[Story] Winter Veil Postcards 2017

[[ I know it’s Thursday but I’m still doing Winter Veil stories instead! ]]

Terellion carried the brightly wrapped packages as they made their way through the Silvermoon market. Ordinarily he would have held Malwen’s hand, but his were both full — and hers were both sticky from the candy cane she was happily eating. He was sure to keep an extra close eye on her as they made their way among the stalls and crowds. They’d already bought some gifts for the students — lavish hawkstrider feather quills and inkwells — and some blankets and clothes for Galandil as well as Tik’s baby. Malwen had insisted that Narise get a doll of her own, and they’d settled on a soft cloth one with button eyes, in addition to a cuddly toy lynx. Terellion was sure that Narise already had one at home, but Malwen said that this one could be a big sister to the other, and watch after her. It was impossible to argue with that.

He set the packages down on one of the chairs and helped Malwen into hers. A morning of shopping and looking around built up quite an appetite. “We still need a gift for Arcan’da,” said Terellion, looking over the menu. “What do you think we should get for him?”

She was old enough now that Terellion thought she might be able to keep a gift a surprise, but even if not, Hethurin would like anything she picked out, even if it was strange. “Snails?” she suggested, over her sandwich.

The last thing that Terellion wanted were more snails in the house. Shelley and her enormous brood grew larger by the day, and they’d be indoors until the weather warmed in the spring. Even then, he wasn’t sure Malwen would be so willing to let them all go. “Um, well he already has Mittens,” he pointed out. “He might be jealous of another pet.”

“Oh,” Malwen said. “What about a dragon then?”

“A real dragon?”

Malwen giggled. “No, don’t be silly! Like a — statue dragon.”

Hethurin already had the enormous bronze dragon that stood at the entrance of the school grounds, but Terellion knew of a shop that sold small statues suitable for a shelf or desk. After he’d ensured that Malwen’s fingers were clean, they went in to look around.

“I like this one,” Malwen gasped, going immediately to a dragon cast in metal. Its pose was rearing up, a translucent orb of either glass or carved stone was set between its front paws. The orb had been enchanted to glow with a faint light, giving the statue a more lively appearance. “He could put it on his desk, because he’s a teacher.”

Terellion wasn’t sure if he’d really like it, but neither did he have any ideas for a present. He paid and added the very heavy package to the stack that he was carrying.

“What do you want for Winter Veil?” Terellion asked, once they’d left the store and stood in the square again.

He expected that Malwen would say dolls, or something for the snails, but she hesitated. “Well…”

Terellion looked at her curiously.

“It might cost a lot.”

“You can still tell me,” Terellion said. “It might not be that much.” Besides, they’d not even spent all the gold that Hethurin had sent them with, and if there was one thing he didn’t mind, it was buying gifts — especially for the children.

“The kids in the orphanage, I don’t think they’re going to get any presents,” said Malwen. “Could we take some to them? I know they’d really, really like some presents.”

Terellion set his boxes down and gave Malwen a hug. “Of course we can. That’s a wonderful idea. I need your help picking things out though.”

“Okay!”

He knew Hethurin would want to go along as well, not to mention he’d need the help moving that many gifts at once. They could go when Hethurin came to make their return portal, and he could already imagine how excited he would be — maybe even more so than the orphans.

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[Story] Winter Veil Postcards 2017

Leinath wandered between the market stalls, certain to keep hold of his coin purse at all times. He’d heard stories about pickpockets in the city, and if someone was going to pick pockets, it would be a perfect opportunity to do so. Everyone was distracted by the stalls full of gifts, the cheery music and decorations. Most of the stalls were staffed by goblins, at least in the front. It seemed anywhere things were being sold, goblins were there.

“Happy Winter Veil, friend,” one of them called. She wore a huge floppy red hat with a bell on the end, perched on one ear. “What can I help you find today? A nice sweater, perhaps?”

In truth, Leinath wasn’t really sure what to buy. He’d thought looking at the market might give him some ideas, but he just felt more confused. What were you supposed to get someone who couldn’t use most things? And he still wasn’t sure where things stood between them, so there was a balancing act of not getting anything too expensive or sentimental. The goblin hopped down and went around to the other side of the stall. “Some chocolates?”

Orledin couldn’t eat chocolates, but of course he didn’t want to tell everyone in the market that. “He’s uh, he’s a ranger, so something practical.”

The goblin nodded, her bell jingling. “Say no more!” she said, and disappeared behind the counter again. “What about these fine boots, crafted of the finest crocolisk leather?”

Orledin probably could use new boots, while his were still in decent condition, these were really nice. And practical. But it didn’t really seem very personal. He already had all the baking equipment he could ever need, and Pancat had a nice bed and collar. Leinath had thought about a pocket watch, because he didn’t think Orledin had one, but he didn’t want to give the idea that Orledin was always late or something. He definitely couldn’t go back without anything at all, though.

“I’ll take the boots,” said Leinath.

The library in Shattrath had an abundance of books about its native plants, and Sorelle had brought several back to her room to copy the drawings. They weren’t allowed to go too far out of the city, so she’d only been able to find some terocones and felweed, which grew practically everywhere. She’d carefully shaken the seeds out of the terocones and saved them in a little paper pouch, labelled with the name. For Felweed, a cutting was necessary, and this she kept moist in her fruit bowl, once she’d removed all of the fruit.

They would be going to the market today, and she hoped she’d find someone selling more seeds there. In Dalaran there had always been people selling flowers and herbs, so she guessed there would be something similar here as well. Even if they didn’t have seeds for sale, they would better know where to find some. She might have to get special permission from the Headmaster, but Sorelle thought he’d probably allow it so long as she went with a teacher.

As they weren’t allowed in the market alone, she asked Xarola to go with her. Aside from being her best friend at the school, she knew a lot about plants — at least Azeroth ones. She was interested in learning more about Outland plants as well, and was eager to visit the market with Sorelle. The fellow at the flower stand was one of what Xarola called fungus people, short and tiny with mushrooms sprouting from their body. Sorelle was fascinated by these — she’d seen some Forsaken who grew fungi, but that was more because of poor care than anything else. Were these people some kind of hybrid, or were they fully fungi? She would have to do more research when they got back to the library. He — or it — Sorelle didn’t think fungi had genders in the way that people do — had an array of very small potted trees lined up on the table. They were evergreens, similar to the ones that had surrounded Dalaran when Sorelle was a student there initially, but these were an Outland variety, probably the same that composed the forest around Shattrath. The bristles were dark green in color, clustered together into little branches that alternated up the trunk. The pots were wrapped in brightly colored foil, and the little fungus person gestured excitedly to Xarola and Sorelle as they approached. “Winter Veil,” it kept saying, and pointing to the trees. “Ten silver.” She thought that might be the extent of all the Common that it spoke.

The tree was alive, fully rooted in its pot, not cut. If cared for, Sorelle thought it could be kept in the greenhouse until the spring. It would look festive in her room as well, lit with magical lights and hung with ribbons and maybe some cookies from the party. Of course, she’d need to ask permission from the Headmaster, but since small pets were allowed, she didn’t see how he could object to a tree. She took the coins from her pouch and gave them to the mushroom person, picking one with a red foil pot.

[Story] Winter Veil Postcards 2017

[[ Sorry it’s been quiet… I have unexpected guests over this weekend. Here are two Winter Veil shorts, I’ll do more later! ]]

“Just get him dumplings,” Zhyra said over breakfast. The night was chilly, fog had rolled in over the small lake around the town, and a steady rain dripped from the eaves. “He likes them, doesn’t he?”

Of course he did. And while she’d been doing her best to learn to make them herself, Risarra felt they weren’t special enough for a gift. Bear got dumplings just about every day, he had for all the time they’d been checking on him at his camp — which counted in years now.

Avanniel made a face. “I don’t know why you want to follow a dwarf holiday anyway.”

Risarra frowned and stirred her oatmeal, mixing the berries in for flavor. “It doesn’t have to be for that,” she argued. “It could just be a gift.” The other two sentinels exchanged a look, but said nothing else on the subject.

There would be a market in Darnassus today. She’d have to hurry, but Risarra thought she could make it there and back in time before her patrol if she could borrow a hippogryph. Surely there she could find something that would make a good gift — something for his house perhaps, or to keep him warm when she was away at patrol. A scarf or a cloak, something like that. Risarra hurried to finish her breakfast and dug her bag of coins out from under her bunk.

“Ouch!” Sath’alor pulled his hand back from the hawkstrider’s sharp beak. He’d like to think it had simply mistaken his fingers for a snack, but he couldn’t be sure. They were probably just nervous, he reasoned, being led away from their farm to their new home. Sath’alor had specifically asked for birds with good temperaments and steady nerves to face the rigors of patrol. He didn’t care what they looked like or what their bloodlines were — though they looked fancy and colorful to him, at least.  There were six in total, four males and two female, their feathers varying shades of blue and black. One had a slightly greenish tint if you looked at it in the right light. The seller said that Sath’alor could name them, but he wasn’t terribly good with names, he thought he’d leave that to the rangers, and perhaps Rylad.

The stable was warm and dry, fresh straw spread over the floor and the bins filled with greens and vegetables. Each stall had a bucket of water and a blank nameplate on the door waiting to be filled in. Sath’alor hadn’t yet figured out a schedule for which hawkstriders would patrol when, but they couldn’t be worked all day, they would need to rotate. And not everyone would need or want to ride anyway, ideally only one pair would be out at any time. He hoped that at least one of them would be gentle enough to give rides to Rylad, and the other children if they were big enough. He could even bring them to Hethurin’s parties if he so wished, decked out in matching saddles. For now, he just had the plain leather saddles and bridles from the breeder, along with detailed instructions for their care. Sath’alor knew a lot about cats, but practically nothing about hawkstriders, so he hoped to hire someone to look after them. For the time being though, it was his job.

[Story] Fairsong Academy – Braedra’s Journal

Terellion and all the students are away on a trip to Shattrath. I’d still like to go one day, it sounds so exotic and interesting, and I’m sure they could use the extra help supervising everyone. Terellion always tells me breathless stories about the strange things there, the bird people and naaru and the refugees in the Lower City. I’ll certainly ask to go next time, but the winter holidays will be here soon, and I wanted to take advantage of having everyone away so I could get gifts. The babies are the easiest to shop for — they like any sort of bright and colorful thing, I think little Galandil will want something to chew on, and Narise likes soft things that she can carry around with her. It might be a good idea to get her a soft doll so she doesn’t try to take any of Malwen’s! She’s a little more difficult, only because she has so many dolls already. I feel that another would just be forgotten. Perhaps something to do with snails, her newest fascination. Terellion’s baking has made him easier to buy gifts for — I can find some pan or bowl in the shops and I’m sure he’ll like it. The girls are too old for “baby things” as they call them, like dolls and toys, but not quite yet grown ladies. I thought perhaps a painting set or books might be good. I’m not certain about those books the students read though, no doubt they’ve already snuck looks at them, but I’m not sure I want to encourage that. Then again, I remember borrowing my mother’s to take into the bath, and I think I turned out fine, so maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Hethurin is a puzzle, however. He already has so much, and his tastes in robes (and other things, surely) run to the extravagant. But I do want to get him something that reflects how glad that he’s in Terellion’s life, and ours. I’m very grateful to him for allowing us to stay here at the school, and letting the girls attend classes here. It’s so nice to be able to see them more, rather than having to travel to the city and back every day. And of course, I enjoy helping to care for all the babies. They’re just adorable and I’m going to be sad when they move up to Lali’s class.

I decided to enlist Isturon for help on my trip. For one thing, I am sure he needs to get gifts too — he has twice as many children as I do, and more grandchildren. I also thought he might be bored sitting around the empty school, his house isn’t finished yet and it’s so quiet without the students here. We mostly need to go to the same shops, and we could get lunch there besides. As I was, he was having difficulty finding something suitable for Hethurin. I suggested that they could spend time together, perhaps doing something Hethurin enjoys, like fishing. They would have the chance to talk and just enjoy each other’s company. That’s something you can’t really buy. Isturon seemed to like the idea, and even looked at fishing poles in one of the shops. Maerista, one of the younger teachers, suggested that I buy sweaters for everyone. We saw the sweater booth in the market, they do have a great many of them. And it can get cold out in the garden, so I got one for Terellion to wear while he’s working outdoors. I had one ordered for Malwen with a snail on it, I think she’ll like that. I’ll have to return in a week or so to pick it up. I do enjoy the city near the holidays, it’s always decorated so nicely with the lights and ribbons. There aren’t many evergreen trees, so they usually use some other sort of branch, I know the dwarves use evergreens though. We went to so many shops that it was difficult to carry all of the packages, thankfully they have mages for hire in the market who can make you portals to get home. We did have to ride from Tranquillien, but that’s not far. I can’t wait to see what Terellion does for the winter ball this year.

 

[Story] The Ghostclaw – The Recruit

Hethurin appeared in my office. Fortunately I wasn’t working too hard or he probably would have startled me. It’s still startling to have someone just appear in front of you, but I guess you get used to it when you’re around mages a lot. I still wish he’d knock or something first. He did bring good news though, he said he had a potential ranger that he wanted me to meet in Shattrath. I didn’t know they had any there, I know there are a lot of mages and blood knights, but I agreed to come meet with them. Though we aren’t hurting for people, there are a lot of empty beds and we could always use more. I went through the portal with Hethurin and we started walking to the tavern. I remembered that place, I’d spent quite a lot of time there when I stayed in Shattrath before. It seems like such a long time ago now, and I guess it was. Thankfully if anyone recognized me, they didn’t say anything.

I didn’t see any rangers at first, until Hethurin pointed out the huge draenei. I thought at first maybe he was sitting on the ranger or something, but no. A draenei, an enormous draenei with huge horns and hooves and everything, and it wanted to join up with the Ghostclaw. I don’t speak Draenei, and he didn’t speak Thalassian, but all three of us knew enough Common to make it work — kind of. Hethurin translated mostly, he explained that the draenei’s sister would be going to the school to learn Thalassian and help the healers in town, and the ranger was her brother. He wanted to be close to her to ensure that she was safe, because they were the only family they had left after the orcs attacked them. I couldn’t help but feel a bit sorry for him, as well as admiring his dedication to his sister — anyone who cared that much couldn’t be too bad, I figured. The school is safe, there are wards and Theronil patrolling, so no harm would come to his sister. But sending a draenei out onto the roads in the Ghostlands is another matter. I didn’t want any residents to mistake him for a demon or something while he was out there.

The night patrol might be the safest option. I know it’s not easy for a living ranger, but I could split it into two patrols if there are two teams now. Or I could ask if one of them wanted to move to a daytime patrol — I have a feeling that Orledin would jump at the chance, especially if I let him patrol with Leinath. I trust both of them enough that nothing too improper would happen, and they’d both actually get their routes done. Hethurin asked for me what kind of experience he had, whether he’d used a bow or not. The draenei said he was, and he had five different ones. Five! I bet Sunashe will like him right away. I’m not sure about the others. He’s very different, but I do think he’ll do a good job and he says he has a lot of experience — 1,000 years, in fact. He doesn’t look that old, but maybe that’s not even old for a draenei. Hethurin said he thinks they are immortal or something, I don’t know if that’s true or not. But I think, despite his fearsome looks, that he’ll take his post seriously, I don’t know why he’d ask to go somewhere so dangerous if he wasn’t certain about it.

I need to talk to everyone — Nessna especially — but I said we’d be ready for him in a week or so. I think he’ll probably need two beds, but we have plenty, so that’s okay. Fortunately he has his own armor, which is good because we wouldn’t have anything that would fit him properly. If something needs repaired, I hope he can do it himself, because I’m not about to take a piece of draenei armor into the city. Nor do I even know what draenei eat, Hethurin suggested that maybe he could bring some of his own food so the change wouldn’t be too drastic. My cooking isn’t that bad. He did seem interested when I told him we had fresh cookies daily from Orledin — he also has a pet moth that needs bread. I’m sure Lin will want to talk to him for that reason alone. I feel like my instinct has usually been right about people, and I got a good feeling from him. I just hope the other rangers agree to give him a chance.

[Story] Story a Week

[[ Story a Week is back, since NaNo is done (for the time being). I have some more novel ideas, but I’m taking a break from long stuff for the rest of the month to get some sewing projects done. Uhh I guess it’s sort of a Thanksgiving story, but not really? ]]

Sath’alor finished buckling the harness straps on the hawkstriders and gave them one last check-over. The last thing he needed was one of them getting loose and having to chase it down through the woods. Though they had a barn, he hadn’t yet bought any hawkstriders for the rangers yet — they patrolled on foot, and frankly he didn’t know enough about hawkstrider care to be able to look after them himself. That meant hiring a stablemaster, and with everything else going on, it just hadn’t happened yet. But certain of the rangers — Sunashe for one — might appreciate being able to ride from time to time. One strider per ranger would be far too expensive, and their barn wasn’t that large. Maybe a few pairs that could rotate through the day. It was something he’d have to consider once he made up the yearly budget — that job was coming up soon, and he dreaded it every year. For today, he’d just rented the hawkstriders from the stable in town. Thankfully, the stablemaster also had a wagon for use. He’d asked one of the mages from the school for help getting a portal to town, but the rest of the trip had to be made over the roads. Though all of the mages probably could open portals directly to the ranger building, he thought it would be safer this way.

He picked up the edge of the canvas covering and peeked underneath. It was important that all of the ropes were firmly tied in place before they started moving. Any jolts or bumps might damage his cargo, and Rylad’s grandfather had spent a long time getting it just right. Satisfied that it was secure, Sath’alor climbed into the seat of the wagon and guided the hawkstriders down the main road. Originally, he’d planned the surprise for the winter holiday, but he felt this way they might get some use out of it before the weather got too cold. It also had to do with his conversation with Salenicus the other night. Sath’alor hardly considered himself an expert when it came to dealing with women, but things had worked out with Nessna, so he had to be doing something right. There was a girl at the school Salenicus had his eye on, but he wasn’t certain if she was interested. He also got the idea that Salenicus wasn’t being clear enough in his intent. If you’re too subtle, he told Salenicus, some other guy might move in while you’re waiting for her to notice. Admittedly, he wasn’t sure that an undead girl had many other suitors, but one could never be sure. She was a mage, so she might have some rich arranged marriage, or maybe someone she’d known from Dalaran. The point, Sath’alor told him, was that you should make your feelings known. If they weren’t returned, at least he’d know and wouldn’t waste any more time. He suggested finding things that she was interested in, and getting her a gift related to that. Or flowers, or writing a poem. Sath’alor couldn’t write poems either, but something from the heart was good enough. It reminded him how he’d first got to know Nessna better, how he was worried she’d think he was a creep or something. Frankly, he still couldn’t believe she was interested even after they’d been together this long. He was grateful that she was, their family was more than he’d ever hoped for, and he wanted to make sure that she knew how much she meant to him.

Vessen’s father had agreed to the project, and seemed especially pleased when Sath’alor wanted to include Vessen’s name as well. It was a heavy wooden bench, elaborately carved with different scenes on the surfaces. The back featured a family of lynxes running through the forest, a male and female and their cubs. Other sides depicted a ranger drawing a bow, a dragon flying through the clouds, and other things. All were bordered by a tangled vine with carved wooden leaves and flowers, and sealed with oil so it could be left outside in the weather. Their names were hidden in the designs in various places, and Sath’alor had asked that Vessen’s be included because he was part of their family too. He knew the perfect spot for it — behind their house, on the bank of a little stream and facing the forest. Sath’alor had bought some heavy metal spikes to help anchor the bench to the ground in case it got windy. He hammered these into place and then hurried to return the hawkstriders and wagon to town. If he hurried, he’d be back before Nessna returned from her patrol, and could bring her out back to see it.

[Story] Fairsong Academy – Terellion’s Journal

It’s getting a little colder around the school, Malwen is helping me to get the shrubs covered before it freezes. Of course, she also wanted to cut some branches for Shelly and her children to climb on. There are so many of them, that I guess they do need some extra room to climb around. Do snails even climb? I guess they must, it’ll make the tank look more interesting at any rate. We also had to take down all the decorations from the fall ball, before long we’ll need to start making them for the winter ball. I think that one’s my favorite, I love the evergreen branches and sugar snowflakes and everything. We piled all of the gourds and leaves into the wheelbarrow and took them out to the forest. There we left them for the animals to eat, I let Malwen keep one of the tiny gourds to put into Shelly’s tank too. I know for a fact that they like squash because she gave them some from her dinner not too long ago. Hethurin said I should have made her eat it, but I know that he didn’t eat his, so I can look the other way once in a while. Squash was never my favorite either.

The workers are trying to get Isturon’s house done before the winter. I hope they do, so he’ll have his own place to go and won’t be in the school so much. I mean, it’s not that I don’t like him. He’s okay, at least he doesn’t think I’m trying to steal Hethurin’s money anymore. But I don’t like that he’s showing his clavicle so much. I think it’s not proper for someone of his age. The other night he was wearing pants and a shirt that was unlaced way too far. He said it’s the newest fashion, maybe it is, I don’t keep up with things like that. I know Hethurin wears pants sometimes, but usually it’s just when he wants me to notice his butt. Isturon better not be wanting people to notice his butt. Especially certain people, like my mother. Hethurin was convinced that something was going on, so I had a little talk with Isturon. I told him that he should look in the city for someone, like maybe when he was there getting lunch or shopping or something. I still think he’s too old, but he said he was seeing someone before he left for the islands. He was convinced she wouldn’t take him back, but I think he’s just not trying hard enough. I haven’t asked my mother about it, first of all because it would be too weird, and second because she’d just say I’m letting my imagination get away from me. It wasn’t my idea, it’s terrible and I don’t want to think about it. Besides, my father hasn’t been gone long enough for her to be looking for someone else. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t like it if she went around kissing other guys.

I guess Isturon also wanted to talk to Hethurin about what happened before I came here, when he was silenced at the ranch. I guess that’s why he made him come move branches off his lot instead of me and Tik, because that’s something we should be doing. Hethurin was really upset about it, I wish I could make him feel better, but there’s really nothing you can say to make up for your family betraying you. I guess it’s good that he’s still talking to his father, but he should never have gone along with it in the first place. Hopefully he’s trying to make amends. I wish I would have known so I could have helped him, or at least tried. None of his friends or family even did, well I think Xyliah’s husband did but not for a while. I would have gone there right away and figured out a plan to rescue him, just like in the books. Hethurin mentioned making one of the time portals, but I know it would make Renner upset, and he says it wouldn’t work anyway because I still wouldn’t know him. But I would if I traveled to a different time, right? I guess it’s better not to mess around with time portals. They made a big mess last time.