[Story] The Ghostclaw – Practice

Vellira crunched across the frozen mud to pull her daggers out from the target. All four were well within the center red circle, yet she knew that wouldn’t be good enough for Grumpyfoot. It had to be a bow, he said. Why? Just because. Yet she’d been watching Kavia with her crossbow, a strange, goblin-looking contraption with levers and gears that frankly looked like a toy. But it shot straight and true, and buried the bolts within the hay of the targets. Vellira thought she could use one of those, they were quiet and easily hidden — like she was. As an added perk, Grumpyfoot disapproved of them, too. At least she wouldn’t be the only one he yelled at anymore. Ty was interested in learning to use one, too.

Their recent trip to the Faire had been fun. They’d bought fried frogs and wings, and sat on the benches eating them while they listened to the musicians and watched the fighting pit. Supposedly, there were to be matches every so often, but none happened while they were there that evening. Maybe there weren’t any scheduled — or they couldn’t find enough people willing to fight. They’d had something similar with the crew, anytime they pulled into a rough port there would inevitably be a sparring ring. They’d do it for money, but more than that, Vellira thought they wanted bragging rights until the next match. The captain would never allow her to fight, though Vellira was certain that she could have easily beat several of them. Maybe that’s why, to avoid them being too embarrassed that she’d beaten them. She had to smile a little at the thought. What would they think of her now? She was hardly recognizable as the same girl anymore, all bundled in her warm leather and cloak. Taking orders from a new captain, being shouted at because she wasn’t holding a bow correctly. It’s true, she never would have stood for it before. It wasn’t that their new captain was unfair though, she saw that he listened if anyone had a problem, and he had done a lot to help Gramps. It was more than she’d expected to find here. And perhaps that’s why she didn’t raise any fuss, that and she hadn’t really any other alternatives. She could find a new ship, but she’d heard stories of how women were sometimes treated on those. Her old captain would never have allowed anything like that to happen, and the crew mostly saw her as a younger sister, anyway. That wouldn’t be the case if she sought a new crew. Nor would it be the same, perched atop the masts of a different ship, with a different crew, watching the same seas. It would feel wrong, somehow. Here was good, it had been good for a while and she expected it would stay good. More rangers were arriving, and eventually she would be considered a senior ranger. If she could manage to get on Grumpyfoot’s good side, that is.

The gnoll’s fortune from the Faire still nagged at her. While she didn’t really believe it could tell the future, it was more something for fun, the little slip of paper had startled her. “You will find happiness with a new love”, it had read. Vellira wasn’t sure how to interpret that. She was already with Ty, but she wasn’t sure if that was love. She liked spending time with him, he was sweet and funny and he liked her ears. He had even made her a card covered with mounds of glitter for the goblin holiday. But was that love? Vellira wasn’t sure. But maybe the fortune wasn’t talking about a person at all, maybe it meant that being a ranger was her new love. She looked down at the daggers, their steel catching the harsh winter light. She used to coat them with poison, though she hadn’t here for some time. She didn’t figure that undead things would notice poison anyway, and on top of that, it was difficult to find some of the components. Was this where she was supposed to be now? The other girls didn’t understand; both Kavia and Lin had always wanted to be rangers, they didn’t know anything else. If she asked them, they’d say of course she was meant to be as well. Maybe Ty would know, he’d lived in the city before, and had started with the rangers not long before she had. She’d have to ask him the next time they had the chance to talk.

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