[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] The Ghostclaw – Leinath’s Journal

I’ve been doing a lot of training work with Lucky. He’s still really young, so I can’t expect too much of him. Sunashe and the Captain have been giving me advice about it, which I really appreciate. I’ve never even had a pet before, let alone tried to train an animal. I think I’m learning more than Lucky is at this point. I do feel that he’s probably more similar to a cat than a lizard, though I think Sunashe has some valuable advice, too. These first couple of weeks, I’m mostly just getting Lucky accustomed to me and to the ranger building. He has his own little bed under my bunk, though sometimes he likes to sleep up top with me. I like when he does that, it feels all cozy, though Sunashe says he’s probably just cold. But it’s summer, so how cold could it be? I guess I’ll find out in the winter. Lucky goes outside to use the toilet, thankfully the people at Dalaran already taught him about that. I take him on a little leash until I can be sure he’ll follow without it. He’s still pretty young so he tends to wander off and get distracted by smells sometimes. They both said it’s really important to expose him to a wide variety of people and situations, but to make sure it’s not frightening for him so he doesn’t get afraid of them later on. So far he’s met all of the other rangers, Sunashe’s lizard, and the Captain’s tiger. He hasn’t met Julan’s seagull yet, because I’m worried either he might try to eat her, or she might peck him. Both of those would be bad.

The next thing I’m trying to teach him is to respond to his name and focus on me. So every time I say his name and he looks at me, he gets a treat. His favorite treats are little bits of cheese, fruit, and bits of fish. I think he might also like cookies, next time we make some I’m going to have to save him a few. It’s probably not too healthy for foxes, but I bet he’d do anything for a cookie. I feel a little bad I’ve been so busy with Lucky that I haven’t been baking as much. I mean I still do, but not all the time. I hope Orledin isn’t upset about that. He came out to watch me working with Lucky, I guess because he was bored. He hasn’t trained his cat, I’m not sure if you can. But the Captain’s cats are trained, they’re just bigger? Does that make a difference? I don’t know.

We talked about how they stop at the school on patrol a lot. Salenicus is seeing a student there, except she’s a human and also undead. I guess it’s not my business, but I think it’s a little odd. I don’t think I could be interested in a human. Orledin said Salenicus is interested in things besides ears, which obviously I am too, but it’s not as if ears aren’t important. I just feel like a human wouldn’t know about a lot of things, and they’d not live as long, but I guess that’s not an issue if you are both undead. Like I said, not really my business anyway. Then Orledin was telling me about how he has to go and recharge some runes, honestly I don’t really understand what that means. I know he has some on his sword, but I don’t understand how they work or why they need to be recharged — or how that happens. I guess I don’t really want to know, to tell the truth. Anyway there’s only two places it can be done. I asked why they don’t just make more runeforges, and he said it would attract a lot of death knights here if we had one. But if they behaved themselves, it wouldn’t be an issue, would it? And Orledin said it only takes a few minutes, so I doubt they’d just be hanging around here. He also told me about how he has to use rubbing alcohol to clean himself. I figured you could just use ordinary soap and water, but I guess that makes sense. It’s not really something you give a lot of thought to normally. I would miss being able to eat and drink, though. I don’t know how he can bake and not eat any of it, I think that would be like torture.

Lucky’s next lesson will be learning to follow me. I hope he’s ready.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Faeris’s Journal

Today is our first full day on the island. We arrived last night on the boat, we could have just got a portal from one of the mages at the school, but I wanted the whole experience of getting to ride on the boat and seeing the island get closer. It isn’t a very long ride, but they have snacks and drinks and you can stand up on the deck in the breeze. I’m glad I reserved the room ahead of time, because they were really busy — it’s the summer and everyone wants to go visit the beach. The room I got overlooks the harbor, so you can see the boats coming and going from the docks. You can also see the sun setting in the evening, making the ocean look all red and gold, it’s really pretty. The room itself is fancy as well, there’s a huge tub and bed, and a little ice-box with different kinds of drinks in it. There’s also a paper with things you can order if you don’t feel like going to one of the restaurants. It’s pretty expensive, but we’re on vacation so I’m not worrying about how much we’re spending. Besides, I have plenty saved up. I haven’t really spent anything since I came to the rangers, and I don’t plan to buy anything big for a long time. I don’t mind spending a lot on something that we’re both really going to enjoy and remember for a long time. Especially because I don’t think Julan’s ever really had a real vacation before. He’s so excited about everything, it’s like he doesn’t know what to do first.

I wanted to go down along the beach today, aside from swimming in the ocean there are all sorts of little shops along the beach where you can get food or drinks, or candy. There’s one kind there that I really like, it’s soft and squishy and they make it in all different flavors. There are also games you can play to win prizes, like they have at the Darkmoon Faire. Julan said they’re all just rigged, which they probably are, but I wanted to win him a prize anyway. I spent way too much on the game where you knock bottles down with a ball, but I finally got a red toy dragonhawk. Its eyes are kind of crooked, but it’s cute. We looked for shells on the beach and went in the water (it was colder than we expected). Being here reminds me of those trips I used to go on when I was little, except I’m here with Julan and not my parents. That makes it even better, not that being with my parents was bad or anything, but I’m doing whatever I want to do and with someone I want to be there. I guess it’s because I never really did anything like this before, I mean sure there were people that I saw in Silvermoon, but it was never really serious. And we never did things like going on a trip together. Julan is different, and I really want him to have a good time and have good memories of being here with me. I hope he is, it seems like it. Although we did both get kind of sunburned, that’s not so good. But tonight I want to go to one of the restaurants, there are a lot and they’re all really good. I know this trip is going to be over too soon.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Leinath’s Journal

Orledin got me a fox. An actual baby fox, not a statue or something. He said he got it from Dalaran, I don’t know how he was able to get there, and I didn’t know they kept animals there. A lot of animals have been displaced from all the demons, and he said they take care of them there. That must be a lot of animals though. You’d think they would just release them somewhere safe where there aren’t demons, but I’m not complaining. I’m really happy to have my own fox. I don’t have any idea how to take care of him though, I’ve never had a pet before and I’ve only seen foxes in glimpses now and then in the forest. Orledin gave me a paper from the place, it lists some things I should feed him and which things I shouldn’t (like candy). So I guess no cookies for him.

I don’t actually know if it’s a him or not. I’m not really sure how to tell. I asked Orledin what I should name him, and he said he wasn’t good at naming things, Pancat is called that because he’s grey, like a pan. I think Lucky is a good name. Because he’s lucky he won’t be eaten by demons, or hunted, and because he should be good luck for me, too. Orledin also got him a bunch of stuff, two bowls – one for food and one for water, some toys, and a little bed. I set up the bed in the corner where my bunk is, but so far Lucky likes my bed better. I don’t mind, he’s really cute. When he sleeps he curls up into a tiny ball with his little tail over his nose. He really likes roast spider, and also bread. I know bread isn’t a good thing to feed to foxes, but I like to let him try everything. Mostly I think he’ll eat stew or roast bird, I know they have that a lot at the school and Lin goes there all the time. So I’ll ask her if she can bring me some back for Lucky.

I don’t know how to train him either. I think it would be great if he could go on patrol with me when he’s bigger. Orledin suggested I ask the Captain or Nessna about that, because they know a lot about animals. And a fox is closer to a cat than a lizard or bird. For now though I’m just going to try to teach him some basic things, like to come when I call his name or to find things. He really likes bringing a toy back if you throw it for him. Everyone in the quarters wanted to watch him when I was doing that. I hope they don’t mind him being there too much. He’s not as loud as that dumb bird, anyway.

He’s definitely the best present I’ve ever gotten. It’s not my birthday or anything, either, so I feel a little weird that he’s spending all that money on me. It must have cost a lot to get him here all the way from Dalaran, and he also bought all those things for him. Orledin said he doesn’t have much to spend it on, which is true, I don’t either but I’m still trying to save as much as I can. Was he just trying to be nice? I think so, I don’t really know what to say to that. I’m grateful but what if he expects something else? It might be okay, I know there are other rangers who are together but they have their own places. It might be less okay if it’s there in front of everyone. And I’m still not sure about how things work since he’s… you know, not alive. It’s not something I can just casually ask, though maybe Julan would know. It’s always weird when I talk to him though.

[Story] Story a Week 20

[[ My word this week was: bread! ]]

Leinath stopped to check the instructions again. Was this the second or third time he’d kneaded it? Would it matter? Bread was so much more complicated than cookies. With cookies, you just needed to measure everything and then mix it together. Sometimes you had to keep the dry ingredients separate from the wet at first, and then sometimes you had to mix in the nuts or chips later, but that was it. Nothing more complicated than that. A few of them you had to let the dough rest in the cooler for a while, but it didn’t need any more attention. Bread, on the other hand, was downright demanding.

It had been Orledin’s suggestion, he assured Leinath that he’d done enough baking to be able to handle it. And at the time, he’d agreed, but now he wasn’t so sure. He’d never baked anything before coming to the rangers, and he felt that he’d suddenly got in over his head. The first part had been easy enough, mixing the flour and salt and other things. But then there was the yeast. Orledin explained that these were tiny creatures that ate the flour and it made the dough rise. That was kind of gross when you really think about it, but he assumed they died when the dough baked. Still, he’d always think about eating the corpses of all those tiny animals from now on. You had to have just the right temperature and amount of water, or the bread wouldn’t rise properly. He’d already had to start over once because of that, thankfully Orledin wasn’t in the kitchen to see that. Leinath was sure he’d be irritated over wasting ingredients like that. Once it did rise, then you had to take the dough out and knead it. Then back into the oven to rise again. This was repeated once or twice, he couldn’t be sure, and then finally the bread was baked. If he got to that stage, Leinath figured, it would be difficult to mess up. He hadn’t had any burning incidents since that first week. And he had to admit he looked forward to being able to eat it after all this work. Corpses of little creatures or not, there was nothing like hot, freshly made bread.

Orledin came in to check how he was doing. He took over kneading, though it seemed that he did it in a different way, and much more efficiently. He seemed surprised that it wasn’t in the oven yet, but thankfully he didn’t look into the trash bin and see the failed first attempt. Orledin was an expert at bread though. Besides the normal kind, he could make all different shapes, like little round buns or fancy braided twists, or bread with brown flour or soft bread with nuts in it. He thought they could probably sell it in town — well, maybe once there were a few more living residents. Still, Leinath thought he wasn’t doing too badly for someone who was brand new at it. His old friends would hardly believe it, if they could see him now. A legitimate ranger, and one who was baking bread at that.

He opened the hot oven and slid the pan with the dough inside. Now it was just a matter of waiting.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Linarelle’s Journal

I had a really lovely day, and the best part it was all a surprise. I always say Sunashe isn’t very romantic, but sometimes he does a good job. In some places there’s a special day to do nice things for mothers, but as mine is far away — she’s back working for the Reliquary — I didn’t give it much thought. Most of the rangers here don’t keep in touch with theirs either. The thought didn’t really occur to me that I was one as well. It seems silly now that I think about it, but it’s true. So I certainly was surprised when Sunashe brought me flowers in the morning and made breakfast. Well, he often makes breakfast, but it was extra nice, there was cut fruit and little cakes as well as eggs and juice and toast. He also brought some sunflowers for Snowflake, because he said it was “moth day”. Oh dear… had he really got confused about the day? I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed, but at the same time he’d gone to so much effort and it was so sweet that I didn’t say anything. I was going to enjoy Moth Day all the same.

After patrol, he’d made up a whole lovely dinner. I think some of it he might have got at the school, but he did cook a lot of it. No, it wasn’t moth! Salenicus asked me that. Even if I wanted to eat a moth, I don’t think they would be very good eating. Only the body would be edible and they’re insects so there wouldn’t be a lot of meat, not like spiders. He made a roasted wild bird with herbs, fresh greens and potatoes, bread and a lovely sauce. For dessert he brought out a tray of the cutest little moth cookies. He admitted that Orledin made those, I saw them later in the kitchen as well. The patterns on the wings were made with icing, they were just adorable. Snowflake also got some fruit to nibble on, in her own bowl. Normally she doesn’t eat with us, but it was a special occasion after all.

And he gave me a card, it was so sweet. And it mentioned that I was a mother, so he was just teasing me with the moth day stuff after all. I have to admit that I’m relieved! It was all so nice though. I think I should plan something for him for Lizard Day, although I’m not sure when it would be. Maybe near Father’s Day.

I got a chance to talk to Salenicus too. I’m a little annoyed that Orledin didn’t even give him my message, or maybe he tried and he just wasn’t listening. I think I did manage to convince him to go to the school again though. And he said he’s going to bring flowers, and a poem. If I’m right, that should definitely work. I may have exaggerated just a tiny bit, but she’s certainly not going to change her mind if he stays away forever. I hope it works out okay. It must be so lonely being undead. He’s already talking about living together though! I hope he doesn’t say that, he’ll probably scare her off.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Linarelle’s Journal

I promised Orledin that I would stop by the school and talk to the undead girl there. I was due anyway because I needed to bring by some milk. It still feels a little strange to put it into a jar and carry it there, but I don’t mind because it really seems to help the new baby there. And I can bring some food home for dinner, which Sunashe appreciates. It’s not that either of us is bad at cooking, just that Tik’s is so much fancier. It’s like getting food from a fancy restaurant every time. I don’t really know Salenicus at all, he keeps to himself when he’s at the building and he’s on the night patrol with Orledin and Sorrowmoss. From what Orledin tells me, he doesn’t talk a lot there either. He might not be happy that I’m interfering at all, and it’s probably a bad idea, but I do like Orledin and he feels a bit guilty about it, I think. It was his idea to bring Salenicus to the school in the first place. I don’t know the girl, either, but I said I was willing to talk to her. Mostly I wanted to find out what she actually said — if it’s a situation like I was in with Keyalenn, I’ll just tell Orledin that plainly. Not that it really helped in that case, either. Or with Gael. I’m probably the worst possible person to ask for advice about men, but I offered anyway.

Classes are over when I finish my patrol, I think Tik was a little puzzled when I asked to see her, but the girl was even more puzzled. Luckily she wasn’t up in her room, but reading in the common room, curled up in one of the soft chairs. I think she must have been very pretty when she was alive, even for a human, but now she just looked sad. I guess I can’t blame her. She was worried that I had asked for her until I explained that I was one of the rangers. I might have taken a little creative liberty with the message because I had a feeling that it would help. She may be dead, but she’s still a girl. I told her that Salenicus was sad about not being able to dance and he hadn’t stopped talking about it, and that he wondered what he’d done wrong, and if he could ever show his face here again. Like I said, a bit of an exaggeration but there was probably some truth in it. The girl seemed surprised and she said that it had been unexpected, and not romantic at all. It was supposed to be like in the books. Well, I can definitely understand her there. I didn’t mention that some men just don’t know how to be romantic, because I didn’t think that would make her feel better. That’s not entirely true, he does sometimes, but it’s rare and definitely not like in the books. But he does mean it, and that’s what is important.

She also said she thought it was just because she was the only undead girl, and I could understand that too. It doesn’t feel good thinking they’re only interested because you’re the only option, it’s like winning a race that no one else is running. She said it was fine if he wanted to come back again, she doesn’t hate him or anything like that. I made sure to ask that he wasn’t bothering her, and she said he wasn’t. I made her promise to tell me if she changed her mind about that. I do feel bad about what happened with Keyalenn, but I think it all worked out for the better anyway. He has a girl his own age, who’s also a mage, and they seem really happy together. Of course he couldn’t have known that at the time though. The girl also said if I or the other rangers wanted any dresses, she could make them for us. I thought that was a nice thing to offer, though honestly I don’t know if any of us wear dresses very often. Or ever. I don’t think Nessna or Vellira have ever worn one, I guess I do sometimes. Anorelle I’ve only ever seen in armor. I thanked her and said I’d consider it. Then again, maybe Julan would like one.