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Aruku

Artifact Contest: Protecting the Future

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Pulling the worn chronometer from his pocket High Cleric Alphus checked its reading for the third time, harrumphing to himself. Late! Clicking it closed and returning the device to his pocket he grabbed a sheaf of reports, filing them to clear his desk of the morning's work. He should know by now this one would always be late and by his estimate, that late arrival should be just about...

 

Glancing up at the doorway leading into the small chapel that doubled as a records room for Hearthglen, he spotted the old man who he'd just been grumbling about. The balding redhead grinned as he came in, a twinkle in his green eyes.

 

Pointing an accusatory finger at the newcomer the white haired gnomish High Cleric raised his voice, “Oh no you don't! Don't even ask, the answer is still no! And your late, again!”

 

Across the room the other Argent hung his head in mock dejection before shrugging his shoulders with a smile, skipping his usual greeting as he approached. “So... ya sent fer me?” He finished with a wink.

 

Alphus gave him the stink eye but let the alluding tone slide. Better to get this one done with quickly. “Since you're cavorting around in our tabard once more, we have a mission for you.” Moving over to his desk he grabbed a sheet, clearing his throat. “Ah-hem. So, as you likely know after the Broken Shore we need every able bodied Argent we have available. However! We also need every able-bodied Argent to be much stronger, as you're pulling the weight for all those we've sadly, lost.”

 

Alphus bowed his head for a moment in remembrance before continuing, the redhead following suit for once in respect. “As such you, Aruku Hitowa, are tasked with acquiring one of these 'legendary' weapons to enhance your abilities.” He held out the paper he'd picked up earlier to the other priest, giving him a firm look. “I remember how you're healing abilities have saved many in past wars. Should it be exponentially magnified as some say these 'legendaries' do, you'll be able to save an innumerably greater amount. That sheet has a few potential locations listed. Now go, I have work to do!” Turning about the white haired gnome dismissed the other man, pulling at his mustache as if in thought.

 

Nodding Aruku took the sheet in hand, pausing a moment to wonder at the somewhat confusing dismissal before turning to head out with a jolly wave, “Sure thing handsome!”

 

 

Azuna:

 

Rubbing a hand over his trimmed goatee Aruku listened to the ghostly elf as he leaned on his walking staff, “So sum'un already got it?” The woman nodded, shrugging. “Ah well, thankies anywho cutie.” Smiling he blew the ghost a kiss, getting only a quirked eyebrow in response.

 

There was one more gone. He drew a rough line through another point on the list Alphus had given him, frowning. Not many left to check. It was still early though and nice out, good traveling weather. Cheerfully he set northward towards the towering giant trees of Val'Sharah, spirits not at all dampened by having no success yet.

 

By the time he reached a good camping spot by a merrily babbling stream the sun was already dipping towards the horizon, and under the forest boughs it got dark earlier than out in the fields. Unhurriedly the old man pitched camp, tending to the down to earth necessities before settling in at the edge of the stream.

 

He was briefly startled with the quickly silenced sound of an animal's squall of surprised pain in the brush. The wildlife did need to eat too and at least it sounded like a mercifully quick death. As the normal forest sounds returned to the area he relaxed, returning to his tasks. Whatever it was had already gotten its meal so he was probably safe. Tying a line to the end of his walking staff he set to catching dinner, letting his mind wander back to when he first met his wife, fishing in a different forest a world away from this one. The memories brought a smile to his lips as he made a mental reminder to bring her something nice from his trip.

 

 

 

Stormheim:

 

Aruku stood staring at the last unmarked line on the list, thinking it over. 'The Val'kyr/Shieldmaidens.' Maidens, huh? Grinning he folded the list and tucked it away, wondering what sort of beautiful ladies might be just down this path. The large lads up in Valdisdall had happily pointed the direction to go, accompanied with boisterous laughs at the expense of the old man's small stature. Well, small to a vrykul.

 

The deridement of the other men didn't phase him, he knew what ladies liked and he knew he could deliver. Setting on his way down the path towards Skold-Ashil, walking staff thumping solidly along with him he beamed. He had a good feeling about this one!

 

He could see a pair of large armored ladies on top of bears flanking either side of an entry gate downhill. Raising a hand he waved at them exuberantly, smiling as he saw them raise hands waving weapons back and point their bear mounts his way. They were greeting him!

 

Next thing he knew there were several loud pops and smoke rapidly filling the air to the point he couldn't see a thing. Some type of limb struck him, grabbing and dragging him away from where he'd seen the ladies charging forward to meet him on the road. Disoriented, he didn't know what was going on till he was sitting in a hidden little rocky plateau next to a cooing gryphon. From behind a bandanna a familiar set of eyes were peering down at him, concerned.

 

Blinking he looked up at the other man in recognition, "Kaoin?"

 

The human nods slightly, looking the old priest over any obvious injuries. "Are you okay?"

 

"Ah... yah, I think so? Whatcha doing out here?" He rubs his bald spot while looking up at the leather covered man, puzzled. Did something happen?

 

"I...umm....just happened to be in the area. Heard the vrykul here have some rather potent brew...." he trails off, sounding slightly unsure of the words he's saying. "Here, have some water and take a deep breath." Thrusting a flask at the man he rescued Kaoin poorly tried covering up whatever reason he was actually out here for.

 

"Oh uh, thankies." Aruku looks a bit confused but accepts the water flask and sips it, not really sure what's going on. "Did ya see where those big beauties on tha road went? I think... I got lost?"

Blinking the dark haired man told him they'd gone away, followed by questioning what Aruku'd been doing out there. There was a bit of back and forth as the rescuer sussed out what was going on and attempted to explain to his friend why what he'd been doing was a bad idea, while gritting his teeth and trying to contain his laughter. "Not....quite Aruku, no. They were preparing to challenge you to a battle, and not one in bed."

 

"Awww. Bed battles are tha best battles!" He sighs, looking disappointed. "Well, guess tha means no askin them 'bout artifact thingies." Pulling out the paper he crosses off the last line on the list.

 

Kaoin hesitates before patting his friend on the shoulder. "Maybe not. Do you need a hand getting out of here?"

 

Taking a moment to look about he shrugs, still not quite sure where he got pulled to, "If ya could jus point m' back ta Dalaran...?"

 

Reaching over he pats his gryphon on the beak. "Why don't you take ol' Bernard back? He knows the way and I still have a few things to check on while I'm here. Business and all that."

 

"Well, if ya's gonna be alright without 'im. Dun wan m' kids favorite sitter left out sumwhar!" He smiles, getting to his feet.

 

Kaoin grins, pulling up his bandanna. "I'll be safe, I promise. You just be safe and let me know if you need any help." He starts prepping the saddle on the gryphon.

 

"Ya call if ya get inta a bind out 'ere, I'll fly 'im right back out ta getcha!" Chuckling he gives Kaoin's shoulder a fond pat.

 

His eyes crinkle in a smile and nods, "Always. See you back at home, and be sure to tell the family I send my best."

 

Mounting up he nodded back, “Ah'll be sure ta, good lookin!” Grinning he threw a wink at the other man, knowing full well it wasn't going to go anywhere with this one. Still, friends like these were better than any physical richness.

 

 

 

Netherlight Temple:

 

'If all else fails, present this letter to Lilith in Netherlight Temple. They have a collection of artifacts that have rejected the people who found them. One might suit you.'

 

Barely even sparing the balding old man a glance up from the letter she waved him off towards the collections. “Help yourself.” Nodding Aruku ambled over, setting his trusty walking staff off to the side before entering. The area had been sectioned off into three alcoves, each clearly marked.

 

Turning to his right he entered the one indicating Holy affinities, looking at the much smaller selection than he thought would be present with a tilt of his head. Ah well, just ment less to sort through. Rubbing his bald spot he pondered a moment how to go about this, before shrugging and addressing the inanimate objects.

 

“So ah... don't suppose ayh jus ask ya's if we c'n be new buddies an ya like... light up or summat?” The room responded with silence and the staffs just continued laying there. “Well, was worth a shot.”

 

Chuckling to himself he moved over to the staffs one at a time, giving a polite nod of his head before gently touching them, one after the other. He could actually sense their energies, almost like wills in these objects, but none of them seemed... right. The staffs agreed. Or was that just his imagination? Stepping back he bowed his thanks to the staffs for their consideration. As silly as it might seem it never hurt to be polite.

 

Into the next alcove he moved, letting his gaze travel slowly across the... less happy feeling staffs of this room. In fact the longer he stood there, the more he got the heavy sense of judging eyes on him. It reminded him of how the chapel clergy would look down on him for his 'indiscretions' and lack of austerity. Rubbing his goatee he smirked, giving the room of judgmental staves a bow and exiting. He knew better than to do more than that.

 

That just left.... Giving the last shadowy alcove a glance he shook his head, the pit of his stomach sinking at the thought of even going near there. Nope.

 

 

 

Home:

 

Traveling along the dirt path wending through meadows and trees towards home, Aruku sighed. He'd failed to find an artifact that would match him, what was he going to do now?

 

Well, the 'mission' paper Alphus gave him didn't specify an amount of time really, just 'as soon as possible.' Perhaps if he just kept aware in his travels, he'd find something before it was needed. Content with this solution he smiled, thinking of what lay waiting ahead for him.

 

A warm, safe home filled with people he loved. His wife Janala with a herd of little ones. Maybe even a visiting friend. Probably burnt food from his partner trying to cook dinner again.

 

Chuckling at the last thought the remainder of his melancholy from failing the search lifted. There was so much joy to be found, so many people beyond those at the end of the road he loved, how could he stay down about not finding some really old dead dude's staff? Far as he figured, strength of magic wasn't in some object, but from one's heart. And if he could find it in his heart to love as much as he did, then whether or not he had some 'legendary' thing shouldn't matter. He'd just make his love legendary instead. Then call this walking staff his wife had grown with her druidic magic his 'love pole.' Ooh, Janie'd appreciate that one!

 

Grinning like a fool he came up to his own front door, leaning the staff aside as the setting suns rays gilt everything in honeyed tones. Knocking produced excited shrieks inside of young kids and the pelting of many small feet towards the door. Swinging it in gently to avoid knocking anyone over he hollered in “Honey, I'm hooome!” Immediately he was tackled by his herd of little treasures, falling over into a laughing tangle of arms, legs, hooves and long ears.

 

Here, in his arms was the future he was working to protect. The next generation, who would in turn protect their kids, and their kid's kids and on down the line. Just as his forefathers and those before them, going back in time had up to now. And protect they would, making and using whatever tools they needed to. Artifacts after all were just old tools that were once new. So perhaps in the future, the tools of today would become the artifacts of tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the last glow of sunset, a sliver of playful Light twisted along the top of the walking staff left outside, chortling to itself.

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