[Story/Art] Sath’alor’s Field Notes – Zul’Drak

Day 7.

Why did I leave the basin? It’s cold here. Cold cold cold. More than half this area is still covered with Scourge. Just mindlessly milling around without any purpose. I guess Scourge don’t usually have one, but moreso than usual. Like a hive of bees with no queen. Wonder if this place will ever grown back. It’s black and twisted, smells bad too. At least it’s not so bad up here. Besides the cold of course. Did I mention it’s cold? Got a heavier bag and tent, got a fire burning. Found enough dead wood to keep it going all night. Not much to eat here, have to survive on what I brought. Should have stayed in the basin. Should have told her to stay too. Other bag still smells like her, the soap she uses on her hair. Not sure what it is.

In Dalaran I bought several bundles of dried Dreamfoil. Had to look in a few shops to find it. Not dangerous really, but it has a deserved reputation for causing you to see things when the smoke is inhaled. If I was a Tauren they’d call it a “vision quest” or somesuch nonsense. I just find it helps to connect with the place I’m in, puts me more in an animal-like state, if that makes sense. Probably doesn’t. Whatever, who is going to read this?

I can see the troll structures in the distance, not sure what they are. Temples or something? Might go look tomorrow. Set up camp near the edge of this structure I’m on, I guess it was once a city. There are grooves to carry water to different parts. Pretty clever, for trolls. There’s a wall straight up and down not far from my camp. Good thing I don’t sleepwalk. Eat dried meat and cheese for dinner, I build the fire up good. I tie a bundle of the dreamfoil above it, not too low so it doesn’t burn too fast, just so it gets warm and smokes.

It doesn’t smell earthy like a lot of herbs, it’s a bright, fresh scent. I can’t describe it other than blue and

shimmering

The pencil falls from his hand, landing softly in the snow. His eyes are wide, the veil of shadows pulled away, and he blinks as a fawn does when first opening his eyes.

The sky is wide and black, the dark velvet of a nightsaber, the stars are spots of white light upon its pelt. It shimmers as it runs, silent and swift, across the skies, through the Nether. It curls in upon itself, tying its body into impossible shapes, lithe and sinuous. Its lone open eye glows brilliantly, the other closed until daybreak. It is so near that he can reach out a trembling hand and feel the downy softness of it, and the mere act of touching it disrupts the shape of it, sending its outline streaming away into wisps like smoke.

The wisps reform themselves into another cat, the child of the great sky-cat, much smaller and nearer. Its eyes glow with the cold brilliance of stars. He gasps at the ethereal beauty of it.

I found you, the elf says.

No. It is I who have found you.

But I was looking–

They have sent me a fool, the cat said, with celestial disdain. Nothing but a fool.

It’s true, he cried. I am a fool.

Hm. A fool does not know he is a fool. Perhaps you are of some use.

Tell me, what is your name? I’ve never spoken to a spirit cat before.

My name, said the cat, is unimportant. You may call me what you wish.

Are you the one? asked the elf. The one from the stories?

A shiver of energy traveled through the cat’s outline, jagged for a brief moment. Yes, he said. And no. Mostly no.

I don’t understand.

Of course you don’t, said the cat patiently. Not yet.

A light snow begins to fall, and the first flakes upon his cheek stir him from the dream.

[Story] A Tangle of Brambles 51

The Harrier taught Pup to climb rooftops the way Blackbrew had taught him: always plan three steps ahead. That way, if you mis-step and lose your footing, you don’t fall down. Pup seemed to have grasped the lesson well, huddled along the silhouette of the rooftop. The Harrier on the other hand, chided himself for forgetting this most basic of rules.

He scanned the shapes of the buildings, starkly black against the burning sunset sky. He didn’t see any birds, but that didn’t mean they weren’t there. Josie was the only person he knew who could hide from him if they wanted to, right in plain sight. A bird amid so many others, somewhere high above the rooftops. She hadn’t come to see him in some time. He hoped that she was sorting out her affairs, but a part of him wondered if she hadn’t been embarrassed about speaking to him again. Even if it just been a joke, she’d offered, and though he’d gently declined, he wondered just how much truth hid behind those words.

Pup may have mastered climbing, but he hadn’t yet learned to do it quietly. He clattered up beside the elf, sending a rain of pebbles down to the street below. The Harrier twitched his ears back and gave the kid a look.

“Sorry,” he whispered. He was almost certain that Rose’s hunch was right about the kid — though he’d never actually seen him change, lately he’d been around enough Gilneans to recognize somebody who got furry from time to time. Certain mannerisms, faint echoes of the wolf, tended to creep in, even among those like Rose who rarely changed. Maybe most people didn’t know it, but the Harrier did. He was surrounded by them.

“So where you goin’ to go?” Pup asked, the wind ruffling his sandy hair. He hadn’t been there when Rose closed the door on him and told him she was busy. But Pup saw things, not as much as he did, but enough. The elf had bought a room for the kid in one of the less flea-infested inns, but it was too small for two. He still had his old place — still packed full of his cargo awaiting buyers, and not really fit to live in. Sure, he could have picked the lock, or he could have come in the window. But she’d just be angry with him, and more than that, he didn’t want to see it. That woman with her hands all over his Rose.

There was something off about her, and he’d said so that first night after meeting with the Gilnean. You’re just jealous, Rose laughed. Okay, maybe that was true, but that wasn’t the reason the woman made him feel uneasy. There was something artificial about her, some practiced falsehood like an actor learning a new part. Why couldn’t she smell it? Yet Rose had gone to meet with her several times over the next few evenings, usually down by the lakeside. After that, it was simply inevitable that he would be pushed out and displaced, his precarious foothold shaken out from beneath him.

All that he’d worried about these months were, in a short few days, coming to pass and there was nothing he could do to stop it. They’d argued, and then one night he’d come home to find the strange woman already at home. And Rose, flatly and unapologetically, had told him to find other arrangements for the evening. For how many evenings, she didn’t say. But he had to assume the worst. The Harrier had learned that that was a practical approach.

He left Pup on the rooftop without an answer. The kid could find his own way back. The nights weren’t as cold anymore, but they still bore a wet chill that would be uncomfortable especially after getting accustomed to a warm bed. A warm bed which that woman now occupied. The Harrier twitched his ears backward in annoyance. He dropped down from the rooftop to the street, finding the wan glow of the lantern of the Stag House as a moth is drawn to a flame. Though the hour was late, perhaps his old friend Star could offer him some comfort.

[Story] Magic Lessons 32: Sora’s Diary

Dear Diary,

Master Heller was in a state today. He says I have spent too much time lollygagging about the city and as punishment I must polish all of the brass railings in his house without using magic. Lollygagging, he said that. Who says that? I know what he means. He means going to the Lounge and listening to people. I suppose he wants me to sit alone at home and read.

I don’t know why it made me so angry. That plus the elf girl I guess. It shouldn’t, I know better. My brain tells me stop, you are being unreasonable, but my feelings just keep going. I know some forsaken don’t have feelings. I think overall that would be easier. I wonder if they just had too much fear and anger and sadness and it just wore all their feelings out until they didn’t have anymore. Can that happen? I don’t know. I haven’t been dead for very long.

After I finished my arms ached. I guess it was in my head, because I don’t think I even have nerves anymore. I went back to my little side house and I locked the door. I put a spell on the door but I guess he could open it if he wanted to. I looked at the floor. I took out a stick of sealing wax and I drew a circle on the floor. I drew the summoning circle and the binding runes and the name runes. Nokjub, who’s there? That’s a joke. I sat on the floor with my legs crossed and watched him on my knee.

I don’t know why I bound him in the circle. No one would be scared of him. Not even I am scared of him. I’m scared of the others, especially the big one, but not this one. He reminds me of a little bird, the way he cocks his head and shrieks, the way he’ll grab things in his little hands and not let go of them. He holds the sealing-wax stick and tries to chew it. He bounces end over end like a child’s string pull toy. No, he wouldn’t scare anyone. But the others might. It makes me feel better to know I could bring them here if I wanted to.

I can’t cry, either. I can sort of hunch over and make the sounds, but nothing comes out. It’s not satisfying, the way a really good cry is. I can remember what it’s like, but I can’t do it. Not anymore. I shove Nokjub roughly off my knee and his head falls against the wall with a sharp knock like a walnut. I should feel bad, but I don’t. I don’t feel anything.

I think I ought to burn this page after I write it.

I don’t like being like this.

I don’t want to be one of them.

I’m still Sorelle.

I’m still just a girl.

I don’t want any of this.

[Story] Magic Lessons 31

The woman overseeing magical shipments into Dalaran was as humorless as you might imagine someone in that position. Not that Raleth’s mood was much better.

“Again, Sir,” she said, somehow making the title into an insult. “It’s not possible for anything to enter the city without my knowledge, certainly not a large living animal. Your shipment’s not here.”

He felt his ears twitch in irritation. It had already been several days since the last letter from the stable, what could have possibly happened to his rather expensive cargo? “My wife will be greatly upset if her hawkstrider is not here tomorrow,” he snapped. That wasn’t really true — Lali knew nothing of her gift, and she wasn’t his wife. Not really. He still wasn’t sure on that point. But he liked the sound of it, to practice saying it for when it would be needed. Besides, the dour shipping overseer would just assume the wife he spoke of was sin’dorei, as would most people.

“Well then,” she sneered, crossing her arms. “I suggest you take the matter up with the hawkstrider stable. And your wife.” With that, she turned smartly on her heel and climbed the stairway to her office.

Raleth put his hat on and stomped out of the building. At least the necklace ought to be ready to be picked up. He still couldn’t understand why Vaelarian had given it to him. Didn’t he hate him? Didn’t he, in particular, hate the idea that they were together, and he was teaching her magic? Perhaps the old man was delirious. Maybe an orc had struck him on the head. Raleth feared for the day that Vaelarian regained his memory, if that was the case. The jeweler smiled and brought the necklace out for him to inspect.

It wasn’t what he would have chosen for her, but it was beautiful, and he was certain she’d appreciate that it had belonged to her grandmother. Lali had mentioned her last night, that she didn’t know what had happened to her. Raleth didn’t suggest that Vaelarian had stabbed her, though that was his first thought. She’d wanted to write to him and ask, and possibly make contact. It was a good idea, though quietly Raleth dreaded the idea of having to convince yet another stubborn kaldorei to permit their arrangement. His own family need never know.

He looked over the rings, but didn’t see anything that caught his eye. They were well made, but ordinary. There were several other jewelry shops in Dalaran, and he could return to Silvermoon if he absolutely had to. It might be necessary, to speak with the hawkstrider breeder. He’d paid a sizeable sum of money for one of the rare white birds, and its shipment had been assured. Yet no hawkstrider had arrived in Dalaran. He’d write when he returned home to try to straighten the matter out. Raleth wasn’t even sure if Lali would like it — she had her own saber after all, and some found the hawkstriders too skittish and frail for their taste. He supposed if she didn’t wish to ride it, the bird could serve as an ill-tempered guard animal for the front yard.

Let the crazy old forest elf try to get past -that-. Raleth had to smile at the image. Lali wasn’t at home. She was probably at the park practicing with her flame. She’d become discouraged by her lack of progress, but Raleth assured her it was fine. If she stalled for a few more days, though, he’d try a different approach. He found a hiding place for the necklace, a box tucked behind a row of books on one of his top shelves. It had a lock, so even if she were to find it, she probably couldn’t get inside. Probably.

The truth was that he still held some hesitation, even after speaking with Kestrae and Theronil — perhaps moreso after speaking to them. They didn’t understand. He doubted that either had been in his position, certainly not with someone who most of their society viewed as an enemy. Lali was so young, she’d only just begun to see the world. Who’s to say whether she’d come back to him after that? He was the only man she’d been with, she claimed the only one she had loved, though he wasn’t entirely convinced of that. She’d certainly been fixated on the Highborne. What if he came back and wished to see her? It was unlikely, but it could happen.

Seeing the ranger’s struggle had put the situation into a more glaring and realistic light. Though he couldn’t imagine leaving Lali’s side for another — especially a sin’dorei woman — he could understand why Fnor would do so. But if Raleth was so sure, why couldn’t he just go on with things? She was his apprentice, for one. While it wasn’t illegal, certain other mages could make things difficult for him. Not that he was applying for any council positions or anything of that sort, but he remembered the embarrassment of the mouthy apprentice all too well. Did he want to have to fight off rumors like that every day?

He’d fought off worse, hadn’t he? Orcs and Sentinels and evil sorcerors and dragons. Maybe not the last two, but he would, if he had to. There was always a chance that things wouldn’t go exactly as planned, but there was a chance they would, too.

[Story] A Matter of Time V

[[ This is both a write-up of our Deathwing kill, and a fun “possible future” thing, because Phaa and Jae already did one 🙂 Of course, this is only a possible future, we don’t know what the lore folks have in store for us! ]]

Atop Wyrmrest Temple, the dragons gathered as soon as they heard the news. The bronze dragon, Renzdormu, settled beside Ornasse, his great wings folding in upon themselves. How he found one druid among the chaos, he could never be sure. He appeared as a lithe young drake, as he had a handful of years ago when they’d met upon this very outlook.

“You mortals have done well,” he said, giving the druid a sidelong glance. A dragon’s face does not permit much expression, but the eyes make up for it. Ornasse thought he saw genuine pride, but sadness as well. He knew well enough what it felt like to lose one’s hold on eternity.

“What does this mean for you?” the elf asked quietly. He lay a hand upon the dragon’s gleaming neck. It was warmer than he had imagined it would be.

Renzdormu shook his head. He did not look at the druid, but the bodies of the fallen dragons that lay strewn over the snow at the bottom of the temple. “I don’t know yet. I know I can still look forward, and sideways, but–”

Ornasse arched a brow. “Sideways?”

“You mortals,” Renozdormu huffed, no doubt forgetting he was now among them, “Can only look one way along a timeway: backward. But we can see forward, and sideways — across different timeways. Do you see now?” Ornasse nodded wordlessly, and the dragon resumed his pensive gaze. After a time, he turned his great head to look at the elf. “I want to show you. It’s only a short time ahead, but–” The dragon shuddered, and Ornasse could see the movement travel along the length of the great body. “None of this would be if it were not for you and the others. It is a great thing you have done. It’s the least I can do for you.”

That sounded suspiciously like a “thank you”. Ornasse held back a grin. “Yes,” he said. “I would very much like to see that.” He was relieved to see that they would not be flying this time — Ornasse had had enough of that. He would have had to refuse, for fear of ruining the existence he had now. Rather, the dragon produced a watch, and held it daintily by a claw before his face.

“Look,” said Renzdormu.

Three sabers moved silently through the shadowed forest: the largest of the three, his blue-black pelt sprinkled with white hairs, stalked ahead. He paused atop a ridge, lifting his muzzle to test the air. He gave a wordless signal to the two others, who leaped up next to him. They were younger, smaller, their coats still plush with the vigor of youth.

The old cat settled down to his haunches, his form rearranging itself as he did so, into the form of an elf. Moments later, the two younger cats following, becoming two kaldorei boys. It wasn’t really accurate to call them boys — they were in that strange vague place where they were too old to be boys, but not yet truly men. They certainly acted like boys, much of the time.

“Why are we stopping here, Father?” That was Farahlor, his midnight-blue hair tied hastily back. He’d already begun to change back into his saber shape, leaping down from the rocks into the heavy brush below. Of the trio, he was the most comfortable as a cat, almost as if he was meant to be one, rather than an elf. He’d mastered the shape of it — and more importantly — how to act like one, far before Relanos had. Far before even Ornasse had, at his age.

Relanos was the other boy, a year older than Farahlor, his long deep purple hair worn loose over his shoulders. Ornasse was surprised that his mother permitted that. He was the adopted son of his daughter — his grandson really, but the two boys were so close in age that everyone saw them as brothers. It was easy to see the difference in their personalities. Relanos was methodical, logical, careful, observant. He saw the reason that Ornasse had stopped. “Grandpa, are you all right?”

Though he’d felt the effects of time before, more recently it had become more frequent. Particularly in his animal forms, he could not walk as far or move as quickly as he once could. He smiled at Relanos. “Just a little sore. I’ll be fine after I rest.”

Farahlor had bounded ahead, lost in the undergrowth. Since the druids had regrown the glade some decades ago, the forest had sprung up with vigor, making the place’s name — Desolace — charmingly ironic. Most of the growth was young and new, though ancient trees still stood vigil, their crowns high above the rest of the forest. It reminded Ornasse of himself, watching the boys. The new forest was the future, and would protect and nourish the animals and people that came to be centuries from now.

“Go on ahead with him,” Ornasse said. “I’ll wait here for you.”

Relanos looked to where the blue-black saber had disappeared. He seemed to be considering it. “Grandpa, Mother says you fought dragons, is that true?”

Ornasse blinked at that. “Oh,” he said, scratching his beard. “Not often. I didn’t fight them by myself.”

The boy’s eyes widened. “So you did? And she says you helped the Ancients.”

“That one is true,” the old druid said, smiling. “You were there, don’t you remember? So was Farahlor, but he wasn’t born yet.” Relanos shook his head, his expression doubtful. “It’s true. Your mother and father were there at the Shrine of Aviana.”

“But they didn’t help.”

Ornasse frowned briefly. “That’s not true at all. Besides,” he added, ruffling Relanos’s ears. “Your father was a great hero too. Did you ask him about Icecrown?”

“I tried,” Relanos said, scuffing a rock with his boot. “He wouldn’t talk about it.”

That was understandable, but Ornasse thought he understood why Relanos was asking those things. “I think you’re old enough to hear about it. I’ll speak with him about it.”

“Okay,” the boy said. “Can I go now?”

Ornasse nodded, and he smiled as Relanos changed shapes. It had proven much more difficult for him to master the form, but he had his father’s stubborn persistence, and finally his patience and hard work was rewarded. He was much more comfortable as a bear. The purple saber paused, his tail flicking over his heels as he glanced back at Ornasse. Then he leaped down to find his brother.

Wincing slightly, Ornasse got to his feet, and dropped to all fours as he shifted as well. Those boys would surely find trouble if he didn’t follow behind them.

[Story] Sath’alor’s Field Notes – Dalaran

Day 6.

Drank too much last night. Why doesn’t the Filthy Animal have naked dancing women like the other place? On second thought, don’t want to see naked orc women.

Stayed in the city again tonight. Still too much of a coward to talk to her. Walked past the Lounge more than once, I’m pretty sure she was there. I saw that dragonhawk outside. It occurs to me that if I really care, I ought to just leave her alone and let her do what she wants. But I don’t know, maybe that’s stupid too? Think about writing to her again. What’s the worst that could happen? She already left.

I’m still a coward. I’ll leave it in the morning when I leave. Then there’s no chance of actually having to talk to her.

Troll book makes no sense, even though it’s been translated into Common. Wonder if imbibing certain substances would make things more clear. Never been one too much for that, but sometimes it helps clear the head. Pretty crazy stuff, talking about how this cat spirit was chained and her own children turned against her. Not sure why trolls are so keen on abusing their spirits. Power I guess. Have to be better ways to go about it though. The book says the spirit can speak. Never had a cat speak to me before, not with words, but then I’ve never looked for a spirit cat before either.

What would a cat say if given words to speak? Hopefully I’ll find out.

Kestrae,

I’m sorry about the way things happened. I guess I didn’t really think you’d go, and now I wish I’d said something before you had.

I’d like to talk when I get back to Dalaran, if you’re willing. I’m going up to try my luck in Zul’Drak for a while. It’ll definitely be colder. No nice warm jungles for me.

~Sath’alor

[Story] Magic Lessons 30: Sora’s Diary

Dear Diary,

Living people just don’t understand. I didn’t either, until it happened. They take the smallest things for granted. Diary, I will be honest with you: sometimes it makes me angry. I wish they could be grateful for what they have, but I would not wish this on anyone.

Even a girl as mean as Kestrae. She came back from the jungle by herself, she just left the ranger elf out there alone. She said she knew he’d be all right. How does she know? A dragon could eat him, or the Scourge. There’s still Scourge out there, they might not be as dangerous now but they still are. They could still find him, and chew on his skin and twist his bones. But she doesn’t think about that. No alive person does.

She said she didn’t even love him. She wouldn’t say that if she knew she’d never love a person again — or really, that no person would never love her again. If they’d look at her and only see the crumbling outside, what used to be pretty now made dark and ugly. If people looked at her and made a nasty face and somehow blamed her for the way she was now.

And then she was flirting with the other ranger, the one who was injured and can’t be a ranger anymore. She wanted to go look at his dragonhawk. I guess that’s kind of the same as looking at dragons? But when I asked about her looking at dragons with the other ranger, she said it wasn’t a thing that elves do when they like each other. Why can’t she just be happy with one, why does she have to have two? Leave some for other people! He said she was trained to get things for him. I wonder if I could train my cat to do that. I don’t think so.

I wonder if her ranger will be sad. I don’t even know if she cares. I’m sure he wouldn’t want someone like me trying to cheer him up though.

I’m happy to say that at least there were no monkeys in the Lounge tonight.

~Sora