((NB: This story takes place in early September of this year))
There was a gnome swearing in the hallway.
Senior Clerk Dixon poked her head around the supply closet. The culprit was the usual suspect -- the gnome who had for some reason befriended Grathier. Instead of the usual covered pan of baked goods, she carried three pitchers in her arms. Or tried to. The pitchers were large, and appeared to be made out of crystal.
“Need a hand, Dinpik?” Dixon asked. Anything was better than tallying clothespins and mop heads. She wondered why Dinpik, whom she knew was a warlock, hadn’t had her felguard or succubus carry it for her.
“Please.” The gnome flashed her a quick smile. “I thought I could manage myself, but…” She twisted back-and-forth in a kind of shrug. “And the Captain doesn’t like it when I bring my demons in here, so…”
“Yeah.” Dixon took the pitcher from the crook of the gnome’s right arm. One eyebrow raised; the thing was heavy. Strong strawberry scent wafted up from the pink mixture inside, making Dixon wrinkle her nose. “Melted ice cream?
“No, jhom—draenei milkshakes,”Dinpik explained as she adjusted her grasp on the remaining two. “I just came from Telaar. The kurenai there made huge batches, chocolate, strawberry, vanilla. They let me bring some back with me. Turns out it’s a good day for it!”
“Hard to argue with that.” The weather had been between summer and autumn – not cold, but not exactly warm, either. The last couple days, however, may as well have been late June instead of early September . Dixon escorted the gnome into the mess, setting the pitcher down on the nearest table. “I’ll see if there’s any ice left, or if Sarkell can whip some up.”
“Thanks, Leslie! I appreciate it.”
Someday I’ll rate my rank. Though Landreth was about the only person she’d heard Dinpik address by a title. “Not as much as the rest of us, I think. And you’re welcome.”
“Hey, why are there pitchers in a pan of ice?”
“To keep them cold, Thompson,” replied the day’s Cookie (in grand tradition that dated back at least two years, every mess sergeant was dubbed Cookie during his or her shift). “Courtesy of Sarkell.” Cookie wiped his hands on his apron. “Milkshakes, courtesy of the gnome.”
“Huh. No lemon squares?” Thompson turned to the guards drifting in behind him. “Hey, Grathier, your baker’s falling down on the job.” Thompson shoved a glass of strawberry milkshake in his face.
“She’s got better things to do than fill your ugly gob, mate.” Grathier waved the glass away, and scrutinized the pitchers before making his choice. “Chocolate for me. I’ve a manly reputation to uphold.”
“Really? You do that upholdin’ with your right hand or your left?”
Grathier smirked. “Rosey Palms is all yours, Thompson. Hear you’re going steady.”
Laughter broke out amid more jibes. The glasses arranged around the pan of ice were filled and carried off, or drained then and there. Cookie traded clean ones for the dirty and hauled them back to the sink.
‘Come in.” Landreth signed one last paper and set it in his “Finished” stack. Senior Clerk Dixon walked in, an overstuffed folder tucked under one arm and a glass in her free hand. “The poaching and sheep-theft reports you asked for from Eastvale are in, sir. And something to help you cool off.”
Westbrook’s Captain raised an eyebrow. “Oh?”
“Milkshakes from Miss Fogbuster arrived earlier. Thought you might appreciate getting a taste before they’re gone. Chocolate. There’s strawberry and vanilla if you prefer.”
“Very considerate of you, Dixon.” He smiled. “Thank you.”
Landreth eyed the records Dixon had brought in with resignation. Rustlers had been caught working the boundaries of Lakeshire and Elwynn Forest, and were due to go before the Stormwind magistrate in a few days’ time. Any information on similar past crimes that could implicate this band would helpful.
The glass sat, untouched, while Landreth reached for the newest folder.
Guard Adams was not in a good mood.
He wasn’t sure why. He’d simply woken up in a bad mood, and life had conspired to keep him in it. The weather, the bent buckle on his left boot, the tedious chore of ready-checking the spare weapons. Now he had something even more tedious: patrolling from the Garrison to the Westfall bridge and back.
Not even the two milkshakes (one chocolate, one vanilla) had helped.
This is stupid, he fumed. Marching in a straight line from Point A to Point B. I’d accomplish more walking in a circle.
The idea struck him funny, and he laughed. He laughed hard enough to lean on a fence post, hard enough to start hiccupping. When the laugher and the hiccups had faded, the concept stayed in his mind.
Well, why not?
Humming aimlessly, Guard Adams resumed his patrol. Sort of.
11:01 am – 12: 00 pm
The mess had seen a steady flow of hungry guards from for nearly an hour. Now, at the official lunch-time, it was packed.
“No fair taking cuts, Dixon!”
“It’s for the Old Man, “she shot back.
“Let him come down and get his own,” someone joshed.
“He’s prepping for court.” Dixon snagged the last of the biscuits from under several grasping hands. The meatloaf was all but gone. And most of the Garrison didn’t even like this Cookie’s meatloaf.
Dixon shook her head and went upstairs to Landreth’s office. The milkshake glass had barely been touched. “Don’t care for it, sir?”
“Little too sweet for me,” Landreth said absently. “Thank you, Dixon.” He looked up, turning over a page in the report. “Remind me not to ask for lamb chops anytime soon.”
Verin Blackcroft glanced up from the row of salve jars. Jake lounged against the wall just inside the infirmary. Verin carefully set down his tally sheet. “Not really. What I can help you with?”
Jake sauntered over and leaned on the desk, just outside Verin’s personal space. “I had to go through the attic last month, you know,” he said. “Guess what I found? A double camp-bed mattress, still in the canvas it shipped in.”
He leaned in closer, murmuring, “We should go see if it’s still there.”
Verin opened his mouth. Closed it. Jake’s face hovered over his –
“Needle shipment from Iron – Am I interrupting something?”
Verin jumped back. Dixon fixed him with an incredulous expression, eyebrows raised. Verin shook his head.
Jake gave her a sloe-eyed smile and strutted out of the infirmary.
Dixon closed the door on a desperately pretending to be nonchalant Medical Officer Blackcroft. Jake’s preferences were known to anyone who bothered to pay attention, but the other clerk had never been so obvious about hitting on a fellow guard.
“.. .run down to Lion’s Pride and see if …”
Two guards walked by her, caught up in their conversation. About… food? After cleaning out the mess?
Something was wrong today. She wasn’t sure what.
12: 49 PM
“The thing is,” Luke Harman said earnestly to his front gate watch partner. “The thing is, the entire universe focuses around that concept. Everything is possible if you –
Morale Officer De Vries nodded absently. “I never really noticed my hands before.” He made a fist under the other man’s nose, then flexed his fingers.
“—streamline the theories into the awakening of the probabilities –
“Tendons. Tendons are fucking amazing.”
Dixon stared at the pair. Something was definitely wrong They were acting like they were drunk.
She started. “Yes, Liason, can I help you?”
The night elf scratched his head. “ Is there a reason Adam’s walking around in a circle in the road outside the Garrison? And why half the duty-shift seems to be, well, under the influence?”
“No,” she muttered. Worse. But how? Nothing had been out of the ordinary except for –
She slapped her forehead. “Have to talk to Landreth. Now!”
She sprinted up the stairs, vaguely aware of Leafdream following her. She knocked once out of habit on the Captain’s door, then burst inside.
“Sir, we have a situation,” she blurted, hoping to stave off a lecture on courtesy and protocols. “The milkshakes are drugged!”
“Drugged?” Landreth repeated.
“Yes!” Dixon recited briefly the odd behavior she’d observed throughout the day. “It all started when Dinpik brought in the milkshakes from Telaar.” She ran a hand through her hair. “I don’t know if this is her idea of a joke, or – “
“Milkshakes from Telaar,” Leafdream interjected. “Did she refer to them as anything else?”
“What? I don’t… wait. She called them jome, jime –“
“Leafdram,” the captain said, “I take it you know what this jhom is?”
“A recreational drug of the Kurenai.” The night elf began ticking off on his fingers. “Mimics drunkenness to a degree, lowers inhibitions, induces a mild euphoria and clouds judgement, increases appetite… “
He looked sheepish. “Speaking from personal experience, the best treatment is lots of water and time.”
“Thank you, Liason,” Landreth ground out. “Get the men gathered for assembly. And get me that gnome!”
Grathier frowned down at his rearranged lockbox. Damn Thompson for mentioning them. He didn’t care for sugary foods, but in the last while the thought of lemon squares had popped into his awareness and wouldn’t go away.
He’d hoped he’d find a leftover oatmeal-raisin-pecan cookie or two stashed away in his kit. No such luck. He rubbed his face. He still wanted lemon squares. Or the flatbread and fondue she’d brought once during his recovery from the bombing. The flatbread had had sesame and poppy seeds, good crisp snap to it, the fondue a mixture of Dalaran Sharp and Alterac Swiss, with chopped peppers and tomatoes and –
Grathier started laughing.
He was still laughing minutes later when Blackcroft dragged him off to the impromptu assembly.
“Miss Fogbuster, do you understand why you’re here?”
Miss Fogbuster shook her head, sending her pigtails bobbing.
Landreth stared down at her from behind his desk. He rose and walked around it to stand in front of her.
“It’s because you’ve single-handedly managed to incapacitate my Garrison, as well as possibly imperiled members of the 8th Legion, with your gift.”
“I…what?” Her eyes widened.
“Jhom, Miss Fogbuster, turns out to be not simply the Kurenai word for milkshake, but a drug.”
“A…” She gulped audibly. “I didn’t know! I didn’t! If I had, I wouldn’t have –“
Landreth held up a hand. “Officer Grathier and Senior Clerk Dixon have vouched for your innocence of its true nature.” She wouldn’t pull something like this, too much a good girl had been Grathier’s exact words. Dixon had echoed that sentiment in different phrasing. Odd description for a warlock.
“However, the point remains you are responsible for it. Ignorance doesn’t excuse you.”
Her eyes widened more.
“For the foreseeable future until I say otherwise, Miss Fogbuster, you are not to bring anything to my Garrison. No cookies, no brownies, no biscuits, not a glass of water.”
He leaned down. “Am I understood?”
Her eyes seemed to take up half her face. “Yes, Captain,” she squeaked.
He straightened. “Thank you. You may go, Miss Fogbuster. King’s honor.”
Two weeks later
Can you send me a baker’s dozen of the chocolate sticky buns? The Old Man’s been a grouch long enough.