[Story] The Ghostclaw – Faeris’s Journal

Both Mother and Father came today to see me at the ranger building. I didn’t expect that Mother would come, usually she’s busy with her own things, but I guess she was curious enough to want to come see where I live for herself. I’ll be honest, I was kind of nervous about it. I didn’t care what they thought before, but now I feel like I’m actually doing something important and I want them to see that and be proud of me. Also, I was kind of worried about what they’d think about Julan. I know the Captain wouldn’t make me leave if I don’t want to, I already asked him about that. He said that since I’m an adult, I’m the only one who can make that choice, unless of course I do something really stupid and get kicked out. Which I’m not. I have more freedom here than I did in Silvermoon, and I get to do something to help people, and earn my own money too. We picked up the cabin the day before, putting away some of the stuff that I don’t think parents need to see. I thought they’d still probably dislike it, because they like fancy expensive stuff that’s covered in gold and junk like that. That’s just not our style.

They noticed the undead in the yard right away. I couldn’t do anything about that. He’s sitting under an eave right now, because it rains now and then. He doesn’t make noise or anything most of the time, so we kind of forget he’s there. My mother saw him and I could tell she thought it was gross, even though she didn’t say anything. I did tell them there were a couple of others there, though they’re a lot less weird because they act pretty much like normal people. I walked them around the grounds, I showed them the stable, our little garden where we grow vegetables, and the cabins. They thought Rylad’s miniature house was cute. I’m pretty sure they did think our cabin was tacky, but at least they didn’t say anything about that. They did notice that it was shared, I guess because no one else has single cabins. I’d mentioned that before, but maybe they forgot or something. I said they’d be able to meet him inside.

Orledin had made a fresh batch of cookies, so they liked that. I showed them around the common room, and the mens’ quarters. Some people were on patrol, but Salenicus was in there carving on some wood. I’m not sure if they even noticed that he was dead. They looked at the maps and I pointed out the route that I patrol on and the landmarks and stuff. The captain came out and said hello to them, he also went on about how much I practice and how much I’ve learned since coming here, and how I was a valuable member of the team. I think he knew they wanted to hear something like that, and I admit it felt nice to hear it too. They asked him some questions, mostly just about the area and the rangers in general. My father seemed interested in the fact that estates were cheap out here, I wonder if that means he’ll buy one. That might be strange having him closer, I don’t think my mother would ever want to leave the city though.

Julan was outside at the practice range. Maybe he was trying to impress Sunashe at the same time. He was wearing regular armor, like we’re supposed to wear on patrol. I was relieved about that! He was really polite and answered all of their questions. I think my mother might actually know his family, because she seemed to recognize the name when he said it. I hope she’s not going to digging up a lot of gossip but she probably will. I think I was holding my breath the whole time they were talking, but I can read my parents pretty well and I think it actually went okay. Which makes me feel bad, because he shouldn’t have to pretend to be a certain way just so my snobby parents will like him. I don’t care that he used to work on the Row, or that he likes to dress a certain why, so they shouldn’t either. But at the same time I think he’s trying to make things easier for me, which I appreciate. I don’t want them trying to make me leave, or worse, deciding that I need to marry someone’s daughter. I’m happy where I am now, I’m definitely not interested in going back to Silvermoon and I’m way too young to get married.

They stayed for dinner, they said they wanted the “authentic ranger experience” so they had some of the ranger food with us. They probably thought it was some exciting adventure they can tell their friends about. We had spider legs and stew from the garden. Julan didn’t even make any jokes, well except once when he said he used to be in the “Longwood” ranger unit. I almost choked when he said that but I don’t think they noticed, thankfully. I’ll have to think of something to make it up to him, but I’m not sure what yet.

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

Nessna and I took the boys to visit her father at the healers’ in town. It’s only fitting since he (and Lani) were the ones who saved her in a similar situation a few years back. I’m sure it’s not a time that Nessna wants to recall at all, but it’s hard not to make comparisons. At least from what I have heard and seen, Isturon’s not as badly injured as Nessna was. He does have some felfire burns, but Lani is skilled in dealing with those. Actually, Nessna said he was arguing with Lani about how best to treat them. If he’s still able to be stubborn, he can’t be doing too badly. I’m glad he’ll be okay. We aren’t especially close or anything, but I know how much it would upset Hethurin and Nessna and the rest of the siblings if something were to happen, and of course the boys. They were rushing out the door as soon as we said the words “go visit grandpa”.

He did need to rest while we were visiting, though — Lani’s orders. It makes sense that he’s receiving a lot of visitors and it can be tiring. We’ll have to either come earlier in the day before he’s tired, or later in the evening after he’s eaten. Trying to keep the boys busy and not restless wasn’t easy, especially because they were hungry and we hadn’t brought anything more than a few snacks. Maybe we could stop and eat at the school on the way, though I hear they’re pretty busy of late as well with the new babies. It’ll mess up their sleeping for a bit, but I guess it’s worth it, I’m sure Isturon appreciates getting to see them as well. It also means I’ll be leaving the rangers alone more for a bit. Sunashe is normally the one who keeps everyone in line, but he’s attending to Lin and Tialan. I trust most of them not to get up to much trouble, except maybe Faeris and Julan. Nessna said Julan already went out on patrol in heels one time. I really should say something, because I can’t really afford to have anyone twisting ankles right now, but until then I guess it’s not hurting anyone. I can only imagine Sunashe’s expression when he finds out though. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone else takes charge, my bet would be Arancon.

Being there did remind me of when Nessna was recovering though, and how Lani wouldn’t let her get up or do anything. We’re going to bring some cookies or something for him to eat, and maybe some books to read. I really have no idea what kind of books he likes, Nessna said there are magazines about healing. I didn’t know such a thing even existed, sounds boring but if that’s what he wants, we can get it. I thought some adventure stories might be better, but that’s me I guess. And maybe flowers too, they are cheerful and make the room smell nice. I’d wanted to get Nessna some back then but I hardly knew her and I didn’t know if it was appropriate or not. And not everyone likes flowers anyway, especially from some guy when you’ve just lost your husband. I’m just thankful every day that she does, and she didn’t think I was some kind of creep.

It was good seeing Isandri too. Iannor is getting so big, I think he’ll have to start going to school soon. I don’t know what I’ll do when Rylad has to go, it’ll be strange not having him here. When Hethurin is less busy I’ll ask him about it.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Leinath’s Journal

I finally feel like I’m starting to get into the routine here. It probably helps that I already knew how to use a bow, so I got a lot less yelling from Sunashe. I hear the others complaining about him sometimes, and while I might not agree with his methods I agree with what he’s saying most of the time. Maybe I could help him give people tips, in a somewhat quieter way. He’s got a new baby and that has to take up a lot of time. It’s also good that nobody asks too many questions, because I don’t know what I would say if they did. I’d probably just tell the truth, but I’m pretty sure some of the guys here are the sort of people I used to rob if I saw them out on the roads, so I don’t know how they’d feel about that.

Like Faeris. He definitely has that rich-kid look about him, though he’s nice enough and he seems pretty good with a sword. Not a bow though, as Sunashe likes to remind everyone. It was never personal when I robbed anyone, I just told myself they deserved it because it made it easier. But I have to admit he’s an okay guy. I can’t tell if he was flirting with me or not. I’d brought out a new tray of cookies and he was out there – no Julan in sight. That was a little unusual, but I guess he was still on patrol. Faeris asked if I thought anyone here was interesting. I know he’s with Julan, so I thought that was an odd thing to ask, though I don’t know all the details there. Maybe they’re trying to invite me over, not sure I’m interested in getting in the middle of something like that. I don’t know if it’s really allowed at all. No one’s allowed in each others’ quarters, but obviously it must happen anyway. I can’t risk that though, I know how much better it is here than in jail. I don’t want to give the captain any excuse to send me there. I told Faeris I didn’t know what he meant, even though I did.

Then he asked what I thought about Orledin. I said he’s been teaching me how to bake and it’s been pretty good. There were also the flowers, and the cupcake. I’m not dumb, I think I know what he’s hinting at, but I’m not sure what I think about it. If he were alive? Sure, why not — as long as I didn’t get in trouble, that is. As he is now? I’m not sure. I guess I haven’t ruled it out completely but I also don’t want to give him any false hope. And it depends what he wants. I’m assuming there are some things he just can’t do and maybe he just wants a friend to talk to. I can certainly do that. I realized afterward that Orledin might have asked Faeris to find out because he was too embarrassed to ask himself. I could bring it up with him myself, but I don’t want things to be weird either, it might cause trouble, which is the last thing I want. I don’t want Orledin to have to move to another unit, either. I know he likes it here and everyone likes his baking.

Or I can just keep quiet and see what happens. I think that sounds like a better idea.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Faeris’s Journal

I talked to the Captain about having some kind of visiting day for families here at the ranger building. He seemed kind of surprised by it, I guess it’s not something anyone has asked about before. It’s not like the mage school where parents pay a lot of money to send them there — a lot of people here don’t really have any family, is my guess. Obviously the undead don’t, Arancon has his son but he doesn’t see him very often. Lin’s brother comes sometimes, and her mother is here right now because of the baby, but I don’t see anyone else visiting. Or maybe they’re like mine, and don’t really care to. I guess I just want to show my father that I’m doing well at something. It’s funny, because I always felt like getting sent here was a punishment, and maybe it was. At first I thought I was going to hate it, and it was a little strange being out in the middle of nowhere and walking around the woods all day, but now I actually really love it. Sure, going to parties in Silvermoon was fun, and it was an adjustment getting used to everything here. But I realize that I have a lot more freedom now. After my patrol and practice, I can do whatever I want. Nobody comes in to check on me. I have my own place to live, and my own money. I’m finally able to have my own life, and feel like I’m actually doing something important.

I think Julan was a little worried about it though. He offered to be away when they came to visit. I told him he didn’t need to do that. I’m not going to hide the fact that he lives with me. It’s my life, I’m the one who gets to decide that stuff now. I know my father will probably make a fuss about the fact that he’s not some rich guy’s daughter, but I don’t care. I probably won’t mention that he used to live on the Row, though. It’s not really any of their business anyway. We were waiting for the cookies to get done. I guess Orledin went somewhere, so he was late with getting them done. I also think he was making some for Lin, the fancy ones that look like little baby heads, like the ones he made for the school. Julan was wearing this funny leather strap thing, it looked really cold. It didn’t even cover his feet. I don’t even know where he gets this stuff. He told me he had a brother who was studying to be a mage, I didn’t know about that. He also told me about going into the troll ruins with Orledin one time and a bone monster tried to eat him. I can’t imagine ever doing that — even if I had been drinking a lot — but maybe he was just really lonely before I got here. I don’t want to imagine what either bone monster looked like. Ew. We think Orledin is trying to lure the new guy into the woods. He’s in there a lot, helping make cookies and Orledin is always looking at him in that weird creepy way he does. I wonder if we should warn him, but maybe it’s nothing and that guy just really likes baking. He’s from the woods though, not the city, so I can’t imagine he baked a lot of things over a campfire.

Anyway, the Captain said I was free to invite anyone whenever I wanted to, even though there’s no formal visiting day thing. I think I will, even if they say no at least I could say that I tried.

[Story] Story a Week 48

[[ Prompt: A story set in a strange small town. ]]

Leinath held his breath as he approached the town, the painted spires peeking into view over the hills. Even from this distance he could see that the paint was faded and chipped in places, that the formerly regal spires now looked crumbled and tired. It had been so long since he’d walked along these paths, and coming home felt strange and uncomfortable. It wasn’t his home any longer. Maybe some parts of it looked the same, but it wasn’t.

Nearly all of the buildings were in similar disrepair — cracks snaked up through the walls, scraggly vines clinging to the dirty surfaces. Leinath could remember them all. That one had been the bakery, the big clear glass window was long ago broken and gone. The display now held various bottles and jars, poisons, Leinath supposed. The hooded figure behind the counter was gaunt and skeletal, either one of the dead or an elf who might as well be. That was the library, where all of the city’s book collection had been held. A few lay trampled and forgotten on the floor, but where were the rest? Had someone stolen them? What use would the dead have for books? It hurt to see his town like this, broken down and stolen by the dead. Worse, they didn’t even care enough to fix the things that needed repair. Maybe they saw it as pointless, Leinath couldn’t be sure. There was the mayor’s hall, and the hawkstrider stable. None of the faces there were ones that he recognized. The old chapel still stood, and while it was dusty and had pieces of the stained glass missing, it looked at least as if it had been cared for. The grounds out front were free of weeds, and the door had been recently painted. Leinath couldn’t remember the Confessor’s name, but he could picture his face, and his long white hair. Was he here still, or was he one of the dead? Leinath couldn’t see how anyone could have escaped the onslaught of the scourge.

Not far away, he noticed a new building. He stood and blinked at it for a moment, trying to remember what had stood there before. Had it been the potter? No, now he remembered: the old man who made furniture. Someone must have torn the whole thing down to put up this new building. The idea bothered him, though the building looked clean and well-kept, there was even a fountain out in front, water bubbling through it. Why couldn’t they just fix up the old building? Now it was gone forever, and perhaps there was no one else who even remembered it had once been there.

Leinath walked to where the leatherworker’s shop had been. He could remember the shop well, its warm and comfortable smell, the harnesses and armor displayed on the wall. He remembered being fitted for his armor and choosing a pair of boots to go with them, how pleased he had been and how excited to wear them home. There was no one here now. The shop was dark, cobwebs and a thick layer of dust coated the work tables and counters now. It didn’t look as if anyone, alive or dead, had been in here for many years. He knew this would probably be the case, but he hoped that he might be wrong. He’d hoped to see a few  familiar faces, someone who might remember him and say hello. He wasn’t entirely sure if he was ready to give up on his home yet, but it seemed to have gone ahead without him.

Frowning, he walked up the road toward the dragonhawk handler. He at least knew there was one, he’d seen their bright feathers from the road. He would have to get his new armor in the city.

 

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Leinath’s Journal

I’ve been here at the ranger place for about a week now. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it’s not bad at all. Mostly I’ve just been practicing my bow, making sure I’m not rusty. The guy who does the training said I’m doing well, which is good. I hope I can make a good impression on everyone. The last thing I want is to have to go to jail. This is definitely better. There’s enough people that there’s usually someone to talk to, and the food is pretty good. One of the rangers is also a baker, or I guess he used to be. He’s actually dead. Well, undead. So are two of the others, three if you count the one outside, but he’s not really a ranger. That was a little bit of a shock. I knew undead had taken over the town, but to actually see it is another thing. It’s hard not to remember the town as it used to be. But the ones who are rangers aren’t so bad, I guess. Two of them I hardly ever see because they take the late night patrol and they don’t really talk to anyone. Salenicus has a bunk in the quarters where I sleep but he’s hardly ever there. I guess most people live in the cabins, there’s an older guy named Arancon who I talk to sometimes but he’s not really chatty either. I kind of wonder if he’s here for the same reason I am, but of course I can’t ask.

The other one is Orledin, he’s the one who does all the baking. Sometimes he comes out while I’m eating and talks. I don’t mind, like I said there aren’t really many people around to talk to, especially after dinner. Everyone else goes back to their cabins. He told me about how he used to be a baker, and about his family. Most of them are still alive, but they don’t want anything to do with him because he’s undead. I’m not sure how I would feel about it, but I think I’d still want to see my brother even if he was. It’s possible, he could have been killed. I think having him undead would be better than totally dead, because at least we could still talk. It just seems harsh to turn away like that and just pretend he’s dead. He did say he saw me outside practicing. It’s not really strange, because I’m out there a lot, but why was he looking anyway? I’m supposed to start on my patrol tomorrow, I’m looking forward to it. I’m not sure yet who I will be working with. I know one of the women is pregnant so she’ll need to be replaced soon, but I guess I’ll find out in the morning. I just hope everything goes well and they like me. I’m so worried about breaking the rules or doing something I shouldn’t by accident. Or what if someone decides they don’t like me and they tell the Captain and he sends me back? He seems like a reasonable guy, but maybe he doesn’t want criminals on his patrols. Some people just judge you by the label before they even know you. I don’t think any of the others know either, though like I said I have a hunch about a couple of the others. Maybe it’s not the first time he’s hired someone like me.

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

Had an unusual transfer yesterday. I guess he’s not exactly a transfer, but he was sent by the Spire. He was actually sent here instead of serving time in jail, I’ve never heard of it happening but given the situation it makes sense. I’m guessing they decided to do that because he’s already well-trained with a bow, which Sunashe was certain to point out. I know he prefers when the rangers use them rather than crossbows or close-quarter weapons. Another perk, he used to live in the area, so he already knows the roads well. It shouldn’t take him long to learn the routes at all. Of course I was curious as to what crime he’d committed. According to his papers, he was robbing people on the roads. It didn’t say that he’d killed anyone, which makes me feel a little better. I do believe in giving everyone a chance, but I’d certainly keep a closer eye on him in that case. As it is, I’m not too worried. After speaking to him, he says he only stole from rich people — makes sense, right? And there’s nothing much here to steal. He’ll have everything he needs. The Spire requests that his pay is sent to them for restitution, but I’ll make sure he has a little spending money of his own. I think he’ll make a great ranger, and getting him up on his feet will help everyone in the long run. Still, I kind of wonder what sort of reputation the Ghostclaw has, if they’re sending us criminals…

He seems to be settling in well. He found a bunk in the mens’ quarters and he’s impressed with Orledin’s baking already. I feel that if he wants to be here, he’ll try harder rather than seeing it as a punishment. It’s got to be better than jail, he has already said that. Sunashe was suitably impressed, and he’s not easy to win over. I’ve started him out on the targets just to get an idea of how much experience he has, but I’m sure I’ll be able to put him onto a patrol soon. I don’t know if they warned him about the demons or not, but I’ll mention it to him. I know Sunashe already told him about Orledin and Salenicus, I doubt he’s used to working with death knights but hopefully he will adjust soon enough.

It’s starting to get cold at night, I think we’ll get frost soon. Hopefully that will slow down the demons, I bet they don’t like the cold. I wonder if they have nests like spiders do? That would make it easier to wipe them all out at once.

It’ll be the winter holiday soon. I need to figure out what to get for Nessna — the boys are easy.