Please Note: This tale was once “The Goblin’s Christmas Doll”. For those of you who have read this “vanilla wow” story before, thanks for returning. Following it are links (in order) to the rest of the Winter Veil storyline.
The Goblin’s Winter Veil Doll
It had been several hundred years since the coastal waters of Darkshore were last frozen solid and only the eldest night elves could remember this... if they so chose. The snows from Winterspring never journeyed so far south into Kalimdor, but this year it did with a vengeance. Auberdine was locked down tight and the few elven villages that skirted the borders between the Veiled Sea and Felwood were left to fend for themselves. One such village wedged between The Masters Glaive and Northern Ashenvale not only had to deal with a record snowfall that literally buried their world, but something worse... much worse.
A plague had spread quickly from the sickly deer of the region to their own stock of winter supplies, overtaking their children without warning and what started as a dilemma immediately became a deadly issue. It was twelve days before Winter Veil and the night elves of this buried village had little more than that to save their little ones. The constant blizzards battered back any attempt to contact Maestras Post and helplessness bordered outright panic. Early that morning a banged-up sled skated its way into their lives, seemingly from nowhere.
The first to discover this wreck was a whisper of a girl named Bethlamae. Sneezes from the previous night convinced the alarmed parents to confine her to bed that day and as playing in the snow had grown old fast she wasn’t going to argue with warm blankets and hot cocoa. But Beth was terribly bored and worried; her letter to the Great-Father was still at her bedside and this shambling sleigh was her only hope to get the letter out in time for Winter Veil. With wide eyes, she watched it plow right into a deep snow bank beneath her window and of all people; a disheveled goblin jumped from his seat, through the snow and disappeared from sight.
“Father!” she cried, “A sick gnome is here and I think he needs---”
As she spoke, a small bronze bomb lofted up then down into the bank, exploding with a muffled boom and leaving a small circle around the slightly-blackened traveler and his ride.
“Look at you,” he said, “snug as a slug in a mug and still finding time to insult goblins!”
“I-I’m sorry,” she stammered, “I thought that---“
Bethlamae’s father quickly appeared, speaking to the stranger in hushed, hurried tones that she caught little of. This goblin had been holed-up in Nighthaven but was now on a forced assignment to deliver several crystal vial crates to Ratchet as their shore was the closest not frozen over. In exchange for enough food and drink to get him to Astranaar he’d be happy to take whatever mail they needed en route and be back well before Winter Veil. By now a throng of elves surrounded this individual and they were nearly frantic that their plea could reach someone in time. His name was Atnas and though the villagers didn’t know it, he was about the most warm-hearted goblin there ever was, if not the most accident-prone. Either way, he was their only hope... and Beth’s.
When the group of villagers had quickly dispersed to get Atnas’ supplies, the little night elf child struggled to open her window and tapped the glass, drawing his attention.
“What can I do ya for, wee one with a wide mouth?” he said with a toothy grin.
“Um, will you please give this to Greatpapa?” she said, holding her letter out in one tiny hand. Taking the crudely scrawled envelope hesitantly, he squared up to her.
“This is some task, what’s in it for me?” he asked, dusting himself off. Beth just looked at him, curious. She’d never seen a goblin before but she remembered bedtime stories about how clever they were. Was this smart, giving a complete stranger the most important letter she’d ever written? She recalled her father saying they liked to play games, so maybe…
“I bet you can’t get it to him before he is off delivering toys to all the children in Azeroth,” she challenged with a sniffle. The goblin stopped grooming and studied her from the corner of his eye.
“Ahh, a wager! And if I pull this off, what’s the incentive for yours truly?” Beth thought for a moment, disappeared from the window and reemerged triumphantly.
“These are Grove of the Ancient cookies, baked by my mother just this morning.” The goblin gave his very cold chin a hard rub.
“Won’t they be even more ancient when I come to collect?” The child frowned; this was harder than she thought. But she had a back-up.
“AND I’ll throw in a big mug of really hot cocoa that you can soften them up in!”
“Hmm, I don’t know. I’ve heard of lawsuits involving such beverages,” he countered. Beth began worrying that she was losing this sell and thought hard. It struck her suddenly that she wasn’t thinking like a goblin… she had to be clever.
“AND a special secret gift! Only night elves possess them and no one else.” The mail-carrier’s eyes got large and greedy from under their hood. He laughed and composing himself, respectfully saluted.
“I love a mystery! The Greatfather will have this exquisite letter before the Veil or else strike me down a sheep,” he cried, recalling one or two bad memories. Sadly, that letter would never make its destination.
Bethlamae happily thanked him and closed her window with a rattled cough just as the goblin’s food arrived with the village’s urgent request for medicinal supplies. Climbing into his sleigh, the squat savior sped off with the driving storm on one side and the village’s blessing on the other. The weakened child lay back under her blankets and slept only as the little ones can... in dreams that were certain to come true.
Slowly, oh so slowly, after countless map-checks and beating back of starving wolves, Atnas came upon Astranaar with barely the strength to beg refuge. There were no supplies to be had, but the weather was beginning to slacken just enough to open a window for the desperate goblin to make for The Barrens. It dawned on him his errand had abruptly become a dire emergency. Unwisely, the courier knocked back several of their giant eggnogs before continuing on and managed to spill a goodly portion into his bag of mail.
Mercifully, the weather improved somewhat as he passed Fallen Sky Lake into The Barrens a couple days later. Atnas made wonderful time even though, amazingly, the snow continued to fall as he drove into the Crossroads. A skeleton crew there warned him to head back as the raptors were as savage as they’ve ever seen them, but the haunting image of that wasted Darkshore village meant the clock was ticking. On he went, certain his prayers had a play in the slop of snow and mud slowing the screeching raptors that constantly hounded his sleigh. A small hut on a seemingly smaller plot of land crested the hill down into Ratchet. He had reached his other “side” delivery; a crate of baubles for an honest family of trolls.
“One minute and no more, then all speed to Ratchet. Those elves have gotta catch some kinda healing salves to make do with!”
He slid to a halt beside the dwelling before realizing too late he’d been surrounded. He held both hands high.
“Stand down men, I be knowin’ this one,” ordered a voice from behind one of the six filthy snowmen that dotted the farmyard. A boy troll, lightly frosted in mud, stepped forward confidently. He went by the most appropriate name of Shoo.
“Hmph! Some sergeant you are, harassing a bearer of gifts this time of year,” complained the good-natured goblin, handing a rickety crate to Shoo who was, actually, as well-mannered as troll children get these days. Then the mail express was gone, down over the hill into Rachet. Disappointed he hadn’t a reply from the letter he sent to Great-father Winter, the child went to take the delivery inside for further inspection and felt paper stuck beneath his father’s package that reeked of eggnog.
“Greatpapa” is what the little boy read off the moist letter. Certain this involved the Flats Blood Racer he so badly wanted, he tore it open, but his hopes were dashed. A letter it was and only that, reading:
Dear Papa Winter,
I love you because you made me happy for Winter Veil last year. Since I’m already happy this year could I please just have a doll?
Shoo thought for a moment and then realized that someone, a kid like himself, sent this message and it wasn’t going to get there in time, (it WAS only five days away). He was pretty certain that he was going to get something since he began behaving a couple months ago, but was she? This Beth didn’t sound like the bad type.
Sitting in the quiet hut, he remembered his older sister’s coffer stored away. Safely distanced by her alchemy apprenticeship in Grom’ Gol, he investigated its contents. After several handfuls of girly junk had been cast aside he saw what he was looking for; a beautiful, though somewhat battered, human priestess doll. She was in decent enough condition but could use some sprucing-up and Shoo knew he had little time before the goblin would be returning from the trade port, so he got to work.
In Ratchet, the news was bad; Un Goro and Azshara’s supply of healing herbs was depleted to nothing without question. Whatever was available from Eastern Plaguelands and the Steppes was so far away it made no difference regardless. Every ship that docked answered the same and Atnas began to feel dread creep in as to what this amounted to.
“Those people are lost... and that poor little girl,” he thought with a heavy heart. Purchasing a small crate of Major Troll’s Blood with most of his crystal vial profit, he sadly made his way back up into The Barrens.
“These elixirs won’t save them, but it might-- might ease their children’s suffering.”
And if that wasn’t enough, he had lost Beth's letter. With that, the miserable carrier raced back up the hill into The Barrens.
Shoo was not standing idle either. Eyes peeled for movement on the hillcrest through the steadily falling snow, he started as the sleigh came into view. Rushing to meet the downcast goblin who barely glanced his way, the little troll held out his gift for the night elf he neither met nor knew.
“Eh?” the goblin grunted as the package was thrust upon him.
"Dis be for someone whose letter ya lost,” he replied with an enormous smile. “It’s what she be askin' for so I tink it will make her pretty happy.” The weary deliverer smiled back with a tear in his eye, upset that he couldn’t even get Bethlamae’s simple letter to one old man. But the look on the joyful troll’s face was too much to disregard.
“If happiness was all I could take back to that village I’d crawl back there with it on my back. Thanks Shoo,” he said, taking the weathered box with a tattered ribbon and setting it down beside him in the sleigh. And crawling back is just what it felt like, the poor fellow.
The following days became an increasing nightmare for Atnas. He drove his horses without rest; plagued with the thought of that village emptied of life before he could return. The weather eased somewhat as he passed briefly through Astranaar, but word was that Darkshore was, indeed, at its darkest. It was said nothing could be heard but Onu’s mournful chant. He sped on into that darkness and eventually stopped before the dwelling of the wasted village. It was as he had feared; everyone, child and adult alike, were deathly ill. The goblin did his best to see to it the Troll’s Blood was given to everyone, but within his heart he wept.
“Is there nothing I can do for them? Anything for that and I ask nothing else.”
Bethlamae laid still in her bed, her shallow breathing the only sound in the room as her parents, feverish themselves, stood vigilant. The goblin quietly knelt down beside her.
“Hey wee one. I have something here I’m betting you might be interested in,” was all he could manage, but it was enough to open her eyes.
“Papa Winter was here?” she whispered, clutching the box.
“Oh, he's somewhere around, eating my cookies I bet,” he answered. "Let's see whatchu got here.”
With the help of her mother, Beth pulled the battered ribbon and lifted the lid of the box. The child’s eyes flashed with such life it took the breath of the goblin and filled him with joy. She held the doll up for her parents to see until her strength ebbed and then happily hugged it close, drifting back to sleep. The goblin turned with eyes shimmering.
“I’m so sorry... I... nothing from Ratchet could be...” Bethlamae’s mother just smiled, touching his cheek to still his tears.
“You brought happiness with you this Winter Veil morning. We are forever thankful.”
She drew the exhausted deliverer from the room so he may rest. Beth’s father tucked his daughter in and something so simple but so wonderful happened. Shoo’s poor stitching of the doll gave way and it’s stuffing spilled onto the bed. He held some up to candlelight, confirming what his bleary eyes couldn’t believe. It took everything he had to quietly take the doll from the room.
“Sansam... Golden Sansam and Silversage! Beth’s doll is bursting with it! There’s some Dreamfoil too! Some others... I...” was all he could manage before bolting outside to everyone’s astonishment. He returned shortly with a neighbor who was a seasoned alchemist. They poured out the blessed petals from the doll and calculated their power.
“Strong ingredients, incredibly strong, but not nearly enough for a whole village. It could be diluted into a vaccine but I would need a load of firebloom for that,” he determined and then shook his head, “but there isn’t a sprout of it in the pile.”
From the corner of the room came a very tired and relieved voice. “I have stacks of the stuff in my sleigh. And here I thought they were just good for my sinuses.” By the time the stunned elves realized what the goblin had said he was already asleep.
Late that Winter Veil night Atnas awoke only briefly, so it seemed, to confirm his hopes. Elves were all about Bethlamae’s home, working their magic with the herbs and the air itself seemed to breathe renewed life into the village.
“Like the Big Guy's workshop I’m betting,” he murmured distantly.
He was drifting off again, but took back into that blissful sleep something to dream all night on; Beth standing at his side and tucked under one arm a healthy and much loved doll.
“I won my bet too,” he thought delightedly as Winter Veil closed in around him. For in his palm she had placed the special secret gift promised him… her hand.
A Doll in the Snow
The Timeless Winter Veil Doll Part 1
The Timeless Winter Veil Doll Part 2
The Timeless Winter Veil Doll Part 3
Happy Christmas Everyone!