The Explorer Task

Jaedia set a challenge. I liked the idea.

She remembered the first time she’d visited Stormwind. How she’d shivered once they’d left the busy, noisy harbour, and walked up the steps. Everywhere was grey and cold, sharp straight angles. There was little green to be seen. She’d felt uncomfortably disconnected from the land. And she’d been so naive. Everything had been so new to her. She took comfort in having a fellow Night Elf by her side, he was undoubtedly feeling similar feelings. And had he not been there, she’d have been tempted to flee back to the boat, back home.

They’d walked through the streets, being jostled now and again, and she tried to make herself as small as she could, trying not to be noticed. In truth she wouldn’t have been, there was such a mix of people and races. And noise. There’d been so much noise. From the yells of traders, guards shouting, people all over the place adding to the inane babble.

They made their way through the streets, stopping at signposts, trying to work out where they should head. They’d been given the name of an inn there, nothing big, nothing expensive, but convenient, but trying to find it was difficult. Pausing at a signpost, they’d been told to move on by an impatient guard. They did so, without question.

Somehow they stumbled into the park. She breathed in deeply, savouring the smell of the green, of the earth, and listening to the sparse birdsong. It gave her a little more courage, that in a place such as Stormwind, nature could still be a part of life. Although, she wondered, why did they need to wall it in? Were they afraid of it? It was no matter though, she knew that if she’d have to spend any time in this strange place, she would spend as much of it as she could here.

She nodded acknowledgement to the druid stood there. He was obviously of high rank, and she knew it would be best to make his acquaintance at some point. He narrowed his eyes, and after a moment nodded curtly back. Yes, he could have chosen to ignore her, a female, following the druid’s path, but he was a druid in a city. She wondered if he felt as estranged as she did.

“Come,” whispered her companion, “we still need to find that inn. We can come back here. I prefer it too.”  She sighed and after a few false turns they found themselves in the trade district, a mish mash of languages, of smells – some heady, some foul, and a top note of many, many armpits – and outfits. And lack of outfits. Each of her senses were being battered. Nothing about this city was subtle.

They found the inn. She let him deal with the fine details, she simply wanted to hide away from it all by now. She hoped she’d be able to cope with city life better in the morning, once she’d had some rest.

Sleep didn’t come easily. The room stank of candlewax, stale beer, and a strange sweet scent designed to mask the odours of previous occupants. There were harsh sounds from the street, she thought there was fighting at one point. She missed the rustling of the leaves….the gentle sound of flowing water. She gave up on sleep.  She rose from her uncomfortable pallet, and glanced out of the tiny window.  It was almost sunrise now. Golden rays began to melt the chill of the stone, to soften the angles and to bring warmth to the city.

And strangely she found herself warming to the city in turn. She still might find it alien, and long for her green homeland. But there was a certain beauty to be found here. If only one would look.

And for the first time since they’d landed in this big puzzling city, she smiled…


2 Responses to The Explorer Task

  1. Rem says:

    Ah, the park. Safe home away from home for a long, long time. I don’t think we stayed at the inn more than that very first night. Fine memories there!

  2. […] I don’t think I can complete the explorer task to the high standard so many people managed, and (despite all evidence to the contrary) I don’t want to handwave a rough attempt and call […]

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