An Uncommon Proposal
Rhianon decided very quickly that she appreciated cosy dwarven hospitality to the cool cheer of Dalaran society.
A few coins tossed onto the counter at the inn in Thundermar got her a rapid escort to an upper room where the talkative barmaid drew a steaming bath and coaxed some smoldering embers on the hearth into a roaring fire. After almost a good hour’s worth of soaking in the bath and cleaning her hooves with the brush and polish provided by the inn-keep’s stable-boy, Rhianon slipped into a freshly pressed muslin tunic and some cotton breeches, a welcome change over the heavy mail she had been wearing all day. She admired herself in the mirror briefly, adjusting a few stray locks of silver hair, and then snuck back down to the common room, taking a seat at a table closest to the crackling hearth.
After the barmaid came by bearing a brimming mug of ale and a plate of roasted venison, Rhianon leaned back in her seat, gazing around the inn’s common room. The place was bustling and cheery, despite the fact that Thundermar squatted quite neatly in the middle of a war zone. Blazing torches lined the walls of the room and parties filled the tables, mostly males chucking back heavy mugs of ale and swapping jokes. As she surveyed the room, Rhianon noticed on of the rip-roaring groups of dwarves falling silent, whispering among themselves, glancing over to her and then bursting into laughter once again. She frowned and stared down at her plate of food. The Draenei had been with the Alliance long enough that her hooves and blue skin should no longer be an oddity – and even though the Wildhammer dwarves could argue that they had been removed enough from Alliance politics over the past few years that the exotic Draenei were still worth a few laughs, she had always thought that she was pretty enough to be excluded from the rude jokes. She sighed and poked at her food. This would be yet another thing about which she was wrong.
“‘cuse me, lass?”
Startled, Rhianon glanced up her mug of misery to see a blond-bearded dwarf standing at the edge of her table, hands clasped behind his back. She eyed him, one eyebrow quirked. He smiled and continued to speak, confident that he now had her attention. “Everyone ‘ere appreciates what ye ‘ave done fer our folk, saving th’ wedding an’ such. Is an important thing, bringin’ our people together in these dark times an’ we couldnae ‘ave done it without ye.”
“Th-thank you,” she stammered out. “I just serve the – “
The dwarf interrupted Rhianon’s response to continue. “I was at the weddin’ o’ me cousin, Fanny, an’ I got meself ta thinkin’ tha’ even more good we could be doin’, uniting all peoples o’ Azeroth. The Shaman says dark days are comin’ and we must stan’ together.”
“Yes, that’s very – “
“An’ I got meself ta thinkin’ more an’ looking at ye…Well, I’m thinkin’ we could be doin’ much good gettin’ ourselves married and uniting your people wit’ the Wildhammers. We already share the common practices o’ fighting an’ shamanism.” The dwarf finally paused for breath but got to speaking again before Rhianon could interject. “I’ll be willin’ ta overlook yer lack of thickness in tha’ right places and them long legs since ye do got a mite o’ pretty about ye. An’ I, being a Thundermar, and you, bein’ not much more than a wanderin’ type and certainly not o’ much rank, know I wouldnae be raising me family’s status – but t’would all be fer the greater good, ye understan’?” The dwarf then dropped down onto one knee and grabbed Rhianon’s hand. “Ye dunnae need ta be concerned over a big celebration; womenfolk get their heads in a whirl over all tha’ nonsense. We’ll be married t’morrow, I already talked ta the Shaman – or tonight, should ye wan’ to start early.”
“Hold on a second!” Rhianon gasped, snatching her hand back. The dwarf stumbled backwards. “I’m not going to marry you! First of all, I don’t even know your name!”
“Jessep Thundermar,” the dwarf replied over-quickly. “Now, will ye marry me? I promise ye; I ‘ave the biggest ale kegs in tha Highlands.”
“No!” Rhianon spat out, flustered. “I’m still not going to marry you; I’m sorry. Don’t you think this is a bit sudden? You don’t even know me!”
The dwarf laughed. “I’m sure I can learn all ye wish me ta know in one night!”
The shaman’s cheeks were bright purple now and she pushed her plate back, sucking in a deep breath. “I’m sorry, Mister Thundermar,” she replied as coolly as possible, hoping that her calm would help the words sink in. “I cannot marry you today or tomorrow. Or the week after that. Or even next month. I’m just not interested.”
The dwarf cocked his head, eying her. “Is it because I’m Wildhammer?”
Rhianon shook her head. “No, of course not.”
“Ah, mus’ be because I’m dwarf? Ye long leggers not thinking we’re handsome enough for ye!”
“No, I know dwarves I consider quite handsome,” she answered, attempting to flag over the barmaid to see if she could get some assistance. “Race would never be a factor for me, Mister Thundermar, if I loved someone. You see, I don’t love – “
“There’s someone else then!” The dwarf’s brow furrowed and he frowned. “If there bein’ someone else, ye shoulda said, lass. No noble dwarf such as meself would steal another’s lass.” Rhianon was about to protest the dwarf’s outcry, mostly to subdue the ashamed expression that was now spreading across the man’s lined face, but she thought better of it. “I am most sorrae.”
The dwarf turned and started ambling away, head down. He hesistated for a moment, turning back to glance at the wide-eyed shaman and add, “Lass, if’n ye change yer mind, Jessep Thundermar’s offer still stands!” After that, he bowed his head again and stumbled away.
As the dwarf slunk back to his table, the barmaid conveniently appeared, one hand on her waist, shaking her head at the retreating man. “Jessep. What a fool!” She leaned over and began to clear Rhianon’s dishes from the table. “Wi’ him, ye cannae even know if it’s tha drink or jus’ common ol’ stupidness. What was ‘e thinking, trying to get yer hand? I’m sure ye ‘ave plenty of long leggers chasing after ye.”
The barmaid began wiping the table furiously with a soiled rag. “I cannae believe it! I been waitin’ fifteen years for a Thundermar ta ask me and ye get a proposition yer first night in town!” Rhianon wanted to correct her; it wasn’t her first night in town, merely the first she had stayed at the inn, but she sensed that any argument would be unwise. The barmaid then flung the dirty rag down onto the floor, crossing her arms. “It’s an insult! Good dwarf men chasin’ after ye pretty long leggers while us solid dwarf ladies rot! I hope ye leave the Highlands and never come back!”
The barmaid then stormed off, still muttering as she vanished into the back kitchen. Rhianon gulped, reconsidering her positive view of dwarf hospitality. She rifled through the coin-purse at her waist, counting out the gold pieces. She had just enough for a gryphon ride back to Stormwind and a room at one of the cheaper establishments there. Although the idea of a long gryphon ride and one of the lumpy cut-rate beds wasn’t much to her liking, she had no desire to be the cause of domestic strife among the Highlands folk.
And from now on, she reminded herself as she hurried from the inn, she would keep her entanglements in the Highlands to solely military matters. No chatting, no friendship, and certainly no weddings!