Hulan and Borron sat in their "secret" place overlooking Elwynn Forest. The campfire Borron had made was dying down and he reluctantly removed his arm from around Hulan and stirred himself to build it up again. Hulan hugged her knees and followed him with her eyes, fiddling with the red ribbon tied around her wrist. Borron turned from the fire to see Hulan's grin illuminated by the re-kindled flames.
"Why are ye grinnin' at me like tha'? Wha' did I do?" he asked.
"'Tis nothin' ye did," Hulan reassured him, "'twas sumthin I caught mesself doin'"
Borron sat down beside her and scooped her back to him so she could nestle her head against his shoulder, "Tell me lass, wha' were ye doin' that tickled ye so?"
"Well, all me life I've caught me Ma watchin' me Da wi' a certain look on 'er face...an' sumtimes I've seen me Da doin' tha same wi' me Ma. I've always known that look meant sumthin' special but cud nae imagine tha feelin' that went wi' it. As I was watchin' ye tend to tha fire I jes' realised I was lookin' at ye exactly that same way, now I understan' exactly how they feel about each other." Hulan stopped abruptly, blushing.
Borron pressed Hulan closer to his chest, "Aw lass...it does me heart good ta 'ear ye say it. Yer Da's a fine Dwarf an' I've seen tha way 'e looks when 'e speaks of ye Ma. It's tha look I feel on me own face when I think of yesself. Tell me...is it true about tha 'ammer?"
Hulan giggled, "He told ye o' that? Ye must have bin pourin' some damned fine ale down 'is throat!"
Borron grinned down at her, "Indeed it was...brewed it mesself."
Hulan straightened and reached across to her pack, drawing out two skins of ale, one of which she passed to Borron. "Me Ma an' Da knew each other from bein' bairns," she told him. "They were fast friends fom tha start an' did everythin' together includin' trainin' as Paladins. Tha way me Ma tells it she started lookin' at me Pa wi' new eyes when they started their trainin' but he was jes' tha same wi' her...treated 'er as a sort o' sister. 'E was allus oglin' tha other lassies but did nae seem ta see me Ma at all which 'urt 'er feelin's. A couple o' fellas 'ad shown an interest in me Ma but she'd allus fobbed 'em off...in tha end she got so fed up wi' me Da payin' 'er no mind that she started walkin' out wi' one of 'em, one o' tha young fellas doin' 'is warrior trainin'."
Hulan paused, taking a long drink from her skin of ale. "Anyway," she continued "that got 'is attention. Me Da got all jealous an' started gettin' all snippy wi' me Ma about tha warrior but still wud nae declare 'is feelin's fer me Ma. In tha end she got so cross wi' 'im she fetched 'im a clout around 'is 'ead wi 'er 'ammer an' told 'im she was nae interested in tha warrior at all, that if he'd taken any notice he'd ha' seen that she'd only 'ad eyes fer 'im fer more than a year. Accordin' ta me Da, she still owes 'im fer a perfectly good plate 'elm, which was damaged beyond repair."
Borron, in the prosess of drinking his ale, spluttered with laughter.
Hulan laid aside her empty ale skin and snuggled back into Borron's shoulder. "I've bin so lucky," she said "Everywhere I look I see people who've lost their kin an' I still have both me parents an' I was raised in a 'appy 'ome."
Borron laid his cheek on the top of her head. "Aye," he murmured "but I hear ye Da came close ta losin' ye both before ye were even born."
Hulan nodded. "They became seperated durin' a run-in wi' some Orcs. When 'e found 'er she was close ta death; 'e tol' me that everyone around 'er was dead, she was tha only survivor. She'd bin cursed by warlocks an' 'e reckons' tha only thing that saved 'er was tha fact she was carryin' me, although neither o' them 'ad know it at tha time. She still 'as funny turns from time ta time but they pass soon enough. I think almost losin' us both was why me Da was so protective. 'E wud nae go off ta fight any more an' me Ma was never strong enough again ta fight. I know 'e worries about me but 'e tries not ta show it. I have ta admire 'im fer goin' against 'is instincts and encouragin' me ta find me own way in tha world. I know that if 'e 'ad is way, me an' me Ma wud never leave 'is sight." Hulan sighed, "'Tis a shame I'm their only child; I sometimes think he'd ha' fretted less if there'd been a squad o' us."
"I know what ye mean lass," Borron told her "I'm an only-child too."
Hulan fell silent, enjoying the comfort of Borron's closeness; she gazed into the flames of the small camp fire and could almost see her parents. Nulyn, her mother, now stout with middle-age but her former beauty still visible in her face. She was an energetic woman, all brisk and busy yet with a softer side too. She could be bustling around telling you to look smart one moment and in the next she'd melt and sweep you up in a warm hug. When she had one of her turns, she would withdraw into herself and become still and quiet. As a child, Hulan has found this contrast unnerving but, like her father, had grown used to it and learned to just carry around her mother as if nothing was different. Once her mother re-emerged from herself she treated any attempt to mollycoddle her with scorn and got back to managing her household with her usual vigour.
The flames of the fire reminded Hulan of her father's forge. Whenever she thought of Thordenn, she saw him cast in an orange glow. He worked hard and, as all Dwarves, took great care not to get dehydrated, consuming large quantities of ale. To an outsider he appeared genial and placid, apparently happy to let Nulyn rule the roost. Hulan realised though that her father exterted his will more subtley. Having come so close to losing his small family he was fiercely protective of both Hulan and Nulyn. He became morose at being parted from his wife for any length of time and rarely left Kharanos. As Hulan gained her independence she could see him struggling with himself, the desire to protect her conflicting with his belief that she should find her own place in the world as her mother had done.
Hulan yawned and struggled to keep her eyes open as the flames danced hypnotically before her. Borron stirred, "Come on lass, it's time we were getting back...it's getting late."
Hulan got up reluctantly and stretched. As Borron kicked over the traces of the fire she untethered their Rams and led them back. Not needing words, they mounted and rode back to Stromwind in the moonlight in silence. The stars overhead and each other's company were enough.