[Story] Fairsong Academy – Letter from Braedra

Dear Elthanni and Telaena,

Today we’re at the outpost in Shadowmoon Valley. You should see it! I hope that you’ll be able to come soon, it’s so strange and exciting. The sky is covered with heavy green clouds, and sometimes you will see green lightning jump between them. It’s dark and eerie, and you can never forget you’re on another world. But it’s beautiful in its own way, too. The inn where we’re staying isn’t very fancy, I only saw one other outpost on the way there, and that was was built by orcs. I’m rather glad we aren’t staying at that one! So far we have the whole inn to ourselves, which is nice because we got our choice of rooms. We chose the top of the tower, there’s a large balcony so you can walk out and look over the fields of crystals. Yes, crystals! They grow all over the ground, the clusters are everywhere and some of them are taller than an elf. There are no plants of any kind there, so the animals that live there must feed on them. I imagine it’s very hard to eat crystals, but Isturon said the flayers have sharp claws that scrape bits of the crystal off at a time. With binoculars I was able to see some of them, the innkeeper said it was too dangerous to go out among them. They certainly look scary! They are about the same size as an elf, though much more thin and frail. They have very long claws attached to two hooklike hands, and they are very dark which makes them difficult to see against the cracked ground. I suppose that is for camouflage, for the dragons feed on them.

Yes, there are dragons here! Though they’re unlike any dragons that I’ve seen in books. Granted, I haven’t seen any in person so I can’t compare, but the dragons in books all look more or less the same. These have very angular heads with short snouts, and the most intriguing thing is that they are translucent all over — not just their skin, otherwise their bones and insides would show, but the whole of them. I don’t know if it’s due to the magic from the crystals, or something else. They’re certainly not ghosts, because I’ve seen them hunting and feeding on flayers, and ghosts don’t do that. Isturon said he believed some of them might have a nest, but I’ve been unable to find any with the binoculars. Of course, they’d probably build their nest somewhere safe and hidden from view. When we stop back in Shattrath, I’m going to see if I can find some books about these sort of dragons, Isturon said they are called “nether dragons”. I wish you could see them! They’re so ethereal and beautiful. They seem to have no interest in us or the inn at all, so it’s certainly safe to watch them.

The only worry I had was about infernals. I know there are demons in some other parts of the area, and the inn has areas of the roof that had clearly been patched. Isturon assured me that the building was meant to withstand them, but he was so nervous and shaken after I brought it up that I regretted it! He very narrowly missed being killed by one when he was on the islands, so I can understand his caution. Of course, I don’t want anything to happen to either of us. I suggested that we could stay in the same room because it would be safer in case one should fall. I assure you that nothing improper happened! We sat on the long couch and watched the dragons outside of the window. I must have fallen asleep there, because I woke later and he’d covered me with a blanket. I’m not sure if he slept or not, I feel a little guilty if I was the reason he couldn’t.

We will be heading out to the domes in Netherstorm next. As I understand, they are sort of greenhouses maintained by magical barriers in which they grow plants and animals. It sounds very exciting! Isturon thinks there may be some researchers there, I hope that’s the case. It would be so interesting to speak to them about their work here and what they’ve discovered. There’s so much that we don’t know about this place still. Maybe one day you’ll want to study here too? I could come and visit you. Just make sure your roof is infernal proof.

Love,
Minn’da

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[Story] Character of the Week – Ornasse Evershade

[[ Finally it’s time for O, the Old Man, my main dude. As much as I like him, I don’t actually write him much because I find it difficult to get inside the head of someone who has lived for thousands of years. And he hasn’t really been doing much storywise – he’s happily living a quiet life with his family in Feathermoon. Here’s a story from when he was just a student, learning to enter the Dream. ]]

Entering the Dream was unlike anything else that Ornasse had experienced, and he found it difficult to find a fitting comparison. Maybe a little like slipping into a cool, shaded pool on a hot day — shocking at first, but then soothing and comfortable, and the longer you stayed, the more reluctant you were to leave. But there was also a curious feeling of separation from his physical form, which lay in the barrow on its bed of straw and blankets, the knowledge that he was somehow  removed from it, yet it kept him tethered as well. Ornasse thought otherwise one might roam the Dream forever, opting to stay rather than return to the waking world which was so much more drab and dulled. Surely there must have been some who had done it, but he didn’t know how. He wasn’t ready to escape the waking world just yet, either. It had its appeals too — mostly food. While he didn’t hunger in the Dream, he sometimes missed the scent of dumplings steaming over the fire, or the taste of berries with cream.

This was his second time Dreaming, again led by his shan’do and a handful of fellow druids that he had deemed ready for the journey. He had guided them deep into the barrow, lit the herbs that filled the underground chamber with fragrant smoke, and showed them the way to enter the Dream. When they arrived, they were stunned and disoriented, and he stood watch to ensure that no one bolted in a panic, or otherwise hurt himself. After he’d roused them back in the barrow, they’d had a lesson about what they had experienced, what they would do differently when they returned. Soon, he would step back and allow them to cross over on their own, only present to protect them from danger and guide their path through the primeval forests. When Ornasse entered, he saw his shan’do perched atop a rock outcropping, in the form of a shaggy white cat. Taking the cue from his master, Ornasse shifted as well, the change coming even more easily within the Dream, perhaps because he was outside of his physical form. He surveyed his surroundings with his keen feline eyesight, taking in the jumble of new scents. Two other students were present, so he had not been the first, but he was also not the last. The students gathered, sitting patiently on panther haunches until they had all made the journey.

Ornasse’s whiskers trembled with excitement — what sights awaited them here? Their first trip had been to this clearing, but they had not left it. The tangle of brambles and brush beyond remained a mystery. But they had passed their first test, and their shan’do now led them deeper into the Dream, squeezing through an imperceptible gap between the vines. One by one, they followed after him, their sleek feline forms easily navigating the dense forest. Ornasse could intently feel every branch and leaf that brushed against his side, every pebble beneath the pads of his feet, the beetle that crawled over them. He could smell his master, and the other students, their musky feral panther scents, he smelled the green leaves warming in the sunlight, the sweet flowers opening from their buds. Further away, he smelled deer and rabbits, moving somewhere out of sight. The world before his eyes exploded in a kaleidoscope of greens and yellows, more shades than he’d ever imagined possible. Here, his senses were more intense, stronger and more keen. Ornasse thought it might take some time to adjust lest he feel overwhelmed by it all at once.

The large white cat led them down to a stream, and Ornasse began to recognize the familiar landscape beneath the tangles of leaves and brush. This was the stream they crossed on the way to their lessons, but here it rushed higher and swifter. The water smelled fresh and clean, and in its depths, Ornasse could see fish resting in the shade. This world, their shan’do had told them, was the true expression of their forest. What they saw while awake was the pale, meager shadow, but they could use such landmarks to navigate in the Dream. Just how far did it go? Ornasse’s whiskers twitched again excitedly. Could one travel the whole world within the Dream? What did the other places look like? He longed to explore on his own, but there were lessons to be had first. They would be given permission to roam where they liked soon enough.

He had one last thing to show them. He indicated that they should follow, and they climbed a steep hill, one that was often used by sentinel scouts to watch for danger. On all fours and with sharp claws to dig into the earth and moss, they ascended the slope easily. Once at the top, Ornasse’s breath caught in his throat at the sight of an enormous green dragon. They, like the druids, were capable of entering the Dream while their physical body remained behind. Ornasse had never seen one before, and he was awed and a little frightened by the size and power of it. Her sinuous coils shimmered with bright green scales, her enormous head crowned with sharp horns and her mouth full of jagged teeth. Yet the dragon did not threaten them, rather it seemed to recognize their shan’do and greeted him gently, then all of the students in turn. Around her, a clutch of hatchlings fluttered clumsily in the air — they couldn’t have been more than a few days old. Were they, too, able to Dream so young? It must be so, they were so intimately tied to the Dream that it was second nature to them. They did not have to work at it for years as elves did.

As he had before, Ornasse returned to the waking world feeling exhausted and humbled by what he had experienced. They would remain longer next time, perhaps seeking some threat that needed to be dealt with. The green dragons stood vigil, but they could not be everywhere at once. Ornasse did not know what sort of things they would see on their next trip, but he wanted to be ready.

[OOC/Art] Art Fight

Though I haven’t posted it here, I’ve been busy the last few days drawing character sheets for a site called Art Fight.

During the month of July, the players are divided into two teams and “attack” each other by drawing pictures of their characters. It seems like a really fun way to challenge myself, and get some art of my characters in return! It’s also really addicting to go through and look at all of the neat and creative characters that people have.

If you want to sign up, I’m DancingHare, you can add me if you like!

[Story] Imralion’s Journal

It only took us a few moments to get to the Spire. I don’t know how people travel without mages, it’s so much longer and more uncomfortable! Hethurin had been here before, so he opened one up for us right away. I half expected that he’d want to come along too, especially since he knew Aeramin hadn’t finished his papers yet. I guess he still could. We went to the inn and got our room, it’s pretty nice although ethereals don’t really know what kinds of things “fleshlings” like. There’s a tub, but it’s not very big, and Aeramin said they probably only put it in after someone complained. It’s not that the ethereals are trying to be mean, they just don’t think about these things because they don’t have bodies. They’re having to make rooms for their customers with things they don’t ever use, like beds and tubs and chairs. Actually they might use chairs, but I’ve never seen one sitting down.

My favorite thing about the Spire is all of the ethereal food. Like the rooms, they don’t really eat food in the same way that we do — they just feed on energy or sometimes crystals which are made of energy. But we need to eat, and so they’ve come up with all different kinds of food for the guests, but it’s like they haven’t ever seen normal food so it’s really weird. I mean that in a good way. I remember having the cubes last time we were here, so I definitely wanted more of those. They are very dense and chewy, and they have a kind of meaty flavor though I don’t think they’re actually meat. I mean, I guess they could be? They’re not even exactly good either, but I like eating them because they’re neat, and one little cube can make you feel full. They have ordinary water, but then they also have a drink that’s crystals. When you put it in your mouth, it becomes liquid, I don’t know how they do that either! I think it would be popular back home, I told the ethereal at the inn that he could make a lot of money selling the crystals to elves. He seemed intrigued by the idea.

I shouldn’t say “he” because I don’t think ethereals have any gender, I mean they are just made up of energy and I’m pretty sure there aren’t any male or female parts under those wraps. But Aeramin said he could still think of himself as a he, and he does have a male voice, I guess? I suppose they could just change whenever they feel like it, which seems like it would be handy. I’d like to know more about that, and ethereals in general, but I feel like it would be too nosy to ask them.

Aeramin hasn’t really relaxed yet. Our room is really nice and it has a balcony overlooking the dome below. But he’s worried about reading all of the papers in time, and having to grade them. I offered to read them again, but he said I don’t know fire magic. I still know how to read, though! Then I suggested he could just give everyone an A, but then he said some students were doing better in the class and they deserved a higher grade for their work. So give the ones who work hard an A and the others a B, I mean, he should know who works hardest in his class. Hopefully he’ll relax and be able to finish soon. I don’t like when he feels anxious. I signed us up for a tour of one of the domes, the ethereal said they have dinosaurs inside it. I don’t think he’d lie because then people would just ask for their money back. The domes have different things, one has all different kinds of plants and herbs that are used for medicines and potions, there’s the dinosaur one of course, and another with animals that used to live here before the planet exploded. I think it’s good that they are trying to save them from disappearing like that. I wonder if some ethereals could put a dome in the Ghostlands? I guess it’s doing an okay job of regrowing by itself, but I bet it would keep spiders out.

I hope we can stop by Shattrath sometime, I want to get more of those spicy vegetables that I like. I know it has some bad memories for Aeramin because of what happened with his mother, but there are good memories with me there too, I hope. I’ll have to see how he is feeling in a few days.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Astiria’s Journal

I don’t think anyone really notices that I’m here at all, but that’s exactly how I like it. I am still trying to sort things out and find my place. Even though I’ve patrolled in Eversong for years, I’ve just now been assigned a patrol, and that’s because Anorelle is away on a trip. I’m taking over her slot for the time being. It’s first thing in the morning, which I like because then I have the whole rest of the day to practice. I’m much further ahead of many of the other rangers, having already gained some skill with the bow, but I’m not sure what else Sunashe is looking for. I’m not here to cause trouble though, so I’m doing my best to be patient. It was terribly boring just sitting around in the quarters with nothing to do.

So far, things seem a lot more casual here. I don’t mean that the rangers don’t take their patrol seriously, but it seems everyone has a lot more freedom on their off hours. You don’t have to report in, and the captain is more lax about paperwork than my old one. I suppose that’s an effect of being further away from Silvermoon. A lot of people there were simply after the prestige of being a ranger, or their parents had sent them out because they had no other prospects. Here, it seems like everyone genuinely wants to be at this post — I can’t imagine anyone staying out here if they didn’t want to be. There are also rangers that would never be allowed in Eversong, like the undead, and the draenei. As long as they do a good job, they don’t bother me. Another thing that’s new to me is the spiders. Evidently they do it every year, and it makes sense, but it’s not a very pleasant job. But they make it into kind of a party, and we had food afterward, Orledin even made cookies with spiders made of icing after.

There aren’t many other rangers in here, either. There’s Yara and Kavia, and Anorelle was in here but she moved to Arancon’s house in town. Sorrowmoss has a bunk, but she’s very rarely in it. I’m not sure where she goes during the day, but it’s not here. She isn’t one for talking either, which makes me like her already. I imagine that a patrol with her would be straight-forward and efficient. It’s not that I dislike any of the others, it’s just that they want to know things that I don’t feel like answering. I know they’re just trying to be friendly, or make small talk, there’s nothing malicious behind it. At least, I don’t think so. I don’t want to lie, but I don’t really want to talk about myself very much either. Not the recent past, anyway. I’m sure with time it’ll be easier, but I still have too many feelings about it right now to think clearly. Nessna said there’s a man in the town who you can talk to about problems, but I’m not sure if I could do that either. Then again, maybe it would help to get everything out with someone who won’t discuss it — Nessna said anything you tell him is considered private.

[Art] Ice Dragons

Two more Ice dragons!

I did primer on the POPs, and my baby kits arrived today so I can start on those soon too.

dancinghare_altorindancinghare_sarnia

[Story] Fairsong Academy – Braedra’s Letter

Dear Elthanni and Telaena,

I promised Terellion that I would write and make sure everything is all right here, so please be sure to tell him that you received my letter. You don’t have to let him read it though, if you don’t want to. I know he’s still a little strange about everything, and I don’t want to make him upset.

This is such an unusual and interesting place! I hope that Hethurin will allow you to go along on the next trip. I know it’s usually only the magic students who go, but I don’t see why you couldn’t enjoy it too. I’m going to insist on going along too, so you can always stay with me if he says no. Much of the city has these very strange dome-like buildings, they don’t have any bricks or seams that I can see, it’s almost as if they were put up in one piece. The place we’re staying now was settled by elves, so it looks almost like a little replica of Silvermoon, though it’s much less crowded, and the plants look different. The city itself is surrounded by these very tall trees, Isturon says there are all sorts of animals out there so I don’t expect we’ll be going out there. I do sometimes sit and watch from the balcony to see if I’m able to see any though. So far I saw a moth that was as large as a dragonhawk! It was really something else, I thought at first that I’d dreamt it. The food here is unusual too, but so far everything I’ve tried has been good. I think I could easily get used to staying here, if we didn’t already have the house of course. But perhaps we could get one for trips? Isturon mentioned that Aeramin has a house here, many of them seem to be empty so I don’t think it would cost too much to get one.

We came into Silvermoon last night for the orchestra, because we had our tickets. There are so many mages here, that it didn’t take us long to find someone to make us a portal. I felt a little underdressed in my plain robe, everyone else — including Isturon — looked so fancy and extravagant! I suppose we’ll have to go shopping for robes soon, won’t we? The orchestra was so wonderful. Our seats were close enough that we could watch all of the musicians playing. Many of the songs they played were traditional Eversong melodies, songs that I remember hearing and singing when I was younger. Of course they sounded so much more elegant and impressive when played by a full orchestra, but it was still lovely to hear. I’d love to go again, but I’m not sure if Isturon liked it very much. He said it was “pretty good”, which is usually something people say when they expected something to be bad. Or maybe I’m just reading too much into it. What do you think he meant?

Tomorrow we’re going to visit the dragons! I really hope we’ll be able to see one. He said that they can be seen from the inn, we’re going to try to get a room on the highest floor. It’s too dangerous to go out of the grounds, not because of the dragons, but other things called flayers. I’d think it might be dangerous because of dragons too, even a friendly dragon might mistake an elf for food from far away.

I still can’t tell how things are going. He’s polite, but he doesn’t really like to talk about anything personal, either about himself or me. And he wanted to invite Ter to come visit. Of course I don’t mind seeing him, but isn’t it strange to invite him to a romantic trip? Maybe it’s just a friend trip. I can’t really be sure. Oh, I bought some things for you in the market, I hope you’ll like them. There are so many interesting things to see there! We’ll have to go when Hethurin brings the students.

Love,
Minn’da