[Story] The Ghostclaw – Anorelle’s Journal

Anorelle wasn’t accustomed to parties, at least, not as a guest. She’d attended quite a few in capacity as a guard, in case anyone became too drunk or rowdy and needed to be removed. Most of the time, their presence had been enough to discourage any unruly guests, but a time or two she and another guard had to escort someone out. This party didn’t have any guards, nor did it seem likely they would need any. Many of the guests in attendance were younger, the students at the magical academy, and there were a lot of babies. Many more than Anorelle had expected. She recognized Rylad, the Captain’s son, but none of the others. All of the rangers, save for Sorrowmoss, and Orledin — who was still missing — had come as well. The others had explained that it was a mask party, so Anorelle had bought a gold half-mask that matched her armor. But most of the other guests had worn elaborate costumes, some of them covering their whole body. She felt a little out of place, but hoped no one would notice or comment on it. So far, they hadn’t. Everyone was talking and eating food, some were playing games in the garden or wandering into the hedge maze. Others danced, though Anorelle couldn’t see anyone playing instruments so she assumed they were enchanted. There was even a wedding; a man and a woman she didn’t recognize. It was all very nice, and the food was very good — some of the best she’d had, in fact, but she still couldn’t help feeling out of place. She didn’t know any of the other rangers well, and most had gone off anyway, leaving her floating aimlessly around the food table. She was relieved when Arancon sat nearby, though she hadn’t spoken to him much she at least recognized him as one of the other rangers.

They spoke of her training, and she explained that while she was very good with bladed weapons, she still had a great deal to learn when it came to bows. At least, that was what Sunashe had said. She felt that her pull was good — her arms were already strong from her sword practice — but her aim needed improvement. Still, Arancon said that Sunashe said that about everyone, and she might be allowed to learn the routes soon. That would help. She felt restless and useless staying at the lodge all day. Arancon pointed out his son and grand-daughter, she’d heard a little bit about that from the others, but never seen them before. The baby was cute, but her mother had abandoned her. She knew it was something that happened, even sometimes in the city, but she still couldn’t understand it. He spoke of his past as well, another thing that the others had quietly filled her in about. He wasn’t having anything to drink now, and hadn’t in the time she had been with the rangers. That wasn’t a small thing to overcome, she wanted to encourage him but she wasn’t sure how it would sound coming from a stranger. He said that his grand-daughter was enough to remind him. Hopefully it would remain that way for a long time.

Should she have worn a dress? The night was cold, and he said the next party would be in the winter, when it would surely be colder. That one, he assured Anorelle, was even more luxurious and fancy than this one. It didn’t seem possible, but she would have to see for herself.

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