Prologue: A Fine Jam, Indeed

Wrynne fidgeted under the gaze of the troll pirate in front of her. He was huge, even by troll standards. He was huge, and he was staring right at her, like she was a giant leg of lamb.

“Don’t you worry now,” he said, smiling fiercely. “The captain’ll be right out, and then you won’t have to be stuck in those binds any longer.”

Then, he licked his lips.

Next to her, Coreb Moonchaser piped up. “Very wise choice, my friend. Night elves are so much stringier than humans. You could probably use those thighs of hers for at least two solid meals. Maybe even – ”

“If we ever get out of here, I’m going to absolutely kill you, you filthy bastard!” Wrynne sneered.

The troll edged closer, laughing, and said, “Don’t worry, now, elf. Neither of you be going anywhere.”

Coreb chuckled nervously.

Wrynne gave a despairing sigh. She was going to get eaten by a tribe of outlaw cannibal pirates, and the last person in the world she would have with her was a mealy-mouthed, whiny night elf who’d just as soon sell her for meat as help her. She hated him. She hated him, and she hated herself for getting stuck here with him.

And just a week ago, things had been so…great?

Chapter One: Everyone Wants To Live In Tanaris

One week earlier

Wrynne was jarred awake by an irritating pressure on her belly. Still half asleep, she batted haphazardly in front of her.

“Go away!”

There was a foreign, guttural muttering, and she felt a weight lift off her body. Then, someone kicked her in the shin, hard. She yelped, sat up, and reached around her for something to grab to bash the hell out of –

“Hey! Long legs! It’s time to get up!”

Wrynne brought her arm up to shield her eyes, blinking sand out of her eyes. Buzzrek’s shrewd green face stared down at her. She couldn’t tell straight off whether he was displeased, or just hungry. With goblins, she’d found, it could go either way. Before she could ask him, his eyes narrowed and he levelled another keenly aimed kick right to her leg.

“Alright, alright!”

With a flurry of blankets, Wrynne wrenched herself off the floor and rose, glaring wildly at the menacing goblin in front of her. He snuffed with satisfaction.

“It’s about time! Work to do, work to do!”

Briskly, he turned and headed towards the doorway. Wrynne heard him levelling an even-mouthed criticism of hiring humans. When his footsteps sounded far away enough, she sunk into a chair, and hung her head back against the cool wall. Everything was pounding. Oh, god, the pounding. She actually had no recollection of how she’d even gotten back to her room last night. Whatever her gripes with the goblins were, she could not deny they were experts in at least two things: explosives, and alcohol.

Sitting there, nausea flowing through her while she stared around her at the pulsating red-striped wallpaper (complete with matching pineapples), Wrynne was not entirely convinced she hadn’t drunk a whole gallon of rocket fuel last night instead of alcohol.

But, then, she was in Gadgetzan, in the middle of the soul-sucking Tanaris desert, where the weather had two settings: Hot with Sand Storms or Hot Without Sand Storms. More often the former than the latter. No matter what geniuses the goblins may have been in inventing things, they had yet to conquer the problem of sand. There was sand everywhere, in every nook and cranny and – well, just everywhere. It had taken her a year to get used to it. Even if she left, she’d probably be breathing sand the rest of her life.

With her usual cheerful sand-induced mood intact, she made the climb up the few stairs leading to the main workshop door, and opened it. A gust of warmth blasted her in the face. It was barely daybreak, and Tanaris looked in rare form this morning for heat.

Grips, the manager of the inner enginerium, looked up from where he was hammering in a rivet and gave her a grunt.

“You look raggedy. Hanging out at Bexxar’s again?” And he laughed; a rough, cacophonous noise.

“He always asks! It would be rude to say no,” she replied, sinking into her seat. She regretted the swiftness of the motion. The world went spinning and she moaned, holding her face.

“You should go get wake-up juice from next door.”

“I’m gonna throw up.”

Even as she said it, she could feel the vomit rising in her throat. With her last cogent thought, Wrynne realized that if she threw up in the enginerium, Buzzrek would probably fire her. He wasn’t one for messes, especially if they weren’t fixable with a hammer or a wrench. Vaulting herself forward, she covered her mouth and dashed outside.

A sand-storm whipped her face as she disgorged the contents of her stomach onto the flat behind the workshop. Dizzy with the effort, she knelt on the ground, momentarily stymied.

“Mmm, very pretty.”

Wrynne didn’t have to turn around to recognize the voice of the Arena Battlemaster, one of the few other humans dumb enough to hang around Gadgetzan.

“Go away, Max. Vomit is a dangerous projectile, and I’m not above using it on you.” But even as she said so, she sunk closer to the ground, the pounding in her head dangerously close to the surface.

“Sure, Wrynne, sure. I was just passing by, thought I’d let you know you threw up all over your hair.”

And sure enough, when she looked down, goopy strings of – what the h