"First round's on me," the orc said firmly, signaling the bartender. Her wooden stool creaked under the weight of thick muscles as she shifted into a more comfortable sprawl. Having washed the pungent Zangarmarsh mud from herself - and her clothes - the orc now wore a thin linen shirt, soft leather breeches, and simple boots. A thick silver chain disappeared down the front of her shirt. At her belt was a coin purse and an unassuming dagger, but anyone interested in the first would notice the second. In conjunction with the corded muscles visible at her neck and forearms, a prospective thief would think twice.
Her companion was similarly attired. The tauren had rebraided his mane into two plaits clinking with silver and clay beads, and now wore a coarse shirt, mostly unlaced to accommodate his barrel chest, and loose breeches that ended below his knees. In addition to a coin purse and plain dagger, he carried a wooden mace with his clan's sigil carved along the handle. He didn't take that mace to work, but he liked to carry it when they were off duty.
Their drinks arrived. The orc raised hers to her partner before taking a satisfying swallow of the lager. They both sighed with pleasure. For a moment, they listened in silence to the sounds of the fire in the tavern hearth, the soft clink of tankards, and the murmur of many conversations. A troll woman's throaty laugh suddenly rang out.
"So how did you become a leatherworker, anyway?" the tauren asked, drumming on his glass. "I know you were a warrior at some point before that."
The orc rubbed a calloused hand across her smooth scalp. Tiny scars stood out white across her green knuckles. "I was injured. I broke both my legs in a skirmish and had to be evacuated to Orgrimmar for healing." She stuck out a leg, turning it left and right as if admiring it. The leather of her breeches stretched and strained. "The healing worked, but I couldn't walk for some time," she continued. "While I was recovering, I got roped into helping my neighbor with his work."
The tauren raised an eyebrow. "You? Get talked into something you didn't want to do?"
"Keep in mind that they had me dosed on all kinds of herbal wines. A shaman even came by once a week to do voodoo on the pain." The tauren snorted appreciatively. "Besides, I was going stircrazy missing the battlefield. I needed the distraction."
"All right," the tauren allowed. "I take it your neighbor was a leatherworker." He watched the orc drain her glass and signaled for another round, adding, "My turn."
She inclined her head in thanks. "He was, in fact, a leatherworker, a big bull specializing in druid leathers. His daughter was a druid. Probably still is, but I only met her once before her dad died. Anyway, he started me on simple tasks: stitching, branding, pattern-making. Things I could do sitting down. Every morning I would wheel myself to his workshop and spend the daylight cutting out pieces for pauldrons or strips of belt, stitching leggings, or affixing hides to bucklers."
The tauren nodded. He had done similar tasks in his apprenticeship, although he had also been set to more physically demanding work. Of course, he could also stand without difficulty.
"Eventually, he trusted me enough to do more serious pieces of armor. I don't know if you remember the style at the time-" he shook his head "-but druids wore a quilted, fire resistant robe. He would set me up with the specially tanned and cured hide and a bag of stuffing - enchanted, of course - and I would quilt."
A quiet huff pulled the orc's attention to her partner. The tauren was hunched over the bar, holding back what sounded suspiciously like giggles. She tried to glare, but eventually gave in and began to chuckle. This only encouraged the tauren, who threw his head back and began to laugh in earnest. Soon, they were leaning against each other helplessly, shaking with mirth.
"Qu-quilting!" the tauren gasped. "A war hero - quilting!"
The orc responded with a guffaw and tried to calm herself. "Not really my style, is it?" she choked out between giggles.
"Not even close!" He wiped tears from his eyes. "I mean, my grandfather was a tailor, and I watched him quilt and loom, and I can't see you doing that without tearing the cloth or snapping the needle!"
"Remember, I was medicated!" She regained her composure with effort. "And when I could do that well enough, he started letting me affix the rest of the armor, which at the time was mostly a handful of foliage. Somehow, the druids enchanted the leaves and twigs to stay green, and even with my clumsy handiwork they looked like they were growing naturally out of the leather."
The tauren swirled his ale thoughtfully. "That sounds familiar, at least. So, how did you move from assembling to gathering?"
The orc stood and clapped her companion on one broad shoulder. "Patience! I'm going to the little orc's room. Order me another pint, and I'll tell you." She left with a smirk, and the tauren turned to the barkeep.