanked her. He started heading towards the flightmaster. If the recipe was an old Mogu one, perhaps he could learn more from the loremasters. They were usually eager to tell bits of history to those who visited them and Stoen made a mental note to stop for some tea on the way. Tea only made Pandaren appreciate visitors more and he needed to get that recipe.

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Re: A Glove Story

#2 Post by Stoen » Mon Dec 02, 2019 9:09 pm

Part 2

The floorboards creaked even under the small weight of the Gnome. The smell of dusty tomes permeated the old library as the few flickering lanterns gave him just enough vision to navigate the towering bookshelves. This was the home of the Lorekeepers of Pandaria, students of history who sought to preserve it for the ages.

“Hello?” he called out to the dark rows of books. His voice echoed back through the halls.

For a brief moment, Stoen suspected that the library was empty. Closed down for the evening, perhaps. In hindsight, heading here straight after the market had not been necessary. On the other hand, the idea for Lumililja’s present was so fresh in his mind and he needed to channel all that excitement into action.

A gruff voice echoed through the halls back to Stoen. “Who’s there?” it asked.

The small Gnome swallowed hard. He looked around the darkness but saw no shapes between the faint glimmer of illumination the scant few lanterns provided. With the echoes, Stoen had no idea how far away the source of the voice really was. “My name is Stoen,” he tried. “I’m looking for a pattern. For making gloves. Mogu ones.”

“Where are you?” echoed the voice again.

Stoen hesitated. He looked around. “There are books here!” he offered.

There was a brief hesitation.

The brief hesitation was followed by a longer, much more uncomfortable hesitation.

Finally the voice broke the silence. “Yes, you are in a library. 'Books' is not a helpful waypoint. What do the signs on the bookshelves say?”

Stoen gazed at the nearest bookshelf. It was covered in Pandaren symbols. “There’s like a circle with like a squickly line near the top and, er.. This next letter looks like a bird, I think.”

A loud sigh echoed through the halls.

The Gnome continued. “Then there’s like a triangle with a halfcircle and, um.. This one kind of looks like a smiley face with an eye missing, I think? Oh and then there’s a square but with squickly lines and also there’s a dot on it.”

Another loud sigh. “You’re in the aquatic biology section. Continue three rows down, make a left and I’ll meet you there.”

Stoen started walking. As he made the left, a distant shadowy mass slowly came into focus as he approached it, finally turning out to be an elderly Pandaren. “Oh,” said the Gnome. “Hello, sir. My name is Stoen. I’m looking for -”

“Mogu gloves, yes, you told me. Which ones?”

“They’re like, orangish yellowish with a sort of glow like the Lightforged have. Do you know Lightforged?” Stoen didn’t wait for him to reply. “They’re like these really amazing Draenei but not really as amazing as Lumja of course but.. But then they sort of glow and these gloves kind of did too but maybe perhaps it was just the way they were painted and also they had a gemstone and it was this kind of pale blue and I know Lumja likes those, you see?”

“What’s a Lumja?”

“The best!”

The old Pandaren sighed. “Okay, yes, whatever. A pattern for yellowish gloves with a blue gemstone of Mogu origin?”

The Gnome nodded eagerly.

“Touch of the Light,” explained the Loremaster.

The Gnome stopped nodding eagerly and instead tipped his head quizzically.

“That’s the name of the gloves you’re after. Touch of the Light.”

Stoen gasped. This was perfect for Lumililja! “Do you have this pattern in the library, sir?”

The Pandaren shook his head. “I’m afraid it was borrowed by an elf who promptly got himself eaten by a dragon.”

“Oh..” Stoen looked down at his feet. “Do you know if maybe perhaps there’s another way to get one?”

The Pandaren nodded. “It’s a mogu recipe. They etched their knowledge into the walls of their buildings, so it should be there still.” The loremaster handed him a small piece of paper. Upon closer inspection, it was a map with a big cross drawn on it. “The pattern was discovered in this temple. It’s no longer occupied, so it should be safe.”

Stoen gasped. It was not hopeless after all! “Thanks, sir!”, he yelled as he ran off. As the small Gnome dashed through the long corridors, he felt certain he was on the right path. He was getting closer to the gloves. Get to the temple, take a snap-o-graph of the wall with the pattern and find someone to sew them. He already felt giddy about how excited Lumililja would be when she opened her present. She had worked so hard recently and he needed to get her the perfect present. He was not the strongest person and he knew he did stupid things sometimes, but this he could do. He could get her a great present and make sure she had an amazing Winter Veil.

As he managed to find the exit of the huge library, he briefly considered going home and getting some sleep first. Perhaps rummaging through old temples was not the best thing to do in the middle of the night. On the other hand, he was so close now! He continued onwards.

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Re: A Glove Story

#3 Post by Stoen » Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:14 pm

Part 3

Stoen shivered. He was rubbing his hands together to get warm. Kun-Lai was colder than he remembered. While it had only been a short trip from the flight point to the temple, walking through the freezing snow had still been a struggle. At least he was here now and the temple would provide shelter from the wind.

People had always told him that he was wrong, when he said spare socks was the number one thing to bring to missions. As he slid out of the now drenched, cold pair, he was reminded that he was most definitely correct in this assumption. He pulled the fresh socks on and slid the old one underneath his jacked. The heat of his body would warm them back up in case he needed another replacement later.

After pulling his shoes back on, he rummaged through his backpack, retrieving a small wand. While his fear of fire was not the freezing phobia it had once been, he still felt a fredag great unease when near it. A wand would have to make do instead of a torch for illumination. He wrapped his fingers around it, watching the little orb at the tip light up with a pale, blue glow. It was a pretty basic design rather than the more extravagant ones he saw mages wield but it served the purpose well enough.

The young Gnome started walking into a temple, It was a pretty small one and he felt relieved that he would not have to search too much for the correct wall. One of them was bound to carry the pattern for the Touch of the Light gloves and he just had to find it.

He gazed up at one but it was just full of mogu script in a nice and orderly fashion. There were recognizable ways to identify a pattern even in foreign scripts. Nice little symbols to indicate the order of things, drawings to show the results and so on. He knew what a pattern would look like, even if he would be unable to translate it.

Stoen kept walking. He could hear the wind howling outside, but the sound was growing more distant as he continued on. His eyes kept scanning the walls. He was not sure what the purpose of this temple had been. Not that it mattered. It had already been excavated by the Loremasters and whatever knowledge it contained was safely stored in their tomes.

At least with the exception of the one piece of knowledge he needed.

It had been eaten by a dragon.

Stoen blinked a few times in surprise when he finally found it. There, some ten meters away, was a wall with a clear picture of a pair of gloves. There was an outline of them with what looked like a gemstone. He sighed in relief. Almost there now. It had been a really long evening but Lumililja’s Winter Veil present was almost sorted.

He walked up to the wall and held up his wand. This was it. No doubt. He reached for the small snap-o-graph he had attached to his belt. It was not the most advanced version, but it would take a picture of the wall well enough. He would take a few pictures just to make sure.

Then it collapsed.

With a sudden snap of the cold tiles he stood on, the wall was suddenly collapsing. The gnome, gasped, instinctively taking a step backwards. As the wall tore itself into smithereen by some unknown force, the floor below him gave way. Stoen fell downwards. He gasped in surprise as he was suddenly spiraling down with barely enough time to raise his hands to shield his head from the inevitable impact. As he finally crashed onto the floor of whatever chamber he had fallen into, he curled himself. More of the floor from above came crashing down with a feel pieces of debris colliding with the Gnome.

Amidst the rubble, Stoen coughed up the dust that suddenly surrounded him. He moved his legs and arms to make sure nothing was broken before staggering to his feet. Darkness. Everything was dark around him. He searched the rubble for the wand, hoping it had not fallen far.

He felt it, thankfully only a few feet from where he had landed. He wrapped his fingers around it, squeezing tightly as he suddenly realized that it might not even work after the fall. He sighed with relief as it lit up. Perhaps a bit more dimly than before but still functional at least.

He had not fallen that far. As he gazed upwards, he could see the outline of the small room he was in. It was triangular in shape, starting from just below the wall he had been gazing at with two walls extending outwards towards the place he had been standing just moments before.

Stoen looked down. Amidst the rubble, he saw a small, bronze piece of machinery. He knelt down. Some sort of trigger mechanism. Was this what had caused the floor to collapse? If so, why had it not been activated by the excavating Lorewalkers years before? Heck, mogu had walked this temple in ages prior. He knelt down, holding his wand out to see it clearer. There was a spring in place. When enough weight was applied, the mechanism would connect to something else.

Whatever small piece it would connect to had broken off in the fall. He tilted his head, noticing the reason it had not been activated sooner. It was not just pressure sensitive, it was sensitive to a specific pressure. Pressed too hard, the trigger would slide right past whatever it was connected to. The Mogu and Pandaren explorers would have weighed too much for this to cause any sort of collapse.

The gnome stood back up, mystified. Why would an ancient Mogu temple have a pressure switch set to collapse a floor when someone of his weight stepped on it?

He looked up at the nearest wall. It had a big arrow pointing to another wall. Before looking, he peered over his shoulder to confirm an aching suspicion. The opposite wall had an arrow too, both clearly pointing at the last wall of the small, triangular room.

The small Gnome directed the wand towards the last wall. Someone, in ages prior when the temple was being built, had made this room that only someone his weight would tumble into. As he gazed upon the wall, he began to realize just how little of a coincidence this all was.

Stoen gazed in amazement. This wall was not written in ancient Mogu script. It was common, perfectly understandable to any literate person from the Eastern Kingdoms. He read the text. It was hard as age had changed the letters just a bit, but they were still recognizable in the pale blue light of the wand. The first was an H. Then an E, a Y and a S. He kept reading. There was an H, an I, what looked like a T and then another H. Then an E, an A, a D and..

The gnome felt his heart sink to his gut as he realized what was happening. He stared at the wall of text in front of him. Ancient words, carved into the stones centuries if not millennia ago. He swallowed hard with the realization that he knew exactly who had written this. He kept reading.

NEED A FAVOUR WILL REPAY WITH THAT PATTERN OR WHATEVER.

Stoen sighed as he started climbing back out of the temple. He knew what to do. There was only one person in the world that he knew of who could have done this. Someone who had been present when the temple had been built and could have known that someone his weight would be searching for this specific pattern so many centuries in the future. Fine. One more step in the way. He would go ask what the favour was.

It couldn’t hurt to just hear her out.

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Re: A Glove Story

#4 Post by Stoen » Wed Dec 04, 2019 9:50 pm

Part 4

Stormwind Lighthouse. It was where she had always met them. Stoen sighed as he landed his flying machine on the rocks to its side. He really did not want to be here but he needed the pattern for those gloves and she had seen fit to destroy the wall it had been one.

He got out of the little machine, landing on the ground with a soft thud. He looked ahead. She was already there. “Hello, Gerna,” he sighed.

There she stood. A small, white-haired Gnome. At least he thought she was a Gnome. All outwards appearances pointed towards it, but who could really know for sure? She was fiddling with some machine strapped to her hand, barely giving him a nod in response.

“So, it.. Um..” he hesitated. He took a deep breath to steady himself. “So what’s the favour?”

“What favour?” replied the creature indifferently.

“The favour you need.”

“More specifically.”

“For the gloves,” he explained.

“What gloves?”

Stoen hesitated a moment. He decided to start over. “So, it.. There was a temple where the wall had a pattern for some gloves. And it collapsed along with the floor and then you had written that you needed a favour on the walls below.”

She pondered this for a moment. “Oh, yeah. Yeah, I did that.” she nodded and returned her attention to her mechanical wristband.

“So what’s the favour?” repeated Stoen.

She rolled her eyes, sighing with much more theatrical flair than needed. “Give me a moment here, I’m working on something.” she waved dismissively.

“What?”

“I can’t be bothered now. You’re too early.”

Stoen paused. He shook his head. “But.. But then why didn’t you arrive earlier? I.. I mean you came here tonight because you knew I would come after seeing the wall, right? And it.. And you could have just arrived sooner if.. If you needed time, right?”

“I said give me a moment,” she muttered, clearly not paying him much attention.

“But if..”

She rolled her eyes. With a flick of her wrist, Stoen was thrown backwards. Bright, blue energies seemed to suddenly surround him and he felt himself being sucked into a vortex. For a few scarce moments, the world was so bright that he had to force his eyes closed. Then he landed flat on his back. He looked up. He was still at the lighthouse. Nothing had changed.

Gerna clicked a few buttons on her wrist contraption. “There we go, done. Now the reason I called you here…”

“What just happened?” he interrupted.

She shrugged. “You fell asleep for two days and I finished up what I had to do.”

“You transported me two days into the future?!” he gasped.

She rolled her eyes. “I said: You fell asleep. I’ve told you people several times that I’m not a time traveler. Time travel has been strictly forbidden since three hundred years from now. I’m a dull, law abiding citizens like all those suckers who think the law is ooooooh so impoooortant and...” her speech slowly turned into a series of sarcastic huffs until Stoen could no longer understand the words.

This was getting him nowhere. “So what’s the favour?” asked Stoen.

“Need a shard. Remember the shards?”

He nodded his head. She had tasked Starlight with getting these ‘shards’ before. Strange crystals that seemed to almost move into themselves, warping their own dimensions even as you looked at them. “And then I’ll get the pattern for the gloves?” he asked.

She waved her hand dismissively. “Sure, whatever.”

He considered this. “How long will it take?”

“Five minutes tops.”

Stoen sighed in relief. Just one more step, then he would have the pattern for the gloves. He knew that he should not trust Gerna. It never ended well, but at least there was a way to get Lumililja’s Winter Veil present now. “Okay,” he nodded. “I’ll do it.”

“Yeah, I know, why the heck else would I have asked you? By the fivearmed eagle, you people are idiots.” She clicked a few more buttons on her mechanical wristband and a portal sprung to life next to her. At a glance, it seemed like a perfectly ordinary one. “Okay, in you go.”

He took a deep breath. “Just a five minute job,” he reminded himself as he approached the swirling mass of arcane energies.

“Yup,” affirmed Gerna. “No matter how long it takes, I’ll drop you back at this place five minutes from now.”

He blinked a few times. “Wait, WHAT?!” he gasped.

Before he could get a response, she had shoved him through the portal.

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Re: A Glove Story

#5 Post by Stoen » Thu Dec 05, 2019 10:59 pm

Part 5

It was dark as Stoen staggered onto his feet, feeling dizzy from whatever arcane energies Gerna's portal had used to bring him to this place. Withered trees surrounded him, their faint outlines barely visible in the moonlight. It was cold and he felt a deep sense of unease, as if a thousand unseen eyes stared at him from the pitch black forest.

“Oh, you survived. Neat,” said a familiar voice behind him.

He looked over his shoulder. “Gerna? You came here too?”

She shrugged. “Eh, gotta direct you to the shard somehow. Idiot like you would never work out where it was.” The gnome - if that’s what she was - walked past him. “It’s this way. Get a move on, I have better stuff to do.”

He followed her into the trees, the forest growing darker as it blocked out the moonlight. He could feel a path below him but it was barely visible. Only the faint glow of Gerna’s many mechanical augmentations let him know where she was.

“Don’t step on that branch.”

He heard a snap below him.

Gerna sighed loudly. “You’re an absolute moron. Your loss, I suppose.” She continued onwards.

Stoen hesitated for a moment, confused as to what had just happened. He kept walking behind her. Perhaps it didn’t matter. “Are we in the past?” he asked. “Or the future?”

Although he could not see her, somehow he knew she was rolling her eyes theatrically. “I told you, I’m not a time traveler. You’re most likely just having some crazy dream because you ate a venomous frog or something.”

“Okay, yes, but…” he paused, considering how to phrase his question. “When would this dream take place? Past or future?”

“Both.” came the reply.

“Both?”

“Future of five minutes ago, past of five minutes from now.”

He nodded slowly. The ground below him had shifted, the soft path turning into what felt like gravel beneath his booth. “So where would that be relative to the time I met you at the lighthouse?” he asked. It was tricky talking with someone who did not view time as an absolute.

She muttered something before finally telling him. “I suppose that from a very moronic and childish view of how time works, it could be construed as the past.”

“How far in the past?” he asked.

“Six,” she replied.

“Six what?” he asked even though he already thought he knew what she’d reply.

She snorted tauntingly. “Like you’d understand. Don’t worry, it’s far enough back that you weren’t born.”

He was somewhere between the dawn of creation and his birth in a dark forest. He was not certain he was even on Azeroth at this point, but at least the withered trees looked familiar. “Why is that a good thing?” he asked. “That I wasn’t born?”

“No chance of running into your past self.”

“That’s bad?”

They were moving through a bit of a clearing. A little more of the moonlight was allowed by the forest to illuminate them. “Yeah,” muttered Gerna. “Don’t want to do that. Time hates being wrapped up in a loop. Or dreams or whatever. Feverdreams from eating frogs hate being stuck in a loop.”

He considered this. “So the ghoul was not really Chit?”

“No idea who that is,” she replied indifferently.

“Chit! You know, human? She went to some future place and.. And she said she might’ve seen a ghoul version of herself at some point.”

Gerna sighed. “Well, obviously if the ghoul saw someone else from the future first then it doesn’t matter. Knocked out of the natural flow of time anyway, so the two different selves are both misaligned. Time doesn't give two parsnips on a hawk what happens then.”

The were approaching something big. Stoen could not quite make it out yet, but there was something massive forming in the distance.

“You know you could use all your skills for something good,” he pointed out.

The indifference in her voice was palpable. “I do,” she said. He could hear her clicking some buttons on her wristwatch as she spoke. “Like Stratholme.”

He paused. “Wait, what?!“ he gasped. For a moment, he felt genuinely afraid that helping her was an evil deed. “You caused Stratholme?”

“Nah, I moved it a few days. Can’t let people die on a Friday. Work a whole week and don’t get to enjoy the weekend? So I moved it to sooner in the week. Good deed, me.”

“Oh,” he replied. He wasn’t sure how to feel about that.

“Key events and all. Can’t just erase them.”

The distant object was getting clearer. As they approached, Stoen could see that it was a massive castle in the distance. He assumed that was their target. “So there are events that can’t be changed?” he asked, hoping to keep the conversation going.

“Nah, just a lot of work to undo them. They influence a lot and who has the time to work out all the details?”

“I see,” he sighed.

“Plus it’s boring.”

As they got close to the massive castle, she stopped. They were at the outskirts of the forest and the moonlight could illuminate the building well enough. It was an old one, clearly already dilapidated by time. Still, he saw bright lights from inside, so it had to be occupied by someone. “Who lives in there?” he asked.

“You’ll find out,” she shrugged. “Off you go.”

“You’re not coming?” he asked.

She waved her hand dismissively, clearly not caring a whole lot to answer. He stood there for a moment before a sudden jerk of her head revealed that she had just realized something. “Oh, forgot this.” she tossed him what looked to be a small pearl. “Get going. Break that when you have the shard and you’ll return to the Lighthouse.”

“But how will I know what…”

Before he could finish, she clicked another button on her mechanical wristband and faded away leaving barely the soft words “heh.. sucker.” in the wind.

Taking a deep breath to steel himself, Stoen began walking towards the castle. Get the shard. Get the pattern for the gloves. He could do this.

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Re: A Glove Story

#6 Post by Stoen » Fri Dec 06, 2019 11:42 am

Part 6

Stoen swallowed hard as he gazed up at the massive castle. The small gnome snuck through a small window, worried that the door would creep and give away his location to whatever horrors waited inside. For a moment, he found himself wondering if this was really worth it. Presumably, Lumililja would also enjoy getting a nice vase or something. Perhaps a book?

He shook his head. No. Those gloves would be the perfect present and he had to get them. As he tumbled into the first room of the castle, he scanned the room. His eyes had thankfully adjusted somewhat to the dark and he could see the faint outlines of his surroundings. The rooms seemed to have rock walls, sparse decorations and what appeared to be a banner on the wall. He could not quite make out what symbol the banner carried though. It was old, time had faded whatever bright colours it once held.

The small Gnome slowly moved forward. Although it was dark, he could hear faint voices in the distance. He assumed that he would be safe in the darkness. He had seen lights from the outside, so whatever lived here would be in the illuminated areas. As long as he stuck to the cover of darkness, he would be safe.

That left the problem of locating the shard for Gerna though. It was too dark to really see much without focusing on it. All he knew was that there was a shard somewhere in this massive castle.

He shook his head. That was a problem for another time. He had to focus for now, figure out the best plan for this situation. He was in a massive castle. He had to find a shard. The young gnome realized that he was very alone right now. He had always carried his guildstone with him in case he needed it. A quick RIPA and Starlight would be on its way. It felt strangely scary to suddenly know that nobody would come. If it was before he was born then it had to be before Starlight was ever formed too.

At least he figured as much. He realized that he actually did not know when Starlight was formed. Maybe he would ask Nomine later.

He peered through a doorway before entering the next room. Some sort of kitchen. He ran a hand across a counter, feeling the dust beneath it. This place must have been long abandoned. No wonder he did not recognize it. Stone is strong but war is not kind to castles. It must have been long destroyed in his time.

Stoen felt something as he ran his hand across the counter. He carefully felt his way around. Some sort of pole going up from the counter? No, it felt more like an elongated ball of some sort or…

He picked up the object. It seemed to be a vase. Porcelain, had to be quite valuable. Whatever had happened to make people abandon this place, had been sudden enough that they would leave precious objects like this behind. He curiously held the vase a little closer to his head, narrowing his eyes to see its finely painted pattern better. Perhaps it could give an indication of where he was.

It was too dusty. He wiped his spare hand across it as he held it close to his head.

He breathed in.

The dust got in his nose.

For a brief moment, the silence was broken as Stoen sneezed.

He gasped, looking up. Dammit. He looked behind him. The window he had gotten through was a bit high up. Could he make it back out if large monsters suddenly came barging through the halls to investigate the noise? He stood still, afraid to make a move. He swallowed hard and listened closely. There were no yells. He focused, trying to steady his breathing. In the distance, he could still hear faint noises.

With a sigh of relief, Stoen decided that he should just stick to finding the shard and getting back home. I did not matter where this castle was, he had to just finish the job and escape. He reached out to put the vase on the counter where he had found it.

An instant later, Stoen would wish that he had felt around a bit first to make sure where the counter was. As he let the vase go, it came falling down, colliding with the floor, shattering into a thousand pieces. Stoen gasped, his eyes widening in the sudden realization of what had just happened.

Now the voices stopped.

Now he heard yells.

Shit.

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Stoen
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Re: A Glove Story

#7 Post by Stoen » Sat Dec 07, 2019 10:59 pm

Part 7

There were three spears pointed at the small Gnome.

This was bad, he decided.

The wielders were humans in what seemed to be torn military armor. Dirty clothes drabbed with shiny chainmail kept in impeccable condition. Behind the three humans with spears stood an older human holding a torch. “Who are you?” he asked.

Stoen swallowed hard. “My name is Stoen,” he tried. “I’m just exploring and such.”

“You’re exploring?”

The young Gnome nodded. “I’m looking for a Winter Veil present.” It was technically the truth, he supposed.

The older man nodded towards the three men. They lowered their spears. “If the Gnome tries anything,” he told them. “You kill him. Instantly.”

Stoen swallowed hard as the men saluted him.

“I apologize for the harsh welcome, Gnome,” said the older man. “I’m sergeant Wesler. These are privates Franson, James and Lorad. Sadly, this is all that remains after the last troll attack.”

Trolls. Okay. There was a war between humans and trolls. Stoen pondered what bits of history he knew and realized that this meant that he was somewhere in literally all human history. Those humans sure spend a lot of their time having wars against trolls.

“What company are you with?” demanded one of the soldiers.

“None,” replied Stoen.

“You’re welcome to stay the night,” said the older man. The soldiers began walking away. “Then you’re gone. We don’t need an extra mouth to feed.” They waved for him to follow him. He did so. Following the orders of the armed men seemed a pretty good idea right now.

The young gnome made a mental list of what he had that could be used as a weapon. Some potions? No good. He had a book of herbs in his pocket, a pen for making little notes, none of which could be much use here. At least the men did not seem hostile, but he knew well enough how sudden such things could change. It did not hurt to be prepared. Also, as he realized, he was not prepared at all. They would be able to kill him in an instant.

They took him to a large room. Presumably this had once been where the lord of the castle lived. Now it was a broken mess. Furniture had been chopped to pieces to feed the large campfire in the middle of the room.

He did not like fire. He sat down by it anyway, enduring it for now. It would not do to act out now, not when they clearly had yet to decide if he was a threat or not.

The room was warm enough. Stoen sighed in relief, realizing how long it had been since he got to sit down in a warm room. Last had been the library in Pandaria where he had gotten the clue to visit Kun Lai. It seemed like ages ago, but he knew it had been hours at most. He needed some sleep, but this was not the spot. The young gnome hid a yawn and shook his head a bit to rustle himself awake.

“Stoen, huh?” asked one of the soldiers. “Here to scavenge like a common rat?”

Stoen nodded.

The soldier crossed his arms. “Seen anything of use to us? Troll patrols? Their campsites? We lost a few good men, do you know where the greenskins keep their prisoners?”

Stoen knew. Trolls ate their captives. “I don’t know,” he lied

“Fair ‘nuff,” muttered the soldier. “We don’t have any food to spare.”

“That’s okay,” mumbled Stoen, wishing he had something to offer them. One of Aila’s nutterbars or something.

He offered the soldier the healing potion. The soldier raised an eyebrow. “What’s that?”

“Healing potion,” replied the Gnome.

The soldier waved it off. “Keep yer poison, rat.”

Stoen nodded. It was no use arguing. It’s not like Stoen could tell them what was in it. The ingredients he used would not be discovered until magic tore the oceans apart. He looked around the room. There was not much to see. The Soldiers had stashed their backpacks along the wall. Various weapons. Some shields. A long staff with a glistening gemstone at the top that seemed to warp in on itself.

The gnome blinked a few times. Damn.

The older soldier noticed his glance. “Don’t even think about it,” he muttered. “That there’s the staff we’re transporting to Lordaeron.”

“Oh,” said Stoen. “Right. Sorry, I wasn’t…” he didn’t finish the sentence.

“Got it off the trolls. Franson here translated a bit of what they said. Apparently, the gem flew out from some flash of light with the speed of an arrow. Gift from their gods or something, the greenskin said. They put it on a staff.”

Stoen nodded slowly. “Weird creatures those trolls.”

The older soldier nodded too. “Weird indeed. I’ll take first watch. The rest of you get some sleep.”

The Gnome shuffled away from the fire a bit. He did not like being near it and he knew he would do well to be concealed by the shadows. Not so much that if was obvious, but at least not in the most illuminated part of the room. He removed his hood and cape before rolling them into a rudimentary pillow. He laid down, doing his best not to look too hard at the staff in the corner.

Get the staff. Portal back home. He would have to wait a little for their guard to drop and then move quickly.

He closed his eyes. As he laid there, doing his best to pretend to sleep while not actually sleeping, there was only one thought that kept the sleep he so craved at bay:

The trolls had seen the shard shoot out of a flash of light. It had not gently appeared; it had shot out of its origin point and into their time.

For the first time since meeting Gerna so long ago, he felt that some pieces were starting to fit together.

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Stoen
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Re: A Glove Story

#8 Post by Stoen » Sun Dec 08, 2019 10:58 pm

Part 8

Don’t sleep.

Stoen shivered slightly, feeling the weight of the day. He could not sleep. He would have to stay awake for a bit, at least long enough for the other soldiers to fall asleep. One had remained awake to take first guard, but the others would soon sleep.

In the morning, they would part ways. It would be too late then. The soldiers would be too suspicious if he ran into them after that. He needed to get the shard tonight.

He thought back on the little cottage where Lumililja and he lived. Cozy wooden floors and thick walls to keep the wind and rain out. It was located high up and near the ocean, but those walls kept them safe from the elements. The little Gnome smiled slightly at the thought of sitting by the window together all wrapped up in blankets. Cups of cocoa finished, cuddled together as the rain raged outside. He felt so relaxed and…

No!

Stoen shook his head awake. He could not sleep. Not yet. He needed to get the shard first. Then he would teleport back, deliver it, get the pattern, travel back and -then- he could sleep. It would be a couple of hours at most.

He moved his legs a bit, hoping that the soldier would not notice. He had to keep circulation going. Getting to the shard would require him to make a dash and a numb leg could cause him to trip. This was the tactic. He mentally reminded himself: Keep focus on the mission at hand. Planning would keep the sleep at bay.

The young gnome reached into his pocket to verify that the small pearl was still there. Gerna had told him to break it when he needed to return to his own time. He could do that. Get shard, throw down gemstone, step on it if need be.

He discreetly looked around the room. The older soldier was gazing out the window. The others were not moving. They had to be asleep.

It was time.

Stoen took a deep breath. He slowly got up, careful not to make a sound.

The older soldier’s attention was on him in an instant. “What are you doing?”

Stoen froze. He knew he should just make a dash for it, but the sudden sound had locked him in place. “I, er..” he hesitated, unsure what to say. “I have to pee.”

The human shrugged. “Ah, fair enough. Use the bucket in the corner, can’t have you going outside now.” He pointed at a bucket situated right next to the staff Stoen was going to steal.

Oh.

That was a freebie.

Stoen walked over to the staff. He looked over at the soldier who was politely looking the other way. He looked back at the staff. On one hand, this had all very suddenly become much too easy. On the other hand, that seemed a strange thing to be dissatisfied about.

He grabbed the shard, gently sliding it out of its holster.

“I don’t hear anything. Shy bladder?” asked the soldier.

Stoen hesitated. “Right, I’m just, um.. I’m just getting started. You know, um.. Preparing myself mentally and such.”

The human nodded firmly. “Ay, I get that. I used to not be able to go around other people too. Want to know what I did to help that?”

The young gnome shook his head firmly. “No, I.. I really don’t think you talking is going to help.”

“I sang a song. A good little melody to put my mind at ease.”

“That’s nice, but.. But I really don’t think…”

The soldier interrupted him. “Ah, don’t worry, kid. I believe you can do it. Just look right down at that li’l guy and tell him to let it go. Shout at it if need be! Roar!”

Stoen sighed. Did human soldiers of this time have no idea of boundaries? The young Gnome decided it was best to just get out before the soldier got the bright idea of coming over to lend a hand. He threw down the little pearl and stepped on it. There was a loud crack as his foot impacted the fragile gem.

As it split open, Stoen felt himself surrounded by arcane energies. He felt himself being absorbed by the pulsating vortex of infinite leylines, shattering and rematerializing his body throughout an inferno of blinding light. As he slowly came to his senses, he was back at the lighthouse. The sun was slowly rising in the horizon.

“Took ya long enough, branch-breaker”, muttered a grumpy Gerna. “It’s your own fault that it's more than five minutes.”

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Stoen
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Re: A Glove Story

#9 Post by Stoen » Mon Dec 09, 2019 10:56 pm

Part 9

Stoen held out the shimmering shard. It seemed to almost hover in his palm. Whatever this thing was, it cared little more the laws of gravity, treating it more like a gentle suggestion that it should stick to the hand beneath it.

Gerna sighed. “Awright,” she muttered. She casually walked over to him, giving out a little yawn on the way. “Mission completed, I suppose. Good work for an idiot.” She snatched the shard out of his hand.

Stoen sighed. He really did not want to get into another argument here. Better to just get the pattern for the gloves. Then he could go home and sleep. Light, he needed to sleep. He could feel his eyelids threatening to fall shut even as he stood here in front of Gerna. “And it.. And the pattern?” he asked to gently remind her of their agreement.

“The what now?”

“For the gloves.”

She raised an eyebrow. “You still want that?”

“Yes!” he snapped, perhaps with a bit more annoyance in his voice than he intended.

For once, Gerna seemed genuinely puzzled by this request. “What for?”

“For Lumja’s Winter Veil present!” he shouted, giving up on hiding his annoyance. He was hungry, exhausted and so, so tired, and all that kept him from going home was Gerna’s behavior.

Gerna stared at him blankly for a moment. Then a smile slowly formed on her lips. A tiny giggle. A snort. Then she started laughing, slapping her knees as if she just heard the most hilarious thing in the universe. “Seriously?” she giggled between laughs, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand. “You’re seriously that stupid? You don’t get it at all? You stepped on the branch, you moron!”

Stoen glared. “You.. You’re saying that you’re not giving me the pattern because I stepped on a branch? I.. I mean it’s just a branch! We had a deal!”

The creature in front of him giggled. “Heh. Sure, bud. Take your pattern.” A small scroll materialized in her hands and she tossed it to him. “Idiot.”

Stoen caught it, quickly unraveling it to make sure it was the right one. It was. There, in perfect common, was the neatly written guide on how to create the gloves. He felt a shiver of relief rush through him as he hugged the scroll tightly. He had done it. He would just need to find a tailor and then Lumililja would have the perfect Winter Veil present.

When he looked back up, Gerna had already vanished. That was fine, he figured. He had gotten what he came for. He closed his eyes, focused on the words Lumililja had taught him. He had to feel at peace to soar. There was a faint glow around his hands as the small Gnome rose from the ground. Levitation. It was one of the very few things he knew how to do with the Light.

Harbor. Mage tower. Portal to Pandaria. Kite back home. Then he would finally get some sleep. This day had been way too long already. The weary Gnome yawned loudly as he slowly hovered across the water.

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Stoen
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Re: A Glove Story

#10 Post by Stoen » Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:33 pm

Part 10

Home.

Stoen shivered with relief as he stepped into the little hut where he lived with Lumililja. He took off his shoes by the door to make as little noise as possible. Lumililja was asleep in their bed and Stoen had to hide the pattern for the gloves. He opened the small chest by the bed where he kept his alchemy supplies and placed the scroll next to some old recipes for healing potions. Even if his fiancée saw it there, she would just assume it was a recipe.

As the young Gnome finally crawled into bed, he could feel the full weight of the day flood over him. He was so tired and now he could finally sleep. He allowed himself a satisfied sigh. He had done well. The trip to the market may have turned into a lot more work than he had anticipated but he had done it. Lumililja was going to love her new gloves, he just knew it.

He rolled over onto his side to look at her. The morning light was softly illuminating the room. Although it would still be a little time until she woke up, he could see her well enough. Love is the weirdest thing. They had lived together for years and he really should be used to seeing her by now, but the sight of the young Draenei still gave him butterflies.

All things considered, having to travel through ancient tombs and getting flung through time was really a cheap price for a perfect present. He would get to see her gleefully smile when she got her present. Totally worth it.

“G’night, Love.” He mumbled as his eyes fell shut. He had earned some rest.

She moved slightly at the sound. Through his closed eyelids, Stoen sensed a faint, white light. He knew what that meant. Draenei eyes glowed. The white light meant that Lumililja was looking at him. He managed to open his eyes, meeting her sleepy gaze.

“Oh.. Sorry, I.. I didn’t mean to wake you,” he apologized.

She smiled. “It’s okay,” she mumbled tiredly. “Goodnight to you too.”

Stoen shuffled a bit closer to her under their blankets. “Sorry I just got home, it.. Winter Veil stuff.”

“Heh.” She planted a little kiss on his forehead before resting her head back on her fluffy pillow. “Fair ‘nuff.” She closed her eyes again.

The young gnome sighed happily, content that the adventure was finally over. Tomorrow, he would visit a tailor to get the gloves crafted. Maybe perhaps he could ask Jingtei, she was good with that stuff. On the other hand, she could already be busy with other Winter Veil orders and it might be rude to ask. He knew that she would do it if he asked, even if it meant working long hours and that seemed unfair.

The crafting of the gloves was a minor matter though. There were plenty of tailors who could do it. No visiting Lorekeepers or having past soldiers threaten him with spears. Just walk to the different tailor’s and ask. Easy-peasy. For now, the adventure was over. He closed his eyes and felt himself slowly drift off to sleep. Outside, the last of the night’s stars were slowly fading away as the sun rose. A new day was beginning.

“Stoenie?” asked Lumililja. There was a slight curiosity in her tired voice.

“Yes?” he mumbled as he felt himself drift off to sleep.

“What’s Winter Veil?”

He took a moment to comprehend the question.

As his tired brain finally connected the puzzle pieces, his eyes shot open. He looked around the room. The decorations weren’t there. They had been putting up Winter Veil ornaments around the little house together - he knew they had - but it was all gone.

He gazed frantically around the room, dashing out of bed to gaze at the little calendar on the wall. December. No holidays marked.

“Stoenie?” asked Lumililja. She looked up from their bed, rubbing her eyes with a yawn. “What’s wrong.”

“I, it..” Stoen trembled in disbelief taking a step away from the calendar. He started putting his clothes back on, rushing to the door to get his boots. “I have to go!” he nodded.

Lumililja gave him a confused look. “You just got back,” she pointed out.

He nodded slowly. “Right, I..” he searched for an excuse that did not involve admitting that he may have just accidentally erased the biggest holiday from existence during his time-jump. “I forgot something! I’ll be back soon, promise.”

Oddly enough, this did not make her look less confused. “Okay..?”

As he finished tying up his shoelaces, he rushed back to his bewildered fiancée. “Love you!” he said, giving her a quick kiss before immediately darting back towards the door. “See you soon!”

Lumililja sat there for a few moments as Stoen dashed out of their home. “Love you too..?” she said. She stared at the door for a second before shrugging it off and going back to sleep. No rush, she figured. He could tell her when he got back home.

Outside, Stoen sprinted to the little flying machine Devvy had build for him. He began clicking the multitude of buttons needed to start the engine. He had to find Gerna so he could go back and undo whatever went wrong. Stormwind. Good as place as any to look. With adrenaline quickly causing him to forget how tired he had been moments ago, he pulled a small lever on the dashboard. The machine roared to life and shot into the air.

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