Most of the stories I’ll put up for tales for Tuesday will involve Zuckerman, Regatta’s pet pig, so I thought it’d be a good idea to put his origin story up. This is a two-part story, the second part will be posted not next Tuesday (as I am on vacation) but the Tuesday after.
Zuckerman the Famous Pig
It’s dark in here, and the air smells of the roasted remains of my family.
It’s too warm, and I’m choking on the smoke.
I hate this place. I never wanted to come here.
I don’t know what her plans are for me. And I’m not sure I want to.
Some days, I’m afraid to even open my eyes. Because I know she’ll be there. Looking at me. Smiling. Her eyes lit up with plans. Which one of those plans is for me? For my inevitable doom?
I hate her. And I hate this place. This is my punishment for defiance. A lifetime trapped in the body of a swine. With a terminally cheerful dead girl as my keeper.
I really should have killed him when I had the chance. I wouldn’t be here now if I had.
“I don’t think he likes you very much. Let’s roast him and eat him.”
“Borstan, we can’t roast and eat everyone who doesn’t like us.”
“Why the hell not?”
“Well… it’s just not right. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Besides. I think he’s just shy.”
“Pigs can’t be shy. But they can be delicious if they’re roasted with a nice plum sauce.”
“You know, it’s things like this that are making him so timid. He’s scared you’ll come get him in the middle of the night and he’ll end up as bacon on our breakfast table!”
“He should be bacon on our breakfast table.”
“Zamja likes him. She says he’s got a soul and I shouldn’t let you bully me into eating him.”
“Zamja is imagining things. He’s a pig, and pigs are good eating.”
“Not this pig. This pig is family. Like Tato.”
The Orc sighs and glares at her.
“You’re gonna’ need to pay more in rent if you intend to keep that pig in your rooms.”
“That’s fine. How much do you want?”
He looks hopeful, “75 silver a month?”
“Ok. 75 silver extra a month.”
“I should’ve asked for a gold.”
“But you didn’t. So 75 silver it is.”
She smiles at him. The truth is, Borstan hadn’t accepted any of her coin for 3 months now. Zamja, his wife, had said it was because she was like the dead daughter no one really ought to have. Regatta had decided to take that as a compliment. She felt the same way. Borstan, his wife, and her brother had made her feel welcome, and like family from the very day she came to them to see about renting the rooms.
While at first, they didn’t seem keen to rent to a “deader”, her priestly training made up for it. It wasn’t long before they’d grown fond of her. For her part, she liked them from the very first moment she met them.
But Regatta likes everyone by default.
Borstan poked the pig in the side.
“It’s a shame. He’s nice and meaty…”
The pig looked at him, and if pigs could growl, this one did.
Borstan looked at her.
“No one likes to be poked Borstan.”
He looked back at the pig.
“There’s something that’s not right about that pig Reg.”
“He’s not gonna’ be dinner Borstan and that’s that!!”
“No. No he’s not.”
And it was the way he said it, that made Regatta look at her pig, Zuckerman, and consider what Borstan had said.
The dead girl has her uses. She brings me food, and lets me roll in mud.
And she brings me to distant lands, where I might find some entertainment.
And by entertainment, I mean victims.
She’s asleep now.
And I’m wide awake.
Doras had just started his shift when the pig walked up the ramp of the wind rider tower.
The pig stopped at his feet and made a kind of snarling noise that pigs ought not to be capable of.
Doras strained his eyes into the darkness waiting for the pig’s owner to walk up.
But an owner never came, and the pig was becoming impatient.
He looked down.
The pig grunted and gestured, in a strange sort of piggish way, towards the wind riders.
“You want a ride?”
The pig grunted again.
“But… you’re a pig.”
This fact had not escaped the pig’s attention.
“How will you hold the reins?”
The pig had no answer for that, and bit him.
“Ow. What the…”
He stopped short as he watched the pig walk over to the wind rider and kind of shimmy and hop his way on it’s back.
It clamped the reins in its teeth and made a squealing sound that the wind rider took to mean,
“Hit the road buddy.”
As he was taking off, Doras yelled,
“Hey! You have to pay for that!”
The pig made what could only be construed as a rude gesture in response, and was soon out of sight.
Doras stood there in stunned silence and decided that he would need to start drinking right away if he was to get through the rest of his shift.
Regatta woke, as she usually did, in a good mood. She sat up and swung her legs over the side of her bed, and wiggled her toes deep into the fluffy wooly hide that was her rug. Left foot. Wiggle wiggle. Right foot. Wiggle wiggle. Stretch, sigh, smile.
Something caught her eyes.
She looked at the fluffy fresh pile of hay that made up Zuckerman’s bed. She looked at Zuckerman. Something was different… what was it…
And that’s when she saw it.
A small swatch of cloth, under his back leg. She walked over and reached down to look at it more closely.
Zuckerman woke, and his gaze let Regatta know that her examinations were not welcome.
She stepped back confused.
She thought to herself,
“There was blood on that. Could Zuckerman… No… He’s just a little pig… Sure he’s as mean as a bag of pit vipers, but what harm can he really do? Really…”
Zuckerman began to laugh menacingly.
Ok.. well.. he really snorted. But it was very menacing.
Regatta was getting worried.
Zuckerman was even more hostile than he usually was, and he was guarding that scrap of fabric as if his little piggy life depended on it.
Which, of course, only served to make Regatta want it more.
She spent a good part of the morning making a little scrap of fabric to match the one in his little bed. And when he went to make business (read: pee on the doormat in front of the herbalists shop) she struck.
She carefully lifted the small clump of hay that hid the fabric, and pulled it out while substituting her own.
Now, this all seems like it only took a moment. But the reality is, it took a good 10 minutes. Regatta would stop. Listen. And slowly slowly, inch the hay clump up another half-inch. All the while, listening to her own thoughts fight each other.
Rational Mind: “It’s just a pig! What’s he going to do? Squeak you to death?”
Irrational Mind: “Hurryhurryhurryhurry!!!!!!!! Before he comes BACK!!!!!!!!”
Rational Mind: “Who cares if he knows you took his precious piece of fabric? He’s just a pig.”
Irrational Mind: “What was that noise? Was that him? Is he back?!!! Quick! hide! Behind the potted plant!!!!!”
Rational Mind: “He’s a pig! Calm down you silly girl!”
Irrational Mind: “AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!”
By the time she had replaced the piece of hay, just so, and had tucked the small scrap of fabric into her pocket, she was shaking
and covered in sweat. She didn’t even know she could sweat still, and she’d been to some pretty hot places lately. She wiped her hand across her brow and stared at the dampness. She laughed nervously. And jumped about thirty feet in the air when Zuckerman came waddling into the room, quite happy with himself. Regatta would guess, and be right, that he left an extra “gift” on the herbalist shop’s doormat. And she guessed, and she would be right again, that a very angry shop owner would soon be by to have a conversation with her.
“I’m going to go see what Borstan has for breakfast”
She was almost positive he could see through this. But Zuckerman just wandered over to his hay pile and prepared to lay down.
Regatta held her breath.
Would he know? If he did, what would he do?
The pig sniffed at the hay, then flopped down on the pile.
Presently, he began to snore.
Regatta ran from her rooms, and out the front gates of Orgrimmar. She didn’t stop until she was at the Zeppelin tower. She hid behind a bush, and, after checking to make sure a bloodthirsty pet pig wasn’t following her, pulled out the scrap of fabric.
It looked familiar to her.
She would find out why when she heard Raga say,
“Reg. We have to talk about your pig.”