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Searching for the Runaway

Darrell Browning approached the reception area with his usual deliberate stride. The teenager sitting behind it looked apprehensive as the man leaned on the desk, looming over her. “My name is Darrell Browning. I’m looking for my son, Phillip. He’s been volunteering here.”

The girl pushed her chair back, as much to get more space as to get out from under the desk. “I’ll… go… get Miss Langley…”

She scurried off. Darrell stood flipping impatiently through the registry. There was Phillip’s name, all right--almost every day, up until about a week ago. Browning scowled. Why did his name stop appearing? Had he stopped working here?

A middle-aged woman came down the hall, drying her hands on a towel, the girl trailing behind and trying to use the woman as a shield. “You’re looking for someone named Phillip?” she said without preamble.

“Yes, Phillip Browning. My son. He’s been volunteering here for a month or two.”

The woman shook her head. “Not here, he hasn’t. Church wouldn’t let him sign on while he was suspended.”

“What?” Darrell shook his head irritably. “That can’t be right. He started doing volunteer work a couple of weeks after his suspension. Look.” He pulled the guest book over and pointed at the most recent page. “That’s him, he was coming here almost every day.”

“Sure, he came by. He and the draenei girl were coming to see one of the old folks, but they stopped when the guy got transferred out.” She draped the towel over her shoulder. “Sorry I can’t help you, mister. I need to get back to work.”

Browning was still trying to process the information. “Draenei girl? What draenei girl?”

Langley was already walking away. “The pale one. Lucy or something.”

He glanced at the register under his hand. The only other name on the page--”Lejian?”

“Sure, whatever.” The woman went through a door and disappeared.

Darrell walked slowly back out of the building, mind whirling with confusion. His son had said he was volunteering at the rest home--no, now that he thought about it, that wasn’t quite right. Phillip had said he’d gotten volunteer work to do until he could re-apply for seminary. Darrell had assumed he meant the rest home where that old Bishop had been interred, where Phillip had been checking up on him.

Clearly he had assumed wrong. Why wouldn’t his son tell him where he was really going?

“I should never have let him sign up for the seminary in the first place,” muttered Darrell. That was where the trouble had all started. Phillip had gotten it into his head he wanted to be a priest, instead of the solid tinker’s apprenticeship Darrell had arranged for him. He had allowed his son to have his way, and ever since then Phillip had been getting himself into trouble--first getting involved with a scandal involving some homeless veteran, then suspended, and then--what? Where had he been going, what had he been doing, that he felt the need to hide it from his father?

And now a runaway.

Browning exhaled, exasperated, irritated, and worried. Whatever mess Phillip had gotten himself into, Darrell would get him out of it. And then he was going to Ironforge, away from this notion of priesthood and whatever he was involved with now, and Darrell would keep a closer eye on him to make sure he stayed out of trouble.

Browning turned away from the docks and marched back towards the city.

***

The clerk at the Stormwind guard offices took his report and sent him back to talk to an officer.

“Runaway.” The man glanced over the report. “How long has he been gone?”

“Since last night.” Darrell sat ramrod-straight in the uncomfortable chair, trying not to show his impatience.

“You sure he ran away?”

“He left a note.” Darrell briefly summed up their argument and the note he’d found on the table.

The guard jotted a note of his own on the report. “How old is he?”

“Seventeen.” Darrell’s heart sank, he suspected he knew what was coming.

He was correct. “Legally, he’s an adult. We can look for him, and tell him you’re worried about him, but if he don’t want to come home we can’t make him.”

Browning stood. “Just tell me where he is. I’ll get him to come home.” He strode back the way he had come, fuming. He had been stymied at every turn. What else had Phillip been hiding from him?
Lunadelle Moonwhisper
(( Perfectly natural for Darrell's own world-view. But, there is another world floating, shattered in the sky above us. He'd do well to take a clue. ))
  • October 15, 2017
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Lejian
(( Clearly he's out partying and painting the town red! At retirement homes and charities. ))
  • October 19, 2017
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Phillip Browning
(( It's the perfect ruse. No one would EVER suspect him. ))
  • October 19, 2017
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