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Lirriel's picture

Arkav tried not to talk often at work. For one thing, Master Krollos had drilled into him focus and silence when at the anvil. All attention must be on the metal and crystal, not on “needless chatter.”

The other reason, of course, was his stutter. It was just difficult to get ideas across, or even just work with others. He was already non-dwarven, and refused to drink alcohol on top of that, so the stuttering only helped make him a target for the younger smiths’ teasing.

The older masters cared about Arkav’s skills, not his speech. Many had the patience of earth, waiting for the words to complete. Several of the other journeymen—led by an obnoxious and smelly Bronzebeard call Kinden Granitefist—had no patience for Ark’s speech, and enjoyed mimicking his stutters when no one was around to scold them.

Ark didn’t mention the teasing to his housemates, or any other Meddler. He didn’t complain to the forge masters, either, though a few of them noticed and tried to rein in the youths. They weren’t always around, however, and Ark couldn’t count on their help. This was his problem, and a mild one compared to some his fellows faced.

It was a typical day in Ironforge; the air around the Great Forge hot, with gryphons occasionally flying along the currents. The caverns were dark, the movements and calls of people echoing off the stone. Arkav made his way to Donag’s shop to pick up shoes and nails; he’d been asked to help with the 8th mounted division’s mounts by their farrier. “M-morning, D-donag,” Ark said. He passed payment across the counter as Donag and his son finished packing a crate for the monk.

Kinden and his friends were hanging around the hearth, drinking and carousing. Donag’s shop was large, and his wife often gave apprentices and journeymen meals while they waited for their orders. It made the store a social spot as much as business. Arkav ignored them as they mimicked his stuttering behind their hands, keeping quiet enough that the old shopkeeper didn’t notice.

Ark mentally recited Chi-Ji’s lessons as he waited. He had too much work to do; trouble would be a distraction. Besides, they really weren’t worth it. To Ark, the dwarves seemed like pesty children. He shouldered the crate once Donag finished. Arkav headed out the door and down the street; he needed to meet the 8th’s farrier outside the city, in the welcoming chill of the mountains. It was a sunny day outside; there had been no clouds when he left his new little house on the north face this morning.

“Hey Ark-k-k-k-kav!” Kinden called. The whole pack—six, Arkav judged—walked behind him.

“Y-yes?” He asked, continuing on. He couldn’t get the whole word out, despite trying; he was getting anxious. ‘Calm,’ he thought. ‘I must be as calm as the Arboretum, with the cloud serpents wending their way through the trees, moving with the playful breeze.’

“Shoes, huh?” Kinden asked, walking alongside, a nasty grin on his face. He stepped in Ark’s way. “G-g-g-g-gonna shoe yerself, g-g-g-g-goatman?”

The others laughed at Kinden’s exaggerated stutter. Arkav merely smiled down at the dark-haired dwarf. “P-perhaps. D-do you n-need p-pointers? I had t-to help M-master Bl-blackbellow fix that r-ram’s feet you d-did the other d-day. C-can be tr-tricky, I know.”

Kinden’s eyes narrowed as he looked up. His meaty hands clenched into fists. Kinden was arrogant about his work—not that Ark thought he had much cause to be, truth be told. “Think yer funny, g-g-g-g-g-goatman?”

Ark shrugged. The others were positioning themselves around the dranei. There were no guards in sight on this particular side street. Arkav had been avoiding this fight for weeks, but he’d known it was coming. “J-just st-stating a f-fact.”

“Y’think yer all that, since the masters took y’in,” Kinden sneered. “Wrathgate vet, one of Truthhammer’s pet Meddlers. Even got all that fancy learnin’ from an old bear. ‘E croaked after y’were done though, didn’t ‘e?”

The taunt was too obvious, but that didn’t suppress the tiger’s growl in Ark’s heart. He crouched, setting his crate down. His long tail twitched in agitation as he looked Kinden in the eye. “C-consider c-carefully, my fr-friend,” the monk said, very quietly.

Kinden sneered. “We ain’t friends!” He swung his fist at Ark.

Ark caught the fist, holding it in his larger hand easily. He yanked Kinden in closer and head-butt the dwarf, Ark’s headcrest faring better than Kinden’s forehead. The draenei’s tail whipped, knocking down two of the men trying to jump him from behind.

Ark spun with the breath of Yu’lon as he rose, one leg lashing out, his hoof catching the others trying to pile on him. He let Kinden knock away the last before letting go of his fist, the man flying off into a wall. Ark came to a stop, standing next to his crate—on its side but otherwise untouched—and looked around.

The gang lay scattered like dropped pins, groaning, holding broken noses and loosened teeth, wincing at the bruises already forming.

Arkav said nothing. He picked up his crate, lifting the heavy box easily to his shoulder again, and continued to the gates of the city.

If there were repercussions, there would be repercussions—he could handle whatever the masters decided. It was their forge, and they were generous to allow him to work with and learn from them. There would at least be a respite from Kinden and his mockery.


((This came out of Firie sending me the word "mimicry" as a writing prompt on Tumblr. After some time thinking, this finally fell out of my notebook.))


Jormund's picture

(( Arkav getting bullied

(( Arkav getting bullied because of his stutter was bound to happen. Of course, Kinden and his gang getting a hoof to the face was a 100% guaranteed thing as well. ))

"When there is a will there is a way"

"Lead? Me? Nope, no no no no. Bad things happen when I lead. People die and I appear somewhere in Horde territory... with no pants!"

Lirriel's picture

((Hoof to face is probably my

((Hoof to face is probably my favorite part of playing a draenei monk, no lie. >.> ))

Rhianon's picture

((Glad to see Arkav's monk

((Glad to see Arkav's monk training has helped him...I could see such bullying previously pushing him over the edge emotionally and he seems to handle it well here (if not a little violently :p). But yes, stutter teasing is inevitable, poor guy. ))

Lirriel's picture

((He definitely would have

((He definitely would have lashed out before, and probably gotten whipped due to lacking control or the right skills. He also would have gotten a lot more depressed and angry over it. Now he just sort of takes it in stride.))

Darlain's picture

((It's funny, I really think

((It's funny, I really think Xillia wouldn't even consider this type of thing happening to him, and I doubt he'd tell her either, as it's the type of thing she would worry about overly much if she knew. If she found out, I think this is one of those things that would actually make her angry))

Lirriel's picture

((It's why he doesn't tell

((It's why he doesn't tell her, or Ki'in and Rhaala, either. What could they do, anyway? It's a problem he has to deal with, it's fine.))