[Story] The Ghostclaw – Fishing

“Ann’da, can we go fishing?”

Sath’alor looked over the stacks of paperwork that covered his desk. Most were reports that needed to be read and filed, some were equipment requests, there might have even been a letter of inquiry in there, but he hadn’t got that far into the pile yet. Whatever it was, fishing sounded like a much better idea.

“We sure can,” he said, patting Rylad on the head as he got up. Perhaps he’d already known that his ann’da would say yes, because he had on his boots and coat. “Do you think Zaren would like to go too? I think he’s big enough.”

Rylad seemed to consider for a moment and then nodded. “Yeah, but he can’t hold a pole.”

“No?”

“He’d drop it,” said Rylad.

That was probably true. While Zaren had grown a lot, he was still little, and he was still at the age where he was more interested in eating things off the ground than much else. “I’ll help him,” Sath’alor suggested, and Rylad agreed to that plan.

Nessna was still away on her patrol, so he left a note that he’d taken the boys fishing with him. He also put on the scratchy new sweater she’d just bought for him. It would take some getting used to, but it was certainly warm. And it had lynxes on it. Sath’alor had never seen a sweater like that before, and he would have bought it if he had, so he was pleased with her choice. He wrangled Zaren into a hooded suit with a zipper, and helped him into his boots. Rylad could do most of it by himself, so he fetched the fishing poles and basket. They could stop along the way to look under rocks for grubs and worms for bait.

The forest was ablaze with autumn color, the once-dead trees having regrown some of their leaves over the past few years. Birds and little animals — squirrels and chipmunks — dashed and chirped overhead. Rylad delighted in stomping on every particularly crunchy leaf along the trail, hearing the satisfying crackle they made. The morning was chilly, but not too cold, and the day would grow warmer as it went on. It was a day that was practically made for fishing.

He baited the hooks and helped them get into the water. Rylad was an old pro at fishing, he gripped his pole and stared intently at the water, watching for any splashes or ripples. Zaren was more fascinated by the grub on the hook, but Sath’alor didn’t let him eat it. He had snuck some cookies in his pack though, and gave one of them to each.

Rylad had a lot of questions about fish, though. Sath’alor didn’t really know terribly much about them — his main interest in fishing had been finding food for his cats to eat.

“Do fish sleep?”

“Where do fish pee?”

“Does it hurt them to get caught?”

“Do fish have ann’das?”

Sath’alor hoped they might catch one or two — fresh fish with spices sounded delicious for dinner. But even if they didn’t, it had been a perfect day.

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[Story] Fairsong Academy – Maerista’s Journal

The weather’s starting to get cold, and I thought I should get Gael a new sweater. Not that there’s really anything wrong with any of the other ones he has, but they’re maybe not as soft as they once were, and some of them have got a little mud on them from patrol. That’s going to happen, living out in the woods. And I admit, they always have new designs and I feel like he might get bored with wearing the same old boring sweaters all the time. I’ve been so busy with the extra work at school that  I hadn’t had time to go yet, though. Even though Xarola and Vynlorin offered to help check papers — which I certainly appreciate — there’s a lot of work to be done preparing lessons and exams. I also check essays myself, because those are subjective. I thought a trip to the city to look for a sweater would be a nice break, but then Gael brought up something I hadn’t thought about before.

Don’t the other rangers get cold? Sure, they have cloaks, but he said none of them have sweaters. Can you imagine! I guess their wives don’t care if they freeze to death or not. Or if their ears get frozen in the wind. So I decided that I would invite some of them along with me, it could be a fun trip and I could get a chance to talk to some of them more. Since we have our own house, I hardly ever see them, let alone get to talk. Nessna and Lin both have young babies too — Lin’s is the littlest. He’s so cute, it makes me realize how big Zaeris has gotten. I didn’t think I should ask Sorrowmoss, first of all she wouldn’t be allowed in Silvermoon, second she doesn’t have anyone to buy a sweater for. Neither do Kavia, Yara, or Anorelle, at least that I know of. That left Vellira, Lin, and Nessna, and I had to find a time when they all wouldn’t be on patrol and I wouldn’t be teaching classes. Well, I thought about asking Julan, but honestly I wasn’t sure if it would be a good idea having to keep a close eye on him all afternoon. They all seemed confused at first, but agreed to come anyway, maybe because I said I’d buy lunch.

I went straight to my favorite stall in the market for sweaters, they set up their booth around this time every year and there’s piles of different ones. I think every single one is different, so you have to look through all of them to find the best ones. Nessna said that the other rangers didn’t need sweaters, because they already had cloaks. Sure, I said, but wouldn’t they be warmer with a sweater AND a cloak? Also, you can get a set of matching ear-warmers and a scarf if you like. Then I found a sweater that had little lynxes running across the front and that convinced her. Lin asked if they had any with lizards, which they didn’t, but she did find one with a dragon. I think if you squint you could pretend that it was a lizard. And lizards and dragons are probably related, anyway. Vellira seemed to love the idea, and she ended up buying three sweaters, with matching ear-warmers and scarves. At least one of them is worried about her ranger getting cold. One of them had a ship on the front, she said that one was her favorite.

We went to the tea house and had tea and sandwiches. It has been so long since I got to just talk with other ladies that I think I’d forgotten how to. But it was nice, I want to do it again. It just feels a little awkward because they’re all rangers and I’m a mage, but then we just talked about normal things for the most part, so maybe it isn’t too strange. Especially when we talked about babies, Vellira made a face about that. I think she’s older than I am, then again mine was kind of a surprise.

We also stopped to have the sweaters all wrapped up. You can’t give someone a gift without wrapping it properly! The boxes looked really large because the sweaters are so big and fluffy. Vellira was trying to balance all three of hers, fortunately she was able to balance them long enough for me to open a portal back to the ranger building. I hope they all like their sweaters, and stay warm on their patrols. Gael’s is blue with little white snowflakes, and I got a matching little hat for Zaeris. They’ll both be so adorable!

[Story] Story a Week – Bird

[[ I guess this is kind of a horror story, how do you make a bird scary though? What about something he’s seen before? ]]

“Stooooooop,” the parrot croaked as Carol walked past its perch. It was an Amazon, a riot of bright green, topped with yellow and blue. Carol did as the bird demanded, pausing to look it over. Its eyes were bright and mischievous. Her grandmother was a bird lover, her sitting room alive with color and their calls. She’d recently passed, and her birds gone to a rescue organization in her town, but it had got Carol thinking about getting one of her own. She’d been told to start small, perhaps a cockatiel or lovebird, but something drew her to the larger birds. They seemed so wild and alien, little dinosaurs who could clutch things in their scaly feet, and she admitted the idea of a bird who could talk tickled her. If nothing else, she’d have someone to talk to at home. She worked from home, and was well past the age that she worried about meeting someone and having kids. A bird might be just the company she needed.

The bird sidled down the perch, cocking its head at her. “Stooooop,” it said again.

“You’re insistent, aren’t you?” Carol asked. She leaned in closer to read the weathered paper tag attached to the perch, but its ink was faded and appeared to have got wet at some point. “What’s this one’s name?” she asked the teenager behind the counter.

“What’s your name,” the bird rumbled in answer, grinding its beak. “Paco.”

“Yeah, that’s Paco,” the kid said. “We just got him in a few weeks ago. He’s a rescue.”

“Oh?” Carol was intrigued. “Do you know anything else about him?”

He shook his head. “Sorry, I don’t. Animal control brought him in to see if we could find him a new owner. I guess they don’t have facilities for birds. Seems well-behaved though.”

Carol extended a cautious hand, and Paco regarded it a moment before extending a scaly foot and climbing up onto it. She gave a little gasp of surprise.

“See, he likes you.”

She smiled at the bird perched on her hand. “I guess you made the decision, then.”

It took several trips to bring all of Paco’s supplies in from her car. There was an enormous cage that Carol was sure could fit several toddlers, a wooden perch, and a bag of pellets. Not to mention all of the toys, water dishes, and various supplements she’d got to keep Paco healthy. Birds were definitely not a cheap hobby. But once she got everything set up, Paco seemed perfectly content in his new home, grooming his wing with his curved beak.

“Are you hungry, Paco? I’m going to make some dinner.”

“Stoooooop,” Paco said. It seemed he liked that one.

Birds needed fresh vegetables and fruits, so she chopped some of her salad ingredients and put them in Paco’s dish. He squished and explored everything in the same way she’d seen babies do, getting it all over his feet and beak. Carol sat down in front of the television to eat her own dinner.

“Stoooooop,” Paco muttered over his dish. “Don’t come in.”

Carol raised a curious brow and looked at Paco. “Everything okay, buddy?”

The parrot stretched his neck and wings. “Don’t come in!”

While it was a little unsettling, Carol didn’t think the bird was actually in any distress, just repeating something he’d heard before. She cleaned up her dishes and covered Paco’s cage for the night.

A shrill scream jolted her out of bed in the morning, high-pitched and intense. It was Paco, his cage cover lay on the floor and he was staring out the window. “Please,” Paco croaked, hardly a whisper. Carol’s ears still rang from the bird’s all too human scream. “Please don’t kill me.”

“I won’t, Paco,” Carol said, picking up the cage cover from the floor and folding it. “But I need you to stop screaming like that. You nearly gave me a heart attack.”

“Hello?” Paco said.

That was better, that was normal parrot stuff. “Hello,” Carol replied.

“Hello, 9-1-1? There’s someone in my house,” Paco chattered. “He’s right outside the door.”

[Story] Xanaroth’s Journal

Felarius’s lessons have been going well. Fortunately I’ve been able to keep Elara with me much of the time, in the same way that I imagine Hethurin must. I feel safer having her there with me rather than leaving her alone in a room during that time. Though I take her out any time we are summoning, even with imps. I’m not taking any chances. If she shows interest when she is older, that would be another matter, but I won’t take the risks I did in the past. It isn’t worth it. Nor will I put Felarius at risk. He’s so curious and eager, and I don’t want to dampen that, but at the same time I want to ensure he really understands the dangers of what he is working with. Like any tool, demons can harm the user if used incorrectly or carelessly.

He’s copying and studying bindings, and learning about the various types of demons. Sometimes he has questions that I don’t know the answer to — like last night, he was asking me about imps. I’ve never given imps much thought, they are just simply there most of the time and taken for granted. But he asked me about where they come from. I explained that they are born in great litters? Clutches? From broodmothers, something like a queen bee will give birth to all of the bees in a hive. And like bees, individual imps are simply workers who exist for the greater good of the swarm. Who fathers them? That question stumped me. Something  must, assuming that demons work in the same way that animals do. But perhaps they do not, perhaps the female doesn’t require a male at all. Or perhaps she finds a mate before she becomes so large. There is much we still don’t know about demons and their lives, given their secrecy and ability to hide away in the Nether. Maybe Felarius will be the one to discover it one day. He also asked if they miss their families. I said that they didn’t, because they don’t form familial attachments in the way that we elves do. Doesn’t the mother miss her children? I doubt she even knows how many she has, but it is true that imps form attachments easily to their masters. Perhaps they do seek some sort of parental figure, though I had always assumed they wanted protection from the Nether’s more dangerous residents. It’s an interesting thought, one I am glad that he brought up. A student who challenges the teacher is sure to go far in his studies, and in turn should make me a better teacher.

I do worry a bit that he’ll fall behind in his fire lessons. Aeramin is away, so his assistant Maerista is taking over his classes for the trip. Normally, Felarius does his private fire lessons with Aeramin, but it seems that he’s been studying his summoning instead. I don’t want to discourage that, of course, but nor do I want him to fall behind in fire. Not only is it incredibly important to have a good fire foundation, it would look awfully suspicious if he’s taking private lessons off site and still not doing well. I don’t want to raise any questions.

I think he’ll be ready for an imp soon. Obviously he can’t keep it at the school, but I could probably set up a place in the work room here. It will be easier than constantly summoning it, and I will also be able to keep a closer eye on its behavior. I’m somewhat relieved that he doesn’t seem to have any interest in a succubus. Those are nothing but trouble.

[Story] Fairsong Academy – Lora’s Letter

Dear Haani,

I have some wonderful news! I spoke to the Headmaster here and he said it’s fine for you to come and study for a while. I wanted to wait and make sure he was in a good mood, he was about to eat cake and he had two of his little babies with him. Have you ever seen an elf baby? I guess you must have at the orphanage. They’re very cute. Narise is a little bit older but Galandil is still just a small baby. They also have another daughter who is older and goes to classes, but just the general class so she probably won’t have any with you. But you’ll definitely see her around because she’s always curious about everything and likes to talk to new people. I wonder if she’d want to learn draenei too!

There are all sorts of classes you can take here. There’s the schools of magic, of course, and all of the teachers are really nice. Magister Firewind is the fire instructor usually, you’ll be able to meet him when he comes back from his trip. Maerista is a student who helps him with his classes, she was a student here who passed her exams. The Headmaster teaches the arcane classes, and Des helps him with that. If you want to learn ice magic, that’s Magister Raleth and Keyalenn, who you already know. There’s also a class about enchanting, and hawkstrider care and riding, and learning to grow plants in the greenhouse. If you want to learn sewing, there’s a student who helps people with that. She’s an undead, I guess you probably don’t have those in Shattrath. She looks a little scary but she’s really nice. There’s also a kaldorei who teaches the younger students, so you could probably talk to her about what it’s like if you’re anxious. The only thing is, you probably want to avoid the towns and you definitely shouldn’t go into Silvermoon. They can be very mistrustful of strangers.

Magister Fairsong also said your brother might be able to come if he’s worried about you, I suggested he could be a guard here for the school but he doesn’t think we need any more. However, there’s a unit of rangers nearby. If you don’t know what those are, they patrol around the forest to keep it safe from undead and robbers and spiders, things like that. I think your brother would be good at that, if he’s interested! He needs to speak with the ranger captain though. We’re going to be in Shattrath in two weeks, he thought we might be able to meet and talk about it then. If you have any more questions you can ask him then, and also just to get a chance to meet him. He’s very protective of his students and always wants them to be safe. Oh, I also told him that you could help the chef make some draenei food. I bet everyone would be excited to try that! We could even have a draenei festival maybe. If you come in time, you’ll be able to attend the masked ball. That’s where you have a costume and everything is decorated with pumpkins and spooky things. It’s really fun, trust me.

Also, if you like, I can introduce you to the ghosts that live here. I know the ones inside the school well, and they trust me. There are more out in the woods that I’ve seen but haven’t spoken with as much. There must be hundreds more out there, ghosts of elves who died in the scourge attacks and were simply left alone out there. I am sure they would appreciate having another person to talk to.

Your friend,
Loralinde

 

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Faeris’s Journal

I had to give dancing lessons to Salenicus the other day. He asked Julan first, but I guess Julan told him that he didn’t know how to dance — which is pretty silly considering that’s what he was doing when he first came here. Maybe Salenicus forgot that part, although I guess to be fair he wasn’t here yet. But it’s not like Julan hasn’t talked about it, either. Maybe it was for the best, because I’m not sure the style of dancing Julan was doing would be allowed at a school dance anyway. My mother made me go to all kinds of lessons when I was younger, and I’ve been to a lot of dances in the city, so I do actually know them pretty well. That doesn’t mean I’m a good dancing teacher though, I don’t think I am. Plus, honestly I didn’t really want to have to hold hands with him and stuff, so I picked the easiest dance I could think of that didn’t require a lot of touching. Just a regular waltz, which is easy to remember and would go well with slow songs, which is I assume mostly what they would be playing. And you can always just go faster if you need to. But then he said he might dance out in the garden, where I’m not sure you could hear the music anyway. Which you could do, but it’d just be a little weird.

The girl he’s going to dance  with studied in Dalaran — I mean old Dalaran — so I’m going to guess that she knows how to dance properly too. They used to hold balls there all the time, and anyone who could afford magic school in Dalaran is rich enough to be sent to dance lessons. So Salenicus better hope that she’s forgotten all of the steps, or she can pretend to be impressed by a boring waltz, I guess. I kept asking if he remembered, and he said he did, but I told him it was a good idea to practice anyway. It helps to let your feet remember how to go, then you can focus on other things like talking when it is time to dance for real. Or kissing, but I don’t even want to think about that. Would it be cold? I bet it would.

He was also married before, and had two kids before he died. I’m assuming that they died too, but even so, that’s kind of a big deal. I’m not her, but I’d hesitate a little if Julan had been married before, that’s a serious thing to lose and I’d worry he still wasn’t really over it. Also she’s a human, and a lot younger than him, he got really upset when I mentioned that. He said I was shallow for thinking about her having small ears and being too different from an elf. I don’t think it’s shallow to like how a person looks at all, obviously it’s not the only thing that matters but it’s important. Maybe dead people don’t care, but then why is he trying to impress her by dancing anyway? He also asked if I was with anyone before Julan, obviously I was, and obviously Julan was too. But neither of us had anyone we were really serious about, and that’s a long way from being married and having kids. I just told him that he should talk to her about it because she might hesitate because of that. Probably not during the dance, though.

I suggested he bring her a present too, normally I’d say like wine or candy but she can’t eat those. Flowers are good, he wants to get a live plant to put in a pot, because it won’t die as fast as cut flowers.  I mentioned that all plants die eventually, I think he pretended not to hear me. But she likes working in the greenhouse, so she’s probably pretty good at keeping plants alive, and she would probably like that for a gift. He doesn’t have a mask yet though, so he should make one soon, the dance is only a few weeks away. Julan and I haven’t either, he keeps thinking of stuff that’s funny but probably wouldn’t be allowed at a school dance. I think we should make a set for the school and then a set to wear here, we could hang them on the wall when we’re done too.

[Story] Ashenvale – Risarra’s Journal

Two important things happened, and I’m not sure about either of them. The first is that Avanniel got a letter from the old man, the one who she let to go look for his grand-daughter. He wrote that he is in the Eastern Kingdoms — which is where he’s supposed to be. A blood elf took her and is keeping her there. But Avanniel pointed out that the address on the envelope is a box in the goblin town on the coast. Is he actually there, and lying about where he is? Avanniel wants someone to go there and watch for him. If he’s expecting a reply, he will have to go there soon to get it. She also suggested asking the goblins about him, though I don’t know much about them, I expect that will take some coins. I asked who will have to do that, and she said she didn’t know yet. I don’t want to, it sounds awful. Goblins are terrible little things and I can only imagine how bad a town full of them would be. And it’s really far away. What if something happens? But if I get picked, I will have to go. There’s no way around it. Avanniel is concerned that he may have fallen under the blood elf’s control, as well. If he is, I’m not certain he would be able to write such a letter, but of course, if the blood elf is pulling the strings it is possible. It could be a trap, too. In the letter he asked about whether any tauren were in the area. That’s a very odd thing to ask, does he think they have her? Avanniel said she grew up with them, so she might return to them. But I haven’t seen any in the forest for quite a long time. I know there is a small camp at the border, but it’s too dangerous to go there alone. If she was there, I think she would have been killed by now. I will keep watch for any tauren on my patrols, but I don’t expect to see any.

Bear said that if I had to go to the goblin town, he would too. I thought that was very kind of him to offer, but I’m not sure Avanniel would allow it. I would feel a bit safer, though I know he wouldn’t want to stay in a goblin town any more than I do. Probably less, given how much he dislikes Astranaar. That’s the other thing that happened. I don’t regret it, I’d been thinking about it for a very long time and it was nice. But now I don’t know what it means. Bear was talking about moving his house to a different spot, and I think he was saying that because I wanted it. I know he’d be unhappy, not to mention the bears would have less room, and I don’t want either of those things. He has a good camp, and he’s already done a lot of work on the little house, I’d hate for him to give it all up just because I don’t want to walk as far. I do want to see him more often though, I’ll just have to get up in time to make it back to the barracks to report in time. Unless I got a hippogryph, but I don’t know where I’d keep it. And he doesn’t say things like Sorias did, I know they aren’t the same person but I guess I expected it a little. He does things though, he picked a whole basket of berries and I am taking the extras back for muffins and jam. Are we mates? I don’t know. I can’t exactly ask Zhyra about it and I think Avanniel would just roll her eyes.