[Story] Fairsong Academy – Ratchet

[[ Hit 20k today, tomorrow is another write-in so I hope to get another big chunk done then! ]]

Raleth let his human illusion fade as soon as Vaelarian stepped through the portal. He’d made it far enough from the front door that he’d have time ask a few questions — he had many.

“What was that?” he demanded. “Those were sentinels, weren’t they?”

Vaelarian trudged ahead through the wet grass, pulling his cloak around his shoulders. Two days ago, Raleth had made the portal to the goblin town for Vaelarian to check his mail. Raleth had stayed back some distance, as much out of wariness as a wish to avoid having to smell Ratchet. Even from afar, the rotting fish and engine grease stench was overwhelming, not to mention whatever they were trying to pass off as food. The postal box was inside the general store, central along the little strip of shops, and Vaelarian assured him it would only take a few minutes. He entered, and a moment later was followed by two kaldorei women. Raleth guessed they had to be sentinels because of the bows slung over their backs.

Maybe, Raleth thought, they will shoot him outright and all of this will be over. But then he felt guilty for having had such a thought; no matter how much the old man irritated and frustrated him, Naraleth loved him, as did Lali. And Raleth had to admit that it was nice to be able to get away with Lali once in a while, though they couldn’t dine in town, there was still Shattrath and remote places they could take a picnic. He had no idea how he’d explain himself if he’d managed to get Vaelarian killed on a simple trip to the postbox.

“Vaelarian!” Raleth called after him, exasperated. He was ignoring him, which wasn’t unusual. Raleth considered a spell to keep him in place, but decided against it.

“Yes,” Vaelarian grunted.

“What did they want?” Raleth demanded. Though he knew Vaelarian had no particular love of the sentinels, it made him nervous to have him talking to them. They likely still wanted to know where Lali was, especially as he’d been writing asking about her.

“None of your business, blood elf.”

Raleth twitched an ear. “I’d say it’s my business as long as you’re living in my house.”

Vaelarian shot him a dark look, but shrugged. “Just asked where I’d been.”

“And?” Raleth suspected that any answer he got might be a lie anyway, but he was well armed enough with magic to protect himself from Vaelarian — and any other kaldorei who might come after them. They’d have to move again, and he didn’t want that. They were finally beginning to feel settled here, even Lali seemed to enjoy her work teaching the younger students.

“Kalimdor.”

Raleth watched Vaelarian warily. “They just let you go? I thought you were wanted.”

“I am.”

“I don’t understand.”

Vaelarian shrugged, turning back toward the house again. “I had a talk with their captain. You need to make me a portal every week or so.”

Was he spying for them? Raleth couldn’t be certain, it seemed unlikely but he didn’t trust the old kaldorei at all. On the other hand, he could tell them what the sentinels were doing — provided Raleth could get it out of him. He didn’t like the idea of spending so much time in Ratchet, either. Unlike Hethurin, he hadn’t studied time portals and a night in Ratchet meant a whole night away from Lali and Naraleth. He worried whenever they were left alone. He wondered, too, if the kaldorei were laying a trap for him. Did Vaelarian still believe that Lali was held against her will? How could he, after living with them for so long? He watched the old kaldorei go inside, without wiping the mud off his feet. He’d have to keep a close eye on him.

Advertisements

[Story] Fairsong Academy – Raleth’s Journal

Lali’s grandfather is the most impossible person to live with.  He’s been staying here, in our house, eating our food and complaining about it. The vegetables are weird, why don’t we have any deer meat, the wine isn’t strong enough. Then he’s either glaring at me or calling me “blood elf”, or outright insulting me. The things he says sometimes are so inappropriate I can’t even think of a reply. If it wouldn’t upset Lali, I’d throw him out. Or turn him into a pig or something. Maybe both, I could turn him into a pig and let him loose near all the hungry lynxes. I just can’t believe she’s related to him, she’s so kind and he’s awful. The moment I hear him saying things like that in front of Naraleth I’ll put my foot down. I certainly don’t want him saying such horrible things. He’s probably already taught him curse words in Darnassian.

I thought I’d ask for suggestions where I might search for the tauren. “Kalimdor”, yes, thank you that’s very helpful. Then he suggested I look inside every tent for them, because they live in tents. Yes, I know that too. I thought he might know where they would go after being forced out by the fighting with the orcs. He said they could be in Stonetalon, or Hyjal, or Feralas, or Winterspring, perhaps the swamp. Does he want me to spend months searching all of those places? Probably so. I know some of those places also have a lot of sentinels. At least that is one topic we largely agree on. But he says he knows many of them, so he might be able to get some information about where the tauren are at present. He said he couldn’t write from here, because then they would know his location — and Lali’s as well. According to him, she is still considered missing and I’ve done some sort of spell to keep her trapped here. So he suggested using another location, I know they sell post boxes in Ratchet for shipping purposes. I’ve been there before, so it would be a simple matter to travel via portal. If he actually follows through and writes them, I could send them from there. I am wary though, as I can’t read Darnassian very well and he could — in theory — write anything he wanted. Like that I’m holding him captive as well, or something else damaging that could put Lali in danger. I doubt he would do that, but he’s unpredictable so it’s impossible to say for sure what he might do.

It doesn’t help that I couldn’t recognize the tauren if I saw them, I don’t think. I have their names, but surely there are some names shared among them. They all look alike to me, aside from their spots or whatnot, but if they are wearing armor it’s impossible to even see that. Vaelarian said one was old, I know that much already. The younger one was brown, I think? Or maybe grey? I can’t even picture them at all. I wonder if they’d want to live out here. It would be very strange, but at least they should not be in danger. I’ve seen a tauren ambassador in the city, perhaps she could help them to adjust. Though I haven’t seen any besides her, not in the markets or the shops or any place. Silvermoon really isn’t designed for them.

Naraleth will be a dragon in Lali’s history play that they are putting on. I always enjoy those, she works so hard on them and the kids are cute in their costumes. That means he’ll already have something ready for the masked ball. I’m not sure what Lali and I will be just yet, maybe dragons as well. She could be a green and I could be  a blue, like Naraleth, or perhaps a bronze.

[Story] Fairsong Academy – Raleth’s Journal

I’m looking forward to the new semester, there’s always a feeling of excitement when students return to class. I met with Hethurin (and eventually Aeramin) to help coordinate trips and major tests and things like that. It’s important to not schedule everything at once. Aeramin’s already wanting to give a test the first week back, to see what they’ve remembered. I worry that they’ll do poorly — because everyone forgets at least a little over the summer — and feel discouraged, but he says it won’t count toward their grade. I like to give them a few days to re-adjust to classes and the material. I’d like to have more advanced students act as mentors to newer ones, but I worry I just won’t have enough frost students for that. I’m well aware it’s the least popular school of magic, especially among sin’dorei. Many schools don’t even have a dedicated frost instructor, let alone an entire program. Hethurin is offering discounted tuition for new frost and arcane students, I hope that encourages some enrollment. I’d hate for Keyalenn to feel that he has nothing to do. I always try to get the students interested and excited about frost, but there’s only so much I can do — and people have their own personal preferences. I wouldn’t have switched to a fire study no matter how interesting my professor was.

Aeramin’s wedding is coming up soon, and he’s been busy preparing for that as well as his classes. For the moment, Maerista is taking on a lot of his duties, but he’s rightfully worried about overwhelming her. If he needs to, I think Hethurin will step in to help. She’s been assisting for quite a while now, but there are far more fire students than anything else and it’s a lot of work for just one person. He’ll be away for a week or two on his trip, which means I’ll have to wait before asking for any time away myself. It’s probably for the best, as I don’t even have an idea where Lali’s tauren friends might be — Kalimdor is a very big place, and dangerous. I’ve put a lot of work into practicing illusions and invisibility, which will be very useful there. But I think sentinels can still somehow sense it anyway. The last Lali heard from her friends, they were at the southern border of Ashenvale. It makes sense to begin looking for information there, unfortunately orcs are only slightly less dangerous than sentinels. Most have rarely even seen a sin’dorei, let alone been told that we’re supposedly allies. I wonder if I could do an orc illusion!

Hethurin and I talked about the children as well. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to Naraleth having a sibling. Of course it’s Lali’s decision too, and she hasn’t hinted at it recently so she may not have the same wish. But I worry that Naraleth will feel isolated, especially being different from everyone around him. He’s old enough that he could understand and help care for a sibling, if he wanted to. Aeramin said he didn’t mind being an only child, and Hethurin doesn’t get along with all of us. And of course I’d rather not have mine. But not all siblings are like that. Hethurin’s girls get along wonderfully, and they always have someone to play with and share secrets and go on adventures. I like to think it would be that way for Naraleth, but it’s impossible to say for sure. Aeramin also said I should tell Lali’s grandfather to leave. I wish it were that simple. Though I dislike him being there (and eating all of our food, and calling me “blood elf”), he’s her family and one of the only reminders of home. And he helps with Naraleth, he seems to really enjoy spending time with him and I want him to have that for both their sake. One night he told me that he’s wanted, for what he didn’t say. Aeramin says it’s probably for murder, and he’s probably right. I still keep our door warded at night, just in case.

[Story] Story a Week 41

[[ Prompt: A romance that ends in tragedy

I’ve been wanting to write my Dragon Age Warden, Raleth, for a while. As he picked the (spoilers!!) ending where he chooses to sacrifice himself, I figured he’d fit for this prompt. It doesn’t actually happen in this story but whatever. ]]

The archdemon opened its jaws and screamed, a sound so shrill and un-nerving that Raleth could feel it in the ground beneath his feet. Panic seized him and he could do nothing but stare as the monstrous thing snaked its head toward him, its eyes burning with sickly flame. It roared again, this time so near that the force of it pushed him back, like a gust of wind in a storm. It smelled rancid, the stench of fouled meat and damp caverns. He turned and ran, the dead leaves kicking up underneath his feet, dodging the thin, black trees, slimy with moss and lichens. Raleth didn’t dare look, but he could hear the flapping of the leathery wings close behind, feel the rush of air as they flapped and stirred the leaves from the ground. He didn’t know where he was going, but somewhere, anywhere away from it. Maybe there was a cave he could duck into, but couldn’t it smell him? It had found him here, after all, somehow. Far ahead, wreathed in fog, Raleth could see figures silhouetted there and it briefly gave him hope. He was saved, someone was here to drive the monster off him and send it back to its fetid pit beneath the earth. But they weren’t people, he realized, as the shapes drew closer. Their bright eyes cut through the fog, leaving sharp lines of light. They were spirits of the fade, warped and twisted, and they weren’t here to help him. Not at all. Raleth gasped, and nearly stumbled over the root of a tree. His robes were wet and muddy from the forest, he could see the hem unraveling. How long had he been out here? The pause was all the Archdemon needed. It reared back its serpentine neck, and struck.

Raleth awoke with a start, and for a few moments he believed he was actually dead, until he realized that he was breathing heavily. Dead people don’t breathe, he was sure of that.

“Dreaming again?”

The bard’s features were outlined by the embers of the dying fire. It was her watch. Of course it was. Raleth felt his ears darken with embarrassment.

“Yes,” he said, gathering up his pack and blankets. He had strewn them off his sleeping mat. The dreams were bad enough, having to explain them was worse. He was sure he sounded crazy.

“Was it a bad one?” asked Leliana, stirring the fire with a stick. She lay a small log on it, and it flickered weakly into life again. “When I had bad dreams, they used to tell me to think of something else after. Something nice.”

If it were that easy, Raleth thought, he surely would. But they were so vivid, so real, unlike any he’d had back at the Circle. Almost if they were something else, prophetic, perhaps. But he knew that sounded crazy too. Still, he appreciated that she was trying to help. And it would probably be some time before he could sleep again. He could still feel the archdemon’s roar echoing in his ears. He wrapped one of the blankets around his shoulders and moved over to the fire to warm his hands. It wasn’t yet winter, but the nights grew very cold, especially at this late hour. She smelled nice, like some kind of flower. Raleth couldn’t identify it, but he knew it wasn’t the one he’d found for her in the woods. That one had been light and delicate and simple, unassuming. The one now smelled more exotic and fancy, like somewhere in the city. He thought about asking what she’d done with it, but decided not to. It would be awkward, even more awkward than things were presently. He thought, sometimes, that maybe there was something in the way she smiled, but he was probably just imagining it. Back in the Circle there had never been any girls who liked him that way. But he saw how they acted around boys that they did like, and he thought it might be similar. Or maybe she was just friendly to everyone. It seemed so. He didn’t want to make assumptions where he shouldn’t. Besides, he was an elf. He knew how that made him look to others. Especially someone who’d travelled so far and seen so much. She liked to tell of her homeland, and how opulent it was. What interest could she have in an elf from the poorest part of a city that stank?

“Are they from…?” she trailed off. Raleth knew what she meant. The demon’s blood that now ran through his veins, was part of him. Whatever it was that had marked him and set him upon this path, one that he couldn’t step off of no matter how much he wished to. He would have been happy to go back to the Circle, even with all its rules and templars, and forget about all of this. But then he wouldn’t have met her, would he?

He nodded. “They’re so real. I don’t know if they’re meant to show what will happen or –” Raleth paused, frowning. “Something else.”

“I have them sometimes,” Leliana said, her expression growing more serious. “Not like yours, I’m sure. But visions.”

Raleth nodded, he remembered. She’d said that she foresaw his arrival in a dream, that it was a sign from the Maker that she was to join them. Raleth believed in the Maker, dutifully said his prayers every day in the Circle chapel, but he didn’t consider himself especially religious. Still, how did he know it wasn’t true? Maybe it was. Stranger things had already happened to him. “Did you  have any recently?” he asked. About me, was what he wanted to know, but he didn’t say it.

Leliana paused, and he thought he saw a hint of a smile. What did that mean? “I’m not sure yet,” she said. “Sometimes their meaning isn’t clear at first.”

“Oh,” said Raleth. Of course he wanted to know what she meant, it was frustratingly vague and — he guessed — intentionally so. But he could hear others beginning to stir. It was close enough to dawn that it would be useless to try to go back to sleep now. Soon they would be cooking and packing up the camp and preparing to move. Streaks of pale light brushed the horizon. Whatever chance he might have had to say something was gone.

[Story] Fairsong Academy – Raleth’s Journal

[[ Just a short one, this week and the next are tough for writing because kids are still home, but I’m trying to at least get something done! I will also be starting on summer art projects next week! ]]

It seems I’ve got myself a new student. True, she’ll be studying with Hethurin as well, but since I’m the one who is taking steps to see that she can attend, I think of her as mine. I’m not sure why I agreed to it, other than I sympathize with her, perhaps. She’ll always be an outsider, not really belonging anywhere. I’m worried about that for Naraleth. I don’t want him to feel like he has nowhere to go. I spoke with Hethurin, he was hesitant at first but eventually agreed to it. I’m aware that I’m her sponsor of sorts, if anything should go wrong it’s me who will be responsible. But I’m certain that it won’t. She studied in Dalaran, and then with the Highborne mage for several years. If she was going to cause trouble, she would have by now. That’s another thing. I’m not especially keen to visit Lali’s former teacher (and his stupid beard) but I’ll need to go and pick her up as she doesn’t know where the school is. I rather doubt it would be a good idea to send her through Silvermoon, either. Hopefully he won’t ask too much about Lali, I don’t expect that he will though – he’s likely still embarrassed about the whole situation too.

My main worry is that she’ll feel too different from the others. It is my hope that she’ll be allowed to stay in the girls’ building with the other students. Hethurin plans to talk to them about it. He said he’d build a whole separate house if he needs to, but I think that would only make her feel more isolated. After all, the rangers work with death knights, and haven’t had any trouble that I’ve heard about, and Sora isn’t a death knight. Just a mage who died during her training.

Being in Shattrath was interesting. It was nice to see it again, I’ve always liked its unique nature, but I always feel on guard there, as if my brother could be around any corner. At least I know he’s unlikely to be in the library, so I feel safe letting Lali stay there to study.

The summer term has started, but it seems most of the students will be staying. We teachers have our work cut out preparing the elective courses. As we’ll soon have a lot of new young students, Hethurin is considering hiring a second general studies instructor. That would let Lali teach the little ones, which she really likes, and perhaps an elective as well. Of course I can’t sign her up for anything without her permission. But maybe she’d like to teach about Kalimdor history or the cows, something like that. One of Hethurin’s plans is to build a greenhouse on the grounds, Ter brought back some manaberry plants and they intend to plant them there. I do hope they do well, it would be wonderful to have fresh manaberries all year round.

[Story] Valentine Shorts

[[ Four little short Valentine stories… three happy and one not. ]]

“Don’t peek,” Terellion said, stopping to check Hethurin’s blindfold.

“I’m not,” Hethurin protested. “Do I smell cake?”

Malwen covered her mouth to suppress a giggle. “Maybe,” said Terellion. “It’s just a little further.” He led Hethurin carefully, mindful that he wouldn’t trip and re-injure his leg. He’d checked the garden path carefully for any rocks or roots that might get in the way. The girls were already waiting there, Malwen in her frilly pink dress and holding her new doll, and Narise in her buggy. Terellion had given Malwen a lollipop to bribe her into not spoiling the surprise, and Narise kept trying to grab for it.

“Okay,” Terellion said at last. “You can look now!”

The garden was a riot of pink, red and white — though it was still too cold for real blooms, Terellion had tied paper roses to the ends of the branches. Ribbons were draped between the branches, and wrapped around the lamp posts. Paper hearts fluttered in the breeze, and on a table in the center rested a large heart-shaped cake.

“I helped!” Malwen exclaimed. She took Hethurin’s hand. “Come see!”

Raleth inspected the robe carefully, walking around the dressmaker’s mannequin to ensure that every detail was right. The tailor seemed anxious, waiting for his customer’s approval. If he thought it odd that the robe was such a large size, he hadn’t said anything to Raleth.

She hadn’t had a new robe in a very long time, and he wanted it to be a special one. Though the tailor had plenty of pink and red cloth in preparation for the holiday, Raleth didn’t think they would go well with Lali’s features. Instead, he chose a shade of cool blue and lilac for the main fabrics, and elaborate embroidery on the sleeves and hems. It would be fancy enough to wear for parties, but still safe enough that she could hold the babies and not worry about them swallowing a bead.

He wanted to do more though. Lali never once complained about missing her family or old friends, though she surely must. Here she was in this strange place, surrounded by strange people who didn’t even speak the same language most of the time. Raleth knew that she sometimes got letters from the Tauren back in Kalimdor, but she hadn’t gone to visit. He’d bring it up soon; he could take care of Naraleth for a few days. Or maybe she could bring him with, and he could finally meet his grandfather. It troubled him that the old man hadn’t even bothered to see Nareleth.

Raleth nodded to the tailor. “It’s perfect.” The tailor smiled, relieved, and began to fold the robe up to be wrapped.

Flower shops seemed to spring up like mushrooms around Stormwind close to the holiday. Normally, there were only two, with a couple of stands. Now, it seemed like they were on every corner, barrels bursting with blooms in every color imaginable. The Harrier took his time to visit them all, trying to decide which stand had the freshest and most lovely flowers. They all had roses, of course, but he wanted something unusual. One stand caught his eye, near the Cathedral. They had roses of every color, striped and white and yellow and pink, but the most outstanding were a deep purple in color, nearly black. The gnome claimed they were grown in Un’goro, in volcanic soil and watered with red wine. The Harrier didn’t really believe that was true, but he bought them anyway because they were stunning, and he thought that Rose might like them. He still had the ring he’d found in the ruins of Gilneas, it was still safely hidden away in his locked trunk, but it still didn’t seem like the right time. Perhaps it never would be, but he wasn’t willing to give up just yet.

He walked home along the streets, rather than take the roofs. It was slower, but he didn’t want to risk dropping or bruising the flowers. It also meant that he passed more stands selling things for the holiday — little candies, cheap perfumes, those flimsy night dresses. His ears perked when he saw the chocolates, though, packed neatly into bright red boxes. Josie would like some of those, so would Nash and Pup. He bought one for each, and carefully wrote their names with the quill provided at the stand. Maybe he ought to get him something else. He still felt guilty for the way things had gone, though Nash seemed to be less upset, maybe he was just better at hiding it. The Harrier certainly knew what that was like. He glanced around the marketplace. Most of what they were selling wasn’t really appropriate. But then he remembered the wine shop, it was even on the way home. Maybe they’d carry something from Silvermoon there.

Imralion woke in the chair, and it took him a moment to remember where he was. He was at the healer’s building in Tranquillien. Aeramin was still fast asleep, as he had been last night, but Imralion could see the slow rise and fall of his chest. He was breathing. It had not been an easy few days, but somehow things had got even worse. Lani, the healer, said that Aeramin had mixed a number of potions and was lucky to still be alive. Imralion felt responsible; if he hadn’t brought up wanting to live in the city, Aeramin would never have been so upset. He still didn’t know what was best — for him, for Aeramin, and for Lyorri — but he knew he couldn’t abandon Aeramin right now.

His father had been no help at all. He’d told Imralion that he should leave while Aeramin was with the healers, but that felt cowardly and cruel in his mind. Maybe Aeramin was right, maybe he should have tried harder. But he’d been trying for months now and it didn’t seem that things were getting any better between them. If anything, Aeramin had been spending more time in the basement and less time with him. He’d nearly begged Imralion to stay, which was not the reaction he’d expected. He thought Aeramin would agree, he could visit Lyorri more often and she could even stay over at the house, and he could come to visit Imralion at his leisure. But he didn’t see it that way. Part of it was that he wasn’t sure what sort of future they could have; Aeramin wanted to be involved in his daughter’s life, but Imralion didn’t. He resented his own father for leaving without a word, he didn’t want the same thing to happen to Lyorri. Her circumstances weren’t her fault, she was just a baby. But that didn’t make it any easier for Imralion to accept.

The door opened quietly, and Lani came in to check on Aeramin. She listened to his breathing and felt his forehead, and washed it with a damp cloth. She gave Imralion a look but didn’t say anything. Maybe she blamed him too, it was impossible to tell. The sun was already up, he would need to report to his post in the city soon. But he wanted to be there when Aeramin woke, Lani had said it would probably be later that day. He took a scrap of paper and wrote a short note on it.

I’ll be back after my shift. Your father will come today too. He paused. Should he write more? He wasn’t sure if Lani — or Arancon — would read it before Aeramin did. And he wasn’t really sure how things were between them. I’m glad you’re okay. ~Im

He folded the note and tucked it under Aeramin’s hand, on top of the blanket. Hopefully he would wake soon.

[Art] OC-tober – Day 9

This is Raleth, the little elf mage who became a Grey Warden and saved the world. When Dragon Age: Origins came out it was at a time that I was pretty bored with WoW, and I was completely absorbed in the game and its world. I’d love to find another game like that again! Normally I make female characters, but I ended up making this naive little elf mage from the Circle. I’m still far more attached to him than any of the characters from the other Dragon Age games, as he feels like the only one who was truly mine. Here his mabari, Bear, chewed up the flowers he got for Leliana. Bad dog!

raleth