[Story] Valentine Shorts 2

[[ Really having difficulty concentrating today due to a bad toothache, I can’t get it looked at until tomorrow though. So this is shorter than I wanted, might try to do more after it’s fixed. ]]

Leinath glanced up and down the street before stepping out of the shop, his packages tucked safely under his arm. Anyone familiar with that particular shop would surely be able to guess at the nature of his purchases, wrapped in long boxes. He ducked quickly down another street, ears burning even though he was sure no one had seen him. The gifts hadn’t been his idea, Orledin had asked for them in a round-about way, and since he couldn’t go himself, Leinath had offered to buy them. He thought he’d picked out a good variety, though he hadn’t wanted to spend too much time staring at the display on the wall. Hopefully Orledin would like what he’d chosen, but it wasn’t really the kind of gift Leinath would have picked out.

The problem was that he couldn’t use most usual gifts — wine or chocolates, he didn’t even need a scarf to keep warm on their patrol. He thought about buying something for the kitchen, but they already had everything that Leinath could imagine. What about his other — admittedly strange — hobby? Other than wire and clay, Orledin didn’t need much for that. There weren’t any bones for sale in the marketplace, either. Leinath walked out into the main market, bustling with shoppers, in hopes that he would see something that inspired him.

Most of the merchants were goblins, their stalls decorated with bright ribbons and heart shapes cut out of paper. Leinath stopped to look over them, but he couldn’t imagine either of them wearing the sort of things they had for sale. At least, not yet. A dusty booth near the back of the market caught his eye, piled with all manner of strange items. The elf behind the counter claimed they were artifacts, dug up from far-off lands. Leinath was no expert, but they certainly looked exotic — there were jade carvings from Pandaria, a drinking horn from Northrend, miniature statues and clay tablets from Uldum.

The bright paint and feathers of the troll artifacts stood out from the others. Leinath leaned in closer to look at them. Maybe Orledin would appreciate something to decorate his hut? He could leave it there, and they could stop by after their patrol again. He was drawn to a carved wooden puppet in the shape of a raptor, strings attached to a pair of crossed sticks overhead. The elf showed him how the sticks could be moved to bring the raptor to life, seeming to bob its head and lift its legs in a lifelike manner. It was painted in bright green and blue, and even had feathers attached. It wasn’t a practical gift at all, but Leinath liked it. He hoped that Orledin would too.

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[Story] The Ghostclaw – Leinath’s Journal

Orledin took me on a date, I think. At least, it was a place away from the building and not on patrol. It wasn’t that far off our patrol route though, I never even knew the path was there. There are many troll ruins in the forest, and these were some abandoned troll huts, two standing not far from each other. I’m guessing there were probably more buildings in the past, but they are gone now. Or maybe these trolls just really liked privacy. The huts are well hidden, you can’t see them from the trail at all, though I guess if you had a fire going you’d see the smoke. We went in the afternoon, after patrol but before time to eat. Orledin says he usually goes there at night, which is a little odd because he does have a bunk in the quarters even if he rarely uses it. He says he likes the privacy here, which I can understand. Some of the other guys can get pretty loud sometimes, but usually not while they’re sleeping.

The first one he called the work hut, and I’ll admit it freaked me out a little. He had taken bones that he’d found around the forest, mostly from animals, and put them together again with wire so they’re standing up. I thought it was weird at first, but it’s really not much different than a puzzle when you think about it. And yeah, he has to find something to take up all that time when everyone’s sleeping. They build skeletons for museums, and no one calls those people weird. Something about seeing bones standing up and staring at me with empty eyes still is a little creepy, though. I’m glad we weren’t there at night. Orledin was really excited to show me the big cat skeletons, he thought the captain might want one. He also gave me a little mouse, I’ll put it on my shelf next to the fox, hopefully Lucky doesn’t try to eat it. There’s no meat, but it’s still a mouse. Orledin’s favorite skeleton is a raptor that he accidentally animated, and he can ride it around. I admit that’s pretty cool, but he’s right in that if anyone saw it they would probably freak out. He said there are elf skeletons too, and he’s not sure what to do with them. I suggested he could build them a graveyard with proper markers and everything, it seems like the right thing to do so they aren’t forgotten.

The other hut he called his resting hut, it had a hole in the center of the roof so smoke can escape, for cooking and heat. He has some furniture in there, but he said he doesn’t really sleep here. Maybe he writes in his journal. I wonder if he has one? I wonder if he’s written about me? The conversation got a little more serious than I was expecting. I don’t want him to think I’m not interested, it’s just — even aside from the rules, it’s been a really long time and I don’t want to rush into anything. That’s even if he wasn’t in his condition. He mentioned that he talked to another death knight who has a living wife and she might come to the next ball at the school. I do think that might be useful — I could ask her questions that I wouldn’t ask Orledin — but I’ve also never seen a kaldorei up close. I think they’re huge, and dangerous. This one’s probably not, but I’m not going to stop thinking about how she could probably put an arrow through my eye while hiding in the shadows. Granted, I guess I probably could too, but I’m not going to. I did promise to go to the one shop in town for him, because he can’t go himself. I mean, why else would you have something like that out here in a private place, if not to use it? He says he doesn’t. I’m not sure I believe him.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Leinath’s Journal

I wonder how much it costs to put on parties like this all the time. I remember before, some estates had them every weekend, not as big or fancy as this one, but all that food and wine adds up fast. Tik and Terellion went all out with the decorations, you can really tell they wanted to do a good job. That’s not to say they don’t for the others, but I think the winter one might be their favorite because of how fancy everything is. There were tables full of food, and another with different kinds of wine, then a third for the enormous cake. It had several tiers, and each one had a different kind of forest animal on it, made out of candy. There were also sugar snowflakes everywhere, and something like glitter but you could eat it. Behind that there was a whole separate cake that was just for Hethurin, I know because there was a little card that said so. That one had two blue sugar dragons on top of it.

I always feel out of place at things like this. I polished my armor, but there’s only so much you can do — it’s still armor and there’s still dirt in the seams and my boots aren’t party boots. Some of the other rangers wore their armor too, so at least I wasn’t the only one looking different. Orledin had this fancy dress armor, all silver and white. I’ve never seen it before, he must keep it in the storage or something. He said it wasn’t new, but was he really saving it for years just for this occasion? I don’t know. I wanted to eat something, because it all looked really good, but I thought it would be awkward for Orledin to just have to stand there and watch me. I think if I was undead, that would be one of the things I missed the most. Orledin insisted it was okay, but I tried my best to describe everything to him in detail. I think he appreciated that. I only hope one day I can bake cakes as good as that one, I mean our baking is great too but Terellion really has a touch for cakes. I suggested to Orledin that we could use manaberry filling for the doughnuts that we make for breakfast, and he liked that idea. They’re supposedly growing some in the greenhouse here, so maybe we could get some. I didn’t know they’d grow berries in the winter, but Orledin says it’s warm enough to trick them into it. I’d think it has something to do with the light too, but maybe the light in Outland is dim too. He did have a little sip of wine, it was really good. We never have wine at the rangers’ because of Arancon, and sometimes I miss it.

Orledin gave me my gift, it was a little wooden fox that he had Salenicus carve, but he did the painting himself. It looks just like Lucky. I didn’t know that Salenicus was so good at carving, it’s really lifelike and delicate. One little paw is held up like he just heard something, and the tail sweep around behind just like he’d paused from running. I know the perfect spot for it, there’s a little shelf on the wall by my bunk. Now I feel like my gift wasn’t very good. Orledin said he likes his boots, and he’d meant to buy some anyway, but it’s not very personal. It doesn’t seem like the thing you’d get for someone that you’re kissing, that’s what I mean. It’s a little cool, but not too weird. I wondered if I even remembered what to do. Orledin didn’t complain, so I guess it was all right.

I’m afraid that something might happen, or I’ll say the wrong thing. Or people will talk because he’s — in his condition. Honestly, sometimes I forget when we’re just talking or baking or doing something normal. He’s just like anyone else, I think the other rangers see that but I know some people wouldn’t. I thought about it a lot though, if it was Erilan who’d returned after dying, would I still be with him? I knew the answer to that immediately. So I don’t see why it’d be different if I just happened to meet Orledin afterward instead of before. I just feel like I’ve forgotten how it’s supposed to go, I mean we know each other pretty well but not on that level. I am worried about one thing he said — he said that if he took all of his armor off, he’d start to decay. I guess it might be true? But it seems it might be difficult to remember if something is happening that involves removing armor. Orledin said he’d try to find  out, but somehow I think it’s not a situation that death knights  find themselves in often. Something must prevent it, though — he and Salenicus both look the same as when they arrived here. They aren’t getting worse or anything like that. So maybe he’s right, and he’ll just have to wear his bracers all the time. I guess that’s not the worst thing.

We danced, and Terellion had put mistletoe on just about every possible place on the ceiling. Not that I think Orledin needed an excuse anyway. It was nice. It’s been so long since I had someone, I mean I’m not sure if I do yet. But I think so. I’m not sure what’s supposed to happen next, I guess when it’s warmer we can go somewhere in the woods. But not to eat. Orledin did mention some troll huts that he knew of, those could be interesting. I just hope there aren’t any trolls still left there.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Leinath’s Journal

The new ranger came, from Shattrath. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him, but he’s really different looking. I’d never seen a draenei in person before, but I have to say looking at drawings in a book doesn’t really prepare you for meeting one in real life. First of all, he’s huge, probably twice as tall as any of us, and about as wide. I bet he has to duck when going through the doorways, and the Captain said he could push two bunks together – I think he might need more than two, but there’s plenty left. He also has a really big tail, I mean all of it is big, it’s not like a Tauren tail. I’m pretty sure he could use it to knock people over if he wanted to. Sitting in chairs must be next to impossible with a tail like that. He has hooves, they’re probably bigger than my whole head too. I wouldn’t want to get squished underneath one. I guess that means he doesn’t need boots, but he must have to wash them or something after to get all the mud off. His head is all bumpy with horns and spikes sticking out, and he has these weird tentacle things on his face. Orledin said it looked like he got stuck trying to eat a squid. I probably shouldn’t have laughed, because I’d feel pretty weird if I was the only elf around a bunch of those guys. I haven’t had a chance to talk to him, first I don’t think he even speaks much Common, and he’s mostly been with Sunashe training. He’s going to go with the night patrol now, and Orledin is going with me.

I’m surprised the Captain allowed that, I mean, I figure he must know we always bake together. I’m going to have to talk to him about it. On patrol, things were pretty normal but while I was eating I wanted to ask about what was going on. I had a pretty good idea, but I wanted to be sure, I suppose. Orledin said he’d been thinking about it for a long time, which surprised me a little. He also invited me to a hut he has, and said it would be okay as long as I told the Captain I was going away for the night first. I wasn’t sure what to say to that. I think it’s a little soon for anyone to be staying over anywhere, even if it’s not against the rules. He’s probably right in that it would be okay, but I’m still going to talk to the Captain first. Orledin pointed out that Julan and Faeris never got in trouble, but then I doubt they were facing jail either. I told Orledin it’s been a really long time since I was even with anyone, which is true. I think he seemed surprised, but I was just trying to survive and make it to the next day, meeting someone wasn’t really the first thing on my mind. It wasn’t here either but it just kind of happened. I still don’t know how things are supposed to work, and Orledin was vague about it. I admit I don’t know much about undead, but I’m pretty sure there are some things that no longer function. We’ll have to talk about it sooner or later if that’s the way things go.

But now I think my gift isn’t a good one. He said he’s having something made, which sounds a lot more special than boots. I tried to get a look at his and see how worn they were, but it was muddy. Should I get him something else too? I’m not even sure what he would want. We are going to the winter ball though, I’m looking forward to that.

 

[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.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Leinath’s Patrol

[[ Another 828 words that don’t count 😦 ]]

Mornings in the Ghostlands had begun to grow cold, rather it had been summer then seemingly overnight, it was autumn, with winter breathing cold wind down its neck. Leinath had taken his scarf and hat out of the little trunk beneath his bunk, and he was thankful for the leather gloves he wore to protect his hands from calluses on his bow. He ensured that Lucky was warm enough, adding another blanket and even a scrap of hide that had been discarded. Though most mornings, the little fox didn’t even stir when Leinath left, he was still asleep. On cold mornings like this, Leinath couldn’t blame him.

He’d been going with Nessna’s and Anorelle’s morning patrol for a time now. While he disliked rising so early — especially as the days grew shorter, and it was still dark for a few hours — it was nice having the rest of the days free to do what he liked. Normally, that meant making bread or cookies with Orledin in the kitchen, then he’d tend to his bow and armor, maybe read for a while. He wasn’t very good at it, but he’d been practicing in an effort to get better. He couldn’t always rely on other people to read things for him — like recipes.

But since the masked ball, he’d been uncertain. He’d still gone, because everyone still needed bread, and Orledin acted normal — or was he acting different and Leinath just hadn’t noticed? They talked about normal things, about his cat and Leinath’s fox and their patrols, but they avoided the topic of the dance and what had happened there. It’s not that he regretted it, at least he didn’t think he did. It’s true he’d been lonely for a long time, and he and Orledin spent a lot of time together, and he did enjoy his company. He reminded him a great deal of Erilan, and that was probably part of why he was interested at all. But that was a big leap to — whatever they were now. Leinath wasn’t sure what that was exactly, either.

There were practical issues when dealing with someone undead, Leinath was still learning. Things like not being able to enjoy a drink at the party, or having to watch him eat the snacks instead of being able to try them himself. It must be awful, though Orledin never seemed to complain about it. How exactly did certain things work? Leinath assumed it had to be different, but he’d never asked. And it would be far too awkward to ask now.

And the other issue, the one that concerned him even more — rangers weren’t to be engaging in any sort of affectionate displays in the sleeping quarters. Not that it seemed to stop Julan and Faeris, from what he’d heard, but they had at least moved into their own cabin now. Leinath was keenly aware of what awaited him if he broke the rules, and he was determined to keep his record clean. Not even a bend, let alone a break. But then how would he find time to spend with Orledin, if that is indeed what he wanted?

He didn’t dare ask Nessna, because she was the Captain’s wife and she might mention it to him. If it wasn’t allowed, he’d tell Orledin before either got too attached and feelings got too hurt. He wasn’t certain how Anorelle might react, she seemed very fond of rules and regulations as well. But Leinath knew she was the best person to ask, as they spent every morning together, and she was older and more serious than Vellira, or Julan or Faeris.

They walked along the scar, looking for signs of Scourge. The spring and summer had seen some growth there, sprouting up through the cracked earth. It wasn’t a lot, but it was progress. Now the encroaching winter would kill it again, but the roots would persist, and it would return again in spring. “Anorelle,” he asked, once Nessna was a bit ahead and he didn’t think she could hear. “What would you do if you were, uh, interested in another ranger?”

She blinked at him and raised a brow warily. “Why?”

“Just, not saying anyone is. But hypothetically,” Leinath said.

“I’m not. Who told you I was?”

This wasn’t going as he’d hoped. “Not you. Someone else, like me. What should I do?”

“You’re feeling conflicted about it?” she asked, returning her gaze to the scar.

Leinath frowned. Was he? “Yeah, a little. I know it’s not really encouraged.”

“But it’s not forbidden either. You just need to use discretion. If you’re worried,” Anorelle suggested, “you could speak to the Captain.”

The idea frightened him — all it took was one letter from the Captain and his time here would be done, and he’d go to the prison. A real prison, with bars and chains, no comfortable bunk and no bread and no Lucky. No Orledin, either. “I’ll think about it,” Leinath said at last.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Leinath’s Journal

Orledin got out all these boxes of paint and stuff the other night to make our masks for the ball. I’m not good at art, I mean obviously I know what a fox looks like, but knowing it and getting something else to look like a fox are two totally different things. The mask just goes over your eyes, it doesn’t have a snout or anything so that’s the first thing that’s not right. I figured that making it orange would be a good starting point, but it doesn’t look right either — it’s too flat and doesn’t look like fur, also the color’s not quite right. It needs shading or something, but I don’t know how to do that. I put some white for the cheeks but it’s not really even, and those should be fluffier. I glued some feathers on, but I’m afraid it’ll just look weird since foxes don’t have feathers. And I think the nose is crooked, too. Honestly, I think I’d rather just buy a nice one in the city, but I feel like Orledin would be sort of insulted if I did that. He says everyone will be able to tell it’s a fox. I’m not so sure. There are plenty of other blank ones, I guess I could try making another, but I don’t think I’m suddenly going to get better at art by the time the ball happens. I know the Captain always makes cat masks, so maybe he’ll have some advice. Or maybe his are bought too, I don’t know. Maybe I could get some fur to put onto it, that might look better. Or everyone can just think I’m some kind of weird orange and black monster.

Orledin’s making a skull. In some ways I think that’s even more complicated because you have to get all the bumps and things right, but then it’s really just one color. He said he had some to look at back in the forest, as long as it’s not a troll skull or something it should work fine. It’s sad to think of someone dying out here all alone and being forgotten about like that, he’s just sitting in a pile of other bones somewhere. Orledin said he’d take it back to the family if he knew who it was, but of course there isn’t any way to know. I hope whoever it is doesn’t mind being a model for a masked ball costume.

He wants to dance, too. I’m not really surprised that he asked, but I don’t know how to dance — at all. I’m kind of worried about it, because I don’t want to look like an idiot constantly stepping on his feet. He said he doesn’t either, probably to make me feel better, but if he lived in the city he probably at least has a basic idea.  Maybe if I just stand still and sort of sway, it’ll be okay. I’m looking forward to the food too, and everyone says they decorate the ballroom and gardens really well, so that should be good. I still think it’s so strange that I’m being invited to things like that now, I definitely snuck into my share before but I couldn’t really enjoy those.