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With a few gentle words, Varendil eased Araznormu down to the landing of Dalaran. Dismounting, the blood elf patted the bronze drake on the neck in a way he hoped didn’t come across as condescending. “I’m sure you have things to get to. Though you have all the time in the world to get to them. In any case, be back in two hours?”

The drake nodded silently and launched himself back up into the sky, turning and heading southeast. Varendil turned as well and jogged down into the streets of Dalaran.

It was midmorning in central Northrend, and business was picking up. Varendil meandered northwest, then southwest in order to arrive at his first destination, the Sisters Sorcerous, where he bought the candles he needed for some spells.

Rather than one of the Moorehead sisters that normally manned the shop, today he found a barely-postpubescent human youth.

The youth stood, fixed, like he was frozen in terror behind the counter. Varendil stared at him, and the kid’s pimples stared back. The blood elf stared back, and didn’t like them.

“Forty devout candles, please,” he said neutrally.

“Um. Yeah. Devout candles.” He turned and looked at the shelves behind him. “Those are…”

The sin’dorei sighed. “The big ones on the top shelf to your right, if you would?”

The human gathered two trays of twenty each and set them on the counter before his customer. “Would you like them lit?”

“Would I-Lit? Really? Yeah, let them burn up before I get a chance to use them. Great policy.”

The youth flinched back as if he was about to be punched, then slowly returned to his normal terror stance. “Right. Candles. That comes to… Eight gold?”

“Seven gold sixty silver,” the elf corrected, his body beginning to slump as his patience deflated. A druid had arrived and was lined up behind the priest, and he heard two shamans talking outside, one expressing a need for ankhs.

“Um. S-sir? I did the math, and…” the human started to say, trailing off beneath the gaze of the priest.

“Your bosses don’t charge me full price,” the elf quietly informed him.

The youth straightened. “Why?”

“Because I’m awesome,” the priest said condescendingly. “Does it matter? Five percent off.”

The clerk shook slightly and took the smaller amount offered from the priest, who stepped aside so that the druid could move to the counter.

“You’re a young, strapping human,” the elf lied. “Why aren’t you out defending the Alliance?”

“Twenty flintweed seeds,” the elven druid said.

“Well, my aunts need someone to work the shop when they’re not here,” the human offered as he searched beneath the counter for the seeds. “And I’m not really a fighter.”

Varendil’s thoughts went back to his own youth. He’d taken the ways of the Light specifically because it seemed like a vocation that would avoid combat.

That hadn’t worked out.

“I’m not a fighter either, but I do my job,” he said after the youth had finished transacting with the druid.

“Ten ankhs,” the shaman next in line said.

“And I’m sure you’re good at it, if you’ve come this far,” the youth said. “But I’m not fighter material, I’d get torn up in combat.”

“So you’re contented to let your friends and peers get mauled instead of yourself?” Varendil asked.

“Twenty Runes of Portals, please,” a mage who had entered behind the shaman requested.

“The world needs reagent vendors, too,” the kid replied.

“Fine. Have a blast contributing nothing to the war effort,” Varendil spat as he moved past the line of customers to exit.

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