“You didn’t need to act that way to Elena, you know. She’s been very helpful,” Llorrin told Irewyth as they finished crossing the bridge.
“For now. Soon, she’ll want something in return…” Irewyth said, walking very slowly in the direction of her cabin.
"You act as if you know her," Llorrin said, taken aback by Irewyth's hostility towards Elena.
Irewyth shrugged. “I know her kind,” Irewyth said as the two marines posted on the deck saluted as Llorrin and Irewyth walked past them. Then they got to work on pulling the bridge connecting both ships back in. The deck was empty apart from them and a couple of water elementals that were patrolling about.
“Really,” Llorrin said. “You’ve hardly talked to her for more than two seconds.”
“Trust me. I used to be a handmaiden for snobs like her before it was discovered I had magic potential and left my home for Dalaran.”
That caught Llorrin off guard. Save for one or two occasions where she’d talked about Dalaran, Irewyth never mentioned anything about her past.
“I have a hard time imagining you being submissive,” he told her.
“I wasn’t, that’s why I hated it so much. We needed the money though, so I put up with those snobs,” Irewyth said, scowling at the memory.
“It’s even harder imagining you being poor…” Llorrin said with one eye on Irewyth’s richly decorated vestments.
“I wasn’t poor,” Irewyth said, raising an eyebrow reprimandingly. “We just didn’t have many other options, since my parents were both useless.”
“So you had to pull the chestnuts out of the fire. Was being a handmaiden for some snotty brats really all that horrible, though?”
“Doing chores was the better part of the job. Growing up alongside them and pretending to be their friends was the worst part. Even as a child I was pretty. I suppose they couldn’t stand that. Children can be more cruel than orcs, Llorrin.”
“… and you couldn’t defend yourself because your parents needed you to have the job. That’s harsh,” Llorrin sympathized.
The corners of Irewyth’s mouth curled up into a thin smile. “I certainly didn’t lack the character, even at that age. All that meant was that I had to keep my anger within me, though.”
“I understand; You shouldn’t take it out on Fairmount, though. Trust me, she hasn’t had it easy, either,” Llorrin said.
“Oh, I got over it long ago,” Irewyth said, suddenly stopping and turning to face him. “In fact, I learned an important lesson from it.”
“Which is?” Llorrin asked, wondering what other reason for Irewyth’s behaviour there was, if not frustration.
“First of, that being born in a rich family doesn’t help you if you’re a git. Those girls were idiots, and remained idiots all their lives because they were used to getting everything handed to them. Secondly, that if such people were at the top of society, I could surpass them if I was just smart enough. I just needed a chance, and that chance arrived when a mage came to the Capital City to test if the pesky noble brats had any magical abilities…”
“But you weren’t a noble… What did you do?” Llorrin asked.
“Faith sometimes needs a little push in the back, Llorrin. My father always loved to brag about our family hailing from a line of mages, particularly when he got drunk... I figured if it was true what he said, some of that mage blood might still be in the family. It was a long shot, but I had to take the leap. I locked up one of the brats and stole some of her clothes to pretend I was her, then went to see the mage in her stead. The mage doing the testing hadn’t seen any of us in his life, so I managed to trick him. I passed his test.”
“I imagine that girl’s father wasn’t too happy with you, though,” Llorrin said.
Irewyth shrugged. “He wasn’t, but by then it didn’t matter. The mage was very impressed that a child had managed to trick one so old and wise as himself. As I left the Capital City and my no good parents behind, I knew my time had come. When I got to Dalaran, I strived to be the best. Most of the other students at Dalaran came from notable families. The training forced many of them to tears. They’d never been pushed to their limits mentally or physically, but I’d already been to those places during my time as a handmaiden, many times before… I wouldn’t be the mage I am today if not for the time I spent serving pesky nobles. That, Llorrin, is how I got over my anger.”
“You still seem pretty angry when you talk about it,” Llorrin said, impressed by the fire in her eyes.
“Oh, Llorrin, you really think so?” Irewyth chuckled. “You know me better than to think I never got even. You should have seen their faces when I returned to the Capital City as a full-fledged mage to pay them a visit.”
Llorrin nearly cringed. “You didn’t use your magic on them, did you?”
Irewyth shrugged. “I may have, but if I did I’m sure you wouldn't want to hear about the details. I assure you, I did nothing as bad as cutting their hair to make them look like boys or dressing them up in filthy rags so they would look like orphans though. Let’s get inside, it’s getting cold out here,” she said, opening the door to her cabin, which was located right below the quarterdeck, just like Llorrin’s had been on board his own frigate. Llorrin took a moment to organize his thoughts as he followed her in.
Irewyth was acting very strange. She claimed she’d gotten rid of her frustration, which meant there had to be another reason for her behaviour. Apart from suddenly being so talkative about her past, the possessive manner she behaved toward him while she was talking to Fairmount made him feel strange. They hadn’t parted on bad terms, but there was no reason to think they were in an actual relationship, or that Irewyth was being jealous… Was it just wishful thinking for him to even consider that? Could he call it wishful thinking when he wasn’t even sure what he really wanted from Irewyth? She still made his head spin when he tried to guess at her motivations, so he figured the easiest thing was just to keep talking.
“I’m surprised you went back to the Capital City. I figured you just stayed in Dalaran once you got there,” Llorrin said as he closed the door behind him. Irewyth’s cabin was nice and cozy, and lighted by about half a dozen candles.
Irewyth laughed. “We weren’t cattle, Llorrin, we were allowed occasional visits to our hometowns.”
“I just mean… it doesn’t sound like you left anyone behind you wanted to see again.”
“I had friends!” Irewyth said, spinning to face him with mock anger.
“Did you visit the capital often after you started studying?” Llorrin asked.
“Oh, once a year, at least. When we got older some of us got to accompany senior mages on errands. Coincidentally, I was always chosen. I got to see all of the Seven Kingdoms that way… but the trips to Lordaeron were always my favourite.”
“Because you had so many fond memories of that place?” Llorrin asked, raising an eyebrow.
“We used to sail across Lordamere Lake and visit Fenris Isle on our way there… It was magnificent,” Irewyth sighed, her eyes trailing off like she was reliving the memories. Then her expression changed like that of someone who was shaken out of a daydream by a sudden cry, and she gave Llorrin a very serious look.
“I wish I could tell you all about it, but we really don’t have the time,” Irewyth said, leaning a little closer to him and lowering her voice. “There is trouble with the fleet.”