[Story] Character of the Week – Hraavik

[[ Hraavik is the main character from my 2005 NaNo novel, Eishundr. Basically, they are dog Vikings — yeah I know, but it makes sense in the book! This is a story that takes before the novel, when Hraavik was a young man. Young dog. Whatever. ]]

The alluring scent of roasting meat and pouring ale met Hraavik’s nose as they dragged their boat up onto the rocky shore. Alrik smelled it as well, his ears perking with interest. Spirits all around the village were high, lamps burned bright in every window, the fences draped with evergreen boughs and bright sour winter berries.

“We’d best hurry,” said Alrik, looping the rope over the tether. “Else they’ll eat and drink everything before we get there.”

Hraavik nodded, pausing to hoist the bundles of furs onto his shoulder. As much as his friend was right — the feast had no doubt already begun, and they shouldn’t wait too long to join — those skins were the whole reason they had gone out in the first place. He couldn’t very well leave all of that value just sitting out in the fog and snow where anyone might take it. “Go on ahead,” he told Alrik. “Save some for me.”

Candles burned warm and bright in the window of his parents’ house, but they had already gone on to the feast. His father’s workbench was strewn with little curls and chips of wood, still smelling fresh. When he was young, his father had carved him countless toys there — figures of warriors and animals, bristly trees and rounded boulders. Now he was too old for such things, and too young to have sons of his own. He supposed his father carved now for himself, or for Hraavik’s mother, or perhaps only out of habit. Hraavik tucked the bundle of furs underneath the table and made certain the door of their house was closed before he hurried down the path toward the feast hall.

The whole of the village had gathered in the hall, a long and imposing building nestled safely within the forest. Its many windows glowed bright, throwing squares of light onto the cold snowy ground outside. Inside, a joyous riot of smells and sounds — the rich smell of the beer, stacked in its aged oak barrels, the spiced sweet bread and roasted nuts, rich delicious meat crackling over the fire, singing and toasting and boasting. They had to celebrate now, while they could, for behind the smiles and cheer they all knew what awaited just outside — the cold bite and merciless blizzards of the northern winter. The grey days would stretch into weeks and months without fresh food or sunlight, and dangerous spirits would stalk the frigid woods. Some would no doubt fall to winter’s fangs, the very old and the very young were most at risk. But not here, not tonight. Tonight the old ones happily gnawed at bones, the young ones bounced on their parents’ knees and grabbed from their plates. Tonight no one would speak of the winter that awaited them, only look back fondly on the year that had passed and celebrate their time together.

Hraavik sat at his father’s side, as was custom for an eldest son. He nodded to his father, who had already devoured one plate full of food.

“You’re late,” he grumbled.

“Sorry,” Hraavik said, piling some of the roasted meat onto his own plate. There were so many good things, he hardly knew where to start. He took some of the root vegetables, the hot grainy bread with berry jam, and aged cheese. “We got a lot of furs, though. Alrik’s a good trapper.”

“Hm,” said Hraavik’s father, glancing across the table to where Alrik sat with his parents. “I hear he’s found a wife as well.”

Hraavik turned an ear back and frowned. “Yeah, I think so.”  It was true in fact, Alrik had already told Hraavik about his plans to offer Tola a ring. They’d met Tola, striking with her dark markings, the summer before. She was from a neighboring clan, but had relatives among their people. Hraavik had thought her strong and beautiful, but she’d only had eyes for Alrik from the start. Was he jealous? Perhaps a little. He worried that his friend might not have time for him any longer, but it hadn’t really been the case. The worst thing was that he spoke of Tola constantly, always telling stories of things she’d said, or looking for gifts to give her. Everything seemed to go so easily for them, and Hraavik had no doubt that once they’d married, everything would continue to do so. Nothing had been easy for Hraavik; despite having a good family and a strong father, none of the girls in the village had paid him any attention. Maybe he was just too shy, he never knew what to say to them. Alrik said just to speak to them as you’d speak to a friend, but that didn’t seem to work either.

There were girls that he hadn’t seen before, daughters of families far up in the hills who didn’t come into the village often. Some of them were bringing drinks to the table, taking away empty plates, laughing with the young men. One drew Hraavik’s eye right away, a girl with long flowing bright hair. She had braided some of it, and tied it with a ribbon. Had someone given that to her? Probably so. Hraavik drank his beer glumly as he tried to imagine which of them it was, but the girl didn’t seem to speak to anyone more than the others. Maybe he could try to talk to her, but not during the meal when it was so loud. He’d wait until the dancing started, and he could offer his arm. At least that way, if she refused, no one else would have to know. Hraavik tried to watch her, keep track of where she went, in spite of the crowd she stood out to him like a bright star in the winter sky.

Just like talking to anyone else, Hraavik assured himself, but he could feel his palms sweating as he approached her. She turned to look at him, her long lashes lowered.

“I saw you watching me,” she said, and a smile tugged at the corner of her mouth.

“Oh,” said Hraavik. “Do you want to dance?” The words came tumbling out of their own accord, not how he’d planned it at all. He felt his ears getting hot.

The girl threw her hair back over her shoulders. “All right. But I don’t know your name.”

“H-Hraavik,” he said.

The girl took his hand and led him to the dance floor. “I’m Rania.”

[Story] Character of the Week – Tempest

[[ Tempest is a wild mustang who lives in the American West. I originally played her on an RP based on Spirit, the animated horse movie. Yeah I know, but there was actually some good RP! Tempest, as her name might suggest, is bold, stubborn, and doesn’t like being told what to do. Though she lost her first love, Heart-Seer, she has found another herd and settled in there. I did some art of her somewhere, but I’m not sure where it is right now! ]]

Tempest watched the cold grey sky with concern. The dark clouds that hung over the prairie were nearly the same shade as her own coat. Dark clouds meant a storm, and this cold, that storm would surely be snow and ice instead of rain. Though it was yet early in the season, the temperature had already grown cold enough to strangle the plants in its icy grip, and snow still covered parts of their usual grazing grounds. It troubled her, this smell of cold in the air, because it meant there would be little to eat. She had to worry not only for herself, but her second foal, who would arrive in spring if everything went well. The rest of the mares, many of them expecting as well, relied on her to lead them. Already some had approached her, ears turned back and eyes wide, asking what they would do. The previous winter, they had found a sheltered valley to protect them from the worst of the weather. It was mild enough that they could still scrape by enough to eat through the snow. But even the little valley was buried already, and their herd numbered more than it had last year. Some — like her own Tristan — were caught in the odd place between babies and independence. Lanky and bold, he was old enough to leave for the bachelor herd, most likely in the spring. Tempest wished it wasn’t so; she would have preferred him to stay so that she could see him and ensure that he was safe, but it was the way of things. Though it would break her heart to send him away, there could be only one stallion in the herd, and that was Titan, his father. Tempest wished more than once that her next might be a daughter, so she would be spared the heartache of having to send her away.

Tempest considered moving the herd, though she was not sure where they could go. A long trip, especially in the meager winter, would prove dangerous to mothers and foals alike. Who could know how far south the snow stretched? There would surely be other herds there as well, and they might not be willing to allow them in — especially if food was scarce. Tempest thought on this problem often, occupying her thoughts as she scratched the dead grass from beneath the snow. She thought she might ask Titan, at the very least he might have a different perspective on the problem. Tempest did not want to admit that she had been defeated by it, but Titan was too polite to suggest so. He was a good listener, one of the reasons that she and the others had accepted him as their stallion. She found him atop a high rock outcropping, overlooking the prairie.

“Not to worry, Tempest,” he said, touching his soft nose to hers. “I have a plan.”

Tempest turned an ear skeptically. “A plan? To make the snow stop?”

Titan swished his tail in amusement, turning to descend from his perch. “No, follow me. I will show you.”

She followed him across the snow-speckled prairie in silence, growing wary when they reached a wire fence. These were dangerous; they could easily be run into as they were difficult to see, and the wire tangled around horses and made it nearly impossible to remove. Worse, they were proof that humans were near. Tempest stamped a hoof and snorted, but Titan led her to a place where the fence had collapsed, and stepped neatly over the wire. Titan knew more of humans than most of their herd; he had once lived among them and the foals loved to listen to his stories about it. Tempest could not be sure just now many of them were true, or not, she had been born on the prairie and avoided humans completely. Her mother made no secret of their danger, and the lesson had been worn well into her mind. In the distance, Tempest could see a human building, square and unnatural against the horizon. She snorted at that, too, and Titan reassured her with a touch on her shoulder.

“Watch,” he said, and through the shroud of snow and wind, Tempest saw a tiny figure moving amidst the white.

“He’s going to shoot us,” Tempest said, alarmed.

“No,” Titan shook his head. “See what he does.”

The figure was moving, placing something on the ground. Tempest could not tell what it was from afar. After what seemed a very long time, the figure disappeared again, and Titan moved forward to where the human had been.

“Don’t!” Tempest cried, her ears pinned in alarm. She called out to him, begging him to come away from the danger, but he continued forward. Titan lowered his head to the ground and began eating. What? The ground was cold and barren, what could he have found here? Curiosity and hunger got the better of her caution, and Tempest moved closer. A fragrant, sweet dried grass was spread over the snow, a pile of grains nearby. Tempest gasped, her eyes wide. Titan pushed a little pile of the grass toward her. “It’s good. You should eat some.”

Tempest sniffed at the grass, but it smelled sweet and good, like sunshine on a lazy summer afternoon. And Titan was eating it, so maybe it was safe after all. After weeks of dead grass, it was flavorful and delicious. “Humans used to give this to us,” Titan explained. “Try the grain, it’s the best part.”

“But I don’t understand. Why would they put this here? It must be a trap.” Tempest lifted her head, surveying the surroundings. She could neither see nor smell the human, though she could see the buildings silhouetted against the dark grey sky.

“Not all of them are bad. He wants us to have enough food for the winter.”

Tempest frowned. She wasn’t sure about this. Why would a human do that? Then again, she didn’t understand why they did any of the things they did. The area was open enough that they could see any danger that did approach. Perhaps it was worth the risk; the alternative was far worse. “I’ll bring the others,” said Tempest, with a last glance toward the buildings. She hoped this wasn’t a mistake.

[Story] Character of the Week – Anorelle Firewind

[[ A former Silvermoon guard, Anorelle joined the Ghostclaw a few years back. She is married to Arancon, Aeramin’s father, and her week happened to coincide with when her little one was due! ]]

Today started like an ordinary day. Arancon made breakfast and then he left for his patrol, normally I’d have gone too but he insists that I rest instead. Nessna said she patrolled right up until the day Rylad was born, but I’m not sure if that’s really true, besides, she’s younger than I am. I notice she didn’t say that about Zaren, which tells me that the captain made her rest when he was almost born, too. I don’t mind him fussing really, just sometimes it’s silly, like when he says I can’t wash the dishes — of course I can! But if he really wants to wash them I’m not going to stop him. Esladra did say it was better if I stayed close to the clinic though, so I agreed to stay at home even though I felt fine. I have a stack of books I’ve been reading, some about babies and some just for entertainment, I have some of those ones about rangers falling in love and fighting trolls. I was about to go and read one of those, but I felt a little strange. Not sick really, but not comfortable, either. I went to rest on the couch but it didn’t get better, it was then that I realized what was going on. I’d been reading about it so much but I still didn’t recognize it when it happened! Probably because Tiros isn’t supposed to be here for another week or two. But after looking in my book, I wanted to have Esladra look anyway. I put on my coat and took my bag of clothes and things that we’d packed and went across the street.

Esladra was not too surprised to see me, she put me into one of the rooms with a bed and she looked me over. She made sure to tell me that she could hear Tiros’s heart and everything seemed okay from what she could see. Sometimes babies just decide to come earlier — or I guess it’s possible we counted wrong. That could be, too. She went to her house to get Teloth, who took a hawkstrider out along Aracon’s patrol route to bring him back. I told him where they probably were about this time, and it didn’t take long for Arancon to arrive. He was falling over himself to apologize, it wasn’t his fault that Tiros decided to come early! Esladra put him to work getting towels and water. I don’t remember too much else except for him helping me do the exercises we’d practiced in the book.

For a moment he didn’t make a sound and I thought the worst, but as soon as Esladra started to clean him off he started to cry. It was the best sound! He’s so tiny and perfect, he has the littlest fingers and toes and little ears. Esladra said he’s a bit on the small side, but otherwise perfectly fine. She’s going to come check on him in a couple of days to make sure he’s eating okay, then he’ll have weekly checkups. Even holding him, it doesn’t really seem real, that he’s mine and he’s here. Arancon held him too, and he was so happy. I didn’t think I could possibly love him more, but I do. Arancon slipped out while we were resting and went to find Aeramin, he returned with a big basket of clothes and things. I had no idea he’d got all that! I hope he’ll be able to come visit his brother soon, Esladra says it’s best to wait a while before babies see any visitors because it’s easy for them to get sick. I want to rest but I also don’t want to put him down, he’s so cute and tiny. I’m not sure because he only has fuzz for hair, but I think it’s orange. I hope so.


[Story] Character of the Week – Leinath

[[ Leinath isn’t very old, he was made because we needed some more rangers! In his former life,  he was a highway bandit, until he was caught and given the option to work off his sentence out with the Ghostclaw. He really likes foxes, and he’s learning to bake with Orledin. ]]

Leinath had to tuck some of the branches of the big evergreen tree to get it to fit through the doorway of the hut. He also realized it probably would be too tall, even at the center of the hut where the roof was the highest. Maybe they could poke the end out through the hole that they used to let smoke out.

Orledin was near the oven, frosting a new batch of cookies with colorful icing — several others rested beside him, adorned with bright candies and colored sugar crystals. “What’s that?” he asked, raising a brow at the tree.

“A tree!” Leinath declared, disappearing through the door to return with a metal contraption. He set the tree’s trunk into this and tightened the metal pins to hold the trunk in place. As Orledin watched, he shook it gently to make sure the tree was secure. “For Winter Veil.”

He’d heard about the holiday before, mostly from dwarves at Acherus. Orledin had assumed it was a joke they told to gullible elves, though death knights didn’t usually tell jokes. It all just seemed a bit far-fetched — what did trees and cookies have to do with winter? “Isn’t it a bit, umm…” he gestured toward the tree’s top, poking out through the top of the roof.

“Yeah,” Leinath said, stepping back to look the tree over. “I guess we could cut it, but I think it’s okay how it is. I didn’t realize how big it would be once I got it inside. But who wants a tiny Winter Veil tree?” Saying this, Leinath disappeared out the front door once again, this time bringing in several crates.

The cookies had been Leinath’s idea too, though Orledin didn’t think that was an odd request. He’d made shaped and decorated cookies many times before, for many different occasions. One of the recipes was darkened with molasses and contained several different spices, Leinath assured him these were extra important for the holiday. In a book, he’d shown him a house built out of the cookie dough, and Orledin had been sketching some pieces, but he hadn’t quite sorted out how to hold them all together just yet. Maybe Gaelardrim would have a better idea how to make a house out of cookies. Orledin watched as Leinath brought crate after crate into the hut.

“What are those?” he asked.

Leinath opened the lid of one, revealing delicate thin glass orbs nestled in straw. “They’re decorations. You put them on the tree. Look, I got some candy ones too, so we can eat them. Well, I can, I guess.” One of the smaller boxes held a row of striped hard candies, shaped into thin hooks. “I’ve never seen them in person. They look too pretty to eat, don’t they?”

Though he didn’t really understand the dwarf holiday — nor Leinath’s interest in it — his enthusiasm was impossible to resist. Orledin helped to thread the fragile glass balls onto little hooks of wire, then onto the tree. He had to admit it looked pretty, especially when the candlelight caught and danced on the reflective surfaces. Who would have figured that dwarves appreciated beauty like that? Or maybe it was just an excuse to make cookies. He could more easily believe that.

“Wait, we’re not done,” Leinath said, digging into one of the crates. He took out two flat hats, made of what looked like rabbit fur, though it had been dyed — one bright green and one red. “Do you want red or green?”

“Uh,” said Orledin, looking at the hats. They looked ridiculous, the pointed ends tipped with a white ball of fur. “Red. You look better in green than I do.”

Smiling, Leinath arranged the red hat over Orledin’s ears. “There, now we’re ready for Winter Veil.”

[Story] Character of the Week – Tas’ok

[[ This week was originally supposed to be Zamarra, my Twi’lek Jedi. But I’ve written her lots before, so I decided to do one of her future kids. He’s studying to be a Jedi as well, and takes much more after Mom than Dad, the smuggler. Of course I don’t know what will be happening 10+ years in the future so I guessed! ]]

Tas’ok glanced at the Alliance shuttles as he walked past, lined neatly up along the landing strip. They hadn’t been there when he’d left for the academy earlier in the year, so why were they here now? He switched his pack to his other arm and kept walking, not wishing to draw unwanted attention. Their house stood in the rebuilt Republic district, a short walk from the shuttle depot. While most of the rubble had long been cleared, some of the roads still bore deep cracks from the bombing that had occurred during the planet’s fierce fighting. Some parts were still dangerous; gangs, pirates, and bounty hunters prowled in the unsettled regions, squabbling over the piles of ruined buildings. But within the district’s boundaries it was safe, patrolled by Republic guards and funded with Alliance credits.

Their house looked smaller than Tas’ok remembered, but he thought that was only because he was bigger now than when he’d left, his same pack slung over his arm. He’d seen other planets and other cities, and their little district seemed so much smaller than it had when he was exploring it with his sister.

“Mom?” The door wasn’t locked, and he opened it and peered inside. “Are you here?”

For a brief moment Tas’ok thought she wasn’t, that they’d moved away and some other family lived here now instead. But she emerged from the kitchen and wrapped him up in a tight hug. “Tas’ok! You should have told me you were coming, I’d have come to get you at the station.”

Tas’ok smiled. “I wanted it to be a surprise.” But his mother must have known after all — he could smell the warm spiced dish baking in the kitchen. It was impossible to really surprise a Jedi.

Zamarra took his pack and looked him over. “You’ve grown at least a meter since I last saw you.”

“No I didn’t, don’t be silly,” Tas’ok laughed. But he had been away for a long time. He certainly felt older, more grown up, than he had when he arrived on the academy’s doorstep. “Isn’t Dad here?”

Zamarra’s smile faded slightly, but Tas’ok saw it. “Let me get you something to drink,” she said. “You must be thirsty from that walk.”

“Did he leave again?”

His mother poured two cups of hot tea. “Niralmi wanted to take her ship and–”

Tas’ok blinked. “Since when does my sister have her own ship?”

It wasn’t really a surprise; his older sister idolized their father and wanted to run the trade routes just as he had. They always played smugglers, and she always wanted to be a pirate. Their father claimed he’d never been an actual pirate, though he flew for the Republic as a privateer, but Tas’ok also knew that a lot of their father’s claims weren’t worth much. So why wouldn’t Niralmi follow in his tailwind as soon as she was able?

“I feel better knowing he’s with her. She’ll find less trouble that way,” said Zamarra, sitting back down at the table.

“Will she?” Tas’ok scoffed. “And how could he just leave you here, alone? You should have told me. I would have come back sooner.”

His mother shook her head. “I’m fine, it’s safe here. We have the Republic guards, and the Alliance are here now as well. Besides, I still have my saber.”

“I don’t trust the Alliance,” muttered Tas’ok, glancing out the window. A squad of them patrolled past their block, anonymous in their helmets and armor.

“Whyever not?”

Tas’ok frowned. “I don’t know. I just don’t. They’re looking out for the Alliance, not us. The Republic is still fragile, they could take over just like that.”

“The Commander was an officer in the Republic army. I believe she’ll always be Republic at heart. Look how much they’ve helped us rebuild.”

“Dad said you knew her?” Tas’ok asked, leaning back in his chair. “Before, I mean.”

Zamarra shook her head. “I don’t really. I’d seen her, but I didn’t know her well. Your father was stationed with her before, on Tattooine.”

“Huh. I thought he just made that up,” Tas’ok said, taking a sip of his tea.

“No, that one was true.”

“Still, what about all the Imperials that joined? Can they be trusted?”

Zamarra touched his hand gently. “If they chose to leave, I believe so. Your uncle is among them, you trust him, don’t you? There must be others. We can never begin to trust each other if we’re always looking over our shoulder.”

Malavar had frightened him when he was little, but his mother was right — despite his appearance, his heart was gentle and full of Light. He had been thrown into the Empire by fate, not by choice, and he’d left at the first opportunity. No doubt there were others — aliens especially — who felt the same. “Yeah,” Tas’ok said. “You sound like one of my instructors.”

Zamarra smiled. “I suppose that’s a compliment. I was, for a time, before you and your sister were born.”

“I know. Dad likes to tell that story.”

“How he rescued me and all of my students from the jaws of a rancor?”

“That part wasn’t true, I take it.” Tas’ok grinned.


“I still don’t like you being here alone. At least let me stay until he gets back,” said Tas’ok.

Zamarra shook her head. “You can’t abandon your studies. You must be making great progress. The instructors send me messages–”

“They do?” Tas’ok paled.

“Of course they do. I know everything. I’m your mother.”

Hopefully not everything, like the time he’d tried to write the answers to his history test inside his sleeve. It was impossible to hide anything from Jedi instructors, especially ones who were your mother.

“Then,” she went on, “If something does happen, you’ll be ready because you have trained. We have to look forward, not backward.”

“Still sound like an instructor,” said Tas’ok.

Zamarra smiled, taking the hot baked dish from the oven, the kitchen filling with its spicy aroma. “I’ll try to refrain. Now let’s get you something to eat.”


[Story] Character of the Week – The Harrier

[[ Sorias, or “The Harrier” is my rogue. While he is one of my favorite characters to RP, I really really dislike actually playing the rogue class, especially after his spec since Vanilla got turned into pirate nonsense. Doing his story a bit early because I’m baking tomorrow, and Thursday is Thanksgiving.

Also, we made a decision to break off from official lore and do our own thing. I’m all for it because I think it makes way more sense, and it’s what I wish they announced for the expansion anyway. And hey, maybe they’ll use it like they did with the Timewalkers 🙂 ]]

The Harrier made his way among the market stalls, looking at the different things for sale. Though the sky was a steely grey, and a cold rain fell, the market looked cheerful and bright. Cut pine boughs tied with ribbons hung from the signs and lamp-posts, and people carried colorfully wrapped packages. Harrier had always liked the decorations in Ironforge for Winter Veil, the feeling of warmth and excitement even in the cold dark of winter. He thought he liked it even more now that he had people to buy gifts for. Nash was still learning to cook, and he thought some pans or cooking equipment might be a good gift. Even without many of the things he needed, Nash had definitely improved since he’d first started. Nash made a lot of omelettes, and he’d perfected the cooking time and ratio of eggs to other fillings; they were tasty and fluffy every time.

He paused to look over a display of knives, glimmering on their velvet cloth. Pup already had a knife though, he’d got it for him a few years back and it was still in good repair. Harrier had taught him how to clean it and keep it sharp, and Pup was diligent in its care. Above the merchant’s head was a shelf with miniature wooden ships. Those were interesting; though tiny, every detail had been replicated with care, including the knots on the ropes. Maybe he’d like that? Harrier wasn’t sure, Pup hadn’t really ever talked about going to the ocean. He’d have to think on it more.

And Rose, that was a more difficult matter. He still had the gift he’d meant to give her all those years ago, but the chances seemed smaller and smaller as time went by. He hardly saw her now, she and Josie left once the shop closed for the day. Sometimes they stayed to eat, but usually not — they had their own vegetables and eggs from the farm. He thought seeing her sometimes was actually worse than not seeing her at all. If she had gone away entirely, it would be easier to forget. But she was there, every morning, behind the shop counter. Josie would probably like some books, she liked the adventure stories and the romance ones. The book shop wasn’t in this part of the market though, it was down around the next street. Harrier watched the cobblestones, bright and slick in the rain, as he walked.

Normally he didn’t pay the notice boards much attention. He’d found opportunities there in the past, but the shop kept him busy enough, especially as they went into the winter season. Everyone would be buying gifts, mantle clocks or standing clocks or pocket watches. He hardly had time to work on his creatures, let alone look for other work. But he still glanced over it as he passed, and a large flyer in the center caught his interest. He thought at first it was a joke, something put up to make the king look foolish or sway gullible people. But it was signed with the royal seal, as well as the marks of the dwarves of Ironforge, Tyrande, and the draenei. There had been an attempt to attack Darnassus, and Harrier thought immediately of Risarra. He didn’t think she lived there, but she would surely be affected. If nothing else, they’d make her fight if there was a conflict. But as he read on, it explained that the leaders of the Horde denounced Sylvanas’s actions, and she had been captured until her fate was decided. Now, the notice read, the various nations’ leaders gathered to work out a peace agreement with the peoples of the Horde. It didn’t sound real, but there it was. It would probably take some time, he couldn’t imagine the sentinels willing to allow the orcs into their home, treaty or no. But surely sin’dorei would be welcome in the city. They had once been allies of the human nations, and they weren’t smelly or violent like orcs. He couldn’t wait to tell Nash the news.

[Story] Character of the Week – Sorrox

[[ Sorrox is my Cathar Smuggler in SWTOR. My most recent alt, he’s cute and dashing, I really like playing him. I’m hoping he can get some story stuff going! ]]

Sorrox slid under the spaceport door as blaster bolts slammed into the metal, leaving trails of smoke behind. He punched the button to close it repeatedly, as if to urge it to move faster. How was he supposed to know the shipment of gemstones were fake? Sure, he’d bought them for a song, so he should have known. But that was no reason to try to shoot him, was it? A stray bolt careened into the port as the door hissed close, and Sorrox jumped to avoid it. He was safe — for now, but those gangsters would have the port doors opened in no time. Worse, they could try to keep him from leaving. He checked his vest pocket to ensure his credits were still there — they were — and jogged over to the Calamity.

A human crouched in the cover of the temporary stairs, his blaster aimed at Sorrox.

“What’re you doing here?” Sorrox growled, too surprised for diplomacy. Then, he thought to add: “Don’t shoot me.”

Sorrox had seen enough humans to know this one wasn’t very old. And he looked scared, maybe because he’d just been caught in someone else’s port. “I need out of here,” the human said, peering over the stairs toward the sealed door. Already, some smoking black scorches had appeared in it. “I’ll explain later.”

He didn’t have a habit of picking up hitchhikers, especially ones that had pointed weapons at him, but Sorrox could relate to his dilemma. “Yeah, all right,” Sorrox said, unlocking the boarding doors. The human scrambled to his feet and boarded, Sorrox following behind him. He’d expected a few missiles as they broke Nar Shaddaa’s orbit, but fortunately the planet didn’t have much in the way of anti-aircraft towers. Too many casinos and high-rise buildings for that.

Sorrox sat back in his captain’s chair with a sigh, switching the controls over to cruising speed. He looked over at the human, who sat with his back toward him, looking out onto the great expanse of the stars.

“So?” said Sorrox. “You said you’d explain. Explain.”

The human’s eyes roamed over the inside of the cockpit. “This your ship?”

Sorrox nodded. The light cargo ship Calamity had never been intended for long travel or combat, but he’d outfitted her with a new engine and some defensive plating. It had worked so far, but he planned to get some guns mounted next — when he could afford them, that is. He’d won her a few years back in a game of pazaak. Maybe he’d cheated a little, but the guy he was playing against was too drunk to notice. Besides, he probably had dozens of ships just like her, and he could afford to lose one. She wasn’t much, but Sorrox was proud of her.

“I’m Captain Sorrox.” That was another perk of having your own ship, you got to put ‘Captain’ in front of your name. Sorrox thought it sounded dashing.

“Nash,” said the human, looking out the window again.

“Nash what?”

“Just Nash.”

Sorrox shrugged, bringing up the navigation map. “Okay, Just Nash. Why were you in such a hurry to get off Nar Shaddaa?”

“Pissed off a hutt. I don’t really want to talk about it.”

The cathar eyed Nash skeptically. A hutt, really? He didn’t look like the kind of guy who was important enough to get a hutt’s attention, let alone send people after him. Maybe he was lying. Maybe he wasn’t, Sorrox couldn’t tell. Humans didn’t have whiskers or ears to give away when they weren’t being completely truthful. They were so weird and pale and hairless. “What hutt?”

Nash frowned. “Vinto.”

Okay, so maybe he’d just picked the name of one hutt. He got lucky. Sorrox shook his head, and didn’t press the subject any further. It was just fine with him if Just Nash wanted to keep secrets. Didn’t he have plenty of his own? “So where should I drop you off?”

“Anywhere,” Nash muttered. “Not here.”

Sorrox looked at the map. Anywhere wasn’t exactly a destination he could put in. Truthfully, he wasn’t sure just where he was headed himself. He had a cargo hold full of stuff, but no buyers yet. Somewhere he could turn that junk into credits was ideal. He looked at the human again.

“You need a job?” Sorrox asked.

The human shrugged, looking at him warily. “Maybe. Why?”

“What can you do?”

“Slicing. Some forging. I’m good with a blaster.”

He’d been running alone for the last few years, he’d been burned by past partners before, and wasn’t eager to be stabbed in the back again. Nor did he know anything about this human, with one name and few words. Could he trust him? Sorrox didn’t know. But he was already here, and if Nash really was good at slicing and forging, he could prove useful indeed. “Want to work together? I have some stuff I need to offload. Nothing too illegal, don’t worry.”

The human’s eyes narrowed thoughtfully. “Why not.” He extended a hand, and Sorrox took it.

[Story] Character of the Week – Lireos

[[ Lireos is my oldest Alliance character! Originally a human, he was race-changed to a Draenei and became Vajarra and Vassanta’s uncle. (But if we ever get Nelf paladins, he might get changed again!) Since current Draenei lore is um… bad… this story is set in the past, when Lireos was stationed at Shadowmoon Valley. ]]

Scout to the southwest. Sin’dorei camp was reported there yesterday.

Lireos tightened the straps of the leather saddle over the gryphon’s feathers. They were tricky to get tight enough, because sometimes they held in their breath while being saddled, then you’d tumble right off once you got into the air. It had happened to Lireos more than once, and now he took extra care to ensure that the straps were tight. He would have preferred nether rays for the post anyway; they required much less care, and were more suited to the harsh, fel-scorched landscape. They were also quicker and more agile in the air, which was important when you faced threats from above as well as below. But gryphons were what the Alliance had provided, so gryphons were what they used. They could hardly afford to be picky with their supplies; these were scarce enough even before the Alliance had recalled most of its soldiers. Those left behind were those like Lireos — draenei who simply wouldn’t give up on their homeland, no matter how bleak the odds seemed. So long as X’era had hope, so too would they.

Lireos swung up into the gryphon’s saddle and took up the reins, and the animal stretched its wings and lurched into the air. Finding the rumored sin’dorei camp was not really the point of his patrol, merely a side stop. Primarily they were tracking the movement and attacks of the demons — how many, what kind, and where. Their meticulous records had given some insight into their strategies and motives, but not completely. Some things could never be prepared for — infernal attacks, for instance. These were devastating both in their element of surprise and the sheer amount of damage that could be done in a short period of time. For the most part, the sin’dorei kept to themselves, far to the south, but it was impossible to forget the wrongs they had committed against his people. He’d heard plenty of stories about Bloodmyst Isle and what had happened there. And it was rumored that they enslaved the demons for their own ends, which would explain their continued presence here. Lireos didn’t know what he expected to find at the camp, but he was prepared to do whatever was needed.

The gryphon glided over the parched landscape, the scorched trees and searing green lava. Lireos saw nothing at first; some fel-tainted boars foraging for food, their cracked green hides blending into the surrounding rock. But as they crested a sharp hill, he saw a clump of demons swarmed around — something, he could not be sure what. Lireos urged the gryphon lower, and it swept past the commotion. Lireos could hear a cry that sounded decidedly non-demonic. Yanking the reins hard, he brought the gryphon back for another look, when a bolt of green felfire struck the animal’s wing. Screeching, the gryphon immediately began to plummet toward the ground, fluttering helplessly to try to recover. They fell to the earth in a cloud of feathers, Lireos kicking his hooves out of the saddle as the gryphon, dazed, struggled to its feet. The demons that had cast the fire now looked to him, their razor-sharp claws gleaming in the odd green light.

Lireos set his jaw, determined. He had faced many demons before, and no doubt would again. His shield was well-made, curved to deflect both claws and felfire, its surface marked with the scars of countless battles. His blade gleamed with the spirit of the naaru as he cleaved into the foul creatures, and he could hear the satisfying sizzle of their tainted blood as it touched the Light. One by one they abandoned their prey to attack him, and he brought each of them down. They were only small demons, not especially dangerous to one who was armed such as himself, but he still never took any victory for granted. He wiped his brow and approached the intended victim, sprawled across the cracked ground.

Lireos blinked. It was a sin’dorei. Its fine red robes were torn by the demons’ claws, but the groan of pain informed Lireos that it was still alive. Briefly, he glanced at his sword. No one would know the difference. The sin’dorei was killed by demons, such a shame. But X’era would know. And more importantly, Lireos would know. Grudgingly, Lireos sheathed his sword and moved to help the elf to its feet. Their eyelids fluttered and then opened wide in surprise, glowing a vivid fel green. The elf gasped and pulled away from him.

He searched his mind for the right words. The Alliance soldiers spoke to them in Common, and while he wasn’t especially good at it, he remembered that the elves spoke it as well. “Come with,” Lireos said. “You are hurt.”

The elf — Lireos could see now that it was a male — stood unsteadily some distance away from him. He could see the jagged clawmarks against his pale skin, already red and inflamed. The elf looked around, then to Lireos again. “You’ll kill me.”

“No,” Lireos said. “Where your –” he fumbled for the word. “Flying?”

The elf picked at his shredded sleeve, doused in blood. “My dragonhawk? She’s over there.” He motioned to a crevice, where Lireos could see the bright feathers covering a crumpled, motionless form. His own gryphon must have run off, or perhaps was able to fly back on its own. Lireos hoped for the latter; it would not survive long on the ground. Then again, neither would they.

“Come with,” Lireos urged again. “I help you.” He extended a hand cautiously toward the elf, illuminated in a warm, soft light. He touched the elf’s arm, and the wounds sealed up. They still would need cleansing, but the bleeding was stopped for now.

“Oh,” the elf said, blinking. “Thank you. I guess…” He stepped closer, unsteady on his feet. “Where are we going?”

Lireos frowned. He couldn’t very well bring the elf to the camp, the archers would surely pick him off from a distance. And Lireos certainly couldn’t just walk into the Scryer’s towers. Even if he could, they had no means of getting there quickly. It was several hours’ trip on foot, and the elf didn’t look in any condition to travel. He tapped his chin thoughtfully. “I have idea.”

In the side of the steep hillside he had just passed, there was some sort of structure that had once been used by the orcs. It was abandoned now, more or less — some imps and other small demons still hunted among its chambers. It would suffice for cover, keep them out of sight of the bigger demons until Lireos could come up with a better plan. Wincing, the elf sat down against the smooth wall.

“Let me see,” Lireos said, motioning to the elf’s arm.

“You’re a healer, huh?” said the elf, watching as Lireos inspected his injuries. “Guess I got lucky, then.”

Lireos tilted his head quizzically. “Not healer.” He motioned to his shield, trying to find the word. “Shield.”

The elf smiled weakly. “Well, close enough. Thank you… for, you know, saving me. And not killing me.”

Cleansing fel taint was beyond Lireos’s ability, but he could seal the wounds and make the elf a little more comfortable in the meantime. He’d experienced the searing pain of demons’ claws before, he knew just how miserable the elf would soon be. “Why you here?” Lireos asked.

“I’m a scholar. I was… trying to study the plants. I know, it sounds silly.”

Lireos furrowed his brow, unsure if he understood right. Why would someone come here — willingly — to look at plants? They were fighting for their lives every day. It was more than silly, it was downright foolish. “Hmm,” he said. “Tomorrow I take you to Scryers? Can only take partway. Is too dangerous for me.”

The elf rubbed his arm, over the newly sealed scars. “Yeah. That’d be fine. I mean it, you saved my life. I won’t forget this.”

Was this elf one who had murdered his kin on Bloodmyst Isle? It was difficult to believe so. Still, it was possible. And did perhaps he regret what he had done? Did it take meeting one face to face to truly  understand each other? Lireos wanted to ask more, whether he agreed with the actions of his fellow elves, but he had already drifted off to sleep, his light snoring filling the stone chamber.

Lireos said a brief prayer for the sin’dorei, then settled down to sleep as well.

[Story] Character of the Week – Miola Mosswicket

[[ Miola is my Hobbit hunter in LoTRO. She’s super fun to play and I love her, I think if I’d made her first I wouldn’t have made any other characters. ]]

Miola rose early, before the first streaks of dawn began to paint the sky. The rest of the village slumbered in their burrows as she led Marigold, her pony, from her stable. The golden-colored pony snuffled sleepily at her oats as Miola put on her saddle and bridle, along with her traps and snares and arrows. It was the first year that Miola had been tasked with hunting the beast for Harvestmath, and she took her duty very seriously. The Harvestmath feast was the biggest and most grand of the entire year, celebrating the fruitful summer harvest and preparing for the long, cold winter ahead. Such a meal had to be truly special, and the centerpiece had to be something extraordinary. On most mornings, Miola checked her snares for rabbits, or shot quails with her bow. Those were perfectly fine — rabbit stew with pepper and fresh vegetables was lovely, especially on a cold morning such as this — but Miola wanted to impress everyone. Some had said she shouldn’t be allowed, she was too young and a woman on top of that, but the planners had given her the task, and she intended to fulfill it.

The pony’s breath chuffed out in clouds of steam as they rode out across the meadows, the grass still tipped with frost. They would have to venture further out toward the woods for larger game, they avoided the village for the most part. Sometimes they would see boars rooting around for acorns by the big oak trees, or once in a while a bear would peek out from the edge of the wood. Miola’s imagination wandered, lulled by the pony’s steady rhythm as she walked; a boar roasted with tart green apples, with fragrant leaves stuffed inside. Or perhaps a pheasant, with a bog-berry sauce, wild grains and herbs a perfect complement to the rich meat. She imagined the gasps and murmurs of excitement as the main course was revealed, the eager clink of silver on porcelain plates as people lined up to eat. Her father had taught her to hunt from the time she was very young; she tied her snares and made her traps herself. Some were even of her own design, and she was especially proud of these. She knew all the rabbit runs around the village, and the places where the quails liked to forage for food. You could prepare for success with a hunt, but never truly guarantee it. The unexpected could always happen, and you must be ready to adapt. It was one reason that hunting never got boring; it was different every time. Miola didn’t know what sort of animal she might find today, or even if she might be able to bring it down. But she knew she could not disappoint everyone by returning empty-handed.

Marigold paused and tensed beneath her, and Miola slid down from her saddle, tethering the pony to a small stand of trees. The pony’s fuzzy ears remained alert, turning this way and that to catch sounds. There had to be something near. Miola unhooked her bow and tested the sinew to see that it was taut, stuffing a handful of arrows into her quiver. And, as added insurance, she laced her knife to her hip. Though the morning light had peeked over the mountains, frost still outlined the grass and leaves, and Miola could see where it had been disturbed by the passage of some animal. The ground cover was too dense for tracks, but its body heat had left a trail of melted frost that led into a dense clump of trees. A shrill cry broke the morning silence, reverberating in the foggy air. Miola’s mind raced as she tried to identify it. It sounded a bit like a deer, but not exactly. Her heart thumped quickly as she crept closer, crouching in the cover of the bushes to assess what she was facing. She very nearly let out a gasp of surprise when she saw a massive creature tearing at a carcass, the blood still steaming with heat. It wasn’t a wolf, though that was the closest thing that Miola could compare it to. Its muzzle was shorter and stockier, its teeth longer and more jagged. The ears were tiny, pressed against its broad head, and its shoulders rose in a steep mountain over its back. Its fur was patchy and bare in places, looking as if it might be ill, and it had a faint pattern of black stripes criss-crossing its back. The poor creature beneath its paws was a fawn, and now Miola saw the rest of its family — a twin, and the doe lay lifeless nearby. Miola’s shock became anger at the waste of it all, even at that size, it could not possibly eat three whole deer. It killed wantonly, out of pleasure and not out of need, and there was no worse crime so far as a hunter was concerned. Miola did not enjoy the killing part of the hunt, to the contrary, she always felt a pang of regret as she loosed an arrow. But she knew it would not be wasted, and the people who ate the meat would be thankful for it. This thing felt no such respect for the carcass that it tore beneath its bloodied claws.

Swiftly, Miola drew an arrow from her quiver and pulled it taut with the string. Unfamiliar with this animal, no doubt it would be vulnerable in the same places all others were — the heart and the head. She was unsure where its heart might be, so she took aim for one of the tiny eyes. Its skull looked thick and heavy, but she had the advantage of surprise, so she could take the time to aim carefully. The arrow whistled through the air and the creature jerked its head up in surprise, the arrow lodging into its neck. Miola frowned and nocked another, aiming again for the eye. A neck wound was a good hit as well, but she wished to fell the creature quickly. Its neck looked strong and muscled, and might not be fatal. It uttered another of those eerie cries as it began to turn and run further into the forest, but this time Miola’s arrow found its mark. It took one more step, and then its legs crumpled beneath it as the arrow went through its eye and to the brain. She waited to ensure that it was truly felled before she approached, her knife in hand. It looked like the creatures her father had shown her once in a book, vile servants of evil. Normally they moved in packs, so there might be another nearby. Miola did not wait around to find out. The first fawn was completely destroyed, its poor tiny body torn to shreds by the beast’s ragged claws. But the other two, while dead, did not look to be touched. Was it safe to eat them? Miola was not sure. They showed no signs of being tainted, they looked as they must have just before the beast struck them down. At least if she brought them back, their deaths would not completely be a waste. Miola laced the legs together and tied them behind Marigold’s saddle to secure them for the ride back to the village.

No one would believe such a tale, would they? Miola glanced back at the ugly thing, stretched out on the ground. Its fur was sparse, but the skin was thick. Perhaps its leather would be useful — she could use a new hunting cloak, especially now that the weather was growing colder. She unsheathed her knife and soon had tied the beast’s pelt alongside the deer for the trip back to the village. Miola the Wargslayer, she thought that had a nice sound to it. She let her mind wander to venison recipes as she turned Marigold back toward their village.

[Story] Character of the Week – Vassanta

[[ Half of my Draenei twins, Vassanta was born at the beginning of Burning Crusade! She has had a lot of adventures over the years but has been living quietly in Outland with Jaeyn lately. She’s one of my favorites to RP and I’m proud of how she’s grown! ]]

“You’ll be careful, right?” Jaeyn asked as they approached the portal.

Vassanta patted her sword, sheathed at her side. “I’ve got my sword. And Sketch.” The spotted grey hyena sitting beside her perked up his ears and grinned at the sound of his name. “You could still come along, you know.”

Jaeyn made a face. “Yuck, too many sentinels. Besides, someone has to work on the course.” Sometimes Jaeyn did want to come along on Vass’s visits, usually to see his older brother or sister, but she suspected he went more out of obligation than anything else. Kelanori was always trying to get one of them to hold their baby too, though he was too big for anyone to hold by now.

Vassanta waved and disappeared through the portal, shimmering with the deep green trees of Feralas. They’d found a mage here in Shattrath who had a brother who lived there, so passage there and back was relatively simple. The air smelled damp and green, a morning fog still clung to the rough road that Vassanta stepped onto. She glanced around for any sign of danger, but didn’t see or hear anything. It was early yet, and no one had reported orcs or demons on this road for quite some time. There were still ogres, but they were slow and dumb, and easy to avoid. Sometimes she half wished that she’d come across a blood elf traveling, but she wasn’t sure anymore if she’d actually be able to kill them just like that. In a lot of ways, she wasn’t the same draenei that she was before.

Feathermoon was quiet and sleepy, the last of the sentinels tucking into their beds to sleep, aside from the ones who stood patrol. Vassanta preferred having fewer odd stares as she made her way to the shop where her sister lived. She was awake, of course, working on some jewelry behind the counter. The shop smelled strongly of different herbs, fruits, and flowers, all neatly poured into various soaps, powders, and perfumes. Her mate made those, Jaeyn’s brother, though Vassanta rarely saw him.

“Vass!” Vajarra put down her project and hurried over to hug her sister. “Sit, I’ll make some tea.”

The only chair around was a tiny little stool, but Vassanta sat on it. It wasn’t comfortable at all. She watched Vajarra put a kettle of water on and put some tea bags filled with flowers into two cups. It was remarkable how little she’d changed, even here in this place full of elves, she seemed exactly the same as she had back in Shattrath. She also knew that she would find something to pester her about, and she did.

“So… what are you up to?” Vajarra asked, handing one of the mugs to Vassanta.

Vassanta shrugged. “We’re building a new game. For the island.”

Her sister arched a delicate brow. “A game?”

“You know, for visitors.”

“Have you… had any visitors?” asked Vajarra.

“Not just yet. It’s not really finished.” Vass took a sip of her tea. It tasted like flowers, which was something she wasn’t sure if she liked drinking. “But it’s going to be great. You have to get a little ball into a hole, and there’s all kinds of things in the way–”

Vajarra didn’t look impressed. “I see,” she said.

“It’s more interesting than soap,” Vass muttered.

Her sister frowned faintly. “I just worry about you out there all alone with no one around. What if something happens?”

“Jaeyn is there,” Vassanta pointed out.

“Yes, but…” Vajarra gestured toward the door. “Other people, a town.”

“Like elves? You know they don’t care about us. We’re weird freaks to them.”

“Jaeyn is an elf,” said Vajarra. “They just need time. I don’t feel unwelcome here.”

Vass shook her head. “You’re — I don’t know, boring. They like that. They don’t get scared of boring people.”

Vajarra frowned further. “Thanks.”

“You know what I mean. Safe. Even other elves think Jaeyn is different.” Which he was, of course. Vass had seen firsthand the way they treated him, and she never pushed him to go into town if he didn’t want to. The truth is, they were perfectly content on their island in the middle of nowhere, even if other people — like Vajarra — thought it was odd.

Her sister sighed. “You could at least visit more often.”

“You could visit the island too,” Vass pointed out.

“Oh — umm, well, I’ll ask Terivanis if he wants to go.” Vass didn’t think either of them would ever show up, but it would be fun to demonstrate all the things they had built over the years. They still had a lot of work to do, but it was impressive how much they’d done so far. “More tea?” Vajarra asked, already holding the kettle.

“Sure,” Vass said.