[Story] The Ghostclaw – Mossflower

[[ Another “flower” story, it wasn’t planned that way but I got the idea so I ran with it! ]]

At first, Sorrowmoss protested against Selenicus’s visits to the mage school. It was reckless and foolish, not to mention going directly against their patrol orders. If he wished to waste his time with that human girl, Salenicus could do so on his own, without dragging she and Orledin into it. Of course Orledin was the one who encouraged it in the first place. Worse than that, it was boring simply standing around waiting while Salenicus discussed hair ribbons or whatever it is that young human girls care about. Though she too was undead, Sorrowmoss thought there could be little in common with any of them, any more than being alive made humans and elves alike. But as the spring bloomed into the summer, Sorrowmoss found herself enchanted by the school’s gardens. She dared not go through the heavy gates, of course, but she stood outside them and marvelled at the beautiful blooms. In this dismal forest, the gardens seemed like a colorful oasis, a glimpse into a happier time in the past. She could not smell them, not from so far away, but when the breeze was just right she almost thought that she could. The delicate, romantic smell of roses and the hot, summery-sweet jasmine of warm summer nights. They stirred memories she had not thought about in decades, because they hurt too much. But here, with the others distracted, sometimes she would permit them to rise and dwell there in her mind.

Niarah would have loved the gardens, taken her hand and dragged her to every single one of the bushes and insist she smell them. She would have plucked a stem or two — careful not to harm the plant, of course, and tucked a spring behind Sorrowmoss’s ear. Except she was Selenne then. She always felt like a drab little sparrow, with her plain brown hair and ordinary looking features — the leather armor didn’t help matters, either. Niarah was like a majestic phoenix, a bonfire burning bright in the night, a swirl of autumn leaves with their vivid colors. She had the brightest hair the color of fire, in loose curls that she was always tucking behind her ears. The mage from the school who sometimes came to the ranger building, his was the closest that Sorrowmoss had seen since then. The color wasn’t quite right, and his curls were smaller, but it was close enough to remind her every time that he came to recharge the wards. But beyond that, there was a sense of life about her, she seemed to stir it in everyone she came across. Beyond being hopelessly beautiful, she was an exceptional ranger. She was made captain only a few short years after joining the unit, chosen by the retiring former captain. It seemed unfair, Sorrowmoss remembered thinking, that she should have everything. But it was difficult to dislike Niarah, and certainly more so when they started to spend more time together.

Sorrowmoss never understood why someone like Niarah wanted to spend time with her, but she did. They patrolled together often, at first they talked often, talking about their families and their pasts and their dreams, but eventually they didn’t need to. They worked in tandem, like a pair of hunting cats, the one knowing the other’s intentions without words. Some evenings they would go down and swim in the river, bringing a basket of food to eat afterward. Niarah loved flowers, she almost always had a little vase of them in her room, or woven into her hair. She knew all of their names and what they could be used for. She also said they had meanings, if you gave someone a certain flower. Niarah would often stop on patrol and pick one, tucking it into her pouch. Back at home she would put it between the pages of a book to flatten and dry it. If you tried to read any book at her house, you would find dozens of those little dried flowers waiting in the pages. Sorrowmoss thought she rarely read them and probably kept them only for that purpose.

Niarah called her “Mossflower”, those impossibly tiny white blooms that grow among the green velvet moss. They weren’t flashy or showy, in fact they were easily overlooked, Niarah said. But those who took the time to look would be rewarded with their beauty and sweet scent. Would she still think that now? If she was thankful for anything, it was that Niarah never had to see what she had become.

[Story] Story a Week 32 – Flower

Simon surveyed the wall of the florist shop with feigned interest. The long wall was fitted with rows of little metal holders displaying the various blooms that could be added to arrangements. They were sorted by color, so the wall progressed from pinks and reds down into oranges and yellows, with a handful of blues and purples at the far end. Sure, it was nice. Nice and safe and achingly pedestrian.

The florist bustled over to him the moment he rang the little bell above the door when he entered. “What can I help you with today?” she asked, far too cheerfully, Simon thought.

He rather doubted that she’d have what he wanted, but the trouble was he didn’t know himself what exactly that was just yet. His hope was that she might help him narrow it down a bit. “I’m looking for something really unusual,” said Simon. “You know, exotic.”

She began plucking stems out of the metal holders on the wall. Musas, bird of paradise, tiger lily — ugh. “What’s the occasion?” asked the florist, still gathering flowers into her hands.

“It’s for my boss,” Simon said, forcing a smile. Thankfully, the florist’s back was still turned, so if it looked fake, no one was the wiser. “One of those guys that has everything.  So I need something really rare if I’m going to make an impression.”

The florist nodded, moving over to the large glass case. “We do have a selection of orchids. These are a bit more expensive, but they’re certainly something different. I doubt he has one of those!”

Simon peered at the orchids through the glass. They looked rumpled, sad, and deflated. They were also domestically grown, he was certain. But he didn’t want to be rude. Or be too memorable. “I don’t suppose you have anything from a rainforest, something like that?”

“Oh dear, I’m afraid not,” said the florist, still unnervingly cheerful. “I’m not sure where you’d find something like that. Maybe the arboretum?”

He nodded and thanked her on the way out, but he knew they didn’t have what he needed at the arboretum, because he’d already checked. While they did have a nice variety of rare and unusual plants, he’d been to their greenhouses on many trips and never found anything new. The problem was that he didn’t have a name, only an idea. And it needed to be rare enough that no one would suspect — the perfect gift.

At home, he made his usual afternoon rounds, watering his own plants, removing dead leaves and checking for insect pests. Maybe someone on his plant forum would have an idea. They were all, like himself, avid gardeners with a keen interest in plants and their quirks. Of course people had their particular favorites and areas of knowledge. He clicked down to his favorite sub-forum and posted a message. Within a few hours he had replies, and one linked him to an online vendor in Asia. The browser’s translation did little to help; it was a vast catalog of cuttings and seeds from plants native to the region. There were photos, but no scientific names, and the descriptions seemed to list only their medicinal uses. Not especially helpful, but Simon pored through each listing, searching for something suitable. They were expensive, too — he had to do the currency conversion a few times to make sure he’d got it right. They ranged from around twenty dollars, most around fifty dollars, some as high as two hundred and fifty for a handful of cuttings or seeds. Seemed like an expensive risk if they wouldn’t grow, and he didn’t know the names, so he couldn’t research the correct amount of sunlight or pH or soil type. Simon paused at a listing for the colorfully named “Emperor’s Final Decree”. It had big, showy blossoms, red with black centers and gilded edges. Maybe a little unusual for a bouquet, but that’s what he wanted, wasn’t it? The stems looked long and strong enough to suit a vase. The seeds were also four hundred dollars. Simon frowned, but clicked the “Add to cart” button anyway.

While he waited for his four hundred dollar seeds to arrive, Simon set up an area of his basement for their nursery. He brought down his best lights — a variety of colors, a few different intensities — and prepared beds with different types and pH of soil. He kept meticulous notes and labelled each container with the information. With luck, at least one of them would grow. He also searched online, but without the Latin name he only found folk stories and legends. These were interesting, and gave him hope for the final result, but they didn’t tell him how to actually care for them. Most exotic plants were finicky, that’s why they were rare and valued. If they were easy to grow, everyone would have them. Maybe not this one, though, Simon reasoned.

The seeds, when they finally arrived, were ordinary looking — black, oily spheres. He handled them with gloves, just to be safe, and always wore a respirator when he opened the section of the basement where they’d been planted. Waiting for them to sprout was nearly intolerable, but they did, finally. They preferred rainy and hot conditions, medium light to replicate the jungle floor, and smooth, silty soil. Simon tended each delicate sprout with the greatest care, inspecting them several times a day. It would take months for them to reach full size and begin blooming, but barring any catastrophe, the most dangerous stage of their lives was over. Now, it was only a matter of waiting until he could make that perfect, deadly arrangement.

[Story] Imralion’s Journal

Aeramin is in full planning mode, it’s great seeing him so excited but at the same time a bit tiring. I feel like I should be helping more, but I don’t know everything we need. He has a list, he’s prepared. Really it doesn’t matter too much to me what kind of food we have or whatever, I think it’ll be good either way. Aeramin said we need colors and a theme. Lin didn’t, or maybe she did and I didn’t notice. He said red and gold would be good, and I agreed because that would match my armor. I don’t think I’d be able to get a whole new set of armor in time otherwise. He’ll need to get a robe, I would go with but I’m not good at picking robes, also I thought I wasn’t supposed to see it beforehand. But maybe that’s only for dresses, I don’t know. Hethurin is really interested in helping plan, but Aeramin is worried he’ll just take everything over. I guess he might be right about that, but I think it would be safe to let him help pick out the robe.

It seems like he has most everything decided. I do think we should get some little statues to go on the cake, you know to represent us or whatever. Aeramin kept saying things like a sword or a horse. I think he was trying to be funny but I don’t really think that’s appropriate for a wedding cake. I’ll have to think about it more, he said I should look in the city for something. Or I could just let Terellion decide what to put on there, I guess I trust him not to put something weird. I am curious what he thinks would represent me though. We talked a lot about who we should invite. Obviously Lin, and I guess Sunashe as well, and the other teachers from the school. Though I don’t really get along with my mother I think it would be unfair to not invite her. And Lin would probably bring her anyway if I didn’t send an invitation. I just wish she would have cared more about us back then. I don’t know if Aeramin plans to invite his father or not. I think he’d probably want to go, because Aeramin’s his only child and he’ll (hopefully) only have one wedding. When I talked to him about it before he said he was worried about the alcohol being there. Personally I think we could make arrangements to just have the alcohol after, but Aeramin said that wouldn’t be fair to the other guests. I don’t think they’d care that much, and would rather see Aeramin’s father there. I also said maybe someone could keep an eye on him to make sure he didn’t drink, but Aeramin said he didn’t want to have to focus on that. But it’s not my choice.

I think it’s going to be before the mask party, because it gets pretty cold here quickly after that. It doesn’t seem very far away, I hope we’ll have everything ready in time. Seems like a lot to plan in such a short period of time. And I don’t know where we’re going away for a holiday, either. Aeramin suggested the island, but I pointed out it might be really busy. So then he said there are some places you can rent in Pandaria. I think that sounds nice, and it would definitely be less crowded. I just hope there wouldn’t be any bears staring at us the whole time.

[Story] The Tea Party

Nash has been keeping secrets. Well, just the one secret that I know about, if there’s more I don’t know about them yet. And it’s not as if he did a very good job about keeping this one, either – I asked go with him last time and he took me. Because really, it’s not a big deal. So why wasn’t he telling anyone? That’s the part I don’t understand. Of course I don’t expect him to tell me every little detail, but meeting with another sin’dorei living in the city? I don’t know, it just seemed like something people might want to know.

At first I didn’t know she was, because she had an illusion that made her look human. She must be a mage of some kind to be able to do that. We went over the wall of her house and into the courtyard and just walked into the sitting room like it was nothing. I can assure you I was confused by that point. She’s sitting there expecting us, and sipping tea. Well, she expected him. But then she said she knew who I was, because Nash told her who I was. He didn’t mention that before, either. I didn’t like it, I smelled a trap. She’d caught him breaking in after his necklace, and rather than attack him or turn him in, she decided she wanted him to come pay her social visits. I assumed of course that she meant something else by that, which again isn’t my business. Nash is free to do whatever he wants with whoever he wants, I just would have liked to know, is all. He said it wasn’t like that, but I think it would have been, if she had her way.

She made us tea and gave us cookies to eat. It was bizarre. She was really nosy and wanted to know a lot of things about me. She started out talking about how I was an elf, which is always my favorite subject. Like did I live in the forest, and why did I come here? None of your damned business, lady. And how I could seek out other elves here and talk to them if I ever felt lonely or something. Those elves aren’t my friends, I don’t have anything in common with them. Whatever their reasons for leaving are their own and they don’t need to talk to me about it. I’d rather not have to speak Darnassian, anyway. That part of my life is done, thankfully.

Then she wanted to talk about herself. That was okay, and I have to admit it was kind of interesting just because it was so weird. She ran away from home because her father wanted her to marry some guy, I can’t blame her for that. I’m glad that custom never caught on among kaldorei, though I can see them being all for that. The guy she ran off with was a worgen who was there studying dirt in the Dead Scar. Because he’s a researcher, she said. Okay. That’s pretty weird, though I know I can’t say anything because Rose is a worgen too. I’m just glad she doesn’t go around sniffing dirt clods. I wonder if Rose knows him? I mean it’s dumb to assume that every worgen knows each other — I don’t know every kaldorei. But it is possible. This lady must have spent some time in Ironforge too, because she was asking about my time there. And she has a girlfriend who is a dwarf. Again, unusual but it’s not like I didn’t spend some time with dwarf women while I lived there. Can’t really blame her. She also likes dwarven ale and Gilnean wine. So her taste isn’t that bad.

Nash said he hated going, and I don’t understand why he did. Just tell her he didn’t want to. Sure, there was a risk she’d turn him in, but I doubt she would take it given that it would put her at risk too. But I asked if she’d be able to do an illusion for Nash, like she had. Just enough that he could go without a hat. At first she said she couldn’t because she’d need to maintain eye contact with the subject, but  I asked if the necklace could be enchanted to do that and she said it could. Nash insists he doesn’t need it, and maybe he doesn’t, but it couldn’t hurt anything. The only thing she said was to avoid the mage district, because they’d know it was there. I think it’d be worth it, but she said she’d need to redo the spell every week or so. Which means Nash would still need to visit her, and I’m not sure if he wants to. Maybe he deserves having to sit and listen to her talk every week for not being honest with people. I don’t know why it bothers me, but it does. I’ve never lied to him, or to anyone I cared about.

He also told the lady that Rose is my girlfriend. I don’t know why he’d do that, unless it was just because he didn’t feel like explaining it. He knows well enough that she’s not. Do I wish she was? Yeah, of course, but that’s not going to make it happen. Believe me, I’ve thought about it a lot. If I thought I could change her mind after all this time, I would have tried it. Though maybe that lady has some ideas. It sounds like her two are fine with everything, so maybe she knows something that I don’t.

[Story] Story a Week 31 – Dull

The Harrier frowned at his knife as he went to cut the twine from the package of parts on his work-desk. It had taken some sawing to get through, and the ends of the twine looked frazzled and frayed. Though it wasn’t his best knife, it was still a good one — he didn’t own any that weren’t — and it held an edge well. It must have just been too long since he’d remembered to sharpen it. That, he realized, or someone else had been using it in the meantime. That was possible, Pup was the most likely culprit, though he had a blade (or two) of his own. Or Rose or Josie could have just grabbed it off his desk for quick jobs, they sometimes carried their own, but not always. What reason was there for them to carry a knife around the shop? Going through town was one thing, but not here.

The shop was safe. He frowned at that word, too. Safe was boring, safe was predictable, safe was — like his knife, dull. The Harrier fetched his sharpening stone before putting it away, so he wouldn’t be surprised by it being dull when he next reached for it. Nash had pointed it out before, but he’d dismissed the idea then. He was still juggling shipments at the docks, still smuggling and re-selling. He hadn’t gotten dull. But like a knife, you could never really be sure until tested — and he had to admit that he did feel dull. The shop had meant to only be a cover for their other activities, but it had been profitable enough to take up most of his time. Especially around the winter holidays — which would be coming up soon enough — he had to work on clocks and watches full time to keep up with the demand. The money was decent, not as lucrative as other ventures, but it was steady.

He drew the blade along the wet stone, hearing the satisfying rasp of it against the metal. But what was he supposed to do about it, exactly? He’d been away from the game long enough that he couldn’t be sure of his street contacts. Things like straight up robbery or blackmail were out, they were just too dangerous and too easily tracked back to him. More importantly, any risk he took would also come back to everyone else — to the shop, to Pup, to Rose. And to Nash. Being a sin’dorei in Silvermoon was dangerous enough. To thumb his nose at fate by committing illegal acts was something else. He couldn’t be the one responsible for Nash being discovered, and for the rest of them being arrested for hiding him. Nash always swore he was never caught, but if he found trouble himself, Harrier was certain that he wouldn’t turn the rest of them in.

But didn’t he miss it, just a little? He had to admit that he did. He missed the danger and uncertainty, his heart racing with anticipation in the moments before they moved. He missed his talks on the rooftops with Josie and Nash. He missed sneaking Pup out past his bedtime. It was a risk that had brought him to all of this, his failed attempt to rob Rose. He’d found something much more valuable, but what was he doing with it? Nothing, that’s what.

Nash still went out most nights, sometimes he came back and sometimes he didn’t. The Harrier never asked questions. But tonight, he’d ask to go along. Maybe an opportunity would present itself.

[Story] Fairsong Academy – Sorelle’s Diary

I’m making some dresses for Xarola. I like making them for myself, but it’s exciting to make them for someone else sometimes, too. I get to use fabric and styles that I might not use for myself. I really hope someone will buy some really fancy fabric so I can use that, but it hasn’t happened yet. I guess because most students don’t have a lot of money to buy things like fabric. I keep thinking about doing it for a business, and I don’t think it’s a bad idea, except that I can’t get any of the things myself. It’s not the same being able to see and touch the fabric yourself when you pick it out. Also I don’t know if Tik knows all of the different kinds — he might, because he does seem to know a lot about house things, but he might not too. Usually I don’t ask for any money from people at the school, because it feels weird to, but Xarola insisted so I told her I’d like some of that perfume that she and Vynlorin make. I still have some sense of smell and I think it would be nice, even if no one else notices it. I guess I kind of hope that Salenicus does, but I’m not sure if he will. Sometimes it’s a long time between when he stops by, and Xarola said that’s because the rangers are really busy. But I don’t think they are, I mean, Salenicus always tells me what happens on his patrol and usually it’s the same thing — which is to say, not very much most nights. Then she said maybe Orledin and Sorrowmoss are impatient and don’t want to wait for him. That might be true, but it also doesn’t seem like they’re in a big hurry to get back. If they’re being impatient, that’s not very nice of them.

I wanted to know about how Xarola and Vynlorin started seeing each other, like if something happened suddenly or if it was just gradual. She said they just talked first and went on walks to pick flowers, which isn’t very interesting. I guess I thought it was more like the books more often, but she made it sound kind of boring. He is handsome though, and they like a lot of the same things. They don’t live together yet either. I thought it might be nice to have my own little house, just so I can keep the lights on at night and not disturb anyone else who is sleeping. I always worry that I’m going to wake someone walking around or while I’m sewing. Part of it is just wanting my own space too, not that my room isn’t nice, it’s lovely. Xarola said I could ask the headmaster, but I don’t think I will. It wouldn’t seem fair to have my own if nobody else does. She also said her mother might move out here. That will be a lot of older people in one place! I said they should have little gatherings for them to meet and talk and drink tea or whatever. We could teach a class about flowers in the greenhouse, though I expect Xarola’s mother already knows a ton about flowers and plants, since she sells them for her job. But I think it would be good for them to be able to meet like that. If my parents were alive, I bet they would like it.

I don’t remember why, but I mentioned that Orledin was interested in one of the alive rangers and likes to bake with him. Xarola suddenly got very interested in that and wanted to know all about it, if they’re together and things like that. I said I didn’t know, because I don’t — everything I know is just things that Salenicus has told me. Xarola said she wanted to go and watch them bake together which feels a little weird to me, like they’re some kind of performers or something. I wouldn’t want someone just watching me sew, well I guess I wouldn’t mind but it still seems strange to me. But I don’t think there’s any talking her out of it, she was already making plans to bring the rangers some soap and perfume. I do think they would like that. And maybe I could give some to Salencius, but I don’t want him to think that it’s because he smells bad. It would be nice to see the ranger building, too. Maybe I could even see how Hernester is doing.

[Story] Fairsong Academy – Loralinde’s Journal

I started looking for someone who might be able to help me talk to ghosts. I figured that a priest might be the best person for that, they also might be able to help me learn how to speak draenei, because they should be friendly and patient if they are priests. At least, I think so. I asked about where to find some, and everyone pointed me to the big temple up on the tier. I did try going there, but I think they were all in the middle of something important, because they were all gathered around in one room. Also, it was very quiet and no one else was talking. I felt odd and out of place, and I guess I found it all a bit intimidating. Keyalenn reminded me that there were injured people in the lower part of the city, and there were surely some priests there with them. So while he went to look at the market, I did that.

I was surprised to see orcs and trolls there among the injured, as well as some draenei and other people like the birds and little mushrooms. I think it must be interesting to live among so many different kinds of people. I guess sometimes there are some in the city, but not too often. It’s almost always just elves. They probably don’t feel very welcome there, which I guess I can understand, but it would be neat to learn more about them, and especially about their ghosts. I know they have shamans who can talk to the elements, which is not really the same, but they may know something about ghosts, too. I’d like to talk to some, one day.

Anyway, I found a draenei woman tending to the injured people there in a little building. She was by herself, which was a lot less intimidating. Also, she spoke Orcish. That surprised me a little, but it makes sense if she’s healing a lot of orcs and trolls. I told her that I was wanting to learn how to speak draenei, which of course made her curious so she asked why. Then I told her about wanting to be able to speak to the ghosts in the tomb. She seemed wary about that, and wanted to know my reasons. I can understand why. There isn’t much trust between elves and draenei, even still, and someone could easily have bad intentions. But I hoped that being honest would show her that I am trustworthy, I told her that I wanted to speak to the ghosts there and study them. She agreed that learning to speak draenei would show them that I am respectful and had taken the time to learn about them first.

She also told me some more about the history of the tomb. I’d read a little in the library, but as history books usually do, they left out some things. And it’s always better hearing about it from a person, especially a person who might have seen it for themselves. She told me that there is a corpse of a naaru, that draws the ghosts too it. When I asked why, she said they were drawn to its energy, and that it protects the spirits there. I wonder too if it serves the same sort of purpose as they do in our world, only to spirits. It’s definitely something to look into. But, it’s also dangerous to stay there too long because the void energy will eventually corrupt you — it happened to the former keepers of the tomb. None of that was in the book! I think sometimes they try to make things sound better and leave out unpleasant things like that. I know it happens in our history books anytime we did something not so good.

I told her about the ghosts at our school and how I am studying them. I said something about how there aren’t any draenei there, but I wish there were. That was sort of a hint. But maybe the headmaster would allow it? We have kaldorei there, so why not? The priest kind of perked up at that and said that she’d like to learn Thalassian so she could speak to the elves here. I know a lot of them either don’t speak Orcish, or pretend they don’t. So I said I could teach her, and she could teach me. She’s busy during the evenings, but free in the daytime. I’m so excited to have a real draenei to teach me instead of just books! And I get to help her too, which makes it even better. She seems really nice. We met at the restaurant for dinner with Keyalenn and the draenei’s brother. He’s really big. I’d never seen one that close before and I can’t get over how big he is. He kept talking to her in draenei, I don’t think he really trusts us yet. But soon I’ll be able to talk to him in draenei and I can prove that I’m not going to cause any trouble. I only wish we could stay here longer to study! Maybe after the summer, Haani (that’s her name) could come back to the school with us. Wouldn’t that be something!