[Story] The Ghostclaw – Sorrowmoss’s Thoughts

The Ghostlands sky is blanketed with dark clouds, bringing the inevitability of the winter rains to come. They haven’t yet started, not really, but once they do it will be impossible to stay dry. Orledin and I talked about it briefly. The cold doesn’t bother us much, unless it becomes dangerous — if the ground were to freeze while we were on it, for example — but Orledin is concerned with staying dry. It’s true that water can damage us, and he’s very concerned with how the others see him. I don’t care so much about that, but I want to be useful. I can’t be useful if I can’t shoot, therefore I must stay dry as well. There are fires inside the sleeping rooms, where we can hang out wet clothing and armor to dry. Orledin suggested that we remove these outside, so the snow doesn’t have a chance to melt on us. I don’t feel embarrassment about removing my armor in front of the others, especially the women. They’ve seen each other often enough as they dress or change. Mostly I want to avoid that look of disgust that the living feel when they see one of us exposed; bones showing through the thin places in our skin, things that have begun to decay that normally are covered up. If I came in early enough in the morning, they should all be asleep.

Lin might not even be here. She’s spending more nights in the woods, with Sunashe. I could almost feel jealous, if I did not know such a thing was impossible. It would be like being angry with the winter rains; they will come regardless, and they won’t feel anything. Orledin still believes it could happen, I think. He spends most of his time with them, doing his best to make them forget. And I believe they do, to a degree. But sitting together is one thing. To them, we are still abhorrent and repulsive, even if they do their best to hide it, they can’t help their reaction. Still, sometimes I allow myself to imagine it, having someone to warm me, who smelled faintly of the trees and leather armor. I don’t tell Orledin that though, I think it’s best to be realistic.

There is another ball coming up at the school. We’re never invited, which means we’ll have an extra patrol — the early evening one. I don’t mind. I was never one for fancy parties, though from what Lin says they are quite nice. I don’t ask her about them, but she and Vellira talk, sometimes as if I’m not even there. I’m not sure what I’d do at one of them even if I was invited; we can’t eat or drink, and no one is going to want to dance. Even if they did, I’d be rather hopeless at it. There used to be parties here every weekend, at one of the estates or another. Sometimes they would continue all week, and run into the next one. We’d often find people sleeping on the roads and have to escort them home. Or we’d find loose hawkstriders, their bridles hanging from their heads, grazing in an open clearing. We’d have to try to find their owners, which wasn’t an easy task most of the time. It’s strange to think that all of those people are probably dead now, and the hawkstriders too.


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