[Story] Winter Veil Postcards – Xanaroth

Xanaroth hadn’t the first clue what to buy Vallindra for Winter Veil. Last year, he’d bought her the little house by the sea. How do you top that? It didn’t help that she brought the subject up in front of company, where he couldn’t say half the suggestions he actually had. Kestrae and Aeramin had dropped by the previous evening, and stayed long enough for a few drinks. She’d said it was to check up on them, as if they were errant apprentices, and he suspected that Aeramin was only there because Kestrae had forced him to do so. For the most part, there was little to report since the summoner’s unfortunate end. Vallindra had kept busy with her mapping and study of the local ley-lines, and the influences upon them. Xanaroth had worked on unraveling the summoner’s books and notes, but hadn’t yet uncovered anything especially interesting yet. There didn’t seem to be any order or logic to his scribblings, and many of them still needed to be deciphered before he could even work on puzzling out the larger importance. Of course, there was also the possibility that they were nothing but gibberish, rot having claimed the summoner’s brain. It was an unfortunate risk when working with the undead.

Vallindra announced that she’d already bought his gift, and tried to make him guess what it was. He tried to remember her bringing home any packages from the city; surely she must have, but he didn’t remember anything out of the ordinary. She must have hid them well. Books were his first guess. One could never have enough books, especially if they were rare or forbidden. You never know which might contain the last bit of information needed. Robes? She agreed that robes were a good gift, but she said it wasn’t that. He was stumped. Perhaps a pair of slippers? The stone floors were brutally cold in these winter mornings, he would like to have a pair that were lined with fur. But it wasn’t any of those. He supposed he would just have to wait and see what she’d picked out for him. She said she’d love anything he got her, which he knew wasn’t true. He’d spent weeks making the ley-line maps for her, and she seemed to appreciate them certainly, but she didn’t love them. She said, in fact, that they were “okay”. Okay wasn’t the reaction that he’d hoped for. In the city he’d seen a beautiful bronze globe, nearly as tall as an elf. It was hollow, so it was not too heavy, and the oceans and rivers had been painted with a bright blue lacquer. Over that, the ley-lines criss-crossed in channels of luminous violet, varying in width based on their strength. He thought she’d like that, and it would certainly make a fine centerpiece for her study. It would be delivered by wagon in a few days, and if she didn’t like it, perhaps he could donate it to the school.

But now he was uncertain. She said she wanted books. Not books with words in them, the sort with blank pages so she could write her notes. That wasn’t really the sort of gift he’d had in mind, even if they did have fancy covers. But if that’s what she wanted, he would buy some in the city.

 

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