[Story] Thorns – Pirate’s Booty

Nash is doing better. He’s not as pale, and he’s more awake and alert when I come to see him. He says it doesn’t hurt as much, but he’s bored. I take it if he’s bored then he’s not in pain, which is a good sign. Last time I came I brought a book for him to read about pirates, and he wouldn’t stop talking about them. Except his ideas are a little different than the book. I suggested he ought to write it down, though he’s not that good with writing, it would be good practice and help keep him busy while his leg heals. I have a feeling he’s going to write about booty a lot. I tried to give him some ideas, I said there should be a sea monster and cannons and stuff, and people walking the plank. All that kind of stuff should be in a book about pirates, I guess if he wants all that other stuff, he can put it in. I think it would be a little strange, but I guess those kinds of books are popular.

We talked a little more about Astranaar. It’s not really a subject I enjoy, and Nash always asks a lot of questions. Like I told him about the time I fell off a roof and almost broke my leg. Thankfully I didn’t, because I landed in some bushes, but the sentinels all heard me fall and came over to see what I was doing. Which was eavesdropping on their meeting, of course. Nash talks a lot about Syrina and how awful she was — which I agree with, don’t get me wrong. But isn’t an awful mother figure better than none at all? I don’t know. There wasn’t any one sentinel who took me under her wing or would sneak me extra snacks or something like that. It was as if they all pretended not to see me, like I was somebody else’s problem. I don’t even know what my mother’s name was, or what she looks like, or how she came to leave me with the sentinels rather than keep me.

He wanted to know if he could come back. I know Rose isn’t happy about the idea at all, she said it’s too much of a risk. But she’s not there in the evenings, so what’s she going to do about it? I can read her well enough, I think, to know she’d be unhappy but eventually get over it. Besides, as I told Nash, I think the creepy new elves will actually make it easier for him to blend in. No one is going to look twice at a short person with long ears now, they’ll just assume it’s one of those elves. I also thought it would be good to make a hiding place, just in case. Something behind a bookcase or in a closet that leads to a little hidden room. I’m pretty sure I could figure out how to make that myself. Then, if the guards do come looking, he can slip into there and they won’t be able to find him. There are already fewer patrols around the shop. Hopefully they’ll start to give up soon. Most likely they aren’t even looking for Nash anymore, just the humans who escaped.

I thought he was friends with Zar and the others, but now he insists he never wants to see them again. That’s some gratitude for sneaking him out of jail, right? But I agree with him, I don’t think it’s a good idea for him to hang around them anymore. He kept saying he had to go, but he never did. It was just another odd rule he made for himself. He likes Temperance though, that’s the human here who’s been caring for him. He seemed surprised when I told him that she’d been bitten. I guess I really shouldn’t have done that. It’s not my business. I didn’t tell Nash all of it, how it was really our fault and Rose feels guilty about it and that’s how they know each other.

Most of all, Nash is excited to go to Booty Bay. It’ll have to be once his leg is better, though I think it would be okay as long as he had a cast and we weren’t walking too much. I do want to swim though, the water there is warm and so clear you can see all the way to the bottom. I told him we can have drinks with little paper umbrellas and go on the beach. I’m pretty sure he’ll love it. Even with the goblins, it’s a beautiful place and so different from where he’s been before. And we can pretend to be pirates, which I’m sure he’d appreciate.


[Story] Thorns – Star’s Advice

“It’s really early,” Star muttered when she opened the door, still in her sleeping gown that left very little to the imagination.

Harrier lifted his shoulders in a shrug. “I know. I couldn’t sleep.”

The kaldorei woman sighed and motioned him in, moving over to put a pot of water to boil over the fire. Harrier took the chair that overlooked the window, his fingers drumming the armrest.

“You seem troubled,” said Star. Of course he was, that was the only reason he ever came to see her. She didn’t mind, really, especially because he paid her for her time — but it was actually more difficult than her usual work. Feelings were much more complicated.

“Nash got caught.”

Star’s delicate brows raised in alarm. “Oh no. I’m sorry.” The blood elf had been by a time or two to see her as well, and for the same reason that Harrier did. She thought it would just be simpler if they talked to each other instead of to her. “What are you going to do?”

The Harrier’s ears twitched and he glanced outside the window, watching a pair of guards who were passing along the street. “He already got out, with the help of — someone else. But he came back to the shop. Rose was furious.”

Star fetched the boiling kettle and poured two cups of water, setting the leaves in to steep. “Hmm. I can see why, but where else would he go?”

“They’re looking for him. And some others, I guess some others got out too. The blocks around the shop are crawling with guards, I have to make a bunch of stops at other places before I go anywhere.”

“You must be worried,” Star said, adding milk and sugar to her cup.

“He’s — somewhere safe for now. I don’t want to tell you just in case they ask you. But he’s injured pretty badly. I just don’t know what to do now. Everything was fine and now it’s a mess,” Harrier said, scratching his beard.

“Was it?” Star asked quietly.

His ear twitched again. “I thought so. But I guess not. I don’t know what to say, even when I really try it makes no damn difference. He’s always upset and I don’t even know why he cares so much.”

“Of course you do.”

Reluctantly, Harrier reached for his own cup of tea. “I guess I do. But he shouldn’t. I told him not to.”

Star shook her head. “You know very well it doesn’t work like that. Of all people.”

“Thanks, Star, that’s really helpful.”

“At the very least you can be there for him as a friend. You can do that, right? He needs one.”

Harrier stared into the cup. “He has one. That mage and dwarf.”

“You’re insufferable. I don’t know how he stands you either,” Star said, sipping her tea. “Just go see him. He must be so scared and alone right now.”

Harrier withdrew some coins from his pocket and left them on the table. “Fine.” He gathered up his things — a bundle of clothes with something wrapped within — and left.

[Story/Screenshots] Character of the Week – Risarra Highbough

[[ Risarra is a Sentinel in Ashenvale forest. ]]

Risarra crouched back on her heels as she watched Frostwing approach the fish. Bear had brought them back earlier that evening, and suggested that the hippogryph might be interested in it. Surely they didn’t eat fish often in Winterspring — any fish would have been safely under a layer of ice. But they were plentiful here, the bears ate them for every meal. The hippogryph was the most breath-taking thing that Risarra had ever seen, graceful and delicate yet at the same time powerful and ferocious. Her feathers were soft, and a thousand shades of blue, like shadows on the snow. The ones near her head were the smallest, and sometimes Risarra would find one of them in the grass and marvel at its perfection. Around her neck they grew long and fluffy, her wing feathers straight and strong.

Frostwing cocked her head and turned over the fish with her clawed foot, lowering her beak to inspect it. With a soft click, the grey beak closed down on the fish and then released it again. She was testing it, Risarra realized. “It’s okay,” she whispered to Frostwing. “It’s food.” This time, the fish disappeared down the hippogryph’s throat in a single gulp, and she fluffed up her feathers as she looked to Risarra.

“You want another one?” she asked, and Frostwing uttered a trilling chirp.

Risarra rose and walked back to the camp, where Bear was busy making a new table for the house. It was warm enough that he could work outside, and he was taking advantage of the opportunity before it started to rain. Frostwing followed behind her as she went to the drying rack and took another fish. The hippogryph gobbled it down quickly, so she took one more. She supposed that Frostwind needed it, they’d been busy training with the saddle and harness so Risarra could ride. Hopefully there would be enough fish left for the bears. Frostwing’s appetite seemed sated, and she settled down on the ground near the cabin, her legs folded neatly underneath her.

They’d only been together a short time, but Risarra already felt an overwhelming sense of pride and love when she looked at Frostwing. It was something she hadn’t felt since her saber, Magnolia, had died some years ago. She loved Bear, of course, but that was entirely different, and it had taken much longer. There was a great deal of doubt and uncertainty, because elves were much more complicated than animals. Frostwing looked to her as a friend and partner, protector and comrade, after only a few weeks. There was a purity and an innocence to her feelings, but they were just as strong as any elf’s. Risarra rested a hand on Frostwing’s side, and the hippogryph gently nibbled at it with her beak. She could have been looking for more fish, but Risarra preferred to believe that she was grooming her, the way she would another hippogryph that she was friendly with.

Risarra smiled and leaned against Frostwing’s soft, warm side to watch Bear work.

[Story] Thorns – Caught

The Harrier stared at the pair of dragon tooth daggers that rested on his work bench. They were Nash’s, he remembered their assignment to kill the dragon that they’d come from. It was one of the first times they’d worked together, in the rain and fog of the ruins of Gilneas. It seemed like a very long time ago. Nash would never give them up willingly, which meant if he had them now, Nash was dead or had been brought in by the guard — which was as good as dead. There was a chance he’d run into trouble with someone else, but Harrier had checked around the surrounding area and found no sign of him. He’d found the daggers along one of Nash’s rooftop routes, in a trash heap on the street below. So likely it hadn’t been long after he’d left the shop.

It was that woman’s fault. He should have just killed her outright when she came around to the shop. He’d wanted to, felt himself reaching for his own daggers before he caught himself and stopped. It wouldn’t accomplish anything — Nash would still be missing, and he’d have to deal with the mess. And likely she would have told someone where she was going, Harrier didn’t want to deal with an angry worgen. She kept offering to help, as if that would undo her role in all of this. I don’t want your help, Harrier thought, his ears pressing back. I just want you to leave him alone. She thought she’d be able to walk into the jail and see if Nash was there, as if it wasn’t illegal to harbor him. Worse, she wanted to try to bribe the guards to release him to her. Bribes might work on a patrol guard — it was hit or miss, and too dangerous for Harrier’s taste. If you tried on the wrong one, you’d end up in far more trouble than you’d started with. But inside the jail? No, there was already a process in place, and numbers and rules and paperwork. If he was in there, their hands were tied. Blackmail might have been an option, if they had more time. But none of them were in a position to make demands of the humans in charge — a kaldorei, a Gilnean, or an elf only very recently granted admission to the city. What they needed was a human noble to plead his case, but Harrier didn’t know many of those.

Rose had said the same thing. “There’s nothing we can do”, she’d told him, looking at the daggers laying on his desk. “I’m sorry.” For what it was worth, he believed she was telling the truth. But it was a matter of their own safety now. Any action they took to aid Nash risked unraveling everything. Rose knew it, and so did Nash, and reluctantly Harrier had to admit it too. He’d known that when they took him in. Would he talk? He didn’t think so, but they had to be prepared in case he did. If the guards came to their door, they’d tell them that someone had been stealing from the house, perhaps he slipped inside when we weren’t at home. Why didn’t we report it? We were afraid, of course.

Glumly, he tore off leaves of lettuce and watched them disappear methodically into Nash’s rabbit’s mouth. He would never leave him willingly, which worried Harrier all the more. That’s if he was still alive.They could have just killed him outright, or the fall might have killed him. He had to be scared, and more alone than ever. How long could he resist questioning? Zar said that she would try to find out if he was there today. The Harrier planned to go by night, to see if he could learn anything else.

[Story] Thorns – The New Elves

I am trying, I really am. But I know I’m not saying the things I’m supposed to say. I don’t know why I thought it would be any less complicated just because he’s a guy. It wasn’t supposed to be, but it became that way. That’s partly why I warned him, because I know I’m no good at it, but he didn’t listen. I brought back food, and some wine, and some chocolates because the goblins were selling them for cheap because the holiday is over. I guess they made too many, I’m not complaining though.

Nash kept talking about the elves, asking if I’d seen them. I’d had other things on my mind, but after he pointed them out, I did notice. He is convinced that it’s his ticket to freedom, and fixing all the problems he’s had with his past. Just use this, and everything will feel better. Except it won’t, and anyone who’s telling him otherwise is lying or just plain cruel, maybe both. He says Zar did it, that elf he’s been seeing for tea. I don’t know much about magic, but I know it can have effects that you didn’t plan for. Especially bad kinds of magic. Sure, maybe they’re allowed in the city now, but that could change – a blood elf of all people should know that. And then  where would he be, twisted and addicted to a second kind of magic. Nash doesn’t know how it would affect him, but he’s eager to do it anyway. Then he said it was kind of like being a worgen. I’m sure if you asked a worgen, they’d rather not be cursed. Why would he do something like that willingly?  I told him to at least wait and consider it. All he kept saying is that he would be free and could walk around with his hat off. If that’s what he wants, we could stay on the farm. It wouldn’t be ideal, but it’d be better than this. He’s just so set on it, even when I said he shouldn’t, he got upset. Then he said he’d want me there to kill him if something went wrong.

What do you even say to that?

I asked him to stay, but he left. I should be used to it by now. But he hasn’t come back yet, and I’m torn between being worried something happened, and furious that he’s probably doing the ritual or whatever right now. Why did he even ask my advice if he was just going to do it anyway?

I thought this was going to be good, that he’d feel better and everything would be okay. But it hasn’t been like that at all, and now he’s run away, or worse. Rose blamed me, of course. She said I need to go and find him. I checked in his usual places, but couldn’t find any sign of him. Star hadn’t seen him either. I didn’t check at Zar’s house, because I was afraid I’d find him there. I’ll wait a bit longer before I do.

[Story] Risarra’s Journal

It’s still hard to believe I have my own hippogryph. I keep going to the stable to look at her. As soon as I saw her in the paddock, I knew that’s the one I wanted. Not only is she the most beautiful hippogryph I’ve ever seen, she’s gentle and affectionate. Her feathers are white and silver and blue, like the snowy hills in Winterspring. I decided to name her Frostwing. I like to think that she likes me too, whenever I come to the stable I bring her a little treat, and she nudges my hand with her beak to get at it. I haven’t really had an animal friend since Magnolia — there was the bear that I helped back to health, but it wasn’t really the same. With Frostwing I feel that same connection, but at the same time, the fear that something will happen and we’ll be separated. But the breeder assured me that she’s a strong and confident flyer, well-trained and we shouldn’t have any problems at all. She said that Frostwing had obviously bonded with me. I haven’t tried riding her yet. I will soon, once she’d had a chance to settle into the stable. I want to take her somewhere quiet, away from distractions so she won’t be startled. Near the camp might be good, so she can get used to being there — she’ll be staying there when I do. There is a lake and plenty of soft grass for her to rest on there, though I might see about building a fence to keep animals away from her. Not the bears, but wild sabers and things like that.

The trip was nice. Feathermoon has so many people, and many different buildings. Their barracks are enormous! We stayed in a fancy room in a fancy inn. I was worried there might be druids there, but we didn’t see any. We ate in the restaurant, and they had a sampler plate will all different kinds of dumplings. Some of them I’ve never even tried before, so I tried to figure out what the ingredients might be. I’ll have to write down all my recipes so I don’t forget them. They also had a very nice sauce for dipping, just the hint of spice, Bear seemed to like it a great deal. We drank sparkling wine and had a berry cake. I brought him a book of poems, I thought he might like to read them while I’m away, or we could read them together. I think that would be even nicer. He got me a bracelet with a little bear charm and a hippogryph charm. I like the idea of carrying a tiny bear around with me all the time. There was also a candle that smelled like fresh spring flowers, Bear said he’d bought it at a shop here. I thought it might be a good idea to get more, because we can always use candles for the house, and it smelled so lovely. The shop was run by a strange looking woman, Bear said she was a draenei and she’d seen them in Northrend. No one else seemed to find her presence strange, so I thought little of it, but she had horns and a tail! To her credit, she spoke enough Darnassian to ask us what sort of scents we wanted, and soon I’d forgotten about the strange woman as I smelled all of the different perfumes and soaps. They were lovely. We ended up getting quite a few candles, as well as some soaps — I had a little money left over from buying Frostwing.

Once she’s accustomed to the route, I’ll be able to ride Frostwing back to the camp even when Avanniel is away. That means I can spend more time there, and I do like that idea. Bear talked about making the house larger, adding a kitchen and I suggested a little reading area like the cabins had in Winterspring. I feel happy and hopeful for the future, though I don’t know what it will hold I feel safer with Bear there.

[Story] Thorns – Hangover

Harrier squinted at the array of tiny clock parts on his workbench. He could hardly focus on any of them, let alone remember how they were supposed to go together, with his head throbbing. He’d definitely overdone it last night, finishing his own bottle of Eversong wine, and most of Nash’s bottle of red as well. Normally he wasn’t so irresponsible, especially during the shop’s busy seasons.

Marjolaine stepped in from the front of the store, and gave him a suspicious look. “Are you going to have those orders finished today? Mister White’s already been in asking for his.” She wasn’t upset about anything at all. In fact, she probably hadn’t even thought about it today.

“Yeah,” he replied, picking up a gear and setting it inside the case in front of him. “Just — not feeling great.”

Thankfully, she didn’t say anything to that, only shaking her head and returning to the front of the store, where no doubt an impatient Mister White waited. She’d probably scold him later about drinking too much, but then again she might not. She and Josie were busy making plans for the farm, drawing out the buildings and where the crops would be planted, the places where the fences needed repairs, and what color curtains to put in the windows. They were excited, he could see it in their expressions and hear it in their voices. She didn’t care at all, and probably hadn’t ever. It had just taken him this long to finally see it, because he hadn’t wanted to.

So now what? Harrier had thought Nash would be excited about the farm, a place he could walk around freely and let his rabbit roam. But when they’d talked about it, he’d suddenly changed his mind, saying he wanted to stay in the city. It was impossible to tell with Nash if what he said was what he genuinely wanted, or just what he thought you wanted to hear. Harrier suspected that his decision to stay was the latter, but he’d been so strangely solemn about it. If they’d be staying here alone, wouldn’t he be at least a little happy about it? He had been there that night, at least as much as Harrier could remember, but he’d disappeared again this morning. Marjolaine simply said he’d gone “out”, which Harrier knew meant that he was probably upset. Had he said something stupid? It was certainly possible, most of the night was a blur. It wasn’t really fair to make Nash listen to his complaining, especially when it was about a subject he knew was sensitive.

But maybe once it was a reality, once it was just the two of them, and they could repaint and rearrange things as they wanted, he’d warm to the idea. Or maybe he’d decide to go to the farm after all. He’d asked if they would ever visit, but he couldn’t see any reason to. It would just reopen the scars all over again, and they were far too fresh and painful. Later that evening, when Nash returned from wherever he’d gone, maybe he’d be willing to talk.