[Art] Harkin

Some Harkins!

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[Story] The Hermit 11

Nimrathis sipped his last vial of moonglow. Why couldn’t they sell it all year? He supposed it wouldn’t be so special then, but he loved the flavor and the way the sparkles made his ears tickle. If he wanted more, he’d have to return to Moonglade for the festival. Neither he nor Bear had planned to go at all — in fact the only reason he remembered was when he saw the paper lanterns being hung over the inn. It had been years since he’d attended, before he’d been forced to leave his old home and return to the forest. It had been the two seninels’ idea, and they had both put on the expensive silk gowns that were traditionally worn. Seeing them like that was strange, more feminine but also somehow more untouchable — not as if he meant to touch them anyway. Or didn’t he? Nimrathis took another small sip of the effervescent blue drink.

Mostly it had gone just as he remembered it; the buildings around the lake adorned with lights and lanterns, the vendors selling fireworks and delicious snacks. When he was a child, there were never any strangers, but now the festival permitted people from all over the world — even the eastern kingdoms. Nimrathis stared in curious wonder at the human woman, and could hardly believe that the gnome was actually a real creature. How could they truly understand what the festival was about — their lives were scarcely a blink of time. Though, Nimrathis reasoned, perhaps they had more ancestors because of this. If the druids didn’t mind the strangers, he supposed it was all right. He stayed close behind Bear and Norr, the bear he had brought with him. The others had stayed behind to sleep, Bear said. In truth, Nimrathis would have rather, but once he got some dumplings and moonglow, he was glad that he had come. They sat on the bank of one of the small ponds and waited for the fireworks. Nimrathis hoped they might see a glimpse of Omen, but he didn’t appear while they were there. He suspected the dog might simply be a story to scare children, so he didn’t ask the others about it.

Zhyra agreed that they could return to their camps — with conditions. The sentinels would still come by to ensure they were safe, and they were required — that’s what she said — to respond. What if they were asleep, or if he was practicing? Zhyra didn’t really answer that, and he could tell she was growing annoyed by their questions. It didn’t matter, his home would be his once again. There had been no sightings of orcs in the past several months, and they reluctantly agreed to let him and Bear go back into the woods.

His little cave wasn’t much, but it was home. Nimrathis hurried along the deer-trails, hoping that no creature had claimed it in his absence. He noticed the scent first, the wet and smoky smell of a doused fire, and his ears laid back in irritation. Someone had been here! It wasn’t orcs, at least. He could tell from the size of the tracks and the scarcity — elves moved more expertly in the woods than did loud, clumsy orcs. But what elves would be staying here, and why? He checked inside his cave and was relieved to see they had not slept there, at least. Only the forest outside it. Nimrathis had no way to tell whether they would return to this spot or not — he could only wait.

[Story] Linarelle’s Journal

Wow, can I really pick them or what? First Pelandar and now Aeramin… though at least I never did anything I’ll regret with that one. Thankfully! I’m so glad I didn’t do anything stupid like invite myself over or try to take him home with me. I mean, that’s something he could have maybe mentioned before.

He was at the restaurant and he sat near me and we talked, so I thought everything was going well. He asked whether I found any warpstalkers and I told him about the one I kept. He’s worried about when it gets larger, I don’t see why though, if I need a bigger room I’ll get one. I don’t even know if it’ll want to stay with me that long. (No one else does.) There was another couple there, the woman who I assume is his friend, and her date. At least I’m pretty sure he was her date, as she asked him to come home with her. She asked me what I’ll do when we leave Outland, and I said I’d bring the warpstalker with me, unless of course it didn’t want to leave. This is its home, maybe it isn’t so eager to leave it. I’ll worry about that when it happens. Aeramin has a dragonhawk at the stable, I think I know which one is his. I was going to help pay for its board for a couple of weeks, but I don’t know if I should now. I guess I still will, maybe he’ll think Imralion did it — even though Imralion is broke.

Of course I was right about that, he was helping Im with his exam because he likes him. He says that he told Im that, too. I can’t imagine what he said. I mean, Im has never been very good with girls but I didn’t think that was the reason, I thought he was just a goof. It kind of makes sense if it is, and at first I was kind of annoyed because I saw Aeramin first but I guess I didn’t. And it’s not as if he can help who he likes, but still. It’s just disappointing. I mean, at least he seems like a nice guy — although when I asked him why he liked Im, the first thing he said was his looks. Totally not shallow at all, right? I kind of get the feeling that he’s a lot more experienced and I really don’t want to see my brother get hurt. I don’t think they’re even supposed to be here in Outland for very long, and to that Aeramin said he could move. Talk about moving fast!

I probably shouldn’t  bring it up to Imralion, he’ll just get embarrassed (though that would be pretty funny). If he wants to tell me about it, he will. As if I won’t already know.

[Story] Xanaroth’s Notes

* Vallindra has devoted all of her time these past few days to their dragon project. She has been out late to observe the flayers that had eaten the crystal brought from Netherstorm. Alone! I thought that ranger would be present to make sure she is safe, but evidently not. I went to find him today, fully intent on telling him exactly what I think of abandoning her out there. She may not know what’s out there, but I do.

* He nervously assured me that he only left under her direct order to do so. Evidently his puttering around was irritating. I had to believe him then, because that’s exactly the sort of thing she would say. He assured me that no demons come near the nesting grounds, and that the dragons themselves should be perfectly docile at this time of year. (Should be!) This calmed my worry somewhat, and I know that if she’s alone she will have the voidwalker present. I am still not certain if I would rely on the skills of that particular one, but Vallindra seems to like it.

* I know it’s silly of me to fret over her like this, she’s fully capable of looking after herself. Her independence is one of the things I most admire about her. But the idea of anything happening troubles me, I can see scenarios playing out in vivid detail in my imagination. They were doing so last night when I went to observe the dragon. No doubt Aeramin and Kestrae have noticed as well, they ought to. I -am- distracted, there’s no point in trying to deny it. Both have been well-behaved since we arrived though, so perhaps they are content to let the subject lie. I don’t really have a good answer if they do ask, other than I am taking great care to ensure that she is prepared for any problems. Sanimir wasn’t, at least that I am aware of. Maybe Aeramin would be more receptive to the idea now, though I’m not sure of the status of their relationship.

* Last night Aeramin was discussing his boy trouble again, this time there is another involved in addition to Sanimir. I don’t know who this one is, but I doubt he is a fellow practitioner of the fel arts. Before that, Kestrae asked after the status of Vallindra’s research, and I told her  I hadn’t yet had a chance to look over her notes. She’s insistent that they aren’t finished yet, and wouldn’t let me see them. This side project is valuable, and a good practical application of her talents, but at the same time I am eager to get down to our real business here. Though she has not said so outright, I believe Kestrae is as well.

* But then they’re playing their coy little game of secrets again. Aeramin has a book, and Kestrae knows of it, but they aren’t willing to tell me any more. Of course they aren’t, they have something that I want and they can hold it over me. It must be so delightful. What neither seem to fully understand is that more summoners are always better. More knowledge, more insight, more power. Secrets are made to be kept from those who don’t know.

* I have been dwelling too much on the past these last few days. I know the reason for this; I am concerned with what Vallindra’s mother might dig up. Do I bring it up with her now, so there are no unpleasant surprises? Or do I wait for her mother’s accusations, in which case she will be angry with me for hiding things from her? She told me before that such things didn’t concern her, perhaps I should try to believe that. I worry that she’ll doubt my sincerity or my devotion. I already worry that she’ll change her mind about me as it is. She has become so important in such a short time that I already can’t imagine being without her. Maybe her mother won’t find anything.

[Story] Letter from Imralion

Aeramin,

Remember how I said we had a few days in Shattrath? Well the Captain decided to change his mind about that. It’s totally unfair and no one’s happy about it, but I guess on the bright side we get to go see the forges sooner. I’d rather have the time off though. That time was really the only time I’ve got to relax since we got here. I keep wanting to tell people about it, but then I feel like if I tell people it won’t be secret anymore, and then next time we go there will be a huge crowd. And all the frogs will be gone! You’ll have to make them the real way sometime, and maybe a few more so it’ll be a whole meal. There ought to be a lot in the swamp, right? I mean assuming you still want to go there. You probably think I’m just making up an excuse to not see you but it’s true, you can ask any of the other trainees. Or the Captain.

It was just kind of a surprise, I mean not really because I kind of suspected but suspecting and hearing it are two totally different things. Back when we first came here, Lin thought that was the only reason you wanted to help me study and I told her that wasn’t true. Maybe it was part of the reason, but not the whole reason — right? Anyway, I should probably tell her if we’re going to be hanging out together, but then it might be  a bad idea because she might want to come along too. I mean unless I explain it’s like private but that might be worse because she might be angry at me because she saw you first or whatever. Everything is a competition with her, it always has been. At least her little lizard thing is keeping her busy for the time being. I don’t know why she likes that thing, I think it’s a baby one but its teeth are super sharp and it’s already bit her a few times. It’s kind of a red color with golden stripes, I told her it was very patriotic. I don’t think it has a name yet, we’ll have to think of one. I mean of all the animals to keep for a pet, she has to get a blinking lizard with really sharp teeth and a tail like a whip.

The Captain says we should get our days off later this week, I hope that’s still okay. I really want to go see the swamp there. I guess swimming is probably a bad idea there though, huh? There are probably crocolisks or something in the water.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what we talked about too. It’s probably weird of me to admit that but

I got some books about demon forges from the library. I found that other section while I was there too. I’m doing more research.

~Imralion

[Story] Kun-Lai Summit

The arrow flew past the mountain goat’s horns, and the animal uttered an indignant bleat before bounding further up the snowy ridge. Sath’alor took a few moments to understand what his eyes had seen. He had missed. How could he have missed? It was a clear shot, with not much wind. A light snow was falling, but that didn’t affect his sight of the animal, which had now moved out of sight somewhere on the rocky mountainside. He hadn’t just been a few inches off, either. He’d completely missed! Frowning, he looked down at his bow to inspect it. The sinew was new and tight — in fact he’d replaced it recently here in these mountains. He ran his hand along the limbs of the bow to ensure they were straight and properly aligned. Sath’alor couldn’t imagine how they could have become warped, and upon checking they looked all right.

Maybe he was just tired. These past few weeks, he hadn’t felt himself. Part of this were the strange dreams that came every night — though usually he couldn’t remember the specifics, he could recall the strange black nothingness that always loomed on the horizon, or seeping from nearby shadows. In his dream, the sight of it unsettled him so that it was the only detail he could remember — and one that was consistent across all of them.

He thought often of his family, and of course of Kestrae. He did his best not to, but since speaking with the girl at the springs, they had been on his mind more of late. The last contact he had with any of them had been at the end of summer, when he sent his father the brief note telling him not to worry. And they hadn’t, had they? There had been no one searching for him, not at any of the places he’d been. Of course, he did his best to stay un-noticed, but if they were looking he would probably have heard something. He remembered that clear night in Zul’drak, where he had first seen Ru’anthar and the cat said something that intrigued and frightened him at the same time. What is real, the ethereal cat had asked. Are you real? He hadn’t had an answer then, nor did he now. Maybe he wasn’t real, maybe he had died already on that strange other world and now lived in a place in between, where no one could see him. He thought of writing a letter; if someone wrote back then he would have proof that he was really here. But he couldn’t write to Kestrae, not now. And his family would only be upset for staying away so long, for not telling them where he was. He had no good explanation for that either, other than it was easier to stay away the longer he had been gone. Maybe he could write to the girl at the mountain temple, but he highly suspected that she wasn’t real either.

At his side, Clementine raised her muzzle to sniff at the air. She made sounds, had a scent, and was warm when he lay down to sleep at night. At least Sath’alor was quite certain that the silver tiger was real.

[Screenshots] Fffffffffffffffffffffuuuuu

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Don’t worry though, I finally got it!

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