Pilgrim's Bounty: Dwelfs?

(( Another post in the Val-and-Ovi series, picking up from Pilgrim's Bounty: The Invitation. ))

Geoffar was up to his elbows in pumpkin; he was still scooping seeds out when Ovistine slipped into the kitchen. "Oo! Pie?" she asked hopefully, batting her eyelashes at him.

"O'course," Geoffar said, grinning over at her. "Wouldnae be a Pilgrim's Bounty without me girl's favorite pie, now, would it?"

"That's what I say." Ovistine took a seat and bit her lower lip. "So, um. D'you think anyone would mind if I invited the elf for dinner?"

"Th' elf? Yeh mean Valinar?" Geoffar looked up. "Cannae imagine anybody'd mind havin' 'im about. He's a good lad."

"Oh, good, because I already invited him."

Geoffar laughed. "Oh, I see where this be goin'. Yeh wan' me t' run interference wi' Ellia an' Arktur, make sure it's a'right?"

"If you wouldn't mind…"

"O'course not. Th' lad got any family t' bring along with 'im?"

"Not that I know of. It turns out his parents are druids, so they're hibernating right now. And have been for a while, I guess." She frowned. "I wish I'd known sooner. I could have invited him last year. Or the year before…"

"Nae sense cryin' o'er spilt brew," Geoffar said. He was finished with the seeds now, and went over to the sink to rinse his hands off. "He'll be there this year, an' that's that."

Ovistine hopped off her stool and gave her father a hug, squeezing him tightly around the waist. "Thanks, Da. It'll be nice to have him here."

"Tha' it will." Geoffar tugged at one of her braids and got a giggle out of her. "Now then — does th' elf need any special food or whatnot? What's 'e like t' eat?"

"Oh, he's a fan of good dwarven cuisine." Ovistine's eyes glazed over a little. "He took me to the Barking Murloc not so long ago. He ordered goat sausage with smashed potatoes and a mustard-ale reduction…"

"So I dun need t' worry about servin' a great huge bird? Wha' with th' family bein' druidfolk an' all."

"Aughn! I didn't even think of that." Ovistine winced. "But he's cooked buzzard an' suchlike; I've never known him to avoid poultry…"

"Well, ask 'im if yeh get a chance. Otherwise me an' Arktur'll figure on jes' th' usuals."

"I'll ask. But I tell you what, I've never seen an elf quite as fond of dwarven food and drink than Valinar…" Ovistine smiled. "I think he'll be just fine."

* * *

"Ellie?" Arktur flapped his arms to get her attention over the noise of the forge; after a moment, Ellia glanced up from her work and put her hammer aside. "Jes' got a call frae Geoffar."

"Ooh, how's it with th' Lighthammers, then?" Ellia grabbed a cloth and wiped her face and hands off, trying to get at least a little cleaner. "Did Nancie finally get in touch with our favorite wee lass?"

"Aye, an' I got news." Arktur grinned broadly. "Ovi wants t' bring a lad t' Pilgrim's Bounty."

Ellia chuckled. "'Bout time. Who's th' lucky dwarf?"

"Well, it's no' exactly like that…"

"Oh." Ellia's face fell. "Jes' a friend, then?"

"Yeh want t' know th' truth, I couldnae quite get an answer out o' Geoffar… but apparently she goes pink in th' cheeks when they get t' talkin' about this 'un, so…"

"Well, then, what's 'no' exactly like that' about it?"

There was a moment of awkward quiet while Arktur worked up the nerve to actually say it out loud. "Th' lad's no' exactly a dwarf, yeh see…"

"Huh. Human?" Ovistine had, after all, grown up in Stormwind…

"Elf."

"Elf?" Ellia blinked a few times. "Elf? Th' bit's got herself an elf?"

"Herself an elf!" Arktur repeated, cutting loose with a loud guffaw. Ellia chuckled, too, but quickly got it under control.

"Well, I dun see any reason th' bit cannae 'ave an elf, should she want one. Yeh figured out what elves eat fer Pilgrim's Bounty?"

"Apparently he likes dwarf food an' drink. Served in Alterac Valley with th' Stormpike Guard, even lives in Thelsamar."

"Thelsamar!" Ellia's eyes lit up. "Damn sight closer than Stormwind, hey?"

"Mebbe I c'n take th' lad fishin'." Arktur grinned.

"Jes' dun scare th' lad too badly, aye?" Ellia tugged on one of Arktur's beard-braids. "But we'll see how it goes."

* * *

Ovistine was tempted to take the bowl of candied sweet potatoes Valinar had brought and bury her head in them. Between her grandpa Arktur's cheerful and pointed questions about Ovistine and Valinar's plans for the future, her grandma Ellia's mistaken belief that Valinar spoke no Dwarvish and she could therefore get away with anything she wanted, Geoffar's somewhat star-struck questions about just how Valinar had wrested Ironfoe from Emperor Thaurissan, and Uncle Brandur's amusement at the whole thing, she was rapidly rethinking this whole business of bringing Valinar home for Pilgrim's Bounty.

That didn't stop Arktur, or even slow him down. "Yeh'll bring 'im fer Winter Veil, aye?" he asked at the end of the evening. Ellia was busy packing up some dishes for Ovistine to take home; at least that meant one of Ovistine's relatives wasn't here to gaze up at Valinar and look expectant. Arktur, Nancie, Geoffar and Brandur were all waiting.

Valinar's left ear twitched, but his expression was impassive; Ovistine couldn't tell what he was thinking. Darn stoic elf. "It's a ways off," she said, stepping in. "He may be off fighting–"

"Back t' Alterac?" Nancie asked, eyebrows up. "Havenae been there fer months, meself; tell ol' Gaelden I said hey, if yeh would…"

"I'm afraid I've no plans to return to Alterac at present," Valinar said. His ear twitched again. "But if I do, I'll pass your greetings along."

Ovistine slipped her hand into the crook of Valinar's arm. "An' we'd best be going. Thank you all for the food and the company."

"Yes, thank you–" Valinar's polite thanks was interrupted by a sharp tug on his arm. While he didn't actually move much–mass being what it was, and Ovistine not being terribly strong–one look down at her expression left him backing toward the door along with her.

"Winter Veil! We'll 'ave elf-pies an' elf-wiches!" Arktur called after them. Ovistine waved, and she and Valinar headed into the streets of Ironforge, toward the stable where they'd left their rams.

"I'm so sorry," Ovistine said. She had a braid wrapped around her arm four or five times; Valinar hoped she'd be able to untangle herself without too much difficulty. "I didn't realize they were going to be so… so…"

"Your family is very nice," Valinar said. "Very… enthusiastic."

Ovistine groaned and unwrapped her braid from her arm, but it was only so she could put both hands over her face. Valinar steered her around a brazier and helped keep her on the path; she eventually looked up again. "Aye, an' I always forget that there's me, an' then there's Mum, who's like me but moreso, an' then there's Grandpa Ironhammer, an' he's…"

"…yes," Valinar filled in. "Well. I certainly felt welcome."

"Aye, but–I mean, some of the things they said–"

"I admit, I'm not sure that there are 'dwelfs'." Valinar's ear twitched again; he shook his head and tried to let his ears relax. "At least, I've never seen one…"

"Dwelfs," Ovistine moaned. "I can't believe he said that."

"'Bouncing baby dwelfs', I think, was his phrase."

Ovistine came to a stop again and looked up at Valinar. When that wasn't quite enough, she levitated, getting more or less up to face-to-face with him. "I just want you to know–I wasn't meaning to… to hint, or anything of that sort. I've never brought a lad to Pilgrim's Bounty. I didn't realize how they'd all take it." She bit her lower lip and glanced away. "I'm sorry it was so awkward."

"You make it sound as if I've never had a meal with dwarves before," Valinar said softly. "I'm glad your family liked me. I've had far more awkward experiences."

"Oh, it's not so much the dwarfiness–I mean, obviously, there was bound to be some of that, but–just–" She sighed, braids flapping out behind her. "You've been such a good friend. Family aside, that's what's important, hey?"

If there was a bit of droop to Valinar's ears, hearing that, it was nothing another pint of stout wouldn't cure. He nodded and smiled at her. "You're a very good friend, too, Ovistine."

She dropped back down from her levitate and smiled, but she wasn't quite meeting his eyes–admittedly, with her feet on the ground, it was a bit harder to manage. "Aye. Well. I suppose it's back to Stormwind for me. And yourself?"

"Back to Thelsamar, I guess. I can take the tram back with you, if you'd like. You never know when there's going to be another Horde invasion, and they often like to use the tram."

"Aye–how they get in there, I've never figured. Kobold tunnel, maybe?"

"Kobold tunnel, warlock summonings…"

The ride to Stormwind was never very long, but it felt shorter this time than usual. Valinar waved goodbye to Ovistine at the tunnel to the Dwarven District, and as she disappeared, he pondered whether a pint at the bar here might be better than waiting until he got home.

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