[Story] The Ghostclaw – Astiria’s Journal

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

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

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

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[Story] The Ghostclaw – Anorelle’s Diary

I know people say that the island is just for tourists and overdone, but I’m really enjoying it so far. Everything makes me feel like we’re some nobility or something, they see to everything. Our room overlooks the beach, and at sunset you can look out over the water and it’s so beautiful. The tub is enormous and it’s shaped like a heart, which is admittedly kind of silly but still fun. They have the room stocked with all sorts of fancy soaps and salts too, to encourage you to use it. Arancon asked them to take the wine out, but we have fruit juices and Aeramin gave us some sparkling grape juice, and we had some of that the first night. It would be tempting to just stay here with him forever, but for one thing it would get very expensive, and for another I’d actually miss patrolling. At first I didn’t much like the idea of being a ranger, it felt like an enormous step backward, and I thought I’d miss the city terribly. Sometimes I do, but there are more things to appreciate out in the forest, and I’m confident that all of the other rangers are good people. There’s nothing going on out here that I would feel the need to put a stop to. And of course, Arancon is here. He’s been such a good friend to me for so long, but I’m glad we’re more than that now. Very glad.

Aeramin surprised us by showing up, just for a little while but I’m sure Arancon appreciated him being there. He said they’ll both come to the party when we get back. I don’t know what kind of cakes Orledin will be making, but I’m sure whatever he makes will be delicious. I’ll also have to go to the Spire to get my records changed when we get back, so I can be a Firewind. It’s a nice name, I like it. I said we might have to make another trip eventually, and Arancon said that he’d like to go to Shattrath. I’ve never been, but Aeramin has a house there. That’s where he was living when he was taking care of his mother, so there are a lot of feelings involved for both of them, and it might not be an easy trip. I told Aranon that I’d come with him if he wanted me to, though he might want some time alone with her too. She’s been gone for a long time, but visiting the place where she died will surely bring those feelings back again.

Though it’s a little early in the season yet, the beach is still lovely. The water is so clear you can see all the way to the bottom! Lani gave me some cream to rub on so we don’t get a sunburn, hopefully it works. In the morning, we walked along the shore and looked for shells — the water was still a little cold for swimming, but it was lovely for wading. The wind blew his hair and he looked like the cover of one of those books that the girls in the womens’ quarters are always reading. We got a whole bucket full, I’ll have to think of somewhere we can put them in the house. Maybe in a glass bowl or something. There are so many restaurants here, I don’t think we’ll even have time to try all of them. There’s also a menu in our room, we can send it down to the kitchen and they’ll bring it right up to us. That’s probably good if we’re too tired to go out. The most unusual thing is a goblin invention show, Arancon saw the flyer for it and wanted to go. Normally I’m a little wary of goblin machines, but as they were trying to get people to buy these ones, I think they took some extra effort to make sure they are safe. They had machines to clear trees, a machine to wash clothes, and a lot that I wasn’t even sure of the purpose. Arancon saw a riding machine and he immediately wanted it. The goblin explained that it was much easier to care for than a hawkstrider, it only requires a little oil now and then and it’s much safer because you can’t fall off. I’m not sure if I agree with the last point, it’s probably at least as dangerous, but I can certainly see the appeal of the others. If we got one, we could just put it in our yard, we wouldn’t need a stable or to buy food for it. And it could carry us more easily than a hawkstrider, it wouldn’t get sick or injured. Arancon thought he would have to talk me into it, but I agreed, especially after the goblin showed me the little car on the side that I could ride in. I think I should get a turn to drive it sometimes, though! Since the one at the show was a sample, the goblin’s going to build one especially for Arancon. That way he’ll also get to pick all the colors and decorations, I’m not sure what he’ll decide on yet because he was looking over the paper all evening. It’s nice to see him so happy and excited. I’m sure the other guys will want one once they see it, too!

It’s hard to believe I’m really married! It doesn’t feel different, I feel just as happy as I did before. I told him now he’s not allowed to change his mind, though, and he said he wouldn’t. I know I won’t either.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Checking In

Teloth found his brother in one of the study rooms, nearly obscured by a stack of books. The butler, Tik, had showed him in, and now lingered in the hallway, Teloth presumed to make sure he wasn’t going to start any trouble.

“Hey, kid.”

Tystus peered over the pile of books and scowled. “I’m busy. The final exams are this week, I need to study.”

Flopping into one of the chairs, Teloth picked up a book and opened it to the page that was marked with a slip of ribbon. It was an incomprehensible diagram, Teloth couldn’t even tell what it was supposed to be. Did Tystus really understand any of this stuff, or was he just pretending?

“While you were studying, I went on a date. To the theater. With my girlfriend.”

Tystus squinted at his older brother. “No you didn’t.”

“Yep. We went to this restaurant that only serves things with vegetables.”

“You don’t even like vegetables,” grumbled Tystus, scribbling something onto his paper.

Teloth shrugged. “It was pretty good though. She doesn’t like killing animals to eat them.”

Tystus pretended not to hear him, continuing to take notes out of the book in front of him.

“And then we went to the play. It was about troll hunters.”

His quill paused for a second and he looked up. “Really?”

“Yeah. It was cool, in one scene they had to fight off a whole band of trolls, and escape from the troll temple.”

Tystus frowned faintly. “Well, I have to study if I want to do well on the exams. I don’t want to fail and have to go home.”

“Oh, and we kissed.”

Tystus glared at him again. “No you didn’t. Who would kiss you?”

“She wants me to meet her mother.”

While that was true, Teloth was a little worried about it himself. They’d only been to one dance and one outing, it was a little soon to be meeting anyone’s parents. And Esladra told him that she wouldn’t exactly approve of him. While they weren’t poor, they weren’t really rich either, and they definitely weren’t noble or anyone important. Teloth knew that’s the kind of thing mothers liked. And they definitely didn’t like guys who worked in hawkstrider stables. That was just his job for now, he wouldn’t be there forever — although he did enjoy it. They’d talked over dinner about starting their own farm one day. There wasn’t one in the Ghostlands anymore, so they should have a ready market. Esladra told him that her father had grown up on a hawkstrider farm, and her aunt ran it still. He hadn’t ever imagined himself running a hawkstrider farm, but he found the idea interesting, and he did seem to have a natural knack for the birds. That is, if Esladra’s mother didn’t put a stop to things. She assured Teloth that she’d want to see him regardless, but he did wonder what kind of things her mother might say. No doubt they were nothing good.

“Okay,” Tystus said flatly. “I’m still busy though.”

“Just checking on you, like I promised I would. You should write to Mother.”

“I will,” said Tystus, not looking up from his notes.

“I’ll see you at the summer ball.”

Tystus didn’t bother to reply. Teloth put his hat back on, and went out to find Tik. He’d need help finding the way out of the enormous house.

 

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Anorelle’s Diary

I think we’ve settled nicely into the house. It still feels a little strange sometimes to leave the lodge at night, we often stay a while after our patrols to visit, and I think Arancon wants to make sure he gets some of the cookies before they all disappear. The captain has allowed us to still keep our old bunks for now, in case we should want to lie down or something — Arancon says he sometimes does after I’ve left and before his patrol starts. I expect if we got a lot of new rangers we won’t be able to anymore, but for now there are plenty of beds. Well, maybe not as many in the mens’ quarters, because Jamos takes up three or four, I’m not sure. We’ll need to figure out about getting a hawkstrider soon, I think there’s room in the barn but of course we’d have to ask if it’s all right. And hopefully the inn has room in the evenings, but we’ll see. They aren’t terribly busy most nights, but I don’t know how many stalls they have. For now we’re walking, which is normally all right but it’s been quite rainy and muddy. In the winter it would be rather unpleasant, and it does take some time.

Last night Arancon cooked a hot dish with the leftover spider meat, it was perfect for a rainy evening. I feel a bit spoiled having him cook for me every night, but I do always help him with the dishes. All afternoon I was trying to think of how I’d bring up the subject of children, sort of working up to it, but then he just came out and asked. Maybe he knew I was thinking about it? Or maybe Nessna had mentioned it to him. Either way, he asked what I thought about it, I think he wanted to hear what I’d say before he answered. It was just one of those things that I assumed would never happen, so I tried not to think about it too much. I’d convinced myself it wouldn’t, so it didn’t upset me anymore. But now Arancon thinks it’s possible, and he seems really excited about the idea. He wants me to see Esladra and ask her if there’s anything I could do to improve our chances. On one hand, I love the idea — if I was going to have one, there’s no one else I’d rather be the father. But I also don’t know anything about children, what if I’m an awful mother? What if we’re too old to keep up with an energetic little one? And I also worry what Aeramin might think. I know it’s not his decision, but I don’t want to cause any intentional trouble with him, especially now that he seems to be coming around to the idea of us being together. At least, that’s the impression I got when we spoke. He said that they might come for the party, and that he could invite us for dinner one night. I think those are both good signs!

I also told him I felt a little guilty, like it was somehow wrong for me to feel so happy when they’d both been through so much. I know it isn’t my fault, but I can’t help but feel it anyway — if his wife was still here, I wouldn’t be here with him. He assured me that she would have liked me, and approved of us being together. I hope that’s true, I’d like to think she would want to see him happy after she was gone. Obviously both Arancon and Aeramin loved her a great deal, she must have been a wonderful person. She’s also a talented painter, I’m glad Aeramin let him have some of her paintings to hang up. I hope I can see the ones at Aeramin’s house if he has us over for dinner.

So I guess that means we’re trying to have one, or at least not trying to avoid it. Arancon was talking about how we could turn the extra room into a nursery. I think we’ll have to wait until something actually happens first, but he’s already making plans. He said we could have the captain look after the baby while we’re both away on patrol — he already watches his boys, and Lin’s son while they’re away. I still have the feeling that it’s one of those really nice dreams, and I’ll wake up and be back in my bunk in the lodge all alone. It hasn’t happened yet, though.

Arancon did some more sketches, too. Those ones he said are for our private collection. I told him I’d like one of him, too. Or maybe the two of us together, though I suppose it’s not easy to draw yourself as it is to draw someone else. I’m afraid if I tried it would just look like a scribbly mess. Maybe the room on the island will have a big mirror and he could use that. It’s only a short time away now, I’m really looking forward to our trip. It’s been years since I’ve been there, and most of the time I went by myself. It’s really the kind of place that’s better with someone special.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Anorelle’s Diary

Arancon and I have finished moving our things into his house in town. Truthfully, there wasn’t very much to move at all. I just had my armor and the one trunk from under my bunk, he had a little more — some things from when Aeramin was little, and some books. It’s still hardly anything at all, the house feels far too big for just the two of us, and we have furniture for the main rooms, but some of them are empty still. I thought maybe he’d like to have a little painting studio, or I suppose we could make a guest room. I don’t expect that Aeramin and Imralion will be staying over very often, though.

I did get a chance to speak to Aeramin the other day, though. I have a few hours after my patrol while Arancon is still away, it also gives me a chance to visit with the other rangers. Aeramin had come to check the wards, as he often does, though usually he comes in the evening after Arancon’s back. I wondered if he might be avoiding him. It was also a little too late for donuts — they disappear quickly but I had one left on my plate. Orledin insisted that I take it, even though I rarely eat sweets, but in this case I was able to offer it to Aeramin. I think he might have worried that I had poisoned it or something. We talked more about his mother, how he wasn’t upset with me — or even him, really — but the situation in general. I haven’t been in his position myself, but I think I understood what he was saying. I wish there was something I could say or do to make it easier for him, but I think time is really the only way. I assured him that Arancon hasn’t forgotten his mother, that her memory is still here. We have many of her lovely paintings in the house, which really do make it feel more like a home. I couldn’t tell why Aeramin was upset that Arancon had asked for some of them, but I didn’t want to press him too much. It was already enough that he trusted me enough to talk. He also told me a little about how he and Imralion had met, and gone along with his training expedition in Outland. It sounded very dangerous! I’m relieved to know that if we ever have any demon problems, we could ask Imralion for help. It was nice to just talk about ordinary things. I’d like to think he is beginning to trust me more, I’d certainly like to get along with him too.

I was surprised that he asked about the wedding. I told him that of course he is welcome to come if he wishes, and he seemed to at least be considering it. At the very least, I told him he should come for the food. Orledin is going to make a lot of cupcakes, he keeps wanting me to try different flavors and tell him which one I like the best. I’m sure they are all good!  I haven’t bought a dress yet. I need to do that soon. Nessna surprised me the other day on patrol, she asked if I was drinking mageroyal tea or not. I hadn’t even given it much thought, I just assumed that I was too old for that to happen, and Arancon had said he and his wife weren’t able to have any more children other than Aeramin. I should bring it up with him, but I’m not exactly sure how I feel about it myself. I’d always thought it just wouldn’t happen, so I never allowed myself to think much about it. I’m also not sure what Arancon would think, considering that he has a young grandchild already. And I’m sure it wouldn’t make Aeramin very happy to have a baby sibling, either.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Anorelle’s Diary

I don’t think anyone looks forward to “spider day”, which is when we all go and clear out the spider nests with torches. They nest inside caves, so it’s dark and cramped, and it also smells bad, and no matter how hard you try, you’re always going to end up covered in spider guts. But it’s important to keep their numbers down, otherwise they’d be everywhere in the summer and fall. I was looking forward to it because it means I’d get to see Arancon though — well, I see him here, but I mean without a lot of other people around. He’s been coming to see me after his patrol, and he’s brought something every day. Sometimes he gets flowers, or chocolates, one day he even brought a little toy bear. I worry that I haven’t got him anything, but he says that I don’t need to, he’s happy just that I’m with him. I feel the same, but I think he enjoys getting things for me. Lin appreciates it too, because Sunashe always feels like he has to compete and bring her something as well!

We were able to catch a few of the adult spiders, which Arancon cleaned and brought to use for dinner. He also brought some fresh bread and cupcakes from the kitchen. This time I was prepared, and I brought along the surprise as well as some comfortable clothes. The captain gave us the next day off — I don’t remember him doing that before, but maybe he felt like being generous to everyone. I certainly won’t complain about getting to sleep in, especially with company.

Arancon did mention that Aeramin was still upset. I wish he wasn’t, though I can understand why he is. I don’t know if there’s anything either of us could say that would help, but I don’t want to make things worse either. He’s certainly not going to be excited with the news. After dinner, Arancon gave me a ring and asked if I’d marry him. He said he’d measured it when I was here last time, which meant he’d already been thinking about it then and planned ahead enough to have a string ready. Of course I’d thought about it too, but I didn’t really think it would happen, and certainly not so soon. I know some people will think it’s too soon, but we’ve known each other for years, and I’m absolutely sure that he is the right one. He’s even more charming and funny and romantic than I imagined, which is saying something. We have a reservation for the island in a few weeks, they have a chapel there. Neither of us have much in the way of family, so I thought we’d just have a small celebration here when we get back. The rangers are our family too, and I’d like them to be there. Aeramin is welcome of course, but I’m not certain that he’ll be happy about it. I don’t want him to feel that he has to if he doesn’t want to. I’ll need to get a dress too!

I think he liked the surprise. I suggested that he could do a sketch, and it looked really nice. We’ll have to keep those ones somewhere private, but I thought it would be nice to have one of us together for the sitting room. And he liked the idea of dance lessons — at least I think he did. He might have just been going along with it. I still can’t really believe all of this is happening, I keep looking at my finger to be certain the ring’s still there. I thought we should get something engraved in them, but I’m not sure what yet. Maybe something from his poem, or our names. I can’t wait to show Nessna! She’s going to say she knew all along, I’m sure.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Sath’alor’s Journal

Last night, I got to take Nessna to dinner and a play. Actually, her father bought the tickets for us, but I was still the one who took her. I originally thought he would be coming with us, since he took Hethurin and Vaildor, but then he said he’d watch the boys so we could go. I feel bad for not being able to take her out like that more often, I should see if Lin or Mae would be willing to babysit for us sometime. And she wore a dress! I couldn’t even believe it. Nessna said that Lani was the one who finally talked her into it, because she said you can’t wear armor to a play. I did, but I guess she meant that ladies can’t. I’m going to have to get Lani something nice to thank her, because I’ve tried and I could never talk her into it. She looked so beautiful though, I tried to make sure she knew without being too creepy.

We ate at a place that serves Pandaren food. It’s not really authentic pandaren food, because they don’t have any actual pandaren working there, it’s all elves. But they had it decorated to look like a pandaren temple and there was a statue of one and everything. And it was really good! I got these noodles that were fried with beef and vegetables in a delicious sauce, and Nessna got spring rolls. I will say I missed the food that they had in Pandaria, we’ll have to go to this place again sometime. We talked a little bit about some of the other rangers, mostly Arancon. I’m pretty sure he’ll be moving out of the mens’ quarters and into his own house soon. We’re both just a little worried because it’s right next to the inn, and he might be tempted to go there and get a drink. But hopefully Anorelle will be there to talk him out of it. I hope it works out for him, he’s worked really hard to get where he is and he deserves to be happy. Especially having to put up with Aeramin all the time. He also keeps getting her things! The other morning, there was a huge bouquet of flowers that he bought for her, and Sunashe got some for Lin too because he was there when Arancon bought them. Then yesterday afternoon, he got chocolates. I don’t want Nessna to feel unappreciated so I’m going to have to step it up. Also because she told me some important news — we’re going to have another baby around the winter holidays. I couldn’t believe it at first, but she said she’s seen Esladra and everything. I think it would be exciting to have a girl, but three boys would be good too. I’m going to talk to Gael right away to see about getting some plans made up to add a second story onto the house. There’s probably enough space now, but it would be great if they all had their own rooms, and a play room would be nice for when it’s cold or rainy outside. It’s so strange to think that I’ll have three children, when just a few years ago I thought I’d be alone forever. She’s really the best.

Of course I was kind of distracted by the news when we went to the play. It was my first time going to one, Nessna said she’d been before. She made sure to tell me the rules, like no jumping up and yelling when something exciting happens. You are allowed to laugh and clap though. The story was about a soldier who went to fight in a far away land, and he met a woman there and they fell in love, but she thought he was killed. Later on, she had his child and they were reunited at the end, so it had a happy ending. I liked the play a lot, I even forgot that I was watching actors for a while. I wonder if they have any plays about rangers? I’d definitely like to watch that.

On the way home, I got Nessna some flowers from the little stand they had outside. There aren’t really any blue flowers, but I got some that were purple mixed with pink. I know it’s not a lot, but I’m not good at writing poems like Arancon is. I also promised that I’d talk to Nessna’s father about trying to help with his girl problems. I’m really not an expert, but Nessna said I should because I’ve been in a similar situation. The lady he’s trying to impress lost her husband — in fact, around the same time that Vessen died. I’ll try, but I’m not sure he’s interested in my advice and I don’t really know if he likes me very much.