(This one isn’t so much a micro-story because it’s almost 2k words, but we’ll fudge a bit for the sake of the series’ title)
So-Ra knew Zheng was in trouble. Again. She knew it the same way her yehyeh knew the rain was coming when his knees ached. Except with Zheng it was a churning in her gut like a hundred snakes coiling around each other, and she bit her lip to keep a nervous laugh from escaping.
When she’d woken from her afternoon nap, he was gone, and though he’d left no note there was only one place she was likely to find him: the bar. Before heading out of the room she grabbed her staff, not knowing what she’d encounter when she found Zheng. When she got to the door of their room, the raucous noise from the downstairs and upstairs drinking areas made her pause. However, it was a particularly loud voice that caused her white and grey ears to twitch.
It was nearing dusk, and as she made her way across the plank bridge to the second floor of the Salty Sailor Tavern, she found the bar full to capacity with pirates. So-Ra didn’t have any particular issues with pirates, per say. However, when the barkeep in Orgrimmar suggested this place to Zheng, she didn’t believe he’d done so from a kind, helpful place. Zheng had, to be fair, annoyed the orc with all his talk of pandaren brews. Zheng, oblivious to the orc’s growls and bared teeth, had jumped immediately on the idea, and So-Ra reluctantly followed him out of The Broken Tusk.
“Pirate brew, Ra! I can’t wait!”
Zheng was excited to hop on one of the zeppelins on the middle rise of the Horde city, and then grab a couple of wyverns from Grom’gol down to Booty Bay. If So-Ra was being honest, she enjoyed flying over the lush jungles, as the salty, humid wind made her nose twitch and eyes water. It was a vast improvement over the smell of ale she swore would never leave her nostrils, but all too soon it was over.
After all the travel, the two agreed to a nap before he’d drag her down to the bar. Apparently, the excitement had been too much for him, and he’d left her upstairs. While she’d been snoozing away, there was no telling what kind of trouble he was getting into.
She nimbly made her way through the first set of tables, avoiding patrons who were already well into their drinks, and stopped dead in her tracks at the top of the stairs that led to the main floor. Zheng wasn’t difficult to find, being the only pandaren, but even if they’d been in a bar back home, she’d be able to pick him out. His onyx black and ash grey fur wasn’t too terribly common among the black and whites and reds. His short hair was pulled back with a spring blue tie that matched his eyes, one of which had a black marking that made him appear as though he perpetually had what furless races called a black eye.
“—and I only managed to make it away from the hozen with nothing but my staff. And when I say nothing, I mean nothing.”
So-Ra rolled her eyes. If there was one thing Zheng enjoyed almost as much as new brew, it was new people to tell his stories to.
The tauren next to him, whose fur closely resembled Zheng’s in color, threw his head backward in an uproarious laugh. His steel nose ring glinted in the cheery lantern light, and his one, ivory horn gleamed dully. The other was broken close to his skull and capped off. When he brought his head forward again, he raised one of his large hands and clapped Zheng on the shoulder.
This was where it all went to pot.
When the tauren hit Zheng’s shoulder, it caused him to take a step back and knock into a goblin sitting on a stool. When he hit the goblin, the goblin’s face was knocked into his drink, and he came back up, spluttering and coughing. While coughing, he knocked his drink over, which spilled all over the back of the dwarf next to the goblin. The dwarf shouted and jumped back, knocking into the table closest to the bar. The wood of the table against the wooden floor let out an unholy screech, and the jarring motion knocked every single drink over onto the group of human pirates.
It was like So-Ra was witness to the worst-luck game of dominoes, and with each event her horror and panic grew like a balloon ready to pop.
There was a moment of silence from all who witnessed the event, and then the brawl started.
So-Ra made her way down to the main floor, dodging and slipping through a crowd full of jabs, kicks, and elbows. More than once she used her staff to deter anyone foolish enough to square up on her, and one hit was usually more than enough. When she finally made it within sight of Zheng, she stopped in her tracks and clenched her fists around her staff.
Back-to-back with the tauren, the two of them were laughing and throwing punches as though this were all part of some grand game. However, before she could get through the rest of the crowd to Zheng, there were cries of genuine pain instead of the grunts of a brawl, rippling from the front door. So-Ra turned just in time to deftly avoid the spiked mace of one of many of the town’s bruisers pouring through the door.
Zheng and the tauren hadn’t noticed yet, though, and both managed to take a hit or two that had So-Ra cringing. Not just from the imagined pain, but from how much work it was going to be to heal the two fools.
The bruisers went about their work, sussing out what happened with practiced efficiency. In short order, Zheng and the tauren were thrown from the tavern without so much as a by your leave. So-Ra, though, had started upstairs the second after the first mace hit landed. She gathered their things, since she was reasonably sure they’d be asked to leave, anyhow, and made her way outside after not finding them at the bar.
Despite the smell of fish and seawater, So-Ra’s keen nose managed to follow the scent of blood from outside the tavern door to one of the ramshackle shops. The sign on the door proclaimed; ‘Closed! Go Away!’ in a way that came off as very goblin, and she shook her head at the general lack of manners the race possessed.
When she ignored the sign and knocked, a grumpy voice called from the other side; “Go away! We’re closed! Don’t you know how to read?”
“I’m here to help,” So-Ra said, just loud enough for her words to travel through the door.
“It’s So-Ra!” Zheng said, his words slurred. Though if it was from drink or injury, So-Ra wouldn’t know until she could see him.
There was some scuffling, and as she waited for the person on the other side of the door to open it, she shifted the heavy packs on her back. After more time than she deemed necessary, the door finally opened.
In the doorway, and backlit by the lantern in the room, was a grumpy goblin face to match the grumpy voice.
“Yeah? Whatdya want?” the male goblin asked, and tilted his pointed chin up so he could meet So-Ra’s blue eyes with his black ones.
“To heal these two idiots, unless you have another trained healer at your beck and call. If so, I’d be more than happy to leave them to you,” So-Ra said, biting the words off in clipped tones. Then she smiled wide, meeting his sharp-toothed scowl with her own set of sharp canines.
“Oh, cousin, please don’t be that way,” Zheng mournfully slurred this time.
Probably drink instead of injury, then, if he was sounding that put out at her.
The goblin growled, but then moved aside to let her in.
The sight in front of her made her grimace inwardly. There was blood, of course, but pandaren, and apparently tauren, had tough hides. So, despite the maces being spiked the damage was minimal. Still, it wasn’t the busted knuckles, swollen faces, or cuts that had her frowning.
It was the fact the two of them were leaning on one another and giggling. Like two sprites who managed to get into some brew and set about causing mischief in town.
“Monag and this fluffy monstrosity busted through my door not a few minutes ago. They’ve done nothing but cackle like drunk witches since. I’m guessing the state they’re in has to do with all the bruisers running toward the tavern?” the goblin asked So-Ra.
So-Ra nodded, and set her packs down. She didn’t want to know how the goblin knew what a drunk witch cackled like, but she’d take him at his word. She was sure stranger things happened across the lands outside of Pandaria.
“He is not a fluffy monstrosity, Syxkes. He’s my new friend. Zheng!” Monag said between breathless laughter.
The goblin, Syxkes, snorted and shook his head.
“You got anything to put them under?” Syxkes asked, his tone pleading.
“I do, but it will have to come after the sobering potion. Combining a sleep potion or magic with drinking is a good way for someone to never wake up again,” she explained, and started pulling vials from her pack.
Her ears twitched at the goblin’s grumbling, which sounded an awful lot like; ‘Well, that wouldn’t be the worst thing if it shut them up,’ but she ignored him.
After she gathered the correct vials and administered the sobering potions, the two males were far less amused and groaning in pain.
“Oh, So-Ra, you’re so cruel,” Zheng said, leaning forward in a sitting position on the floor, holding his head between his hands.
“Hah!” she said, her voice sharp enough that the two males’ ears flattened against their skulls.
“Please, not so loud,” Monag whispered, his deep voice rumbling through the small room.
She simply harrumphed at this, and went about healing them. After the worst of their injuries were seen to, she handed them their sleeping potions. A wry smile crossed Zheng’s face as the two of them lifted the vials to clink them together.
“Here’s to new friends and good brew,” Zheng said.
Monag lowed his agreement, and the two of them downed the potions. Not long after the two were fast asleep, their snores near to rattling the windows from their panes.
So-Ra shook her head. “Males,” she said in a long-suffering voice.
“Hey, not all of us are idiots,” Syxkes said, affronted.
So-Ra graced him with an apologetic smile. “You’re right. My apologies. Do you mind if I sleep here with them?” she asked, not wanting to impose on the goblin any more than they already had. Though, she wasn’t sure where she’d go if he said no.
“Nah, go ahead.” As Monag let out a particularly loud snore, Syxkes shook his head. “Better you than me, anyway. I’ll be here in the morning to open shop, though, so you’ll all need to be out by then,” he warned.
“Of course, and thank you for your hospitality,” So-Ra said, and bowed.
Syxkes waved her off. “You shut them up. That’s payment enough.” Then he took a set of stairs behind the counter up to the second floor.
So-Ra pulled out her mat and laid it down in front of the door, just in case she didn’t wake up in time to avert whatever disaster Zheng would try to get himself into next. As she drifted off to the chorus of familiar and new snores, though, she was smiling.