Icecrown, Argent Crusade Camp, 5:00 am
Fifteen years in the service, and mornings still came early.
Even though she was used to it, had done it every day, her body still creaked in the mornings, especially cold ones. Both Aely's knees cracked as she shuffled into her quilted gambeson and pants. Pulling on her cloak and a pair of heavy, fur-lined leather boots she stepped out quickly to get a bucket of water.
Back in her tent, she lit a single-burner stove and dug out a well-used, blue-speckled pot. She cracked open the seal on a metal tin and inhaled deeply, a rich, dark aroma wafting through the air. Nearby a little glass container glinted faintly, a gift of finely milled sugar from Arrens. With a practiced hand she filled the basket, settling it into the pot, filled just to the little line below the spout with icy water.
And then she waited. The stove worked its magic.
In just enough time to finish buckling on the last of her armor, the water came to a boil and her tent filled with the smell of wakefulness.
A quick tug and her tabard settled over the rest of her kit.
Aely grabbed a large mug and stepped out into the pre-dawn air.
Six very young crusaders stood crowded around her tent - five men and a woman, each with an empty mug and the look of an overhungry, slightly desperate stray dog. They all spoke at once.
"Sorry to bother you ma'am."
"We just... well, you can smell that coffee clear down to the armory."
"We've gotta be at watch in ... 12 minutes."
"Cookie says there won't be coffee for another hour."
"Cookie don't make proper coffee anyway."
She arched an eyebrow at them. "Yir th' new watch crew?"
"Yes'm" The woman answered quickly, her hair creeping out around the edges of her helm.
Aely pulled on her best attempt at a stern face. "Well, I dinna jus' give this stuff away, ye ken... wonderin' how much it's worth t' ye?"
Six pair of eyes widened, unsure and partially frozen. Everyone had spoken of the warm welcome they'd likely receive, of the hospitality of the old Lordaeron Paladins, and that this particular Lordaeron Paladin made really good coffee.
The shortest of the group spoke up. "Worth, ma'am?"
"Yeh. Thinkin' mayhap ye could do a bit ay work first. Like makin' a snow angel t' piss off th' Commander. Maybe ye could make me a Snow Deader, f'r target practice?" Aely felt the corners of her mouth twitch, suppressing a laugh.
Silence hung for a moment until she could no longer maintain the straight face.
Aely laughed, grinning at them. "Oh Ligh', I'm jus' takin' th' piss. Dinna fash. Ye lot ought t' ken I alwis make enough f'r th' first watch, so dinna sit lookin' like I'm gonna make ye roll in th' snow air turn ye away wi' nothin! 'S just finished, so yir right oan time."
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