“Look, Grom, I promise I’ll write your story. But I have to finish these papers first.”
The orc narrowed his eyes but he didn’t seem angry. “What could be more important than writing down the stories of the Horde?”
I sighed. As if I hadn’t already told him a dozen times… “I’m not abandoning the story, it’s just that I have a deadline. If I don’t get my homework turned in, I might fail my classes. I’ve worked too hard on this degree to mess it up now.”
Grom sat on the arm of the sofa – the sofa itself being too low for his long legs – and leaned Gorehowl against the coffee table. “I don’t know why it’s so important for you to kill Bach’lor. He’s only got 13K health. Easier than squashing a beetle.”
“No.” I put my head in my hands. Much as I adored Grom, he was a hardheaded bastard, by anyone’s definition. “A bachelor’s degree, not Bach’lor. It’s a college.”
“College. Yes, you said that before. Common is such a stupid language. Translate it to orcish for me.”
Muttering under my breath, I tried desperately to think of a distraction for Grom. What could the chieftain do to entertain himself while I finished my homework? He hadn’t liked television at all, or listening to music. He refused to learn to read when all my books were written in Common, and there was no way I’d let him drive. Besides, he refused to trust anything made by human hands. It really was a miracle he even spoke to me at all. I’d had to log in to my main and all my alts to prove I was Horde before he’d answer any questions. But he approved of my intentions, even if he did laugh at the serious parts of my stories and scoff in disgust when I wrote something funny.
“It’s a school, where you learn.” I knew very little orcish, as Blizzard had never made it into a real language. Orcish was no more than a few odd words thrown into the game.
I turned from my keyboard to face the warchief. Though his eyes were brown, I could still imagine them glowing red. “Look, Chieftain, I didn’t ask you to come this time. You just showed up. And you expect me to drop everything to listen to you?”
He sat a little straighter, which made me have to crane my neck to look up at him. Why did they have to make orcs so tall?
“Nothing is more important than telling what truly happened,” he said.
“Alright. But let me finish this, and then I’ll write your story. I give you my oath.”
Grom guffawed. “As a human?”
“As a human whose main is a troll,” I responded.
Grom wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “Well, alright. I shall return to the afterlife. But expect my return, Feathers. Soon. After all, it was you who asked to speak to me, not the other way around.”
He stood up, picked up his monstrous axe, and then faded into nothing.
Grom left me alone to finish my term paper, and I got through the rough draft – finally – with no visions of Draenor in my way. I decided to take a break before working on the final draft, so I went to take a shower. The hot water felt good on my shoulders. I didn’t realize how tight my muscles were from slaving over a hot keyboard all afternoon.
I lathered shampoo into my hair, then stood back under the water and closed my eyes. The water was so relaxing. I’d have to cut half a page to make my paper fit the assignment, but that shouldn’t be too hard. I was good at –
A deep masculine voice cut into my thoughts. “It’s important for Garrosh to know the truth.”
I shrieked. Grom was standing in the bathroom. I could see his outline quite plainly through the shower curtain. “Go away!”
Instead, he pulled back the curtain and contemplated the shower head. “So that’s what that’s for. Hmm, interesting.”
“Do you mind!”
He looked at me blankly. “Mind what?”
“I’m trying to take a shower!” I covered myself with my hands, but Grom didn’t seem the least bit interested in me. He poked at the water streaming from the shower head. His hand, no more than a shadow, had no effect on the water.
“I do not understand your obsession with bathing.”
Angry now, I shut off the water and grabbed a towel. “I said go away.”
He raised one eyebrow at me. “You are not finished writing yet? You must be as poor at writing Common as you are at speaking orcish.”
“Grom! Get out! I will let you know when I’m ready for you.”
He lifted his chin – the top of his ponytail hitting the ceiling – and gave me half a smile. “You, a mere human, are telling me, chieftain of the Warsong, what to do?”
I frowned. “Yes.”
Grom chuckled. “Foolish girl.”
“Girl?” I asked. “I’m older than you were when you died.”
Grom grumbled under his breath. “Strike me in the back like a coward, eh?”
I did not want to get into an argument with him. “Two days. Just give me two days, and I’ll have all my homework finished. Then I can devote all my attention to telling your story.”
His eyes narrowed again. I could tell he was considering my words.
“You want me to get it right, don’t you?”
“I shall make certain you get the story right.”
“And I will rewrite it until you are happy. Okay?”
He sighed. “I will go back with the ancestors, then. For two days. But…”
His finger suddenly appeared right in front of my nose. “If Durotan starts bragging again about how he has a grandchild and I have none, I do not promise I will not challenge him to a duel.”
I shrugged. “What’s he going to do? Kill you?”
“Sometimes you are a most cowardly human,” he said. “If Thrall were not so distracted by that youngling of his, I’d ask him to write the story. He can write well, you know.”
“Yes, I know. I read Rise of the Horde.” I reached up to touch my hair and realized it still had shampoo in it. “Now if you would leave – please, chieftain – I would like to finish with my shower and get back to my homework.”
Grom bowed his head. “Yes, Feathers. But I will return in two days.”
“No cheating,” I warned. “That’s two sunrises and two sunsets, and not a moment sooner.”
“I never cheat!”
“My apologies, chieftain,” I said, but he had vanished. Quickly I rinsed the shampoo from my hair. I didn’t completely trust that he would stay gone for two days. But I had to stick to my principles. I knew I could finish school and write his story, but he’d have to learn some priorities. Finishing school was important. Writing Grom’s story might have been infinitely more fun, but after all, it was merely a game.
Did I say that out loud? Heaven help me, I hope not. Grom could still be listening. And if he ever heard that, I’ve no doubt that even from the afterlife, he could do a good deal of damage to my hands. And then I could forget about writing, be it school papers or the chieftain’s story.