[Story] Homecoming

The spirits were stirring.

Mianii clutched the mane of feathers tightly as the hippogryff banked sharply, descending into Telaar.

You are here, purred the wind as it swept around her, bringing the sun-baked scent of the plains.

She slid down from the strange creature’s back, pausing a moment to marvel at it. Brought to these lands by the elves, the great bird-like beasts wore a crown of antlers upon their heads and looked comically out of place to Mianii. But they seemed to have adapted well enough, as well as one can adapt to being in a strange place away from home. Mianii knew how that felt.

Where have you been? The earth beneath her hooves trembled slightly, like the stirring of a great sleeping animal. Tall grass nibbled at her heels.

They were restless and uncertain.

Down the river to the sun-dappled banks, where the talbuks lifted their heads to watch her. Mianii dipped her hooves into the water, hurrying over the stones and bubbling its excitement. Something is coming, it murmured.

Mianii drew a deep breath. Somewhere out on the plains, a cooking fire coiled lazy smoke into the sky. She wanted to be out there with them, alone with the spirits and the clefthoof and the stars. Not in the strange city in a stranger land, stuffed full of people who stared. The Farseer had called her there, but now the spirits were calling her home.

Dark clouds had gathered along the far flanks of the mountains in the distance, the promise of a storm. A thin smile found her lips.

Welcome home.

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[Story] Sirri

[[ And another, for Children’s Week, this time with Vajarra. ]]

“Ah’m sorry, lady,” the troll gave her a rueful smile which – even with the tusks – seemed genuine. “But da rules is for a reason. We only wan’ what is best for the chil’ren, you understan’.” She lay a rough hand on Vajarra’s arm, patting it once.

“Oh yes, I understand,” Vajarra said, blinking back the tears that threatened to rise. “It’s just that, well, Sirri is so sweet and I’d really like to–”

The troll matron gave her a stiff look that she suspected was often used against unruly orphans. “You take care of her t’ree more days, then she come back.”

She stepped out into the evening light of the Lower City, where Sirri still sat obediently on the crumbled wall, though she had already made friends with a young sporeling and was chatting animatedly with it. The lumpy, bluish creature fairly shivered with delight as it licked greedily at the treat that Sirri had given it. Some invention of the gnomes, a cold fruit-tasting stuff piled into a cup. Ingenious really. “Miss Vajarra!” Sirri smiled brightly. “I’m sharing!”

The little child’s earnest enthusiasm only made it hurt more badly. “That’s wonderful, Sirri,” Vajarra said, bending down to hug the little girl. She paused, uncertain how to proceed. “Would you like to stay with me for a few more days?”

Sirri hopped up and down on her tiny hooves, startling the young sporeling, who scurried back in the direction of the tents. “Yes!” she cried, clasping her hands together. Vajarra thought her a beautiful child, her skin a pale blue – like her own – and her horn buds already starting to show. Her dark brown hair was neatly pinned into a bun, Vajarra had seen to that this morning. But most of all, Vajarra was drawn to her kind and innocent nature, much like herself as a child. But this child had no strong, doting father or gentle mother, not even an annoying sister to bother her. She was all alone, and it broke Vajarra’s heart.

They strolled along the familar paths that led to the center of the city, where A’dal shimmered more brightly than the golden evening light. Faintly, she could hear the voices of a pair of Blood Knights who stood conversing nearby. The city, the world, had changed so much in such a short time. Surely it would be safer, with former enemies fighting along side. Surely it was a world where a young woman could care for a child alone. But the troll had been adamant; “Chil’ren need two parents, darlin’. A fam’ly.” If only it were so easy.

They stood before the shimmering portals, the hazy image of the Stormwind market rippling on its surface. Sirri’s small hand tightened around hers, and Vajarra smiled down at her. “We had better get started on our adventure, then.”

 

[Story] Are We There Yet?

[[ A little story for Children’s Week. ]]

“What’s that?”

Ornasse stole a weary glance skyward. It could not have been much more than a few hours, yet his patience with the little blue squirt was already wearing thin.

“That is a basilisk, it is dangerous. Do not touch it,” he muttered, rubbing gingerly at his temple.

“Oh, oops.” The tiny draenei girl hopped down from the fallen log, flittering about like a sparrow. He was certain that she had not ceased moving since they’d left the orphanage in the refugee city. Ornasse did not suspect that he looked like paternal material, yet the troll matron had nevertheless pushed the little tyke in his direction. Some sort of enrichment program for the unfortunate children, he supposed. Given the nature of the draenei people, he imagined that most would find new homes, perhaps there was a reason that this one was left behind.

“I’m hungry,” she squeaked. What was her name? Ornasse had forgotten, it was Inaa or Inuu or Aana or something like that.

He settled to all fours on the dark forest floor, sniffing the air to find his bearings. “There’s food in my pack, you can–”

“A KITTY!” the girl squealed, roughly four inches from his ear, attaching herself around his neck with both arms.

“Get -off-“, Ornasse growled, long ears pressed back to his head. She blinked in surprise, and immediately stuck out her lower lip in a pout.

What was he doing? He had no idea how to take care of a child, let alone a child from another world. She looked as if she was going to cry. Well, he reasoned, that might stop the endless stream of questions at the very least.

He rose to his feet, his tail flicking thoughtfully. They needed to reach Auchindoun, the ruins that stood in the center of the forest. He knew the trails and valleys of Terokkar well, but he had never had a tiny and appetizing traveling companion with him before and was unsure of the most safe route. Inae’s eyes brightened as she watched him.

“Can I ride you?”

Ornasse grimaced. “No, you may not ride me.”

“But my feets hurt,” she scuffed one of her hooves at the ground. “Ow.”

Had he really begged Zharya for this? The idea of a child was a pleasant one, but he was quickly realizing that the reality was a different matter entirely. The kid was irritating, asked hundreds of questions, and wandered off at the most inopportune times. He’d asked Zharya to stay with him, to have a family and she had declined. Maybe, he thought grimly, she had done him a favor after all.

Ornasse blinked, glancing down at the child who had curled herself up against his flank, looking up at him hopefully. She -was- sort of cute, when she wasn’t making noise, he had to admit.

“Very well, but you have to hold on,” he sighed, and she had scrambled up onto his shoulders before he had even finished, clutching handfuls of his pelt. “Not that hard.”

Carefully, he turned onto the trail that wound along the dry riverbed, breaking into a low, easy lope that — he hoped — would not cause his little passenger to fall off his back.

“How far is it?”