[Story] The Ghostclaw – Sorrowmoss

It’s strange being in the company of the living again. I’d forgotten how restless and busy they are, and above all how noisy. The younger recruits especially, I think I could hear them across the entire forest. They don’t realize it of course, it’s simply the noise of being living. Breathing, talking, eating, laughing. I know I did it too, and in years it wasn’t very long ago but it seems that it was. I’ve leapt over a great chasm and seen what is on the other side, and I can’t go back. If I try hard, I can remember bits of memories, but it gets more difficult as the days pass. Some days I can’t even remember my old name, but I don’t need it anymore. That’s not who I am now. Now I am Sorrowmoss, my body become part of the forest itself. Every one of us will, eventually — I’m just closer than the rest of them.

Except for Orledin. He understands. He’s had some training with a sword — he was among those raised to serve the Lich King. He’s been practicing with his bow as well, and while he’s making some progress, I don’t let it worry me much. My aim is unerring, and if anything gets past me, he can take care of it with his sword. There hasn’t been much opportunity to, however. Most of what we’re doing is observing the ziggurat for the summoners and their demons. They’re like us, except they are humans. Why have they come here? They don’t belong. Orledin and I are from these woods, and we’ll return to them one day. We are part of these woods already. Humans aren’t. While we wait sometimes I wonder if they’d be more willing to speak to us than the living rangers. We’re more like them after all, at least in that regard. It’s as if we are members of an exclusive society that no one wants to join.

I wonder what’s to become of us once more residents move in. Already the captain has advised us to avoid the roads, lest we frighten anyone or be mistaken for Scourge. People don’t even attempt to hide the disgust in their expression when they see us, even in town. They don’t realize that we are more suited to keeping them safe than anyone else: we have no need of food or rest, we can see well in the darkness, and we make no sound. Still, they shudder to look at us, or hide their eyes and look away. They don’t want to be reminded of what they’ll one day become. The captain is more understanding than most. He’s agreed to let us help, and I’m grateful for that. I could — and would — have continued to patrol on my own, but we’re more effective together. The building is okay. It’s nice to get out of the rain sometimes. Though I don’t need sleep, I have my own bed. I do rest on it sometimes, usually to read. Linarelle tries to make conversation, but I don’t know what to say. I know Orledin talks with the others. He tries so very hard to fit in, to make them forget what he is. He’ll be disappointed, I think.

The forest is growing, the new soft leaves pushing out of their buds, stems reaching up from the earth. More people are here too, we see them as we walk the trails out toward the ziggurat. What’s to become of us then? Will this forest still have a place for people like us? I lived all of my life here, and I’ve remained after it. I don’t want to leave. I want to keep it safe. I hope I’ll be able to.

[Art] Draw a Centaur Day

This was just a fun little thing people were doing on Tumblr yesterday. I didn’t finish until today though!

taurinks

 

I used to play Dungeons and Dragons back in the day, and then you could do all kinds of wacky stuff. I had a book of monstrous characters, and one of the races was centaur so I made this centaur bard. I only got to play her a couple of times, but she was tons of fun. I’d love to do a more finished drawing sometime with complete costume, I imagine she’d have things like bells on her hooves.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Sath’alor’s Journal

We were talking about the ball last night. I think Tylenthis plans to ask Linarelle to go, but honestly I’m not sure what she’ll say. Girls are sneaky, as I was telling them. I have two sisters, I know that girls talk about us when we’re not there. They both said that Nessna doesn’t talk about me on patrol at all though. That could be a good thing — maybe it means she has nothing to complain about. But it could also be a bad thing if she doesn’t think about me at all. I don’t know. Like I said, they’re sneaky. I mean, it is patrol so it’s not exactly the time to be discussing your personal life, and also the guys aren’t girls.

There still hasn’t been any further information on that, which is frustrating. It seems like we’ve been watching for weeks now, and we’re no closer to finding this summoner. I can’t shake the feeling that Kestrae knows more than she’s telling me, too. I was able to find out a little bit about the strange blind man on the road, apparently he comes into town regularly for news. He lives out in the charred part of the forest, just across the river. Other than that, all they could tell me was a first name, and that didn’t turn up in the digging that I did. I don’t think he’s a threat or anything, it’s just strange. I wonder if the Confessor would know more. Gaelardrim plans to ask the Confessor if there are any suitable ladies at the estates in the woods too.

He doesn’t want a girl who grew up in the city, which rules out Linarelle I guess — even though she’s been a ranger for years. I pointed out to him that Nessna grew up in the city too, and he said I guess she’s “okay”. She’s more than okay, I don’t think he knows what he’s missing. It can get awfully lonely out here, and with so few women there’s a lot of competition. I guess I’m really lucky that Nessna agreed to see me, I told Ty that I would have been really upset if she didn’t. I’d been thinking about her a lot before I even got the nerve to ask her about it, I don’t think he thinks that way about Lin though. He said he’d be disappointed, but he’d still want to be friends. That’s probably the better way to do it. Anyway, Gaelardrim said the girls at the school are too young, but I don’t think he’s all that old himself. He didn’t say his exact age, but I know he’s younger than me by a fair amount. I thought some were older, but I wasn’t paying that much attention. Even if they are too young, just a dance wouldn’t hurt anything. He’d probably have fun, and the girls would have something to gossip about for a few days. Tylenthis said he’d see about inviting some girls he knows from the city, but wouldn’t those be city girls? I don’t know. I feel like he’s not being totally upfront, when I asked about Lin he said he was sure that she hates him. That’s probably the opposite of what she thinks, because girls are sneaky like that.

I did tell Ty about the plan though. I hope he doesn’t tell anyone and ruin it. I’m still saving up anyway.

 

[Story] Fairsong Academy – Terellion’s Journal

I’m not sure if things are better or not. Everyone kept bothering me to talk to Hethurin, even though he refused to talk to me. I don’t know how it was supposed to help. I wanted to ask Lani about whether I could work for her if Hethurin fired me. At first she said she didn’t need any cakes. That’s ridiculous, who doesn’t need cake? But then I explained that I meant I want to help on the building, and she said that would be okay. So at least I have a backup plan if things go badly. They tried to tell me that Hethurin wasn’t going on the trip with Renner because he liked him, but how would they know? They have private lessons every day, and they’re going on a trip together. Lani went to the study and checked on Hethurin and she said he was there alone and he wanted to talk to me. I figured he was going to finally fire me.

Instead he said he had been keeping something from me and he was finally going to be honest. I figured that’s when he was going to admit that he liked Renner. Instead he told me that Renner is actually his teacher, and he’s been learning chronomancy. (I’m pretty sure that means time magic.) He said his real name is Renzdormu, I said that was a pretty weird name. Renner is really a dragon, a bronze dragon. I don’t know if I really believe that or not, but Hethurin says he’s seen him change. I’m supposed to keep it a secret, but I have a lot of things I want to ask. Like does he breathe fire? Does he eat people? I didn’t know that dragons eat cake but they must because he eats almost as much as Hethurin does. I think that’s a pretty big secret to keep from someone, though I do see his point. If everyone knew there was a dragon here they would freak out and not allow their students to come here. But then he started telling me a bunch of other things like how he laughed at a fat kid one time and wore his sister’s robe (that was kind of weird). He also told me about how he messed up a timeline with Aeramin’s father. I think that’s kind of a big one. He says he doesn’t want to have any more secrets, except he hasn’t really told me about why he changed his name. Then he asked if I had any secrets, but I couldn’t think of any. Maybe I should because I think he feels really bad about his. I could make one up that isn’t too bad, but I don’t know what. Maybe Mae can help me think of one, except I’m not supposed to talk about them anyway.

So I still don’t know if things are better, I mean, I don’t like having to lie for him. That doesn’t feel right to me. But I guess I’m glad that he told me. And at least he’s not sleeping on the couch, that helps too. But I still don’t really know what’s going on with the portal thing, or with Vaildor. I think if we talk about it again I’m just going to get upset again. He said he’s working on being able to take me, but it might not be possible. If I’d studied magic I bet he’d take me. It’s so confusing though. I should at least learn enough to be able to stop dangerous spells though, like a spellbreaker. But I don’t know who could teach me things like that. Do dragons know how? But I’m supposed to pretend I don’t know he’s a dragon, or something. Maybe it’s okay if I’m only talking to him.

[Story] Fairsong Academy – Maerista’s Journal

I still don’t have an answer for Father. I mean, it’s been almost a year and I still don’t have any real friends here. The only person I talk to at all is Terellion and he’s talking about leaving. I don’t even really understand what they fought about, it all just sounds like a big misunderstanding to me. I guess it’s reassuring that guys are just as confusing with other guys as they are to girls. He’s convinced that the Magister doesn’t love him anymore and he’s going to fire him. Terellion said he might go and work for his sister, Lani, because she’s hiring builders right now for the building in town. I’m not the right person to ask for advice on this subject. I said he ought to talk to Hethurin about it, but he said he’s tried that and it just gets worse. And now he won’t even talk to him at all. I don’t know. Terellion always seemed really happy when he talked about him before, so I hope they’ll be able to sort things out. Not the least because I don’t want to lose my only friend here.

The spring ball is coming up and I don’t know if I’ll have anyone to go with. Salastion sort of asked the other night, but I guess he’s either changed his mind or forgotten about it because last night he was talking about inviting people from town. Really? I’m glad I didn’t already buy a new dress for him. He did tell me that his family works as tailors, I didn’t know that. He said he doesn’t really know how to many anything fancy, just basic robes. That’s a shame. It would be really nice to be able to have robes made right here without having to go to Silvermoon. Or at least repairs. Keyalenn ate with us too, he hasn’t done that for a long time. They talked about frost magic a lot. Honestly I think it’s a little boring, but they seem to like it. It’s good that he’s found something that interests him, I suppose. Other than Des. Though Des found that city guard, so I guess he didn’t have much choice. Anyway, he didn’t ask me either. He wants to invite his mother. Seriously? I don’t think he understands how these things are supposed to go.

They talked about whether or not we’ll have any more students. Salastion said there really isn’t room for any, unless of course someone leaves. I still haven’t decided. I know Father has to pay tuition soon if I decide to stay here. I wonder if I could go look at the schools in the city before I decide, although I know Father likes this one because it costs less. I admit, having my own practice room and my own (very nice) bedroom is pretty tempting. I am learning a lot. But school is supposed to be a nice time, isn’t it? If I’m just getting lessons from Magister Firewind, couldn’t I just live in Shattrath? Although I don’t know anyone there either, and it’d be a lot further from home. I don’t know what to do. I can’t talk to Magister Fairsong about it, he’d probably be upset that I’m even considering leaving, and he’s also acting strange lately with this thing with Terellion.

[Story] Sideways

“Is the portal ready?” Zarah asked, peering into the open doorway. In the small studying room, several books lay open, as well as numerous small glass vials.

“Almost,” said the young woman in the center of the room. Zarah recognized the contents of the jar she now held in her hand; residue from their last trip. It was so frustrating to come so close, yet the rogue mage had eluded them once again. Not this time, she hoped. “I’ll call you when it is.” She paused, studying Zarah’s expression carefully. “Is this safe? I mean — is it more dangerous than usual?”

That was a curious way to put it. Zarah could not lie to her Timewalker, but neither did she wish to frighten her — it would increase the chance of a mistake. They had both been in danger since they began this chase, and it would surely increase once they actually caught Sanimir. He’d already slain some of her own kind, all dragons that she had known for centuries. The others had been all too willing to allow Zarah to be the one to pursue him, unwilling to risk their own safety. It was more than about the timeways now, those dragons had been her friends. And she felt responsible, somehow, because it was Renner’s Timewalker who had wandered so far astray. She should have watched him closer. She should have stayed –

Lena was still watching her, the little glass vial in her hand. “Sanimir is a very powerful mage. But so are you. We need to outsmart him, that’s all.”

That was easier said than done. Zarah had stumbled across an unexpected ally in the mage tower, one who knew much more of the intricacies of portals than she did. She hated to ask for help, but this was more pressing than her own pride. Thankfully, the blue dragoness had been more than willing to show Zarah how to collect portal residue and discern its magical signature. In much the same way that timeways had individual characteristics, so did portals weave their symbols in such a way that each individual portal was distinct. The runes that the mage chose, the way they were ordered, what sort of materials used to create it — these all left their marks and could be studied by the careful observer. A Timewalker’s portals were far more complex of course, as they spanned both space and time, but the same basic principles applied. That was what Lena had been doing for the past several days, scrutinizing and testing the small jar of portal dust. It would not take them to Sanimir’s current time and place, but it would hopefully unearth more clues. And so long as the trail remained, they would follow it.

Zarah went to her quarters and opened the heavy wooden chest in her closet. She checked the straps and buckles of the device inside to ensure they were tight and strong. Anyone simply glancing at it would think it an ordinary saddle for riding horses, perhaps a bit wider than usual. But the seat of the saddle fit over her own back, the leather straps buckled over her throat and directly behind her wings to hold it into place. She knew many dragons who refused to allow the indignity of being ridden, but Zarah was more practical. It was safer — much less chance that Lena would slip off and fall in flight — and it allowed Zarah’s mouth and claws to be free should some danger approach. And she was certain that Lena found it thrilling to ride on a dragon’s back. Zarah hoisted the saddle onto her hip and returned to Lena’s study, where the portal now yawned open in a shimmer of magical energy.

The dragon stepped through first, searching for immediate danger before she let her human disguise fade. Lena followed, deftly buckling the straps of the saddle into place. She once told Zarah that she had worked as a stable-girl before being accepted into her magical studies, and the saddle had been her design. Zarah had chosen her Timewalker with deliberation and care — if only Renner had done the same! As the human swung up onto the saddle, Zarah looked around them uncertainly. She knew this place, of course. It was the shrine of their birth, the place that they all returned. But the time was unfamiliar, and tainted by a sense of wrongness, somehow. It made her uneasy, but she knew that Lena could not have made a mistake. She spread her wings and lifted up off the sand, searching for any clues.

Images frozen from another time surrounded them in the air, the dragons’ golden wings paused mid-beat. The sky was a dark, ugly black, and crackled with lightning. She knew now when they were, a time when her kind no longer existed, where she was the long-faded image. On the rock below them, a dragon stood. Lightning crackled over its inky black scales, its eyes glowing eerily white. Beside him was the mage they sought, Sanimir — she recognized his flamboyant robes and his long hair. He opened a portal, tore a hole in the timeway itself, and stepped through.

[Art] Tundra Dragons

Been working on art today! These are two Tundra dragons I drew as prizes for a contest on Tumblr. Dragon design is by Flight Rising!

pup_cutie_final budgie_cutie_final

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