“You’ve never been like this before.”

“Shut up.”

“See?”

Emma frowned as Mallory glared up at her through glazed-over eyes. “You weren’t there!” Mallory fired back, pointing a shaking finger in vaguely her direction. “You didn’t… You didn’t see…” As Mallory sat on a bench in front of the bar on a ship bound for Kul Tiras, she turned back to her drink, swaying with the boat, though Emma was fairly certain she would have swayed just as much on dry land. The barkeep busied himself, pretending not to notice as their conversation escalated. Few heads had turned their way so far, but it was already a few more than Emma liked. She hoped to quiet her sister down before she got louder.

“Mal, I know I wasn’t there.” Emma sat straddling the bench. “You’re right… I didn’t see it. And I’m… I’m sorry you had to.”

Mallory shook her head, staring into the mug. “Was like… somethin’ out of a nightmare… I used to have nightmares about something like that happening, back when you… you know, when you…” she gestured at Emma, her hazy mind failing to find the right words. “The fire seed!” she finally yelled, snapping her fingers. “It was like… like when…”

“…when Deathwing came,” Emma finished. “If he had hit Teldrassil then.”

Mallory stopped. Emma knew that would reach her, the paladin having narrowly escaped death at Deathwing’s claws during the Cataclysm, just managing to dodge when he landed atop the towers of Stormwind. Emma had known a terrifying fire close up. But she had never seen so many dead civilians like this. Her sister had tried to talk to her several times since escaping Darnassus, but always broke down into tears and went for a drink instead.

“Emma?” she murmured quietly.

“Yeah?” Emma whispered back.

“I want…” She paused.

Emma gave her a few moments, and then prompted. “What do you want, Mal?” But she was afraid of the answer. Her sister truly had never been like this before. In the last few weeks, what Mallory had wanted more than anything was blood. Horde blood, and lots of it. Emma had managed to stop her from using her considerable resources so far, but she wasn’t sure how long that would last. She had to find her sister in there again somewhere, before Mallory the Wannabe Warmonger picked a fight she couldn’t win.

“I want to forget…”

Emma wrapped her arms around her sister. “I know.” Mallory leaned into her, crying softly. As she did, Emma gestured silently to the barkeep for a drink of her own. When it came, Mallory noticed and pulled away so Emma could have her drink. They sat together in silence for a short time.

“So if you don’t mind me asking… why are we heading to Kul Tiras? I know the Alliance is interested in getting them to join back up to battle the Horde… is that why?”

Mallory shrugged. “That’sh what I had in mind orig… originally… yeah. But…” She shook her head, then turned to Emma. “You know what… I jush don’t care anymore.”

“You can’t mean that.”

“I mean I care, but I don’t care. You know?”

“I don’t follow, Mal. And I think you’ve had enough.”

Mallory looked ready to protest, but then just shrugged. “Fine, we should be docking in a minute anyway.”

No sooner had she said it than the bells started ringing, alerting the crew to begin preparations for docking. Emma blinked, watching them go, then stared open-mouthed at her sister, who only offered a small, self-satisfied smile. Even while drunk and depressed, she was still sharp.

“So if you don’t care anymore, and you’re not here to push this coming… bloodbath… then what are you here for? Vacation?”

Mallory thought for a moment, then turned sluggishly toward her sister. “You know… why not? That’s not a bad idea… One of the strongest navies in the world and a legion of Alliance elite personnel here courting the leadership… Not many places could be safer right now. Good place for a vacation. Get away from all the murder, you know?”

“From what I’ve read, this place has its own share of murder,” Emma retorted, helping Mallory up. Together they made their way out of the ship’s bar and onto the deck, taking in the sight of the city of Boralus.

“Oh, now that is… majestic,” Mallory said, leaning a little too heavily on the railing. “Not like Suramar, but… a different kind of majestic. Still can’t believe they sided with the Horde… Maybe they’re rethinking that after…”

“Hey, you wanted to get away from it, right? You can’t do that if you keep bringing it up.”

Mallory sighed. “You’re right… Sorry.”

“Let’s just explore the city for now, yeah?” the paladin suggested as the ramp was set into position to allow everyone off.

They began to wander aimlessly, taking in the bustling marketplace, which Mallory found exciting for some reason… And continuing to wander, they found themselves strolling down a wide street in what appeared to be the nice side of town. They stopped here and there, taking in the sights, until suddenly, Mallory froze in place, staring intently.

Emma followed Mallory’s gaze, expecting to notice something out of the ordinary, but saw nothing. Just an empty area tucked away in the corner of a residential zone.

“Umm… Mallory?”

Mallory didn’t respond at first. She took a step, then another, toward this empty square, then into it. Standing in the middle, she turned a circle, gazing up at the turrets and battlements atop the walls, and the large window holes providing a picturesque view of Tiragarde Sound.

“It’s… beautiful,” she said.

“It’s empty,” Emma remarked simply.

“Not to me,” Mallory answered, and for the first time since Darnassus, she broke into a grin. Emma was not sure whether to be pleased or worried.

“Picture this!” Mallory suddenly urged, rushing to one of the massive “windows.” Gesturing with her hands, she explained her idea. “A table running this way, chairs, pillows… The same in these other windows… A small bar set up over here… And back here at this narrow part could be the entrance.”

“The entrance to what?”

“To this, obviously!” Mallory gestured all around her, as if everything she saw in her mind’s eye was laying in plain sight for all to see. “To this little… cafe? I guess it could be a cafe. It could have a little host stand there…”

“Isn’t this a little sudden?” Emma asked. “I mean, it’s no small matter. You wanted a vacation, not a new business to manage…”

Mallory returned to the window, leaning against the stone and looking out over the Sound. “Maybe a vacation isn’t what I want. Maybe I want a… a fresh start.”

“What, no more trading?”

Mallory was silent.

“Mal?” Emma drew closer, lowering her voice to a whisper. “Did… did something happen? To the Shadow Trader?”

“I’ve made a fortune, I know how to run a business, maybe I just want to… have a place like this and… just… make a fresh start. I don’t… know if I want to be the Shadow Trader anymore.”

Author Rann
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