[Story] Character of the Week – Linarelle Flamereaver

[[ Lin is Imralion’s twin sister, currently a member of the Ghostclaw rangers. ]]

Linarelle pried open the lid of the wooden crate, revealing a tangled nest of straw and a sealed envelope. She recognized the handwriting right away as her mother’s, and broke the seal with a smile. The box had arrived earlier that morning, but she hadn’t had time to open it before her patrol. The sturdy wooden box looked as if had travelled a great distance to arrive in the Ghostlands, its corners scuffed and the ink-stamps faded from the sunlight.

Dearest Linarelle,

Please forgive me for not being there with you today. I promised I would never spend another of your birthdays away, but I hope I am there in your heart and your thoughts. I’ll make it up to you and Tialan when we return. The professor has discovered a tomb that has been untouched by thieves or raiders, so it promises to be a very important trip. Maybe they’ll put something in the museum in Silvermoon, and you can tell everyone that your mother helped find it. Please wish Imralion well for me too, even though I know he’s going to make that face.


When they were little, they’d never known their birthday — not for certain. The Matron could guess, based on how big they were when they’d been left with her, but not the exact day. Imralion had seemed to take this indignity in stride, he didn’t seem to really care which day he got cake and presents, so long as he got them. But to Lin, it was part of their story that had been taken away from them. She remembered crying under her little cot in the orphanage because she insisted it wasn’t her real birthday that day.

Now, of course, they had it back. Their mother had returned to their lives, and it had been awkward at first, and there had been a lot of difficult conversations. Imralion still seemed a bit hesitant, but she thought eventually he would come around. He was less angry about it than he had been, but he still bristled at the mention of their father. Lin could understand that — her mother had her reasons for giving them up, her father didn’t even have an excuse. He didn’t deserve to know how they were doing now.

Linarelle removed the straw, curious to uncover what her mother had sent. She’d already bought Tialan everything he could possibly need for the next several years. Lin thought spoiling her grandson was her way of making amends for her absence, but then it was probably just a grandparent thing. He had dozens of little outfits and shoes and hats, not to mention all of the toys and books. They didn’t really need anything; their house was small but neat, even with the enormous lizard lounging on the floor most days.

It was an art piece of some kind, hardly the kind of thing you’d want to have around a little baby, but they had shelves that were out of his reach. It was from Uldum, a golden statue of a humanoid figure with the head of a lizard. The figure wore a head-dress inlaid with different colored stones, and held some kind of weapon in its carefully sculpted hands — a staff with some kind of symbol on its end. Lin didn’t know exactly what she’d expected, but it wasn’t a lizard-man statue. Still, it was beautifully sculpted, the gold burnished to a warm patina. She wondered just how long it had lain underground, just waiting to be discovered. And perhaps Sunashe would know something about who the figure was supposed to be. At the very least, he’d be excited about yet another lizard decoration.


[Story] Fairsong Academy – Braedra’s Journal

Outland was lovely, but it’s nice to be back home in my comfortable room and familiar bed. It’s not to say the places weren’t nice — they were lovely, even the ethereal inn, though it was a little unusual. But I think I was ready to come back and see everyone again. The girls managed just fine on their own, they ate at the school and kept everything neat and tidy at the house — or if not, they cleaned it up before we got back at least. I asked the lady who lives in the girls’ building to check in on them now and then. Summer classes are out, so there aren’t as many babies in the nursery, but there are still a few. The most exciting news we missed is that Anorelle is going to have one of her own. She’s younger than me, but still a bit old to be having her first. I hope everything goes well for them, although it does make me wonder if Isturon will bring up the subject. We have so many between us, I think it’s a bit late for any more, but I don’t want to assume anything either.

That’s the other thing, I suppose he waited until we were back home to tell me about some things so I wouldn’t be stuck there and make everything awkward. He told me he’d been seeing another woman while he was still married to Verisna. Things weren’t working out, so I thought he must just be after something fun, but he said he wanted a relationship. If that’s the case, why was he staying married? He says it’s because of the children, but they’re old enough to understand if he would have been happier away from their mother. It would be a different matter if they were very young, but they aren’t. Am I being too judgmental? I don’t know. I told him he should have left properly first, and he didn’t argue with me on that. It’s just that he was just so… unapologetic about all of it, as if he was totally justified. I’m sure it was uncomfortable for him, but he was the one who chose to stay. And if he’s willing to look elsewhere once, would he do it again? I know he’d say it was because Verisna didn’t care, but she might have a different opinion. Not that I’m going to ask her about it, Ter has already warned me to stay away from her. In a way I could talk to her though, just to get her perspective. I certainly can’t ask Nessna or Lani, it would be awkward to talk about their father in that way, and if they don’t already know, I don’t want to be the one to tell them. I don’t know what Anorelle has been through, maybe she would have some perspective. But I don’t know her very well, and I’m sure she’s busy with her new husband and preparing for the baby.

I know we should have a more serious discussion about it if things are going to go much further, but I feel like I already know what he’ll say. I couldn’t have imagined him doing that, but he didn’t even deny it, so now I’m re-examining everything he’s said and done while I’ve known him for clues. I guess it’s something I should bring up with the Confessor, though he’ll probably just tell me I need to speak to Isturon about it. He’s right, of course, but it’s not going to be a pleasant conversation for anyone.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Leinath’s Journal

It had been a while since Orledin invited me to come over to the huts. I thought that it was because he didn’t want to, that things had been kind of awkward before, but he assured me that wasn’t the case. He said there was a surprise there and I had to wait to see it. With everything else going on, I’d actually forgotten about it for a bit. Julan and Faeris had their party, and left for their trip. They’re going to Booty Bay, which is probably the perfect place for Julan to go on vacation. Nessna and Anorelle are both expecting, which everyone knew only because the Captain and Arancon told everyone, you can’t tell from looking yet. I expect patrols will have to be moved around a bit once they get closer to when it’s time, because you can’t have two pregnant ladies on one patrol. Esladra has been coming from the clinic often to see them, but I think she’s also coming to see Teloth who works in the stables. He’s somehow always in the lodge and all washed up whenever she’s here. We still see a little demon now and then, but it seems like wherever they were coming from has been closed off, which is good. Now all we have to worry about are stray scourge and spiders, but that’s what we are used to.

From the outside, the huts looked the same, they’re still made of wood and painted with designs on the walls. The larger one is where Orledin keeps all of his assembled skeletons, because he doesn’t want them to get damaged by rain or snow. I’d think bones are probably okay in the weather, but I guess eventually they would get worn away. I think it’s more likely some animal would try to steal them to chew or something! Ever since Arancon got his riding machine, Orledin has been talking about maybe getting one too, he says he could keep it in the hut with the bones. It’s easier to care for than a hawkstrider, though Orledin says you do have to put oil in it, and repair the parts sometimes. I guess I just worry a little about what will become of the hawkstrider keepers and farmers if everyone decides to get machines. I suppose there will always be some who prefer the old-fashioned way. But if we’re having to go back and forth every day, we definitely need something.

It just kind of happened, Orledin didn’t ask or anything. He showed me the living hut, he’d done a lot of work fixing it up. There’s a chimney and fireplace so the hole in the roof is closed up now, that will be nice when it’s cold outside. He also got a lot of new furniture, including a stove and kitchen area. Since it’s round, there aren’t really proper rooms but Orledin got dividers to separate the kitchen from the sitting room and things like that. It actually feels like a real house — or at least like one of the cabins. He still wants to get some curtains for the windows, but there’s never anyone around here so I think it’ll be okay for now. It’s nice to be able to look out and see the forest so close. He kept asking if I liked it, and I do. It’s really great. I wasn’t sure if it would be okay for me to stay away from the lodge, but Orledin said that he asked the Captain about it. I might want to double check, just to be sure. I don’t think he mistrusts me or anything, but there might be rules about it in my file. I’ve also never lived with anyone before — I’ve shared a tent, but that’s not really permanent. It feels different, more serious. I could have said no if I didn’t want to do it, but it’s been nice having more time alone. We’re kind of alone in the kitchen, but not really, and anyway our hands are usually covered with flour or something. I’m just not sure what it means, or where it’s going. I should probably just relax and try to stop worrying so much about it. We do have a lot of really comfortable pillows, after all.

[Story] Morthorn’s Notes

For the most part, the clinic has been quiet this summer. Vaildor and Lukian are finding things to do outside. Lukian is very excited to be going to the same school as everyone else next year, and I plan to take him before classes start so he can learn his way around and get to meet all of the teachers. Even if he won’t have a class with them yet, it will help him settle in, and he will feel comfortable asking for help if he does get lost. Esladra has two patients now — well, three if you count Isandri, but she’s always here, and a healer herself. We’ll have three new little elves arriving over the winter. I’m sure Esladra is delighted to not have to do busy work around the clinic any longer, she’s been going out to see Nessna and Anorelle at the lodge.

Aeramin and Arancon have both kept their appointments this week, and of course both wanted to talk about the subject of Aeramin’s new sibling. Aeramin is afraid he’ll be pushed aside and forgotten once the new baby arrives, and that Arancon won’t want to see him anymore. He’s also upset that he or she will have the experience of Arancon being a good father that he missed out on, though I pointed out that Arancon is doing his best to make amends now. That’s all that he said outright, but I do think he’s still missing his mother, and this must feel a little like a betrayal to him. Arancon tried to speak to him about it, but Aeramin got upset and asked him to leave. From what I know about Aeramin, it might be best to let him cool off and adjust to the idea on his own before approaching him again. Or I could be wrong, and his resentment will grow and fester. I don’t always have all the answers, as much as I’d like to think that I do.

Arancon on the other hand, seems excited and eager to have everything just right. He told me of his plans to make the sidecar of his machine softer for Anorelle and the baby to ride in, and he’s going to fill in the parts of the road that might be bumpy. They’re fixing up the guest room to be a nursery, and I’ve seen him here with Anorelle for her check-up with Esladra. He said he never wanted Aeramin to be an only child, though it didn’t seem to bother him much. Truthfully, I was an only child and I found ways to entertain myself. Would I have liked a sibling? Possibly, I can’t say for sure. But I don’t think it will do any damage to grow up on their own. I hope that Aeramin will warm to the idea of a sibling, but if not, there are a lot of children of similar age at the school for the new baby to play with. I suggested to Arancon that he reassure Aeramin that he’s still important to him, and encourage him to interact with the baby if he’s amenable to the idea. Maybe by the winter he will have had time to come around.

Arancon asked me if Lani wants more of our own, as he pointed out, she is from a large family. To me, we already have a large family, but I hadn’t thought to ask her. Telinda is still young yet, and Lukian just joined us recently. Or Lani might want to adopt another older child, I suppose that would be all right too. Maybe I should ask Isturon how he managed so many. He hasn’t been in for a while, but now that Verisna has gone back to Silvermoon, I hope he’ll drop by again soon.

[Story] Character of the Week – Berwick Amberlight

[[ Berwick is a treasure hunter, he travels around the world digging in ruins for things to sell. He was captured during the purge of Dalaran and was held there until Xyliah and Kitty helped him escape. Since he lost his house and gold then, he’s been working to build his fortunes back up again. He’s married to Xyliah, a former ranger. ]]

“What have you got there?” Xyliah brushed a stray strand of hair back from her eyes with her wrist. Her hands, like Berwick’s, were covered in a heavy layer of dust and cobwebs.

Berwick held a small ornamental box that he’d plucked out of the rubble on the cave floor. It looked valuable; the lid and sides were carved with an elaborate floral design with gems inset. Even if it was empty, the box itself would fetch a nice price. But he didn’t think it was empty — it looked like the sort of box you’d store little valuables in. He ran his fingers along the seam, searching for a latch and hoping that it wasn’t locked. With a soft click, the latch released and Berwick peeked inside.

The interior of the box was lined with a fine soft fabric dyed a deep purple, despite its age it still held its color well. That was probably because it had been hidden in this cave all that time. Berwick and Xyliah had found dozens of caves just like this one, tucked behind trees and around hidden corners. Not all of them held valuables, but enough of them did that Berwick was glad they’d come. Sure, they had a few demons to deal with, and more than one cave had been home to a cranky animal, but it had been well worth it. Berwick couldn’t wait to get back to Silvermoon to sell their haul. There was nothing that collectors in Silvermoon liked better than old elven artifacts, and they had plenty.

Berwick hooked a finger inside the box and lifted out the contents — a necklace made of some dark-colored metal, set with deep red stones that reminded him of droplets of fresh blood. It was well-made, but it didn’t have the same style as the other things they’d found, it was more harsh and severe, the angles sharper and the edges rougher. Something about it made him feel uneasy. Still, he held it for Xyliah to see.

“Necklace. Ought to be worth something, I’d say.”

Xyliah gasped, gingerly taking it from him. “Wow. It’s beautiful.” Berwick regarded her curiously. Usually her superlative of choice was “valuable” or “rare”. She didn’t usually call things beautiful, especially jewelry, which she never showed much interest in. Xyliah draped it around her neck, fastening the latch in the back. “What do you think?”

“Yeah,” Berwick motioned to the box. “Let’s put it back in so — it doesn’t get damaged.” He didn’t want to tell her the real reason, that that feeling of unease had leapt higher when he saw it around Xyliah’s neck. “It’s probably cursed or something.” He was joking — wasn’t he? Berwick had no magical ability, no way to know if something was cursed or not. Surely some of the things he’d dug up had been magical at one time, but ordinarily he dismissed such silly ideas. Things were just things. It had lain here for centuries, how could it do anything to them now.

Xyliah touched her finger to one of the gems. “I want to keep it.”

“What? Why?” Berwick blinked at her.

“I like it. You always say we can keep one find from each trip, and I usually don’t even do that. So I want to keep this.”

He couldn’t think of a reason that she shouldn’t keep it — at least one that didn’t sound like superstitious nonsense. Besides, she was probably right, she was wearing it and nothing bad had happened. “At least put it in here while we’re still working, then.”

She nodded and undid the latch, carefully coiling its lengths back into the little box. To Berwick, they looked like the black shimmering body of a venomous snake, with little red gems for eyes. He was relieved to clap the lid closed and not have to see it anymore. Could he talk her out of keeping it? That was unlikely, once Xyliah had made up her mind it was not easily budged. He could pretend to lose it, but he was certain she would know that it was intentional. Nor could he lie to her, for one she’d known right away, and the guilt would eat away at him. Berwick dropped the box into his pack and tied the string tightly. He was just being ridiculous, he could imagine Xyliah saying just that. There was nothing to worry about.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Anorelle’s Diary

I had been feeling a little odd lately, not bad or ill, just a little off. It was enough that Nessna noticed, and commented on it one morning. Then she suggested that I might be pregnant. Surely that was impossible, but then I realized that it wasn’t. The more I thought about it, the more I thought she might be right. After all, she probably would know better than I would, she’s on her third one. Arancon always said he didn’t think it was possible, but they did have Aeramin, didn’t they? After patrol I went right to the clinic. I knew I had a few hours before Arancon’s patrol was finished.

There was a strange woman at the desk, not the usual blonde girl. I found out later that it was Esladra and Nessna’s mother, she’s in town to meet with Hethurin. She wanted to ask me all sorts of questions about why I was there, I didn’t really think it was appropriate but thankfully no one else was waiting at the time. Nessna was right after all. I asked Esladra if she was sure, and she said she was. I’m not certain how she can tell, but she’s trained in this sort of thing, so I trust her. She gave me a lot of books to take home and read, and I have to go back every two weeks to make sure everything is going well. I’m older than most women when they have their first, I know that. Especially when I see some of them at the school parties, they look so young! I’m afraid that something might go wrong, and Esladra gave me a list of things I shouldn’t do. Patrol is fine, at least for now, that will change later I expect. I’m glad that Nessna will be able to answer all of my questions, I hope she won’t get annoyed by them. I have so many. What if I’m not good at being a mother? What if Arancon doesn’t want a new child after all? And what if it makes Aeramin hate him? That’s what I am the most worried about. I don’t really mind if Aeramin dislikes me — I mean, of course I’d rather we get along, but I’m not greatly upset if we don’t. But I do want him and Arancon to have a relationship, and I’m afraid this is going to take some time for Aeramin to get over. Maybe he never will. What if Arancon decides he’d rather not cause trouble with Aeramin?

Esladra showed me a drawing of how the baby looks right now. It doesn’t even look like an elf yet, but it was interesting to see all the same. It doesn’t really feel real yet, like there’s a chance it could all just be a mistake. I guess I will find out soon. I took the books home and hurried back to the lodge. Orledin happened to be making some test cakes for Julan’s wedding so I asked if he could decorate one for Arancon. He wrote “congrats” on it, because it was just a little cake.

It took him a little while to figure out what the cake was for. I had to give him some hints. I think he’s happy, he said he is. But he’s worried about Aeramin too. He wants to tell him soon before he hears it from someone else, which I think is a good idea. I just don’t know if he’ll take it well at all.

Besides Nessna, the girl who is usually at the desk is expecting around the same time, too. They’re both younger than I am, but I think it will still be good to know someone else is going through the same thing. Maybe we’ll even see each other at our appointments. I’m going to be in the mother club! I never thought it would happen, certainly not this late. I have to do my best to be a good mother, just as I tried to be a good guard, a good ranger, and a good wife. This seems like it will be more difficult than any of those though.

[Story] Fairsong Academy – Seline’s Diary

Dear Diary,

Classes have ended for the year. I know I did okay in frost, because I find it easier than the others and Professor Raleth is always willing to help me out after class if I don’t understand something. He always says that I can ask Keyalenn too, but I think it’s weirder to ask someone closer to my age. It’s not weird to ask a teacher, they’re used to helping people. And I just trust Professor Raleth, I guess. He doesn’t think my questions are dumb or laugh at me. I think I did okay on my arcane theory exam, but that’s only because I studied like crazy for weeks. Headmaster Fairsong also is nice and sometimes still marks things right if it was mostly right, or if it was wrong but you had a good reason for putting it. That’s nice of him, but I know the people at the Spire doing the exam won’t, so I’d rather learn it the right way. It seems like no matter how much I study, it’s still confusing. I don’t know how I did at fire at all, probably terrible. You would think it’s the easiest, because it’s just doing things to a flame that’s already there, but I just can’t get it to go right. Fire is easy for everyone else, why can’t I do it? I’m going to get some books from the library and use one of the warded practice rooms so I can hopefully get better over the summer. I don’t want to forget everything I’ve already learned.

There was a boy in the sitting room and he wanted to help me with my lessons. He’s in one of the advanced classes, and he said he also leaves for private lessons a few times a week. I’ve seen him leaving out the front gate, but I didn’t know that’s what he was doing. If he gets private lessons, he’s probably really good at fire, and also really rich. I thought it was odd that he offered to help me, he said it was because it would help him understand better. But if he’s in advanced fire class, I know he doesn’t need help at basic flame manipulation. I wonder if maybe one of the other students asked him to play a joke on me or something. I don’t know who, but I can’t think of why else he’d want to waste his time on baby fire lessons. At one point I mentioned that I sometimes do my homework with the guy with glasses, and then he started acting really weird. Fire boy kept saying how he could beat him in a fist fight even though glasses boy has big muscles. I’ve honestly never noticed, I thought it was weird that he didn’t have sleeves but I thought it was just because it’s been hot outside. Fire boy said it’s to show off his muscles. What? Even if he did have big muscles, Fire boy is better at magic, so he could easily beat him that way. That’s assuming they’d even fight in the first place, what an odd thing to say. Did they have some kind of argument or something? I’ve never seen glasses boy upset with anyone, he just keeps to himself most of the time. It was all really weird, and a little scary. I wonder if I should warn him that Fire boy wants to fight him.

Fire boy also kept saying I should go to his floor to meet him, which sounds against the rules to me. He said it’s okay because there are girls on that floor too, but I think I’d rather just study out in the common room. There’s no chance of getting in trouble out there, plus Tik and Terellion put out snacks to eat sometimes. Maybe he wants to trick me up there so he can fight me? I don’t understand why he wants to fight so much. He’s at the wrong school if he wants to learn how to fight, they probably do that at the ranger lodge.

Anyway, I need to choose my classes soon for next year. We go in to talk to our speciality teacher and fill out the form based on what they think would be good for us. I don’t think I am quite ready for advanced frost magic yet, but I’m going to see if there’s anything I can do to get ahead in frost. I might as well have good grades in one class next year! I know the undead girl likes to sew, too. The Headmaster said she might teach a class about making dresses, I think that sounds like fun. I’d like to do that if she decides to make one.