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Moregil

Search for a sister
#16
Weezil, holding the necklace up with a stick, studied the odd symbol on the back of the jade pendant: the "P" made with a round, ring-like loop.

"Have you ever seen a symbol like that before?" Weezil asked Lucerra. "Maybe among your sister's belongings?"

Weezil held her foot out to her rat. The rat, exhausted by its long run from Bloodhoof Village, climbed up her pant leg and crawled into one of Weezil's large pants pockets, where it promptly curled up into a ball. Weezil tucked its long tail and accompanying radio antenna into the pocket.

"There must be someone in Thunder Bluff who can tell us what the symbol means, and if they've seen anyone wearing this necklace," said Weezil. "Have you heard of the Pools of Vision? I think we should start there."

She wheeled her tricycle onto the elevator. It whisked her into the air. She grinned -- what a ride! She could almost see to Bloodhoof Village from up here. What a view! At the top of the elevator she stood gaping at the view, then shook herself. She was on a job and had to keep moving. She maneuvered her trike toward the ramp and almost didn't make it... the two back wheels of her trike were still on the elevator when the platform started back down. These Tauren didn't mess around. With a heave she pulled her trike onto the suspended platform, then turned toward Thunder Bluff for the first time.

She noticed the wind first: wind sweeping up from the hills below, wind blowing the clouds across the sky, wind blowing endlessly over Thunder Bluff's high mesas, shaking the leather tents till they flapped and slapped, pulling the flags into long fluttering streamers. The wind made her feel like the city was moving, like it was a great ship cutting through a rolling green sea of grass. She inhaled deeply, smelling the scent of grass from the plains below, and the faint perfume of blooming flowers. The air was fresh and bracing: it seemed to cleanse her lungs of dust; it seemed to scour her veins, to travel into the deep recesses of her mind, awakening her from within.

To live here, she thought, would be to feel alive every day of one's life.

A sign pointed left toward the Pools of Vision. Pushing her tricycle, she passed a small pond jittery with cats' paws, then entered a sturdy wooden building framed with two great, sweeping tusks on either side. Out the back door she could just see a rope bridge, a long narrow curve of hemp and boards swinging back and forth, back and forth, in the ever present wind.

She gripped the handlebars of her trike, gulped, and stepped onto the first swaying plank of the bridge.
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#17
Lucerra shook her head. "She wasn't old enough to wear jewelry. Well, at least not yet. She waited as Weezil took the elevator up to the top. Then she and Rince got on.

Rince flipped a page in the book. He chuckled, "This Rincevinde character is quite amusing."

"Why don't you use your real name?"

Rince shrugged. "Got used to using this one."

They arrived at the top and quickly moved to the landing. Weezil was already halfway to the bridge.

"How'd she know where to go?" Lucerra asked.

Rince pointed at the sign and flipped to the next page.

"Oh! Haha. I totally forgot! C'mon Sparkle, let's catch up!" She kicked the Pegasus into a gallop, raced up the ramp and nearly ran the goblin over. Sparkle flapped its wings and jumped as Lucerra was pulling on the reins to stop. The Pegasus cleared Weezil's head by several feet and landed on the bridge six feet ahead of the goblin. Obediently, the Pegasus stopped. Lucerra turned around and saw that Weezil had stopped walking her trike and was hanging onto the handlebars for dear life.

Lucerra jumped down off the Pegasus and sent it ahead. "Oh! Weez! I'm sorry! I didn't see you there until it was too late! Are you ok?"

Rince came upon the two and peered over his book at the two. "Problem?"
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#18
Weezil had just stepped onto the bridge when a heavy object swooped over her head. Instinctively, Weezil ducked. The object landed with a clatter on the planks of the bridge a mere six feet in front of her. The bridge leapt under its hooves like a snake, twisted and thrashed and jounced, then began to sway back and forth in a sickening motion.

Weezil saw her life -- worse, her breakfast -- flash before her eyes. A rich breakfast of grilled trout smothered in a rich creamy sauce made with barely cooked egg, with a topping of diced anchovies, capers, spicy olives, and raw onions. As a goblin her face was naturally green, but the normal ivy skin tones faded to a pale grass color as she swayed back and forth, back and forth, back and forth a hundred yards above the grassland below.

She hated riding kodos, and now she knew she hated suspension bridges, too.

Ahead of her Lucerra said something, but her voice was lost in the buzzing in Weezil's ears.

Close behind her Rincewindy's voice said, "Problem?"

"N-no," Weezil said, focusing her eyes on the firm ground on the far side of the bridge. The firm, unswaying, lovely ground. She was looking *through* Lucerra's horse, though, which was disorienting. Weezil wondered vaguely where the sparkly horse kept *its* breakfast. Her stomach lurched. She stopped that thought immediately.

With a supreme act of will, Weezil let go of the rope railing and waved Lucerra and her mount toward the mesa ahead.

"You go first," Weezil said. She glanced down between the slats of the suspension bridge. This was a mistake. Her knees, which normally had bones in them, turned into cooked noodles. She gripped the rope railing again to hold herself upright.

"I see... ah... I see a path leading down to a... cave entrance on the other side. That looks... promising. I'll... ah... come after you."
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#19
Rince peered over the rim of his book at the little goblin and watched as her face went from green to...well green. He then turned his gaze to Lucerra who was now cantering up the bridge on that crazy Pegasus, completely oblivious of the goblin's troubles. He turned back to Weezil who was gripping the rope on the bridge for dear life, as if the slight swaying of the bridge was ten times worse.

He cleared his throat, "You know, these bridges are quite safe. I've seen three Tauren riding across one of their bridges on their kodos and nothing happened." He leaned forward on his skeletal horse. "Just pretend you're on a boat, and you're gliding upon the water towards your destination."

Lucerra was already at the cave entrance, when Weezil began to move again.

"You mind if I take a look at that necklace? There's something about that symbol on the back that I feel like I should be remembering about it. After my, uh, operation, things are kinda fuzzy for me regarding my life after my rebirth. I can remember my life prior to my death and things after my operation, but stuff in-between got a little hazy for me. It's not really been too much of a problem since the first few weeks, but now..."

Rince looked off to the horizon through his green tinted goggles, as if lost in thought.


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#20
Rince followed Weezil to the other side of the bridge dropped the reigns of his horse by one of the buildings. Immediately, the horse's head went down and started plucking at the grass with its teeth. It hardly needed to eat, but it did so by habit. Weezil parked the trike by the side of the building and fiddled with some knobs and levers. He smiled and shook his head. "Not gonna see me ever getting on one of those things...even if to were one of the larger ones they're making now."

They walked side-by-side down the slope to the cave, Rince taking the outside. He smirked, "It's a form of defense, you know? The Tauren are amazingly...sturdy and...stable when it comes down to it. Give it up for hooves, eh? So, when there are attacks on the city, they use it to their advantage. Sylvannas could raise her army from the base of these cliffs if the bodies weren't so mangled when they ... erm ... Oh look! Here we are." Rince was fair for sure the goblin was going to vomit.

The Pools of Vision were the only place the Tauren allowed his race to reside up on the bluffs. Not many other races were keen on residing in Thunder Bluff. Occassionally, you'd see a Troll or a Blood Elf or Orc, but most didn't really want to set up shop. Maybe it was because the Tauren were extremely loyal to their own kind, choosing their business over the other races. He nodded at the lanky Forsaken standing off to the side. Perhaps the oder was not to the Taurens' liking. He looked over at Lucerra who was kneeling by one of the pools peering in. Her nose was wrinkled.

"Best not to touch that, Lucy."

She nodded. One thing he could give her credit for was her ability to follow orders.

"Come up this way." His words echoed around the cavern in a strange eerie way. "Lucerra, kneel here." He indicated a spot by one of the pools.
"Clear your mind, except for your sister." Rince knelt down and put his arm around her shoulders and took her hand in his. "Place your hands on the water so that they are touching, but not submerged."

Lucerra did. The ripples spread out from her hands around the pool. Rince focused on holding the girl steady as he peered into the waters. The pool seemed to deepen and he began to see a dark shape coming up from the depths of the waters. The shadow glided towards Lucerra until its hands touched hers. She jerked from the touch, but didn't pull back. Rince looked at her face closely. She didn't show any sign of distress.

"She wants to see the necklace," Lucerra said.

"Who?" Rince frowned. Had she been having a conversation with the spirit?

"My grandmother, Maura," Lucerra said, smiling.

Rince let go of Lucerra's hand and held his hand out to Weezil who let the necklace fall into his palm. He brought the pendant back and let it dip into the water. The shadowy form shifted slightly, but the water did not ripple from the movement.

The pendant went further into the water as the spirit tugged on it. Rince allowed it, lowering his hand until the back of his hand touched the surface.

Lucerra gasped, "She says you know the one who made this, Rince. The Red Lady?...She says that Corerra was with her at the time of contact."

Rince pulled the necklace out from the water. He half expected some sort of resistance, but there was none.

Lucerra smiled and nodded. "I will." The shadowy form retreated back towards the depths.

Rince looked at her hard.

Lucerra pulled her hands from the water and stood up. "She wants me to deliver a message to my mother."

Rince looked at her. "Which is?"

Lucerra smiled. "A secret."

Rince rolled his eyes. He nearly jumped at Weezil's voice. "Who's the Red Lady?"
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#21
Weezil leaned against the cool, damp wall of the cave, reassured by its solidity after the lurching of the rope bridge. Her stomach had returned to its rightful place below her ribs, and her breakfast had decided that, on the whole, it was satisfied with its fate and would not attempt to escape. She saw the strange dark shadow beneath the surface, and watched Rincewindy dip the necklace in the water.

She crept closer. The shadow's hands touched Lucerra's. She listened to Lucerra tell of the Red Lady, her grandmother, and about a time of contact."

"Who's the Red Lady?" Weezil asked. "Maybe the Red Lady met Correra at the base of the lift!" Then she added, "What's this about a time of contact?"
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#22
Rince sat down in the dirt and put his head in his hands rubbing his temples. "Damn goblins...." He then realized Weezil was a goblin. "Sorry. Should have never let them mess with my head. "Give me a few minutes to think."

Lucerra nodded and sidled past him towards the cave entrance. It took a long time before he emerged from the cavern.

Lucy was sitting along the edge of the cliff, feet dangling high above the precipice swinging back and forth. Upon seeing him she jumped up and away from the edge. "Did you remember?"

Rince nodded. "Her name is Pyaara. She's a member of the Order of Storms. It been a long time since I've seen her. She's not much for company, never really liked me, come to think of it. But that is her symbol on the back of the necklace, I recognize it now. And her nickname is an old nickname. She's partial to the color red. But...she's nice enough....The Order has a spot in Orgrimmar that they frequent often....I could port us there or we could take the zeppelin."

"Ooh! It's been so long since I've been on the zeppelin!" Lucerra nearly squealed with glee. "That is, if Weezil doesn't mind?"
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#23
Going to Orgrimmar was the first order of business, to search for Pyaara of the Order of Storms. Very well.

Weezil peered at the zeppelin tower against the bright background. Her eyes watered. She watched one dock, slowly and gently. It *looked* steady enough. Much steadier than the bridge or a kodo. And she couldn't avoid such a useful mode of transport just because it might make her sick.

On the other hand, a portal would be instantaneous and painless. She opened her mouth to say "I'd rather we take a portal," but paused -- she'd never actually been through a portal before. For all she knew it felt like a spinning vortex of nothingness, or maybe it was agonizingly painful, maybe it lasted for minutes or weeks or a lifetime in subjective time, an experience that was forgotten once the traveler arrived at the other side. How creepy would that be! The skin on the back of her neck prickled.

She sighed. If she had a stronger stomach and a weaker imagination, her life would be *so* much easier.

Gripping the handlebars of her trike to give herself courage, she said, "Let's try the zeppelin."
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#24
They made their way to the zeppelin platform, Lucerra arriving first. She craned her neck to see if the zeppelin was on its way, yet. The wind whipped at her hair and she patted Sparkle on the neck.

Rince waited slightly behind with Weezil, who looked like she was going through some kind of mental battle. Lucerra turned and walked her Pegasus closer to the goblin. She leaned forward, "Weezil. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate you helping me find my sister. I hope your business prospers, and I'll be sure to put the good word out for you!"

The zeppelin glided in behind her and she grinned. "C'mon! This will be fun!"

She spun her Pegasus towards the zeppelin and pranced around the deck. She stopped at the bow of the ship beckoning the others on.

...

Lucy loved being up this high, wind in her hair, sun on her face. Rince and Weezil had gone below deck. She felt free, alive, more so than ever! She laughed, her voice like music. The goblins, already slightly miffed about having to hold the zeppelin for Weezil rolled their eyes at the Tauren. Lucy looked down at the rolling plains below and imagined Kronkers thumping around with his kodo buddies. She watched as Sparkle dipped and soared around the zeppelin. She couldn't wait until she was skilled enough to be up there in the sky on Sparkle. She leaned against the railing and smiled.

Soon, she'd have her sister back. She'd be able to teach her all about everything! She pulled out her drawing book and carefully opened it up to the drawings of the visions. The corner of the pages flapped in the wind, but she made sure not to let them go. Would her mother remember her when she brought her to her? She hoped and prayed so. She closed the book up as she saw the red land of Durotar approaching.

"Sparkle! Come on back!" The Pegasus swooped back onto the deck and nuzzled against her neck. She wrapped an arm around the Pegasus' neck giving it a pat.

The zeppelin came to a stop. "We're here!" She called to the others.
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#25
The zeppelin ride was much calmer and smoother than Weezil thought it would be, thank goodness. Clinging to the railing, she watched the rolling hills of Mulgore flow beneath them like waves, then the vast yellow plains of the Barrens. The warm, sweet air of Mulgore gave way to the dry, sharp air of the Barrens, then the dusty, metallic scent of Durotar. Lucerra's pegasus swooped alongside them. By the time the zeppelin docked its transparent hide was lightly coated with iron-red dust.

And so, back in Orgrimmar. Weezil turned to Rincewindy, who had emerged from below-decks when the zeppelin came to a stop. "Where does the Order of Storms congregate?" she asked. "Let's go there!"
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#26
Rince was actually quite surprised when Weezil went back up to the top after checking out the hold. He, on the other hand preferred not to see what was passing by, far below. It was a little bit noisier due to the constant sound of the rotor blades going, but he would take that any day.

He cracked open his book and dived in diverting and rerouting any more thoughts of heights and reliability. Why didn't he talk them into taking a portal? He sighed and focused on the pages. He was just getting through a particularly good spot when Weezil trotted down the steps and announced that they'd just crossed over the Orgrimmar fence. He wasn't especially looking forward to seeing his old guild mates again. He sighed as he went up the steps.

"Where does this Order of Storms congregate?" Weezil asked.

"Second level of the Drag."

"Let's go there!"

"Let's," he replied sardonically.

---
Lucerra was already back on Sparkle and heading towards the lifts. Rince called out to her, and she turned the Pegasus around trotting up to them.

Rince went over to the stables and handed the reigns to a young Orc who looked as if he needed to lift some rocks or something. He turned to Weezil. "I'm going to go on ahead. Lucerra knows where it is. Just follow her."

He untied the knots that attached a blue and green carpet to the back of his horse and unrolled it with a snap. It caught on the wind and flapped in the breeze remaining several feet off the ground.

He stepped up on it and coaxed it forward. It kicked up speed and he dove off the side of the cliff into the drag. This was the only form of flying that he trusted. He was at the Storm's office in no time.

He walked into the small office. The Blood Elf that sat at the desk looked up and narrowed her eyes. "If you're coming back to beg to have your position reinstated, forget it." Her hair was black and styled. The black and violet dress she wore left little to the imagination. Her fingers were coated in rings and they were now tapping on the desk as she waited for him to reply.

"I haven't come back for that, Krysia." His tongue had gone stiff and he rubbed it on the roof of his mouth nervously. "I...was wondering where Pyaara was."

"Is he bothering you, ma'am?"

Rince turned to see a very large Tauren behind him in the door entrance. He filled up the frame of the door and he had his arm propped up on the top of the frame. Rince didn't remember seeing this fellow before.

He smirked, well, as well as any Undead without a lower jaw could smirk. "New hires? I'm surprised. And I thought you weren't taking any new members. I suppose introductions are in order. I'm Rincewindy...and you are...?"

"Flinttooth."

"Flint...tooth?" Rince groaned. This day was getting better and better. He held out his hand, "Mula's husband or lifemate or whatever you call it, right?"

Flinttooth ignored the rude noises coming out of the bone man. "Yes, why do you ask?"

"Father!" Lucerra leaped off the Pegasus and into his arms. "I didn't know you would be here!"

"Just another happy gathering," Krysia muttered to herself, sarcastically.

"Right," Rince said. "Where's Red?" Lucerra and Flinttooth ducked out of the doorway onto the walkway to play catch up.

"What do you care?"

"I found something of hers, and I need to talk to her about it. Or perhaps you might know where her sister is?"

"Whose sister?"

"Her's," Rince jerked his head at the spot where he assumed that Lucerra had disappeared off to. "Maybe you've seen her? Or do you even give a damn?"

"You clearly haven't changed, except that you've certainly gotten uglier. Get out of my office now, or I'll have you thrown out. Flint!"

"Cold-hearted as ever. I'll show myself out." He nearly walked into the Tauren on his way out.

"Is there a problem?"

Rince looked up. "No." He walked past the Tauren and down the walkway. The others followed him silently. He sat down on the planks and put his head in his hands. "I should have never gone there. I'm sorry Lucy, I failed you."

"No you didn't!" Lucerra said sitting down next to him and patting his back. "We've got all we need, right here!"

Rince looked at her sceptically.

"Sure. What do we know, already? We know she was with Pyaara because of that necklace and the Pools of Vision. We know what she looked like back in Camp Naraje." Lucerra took out her drawing book and flipped it open to the pages with her sketched pictures of Corerra.

"You've got him," Weezil said, pointing at the large Tauren. "Do you know where Pyaara is?"

Flinttooth shook his head. "I'm sorry, Miss, I can't say that I do."

"We know that Pyaara is a jewelcrafter." Rince said, not lifting his head. "And that Corerra has been aging faster than normal Tauren."

"So...What can we figure out from all that?" Lucerra asked.

"May I see the drawings?" Flinttooth asked discreetly.

Lucerra handed him the sketchbook.
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#27
From the doorway of the office of the Order of Storms, Weezil watched the tense conversation between Rincewindy and the Blood Elf behind the desk. Exquisitely painted purple fingernails protruded from clusters of rings on the elf's fingers.

Rincewindy appeared to have some history with this organization. The elf bristled at his questions and now looked like an offended cat.

A shadow fell on the desk. A large Tauren leaned into the doorframe, his face alert at the sound of tense voices. Lucerra squealed at the sight of him -- her father, apparently, Weezil made a mental note -- and dragged him out onto the walkway. Weezil followed, and a dispirited Rincewindy came out soon after and sank down on the planks, putting his face in his hands. The meeting hadn't gone well.

They pooled their information: Correra had been seen with Pyaara, who was a jewelcrafter, and Correra was aging much faster than normal.

"Maybe we should visit the jewelcrafters and see if any of them know where Pyaara is, and if the necklace might be significant in any way." She looked at Rincewindy, her head tilted on one side like a bird's, "Do you know more about Pyaara?"

Flinttooth, Lucerra's father, pored over the sketchbook of visions. His eyebrows rose high on his forehead as he examined the pictures. He looked up excitedly and seemed about to speak.
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#28
Lucerra looked to her father and he seemed excited.

Flinttooth smiled at Lucerra, "These are wonderful! I didn't know you were an artist." He pulled her in holding her tight. "Who is that in the pictures?"

"It's my sister."

Flinttooth frowned. "Forgive me, but that is impossible."

"She has been afflicted by some kind of growth spurt." Rincewindy interjected.

"I..." Flinttooth looked at the pictures again, this time more carefully."

"Those were depictions of events that occurred within the past few weeks."

Flinttooth scratched at his mane of hair and handed the drawings back to Lucerra. "You're joking. If Mula did have a calf because of me, she'd still be with child. And last time I checked, she wasn't."

"When was the last time you saw her?" Rince asked.

"Last week." He added, "And she made no mention of a child."

Lucerra stepped in, "It's because she's forgotten."

"You don't just forget about these things, dear," Flinttooth said.

Everyone stared at each other for several moments.

"Well! I think we should check the jewelcrafter shop!" Weezil said, trying to break up the silence.

"Good point." Rincewindy stood up, stretched, and then went back to his normal hunch. They began to walk, Lucerra and Flinttooth leading the way. "Weezil," Rince said, "my days with The Order are long past. Since then, my memories have been sketchy at best due to an attempt to learn of my past. I'm sorry, but I cannot remember anyone named Pyaara."

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#29
Rince wracked his brain as he walked towards the Valley of Honor. Her name was familiar. And 'The red lady'? He closed his eyes focusing on that color. Nope. He opened his eyes and continued to walk. Somehow, he thought that that was a new nickname.

Well, no matter, the Valley of Honor was right ahead. He could see the fishing trainer's platform from here.

Lucerra was practically running towards the shop. Frankly, he wondered how she could have so much energy all the time. Flinttooth hung back a little and walked with him. He seemed to be working something out in his head.

When they reached the shop, a red-haired blood elf looked up from behind the counter. "Welcome! How may I help you?"

Everyone turned to Rince. He shook his head to indicate that this was not her. "We're looking for Miss Pyaara."

"Pya! Why of course! She's just in the back. I'll go fetch her."

Several moments passed. Rince looked at the gems on the counter. He reached down to pick one up and was stopped by a magical barrier. "Interesting."

"Yes, helps to de--Flinty!" Her eyes fell upon Rince and he expression changed to confusion. "Rincewindy?"

Rince looked up and saw the blood elf standing at the entrance to the back, holding the curtain. She had dark red hair, parted down the middle into two ponytails. She wore a reddish brown dress made of leather straps that was cut low in the front and even lower in the back. It fell all the way down to her sandals. Her green eyes glowed faintly in the dim lighting, and Rince could tell by their intensity that she'd not cast a spell in a while.

"Yes. Can we talk to you about something?"

Pyaara looked at the others gathered around. "Sure, Rince. Let's talk outside."

They walked outside into the hot summer sun. Pyarra smiled and escorted them to a shady spot out of the way. "So, how may I aid you?"

Lucerra spoke up, "Have you seen my sister?"

"I'm afraid I don't know what your sister looks like, dear. Can you describe her?"

Lucerra pulled out the drawings and handed them to Pyaara.

Rince knew instantly by her expression that she had. "What happened?"


Corerra felt the hand on her shoulder and jumped swinging wildly at the owner. Her hand connected with a box the Elf was carrying and it hit the planks, busting open and spilling its contents everywhere. Gems and rings and necklaces sprayed out all over the place. The elf swore in her native tongue.

Corerra burst into tears at the sight of the mess she'd made. The Elf was already picking up the items that landed on the planks with a delicate finesse and with some urgency. Upon hearing the Tauren's wails, she stopped and set the box down.

"Are you ok?" No response. "Don't worry about it. It's no big deal." Still no response. "Would you like to help me put these back in the box?"

Corerra looked up slowly. She nodded, standing up awkwardly. She began to help gather the larger gems, but was having trouble with the smaller items. The Elf had gone down the ramp and was picking up smaller rings and gems that had fallen through the cracks and into the grass below.

She finally straightened up and walked back up the ramp to where the Tauren was sitting. "Well, I think that's most of it. I don't think I'm gonna find anything else down there."

She looked at Corerra. "Are you hungry? Do you have any place to stay?"

Corerra shook her head to both questions.

"Would you like something? I hear there's some decent food in the Valley of Strength."

Corerra nodded. She was starving. She'd not eaten anything since Bloodhoof village and her stomach was now rumbling.


Pyaara finished her tale. "She's been tailing me ever since."

Weezil asked, "Where is she now?"

"In the back of the shop."

Rince could hardly believe his ears. He'd half expected a chase of some sort and having to save her from some dragon's den. Or a fight...perhaps a duel for the Tauren's life. Not that he really wanted to have to duel anybody. "Can we see her?"

Pyaara nodded. "She's very sensitive,...and rather jumpy. I'd recommend no more than two at a time."

Rince nodded. "Better let Lucy go first then."
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#30
Weezil was stunned. Corerra was HERE, in the shop! The mysterious rapidly-aging one year old teenageTauren who couldn't speak was just a few feet away! Weezil's heart pounded.

No more than two at a time? Lucerra would go first, of course. Weezil didn't want to thrust herself into a family reunion, but her curiosity got the better of her. "I'd be glad to go. I'm really short and I don't scare jumpy people."

But wait... she imagined Corerra slipping out a back door, or out a window, and being lost to them again. Weezil mustn't let that happen. She took a discrete step over to her tricycle. She lifted the sleepy bat from its cage, hanging upside down on her finger. With her other hand she tipped the rat from her pocket and let it slide, claws scritching, down her leg to the ground. She opened the terrarium, pulled her little red crab out and put him on the ground by her feet. She reached in one more time so a thin blue and black garter snake could slither up her sleeve. Rummaging still deeper in her baggage she released a ruffled grumpy starling, a little bird whose black feathers shone with dark, iridescent green.

"Watch the exits," she whispered to them all. The rat vanished into a hole under the threshold of the door until only its whiskers were visible. The bat hung itself in the rafters overhanging a window, the starling perched on the roof where it had a commanding view of the jewelry shop. The snake disappeared through the door of the shop to infiltrate itself into any available luggage or jacket lining as needed, and the crab, complete with radio-transmitter glued on its back, crawled around the building to the back doors and window.

"Okay," said Weezil, "She can't slip away from us out the back now. I'm ready."
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