[Story] Ashenvale – The House

Bear is helping me to find a good place to make a house. I don’t know how to build a house at all, but Bear does, and he said he’d help me with it. There’s nothing wrong with my cave, I’d say it’s the best cave in the forest. But I know sentinels don’t like to live in caves, and though Zhyra comes to visit sometimes, I think I’d like her to stay more. It’s a strange feeling, because I have always preferred to be by myself, and at first Zhyra would talk too much and ask too many questions. She still does at first, but then after some time she can just be there with me and appreciate the sounds of the forest and all of its creatures. In those times it’s really nice, and I’ve got better at talking I think too. At least, I think I have. I guess only Zhyra would be able to answer that. But I can’t ask her to stay in a cave, she’d need a proper place to live. I don’t want to stay in town, but if I found a spot that wasn’t too far away from town, I think that would be okay. I could still go and check on my cave too; I am sure that someone will take it after I leave, but I have to be okay with that. I hope it’s some bears or sabers and not a druid though. Once I have a place to live, then I can ask Zhyra about it.

I don’t know if she’ll agree though. I went to ask Bear because he knows a lot about that stuff, and  because Risarra said yes. So he must know. But he just said that he wasn’t sure if she’d say yes either. Also, she wasn’t there. She had gone with the sentinel captain to somewhere in the Eastern Kingdoms. He didn’t even know where. He said he wasn’t worried but I think he just didn’t want to say it out loud. I wouldn’t blame him for being worried. I thought he would have gone with, but she left him some dumplings. If Zhyra went somewhere far away, I’d want to go make sure she was safe. They’re going to look for the old man and his grand-daughter, who was captured by a blood elf. That sounds dangerous to me. Also, if there are any druids there, I wouldn’t want Zhyra to go.

If I was a druid, I could just make a place to live quickly out of trees, but I’m not. Bear said the druids are probably all upset because they can’t have Risarra, and soon hopefully they can’t have Zhyra either. But we’ll see. It would be a lot easier if they all just went back into their barrows. After Bear and I ate some dumplings, we went out to look for a good place. I had a few in mind, that were high enough to not be flooded, and allow a good vantage point. They needed to be close to water too, for cleaning and fish, and because the sound of water is calming. It couldn’t be too close to a road or trail where orcs might travel. Zhyra said the orcs wouldn’t cause trouble anymore now, but I’m not sure if I believe that.  She said there was some paper they signed about it. Well, I don’t think orcs can even read, so how would they know about a paper? If I see one, I won’t kill it right away, but if it seems dangerous I will.

Bear didn’t talk too much on the way. I think he was worried about Risarra. We looked at a few different spots and he pointed out the good and bad parts about each. I finally picked one, it’s beautiful, especially at sunset. Bear is going to help me put some stones down for the floor tomorrow. I really hope Zhyra likes it, otherwise I’m not sure what I’ll do with a house.

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[Story] Fairsong Academy – Loralinde’s Journal

The school trips to Shattrath are always so fun! It’s been a while since our last one, so I was excited to see everything and visit the restaurant and the library again. The library at the school is really nice, but the one there is the biggest I’ve ever seen, and they have different books of course, so it’s fun to look for new things there. The teachers still do some lessons, but they’re usually shorter so the students have time to do other things, and a lot of times they will take them on trips as well. Outland is warm in general, so there’s not really a good place to practice frost magic, but Keyalenn makes it work somehow. Also, Professor Raleth has been busy because he just adopted two new kids from the orphanage here. Actually, pretty much everyone has — Professor Firewind, the Headmaster, and even Des! She’s close to my age so I admit it got me thinking about whether we should get one too. It probably would be really difficult to take care of a child and do all my work, besides, we haven’t had our wedding yet. And Keyalenn’s father still lives with us, so we’d need another room. I really don’t mind him there, it’s better than him being alone all the time, and he’s nice. I was wondering if he might want some friends to talk to though, maybe even a lady friend who was interested in fake hawkstriders. I figure there must be some people in his league that he could talk to, maybe they’d want to share a house.

Keyalenn did suggest that I could help Mister Sorhorn with the younger students, maybe during lunch time so he could have a break. That’s such a good idea! I’m definitely going to ask him about it when we get back. That way I could see all the cute little kids, but it won’t take up too much of my study time. That’s best for now. Though I want to see if we can buy some manaberry bushes to grow inside our house, I think the winters are too cold for them, but we could get some planters and keep them inside. And if we had a solarium, they’d get plenty of sunlight! We don’t have one now, but Keyalenn is going to look into getting one built in the spring. I’m sure the Headmaster already has lots of plans for the builders, so we need to get on the list early.

I’m also really excited to go to Auchindoun again. Haani has been teaching me more draenei, so hopefully I’ll be able to speak with the ghosts a little better. I don’t want them to feel afraid or worried about me. Keyalenn says I’m not scary, but they never saw an elf when they were alive, so they might feel a little confused about what I am or why I’m there. Ghosts in general can often get confused about where they are, or even not know they are dead! Haani is also going to help me buy some incense and beads that we can take with us to leave for the ghosts. That should make them feel calm. The book I was reading talked about arakkoa spirits out in the wastes. I’ve never talked to one of those before, I’m not sure if they would even be able to understand me. The arakkoa (alive ones) in the market can speak, but I think they learned recently. Either way, Keyalenn offered to go with me to make sure it’s safe, so I am very much looking forward to that. I hope I can learn more about arakkoa ghosts! I need to start collecting my notes into a book soon, I could have a whole chapter about Outland ghosts. Keyalenn said there are a lot of ghosts in Northrend too, but I’ve never been there. I also need to see some kaldorei and troll ghosts from Kalimdor. Oh, and tauren spirits. I have a lot of traveling to do yet, but I can get started on the sin’dorei and Outland chapters.

[Story] Flood

[[ This week’s word was flood. Last January our basement flooded, so that’s kind of where the idea for this one came from. Also, creepy water critters. ]]

Mark surveyed the basement from the top of the stairs, and grimaced.

She had been right. It wasn’t so much that he disliked being wrong (though that was part of it), it was more that he dreaded the prospect of having to hear about it a hundred times in the future. Possibly even years from now. It’s going to flood, Kath had insisted, gripping her mug tightly as the watched the ominous weather reports. We need to put sandbags all around the house and move everything upstairs.

Most of the time, the alarmist weather reports were wrong. The actual weather they got was nowhere near as harsh as Floodpocalypse or whatever they were predicting. Besides, their house perched atop a small incline — if anyone was going to flood, it would be the neighbors at the other end of the street. The idea of first buying, then lugging around hundreds of bags of sand — who had time for that? And most of the stuff in the basement was just junk, his old records and boxes of winter coats and worn kids’ toys from when the twins were little.

The rain started, and continued for days, forming little rivers in the streets, and the drains overflowed. That was the first hint of trouble, but they’d had bad spring storms before. Mark was confident they were safe on higher ground. Until that evening, when Kath had gone to do laundry and uttered a cry of dismay. Dark water lapped at the stairs, their basement under several inches of water. She insisted that he go down and try to find where it was coming in, which seemed a fruitless task as it was probably coming in from everywhere. But she had been right, hadn’t she? Mark pulled on his rubber boots and got the flashlight out of the junk drawer and waded down into the basement.

The lights were off, and he didn’t dare turn them on even if they had been working. He’d read somewhere that was a good way to get electrocuted. The water rushed around his feet, gurgling at the top of his boots. It had a murky and fishy smell, having run through the ground to arrive here. Mark was just thankful it wasn’t sewer water, he supposed. The thin beam of the flashlight shone over all of the now-ruined stuff that he hadn’t wanted to move. He was going to have to move it now, wasn’t he? Only now it’d be water-logged and smelly, so it would be even worse. The basement felt eerie and strange, like he was exploring a dungeon or deep inside a cave.

Mark turned to return to the stairs when something bumbled against his boot. He gasped and almost dropped the flashlight, shining it into the water to see what it was. Just a branch, he assured himself, or a toy that had floated loose from the box. But whatever it was had felt alive, and Mark couldn’t explain how he knew that. He held his breath, watching the water for any other signs of movement. It rippled and trickled faintly from somewhere, but he heard no tell-tale splashes or saw anything else. It couldn’t be a fish, could it? How would it have got in? Mark couldn’t think of what other kind of animal might be swimming in their basement. Maybe a really big toad or, he shuddered to think, a snake.

Kath called down from the top of the stairs. “Did you find it?”

Right. He was looking for the spot the water was coming in.

“Not yet,” he shouted back, doing his best to sound cheerful and not annoyed. Or unsettled. What was that thing?

A flicker of darkness caught the corner of his eye, a shape moving effortlessly in the water. Flashlight held aloft like a talisman, Mark inched closer to where it had been. Whatever it was, it was big. Unless that was just the light — and his mind — playing tricks on him. Everything seemed more spooky in a basement, especially a dark basement with almost a foot of water in it. The thing brushed past him again, this time in between his two boots, and he could feel the muscular slithering of its vile body. And this time, he did drop the flashlight, uttering a little cry of disgust. It shone there under the water, its beam illuminating the strange depths. Pretty good flashlight, Mark thought.

He reached in for it, when something struck his hand. It took a second for the blood to begin running, but once it did, Mark saw the gash, between his thumb and forefinger. He’d just touched something, he assured himself. There wasn’t something in the water that bit him. That made no sense. Mark wrapped his hand in his shirt, but the blood soon soaked through. Whatever it was had got him good. Worse, it was stinging, not only from the pain, but it felt like touching nettles or poison ivy. The shape suddenly moved over the flashlight, silhouetted against the light. Mark could see its long sinuous body, the two pairs of meaty lobed fins, and spines. A lot of spines.

Forget it. He didn’t need the light. And he’d just have to sit through Kath’s scolding. He started to make his way back toward the stairs, when the thing swam directly in front of him. Unexpectedly, Mark felt himself stumbling and falling on his knees into the murky water. It struck at his thigh, and he felt teeth tear the cloth of his jeans, then the other. How was that possible? Unless there was more than one. Another latched into his other hand, its needle-sharp teeth sinking deep into his flesh. As if guided by a command, the others rose from the water, churning with their efforts. Mark disappeared beneath the writhing bodies, his cries muffled by the splashing.

Eventually the water stood still again, no sign of what lay beneath — and no sign of Mark.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Anorelle’s Journal

Tiros is a month old now. It’s hard to remember what it was like before he was here — more sleep, probably. But he gets hungry at regular intervals, so I know I can get at least a little nap in once he falls asleep. Arancon is here to help too, I don’t know how I’d manage without him. He told me that when Aeramin was born, he was busy with the harvest on his farm and couldn’t spend a lot of time with him at first. I’m glad that’s not the case now, but I wonder how Maena was able to manage. Esladra said Tiros will start to sleep more at night soon, which I’m looking forward to. I still feel tired overall, and a bit sore, but I think I’ll be ready to go back on patrol soon. I’m just not sure I want to leave Tiros with someone other than Arancon, I suppose the Captain has a lot of experience with babies. I’d like to see if I could bring him with, but I guess that might be more dangerous. Arancon said that Nessna is already back on patrol! Maybe it gets easier after the first one.

I admit that I miss seeing everyone and getting all the news. I’m here with Tiros alone most of the day so I always ask Arancon when he gets home. He said that Orledin is planning to bake some cupcakes for us, which is really nice of him. Tiros can’t eat them yet, but the rangers will enjoy them. The only really big news is that Aeramin and Imralion adopted two orphans from Shattrath. They are both human, one is a baby just a little older than Tiros, and the other is a girl who is nine years old. It’s exciting because they’re kind of my grandkids, aren’t they? I don’t know if Aeramin sees it that way, but I hope we can meet them soon. I do wonder if they wanted kids, why they couldn’t have just kept Lyorri. I wouldn’t take her away from her parents now, but it seems odd to me. But that’s between Aeramin and Arancon, I guess.

The other news is that Braedra and Isturon got married on their trip! It must have been the same place that we went to. I went to the school to see if she wanted to go for coffee, I wanted to get all of the details on what happened. She was completely surprised, she didn’t know he’d been planning it at all. Which is good, because if she’d known and not told me, I would have been upset. It sounds like their trip was really nice, I hope Arancon and I can go back one day. They’re also planning to have a party in the spring, I assume at the school. She said that Terellion seemed to be taking it okay, and the girls are very excited, especially Telaena because she wants to get a new dress and have flowers. I really didn’t expect it either, I don’t know him very well, but from what Arancon told me he seemed to be rather hesitant to commit. I’m glad that turned out to not be the case, Braedra deserves to be happy. Her ring is so pretty! She was worried that he spent a lot on it, and wanted to check on how his case was doing, but worried that it might look improper now that they are married. It just seems so unfair for Verisna to keep trying to hurt him even after she has a new husband. I hope she doesn’t come back here, Braedra was worried she might move out. I am grateful that her new husband was around to show Arancon how he felt about me, even if it was in a painful way.

When I first came out to the Ghostlands, I couldn’t have imagined I’d be where I am now. I saw it as a step backward, and felt ashamed of   being assigned out here. It just goes to show that you should give new things a chance.

[Story] Telaena’s Journal

The holiday ball was so exciting! The Headmaster got everyone new journals to write in, so I thought I’d start using mine now that we’re back in classes. It’s the first time I’ve had one, so I hope I’m doing it right! My mother said she has one too, just to write down things that she wants to remember or important things that happen. She wouldn’t tell me if she wrote things about me, but I’m sure she has. This is our first time going to Shattrath, usually just the mage students go, but I guess Mother or Terellion talked him into letting us go, too. I’ve never been somewhere so far away before, so I can’t wait to look around the city! Ter said there’s a big market with all kinds of strange things. I hope Rhan will go with me, I think it would be fun.

That’s the thing I wanted to write about! She gave me the most beautiful necklace for the winter holiday, it’s shaped like a flower and it has pink stones for the petals. I haven’t even taken it off, except to take a bath because I don’t want it to get ruined. I feel horrible that my present wasn’t nearly as nice, and I want to get her something but I’m really not sure what she’d like. I know what Elthanni likes, but I’m not really sure about Rhan. Mother said maybe some of those books, but I’m not sure if she’s into that. Plus, she might have a hard time reading them on her own, but we could read them together! Rhan thinks that makes her dumb, but really she’s awfully smart if she’s just started school and almost caught up already. Still, I don’t want to get her a present that will make her feel bad. We danced at the ball too, and we also kissed. Does that mean we’re girlfriends? I don’t know, I know Mother would say I’m too young for a girlfriend but I don’t see anything wrong with dancing. I haven’t asked Rhan about it because maybe she didn’t mean it like that and then I’d feel silly. Maybe I could ask Ter, but he’s a guy and doesn’t know anything about girls at all.

The other exciting thing is that Mister Lightmist and Mother are getting married! Well they actually already got married on their trip, but they’re going to have a party in the spring and she said I can be the flower girl. I’ve already got a lot of magazines with dresses in them so I can start looking for the perfect one. I’m so excited! I’m not sure what he wants us to call him though, calling him Mister Lightmist seems a little strange, and he’s not our father but I guess he kind of is now since he lives with us. Maybe just his first name, but it feels weird calling a grown-up that. I’m going to help Mother pick a dress too, and help with her hair. It’s going to be the best ever! Also, Ter had better agree to make their cake or I’ll make him, but I think he’s agreed to it because he doesn’t want Mother to have a terrible cake. I know he still thinks Mister Lightmist is going to do something to hurt her, but he doesn’t see him every day like we do. I know he would never do that, he’s very nice and smart and handsome. He even got us presents, which he didn’t have to do, and they were really nice presents.

Tomorrow we’re going to visit the big library here, and then in the afternoon we have free time to look around the city. I really hope we can go to the market! I also want to see the naaru, I’ve read about them in books but never seen one in real life. I’ve heard they can read your thoughts! That might be weird.

[Story] 2019

[[ The word I chose this week was ‘year’, fitting for January I think! ]]

One grey, windy day in December, I found a calendar tucked into my doorframe and wrapped in a plastic bag. I picked it up and brought it in with the rest of the junk mail where it sat for a good week or so before looking at it. I get all of my bills online, so mostly everything in the old-fashioned paper mail isn’t urgent. I looked at it like those worthless newspapers that get thrown into your yard whether you want them or not (I don’t). I also don’t really use paper calendars anymore; all my reminders and appointments are in my phone. But I figured it could fill an empty spot on a wall, if nothing else.

I tore off the plastic and looked at it. There was nothing really remarkable about it, though the paper was better quality than I’d expect of a freebie. The front cover was printed with “2019” and had a photograph of what looked like a room in an old farmhouse or something. The age was visible in the wood, split and fading, and the wallpaper was peeling away in places. Frankly, not the kind of thing you’d want to look at for a month. But like I said, it was free. I flipped through the pages, as you do with a new calendar, but they all showed the same photograph of the same dingy room in an old abandoned house. Maybe it was an error, and that’s why they were giving them away for free. Who was ‘they’? The back was blank save for a little symbol and printed below it, ‘The Heirs of the Void’. Well, that’s weird, I figured it was a band or something. I hammered in a little tack and hung the calendar on it.

January

It took me a few days to even remember I had a calendar, but as I walked past it every day, it was a visual reminder. I started jotting down things on it, appointments and things I wanted to remember; how far I’d run at the gym or things I’d eaten for dinner. While I was at home, it was actually quicker than pulling out my phone and opening my reminder app. Plus, these weren’t important things, it just made me feel a little better knowing my calendar wasn’t being completely wasted.

February

New month, a new page. I noticed that the picture had changed just so slightly; it seemed as if the light was different, brighter, as if it was later in the afternoon. Had I just missed it before? I looked back to January, and sure enough, the picture overall had a more grey tone, as if it was taken early in the morning. But past February, all the other pages looked alike. It was still a really strange thing to put on a calendar, but I didn’t think anything else of it.

March

The page for March changed subtly too; the tattered curtains on the cloudy windows looked as if they’d been ruffled by a breeze. Once again, I looked back — January and February were the same, but everything past that was alike. Had I imagined them being the same? It made no sense. They were photographs printed on a page, they couldn’t change.

I also noticed some strange symbols in some of the page boxes, barely perceptible against the white squares, but they were there. I thought they might be zodiac symbols, but I looked them up online and they didn’t match. Maybe letters of some kind? I wasn’t able to find them anywhere online.

April

On the last day of March I checked the page for April, and it was identical. Then the next morning, on the first of April, it had changed. I know for a fact that it changed. I don’t know how, but it did. Light appeared in the crack underneath one of the doors in the room, where it was dark before. How did they do that?

I searched for The Heirs of the Void online and nothing came up. Well, it did, but it was gibberish — the way something looks when it’s been run back and forth through an online translator too many times. There were words, but they made no sense. They had the symbol, too. I couldn’t find the page symbols though. I can’t explain why, but I’m afraid to write over them. I’m afraid of what might happen if I do. I think they’re darker this month too.

May

I tried to stay up until midnight to watch the page change, or to see if it would. I sat on the couch watching the calendar, but eventually I got bored and lay down. I must have nodded off, because when I woke up, I ran to the wall and checked the page. It was different. The door with the light beneath it was now ajar, throwing a line of yellow light across the floor. There were dishes on the table, too.

I can’t explain how this is happening. I know if I told anyone they’d think I was crazy. I think about burning it, but I’m worried that might make things worse.

June

The symbols on the squares are getting darker. I can see them plainly now against the white background. They’re all different, and they’re different between the month pages too. I copied one down to show to my friend, but then I couldn’t open the file. Actually the whole app stopped working after that.

On the table in the picture, more dishes have appeared. There are smudged glasses filled with water and tarnished silverware. There are two place settings. I live alone.

I took the calendar down and put it in the recycling bin. I watched the truck come and take it and I felt relief wash over me.

July

On July 1st it was back on the wall. I feel like I’m going crazy.

On July 4th, I burned it on the BBQ while sipping a beer and grilling my steak. I swear I heard the paper screaming.

August

It’s back again. I know it’s the same because the pages are warped and the edges charred. I watched it burn. I don’t know how this is happening.

In the picture, serving plates heaped with unappetizing dishes have been set around the plates and cups. They’re all shiny and brown, oozing with gravy or some kind of sauce. Steam wafts from them, and I can almost smell it.

September

I tried hanging a sheet over it, but it kept falling down. The symbols seem to be alive, pulsing and throbbing against the pallid white squares of the days. In the picture, the door has opened wider, throwing sickly yellow light over the warped floorboards.

October

A silhouette has appeared in the doorway, impossibly tall and thin. I want to tell someone about it, but who would believe me? Even in October, the month of spooks and scares, it seems ridiculous. A calendar that changes on its own? What’s so terrifying about that? But I can’t shake the dread that clings to me every time I walk past it. I get the sense that it’s aware of my presence, and it knows that I tried to destroy it.

November

The symbols on the page are hot to the touch, I can feel it radiating from the wall. Two eyes burn like embers in the strange figure’s head, and his long spidery fingers have wrapped around the door. I know now that he will be here soon. Only one month to go.

December

On the last day of 2019, I hide huddled beneath the blankets on my couch, wishing that the visitor won’t see me. Though I know he will, I’ve known it for a year. I just didn’t really believe it until tonight. I hear the door creak on its hinges, smell the oily aroma of something cooking in the kitchen. Footsteps on the faded boards. Happy New Year.

[Story] Imralion’s Journal

Aeramin and I went to Shattrath a few days early for a trip. The students will be going there right after break, so we’ll just stay here a little longer.  We haven’t been here in a while, the house was pretty dusty, but it made me think of the times we’d been here before. Mostly the time when I came to watch Hethurin’s cat and ate dinner at the one restaurant for the first time. It’s a good thing that Aeramin decided to talk to me, or that I was eating outside that day, or I ordered the gross vegetables (I didn’t know they were gross). Otherwise we might not have ever met and we wouldn’t have had all the good times together. We talked about maybe bringing some more paintings back too, it’s a shame that no one can see them here. Our house doesn’t really have room, nor does Arancon’s, so we thought maybe we could hang some at the school. Especially if there are new buildings being put up, they will need things to put on the walls.

Mostly I was excited to go to the orphanage. I really didn’t think Aeramin would agree to the idea, so once he did I couldn’t wait to see what kind of kids they had. As soon as he said yes, it kind of went from a one day it might be nice idea, to something that might really happen. Then once we saw all the kids, I wished we could have taken all of them. I guess I know how Hethurin feels about it now. Aeramin wrote letters asking if some of the other families might want to get some of them. We liked all of them, there was one orc kid who was kind of mean, but I bet he’s not like that all the time. I bet if he had someone who knew how to handle him and give him more attention, he’d be okay. He wasn’t mean really, just too rowdy. The one that Aeramin and I both liked the most was a human girl called Marta. She is blind, and she’d been at the orphanage for a long time. She seemed a little shy, but I think that’s just because she was scared there. I bet once she is with us for a while, she’ll be more confident. We’ll have to talk to Lali about making sure there are things at the school for her, like maps with raised lines. I’m not too sure about reading, maybe Lali can read the books out loud, or we can. I know we will figure it out, or Marta will, she seems really smart. I asked if she might want to learn how to use a sword. She wasn’t sure if she could, but I bet she could, you can listen to where the sword is by the sound it makes through the air. Or maybe she’ll want to be a mage like Aeramin.

There was also a little tiny human baby, hardly older than Aeramin’s brother. So we got him too. We’ll need another room eventually, but he can stay in our room for now. The builders are going to be busy in the spring! There was a tauren girl who is Marta’s best friend, and she was asking if she’ll be able to see her. We’re hoping that Professor Raleth and Lali will take her, they both speak Taurahe and Lali knows a lot about tauren. I guess it might be weird for her to have elf parents, but I’m sure she’d rather have weird parents than none at all. I didn’t even think about how Marta might feel about having elf parents, maybe she doesn’t even know we are elves yet. Aeramin pointed out that she won’t live as long as us, and I felt really sad about that, but on the plus side she might have her own kids sooner. So then we could help take care of her kids, which would also be nice. I don’t want to think about that happening yet though.

She begged to be able to go with us to the house, the matron agreed though we’re not allowed to leave Shattrath until all the paperwork is in order. That makes sense, she has to make sure we’re really who we say and not going to steal her or we’re pirates or something like that. I don’t know if she likes spicy vegetables yet, I hope she does. She might not because she’s a kid, but kids can surprise you.