Twelve days later, just as he said he would, Logan arrived an hour before dawn, during that soft, quiet time when the night held its breath, and all its creatures lay silent and still, waiting for the first light of a new day.
He came in, his boots scuffing, loud against the bare floorboards. His hair had been washed and combed and his armour looked recently polished. He pulled a little linen bag from his belt and held it out to Idira. She opened it. A warm, bitter scent rose up from the dark beans nestled inside. She looked up at him, perplexed.
'It's coffee,' he said, smiling, shy. 'It's from my rations, I thought you might like to have some. You'll need to grind it first of course.' He took the bag from her and looked around the empty house searching for a grinder. His cheeks reddened. 'Oh right. You don't have one. I didn't think about that. I'll just, um, make sure to buy you one today. No problem.' He handed the bag back to her, awkward.
Unambi held out the list. Logan looked it over. 'Um. I'm probably going to need to buy a horse and wagon to get all this back to you.'
'Ya be doin' whatever ya need ta. Jus' ya get dese tings.'
'Right. I can do that. I know a lot about horses and wagons from working in the smithy.' He looked up, eager for their approval. No one said anything. His cheeks flamed anew, bright red in the stove's firelight. He scratched his head. 'Well, I guess I better be going. Lots to do.' He knelt and wrapped the waiting candelabra into some lengths of wool, packing them into the hessian sack he'd brought. He looked up at Idira. 'The cloth is so they don't clank and draw unwanted attention.' He tapped his forefinger against his temple. 'I was thinking ahead.'
Idira said nothing. His cheeks darkened again as he hefted the bag onto his shoulder and turned to go. He went to the door and reached for the door's latch.
'Wait,' Idira said, her heart clenching. She couldn't bear to waste her chance. She had already spent twelve days dithering over this. It was now or never.
He turned, his face brightening, hopeful. She went to her book about growing up and pulled out Nin's bank note. She held it out to him, hesitant.
'Use this to buy me as many books as you can.'
He reached out and took it, his eyes widening as he read the amount. 'I can get a lot of books for this. Um. What kind of books do you want? Fairytales, I guess?'
Idira shook her head. 'Books about using magic. Anything you can find. Oh. And maybe some books about the hero Khadgar, too, if they have any.' She felt warmth creeping into her cheeks. She turned away, embarrassed. 'That's all. You can go now.'
'Um. Right. No problem. I'll get your books.' She heard the rustle of the note as he tucked it into his tunic. The door opened and his booted feet scuffed their way out and down the steps.
'Bye!' he called out from the shadows. This time he didn't wait for a reply. He moved on, hurrying towards the north, his footsteps swallowed by the silence of the night.
The day dragged, hot and oppressive. They occupied themselves making nets for the crab traps from the sea grasses Idira had collected. Making nets was slow, laborious, and not very challenging. Unable to escape her thoughts, Idira sat on the porch and endured in silence the gnawing fear she had made a terrible mistake trusting Logan with her bank note. He was probably never going to come back, and worse, he was probably going to tell someone about them. He had almost all their gold now, so why wouldn't he? He had nothing to lose, he could just go to Stormwind and live like a king.
She yanked on the softened stalks of grass, weaving them together, tight, her movements jerky and rough. She shouldn't have given him the bank note, it was a foolish, thoughtless thing to do. But as he stood there, about to leave, she couldn't resist taking the chance. The thought of having books which might explain her magic and how to use it had driven her to stop him. At the time, she couldn't bear the thought he might return trustworthy, and bookless. It would have plagued her with regret for years. But now she regretted having trusted him. Of course he would not come back. He was probably spending her gold right now, sitting in a tavern and buying drinks for everyone, pretending to be a big man.
She huffed, furious, as she tied off the completed braid and set it aside onto the pile beside her. Without thinking, she gathered up three new stalks, her fingers working, automatic. Unambi was wrong, they couldn't trust him, they couldn't trust anyone. That boy was going to betray them, she was sure of it. She jerked the strands together, her movements matching her thoughts. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. If she ever saw him again, she would slap his ridiculous, red face right off his head.
Dinner came and went. Idira went onto the porch and watched as the sun lowered its bulk onto the horizon, streaking the western sky in brilliant shades of deep pink and purple. Across the sky's twilit canopy, the brightest stars blossomed, twinkling, bright and happy, heralding the arrival of their lesser companions. Darkness crept over the land and the chirp of crickets began to fill the night air, crescendoeing as the ground radiated its heat back into the atmosphere. She glared at Unambi from her vigil on the porch steps, her arms crossed over her chest. This was all his fault. He had thought it was funny. Well now he would learn his lesson. He didn't know everything, after all.
The hours passed. Thick clouds scudded across the sky, obscuring the light from the stars and moon. The night deepened and the darkness thickened. Despite her indignation, Idira felt the heaviness of fatigue creeping up on her. She fought it, struggling to keep her eyes open, ignoring Unambi's suggestion she go inside to sleep; his promise he would stay up and wait. She shook her head, trying to clear the fog from her mind. It was starting to be hard to remember why she was there and not in the hammock. A brief glimmer flared, dim in her mind. That's why. She had to remain on the porch, to prove she was right. Right about what? Nothing came to her. She couldn't remember. Her eyelids drifted down, leaden. She fought to open them. It was too much effort. She lowered her head onto the rough planks, pillowing her forehead against the crook of her arm. She would rest her eyes just for a few minutes, at least until she could remember why she was sitting the porch's steps in the dead of the night and what she was right about.
The sound of hooves hitting the hard earth drifted into Idira's awareness. She blinked, trying to clear her vision and found herself on a wagon, the one she rode in all those years ago as it left the farm on its way to Moonbrook. She looked back at the house, at the pot belly stove standing forlorn in the yard. She would have to tell them she knew they didn't come back for it. She looked down at Blackie on her lap, safe within her crate. Soft voices broke into her thoughts. One of them sounded like Unambi. That didn't make sense, she glanced up. Unambi sat across from her on the wagon, smiling to himself. The murloc, Margle crouched beside him holding a dead crab in its hands. She stared at them, confused, this wasn't how it happened. Where was the furniture they had left with, the chickens? She glanced at the front, expecting to see Myra, Papa, and Borda. She gaped. Khadgar's broad back faced her, the material of his blue woollen tunic pulled taut, his gloved hands working the reins as he drove the horses. Sitting on the bench beside him, Logan talked non-stop, his hair sticking up every which way, going on about coffee beans and needing to buy a grinder.
Idira woke with a start, her mouth and eyes dry as dust. She lifted her head, slow, working out the kink in her neck. Her arm flopped down beside her, numb with sleep, she rubbed it, enduring the uncomfortable sensation of pins and needles as the circulation returned. It was still dark. The horizon had just begun to lighten, turning a paler shade of dark blue, heralding the approach of dawn. From deeper in the yard, a metallic rattling rang out followed by the heavy sigh of a horse. She sat up, her heart pounding. For all of Azeroth that had sounded like a horse shaking its head, rattling its bridle.
She bolted off the porch, still rubbing her tingling arm. The huge shadow of a draught horse coalesced against the brightening sky and behind it, a shapeless mass of items, cram packed together, towered above the wagon. She stared, disbelieving. He had really done it. He had gone to Stormwind and bought them all the things they needed. She looked again at the sky. He must be exhausted. He wouldn't have slept for a full day. Guilt slammed into her, for all her awful, hateful thoughts. All the time she had been doubting him, he had been working, giving up his rest day for them, and for nothing in return. She had to thank him. Lifting the hem of her dress, she rushed around to the back of the wagon.
'So ya finally be awake,' Unambi said as he lifted something out from the back of the wagon and handed it to her. It smelled of leather oil and soap. She held it up to the faint light, curious. A horse halter and lead. He went up to the horse and started stripping away its harness. She looked around, searching the shadows for Logan. Maybe he had gone to the outhouse. She stood on her toes, trying to see past Unambi.
'If ya be lookin' for dat boy,' Unambi murmured, 'ya jus' missed him. He be runnin' back ta his people before he be gettin' in trouble for bein' late.'
'Oh,' Idira answered, shame filling her once more, coupled with a deeper layer of regret. How long would she have to wait to thank him? A month? More? She wondered when he would next return on his patrol.
Unambi took the halter and lead from Idira and slid it over the horse's head, patting its nose, affectionate. 'Dis be a fine horse he bought for us. Too bad we won' be keepin' it.'
'Why not?' Idira asked, worrying he intended for them to eat it, like they had had to do with the ones in Moonbrook near the end.
Unambi sniffed and walked the horse toward the lean-to, where once, long ago, another horse had lived until Papa had killed it and made them eat it. The horse went into the stable, docile. It turned and whickered, waiting, patient, for its feed and water. Unambi lifted up the old rope, frayed with wear and age and dropped its loop onto the hook on the wall. The horse stood just inside the rope and pawed the hard-packed earth.
'We don' be havin' da grain ta be givin' dis one,' he said as he patted its strong, muscled neck. 'Even if dat boy brought some feed for it, dat won' last long. Nah, dis one deserves a better life den dis dry ol' place. So dat boy be comin' back ta sell it.'
'Oh?' Idira perked up, heartened to know the horse wouldn't be eaten. 'When will that be?'
'He be comin' back on his next free day.' Unambi eyed her, his eyes glittering in the faint light of the new day. 'Dat's fifteen days from now, so ya be havin' plenty o' time ta be thinkin' how ta tank dat boy.' He went and hefted two bags of grain from the back of the wagon and threw them over his shoulder. 'Now dis poor horse be needin' food an' water, an' den we be gettin' ta work. Dere be plenty for us ta do dis day, jus' ya wait an' see.'
He hadn't exaggerated. It took most of the morning just to unload the wagon and carry everything into the house. More than once Idira wondered how Logan had managed it all on his own. As they unloaded the wagon, it became obvious he had thought things through, purchasing and loading the largest items first: the bed, a mattress (a luxurious feather one, not straw like Unambi had put on the list), two dressers, the table and wardrobe. Idira worked hard and without complaint, even as the heat from the sun poured down onto her from the cloudless, deep blue sky, and her skin glistened with perspiration. She fancied her labour might offset her guilt, just a little. It did help, but not as much as she'd hoped.
That afternoon and evening as they arranged and re-arranged their new things, and the house went from being an empty shell to a cosy home, Idira couldn't help but feel affection for the boy and his foresight, he'd even bought several colourful rugs and two sets of matching curtains, though neither Unambi or Idira had thought to put them on the list. She considered the incredible sacrifice he had made for them. Not only had he given up his time, but Unambi murmured the boy had risked his life carrying a fortune of gold on his back out of Westfall and into Stormwind.
She glanced for the hundredth time at the wooden chest containing all her new books, longing to go to it and turn the key in its lock, to discover what wonders awaited her, but she forced herself to wait. There would be time enough for that later. First she was going to learn to use the grinder he'd brought back. He had bought them coffee beans, packed in a large hessian sack with a fancy label stamped with black ink on the front. She cut the sack's ties open and breathed in the beans' warm exotic scent, like warm earth and woodsmoke and the sky after a storm. She put a small scoop of the precious beans into the grinder's hopper and turned the crank. The crushed grains came out, their aroma even stronger, sending up both sweet and bitter notes at the same time. Her mouth watered. She couldn't wait. She was going to make the best pot of coffee ever, and then, she was going to look at her books.