Shared Topic – How I Met My Mount
Master Handler Sylvester enjoyed his little strolls through the streets of Dalaran this time of year. The Blood Elf had seen much of Azeroth – an Exotic Items dealer such as he tended to prefer a more nomadic lifestyle – but Dalaran always had a certain appeal to him. Perhaps it reminded him a little of Silvermoon City – so bright and clean, yet not quite as beautiful as his homeland’s capital city.
A Gnome and Night Elf passed by, ignoring him completely while also avoiding the angry-looking Orc standing a mere few feet away. Perhaps that was the appeal of Dalaran for him. It was a Sanctuary where both Alliance and Horde could co-exist and assemble in one city without bloodshed. It certainly made business much easier to conduct when all the fish were contained in one barrel.
Master Handler Sylvester had the perfect setup. He used a variety of dummy merchants as fronts to ship his exotic items all over the globe, which allowed him to deal with both factions without reprisal. If nosey adventurers decided they wanted to do a little investigating, all roads would lead to empty vendor stands set up beside mailboxes. All they knew for certain was the name of a person that no one had ever seen. They didn’t know his race, or faction for that matter. He was a ghost.
Sylvester caught his reflection in a shop window and stopped. He panned over his handsome features with his glowing green eyes, admired his sharp jaw, manly yet thin nose, artistically sculpted lips. He considered making an adjustment to his spiked red hair, but in all honesty there was no need. It was flawless, just like him. His look, his business, all flawless. He was the greatest urban legend in the World. Maybe that was the appeal of Dalaran – an abundance of shop windows.
I am fab-u-lous!
As he continued to take in the sights, of himself as much as anything else, he stopped in front of the Magical Menagerie. As usual, Mei Francis was standing out front, shilling her own line of exotic mounts. He gave her a cursory nod, barely perceptible to the untrained eye. She returned in kind while adjusting the brim of her hat, tipping it ever so slightly in his direction. They were rivals, but still managed to keep their associations civil. Sylvester suspected that one day he might have to become less civil and cross a palm with some gold to make her disappear.
Mei had never been any kind of a threat to his position as an elite exotic merchant until the day she scored the Celestial Steed coup. That brought her stock up several notches in many eyes. Not in Sylvester’s though. Those mounts weren’t very exotic after awhile. She flooded the marked to the point where the Celestial Steed was almost commonplace in Dalaran. Soon, it spread like a glittering plague and the Steeds were everywhere. Mei made a ridiculous amount of gold, but at the cost of turning the Steed from a novelty to an eyesore.
Rookie mistake, Sylvester thought to himself. She got greedy. That’s why she’s standing in front of a shop trying to sell those great bags of hair and stink she calls mammoths rather than travelling the World like me.
Speaking of travelling the World, it was time for Master Handler Sylvester to return to his room at The Filthy Animal and gather his things. As much as he hated staying at that aptly-named Inn, the Sanctuary enchantment in the area prevented the Alliance from entering the building. He enjoyed air and sheets that didn’t smell like wet dog, but he also enjoyed his safety. Sacrifices had to be made.
Sylvester walked upstairs and pulled the room key from his pocket. There were places to go, deals to be made. He had recently been cultivating a contact that would bring about a new pet he could supply to the hungry masses. The Celestial Steed would be a distant memory. Once again, his name would be the one on everyone’s lips as the benchmark of excellence. He smiled at the idea of people opening their mailbox a few months from now, seeing the package with their new exotic pet, and shouting to the heavens above “Thank you -”
“Master Handler Sylvester.”
The door latch had barely clicked shut behind him when Sylvester heard the voice. His eyes frantically tried to adjust in the darkness, tried to make a shape out of the huge shadow against the wall on the far side of the room. After a moment or two he realised it was no shadow, but a huge Tauren clad in dark, heavy-looking steel. Two giant axes were strapped across his back. “Stay back!” he shouted before the Tauren could take a step.
“No problem. I don’t want to hurt you.”
“Well that’s g-”
The giant axe roared through the air and buried itself in the door just inches from Sylvester’s head. His jaw fell slack. “I thought you said you didn’t want to hurt me!”
“It slipped. Look, I’m here to do some business.”
Sylvester fell back on his usual cover story. “I’m just a simple spice merchant, friend. I don’t know who you think I am, but I’m not who you are looking –
The second great axe narrowly missed the other side of his head. “Stop!” Sylvester cried, his arms outstretched in front of him.
The Tauren slowly crossed the room, the ornate slabs of plate sliding over his huge torso with every step. The floor boards creaked underneath him, and Sylvester nervously hoped he would fall through into the tavern beneath them. But as it looked less and less likely that the floor was going to swallow him, he grabbed the handle of one of the Tauren’s axes. He had to arm himself, and if it meant using one of these ugly axes he’d do it. He pulled, yanked, and frantically heaved to free the blade from the door. It wouldn’t budge. Sylvester pressed his back to the door and tried to maintain his dignity.
The Tauren grabbed the axe handle with one hand and jerked it free. “You’re telling me that you are not Master Handler Sylvester?”
“No,” Sylvester said, “I’m not.” He could now see the Beast up close. Across the room, he was alarmed at the size of the Tauren, and his even larger weapons. But up close, all he could do was stare at the two golden caps that covered where his horns should have been. One never saw a Tauren without horns. It was this unusual imagery that kept Sylvester from noticing the plate-wrapped fist that struck him in the mouth, lifting him off his feet in an explosion of blood and pain.
“Mrglllll…” he cried, holding both hands over his mouth. Blood sprayed through fingers, followed by bits of teeth. His legs felt like rubber, and he dropped to his knees.
“Yeah, see I have this impulse problem. I get twitching when people lie to me, and I can’t help myself. Folks in my line of work aren’t exactly a stable bunch.” The Tauren pulled the other axe from the door. “But we do carry very large, very sharp objects.”
“Mah mouph!” Sylvester screeched as he spit crimson gobs onto the floor. “Mah teeph!”
The Tauren pursed his lips and cringed slightly. “Wow. That might have been a tad excessive on my part.”
Sylvester ran his tongue across his broken teeth. “You think?!”
“Let me help you up.” Sylvester extended his hand, but the Tauren grabbed him by the neck and hoisted him to his feet. As soon as Sylvester was vertical, the Tauren released him and winced. “Oooo, sorry about that.” He patted Sylvester’s previously coiffed head. “You’re okay now, right?”
Pain and anger surpassed any fear Sylvester may have had left in him. “Listen you lunatic, just tell me what you want and leave!”
The Tauren pumped his fist. “Sweet. I saw bunch of people flying around on proto-drakes. Can you hook me up with one of those?”
Sylvester rubbed his neck. “Sorry, that’s not possible.”
The Tauren frowned. “That’s a bad attitude you have there, Sly. Now maybe you can get me one of those Sparkle Ponies?”
“You’d… you’d actually want one of those?” Damn you Mei, Sylvester thought to himself. Damn you to Hell.
The Tauren shrugged. “Unless you have something more awesome than a flying horse made of stars!”
An idea, born of desperation and frustration, came to Sylvester. “A rocket,” he said.
“A rocket?” The Tauren raised an eyebrow.
Sylvester nodded. “It’s the latest things. The X-53 Touring Rocket. Built for two, so there’s a seat for every one of your personalities.”
The Tauren stroked his chin thoughtfully. “So what you’re saying is, it’s a rocket.”
Sylvester’s green eyes blinked. He took a deep breath. “… yes, a rocket. Are you normally this dim?”
“Hey, it’s not like I teach Arcane Studies or anything. I kill things with my bare hands. Sometimes I use someone else’s hands. Or their limbs. Have you ever seen a Gnome being beaten to death with his own arms? It’s actually a little funny.” The Tauren paused. “A little funny? Get it? I made a joke!”
“You’re insane,” Sylvester surmised.
“Probably. Now about this rocket.”
The two sat down at the table and worked out the arrangements. Master Handler Sylvester worked his sales magic and avoided any form of violence for the remainder of the negotiations. The Tauren, satisfied with the deal, got up to leave. Master Handler Sylvester watched the hornless Tauren stand and asked, “How did you find me anyway? No one has ever seen my face. How could you know who I was?”
“I spoke with The Crab on his yacht. He told me.”
“That cursed Crab,” muttered Sylvester.
First ponies, now rockets.
The Tauren opened the door and looked back at the Sylvester, still sitting at the table with the sales contract in hand. “I look forward to my rocket. Remember – keep smiling!”
Sylvester watched the door close and listened to the Tauren’s heavy footsteps disappear down the stairs. Satisfied that the maniac had gone, he set the parchment back down on the table and dipped the quill back in the ink. He made a final addendum to the contract. “Note to manufacturer: Customer has waived the parachute option.”
No one got the last laugh on Master Handler Sylvester. The thought of the Tauren falling through the clouds and becoming a crimson splotch somewhere in the snow of Northrend made him smile.
His broken and bloody mouth made him stop.
This was a Shared Topic suggestion from Strumwulf at Blog Azeroth. In unrelated news, here’s a picture of one of my favorite redheads, Christina Hendricks. I loved her in Firefly. How could you say no to her, Mal! You are a greater man than I.