The shop was hot and stifling, the heat that came from the large brick oven adding to the already blistering Durotar summer day. Those few customers they'd got so far today had quickly paid for their merchandise and left. This was all the better for Sarsha, for she was not at all in a social mood at the moment. The heat of the bakery these last few days, and her increasing feelings of being pent up in one place for too long had finally started to wear at her usually good attitude.
Sarsha paused in the act of kneading a large lump of dough, wiping sweat from her forehead with the back of her hand and sighing loudly in the direction of her mother Xanna, a tall, middle-aged, proud looking troll with short, dark blue hair, and a light lavender complexion. Sarsha had inherited her mothers dark blue hair, but her own skin was a lighter shade of blue, most likely inherited from a father she never knew. Unlike her mother, Sharsha was missing one of her tusks, and her light sleeveless linen shirt revealed faint scarring on her arms and one shoulder.
"Don' stand dere makin faces at'cher poor 'ol mother jus' cuz you stuck here all week!" Xanna reproved without even looking back at her daughter as she pulled a large tray of rolls from the oven. "Dah Loa know I can use dah help around here anyway-ACH!" The rest of her sentence was cut off by a low, rumbling yowl, and Sarsha's raptor, Takk, darted from behind the counter as the entire tray of hot rolls fell with a clatter to the ground. Takk shot an extremely hateful look at his mistress (as if it were her fault he had been stepped on) and stalked off to another corner of the shop to lay down in.
"Will yah keep dat bag of scales outta dah way Sarsh? If he's not scaring off mah customers he's gettin' underfoot!" Her mother yelled as she stooped to pick up the rolls.
Sarsha let out another, quieter sigh, and continued on kneading the dough with rather more force then was called for. "He's just as frustrated as I am ma." Sarsha argued exasperatedly. "An' that goblin he scared off was crude!" Her own accent as she spoke in orcish was much less pronounced then her mothers, because Sharsha had grown up here in Orgrimmar. Her mother had moved to the large city when Sharsha was just a baby, and had finally opened her bakery after saving up for several years.
"Yah let me deal with mah customers dah way I will!" her mother scolded. Sarsha scowled, but did not argue the point. "Now, I gotta get some more four. Stay and keep an eye on dah shop." Xanna exited, throwing one more withering glance at the new corner Takk had inhabited, which was wasted on the now sleeping raptor.
Xanna had been proud that her daughter had taken up the way of the hunter, even if it meant she had less help in the shop. She had grown up in a time where female trolls were seen as little more then objects, and were not allowed much responsibility in the tribe. So when Xanna's husband had left the village, and her with child, Xanna had been treated like a burden, unable to take care of herself. This was what had moved her to strike out on her own, and she had tried to instill in her daughter all the stubborn will she possessed. Unfortunately while Sarsha had her mothers wit, and intelligence, she did not have much of her self reliance and confidence.
The shop was much to small to need a bell over the door. The sound of the wood scraping the stone floor was enough to alert the presence of a customer no matter where one stood in the tiny building. When the familiar scrapping noise sounded, Sarsha looked up from her abused dough, and saw a tall troll in plate armor with a fiery mane enter the bakery. Her entire countenance shifted at once, smiling widely, she left the counter where she worked and threw her arms around the newcomer in a happy embrace.
"My aren't we friendly. Dis yah friend I take it Rhashan?" The owner of the voice stepped through the door behind the troll warrior. Sarsha quickly let go of her old friend and eyed the strange female troll apprehensively. She was quite beautiful, with a smooth, unmarred. sky blue complexion, and long, bright fuchsia colored hair worn in a braid. She wore many gold bracelets and bangles, earrings with large gems in them, and a blue cloth robe with lovely silver trim and a very revealing neckline. Sarsha suddenly felt very aware of how sweaty, and disheveled she was.
Rhashan looked sheepish as Sarsha stepped back, and she felt momentarily confused, as they had been friends for many years, and Sarsha often greeted him this way. However her confusion went away at once as the exotic female moved next to Rhashan and attached herself possessively to his arm. A small shock of jealousy surged through Sharsha's belly, but she kept her expression schooled, and smiled warmly at the new troll.
"Heh, dis be Kay'ta Sarsh," Rhashan introduced. "She's why Ah'm here. Kay be a mage, an' she says she can 'port us to Dalaran wit' her tonight!" He finished smiling widely at his friend, clearly expecting her to be as excited as he.
Sarsha forced a grin on her face, though inwardly two emotions fought each other. They'd been stuck in Orgrimmar all week because the Zeppelin to Borean had broke down. The goblins had informed all those who were needing a trip that it wouldn't be operational for at least four more days. As Sarsha and Rhashan had been hoping to be in Icecrown by now, on their way to the Argent Tournament grounds, this had been a very irritating delay. However, Sharsha did not relish the thought of traveling with this new love interest of Rhashan's either.
Sarsha and Rhashan had known each other for many years, and had tramped all over the many far reaches of Azeroth together. They had always been very close friends, though for some time now Sarsha had found herself secretly wishing to be more. Rhashan however seemed to find interest in almost any female that crossed his path except herself.
"That's excellent." She finally managed to blurt out, still smiling rather woodenly. "How much do you charge?"
"No payment necessary, Rhashan's arranged everything already." The mage cooed, her bedroom eyes only for him, implying only too clearly Rhashan's payment was in something other then gold.
Feeling her annoyance begin to rise again, she turned and went back to her doughy punching bag. "Good. Great. Well, I'll just finish up helpin' ma, an' get packed up in time to leave tonight."
Finally turning her gaze from Rhashan Kay'ta appraised Sharsha with a grin in her eyes. "Meet us in dah Valley of Spirits an hour before sunset. An' be on time, I cannot wait around all night." She seemed to immensely enjoy this small power she held for the moment. Sarsha simply nodded to her dough, not even wanting to meet the mages challenging stare.
Smiling self importantly, Kay'ta made to lead Rhashan from the shop, however, the warrior stayed put. "Go on, Ah'll meet yah tonight." He murmured. Kay'ta looked rather put out by his refusal to leave with her, however, she was mollified by the rather punch-drunk look he still held for her. Fluttering her lashes at him, the mage left the shop, walking with rather more wiggle then was necessary.
Rhashan seemed to gaze after her a moment later, then as if the bubble in his brain popped he turned back and grinned at Sarsha. "Ain' she amazin'!" He sighed, finally moving away from the door and coming to lean against the counter near Sarsha.
'Yeah, amazing." she replied with a scowl on her face and a bit more sarcasm in her voice then she'd intended. Realizing her mistake she quickly smiled at her friend, hoping he didn't catch her surly demeanor towards his new love interest. However Rhas had known her far to long to have not noticed the slip in her attitude.
"Was' dah matter Sarsh? I thought yah'd be excited to finally get goin'!" he asked with a playful grin.
Sarsha sighed, and put her dough in a wooden bowl, covering it with a piece of damp linen cloth. "I am excited," she said smiling at the warrior, this time much more earnestly. "I'm jus' a little cranky is all, what with being cooped up here at home for so long. An' I haven't gotten much sleep lately..." she stated the last slightly more quietly, and rubbed at one of the faded scars on her shoulder, not meeting Rhashan's gaze. Though not the reason she had been annoyed with the presence of Kay'ta, both statements were true, and Sarsha had not planned on revealing the last one to her friend for fear of his worry.
Just as she knew it would Rhashan's face darkened. "Yah be havin' dose dreams again Sarsh?" he asked, concern, and the slightest shadow of anger written on his face. Sarsha knew he'd always blamed himself for what had happened, though she wished he wouldn't.
She looked down at her flour covered hands. "Yeah, but it's still the same. I wake up terrified, but can't remember what I dreampt about." Nor do I want to, she added to herself.
Three years ago, she and Rhas were to take up some work in Stranglethorn Vale. She had gone ahead, as Rhashan had to stay behind to finish up some business he had left. Sarsha, being impatient, decided to try and take on some of the jobs herself while she was there waiting for him. Sharsha can't remember on which task she'd been trying to complete that things went wrong, in fact, an entire day of her life has almost been wiped from her memory, as if a hole had been punched in her mind.
The guards at Grom'gol told her that a member of the Alliance had left her battered and bruised body outside the camp the next morning. They say that the paladin must have attacked her. Sarsha could not tell them why, or even what had happened, as all she could remember was leaving the camp the morning before. However, though Sarsha believed the guards story of the draenei leaving her near dead at the camp, something still did not click right to her.
Sarsha's mother told her it was because the memory was so painful to her, she had forced herself to forget it. Despite the fact that she could not remember her attack, that day in Stranglethorn had scarred her somewhere much more deeply then the quickly healed scars on her flesh. She stayed near home for a while after that. Mostly spending her time helping her mother in the shop, or hiking around the northern area of the Barrens.
It was in the Barrens that Sarsha found and tamed Takk. Almost half a year had passed at this time. The taming had been difficult. And even afterward the raptor had been wily and disobedient. However, he was the single biggest thing that had helped her recover her confidence. Soon after Sarsha left home again, though she never returned to the Vale, and was always careful to never venture out alone.
Rhashan grunted and played with a string of bones tied to his belt. Sarsha had heard that after she had returned home, and Rhas had gone back out adventuring, that he had spent his time killing Alliance. She also heard that the bones on that string came from the Alliance he'd killed. Sarsha never knew for certain however, and she never asked.
"I shoulda been dere." he growled to himself.
Sarsha glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. They'd had this conversation many times before. And she always knew this was how it ended, because even though she longed to continue it and tell him it wasn't his fault, she was a coward. She'd let him continue to beat himself up over it so the subject could drop, and she wouldn't have to think about it anymore.
Just then a most welcome distraction came in the form of Sarsh's mother returning with a huge sack of flour.
"Rhas mah boy, jus' dah strappin' warrior Ah wanted tah see. Come get dis great heavy bag off yah mama Xanna!" she ordered as she tried to drag the flour into the shop.
Laughing, Rhashan helped her pull the sack through the door. And as Sarsha's mother deplored Rhas for how thin he'd gotten and tried to fill his hands with sweet rolls and pies, Sarsha smiled, sighed, and once again let her thoughts of Stranglethorn sink back down to the bottom of her mind.