[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.

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[Story] Fairsong Academy – Sorelle’s Diary

Shattrath has been really interesting so far. I’ve been before, but this was the first time that I got to go and see the dragons. In Dalaran, we’d see blue dragons flying overhead sometimes, but they were always very far away. Still, I remember sitting and watching them in the sky and thinking how beautiful they were. The ones here are beautiful too, in their own way. Their heads are pointed like a shark, and they have crystal spines on them. Hethurin said that they’re dangerous and not to get too close. That’s probably true of all dragons, but these ones especially look ferocious. The place where they live is dark and barren, the ground is just hard rock and there are no plants or trees anywhere. Green stuff comes up through the ground and I guess it must be lava, because I don’t think the people from Undercity brought it here. Crystals grow in large clumps all over and they are beautiful, these humanoid things with big claws scrape at them and eat the little pieces that flake off. Hethurin put us into pairs and we had to fill out a sheet with our observations. My partner was someone I’ve never even really seen before, his name was Amor-something. I just remember Amor because that’s what he wrote on his paper.

He probably wasn’t too excited about getting me for his partner, but he said he’s been here about six months and still doesn’t know anyone. After class he just goes straight to his room and doesn’t go to the parties or anything. I felt bad for him, I’m sure others would talk to him if he tried. He seems nice, he’s not undead or a human or anything that would make others dislike him, he just gets nervous. So maybe I could be his friend, kind of for practice, though that might make others think he’s weird too. I don’t know. We worked hard on our sheet, I tried to think of anything else we could add on for extra credit. He’s studying frost mainly, but he thought it would count toward our Arcane grade. Maybe it does, if so I hope we got good points on it. We even got a little piece of the crystal that one of the things chipped off while it was eating. I thought for a minute that Amor was going to eat it! That probably would have been really bad, aside from eating rocks, it was very sharp and who knows what kind of magic is in them. The dragons are almost transparent in places, as if they are fading out of existence. That might happen if he ate it! Anyway, I hope he didn’t mind being my work partner too much, and I told him he should go to the parties even if there are a lot of people. At least to eat the food, I would if I could. Normally he said he waits until everyone’s already left.

I told him about the greenhouse too, and he seemed kind of interested, though he didn’t want to be there when someone else was. Usually it’s just Xarola and Vyn, once in a while Tik goes in to get cooking herbs and things. I found a library in Shattrath about different plants here, and I’m going to try to get some seeds to take back to the school so I can try to grow them. I’m not sure if it will work, but hopefully at least some will sprout. I still don’t really know what’s going on with Salenicus, but at least I have something to keep me occupied at night.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – The Extra Patrol

“Let’s go,” said Sorrowmoss again. “We don’t have time for your breaks tonight.”

Salenicus frowned, looking through the wrought iron gates into the school grounds. They were mostly dark, but a few lamps were lit along the pathways. “But–” he protested.

Sorrowmoss gave him a sharp look, as if daring him to continue complaining. Thankfully, he didn’t. She was the senior ranger of this patrol, and the decision was hers. She’d always felt the “breaks” were a pointless waste of their time. Undead didn’t need to rest, that was about the only good thing about being one. Let Salenicus visit his little mage student on his own time, there would be plenty of that during the daytime. They’d always had a lax attitude about their patrol, in her opinion. Both he and Orledin spent far too much time chatting and too little time watching and listening. How could you hear anything when your lips were flapping?

But it had got a hundred times worse since they’d gone to the masked ball. Sorrowmoss hadn’t attended, though she did stand patrol outside the gates as the Captain requested. He didn’t really expect any trouble, but it was always better to be certain, especially in the Ghostlands. Besides, it was a nice gesture to show the Headmaster that the rangers were willing and prepared to defend the school if needed. Orledin and Salenicus had both gone, and now chattered like gossiping schoolgirls about how it had gone. Sorrowmoss knew more about both of their personal lives than she’d ever imagined wanting to know. Orledin had danced with — and kissed — one of the other rangers, the one who was a criminal. The Captain hadn’t told her, but Sorrowmoss had figured it out on her own. He was the only one who knew the routes as well as she did, and was almost as skilled with a bow. If he wasn’t a ranger, he had to be a highway bandit, which he was. She’d asked him about it once, and he paled as if he’d seen a ghost. She didn’t want to expose him, she’d just wanted to know if her guess was correct, which it was. Sorrowmoss didn’t really have an opinion about him either way, other than that he had odd taste in men. Maybe he’d been really, really drunk. It was the only reasonable explanation she could come up with.

Salenicus, normally reliable and more importantly, quiet, spent more time talking to Orledin than he did paying attention to his patrol. He grumbled about missing their visits to the school, but that wasn’t her decision. The Captain had requested extra coverage around the Dawnshadow estate, down near the river. It was not a short walk, and put them some distance out of the way from the school. Sorrowmoss had known the Dawnshadows well, they helped supply the rangers with weapons and equipment back before the scourge invaded. They also often hosted parties in their lush gardens, the wife was especially fond of fountains and had them in every corner. They were long dead now, and new owners were planning to move in and fix up the crumbling buildings. Nothing could really be built until the springtime, but they’d requested that the grounds be kept free of spiders, scourge, and anything else that might be there. It would have been simpler to put a fence up, Salenicus had pointed out, and while he wasn’t wrong, it wasn’t her call to make. She would see that the job was done, though it was ironic that most of the people they protected would be disgusted by their presence. Sorrowmoss supposed that’s partly why they had to do it by night.

There weren’t any spiders on the grounds tonight at least, and Salenicus lingered behind, no doubt to talk to Orledin and complain about how unfair she was being. If they saw nothing after a few weeks, she might speak to the Captain about that fence after all. He would just have to be patient in the meantime.

 

[Story] Fairsong Academy – Sorelle’s Diary

Dear Diary,

Xarola and I went to visit the rangers. She had Terellion bake some cupcakes, I don’t really think they needed them because Orledin always makes them cookies, but she insisted. I guess it’s different enough that they won’t be too bored to eat them. Now that I think of it, though, I think it was just so she had an excuse to go talk to the alive rangers. We brought the soaps and perfumes too. I was worried that Salenicus might think it’s because he smells bad, I mean why else would you give someone soap for a gift? And he did say that. But I told him that it was because Xarola makes perfumes with Vynlorin, and she wanted to give me something in exchange for making the dresses. She said it wouldn’t be fair to take them for free. I like my perfume, I told her to try to make it kind of strong because I can’t smell things very well. It’s still kind of faint, like they were stored away in an attic for a long time or something, but it’s still nice. It’s like just a little hint of them as you walk past. Of course, other people can probably smell it a lot more, so I’m careful to just use a tiny bit. I don’t want anyone to complain or get a headache because of my perfume. And I won’t wear it in class, only for dances and things like that. The one they made for Salenicus smells a bit like trees, and a bit like leather. I don’t know how you can make a perfume smell like leather, but they did. I hope he likes it. There are some soaps too, and she cut them in the shape of leaves, I thought that was cute.

The ranger building is nice. I guess I expected it to be dirty or just a bunch of tents, but it’s not. The building is new, and they take good care of it. There’s a stable for animals and some smaller cabins along one side,  that’s where some of the rangers live. Most of them still come inside to eat in the main building though, and that’s also where they visit and talk. There were some around when we arrived, because it was close to dinner time. Orledin and the alive ranger were working in the kitchen making the bread. I am not even sure that he noticed I was there at all, but then he told me I should look outside for Salenicus. That’s all though. Xarola stayed inside and gave the alive rangers the cupcakes.

I didn’t see Hernester. I’m not sure if he was hiding or maybe they let him leave. I hope he’s doing okay though. I had to walk out a little ways into the trees, to some troll ruins. It’s easy to forget with all the new buildings, but there used to be trolls living here in the forest. I’m glad they aren’t here anymore, but the ruins are still here. I’m not sure why Salenicus likes to go there, he said it was because he could be alone, but there are other places to be alone. He was working on carving and I was afraid to say anything because I didn’t want to startle him, after all he wasn’t expecting me to be there. It was supposed to be a rabbit, but he said the ear was messed up. I don’t know, it looked okay to me. I said it could still be a bear or something like that. He’s getting better at carving, I think.

He wanted to know about my classes, and I said they start next week. Also he asked if we should meet inside since it’ll get colder soon. I don’t really mind the cold until it starts to freeze, but I said we could use the greenhouse if he wanted to see the plants. It’s warmer in there, and it’s not busy at night. During the daytime, a lot of people want to use it. I’m always worried they won’t want me in there with them, like the heat causes me to smell more or something. Or they’ll bump into me and think it’s gross. So I just try to work on my plants at night. Salenicus said the rangers are more accepting. I’m not sure, but he might be right. I don’t think I could be a ranger though, could you imagine? Running around in the woods with a bow. Maybe it’s because they can’t see each other as well in the dark, so it doesn’t matter so much what you look like.

I mentioned the dances, and he said he wanted to go. And he wants to dance. I hadn’t even really planned to go — it’s not very much fun if you can’t eat anything and no one talks to you. So I don’t have any ideas for a mask at all, and now I have to think of one. Or two. He asked if we should match. I don’t know, should we? Are we even a thing? Would that be too much? I should ask Xarola. A lot of people do birds or animals, but it could also just be a color with lots of feathers and decorations. As long as it looks nice. It’s been ages since I went to a mask party. I don’t know if I even remember how to dance. I should practice, but I don’t know who would agree to help me with that. I guess one good thing about being dead is that my hands won’t get too sweaty.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Mossflower

[[ Another “flower” story, it wasn’t planned that way but I got the idea so I ran with it! ]]

At first, Sorrowmoss protested against Selenicus’s visits to the mage school. It was reckless and foolish, not to mention going directly against their patrol orders. If he wished to waste his time with that human girl, Salenicus could do so on his own, without dragging she and Orledin into it. Of course Orledin was the one who encouraged it in the first place. Worse than that, it was boring simply standing around waiting while Salenicus discussed hair ribbons or whatever it is that young human girls care about. Though she too was undead, Sorrowmoss thought there could be little in common with any of them, any more than being alive made humans and elves alike. But as the spring bloomed into the summer, Sorrowmoss found herself enchanted by the school’s gardens. She dared not go through the heavy gates, of course, but she stood outside them and marvelled at the beautiful blooms. In this dismal forest, the gardens seemed like a colorful oasis, a glimpse into a happier time in the past. She could not smell them, not from so far away, but when the breeze was just right she almost thought that she could. The delicate, romantic smell of roses and the hot, summery-sweet jasmine of warm summer nights. They stirred memories she had not thought about in decades, because they hurt too much. But here, with the others distracted, sometimes she would permit them to rise and dwell there in her mind.

Niarah would have loved the gardens, taken her hand and dragged her to every single one of the bushes and insist she smell them. She would have plucked a stem or two — careful not to harm the plant, of course, and tucked a spring behind Sorrowmoss’s ear. Except she was Selenne then. She always felt like a drab little sparrow, with her plain brown hair and ordinary looking features — the leather armor didn’t help matters, either. Niarah was like a majestic phoenix, a bonfire burning bright in the night, a swirl of autumn leaves with their vivid colors. She had the brightest hair the color of fire, in loose curls that she was always tucking behind her ears. The mage from the school who sometimes came to the ranger building, his was the closest that Sorrowmoss had seen since then. The color wasn’t quite right, and his curls were smaller, but it was close enough to remind her every time that he came to recharge the wards. But beyond that, there was a sense of life about her, she seemed to stir it in everyone she came across. Beyond being hopelessly beautiful, she was an exceptional ranger. She was made captain only a few short years after joining the unit, chosen by the retiring former captain. It seemed unfair, Sorrowmoss remembered thinking, that she should have everything. But it was difficult to dislike Niarah, and certainly more so when they started to spend more time together.

Sorrowmoss never understood why someone like Niarah wanted to spend time with her, but she did. They patrolled together often, at first they talked often, talking about their families and their pasts and their dreams, but eventually they didn’t need to. They worked in tandem, like a pair of hunting cats, the one knowing the other’s intentions without words. Some evenings they would go down and swim in the river, bringing a basket of food to eat afterward. Niarah loved flowers, she almost always had a little vase of them in her room, or woven into her hair. She knew all of their names and what they could be used for. She also said they had meanings, if you gave someone a certain flower. Niarah would often stop on patrol and pick one, tucking it into her pouch. Back at home she would put it between the pages of a book to flatten and dry it. If you tried to read any book at her house, you would find dozens of those little dried flowers waiting in the pages. Sorrowmoss thought she rarely read them and probably kept them only for that purpose.

Niarah called her “Mossflower”, those impossibly tiny white blooms that grow among the green velvet moss. They weren’t flashy or showy, in fact they were easily overlooked, Niarah said. But those who took the time to look would be rewarded with their beauty and sweet scent. Would she still think that now? If she was thankful for anything, it was that Niarah never had to see what she had become.

[Story] Fairsong Academy – Sorelle’s Diary

I’m making some dresses for Xarola. I like making them for myself, but it’s exciting to make them for someone else sometimes, too. I get to use fabric and styles that I might not use for myself. I really hope someone will buy some really fancy fabric so I can use that, but it hasn’t happened yet. I guess because most students don’t have a lot of money to buy things like fabric. I keep thinking about doing it for a business, and I don’t think it’s a bad idea, except that I can’t get any of the things myself. It’s not the same being able to see and touch the fabric yourself when you pick it out. Also I don’t know if Tik knows all of the different kinds — he might, because he does seem to know a lot about house things, but he might not too. Usually I don’t ask for any money from people at the school, because it feels weird to, but Xarola insisted so I told her I’d like some of that perfume that she and Vynlorin make. I still have some sense of smell and I think it would be nice, even if no one else notices it. I guess I kind of hope that Salenicus does, but I’m not sure if he will. Sometimes it’s a long time between when he stops by, and Xarola said that’s because the rangers are really busy. But I don’t think they are, I mean, Salenicus always tells me what happens on his patrol and usually it’s the same thing — which is to say, not very much most nights. Then she said maybe Orledin and Sorrowmoss are impatient and don’t want to wait for him. That might be true, but it also doesn’t seem like they’re in a big hurry to get back. If they’re being impatient, that’s not very nice of them.

I wanted to know about how Xarola and Vynlorin started seeing each other, like if something happened suddenly or if it was just gradual. She said they just talked first and went on walks to pick flowers, which isn’t very interesting. I guess I thought it was more like the books more often, but she made it sound kind of boring. He is handsome though, and they like a lot of the same things. They don’t live together yet either. I thought it might be nice to have my own little house, just so I can keep the lights on at night and not disturb anyone else who is sleeping. I always worry that I’m going to wake someone walking around or while I’m sewing. Part of it is just wanting my own space too, not that my room isn’t nice, it’s lovely. Xarola said I could ask the headmaster, but I don’t think I will. It wouldn’t seem fair to have my own if nobody else does. She also said her mother might move out here. That will be a lot of older people in one place! I said they should have little gatherings for them to meet and talk and drink tea or whatever. We could teach a class about flowers in the greenhouse, though I expect Xarola’s mother already knows a ton about flowers and plants, since she sells them for her job. But I think it would be good for them to be able to meet like that. If my parents were alive, I bet they would like it.

I don’t remember why, but I mentioned that Orledin was interested in one of the alive rangers and likes to bake with him. Xarola suddenly got very interested in that and wanted to know all about it, if they’re together and things like that. I said I didn’t know, because I don’t — everything I know is just things that Salenicus has told me. Xarola said she wanted to go and watch them bake together which feels a little weird to me, like they’re some kind of performers or something. I wouldn’t want someone just watching me sew, well I guess I wouldn’t mind but it still seems strange to me. But I don’t think there’s any talking her out of it, she was already making plans to bring the rangers some soap and perfume. I do think they would like that. And maybe I could give some to Salencius, but I don’t want him to think that it’s because he smells bad. It would be nice to see the ranger building, too. Maybe I could even see how Hernester is doing.

[Story] Fairsong Academy – Sorelle’s Diary

Dear Diary,

I waited outside in the garden for the rangers to come. Normally, students aren’t allowed out of their room that late, but the Headmaster makes an exception for me because I don’t need to sleep and thankfully he understands that it’s too boring to stay in bed for all that time. I like to think that it means he trusts me, too. It’s not that I’m doing anything bad, I’m either studying, or sewing, or in the greenhouse usually. I might practice spells, but nothing with fire. Even though the practice rooms are warded, I think it’s too dangerous without a teacher present. Lately I’ve been trying to work on my frost magic, it doesn’t come easily to me at all so it’s less embarrassing to practice when no one else is around.

Salenicus said the other two rangers wait out on the road while he’s here. I think they probably peek in and watch, I don’t really like that but I can’t blame them I guess. Just standing around would be boring. Salenicus says that Sorrowmoss doesn’t like talking, or taking breaks for that matter, so it’s probably just Orledin who is peeking. Anyway, I told him about the frost magic and he was asking about it. He could probably tell from my answers that I don’t even understand frost theory very well. He said they saw big spiders and bats on their patrol, and Orledin got scared of the bats and ran away. I said he should see the big ones they have in Undercity, you can ride on them. Not that I would, I am pretty sure they have diseases, though I suppose it doesn’t matter now. They’re still creepy, but I wouldn’t run away from them I don’t think. Maybe I would, if it was flying right at me.

He gave me a little bunny that he carved out of wood. It’s very nice, I’m going to paint it later. I said it would be cute to have a whole herd of them all painted different colors, but then I realized that wasn’t very nice to say because it sounded like I didn’t appreciate it enough or something. But if he’s like me, he probably needs something to do when he’s not on patrol anyway. I’m also going to get some little beads for the eyes, I think that would make it look realistic. He told me about his family that he lost back in the attacks. He had two sons, I didn’t know he was that old. I think it’s hard to tell with elves. I’m not sure how I should feel about that, it’s a big thing to get over. But then, I think everyone here must have lost something, some (like us) just lost more than the others. I told him I think it would be easier if we were still alive, we’d still have lost family and friends, but at least we’d have that. I don’t know. I try not to get sad about it, but sometimes it’s hard.

Like I said that I wanted to go swim, because it’s summer, but all of the swimming clothes don’t cover your arms and legs. I don’t want anyone seeing those, because they don’t look that great. You can see bones in some places even though I’m careful. There’s just nothing I can do about it. Salenicus suggested that I should get one that covers them, but that’s sort of the purpose of swimming clothes, right? Something so simple, alive people don’t even have to think about it. I wish I could just wear a cute swimming dress and go lay on the beach and splash in the water and look at boys without having to worry about all of that.

He told me about Silvermoon, too. I think he was trying to make it sound less interesting so I wouldn’t feel bad that I can’t go. I said I used to live in Dalaran, and he said it’s not as nice as that. But I bet it is. I’ve seen it from far away, the towers are so beautiful. I do miss Dalaran, I mean before. We used to stop after class at the baker’s cart and get little treats and walk to the park to eat them. On spring and summer days you could smell the flowers on the breeze. I think Silvermoon must be at least that nice.