[Story] Story a Week – Imp

Xanaroth held his breath as the portal opened, fel-green smoke swirling through the room. Though Elara was safely upstairs, there was always still that moment of danger before whatever it was stepped through the portal. Felarius wasn’t powerful enough to open large portals, but that wouldn’t stop something that was really determined to get through. Most demons, though, preferred to stay in their own realm. Imps were generally a bit easier to coax over — and they never seemed to guess ahead of time what lay ahead of them.

Felarius, his summoning student, shook faintly with the effort of maintaining the spell, his eyes fixed on the demonic portal. He had made great progress in the past few months, and Xanaroth felt he was ready to work with his first demon. Of course, that meant he had to summon it first. For a few long seconds, he believed nothing would happen. Though the portal had opened, perhaps there was something wrong; a rune slightly smudged or the angle just slightly wrong. But Felarius’s rune drawings had been immaculate. He’d copied them over and over in his books and was meticulous about his work — more so than Xanaroth himself had been at that age. The Twisting Nether teemed with demons, especially the little imps, which traveled in swarms for protection from their larger cousins. Was it possible that they were all in another spot?

A tiny hand appeared from the portal, followed by a wobbly oversized head. The imp stepped warily out of the portal and into the rune that Felarius had drawn on the workroom floor.

“Now,” Xanaroth said, and Felarius let the spell drop, the portal collapsing in on itself with an audible fizzle.

The imp, now alarmed, attempted to flee, but the magic circle held it in place. As it realized this, its panic grew and it began to shriek, flinging itself against the magical barrier.

Felarius frowned faintly. “Is it supposed to do that?” he whispered to Xanaroth.

The older summoner nodded. It wasn’t unusual at all for demons to resist binding. Once it accepted its fate, however, it would be easier to work with. And for imps, the protection of a warlock was preferable than being eaten by a larger demon. “Ask for its name,” Xanaroth reminded Felarius quietly.

“Imp,” Felarius announced. “You will give me your name.”

The imp cowered at the edge of the rune, its little clawed hands over its large ears. It wouldn’t matter; the rune that Felarius had drawn compelled it to obey. “D-dagtuk!” it screeched. Xanaroth hoped it wasn’t going to scream like that all of the time. It hurt his ears, and it would likely wake Elara.

He had also had Felarius practice the binding spell repeatedly. Any error there could cause the binding to weaken over time, putting the summoner at risk. As Felarius recited the binding spell, shadowy shackles formed around the imp’s wrists and ankles. “Dagtuk, I bind you to my bidding,” he said, and the imp whimpered quietly, but seemed to have calmed down, at least.

Xanaroth walked the perimeter of the rune, checking for any errors and inspecting the imp’s bindings. He was well aware that any mistake he overlooked would put his student in danger, so he took his time to see that everything was done correctly. Felarius watched him anxiously. At last he nodded. “Break it,” he instructed Felarius. With his boot, he smudged away one of the runes of the binding circle on the floor. Dagtuk crept warily to the spot and stuck his arm out tentatively. When nothing happened, the imp crawled slowly out of the circle to crouch at Felarius’s feet. For the first time, his student allowed himself a smile. “It worked,” he said, sounding a little amazed. “Can I pick it up?”

“Of course,” said Xanaroth. “Don’t lose it. Or if you do, you remember the recall spell?”

“I won’t,” Felarius said, touching the imp’s head gingerly. “And I do.”

As Xanaroth had expected, the imp calmed down once it realized that it wasn’t in immediate danger. It would still be curious about its new surroundings, and cause trouble if not supervised, but in time it might even grow fond of its master. Once it got a taste of proper food, it would never want to leave.

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[OOC] NaNoWriMo 2017

Well, I talked myself into signing up for NaNo this year. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a challenge to write 50,000 words in the month of November. There’s a site here, if you’re interested in joining in:

https://nanowrimo.org/

It’s been a really long time since I’ve attempted it, and my life is a lot busier now than it was then. But I am fairly confident that I’ll be able to keep up with my word-count if I can set aside a set block of time every day.

However, because I have hopes to publish this book eventually, that means I won’t be able to post it here. It also means it’s not likely that I’ll have time to write much else during the month of November. I’ll try to queue up some interesting screenshots to look at in the meantime! I will also post updates, and maybe excerpts if I don’t feel like they’re too embarrassing!

 

[Story] Thorns – The Shipment

Despite his attempts to distance himself from his kaldorei past, some nights Harrier still found it impossible to sleep. Most times that happened, he would find some work to do. The winter holidays were quickly approaching, the shop’s busiest time of the year, and he’d have to hurry to make enough to meet demand. He could get to that a bit later, though. Tonight he was expecting a shipment at the docks, the sort he didn’t want to unload in the middle of the busy morning. While Nash and the rest of the house still slept, Harrier put on his boots and cloak and went out into the chilly night.

He made his way across the roofs, not only because it was faster, but because he missed it. Maybe Nash was right, he had been too safe and boring lately. He preferred to think of it as not taking any unnecessary risks, but greater risk brought greater rewards. Hadn’t that been one of the first things he learned in Ironforge? The ships and their crews slumbered in the docks, only a few street lamps burned to light the way. Harrier made his way to a small ship on the end, its bow decorated with a leaping wolf. From its bared jaws hung a lamp, lit with a tiny green flame. Harrier rapped at the captain’s window, and a short time later he appeared on the deck. He was a gnome, Harrier hadn’t expected that. But he’d known plenty in Ironforge, and they were incredibly quick and agile, and stronger than you might think. They also had a certain knack for taking charge.

Harrier took some coins from his pocket. They would no doubt be the last, this was just to get things moving. “I heard you had a shipment for me,” he said, his breath steaming into clouds in the cold air. The gnome inspected the coins before dropping them into his pocket. Nodding, he motioned Harrier up onto the deck. There, the captain opened one of the cargo hatches and lit another lamp.

“First pick, just like you asked for,” said the gnome. “There you’ve got some orc weapons, axes and stuff,” he said, gesturing to a very long box along the edge of the cargo hold. “ Harrier wasn’t really interested in weapons — at least, weapons that large. They would be difficult to sell and would attract a lot of attention in the shop. The gnome also had a load of expensive fabric — not illegal, but he could easily resell it for a huge markup. There was a crate of books, they looked magical so Harrier opted to take those. Mages — and others — would pay through the nose for books, especially if they were of questionable legality. He was less interested in the goblin magazines, though he supposed he could sell them to kids who wandered in with their parents.

“Got anything from Silvermoon?” Harrier asked. The person who’d given him the gnome’s name had said he often did. He wasn’t exactly sure how a gnome managed that, which made it all the more impressive.

“Sure do,” said the gnome, hopping onto another stack of crates. “You got some mana crystals here,” he pointed. “Some Eversong wine and–” he paused and pried open the lid of a very small crate that was stuffed with straw. Harrier looked inside.

“It’s an egg,” said Harrier. What would he want with an egg? Unless it was made of gold or something.

“Not just an egg, it’s a phoenix egg.”

The elf had never had a pet, didn’t really have any desire for one, but he thought Nash might like it. He had no clue how to care for it though, let alone hatch it. “How do you–”

The gnome held up a finger and rummaged around in the straw, pulling out a sheaf of papers. They were instructions. Very detailed instructions. “Now, if you mess it up, I’m not responsible.”

“Understood,” Harrier said.

He gave the gnome the rest of his gold, while the captain called his crew to come haul the boxes onto the dock.

 

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Fishing

“Ann’da, can we go fishing?”

Sath’alor looked over the stacks of paperwork that covered his desk. Most were reports that needed to be read and filed, some were equipment requests, there might have even been a letter of inquiry in there, but he hadn’t got that far into the pile yet. Whatever it was, fishing sounded like a much better idea.

“We sure can,” he said, patting Rylad on the head as he got up. Perhaps he’d already known that his ann’da would say yes, because he had on his boots and coat. “Do you think Zaren would like to go too? I think he’s big enough.”

Rylad seemed to consider for a moment and then nodded. “Yeah, but he can’t hold a pole.”

“No?”

“He’d drop it,” said Rylad.

That was probably true. While Zaren had grown a lot, he was still little, and he was still at the age where he was more interested in eating things off the ground than much else. “I’ll help him,” Sath’alor suggested, and Rylad agreed to that plan.

Nessna was still away on her patrol, so he left a note that he’d taken the boys fishing with him. He also put on the scratchy new sweater she’d just bought for him. It would take some getting used to, but it was certainly warm. And it had lynxes on it. Sath’alor had never seen a sweater like that before, and he would have bought it if he had, so he was pleased with her choice. He wrangled Zaren into a hooded suit with a zipper, and helped him into his boots. Rylad could do most of it by himself, so he fetched the fishing poles and basket. They could stop along the way to look under rocks for grubs and worms for bait.

The forest was ablaze with autumn color, the once-dead trees having regrown some of their leaves over the past few years. Birds and little animals — squirrels and chipmunks — dashed and chirped overhead. Rylad delighted in stomping on every particularly crunchy leaf along the trail, hearing the satisfying crackle they made. The morning was chilly, but not too cold, and the day would grow warmer as it went on. It was a day that was practically made for fishing.

He baited the hooks and helped them get into the water. Rylad was an old pro at fishing, he gripped his pole and stared intently at the water, watching for any splashes or ripples. Zaren was more fascinated by the grub on the hook, but Sath’alor didn’t let him eat it. He had snuck some cookies in his pack though, and gave one of them to each.

Rylad had a lot of questions about fish, though. Sath’alor didn’t really know terribly much about them — his main interest in fishing had been finding food for his cats to eat.

“Do fish sleep?”

“Where do fish pee?”

“Does it hurt them to get caught?”

“Do fish have ann’das?”

Sath’alor hoped they might catch one or two — fresh fish with spices sounded delicious for dinner. But even if they didn’t, it had been a perfect day.

[Story] Fairsong Academy – Maerista’s Journal

The weather’s starting to get cold, and I thought I should get Gael a new sweater. Not that there’s really anything wrong with any of the other ones he has, but they’re maybe not as soft as they once were, and some of them have got a little mud on them from patrol. That’s going to happen, living out in the woods. And I admit, they always have new designs and I feel like he might get bored with wearing the same old boring sweaters all the time. I’ve been so busy with the extra work at school that  I hadn’t had time to go yet, though. Even though Xarola and Vynlorin offered to help check papers — which I certainly appreciate — there’s a lot of work to be done preparing lessons and exams. I also check essays myself, because those are subjective. I thought a trip to the city to look for a sweater would be a nice break, but then Gael brought up something I hadn’t thought about before.

Don’t the other rangers get cold? Sure, they have cloaks, but he said none of them have sweaters. Can you imagine! I guess their wives don’t care if they freeze to death or not. Or if their ears get frozen in the wind. So I decided that I would invite some of them along with me, it could be a fun trip and I could get a chance to talk to some of them more. Since we have our own house, I hardly ever see them, let alone get to talk. Nessna and Lin both have young babies too — Lin’s is the littlest. He’s so cute, it makes me realize how big Zaeris has gotten. I didn’t think I should ask Sorrowmoss, first of all she wouldn’t be allowed in Silvermoon, second she doesn’t have anyone to buy a sweater for. Neither do Kavia, Yara, or Anorelle, at least that I know of. That left Vellira, Lin, and Nessna, and I had to find a time when they all wouldn’t be on patrol and I wouldn’t be teaching classes. Well, I thought about asking Julan, but honestly I wasn’t sure if it would be a good idea having to keep a close eye on him all afternoon. They all seemed confused at first, but agreed to come anyway, maybe because I said I’d buy lunch.

I went straight to my favorite stall in the market for sweaters, they set up their booth around this time every year and there’s piles of different ones. I think every single one is different, so you have to look through all of them to find the best ones. Nessna said that the other rangers didn’t need sweaters, because they already had cloaks. Sure, I said, but wouldn’t they be warmer with a sweater AND a cloak? Also, you can get a set of matching ear-warmers and a scarf if you like. Then I found a sweater that had little lynxes running across the front and that convinced her. Lin asked if they had any with lizards, which they didn’t, but she did find one with a dragon. I think if you squint you could pretend that it was a lizard. And lizards and dragons are probably related, anyway. Vellira seemed to love the idea, and she ended up buying three sweaters, with matching ear-warmers and scarves. At least one of them is worried about her ranger getting cold. One of them had a ship on the front, she said that one was her favorite.

We went to the tea house and had tea and sandwiches. It has been so long since I got to just talk with other ladies that I think I’d forgotten how to. But it was nice, I want to do it again. It just feels a little awkward because they’re all rangers and I’m a mage, but then we just talked about normal things for the most part, so maybe it isn’t too strange. Especially when we talked about babies, Vellira made a face about that. I think she’s older than I am, then again mine was kind of a surprise.

We also stopped to have the sweaters all wrapped up. You can’t give someone a gift without wrapping it properly! The boxes looked really large because the sweaters are so big and fluffy. Vellira was trying to balance all three of hers, fortunately she was able to balance them long enough for me to open a portal back to the ranger building. I hope they all like their sweaters, and stay warm on their patrols. Gael’s is blue with little white snowflakes, and I got a matching little hat for Zaeris. They’ll both be so adorable!

[OOC/Screenshots] Space Kids

Things have been really busy this week with some serious family stuff going on, and Mr Hare is home during the day, I have a hard time focusing on writing with other people around. I do have a few ideas saved up, but I have to find time to write them.

So, here’s a couple screenshots of the Space Kids. It’s double XP and double conquest this week. I don’t need XP because they’re all 70, but I’m trying to get everyone through all the story chapters for when the new companions return. They’re earning lots of conquest which means lots of gear, they need it!

 

[Story] Story a Week – Bird

[[ I guess this is kind of a horror story, how do you make a bird scary though? What about something he’s seen before? ]]

“Stooooooop,” the parrot croaked as Carol walked past its perch. It was an Amazon, a riot of bright green, topped with yellow and blue. Carol did as the bird demanded, pausing to look it over. Its eyes were bright and mischievous. Her grandmother was a bird lover, her sitting room alive with color and their calls. She’d recently passed, and her birds gone to a rescue organization in her town, but it had got Carol thinking about getting one of her own. She’d been told to start small, perhaps a cockatiel or lovebird, but something drew her to the larger birds. They seemed so wild and alien, little dinosaurs who could clutch things in their scaly feet, and she admitted the idea of a bird who could talk tickled her. If nothing else, she’d have someone to talk to at home. She worked from home, and was well past the age that she worried about meeting someone and having kids. A bird might be just the company she needed.

The bird sidled down the perch, cocking its head at her. “Stooooop,” it said again.

“You’re insistent, aren’t you?” Carol asked. She leaned in closer to read the weathered paper tag attached to the perch, but its ink was faded and appeared to have got wet at some point. “What’s this one’s name?” she asked the teenager behind the counter.

“What’s your name,” the bird rumbled in answer, grinding its beak. “Paco.”

“Yeah, that’s Paco,” the kid said. “We just got him in a few weeks ago. He’s a rescue.”

“Oh?” Carol was intrigued. “Do you know anything else about him?”

He shook his head. “Sorry, I don’t. Animal control brought him in to see if we could find him a new owner. I guess they don’t have facilities for birds. Seems well-behaved though.”

Carol extended a cautious hand, and Paco regarded it a moment before extending a scaly foot and climbing up onto it. She gave a little gasp of surprise.

“See, he likes you.”

She smiled at the bird perched on her hand. “I guess you made the decision, then.”

It took several trips to bring all of Paco’s supplies in from her car. There was an enormous cage that Carol was sure could fit several toddlers, a wooden perch, and a bag of pellets. Not to mention all of the toys, water dishes, and various supplements she’d got to keep Paco healthy. Birds were definitely not a cheap hobby. But once she got everything set up, Paco seemed perfectly content in his new home, grooming his wing with his curved beak.

“Are you hungry, Paco? I’m going to make some dinner.”

“Stoooooop,” Paco said. It seemed he liked that one.

Birds needed fresh vegetables and fruits, so she chopped some of her salad ingredients and put them in Paco’s dish. He squished and explored everything in the same way she’d seen babies do, getting it all over his feet and beak. Carol sat down in front of the television to eat her own dinner.

“Stoooooop,” Paco muttered over his dish. “Don’t come in.”

Carol raised a curious brow and looked at Paco. “Everything okay, buddy?”

The parrot stretched his neck and wings. “Don’t come in!”

While it was a little unsettling, Carol didn’t think the bird was actually in any distress, just repeating something he’d heard before. She cleaned up her dishes and covered Paco’s cage for the night.

A shrill scream jolted her out of bed in the morning, high-pitched and intense. It was Paco, his cage cover lay on the floor and he was staring out the window. “Please,” Paco croaked, hardly a whisper. Carol’s ears still rang from the bird’s all too human scream. “Please don’t kill me.”

“I won’t, Paco,” Carol said, picking up the cage cover from the floor and folding it. “But I need you to stop screaming like that. You nearly gave me a heart attack.”

“Hello?” Paco said.

That was better, that was normal parrot stuff. “Hello,” Carol replied.

“Hello, 9-1-1? There’s someone in my house,” Paco chattered. “He’s right outside the door.”