[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.

[Art] WiPs – Reborn Kit & Cassandra POP

Just some progress pictures of these, been working on them on and off the last few days. The reborn kit has its blushing done and I think I’m ready to start on lips and nails. Then comes the scariest part, eyebrows. This is my first kit but I think it looks okay so far! I don’t have any eyelashes or beads for weight though so it won’t be super fancy. I’ll probably give it to the middle kid because she still loves dolls.

Also there is the custom Cassandra POP. She’s pretty simple to paint, just skin tone and black so far. Going to start doing the detail on her armor soon.

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[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.

[Art] Plush – Talbuk 2.0 WiP

I finished sewing the test talbuk, he’s loosely stuffed and just pinned because I didn’t want to waste stuffing. So he doesn’t look exactly as he would finished, but close. I think I’m getting pretty close with this pattern, but I want to wait a while and look at it later with fresh eyes. I think also using fur fabric (versus fleece) might help, because that is slightly less stretchy. But I don’t want to test using fur fabric unless I’m pretty sure about the pattern, because it’s a lot more expensive.

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I also primed Cassandra and she’s ready to start painting. Probably will start on that this evening.

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[Art] WiP – Reborn Kit

I have like three projects going currently, today I started on the reborn kit I’ve had for a while. I’ve painted one with acrylics before, but this is my first time using heat-set paints, which are much more dangerous and scary because you need to bake them. (I might have melted a kit before…) This was kind of a test run to re-familiarize myself with my oven and the paints. Which are now all over me, I look like a real artist. While I took the photo in my kitchen, the kit was baked in my convection oven in the garage that I use just for crafts. You should never bake vinyl in an oven where food is cooked because it can give off toxic fumes.

I’m not sure if it’s visible in the photo, but this layer is just veins. Next time I’ll start on the skin tone and shading.

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I think my custom POP will be ready for primer tomorrow, but not sure yet. I might add some more onto the hair yet. And the talbuk v2 only has a couple more pieces to sew on.

[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.