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Introduction:

Part three of the Darkmoon Faire, since you guys asked for it.  All ideas and content for World of Warcraft belong to Blizzard Entertainment. I just wrote the story. ^-^
So, uh, this will be a large advance into my twisted tale. Such an advance, in fact, that there's practically no sexytiems. :( Those of you who play World of Warcraft and have had any hunter, you know precisely what I'm doing here. Kara's leveling and training! Of course, it's sort of set in Cata... with the foxes and flight masters everywhere. But remember the days when you used to have to EARN your pet? That's not. So.... I mean... timelines are kinda messed up. But I digress.


If you haven't read PART TWO OR PART ONE, DO SO NOW! It's recommended. C:

--

I knew a long time ago that I should've stopped my moping around, but I couldn't. Keri made a habit of telling me that, and so did Silas, although he tried to put it a little more gently. I even wrote my friend Farley over the past few weeks, whose responses were always late. But he provided me with help, so I was grateful for anything I got from him.

He told me, like everyone else, that it was time to move on. But no one else seemed to realize exactly what that meant to me. 
 
That week with Jarred was the best in my life, and I sure as hell wasn't going to give it up that easily. 

So I came up with a plan. 

"I want to leave the Faire," I told Silas one night over a plate of funnel cake and South Island iced tea. He pushed the rim of his dark hat up and looked at me carefully.

"Permanently?" He asked, all business-like. 

"Yes. If he isn't going to come back, I'll look for him myself." Silas knew what I was feeling, so I didn't even have to mention Jarred's name. Although the notion of me leaving so dishonorably was embarrassing, and as I said the words I sounded desperate. Silas nodded and stood (though he disappeared behind the table, being a gnome and all). 

He walked up to me, scuffing the dark dirt with his shoes, and reached his hand up. I returned with a firm shake. "It's been a pleasure having you here, Kara. It's a shame you're leaving. You were doing so well with the animals." 

I smiled faintly and turned, once again, to my quarters on the far side of the Faire.

---(that night)

"You're leaving?! Kara, you wouldn't!" Keri said incredulously, looking at me with rage written all over her face.

"But I am. Are you going to try and stop me?" I challenged, though I didn't really feel like picking a fight then. After a while of silence, Keri seemed to cool down.

"No. But, sister.. we were so happy here. Why would you leave for that guy? He didn't even come back!" Although her words stung and she knew it, I ignored them and shook my head. We'd had this conversation many times before. But it was too late for her to change my mind; I'd already packed my meager things and said my goodbyes.

I glanced up to the sky (which never could be reliable for the time) and sighed. It was late, I thought. The clouds had darkened considerably and there was a chill in the air, and not just from the lapping indigo water beside us. Keri shook her head in resignation. 

"If you're going to go, then.. well, then I suppose all I can do is see you off." 

I nodded stoically, although inside I felt like bursting into tears all over again.


I felt like it was a favor from Silas that he decided to keep my leaving a sort-of secret from the other Faire staff. Some things are better left unsaid. Especially since half the Carnies didn't know my name. Remember me, the Shadow? However, he did present me with a last gift. It was tradition, he said, so I had no reason to reject it. 

When he set a blade on my hand, I was worried that he wanted to do a .... blood offering or something. But no, he was giving the dagger to me. It had a sleeping purple and green snake engraved into the handle, curled around a gem. It was a fine blade, and I felt it in my hand. It felt okay, but with practice I could wield this well. And that was it.

I left through the portal in high spirits, sure that I could handle anything that the Elwynn Forest offered to me. And I was proven terribly wrong.


Within the first ten minutes of me stepping out of the portal, I had nearly been trampled by a giant dragon's claw, seen my first giant spider, and almost robbed. I could see this wasn't going to be easy.

Since the portal exited just at Elwynn, near Goldshire where I'd initially began, I decided to start there. It was night, anyway, and I could stay at the Lion's Pride Inn until the next day. I made my way through the little "town" stepping meekly past the armored heroes. 

"Kara!" Farley said happily when I came through the entrance to the inn. He sounded cheerful, though I could tell his mind was working as to why I was back here again.

"Hello, Farley. I'd like to buy a room for the night." I held up a hand of a few, precious copper and silver coins. He nodded, smiling. 

"All right, well, your old room is still vacant." He took a handful of the gleaming copper and gestured that the room was all mine. I went upstairs, leaving him to stare where I'd been moments ago, pondering.

---

I hadn't bathed in these tubs for a long time. Felt a little bit like home. To me, it was a little weird to not be in bed already, for the rest much needed for a day of work at the Faire. 

I had filled the tub with hot water, which turned the room steamy. Now, if only there were rose petals, I thought to myself. I was always hopeless at romantics. I climbed into the water, sighing as I relaxed almost immediately. This was wonderful.

I remained there for a few minutes, savoring the peace before there was a knock on the door. I whipped my head around and covered my chest with my arms. 

Farley came in. "Is that, um, Kara? I can't see, it's too.." He made his way in further and my breath hitched in my throat.

"Yes, it's me," I said, slightly terrified. "Did you ..need something?" Farley heard my voice and I could tell from the expression on his face that he was equally horrified. For a split second his eyes flew to where my hands were trying to desperately conceal my breasts. 

"Oh! Oh I'm sorry! I'll just be going! Please forgive me, I'm so sorry!" I heard the door slam shut in record time. Suddenly uncomfortable, I finished my bath and went to bed.

I got up early the next morning, just before dawn broke and the sky was flooded with sunlight. I dressed in the simple leather tunic, shorts and boots, leaving my Darkmoon tabard in my pack. I even tied up my raven-black hair into a messy bun. I was ready for the day.

Farley was already up, tending to the enormous fireplace. The scent of herbs and baking bread wafted from the kitchen. He spotted me and nodded, quickly turning back to work. 

I ate my last bit of dried meat that I'd saved for myself from the Faire. I'd have to make my own food again. Time to hunt down some rabbits or squirrels or something. It was interesting, really, some of the more powerful heroes of Azeroth survived on things like fungus squeezings or hardtack, or had to loot their meals from the things they killed. I was eating chicken wings or pretzels. 

I supposed I would have to learn how to do that too. I went outside, where the town was mostly empty besides the early morning patrols from Stormwind. It was rather cold out; the breath from their horses was visible in the light. I talked to some of the trainers, and they directed me to the hunter trainer (some politely and others not so much.)  

His name was Benjamin Foxworthy, which I suppose was fitting because he stood by a bright orange fox. A dark bow was in his hands. He was staring at a target which had two arrows in the middle, his fox poised to lunge.

"Hi, I'm, uh.. here to train," I called out to him anxiously, announcing my presence so he didn't turn around and shoot me. He beckoned me over silently. The dark-haired man looked me over once, the fox by his foot sniffing my shoes.

"What's your name? I'd be happy to train you in the art of the hunter," he said finally.

"I'm Kara Hicks." 

He nodded. "Do you have a bow, or a pet yet?" 

I shifted my feet nervously. Was I supposed to have these things?

"No.. " 

"The first will be easy to get. There's a weapons merchant just inside the blacksmith, if you're willing to spend a few copper," he told me. "And I can train you for the latter, but only when I think you're ready." 

And with that, my training began.

--

After I had obtained an oakwood bow and a large supply of arrows, and familiarized myself somewhat with the forest, I thought that I might start shooting. But no, he told me, it was survival training first. I jogged the path from Goldshire to Stormwind over and over until I could run distances with relative ease. Swimming in the Crystal Lake. Even how to camouflage. After that period of time, my muscles had been much toned and I grew much stronger. I was also fitted with better armor, but only by a bit. I would have to wait for the intricate, gemmed, enchanted armor that the more powerful people received. 

And I finally began to shoot. He told me later that I had a knack for it, and with a bit of practice I could mark the bull's eye. I could shoot regular arrows (which were deadly on their own) but was also taught how to make them even more lethal using basic poison and magic. 

It was at this time that my assistance was also required to help the guards of Goldshire, whether it be exploring a mine or killing off things that proved dangerous to the citizens. The first time I killed something (and it had been a mangy, scrawny wolf) I felt immediate remorse. It felt even worse when I shot down a human, even if it was a cutpurse. How could the others manage it? Over time, though, the killings weren't of such emotional consequence. I could just shoot and wipe the blood from my hands and be done with it.

I  had to remember, though, who I was doing this for. Jarred, of course, because I wasn't returning back to my room at the inn, exhausted and bloody, to fall into a deep sleep and disregard dinner for my own personal betterment. It was all for him.

---

"Well, Kara, you've proved to be an excellent student thus far. I'm very impressed," he told me one day, just as the sun was setting and after I'd disposed of and skinned a good number of wolves. I merely nodded in acknowledgement. "There's not much I can do for you any more, training wise. Although, I can do.. one more thing. You know Sly well by now." He patted the fox affectionately on its head. I nodded once more."

"Well, it's your opportunity to tame your own pet. They'll fight by your side and follow you with unwavering loyalty. And they'll train quite easily, too, with patience. Are you prepared to learn?" He asked. 

"Yes!" I said with a little too much excitement. "Yes, I do. Please teach me." 

"Tomorrow morning. When your energy is up. Get some rest," he said, knowing full well that I was eager to begin just then. I nodded in assent and trudged back to the inn. It was just one more day and the next step into my adventure would begin.

My feet and legs ached from crouching and moving all day. But I was looking forward to a different kind of ache to relieve, as well. I ate, bathed, locked the door to my room, assuring repeatedly to Farley that I was going to bed, goodnight, you don't need to come upstairs for me. 

When I threw myself onto the bed, I imagined that there was the solid, warm body of Jarred there too. That he was there to brush his hand against my face ... and other places.
 He was the one to tear away my white panties, feeling around with warm fingers, drawing close to where the heat was strongest. The image of Jarred in my head burned into my mind, and my fingers dampened with my own fluids. I was almost there, so close.. my free hand flew up to my breast, gripping a hardened nipple with my thumb and forefinger. The sheets, which had already been kicked around quite a bit, slipped off the bed as I reached climax.

I lay back with a sigh, feeling quite hot in the cool room. Within a few minutes, though, I felt the need to pull the blankets back up and soon after I fell asleep. Jarred had slipped out of my thoughts, for now.


---

"Damn you!" I shouted to the wolf I'd been stalking for the past half hour. It startled (and, being alone) it turned to run back to the pack. I leaned against the tree, letting out an angry sigh. The thing had resisted all attempts by me to get it to come closer so I could try the new technique that Benjamin had taught me.

I turned around, frustrated. Fuck wolves. I was done with wolves.

"Benjamin," I started, my irritation evident. He looked cautiously at me. "I tried. Really, honestly, I tried as hard as I could and the damned thing didn't work." He looked thoughtful for a moment and lowered his bow. 

"Well... there's not much more I can teach you, and that's all I can tell you. You've learned everything I have to offer." I began to protest, but he spoke again. "However, the next step in your training should continue in Lakeshire. There's a trainer there, too, who might be of help to you. Usually, hunters have their pets by now, but... well, I think you will find it of great assistance." By his side, Sly panted and looked at me with bright eyes, as if asking my answer.

"Okay. Right, I'll go now. Thank you, Benjamin. And uh..you too, Sly."

I left to pack my things and to say farewell to Farley. I did leave as soon as I could, so I could arrive at Lakeshire by nightfall. It was a long walk, and it lay just ouside the Forest. It was a sleepy little town that lay on the banks of Lake Everstill. It was just bigger than Goldshire and had a few more residents (not adventurers.) 

But now, I could afford a ride instead of having to walk the entire distance. The favors and help that I provided for the people here were not for free, so I could buy some things now! 

"Flight to Lakeshire, please," I said to the man with goggles and a scarred face. Beside him were two large gryphons (half lion, half eagle) relaxing in a wooden structure with hay bedding. He simply nodded, and I gave him the silver coins for the journey. He put the money in a pouch and whistled. The gryphon to his left reluctantly stood from its spot and stretched, revealing enormous brown and white wings. Bits of hay dropped from it as it climbed out, onto the ground, and waited for me to mount. 

I climbed aboard the creature, sitting securely where its feathered wings met its body. The flight master called out a word that I couldn't quite catch, and with that, the gryphon lunged into the air with a powerful leap from its golden hind legs. 

This was one of the first times I'd been up in the air, and it had fascinated me no less. The gryphon's wings beat the air rhythmically, then straightened by its sides for a short while of gliding. The stray hairs around my forehead whipped around wildly from the cool breeze, but there was still a bit of sun, so it wasn't too bad. 

We continued to fly over the tree branches and leaves that trembled as we passed. Soon, though, the familiarity of the Elwynn Forest disappeared as a new landscape was broght into view. I knew it as Redridge, and I could now see why. It had less trees, and was covered in reddish orange leaves. Even the ground was an odd, red-orange color. Very different from what I was used to.
 The gryphon angled downwards to where a similar flight-master setup was visible. It landed and I dismounted, patting the animal on a muscled haunch.

The large, stone bridge that crossed the lake and led directly to Lakeshire was just in front of me. I took a deep breath, readying myself for this. I missed the familiarity of the Faire, where nothing changed. It felt like the whole world was shifting under my feet now. But I had to keep going forward. I knew that, if I were to go the whole way with this, my chances of finding Jarred were heightened. He was a powerful paladin and I was an inexperienced hunter.. and hopefully, time would change that. Effort would have to be put in. 

Hopes renewed, I hastily crossed the bridge, keeping my eyes downwards. There were guards stationed all over this place. When I reached the town, I picked the first person I saw to ask about the whereabouts of the hunter trainer. As I approached him, he locked eyes with me and asked in an irritated voice; "What d'ya want?" Before I could even answer, he spoke again. "Go away! Get out!" 

I was taken aback, but not undeterred. "I'm looking for the hunter trainer here," I replied stiffly. His eyes narrowed and a grin crossed his face. Suddenly I got the notion that he didn't want me to leave so suddenly.

"That'd be me, sweet-cheeks!" I hesitated. THIS guy was the hunter trainer? This greasy pig-faced man? He hardly looked fit to speak a decent sentence, much less teach.

"You?!" I couldn't help but sputter incredulously. "I thought.."

"You thought what, honey?" 

I remained silent, glowering. His use of those endearing terms brought a spike of hatred from me, but I didn't dare ruin this chance. 

"Nothing. I would like to learn from you," I brought myself to say, hating every polite word. He looked me over with his eyes and I felt the urge to cover myself from his gaze. 

"Okay. We'll start now. Come here and we'll see how much you've learned." 

The tone in his voice made me want to leap forward and slap him, but I held myself back and strode tamely closer. The sun had set a while ago, and by now Benjamin would've sent me to the inn to rest and begin anew the next day. But no. With Ian (and that was this pig's name), he tested my knowledge in the rays of a candle-lit lantern, and I could hardly see.

We reviewed what Benjamin had taught me of taming wild animals. With a long time of bragging in-between, Ian taught me new forms of the method, and how to pull it off a little more simply. The time with him was uncomfortable, smelly and awkward .. but it was worth it in knowledge. I thought so, anyway.

When it was early dawn, Ian decided that I wasn't worthy of sleep quite yet. "I think you're good to go right now," he said lazily, yawning. I didn't understand why HE was yawning. He'd spent half the time sleeping while I practiced.

"To tame?" I asked. He just nodded once, irritably. 

"No, to go and catch leeches. Yes, to tame you ridiculous girl. Go out, there's plenty of wilderness and equally wild animals to capture. And watch your step." He dismissed me with a wave of his hand and I gladly turned away.

I took my time walking. I sipped some refreshing water and ate a bit of still-chewy bread. I crossed the bridge back, and found on a map that there was an enormous area of Redridge forest that I could still hunt through. I pulled out my bow and notched an arrow. If I learned anything from Elwynn, I knew it was to always be prepared, lest there be a surprise attack from an angry squirrel.

There were two boundaries on either side of the trees, though. One was the lake Everstill, and another was Redridge's famous red hills. They were by no means climbable. And so I stayed along the line where the hills met the trees, quiet and alert. My mind wandered as to what I would try to tame. I didn't know much about what animals called this place home. But I could tell there were condors, and enormous mega-spiders and possibly bears. I wasn't a fan of spiders particularly... and then I heard a sickening squelchy sound where I took a step forward and froze, looking down. So that was why he'd said 'watch your step'. Damnit.

And then I remembered something quite useful from the Faire. Before and after I'd gotten my job of watching the animals, I was cleaning up the "messes" of other hunter's pets, Faire animals, even highly confused citizens. I began to identify this sort of stuff fairly easy. 

I peered down at the brown filth and recognized it immediately as fox. There were foxes here? Brilliant! I'd taken a fondness to Sly, if I could track it, I could... try to tame it... 

I grinned in satisfaction. I'd finally decided. Now it was just a test of skill. 

---

The sun had risen by now, turning the sky into rosy hues and brought light into the forest. It'd be easier to see the tracks now, of course. There were paw prints everywhere, and I sure took a long time to identify the fox ones. I'd already followed three different sets of tracks to an empty den. I didn't even need to look inside, I could smell it well enough. 

It was then that I heard a light crunch somewhere in front of me, behind a bush. I crouched lower, daring a step or two more closer. I quickly drew out a trap, still safe, at least until I set it. The rustle got louder, apparently unaware that I was advancing. It smelled strongly of fox dung. There it was. I set the trap, doing so as quietly as I could, and then began the spell of taming.

I focused my mind, my spirit, power and essence, and focused it. I extended my hands, my palms outward. I closed my eyes to better focus and, when I heard the sharp crackle of the trap finally capture my target, I performed the spell. And felt immediate rejection.

The theory was that I should be able to permeate their mind and expose them to me, thus speeding along the trust process. But I couldn't even grasp the mind of the animal! And when my eyes flashed open, I could see that in fact, it was no fox.

In the trap, completely trapped in a tall block of ice, was a night elf. He was horizontal and his purplish-skinned hands had flown up above his head in surprise. His eyes moved up to meet mine, though his reflection was distorted in the crystalline ice.  I cursed freely, standing. The trap would quickly fade to nothing, as it did have magical properties, and then I could scream at the man as much as I pleased. As I'd predicted, the ice faded and he dropped to the ground, gasping. 

"What was that for?" He said indignantly, and I felt a flash of anger.

"I've been hunting for a fox all damn morning, and you smelled like fox shit. So I laid the trap," I retorted. He got to his feet, and although he was at least a foot taller than me, I did not feel the need to back away.

He muttered something about 'camouflage.' 
 "Wait.. hunting for a fox?" He demanded. Oh, right. Damn night elves were tree huggers. 

"I'm a hunter, I'm looking for a pet," I responded, lifting my chin up to meet his unblinking, bright golden gaze. 

"Oh. I thought you meant killing them." And then, casual as you please, he stuck out a thin hand. "My name's Arathellin. But if you want, you can call me Thell!" The playful grin on his face told me that he wasn't as serious as some of the other elves I'd met.

"Right..." I said, taking his hand in mine and shaking it. "Kara Hicks." His smile widened.

"Oh, you're Keri's sister, aren't you?" 

He must have noticed my face darken, so he continued on. "Um, well, since you say you're looking to tame a fox, I just snuck past a whole bunch of them. They're a bit hard to find, but once you get used to it, it's rather easy."  He smiled. I hesitated. Wasn't taming supposed to be an individual thing? A mark of a hunter's success? It'd be all too easy to turn him down.
But the look he gave me reminded me so much of Farley; just wanting to help. I breathed a sigh.

"I would appreciate the assistance." 

He took off, low to the ground in a far quicker and quieter way than I'd been traveling. I followed, although my movements were much louder than his. Thell turned to look curiously at me a couple of times, both of which I pretended to be looking elsewhere. 

And then he stopped, and spoke in a voice that was barely a whisper. "There's one!" 
 
I too went silent and crouched down, observing over a gnarled tree root, a single fox. It was a large, scarred, bright red fox that was sniffing almost too eagerly into a pile of leaves. I didn't think that foxes were particularly vicious, and might run if I startled it. So I would have to try different means of getting its attention. Thell patted my arm in a signal that it was my time. 

I took out my last freezing trap and set it just in front of the root. The small clicking that it made alerted the fox's sharp ears and it lifted its head warily. It was time. I leaped backwards, so that I would have the time and space needed for the spell. I again focused on my spirit as the fox advanced, a low growl rising in its throat. I once more straightened and locked my arms, palms facing the fox. I could sense its small consciousness in front of me and I locked onto it with my own mind. I couldn't close my eyes this time, so I watched in painful slow motion as the animal lunged, completely clearing the trap, and directly at me.

Damn.

Its fangs sunk into my leg, where it swung in momentum and brought a cry from me. It released me and readied for another cruel bite. My concentration was lost completely, and I didn't dare try it again on the beast. Its black paws dug into the ground and the teeth met my flesh once more. My hand flew to my belt, where I'd kept my Darkmoon Dagger. It took almost three seconds before I'd killed the fox.

Thell, who had not been able to help, mourned silently over the fox and healed my leg. He was a Druid, I found out, the way he used the green flow of energy that leaped over my skin and healed the punctures. I breathed my thanks.

"Let's try again. I can find another." 

We set off again, even though I was already feeling the effects of the lack of sleep and nourishment. I glanced at the trap that had proved useless. But there was no way in hell that I was going to pick it up.

 By the time Thell had told me to stop, the sun showed that it was at least noon, if not later. I gripped a sore leg and sighed.

This time, as he showed me the animal however, I was taken aback. Unlike most of the foxes I'd seen, this was not a red color. Nor an auburn, or sandy brown, or even gray. It was a breathtaking inky black, with white down its belly and splashed down its muzzle and chin. The tip of its bushy tail was also the same ivory color. The eyes, though, were a bright, beautiful yellow. I knew that this, this was the one. I'd settled it in my mind now, there was no question. It was mine.

"This is it." I whispered to Thell. "I'm going to do it." 
He nodded silently. 

I began the ritual again. Concentrating on every trick Ian had taught me, everything I had learned from this past experience, and coupling that with the overwhelming desire to tame this animal. I stood, eyes locked on the fox as it lifted its head. It moved forward a couple steps, but I felt no fear.

I could feel its mind right in front of me. I grasped at it mentally, easily resonating mine with it. The animal hesitated, the ears that'd been flat against its head now pricked forward. I continued to flood my own being with the mind of the simple fox. And then the fox sank to its haunches, staring at me. There was a second of confusion before I felt an immense shift in my own mind. 

I felt a connection, finally. It was unlike anything I'd felt before. Two minds had just linked, and I could now sense her. The fox, it was a her. 

I approached, and Thell whispered at me not to, but I did so anyway. I put a tentative hand out, and a furry white muzzle quickly nudged my palm, sniffing eagerly. I rubbed my hand along her soft head, then down her spine and sides, feeling the uncomfortable juts of her ribs. The fur concealed it, but she was nearly starving. Quickly, I took out the dried boar meat I had in my pouch and held it to her in my hand. It was then that I saw her gleaming, pearly fangs as they tore into the meat. It disappeared in a matter of moments.

"Congratulations, Kara! You did it!" Thell praised loudly, startling both me and the fox. I turned around, one eyebrow raised, and he hushed.

"Thanks for your help, Thell. I appreciate it. I really do," I said in a final sort of way. The elf took a hint. 

"Right, well I have things to do too. Quests and stuff. Maybe we can catch up.. later." 

I nodded while the fox licked my hand, hoping for more. 

"I'm staying in the Lakeshire inn, farthest room to the left. If you want to see me, but only if.. we can talk. Farewell, Kara!" He turned and sprinted for the lake, dove into its blue waters and reappeared again in a flurry of bubbles as a seal. Meh, Druids.

I knew that I'd have to return to Ian, because my training here wasn't done yet. I dreaded facing him again, but what choice did I have? I began to walk back, identifying a path that would take me safely back to the bridge and then Lakeshire.

My newly-tamed pet padded behind me, and I could safely assume that she wouldn't stray. Like Benjamin had told me before, I would feel an extreme connection to her when we were closeby. I could sense that she had no intention of leaving behind the one that had fed her and that she had trusted so quickly. And then, I decided that I was done calling her "fox". She would have a name by the time we reached the bridge. And I already had one in mind.

---(15 minutes later) 

"Here we are. Civilization, Avalon!" I said out loud, breathing in the air deeply. I was out of the poop-and-spider infested forest. But I had one more disgusting encounter left. 

We crossed the bridge, while Avalon shied from the gazes that she received from the guards. Foxes were killed around here, not kept as pets. But I gave them a defiant look and kept walking. 

I stopped once we reached where the slimeball Ian hung around and crossed my arms. He was reclining against the side of the inn, a dirty bottle of something alcoholic clutched in his hands. He looked up to where Avalon stood by my side, picking up on my hatred of him through our bond. 

"Took you long enough. I almost thought a spider had picked you off or something." He laughed at the notion, eliciting a low growl from Avalon.

"You wish, don't you. Look, I did precisely what you asked. I'd appreciate some sleep," I said in a no-nonsense way. He just shrugged, took a swig of something in his bottle and relaxed back against the shade. 

I turned around and went into the inn, paid for myself and the extra it would cost to keep Avalon inside too, and went to my room. As I reached the top of the stairs (and Avalon, too, after some coaxing) I remembered about Thell. What'd he say, the room on the left? I was almost tempted to go, but stopped. He might not even be there yet. He was probably swimming around the bottom of Lake Everstill. I snorted, and continued to my room, my feet aching with every step. I threw off my dirty clothes, opting to sleep in nothing but my underwear and bra, because, fuck it. I was exhausted.

I fell to sleep almost immediately, even though it was still afternoon. I could hear Avalon sniffing at my boots before jumping up to my bed and drifting off as well.

---

I woke late that night, feeling much more refreshed. Avalon was already awake, sitting patiently by the door. I opened it and light flooded the room, causing me to wince. She went down the stairs with a little more confidence than going up and exited out of the inn, causing some alarm from me. But I wasn't dressed yet, and I didn't dare leave the safety of upstairs.

I went to run to my room, change and run back out there to find her, and I heard movement to my left. I turned, and saw a glimpse of a purple figure with his mouth gaping in awe. Damn damn damn! 

Too late. I changed, throwing on my clothes and rushing out the door, past the Thell that had went up to my door. "No time!" I said, silencing him. I dashed outside to where Avalon was behind a bush, peeing. She was just barely visible in the night beside her bright eyes. I sighed in relief and heard the horribly recognizable voice sneer behind me.

"Did I mention? That's one of the cons of having such a stupid pet." Ian. Great.

"Just leave me alone," I replied tightly, not bringing myself to look at him. Avalon finished up and returned to the bright light of the inn, brushing past my leg.

"Excuse me?" He drawled. I felt a rough hand on my shoulder, spinning me around into a particularly dark corner. His sheer size had me pinned to the wall. And I stood there, like an idiot, in shock.

"Don't touch me, Ian." I hissed, trying to get away. His grip on my shoulder only tightened. His insolent little grin heightened when he put a grubby hand to my chest, feeling around roughly. I screamed and he put the hand on my shoulder to my mouth. I bit the top of his hand, drawing blood, but he refused to acknowledge he felt pain. Maybe the alcohol had soaked his mind too much. 

I wriggled madly as his hand slithered down my body, between my thighs, and I began to choke on tears.
"I've wanted to do this the second I saw you walk up," he whispered into my ear, and I jerked away from his beer-tainted breath. I shuddered. He laughed, pinching a very sensitive spot with his fingers. I cried out, expecting worse, but nothing happened. In fact, after a moment, his weight fell away, allowing me to sink to my knees, sobbing. I could see in the darkness Avalon's bright eyes as she growled at Ian's motionless, slumped over body. Another pair of bright eyes glowed within the darkness, too, though. I stared until a name came to mind. 

"Thell?" The figure distorted from a lithe feline back to the elf I was more familiar with. He nodded, silently, and put a hand to my shoulder. I jumped at his touch and he quickly let go. 

"It's bruised. Are you okay?" He asked, much different than the elf I'd met earlier and the one ogling me in the hallway. 

"Just shaken up. I'll be okay," I murmured, wiping my years away hastily. "Since when did you get so professional?"  

He shrugged, the concerned look on his face still not gone. "I do plenty of healing in and out of battle. I take care of people." 

I nodded, inhaled deeply and reached out a hand. He grasped it firmly and helped me up. Avalon calmed visibly and stood protectively at my side, ushering me away from Ian.
"What'd you guys to do him?" I questioned, though I'm not asking for his well-being. 

"I knocked him unconscious. He'll wake up with a very nasty headache later," Thell said gravely. He spoke again in a lighter voice. "Come on. We can go inside and fix you up." 

We sat at a large wooden table inside the inn, which is achingly similar to the Lion's Pride. Thell went ahead and bought honeyed bread and Darnassian bleu, with hot tea, refusing to eat anything himself. Avalon was more interested in a squirrel she'd snagged while we'd been talking, and she ate while the innkeeper looks sick. 

"Thank you so much for your kindness, Thell. I owe you one." I said, already feeling drowsy. 

"Nah, it's okay. I mean, I don't really get good friends a whole lot, so I like to make as many as I can." 

I didn't say anything. He went on to say that he's already fought in places like Stranglethorn and Ashenvale, not that I know where those are. But I can tell that he's far more powerful than I am, but for some reason he's been lingering around wild spaces like this. "I grew tired of the Elven forests. So much corruption there. So I decided to spend some time at the Human lands and see what medicines your herbs wield," he said. It sounded boring, but he was so eager in telling me about the plants. I managed to nod occasionally and smile and he told a joke, but I honestly felt like I was going to fall off the chair into sleep. It took a while before he noticed, and I yawned widely.

"Oh, I guess I'm boring you! Just kidding, Kara..   you go up to bed, I don't want to make you stay awake." He grinned. I fell asleep pretty quickly after that.


---(Thell)

I saw Kara apparently lack the willpower to stand, so I stood. I picked her up from the chair, putting an arm around her small shoulders and behind her knees, and carried her easily up the stairs. From behind, Avalon woke with the realization that her master was not close and followed me closely up the steps.

I entered the room I remembered to be hers, and set her down on the bed. I thought it would be best if I removed the dagger and bow before letting her sleep, she might hurt herself.. I didn't know, did she roll around in her sleep? 

I did so and left them on her bedside table, covered her with the blankets, and blew out the candles of her room. Her fox went to the bed as well, sitting and not sleeping. 

I retired to my own room with a sigh. I'd only met Kara today and she'd gone through so much, the poor girl. I lay in bed, eyes closing, finally able to claim some peaceful sleep.

I discovered that I wanted to know more about this girl.



To .. be .... continued!


                      





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