[Story] Ashenvale

Andarthir did his best to gather his courage as night fell. He was not nearly as comfortable as his tree-loving cousins when it came to moving about in the dark, but he knew the orcs would be resting then. The danger would be lessened; and he could see well enough by the moonlight. He had no idea which way they might have gone, but he decided that following the small stream nearby would be the most logical place to begin looking. For this, he could not remain in his borrowed saber form; he would need to be ready to cast should he be ambushed by orcs — or sentinels.

The forest was not as silent as he had imagined; the calls of owls and night birds rang through the treetops, answered by the low growls of some large animals. Bears, maybe, or sabers. He heard wolves calling in another part of the forest, and was relieved that he heard none close to him. Even the insects still stirred at night, their wings still whirring in the darkness. Orcs, though, he thankfully heard none. He searched the hilltops for any sign of fire, but the trees were so dense that he could not see far at all.

If there were any orcs about tonight, surely they would have heard him. It seemed that every twig and stone in the forest made its way underneath Andarthir’s boots. With each scuffle and snap, it seemed that the forest stopped to listen, and he would freeze, scarcely daring to breathe until the night sounds returned. He held his wand tightly, debating which spell would be the most suitable should he come across an orc. A turtle, that was slow, surely he could escape in time. Or a rabbit. No one was ever killed by a rabbit. Of course the difficulty was condensing the enormous bulk of an orc into such a small shape, but it was an art he had practiced for thousands of years. So long as he could remember the words with an orc bearing down on him, of course.

It was late, but he couldn’t see enough of the sky to tell how late. If he returned to Dalaran, he might never find the camp. But if he stayed in the forest, he could be eaten by bears. Or orcs. Or orcs riding bears. The stream looked to curve ahead, and split into a small island in the middle. The trees grew thick there, and it seemed that it might be a safe place to rest, at least for a time. He splashed across the stream, wishing he’d worn his traveling robes, and froze. There was already a camp here, he could see two tents, and a thin tendril of smoke rose from a recently extinguished fire.


[Story] A Tangle of Brambles 26

“The medallions?” Rose was pacing, a glass of Gilean brandy in one hand, the other tightly around her waist. She was shaken, but trying her best not to show it. The elf saw, but pretended not to.

“One crate finished, next shouldn’t be any longer than two days, he says.” The Harrier glanced down to the ledger, checking the next item. “The Outland shipment is due in harbor tonight, but I haven’t been down to verify–”

“See that you do,” Rose said abruptly. She was anxious to move on to another subject. So was he.

The elf tipped his purple and zhevra-skin hat. “As you wish, mistress.”

As he expected, Rose fixed him with a dark look. “Don’t call me that.”

“But you hate “Rose”,” the elf retorted, his grin spreading.

“That’s worse.”

The Harrier closed the ledger and tucked it back into her satchel. “As you wish, mis–” He ducked in time to avoid one of her velvet slippers. She was glaring, but the corner of one side of her mouth gave her away. Almost. She never laughed, she was always so serious, everything of grave importance. He’d made it his own private goal to coax a few laughs from her, always away from the others, of course. She had the good kind of laugh, bright and always surprised by the sound of it, and she’d cover her mouth after as if embarrassed. Rose might smile at Josie and the others, but she only laughed for him — that was his alone. At least for now, he reminded himself.

But he could hardly blame her serious mood tonight. He’d been on the rooftop in the market, and he’d seen the strange man, and the lingering look he gave Rose. His first thought was that he was some man from her past, come back to claim her — but then, he understood there weren’t many men in Rose’s past. Her husband was dead, so she said.

“The man in the market,” she said finally. He watched her expression carefully. She looked troubled, but not upset.

“He’s Gilnean?”

“I think so,” Rose said, her brow furrowed. “I can’t place him though. But he knew me. The way he looked–”

The Harrier had noticed that, too. Was he really turning into what Rose said he would? Did he want to own her and keep her, did his hackles raise when another man looked at her? No, he assured himself. He was only looking out for her safety. Who knows what that man is capable of?

“Could you find out?”

He produced a thin black leather wallet from his pack, and handed it to her. “I got his wallet.”

It took her a moment to understand, and then she looked shocked. “You didn’t! You’re awful,” she said, shaking her head. “What if he caught you?”

The elf scoffed. “Him? Please. Open it up.”

He’d already checked it. There were a few papers, mostly the ship schedules between Stormwind and Darnassus, but a few letters written in a neat, orderly hand. He’d check on those names first thing in the morning. There was a fair amount of coin, too. The Harrier hoped the poor sap had some others stashed elsewhere.

Her surprised smile faded when she read one of the slips of paper.

“Oh dear,” she said. “That name — wasn’t it–” Rose moved over to the desk, hastily searching through the pile of papers. The one she sought was near the bottom. The elf remembered it when she showed it to him: the records from Gilneas, about Kor’s former employer.

[Story] A Tangle of Brambles 25

The first thing that struck him as he stepped onto the docks was just how bright the city was. The enormous towers and walls had all been built of the same gleaming white marble, a change from the gloomy streets of Gilneas, to be sure. And everything was so large. People here weren’t any larger, so why did they build everything that way? Set atop the harbor towers were enormous statues of lions, facing out over the sea. It all seemed a bit extravagant to Uldred.

The second thing he noticed was the crowds. Surely there had been in Gilneas, but Uldred hadn’t spent the last year in Gilneas — he’d been alone in a little house in the forest. He was now keenly aware of the crowd around him, their noise and their smell and the way they jostled and bumped into him without so much as a glance of apology. He hoped there were places in the city where one could find a quiet moment to study or write, the nearness of so many people felt oppressive after the solitude of Ashenvale.

They weren’t all humans, either. He saw quite a few elves, more than he would have expected. There were a few of the strange horned alien people. Klekashak mentioned them once, calling them fools and traitors, though Uldred knew better than to take what a demon said at face value. He saw gnomes and dwarves, and was surprised at just how small they were. Of course, he knew they were short, but actually seeing them was different than knowing of them. The bald man in Darnassus had mentioned the names of some gnome scholars who had made great advances in the study of demonology. Looking at the gnomes before him, Uldred was a bit skeptical of this claim. How could such a small creature hope to command a powerful demon?

And of course, there were Gilneans. While some had stayed in Darnassus, the vast majority of the refugees found Stormwind more to their liking. He wasn’t anyone of importance, but the idea that someone might recognize him here was worrisome. Uldred pulled his hat down over his eyes as he crossed the market. He hadn’t the first clue where to begin his search; it wasn’t really the sort of thing he could ask the guards for directions about. But he knew he’d need a room, and there was a large inn facing the market.

There was a woman across the way. Uldred glanced at her in passing, but something in the back of his mind made him pause and look again. She was looking over some paperwork, speaking to a merchant. He recognized her, he was sure of it. It was her hair that made him certain; a dark mahogany, like a fine dark wine, that spilled over her shoulders. She was Gilnean, and he’d seen her before. He couldn’t remember her first name, but he remembered her husband, Lord Danforth. He often came to Uldred’s father’s manor to play cards. They’d gone to the winter ball at Danforth’s, one of many they’d attended that season. She was a few years older than Uldred, and when he asked Father about her, he’d sneered indignantly. Oh her? She’s common-born, Father explained. I don’t know what Danforth was thinking.  But today, in Stormwind, she was alone. He wanted to speak to her, but his feet wouldn’t carry him the short distance across the square. Was she cursed? He couldn’t tell. What if she wasn’t, and she found out he was? His ears warmed just thinking about it. She finished her business, tucking the papers away into a leather satchel, and pulling her hood up over her head. Their eyes met for a brief moment, and she hurried away down one of the narrow streets.

Uldred frowned. He should follow, but what would she think of him? He hesitated several moments before he finally made up his mind. The clamoring, jostling crowd seemed intent on keeping him from getting to the street. By the time he reached it, the woman had already disappeared.

[Story] Ashenvale

[[ Sorry these are so short. Everyone’s home this week, makes it hard to write 😦 ]]

Andarthir lifted his head to look around as the portal shimmered and dissolved behind him. He couldn’t see Latahlali. Usually she was right here by the lake. Maybe she’d gone back to the camp to see to her grandfather. He remained in his saber shape, just to be safer. He couldn’t hide very well, but it was certainly less noticeable than his robes. He descended the little path to the lake’s edge where she liked to fish. Latahlali wasn’t here, either.

Where was she? Had she gone back to Astranaar? He went up to the hill where she and her grandfather made camp, and froze. The tents were gone. The fire was cold. Frantically, he searched the bushes and trees surrounding the clearing, but there was no sign of either of them. He could see no signs of violence, either, and that was the only fact that kept him from panicking altogether. So they had left — but where, and why? Had the old man seen him? Had she accidentally told him? Or — his ears warmed — had he found one of those letters?

He found it strange to run on four legs, though it seemed faster than two. He padded north toward Astranaar, where he’d met her on the edge of the lake on his last visit. It still stood, though besieged from the air by wind riders. Some sentinels were visible, firing arrows at them. If Latahlali was here, she must be busy, and he didn’t want to chance it.

She was afraid of the orcs. Was that why they’d moved? He’d promised to help her fight them if they came. He was no battlemage, but orcs were flesh and blood like any living creature; they’d freeze and burn at his mercy. If they’d harmed Latahlali… he shook his head, not willing to entertain the thought. They’d hidden somewhere. She was safe. But he’d find where the orcs camped, just in case.

[Screenshots] Zamarra’s Speeder

In the daytime I’ve been playing SWTOR, my Jedi got to 25 and bought her speeder, it’s like their mount. I guess there’s a faster version at 40 but this one’s pretty cool 🙂

Hopefully she can meet the boy Twi’lek soon and get some smoochin’ going on. The human companion is totally skeevy and gross.

[Story] Adversity Makes Men

[[ This may intersect with the Brambles storyline, not sure yet 🙂 ]]

Father had been right about him: he was a failure. Not only had he managed to lose the estate, now he’d lost his manservant as well. Generations of faithful service, gone just like that. And for what? That damned alien freak. Uldred felt the wolf stir, and scolded it back again. That, at least, he was good at. He couldn’t be certain if his methods were working, or if it was just extraordinary self control, but he’d only succumbed to the beast a handful of times in the past month. Most of those times were spurred by Vilwena, the succubus, and he wasn’t certain if he could do anything to amend that.

Unfortunately, there had been little development among the scholars in Darnassus. Many had moved overseas, where there were more resources on their subject matter, and it was easier to stay out of sight. Even Uldred had to admit that the elf warriors were giving him strange looks when he came into the city. He ought to follow them. The elf who owned the house hadn’t contacted him in months, nor had Klekashak spotted an orc recently. Maybe they’d moved on. The felguard would stay behind without a word of complaint, and stay as long as he was ordered. Odd that a demon would prove more reliable than his old friend, Uldred thought bitterly.

The bald man who’d first spoken to Uldred when he arrived in Darnassus was one of those who had taken the ship to the Eastern Kingdoms. Before he left, he’d told Uldred of a magical academy, now ruined, but which might still contain valuable information. Uldred had conducted his own research on the school, and learned that it primarily instructed students in the art of necromancy. Uldred found the subject distasteful — demons were one thing, rotten corpses entirely another — however he still believed the texts could prove valuable. There was a great deal of commonality between the dark magics, and much of the theory could likely be applied to his own studies. Further, necromancy was a curse that affected once-living flesh, and was uncurable by the afflicted — exactly like his own curse. To better understand it was to better understand the worgen curse.

Uldred was aware that the ruins would be well-guarded, and he’d have to figure that out once he got closer to the academy. For now, he prepared his trunk for the trip. He packed a few changes of clothing, writing supplies, and his current notes. On contemplation, he set a few of his more basic textbooks into the trunk, as well. Vilwena begged to come along, in her usual fashion, but Uldred couldn’t afford to be distracted on such an important trip. She pouted and lashed her tail at him, and threatened to leave, but Uldred knew that wasn’t true. Quite simply, she couldn’t.

He fastened his heavy woolen cloak over his shoulders, and ordered Klekashak to lift the trunk into the carriage. He hoped the ship to the Eastern Kingdoms had not already left for the day.

[Story] Duskwood

The worgen stood in the stream, his paws sunk deep in the clinging mud. His nose twitched. They had been here, two of them. Not together, but recently. He grunted and waded back onto the shore, casting for the trail. Dried mud and blood made his coat appear disheveled and spikey, the thick ruff of hair around his neck like a lion’s mane. He was the undisputed king of these lands. All the worgen bared their throats to him. All the soft, weak humans of the village feared him. That scrawny alpha and her pack of outcasts were not welcome in his forest, and if he smelled them again, he would spill their steaming guts onto the ground.

Snowflakes drifted down, settling on his fur, and he shook himself to be free of them. The tracking would have to wait. He had smelled them here twice, no doubt they would come back again. Haughty, arrogant, as if they could set foot in his land! She had beaten him once, but he wasn’t prepared. This time he was. And he’d grown stronger, fiercer since that time in the city, there were no guards here, no law but the law of the wild.

His den lay beneath a crooked oak, dug out from its ancient roots. The worgen crawled into it, huddling around himself for warmth. She might have shared it with him, had things been different. She was strong, too. The others held her back. If she should come back to his forest, the worgen had a different plan for her.