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Zlinka's Winter Veil ((Oryx and I are back!))
Zlinka waded into the surf on Echo Isles. The foam hissed toward her and flowed over her feet. Zlinka welcomed the waves with a smile. She advanced toward the breakline to greet them, bracing herself sideways against the incoming and outgoing water that pulled at her shins. She waded deeper, and a large wave rose up to meet her. It stood over her, vertical, curling over her head. She dove into the wall of water, dove deep, and felt the turbulence of the breaker roll down her back. She emerged in safety in the gentle turquoise ocean beyond the breakers. She treaded water, her unbraided hair floating around her shoulders, bobbing up and down with the swells.

Zlinka looked back at the island. Little thatched huts stood in the shade of the palm trees, huts with walls open to the warm breeze, hammocks swinging gently within. Figures were moving about between the huts. The stooped figures of Zlinka's uncles and brothers, the lithe forms of Zlinka's aunts and sisters, and many darting forms of little nieces, nephews and cousins. Zlinka could just spy her mother sitting by a cauldron, preparing the evening's Winter Veil feast, and her father, an old one-eyed shaman, directing the younger trolls to dig the firepit and gather firewood and heating stones for cooking. Zlinka's father had lost his eye in a battle against the Alliance, but he carried the teeth of the dwarf who did it in a bag around his neck. A fair trade, he always said. As a child, Zlinka had loved to sit on his lap and hear the story, counting out the teeth into her palm.

Zlinka saw Oryx's massive form emerge from a hut, carrying little Luna on his shoulder. An aunt of Zlinka's passed by and lifted the baby down, cooing and laughing over her. A crowd of little trolls swept around them, and Zlinka knew Luna would spend the next few hours passed from relative to relative, her hooves hardly touching the ground.

Oryx ambled onto the beach and lay down in the sun. He waved a hand and cast a Fire Resist totem for protection against sunburn, and lay back in the sand. He had earned his rest today. He had spent the entire day before fishing with her father. They had been up before dawn, pacing across the surface of the ocean and poking at the surface with their fishing poles, casting their shamanic far sight under the waves to find where the fish were hidden. Oryx had brought a few bottles of ale in his pack, frost shocked periodically to keep them chilled. They had spent the whole day out there, heads bobbing up and down, until they had as many fish as they could carry.

Then today Oryx had worked hard all morning, baking dozens of loaves of his acclaimed Mulgore spice bread for the evening's feast. He had had to shoo the smaller trolls away from the cooling bread. Even so, every time he turned around another loaf or two were missing and he'd hear the sound of crunching, giggling, and running feet. It didn't matter, though. Zlinka's family always cooked enough for two tribes, then gasped over the quantity of leftovers. There would be plenty to eat for everyone.

Zlinka dove deep underwater. She swam over a landscape of corals, a fantasy world of shimmering colors and dancing light. Deep red corals grew like stubby trees. Fan-like corals waved in the gentle current. Brightly colored reef fish darted in and among the coral like birds. Yellow fish the size of her palm swam in front of her. A school of fish with black and white stripes swarmed to her right. A chunky brown fish with polka dots and tiny fins flitted into a fissure between the coral. Deep velvety-black fish with purple tails, fish as big as Oryx's hoofprint, swam lazily by. The light filtered through the surface waves onto her outstretched arms and hands. Zlinka felt like she was flying.

In a fissure, Zlinka spied the jointed legs of a makura crab. She unsheathed her dagger. A lunge, a swirl of sand, and Zlinka rose to the surface with the crab -- the last one needed for the night's feast. She swam toward the shore with her crab and joined her mother and other relatives in the shade of the palm trees. They were surrounded by piles of whole fish, crabs, gnomes, boars and small raptors. Stone knives flicked and sliced, offal flew into a pile while meat ready for cooking landed on mats of wide, green leaves at their feet. The palm fronds above rustled. Zlinka grabbed a knife and settled in to listen to the latest family gossip and help prepare the meal.

The chatter covered many topics, and Zlinka listened quietly. She learned how her nieces and nephews were faring against the troggs in Ragefire Chasm beneath Orgrimmar, and how some older cousins had ventured into Razorfen and killed some quillboars. An uncle showed off some recent wounds from the naga in Azshara, and an aunt displayed a fang from a chillwind chimera from Winterspring. Two cousins bragged about killing giant scorpions in Silithus and passed around a stinger. Zlinka smiled, but said nothing. She was busy sorting gnomes.

Zlinka picked up a gnome and examined it with a critical eye to determine whether it was a spellcaster or a meleer. Meleers were tough and needed to go into the stew pot; spellcasters were were naturally tender and were spitted over the fire. This one's silken robes and soft hands showed it was a spellcaster. Zlinka deftly beheaded it and tossed the head into a pile. An uncle was processing those, removing the scalps -- nobody wants hair in their soup -- and cracking the skulls to let the cooking water in so it could liquify the brains and make a tasty broth. Zlinka sighed. Brains were so high in cholesterol. But it was a delicious meal, and only came once a year, so it was well-worth it. One must know when to splurge!

Zlinka deftly gutted her gnome with a bone knife and put it in the pile for roasting. A cousin took gnomes from the pile, wrapped each one loosely in a banana leaf for flavor, and spitted them, alternating between whole, gutted fish and gnomes on a single spit. It was important to combine the two to get a proper melding of flavors. The spits would be stuck in the ground and tilted over the open roasting pit where they would cook in the rising heat, juices dripping down onto the boars, raptorlings, and sweet potatoes roasting below.

After a while Zlinka noticed her mother darting sideways glances in her direction. Zlinka straightened up. Was it her posture? Her mother was very picky about posture for female trolls. Males were a lost cause, but Zlinka's mother did like her daughters to stand tall.

But it wasn't posture. Her mother leaned over and whispered, "Why don't you bring out those daggers of yours? They're so much sharper than these little stone knives."

Zlinka considered. She didn't like using her Molten Core weapons for cooking. It took forever to get rid of the smell. But she had to admit that her daggers were far sharper than anything else on the island, and they did have a lot of meat to get through. They would be perfect for this task. She handed her mother the Gutgore Ripper and took the Corehound Tooth for herself.

Zlinka's mother examined the Ripper critically. A green aura throbbed faintly around the blade, lighting her fingers with an eerie light. Wisps of black smoke flowed over her palm and through her fingers, dissipating into the air before they reached the ground. Aunts and uncles and cousins stopped their tasks to look at the weapon. A few reached out to touch it, but Zlinka's mother's hand closed firmly around the hilt. Zlinka's mother was a rogue herself, and she knew a good weapon when she held one. She smiled proudly at her daughter, but only asked, "Zee, do you think these fancy enchantments will flavor the meat?"

Zlinka shook her head. "Nope. Eveline of Ironsong enchanted them. They're top quality hexes, they won't rub off. Just don't use it to disjoint gnomes, it's too wide for that kind of twisting and you might chip the blade. Use a boning knife for that."

Her mother nodded, and drew the blade down the belly of the fish. It was just the lightest of touches, but the fish split wide. The edges of the cut glistened clean and smooth. Her mother smiled with satisfaction.

Oryx snoozed on the beach while two little trolls built a sand fortress near his feet. Zlinka could hear Luna's baby laughter coming from under one of the huts, among a crowd of her cousins. Three little trolls -- first cousins once removed -- crept up to Zlinka's feet. One said, "Tell us about the corehounds again, Aunty Zee." And in a low voice, Zlinka told them, stomping her feet for the stunhounds, and having them spin in circles till they fell over for the confusion hounds. Before long, they collapsed into a pile of giggles and cried, "Again! again!" And so the afternoon wore away.

The Winter's Veil feast that night was a great success. By the firelight, trolls helped themselves to flaky white fish meat, so tender it almost melted in the mouth. Great slices of roast pork and raptorling followed, the juices soaked up with chunks of Oryx's spice bread. Everyone had one or two gnomes apiece, pulling the flavorful meat from the bones with their teeth, teasing away the last shreds with their tusks. They cracked the crabs with stones and dissected the meat from the claws, dipping spears of pink crabflesh in bowls of melted butter near the fire. Most of the dipping bowls were made of gourds, but Zlinka spied her Nightslayer shoulderpads in there, too, requisitioned earlier in the day by an aunt. They speared baked potatoes with pointed sticks and lifted them from the roasting pit, split them open, and mashed great pats of butter into the steaming yellow flesh.

After dinner, there was dancing. A few people ran to get drums from the huts, another dashed off to get a set of pipes and a flute. As the sparks rose from the fire into the starry blackness above, silhouettes stomped and spun around the fire. The waves broke and hissed onto the beach a few dozen yards away. Oryx and Zlinka danced around the fire until they were tired, and jumped into the sea to cool off. Then they sat back and watched the dancers, Luna fast asleep on Zlinka's shoulder. Oryx pounded purple lotus flowers with his mortar and pestle and handed out Elixirs of Dream Vision to the dancers as they passed by.

The dancing lasted late into the night. Long before it was over, Zlinka carried Luna to her hammock, then climbed into her own just above Luna's. The hammock swung gently on its ropes. Zlinka lay back and watched the stars. She had spent so many nights like this as a girl... it was like being a child again. But the soft breathing of her daughter reminded Zlinka she was a grown-up now, and brought her full circle. Listening to the dancers and the crackling fire, the breaking waves and rustling palm fronds, Zlinka smiled drowsily and fell asleep.

Happy Winter's Veil and Happy New Year, Ironsong!

((OOC: We just got back from our vacation in Hawaii! Pictures of Luna here:
((Thank you for a great story - the telling is fair enough that we won't turn the Zlinka family in to Thrall for eating gnomes! They hardly count as sentient, I hear...))

"She is a soothsayer. She’s a mystic. She is a witch doctor, able to see into people’s hearts and minds. She’s also touched by the elements." -Naomie Harris
Shillatae Wrote:((Thank you for a great story - the telling is fair enough that we won't turn the Zlinka family in to Thrall for eating gnomes! They hardly count as sentient, I hear...))

*Bows deeply* Thank you! The recipe is an old, old family tradition for Winter's Veil. I remember sorting gnomes when I was barely larger than they were. *nostalgic smile*

And if you think about it, one must do something with all this battleground take... it seems a shame to let it go to waste. We do draw the line at dwarves, though -- they taste gamey, and they sit rather heavily in the stomach. Though I have heard that dried, smoked dwarf jerky makes good travel food... but I've never tried it myself.

Welcome back, Z, and Oryx and Baby Luna too!

((cant see the picture, tells me there is no post for that topic))
Merrina Wrote:Welcome back, Z, and Oryx and Baby Luna too!

((cant see the picture, tells me there is no post for that topic))

I fixed it -- try the link now.


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