[Story] Story a Week 13

[[ I didn’t use my prompt again, it was weird… hopefully back to some good ones soon. In the meantime I decided to continue Tamazi and Harvian’s story because it’s been ages! ]]

They kept to the plains as they traveled south, avoiding the roads. The ground was more rocky than Tamazi was accustomed to, harder beneath her paws. Nor did she recognize all of the plants, though Harvian seemed to. Once they had found a safe place to rest, he hurried off to gather them. He returned with his arms full of fragrant herbs, carefully breaking and crushing them into one of his jars. This he mixed with a little liquid from a small vial, and he carefully dabbed it onto her cuts. “This should help them heal faster,” he explained. “At the very least, they should hurt less.” He still had a sorrowful expression, his ears still drooped backward. “I never meant for any of this to happen.” Gingerly, he lay a black paw over one of the deeper cuts. “Your coat is ruined.”

Tamazi managed a small amused smile. “What sort of Hunter has no scars?” She had already begun to weave tales of her glorious battles that had left their marks upon her, but nothing she invented was more outlandish than what had really happened previously — tangling with a drake and the strange magical deer. She imagined the Hunters gathering to study each mark with interest. It was true, they hurt less now. The feeling of helplessness and humiliation was far worse, and that was fading now. “But you never explained all of that,” she said. “What you said to them. About a prophecy.”

“Ah,” said Harvian, replacing the lid of the jar. “That might not have been completely true. But it worked, didn’t it?” Tamazi frowned briefly. She didn’t like that he had misled her — being in a prophecy sounded very exciting — but at the same time, he was right. And she didn’t mind misleading those villagers one bit. “Besides,” Harvian added. “It might be true. We haven’t yet reached the temple.”

“What’s the Ascension?” Tamazi asked, settling down on the grass. They were well hidden here, in a tangle of brush. She felt secure enough to rest for the first time in a long while.

Harvian prodded the coals of the fire before getting under his blanket. “The dragons live above us in the heavens, but they always have one representative here on the earth, to serve as their eyes and see their will done.” Tamazi nodded, she knew that much. Her own people didn’t need any dragons, but she’d heard stories about them from the males, some of whom had travelled to distant lands before joining their clan. “The exact process isn’t well known, but a drake is chosen and elevated — changed — to take that role. The last recorded Ascension was hundreds of years ago, the Empress and her son.” Tamazi nodded.

“At present, Miraluna has no one to represent her. There is a void of power, and when that happens, others will move to seize it. Like that drehl kiraal, in the swamp. No doubt there will be others as well,” said Harvian. “I am to see that the Ascension is completed without any interference.”

Tamazi blinked. “You?”

Though it was dark, Tamazi could see the corners of Harvian’s muzzle turn down to a frown. “The Empress gave me this task. I once served at her court, but–” he shook his head. “Rumors and nonsense. There were some who called my loyalty into question. She gave me this duty to prove myself, you could say.”

“So it’s a punishment?” asked Tamazi.

“In a way, I suppose. You’re very astute, Tamazi. You would have done well at court.”

Tamazi mulled over the word. “Is that good?”

Harvian chuckled. “Yes, it means you see things that are in plain sight. It’s not as common as you might think, especially there.”

On the fourth day, Tamazi saw the shimmering spires of the Temple reflecting the light of the Huntress’s eye. She thought it first an illusion, but she called to Harvian, and once she pointed it out, he saw them too. Her wounds had mended well, and though they felt a little stiff, she felt good enough to run for some of the way. Harvian clung to her back so he wouldn’t be left behind. Excitement and eagerness drove her forward, but she was afraid too. It was the largest building she had ever seen, imposing in its size and majesty. No doubt it would be filled with people, and they likely felt the same way about her as the villagers had. She would let Harvian enter first, and ensure that it was safe.

As she drew closer to the Temple, awe stole the breath from her, and she had to stop to catch it back again. It was built of stone, gleaming white and luminescent in the Huntress’s gaze, but the walls and arches were so thin and delicate that Tamazi was afraid she might knock them over with a careless swing of her tail. The tops of the arches had been cut out so that the light shone through them in intricate patterns, and there were large circular openings around the perimeter, these she was sure aligned with the Eye at different hours of the night. It was the most beautiful thing Tamazi had ever seen, surely overseen by the Huntress herself. No ordinary person could have made this.

Harvian seemed in awe as well, his whiskers twitching excitedly as they approached. He agreed to enter first. Tamazi waited at a safe distance, crouched in the swaying grass. She could see the temple attendants, in their long white robes with hoods that covered much of their faces. From where she waited, she could not hear what they said, but they seemed calm and they raised no weapons. At one point, their heads lifted and turned toward her. Harvian waved to her excitedly.

The building was so bright and pristine that Tamazi wished she had washed herself before coming. She felt scruffy and out of place, and it did not help that all of the robed people were watching her intently, she could tell that even behind the robes. Inside was even more beautiful; the Huntress’s light shone through the openings in the arches to throw a pattern of circles upon the floor that mirrored her phases — opened, blinking, and closed. Kamara would love to see this, Tamazi realized. She would have to bring her here, one day. In the very center of the temple floor lay a mosaic, depicting the dragon Miraluna entwined around the Huntress’s opened eye. As Tamazi stepped onto it, a gasp rose from the temple attendants. Tamazi froze in fear, her eyes widening. Had she done something wrong? The temple darkened, as the Huntress’s eye blinked closed. She had heard of it happening, but never witnessed it herself. Harvian, too, seemed shocked, his jaw open in amazement.

The temple attendants, one by one, fell to their knees around her.

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[Screenshots] Prestigious War Steed

I finally finished this up last night, this mount is the reward for doing 20 each of all four “Free for All” PVP quests. Since they’re random each time, it can take a while to get all the ones you need, but I got lucky last weekend and had 3 in the same day. The nice thing about this one is that it’s account-wide! I was surprised to see that it converted into the wolf for my Horde characters as well.

It’s pretty easy to get as PVP mounts go, but I do suggest going with a group in the group finder if you plan to do it. There are always several groups up for them, just search under the questing tab. Otherwise you’re bound to get eaten alive!

finallydoneblackhorse

[Story] Imralion’s Journal

Aeramin’s started giving lessons in our house now. It’s one of the kids from the school, and he’s interested in learning the sort of magic that Aeramin knows. He explained that it’s better the kid learn properly and safely, without experimenting on his own. That makes sense, and it has to be here because that kind of stuff might give the school a bad reputation. The student’s not supposed to tell anyone about it, but I am a little skeptical if that’s possible. I know how much kids at school talk, I remember how much we talked in blood knight training — most of them still talk a lot. I guess he won’t if he wants to stay at the school, but it’s hard keeping something to yourself when you’re really excited about it. I just hope he doesn’t talk to the wrong person about it, and I guess he’ll have Aeramin, though he’s not a fellow student.

They won’t be learning anything dangerous right off; he’s mostly still learning theory I think, and Aeramin is going to teach him about the different kinds of demons. I’m sure I still have my books, but those are more focused on how to kill them rather than how to use them, so it’s probably not too helpful. I promised that I’d stay closeby in case any demons got any funny ideas. The imps probably won’t, they’re mostly well-behaved (if annoying), but some of the larger ones are more dangerous. Aeramin said he wants me around if he ever summons the felguard, because it’s still got a bad attitude toward him and will try to escape. Let’s see if it can escape a sword! I won’t kill them unless I have to, but I have no problem doing it if it comes to that.

He also suggested that I go see my sister soon, he’s going over to the rangers’ to reinforce the wards. I really should, he’s my only nephew after all, and he is cute. It’s just awkward having to talk to Sunashe and my mother, too. If I’m lucky, it’ll just be Lin who is home, but I doubt it’ll work out that way. I would guess she’s back on her patrol, at least part-time. Aeramin said the woman at the  school is already back working at the stables, and she just had one. There are going to be a whole lot of boys starting school all at once in a few years.

The spring ball will be soon, too. It’s always all flowery and pastel, I feel like my armor sticks out awkwardly. I suggested maybe I could wear a nice shirt or something, but Aeramin would have to help me find one, I’m no good at picking out clothes. I think a pastel robe would be too much though.

[Story] Xanaroth’s Journal

Work proceeds on the manuscript, though not as quickly as perhaps it could. I admit I have been distracted enough with Vallindra’s discovery. She went to her sisters’ clinic to be certain. Though it’s still yet a long way off, there’s a lot that must be done to prepare, and I am the one who fulfills any requests she might have. Normally, there are quite a few, and it can be difficult to get work done, but I don’t mind. The manuscript can wait, if it has to. I know I’ll have even less time once the child actually arrives, but I won’t mind that either. I promised Vallindra that I would see to as much care as possible. We’ll likely have to hire someone to help though, which will further complicate our research, unless it’s another student of the fel arts. I doubt there are many nannies who study demons, however. I should have a very rough version for Aeramin to look over soon, I need to meet with him and Kestrae to discuss the book in more detail. Until this point it has primarily been organizing our notes and research, but it must be laid out in an organized fashion in order to be useful to others. I know Kestrae has been busy with their little one, and Aeramin is teaching at the school which must consume a great deal of his time.

I do stop by from time to time to visit, primarily to bring dinner back but also sometimes to visit with Hethurin. I know he has no particular affection for Vallindra, but he has always been polite to me, so I make an effort to keep in touch. The students should have their spring holiday soon, and it should afford both of them more time to meet. The cook is also preoccupied, so the meals aren’t perhaps quite up to their usual standard, but still quite tasty and certainly better than my own cooking. I do what I can when she requests something late at night, I am considering asking Hethurin to help me learn conjuring so I can at least do that. It seems it would be perfect for fulfilling odd late-night snack requests, but I was never very good at it.

I wonder as well if there are any students there interested in summoning. I’m certain it’s not permitted, but we all did it anyway. Students are curious, they want to know more – especially things they’re told they can’t know. It all ties in so well — fel magic can amplify and empower your ordinary fire spells, it’s a natural progression. When I speak to Aeramin, I’ll ask if there are any who might show potential for it. Of course it would have to be after they graduate; I don’t want to bring any trouble to Hethurin’s school, but just to sow the seeds.

Keeping busy helps with the worry. If I’m painting the room or fetching something for Vallindra, I don’t have time to be afraid of what might happen. At least, not as much. It’s still there, I can’t banish it completely. I’m a great deal older now and I am more careful, but I was careful then too. I hate being afraid and vulnerable, it’s an unpleasant and unsettling feeling. I’ve strengthened all of the wards again, just to be certain. I’ll ask Hethurin if he has any suggestions for them, as well.

[Story] Story a Week 12

[[ Prompt: Signs

Another stab (get it) at a horror story, about something that’s scary to me: Getting lost. ]]

The car hurtled down the road, the dual beams of its headlights shaking whenever it sped over a bump or crack. It was an old country highway, little used now that the major interstates had been put in, and Jack hadn’t passed any other cars since he’d started driving. Of course, it was late at night too, and only a fool would be speeding around these blind corners in the darkness, fog clinging to the road’s flanks. Only a fool, Jack thought, or someone with a death wish. He glanced in the rear-view mirror, but he could see no lights behind him. He was well over the speed limit for the old road, but no one seemed to have noticed yet. Even in the dark woods beyond the road, he saw no glints of houselights nor streetlamps. It was as if the night had swallowed him and his car alive.

Frowning, Jack checked the dashboard. The digital numbers informed him that it was well after two in the morning. Probably still another fifteen minutes to the main highway, at least. He punched on the radio button to help fill the silence, but it was a mangled mess of static with some talk radio mingled in. He couldn’t hear enough of either to make it worthwhile, and trying to discern it made his head hurt. There were probably deer here, too. That would be the last thing he needed, a deer leaping through his front windshield. Jack returned his attention to the road, searching for any hints of movement from the darkness beyond the road.

He sat up straighter when he saw the silhouette of a sign emerge from the shadows. As the car sped closer, the letters came into view: Pierron 5, I-50 7, River Falls 11. Jack exhaled a sigh of relief, it was only seven miles to the highway junction, maybe five minutes. Then everything would be okay. He gripped the wheel and eased the car a little faster.

Jack saw no signs — nor lights — for the town of Pierron, but that wasn’t really unusual way out here in the woods. Many so-called towns were nothing more than dots on a map, not even a gas station or a diner to mark their place. It was odd there wasn’t even a traffic light, though, but maybe there were so few cars this way they didn’t need it. Jack glanced at the clock again. He should be reaching the junction any minute now. But the old highway stretched out for miles before him, it seemed, no sign of a ramp or light anywhere. The signs couldn’t be wrong, could they? That seemed unlikely. He didn’t want to risk pulling over. Jack wrestled his phone out of his jacket pocket and brought up the map application. Though he didn’t know his destination, exactly, the GPS should show his dot moving on the map. He could see the highway crossing on the map, its thick blue line overlapping his thinner purple one. So it was all fine. Everything would work out okay.

But maybe he’d missed it? Was the ramp very small and unmarked. Jack began to worry again when he had driven another ten minutes and still not seen it. The bright green letters on the dash read nearly 3 am. He certainly should have reached it by now. Should he turn around and go back? Jack considered it. He could just turn around on the old highway, there was no one for miles around. But if he hadn’t missed it, he would just be wasting more time. He pressed forward, sure that he would reach it soon. And sure enough, he saw the green square of another road sign up ahead. Pierron 5, I-50 7, River Falls 11, it read. Jack stared at it in disbelief. Why would they put the same sign up twice? Some kind of weird mistake, Jack assured himself. He’d laugh about it with his friends later, maybe post it online. Still, it left him with a feeling of uneasiness. He checked his phone again, and his dot still looked the same distance from the junction. Of course, the map didn’t tell him the scale, so maybe it was just a lot further than he thought. But the sign had said seven miles. According to the clock, and his odometer, he’d definitely gone more than that.

He slumped back in the driver seat, trying the radio again. Maybe it would get his mind off of everything. Drowned by static, he thought he could pick out a song he knew, but he couldn’t really be sure. It was better than the silence, he decided. He veered around a turn, after which opened another long stretch of road. There was another sign here: Pierron 5, I-50 7, River Falls 11. Two was a mistake, Jack didn’t know what three was. A practical joke? He wasn’t laughing. As the miles passed, there were more signs. Every one read the same thing: Pierron 5, I-50 7, River Falls 11. Despite the cold night, Jack felt sweat trickling down the back of his shirt. Had she done this somehow? It seemed impossible, but suddenly the impossible was no longer out of the question. Reluctantly, Jack looked over to the passenger seat.

His date didn’t answer. She stared straight ahead, her eyes fixed in terror, just as she had looked when Jack began to stab her.  

[Art] Photography – Oakland Cemetery

I’m not really a photographer, but I liked these shots I took of a cemetery near me so I’m posting them here. This cemetery is quite old and dates back to the Civil War, but in recent years has fallen into disrepair because its owners lost interest in maintaining it and have moved out of state. Thankfully, there are volunteer groups that regularly help clean it up but there are still some brush and weeds, and many broken stones. But it does have a lot of personality, I took some photos of stones that caught my eye, it’s so neat to see the stories that they tell.

Some of my favorites are the hand-painted ones. I think the saddest are the two children who died two days apart at Christmastime in 1918, most likely from the flu.

[Story] Thorns – Harrier’s Journal

Nash must have had an eventful night a little while back, but he doesn’t want to talk about it. From what little I did get out of him, he drank too much, then somehow ended up falling off a roof. I didn’t scold him for being careless, though maybe I should have. I think I already made my point about that before — not that it seems he’s taken it to heart. Usually he doesn’t drink to excess, so I do wonder what was the reason for that, it’s not like he just lost count or something. And which roof did he fall off of? I sure hope he wasn’t thinking of breaking in while he was drunk, Rose would have a fit for sure. Nash also mentioned that he tried to see Star, but she was busy. I explained that happens a lot, because that particular house is usually popular — I guess humans have a particular taste for elf women. He was sort of curious about that, asking if they hired any men too. I don’t know if they do, I imagine one of them must — there’s a house that serves every sort of interest if you look hard enough. But I don’t know why he’d want to get back into that kind of work, especially after being out of it so long. Maybe he just wants a fallback, but still, it’s a little worrisome. I told him I hadn’t really gone looking so I didn’t know, which is true. But I am certain there are humans in the city who like elf men, too.

More so, we got to talking about the egg holiday coming up, because I’m working on some little figures that can be mounted inside of egg shells, for the shop. Nash seemed really curious about it and asked a lot of questions. Personally, I don’t care that much about eggs, but they do have chocolate in them so that’s nice. Nash wanted to know if there were bunnies inside any of them, I said that I think maybe there were. They’re magical eggs I guess, or maybe you take them and turn them in for prizes. I haven’t actually gone to it since moving to Stormwind. I just remember the chocolate. As far as I know, it’s a human thing started by the nobles but it’s spread out to other places, probably as another excuse to eat chocolate. Nash said he always wanted to go as a kid, but never could. So I suggested that we could go, and suddenly he doesn’t want to anymore. Something about how it wouldn’t live up to his idealized picture of it, I didn’t really understand. Even if it’s not the greatest thing ever, it’ll still probably be okay, and we’ll get to eat chocolate. I would definitely make sure he got a little bunny, though I have no clue where we’d put it and I worry that Pup might try to eat it or something. Or Rose might drop it into a stew. Once again I have no idea if he actually wants to do something and won’t admit it, or doesn’t and would resent me nudging him into it. He’s awfully difficult to read most of the time. I also suggested he use some of the bath salts we have, to make his bruises feel better, and he didn’t seem to want to do that either. Maybe he wants to hurt, I don’t know.