[Story] Ashenvale – Risarra’s Journal

I wrote my bear report and submitted it to Avanniel. I know she knows I wasn’t just observing bears, along with probably everyone else, but they didn’t say anything where I could hear it at least. I didn’t see very much of them, either. Maybe they didn’t like my smell and decided to stay away. I did see them at the edge of the camp at dusk when I was getting ready to leave. They ate some fish, which seem big and healthy, which means the river is doing well. I just wrote about their behavior and things like that, the female bear (Espen) doesn’t have any cubs, but she’s also a different type of bear I think. Bear said she’s from Northrend, and her fur is lighter in color, so it makes sense she may not want to have cubs with the other bears. Or maybe she’s just not sure about them yet, I can definitely relate there. I don’t know if he was talking about us or not, I can never really be sure. He did say he wanted to help raise a child if he had any. I’m not opposed to it one day, but I’m far too young to be thinking about that right now.

He had tidied up the camp when I arrived, not that it’s usually messy or anything but I could tell he’d straightened things up. Also his hair was long and unbraided, and had those little waves you get if you leave it braided for a long time. It looked nice. It made me feel embarrassed of mine, I used to have it long but it got to be such a pain having to comb and braid it all the time that I just cut it short. I can still tie it back a little, and it’s way easier now, but I admit it isn’t very pretty. If I was a priestess I would have time to sit and comb my hair all the time, but I’m not.

I brought the spider, and the berry muffins, and he also had some fish he’d caught before. He said he forgot he had them, how do you forget that? I think it would smell pretty bad to leave fish around, though I guess the bears would find them pretty quickly. I also am not sure where he got ice in the summer. We have a small shed for it, but by this time it’s usually pretty much gone. I know in the city they have ice that’s made by mages, but of course we don’t have any of those here, and I think most of the sentinels wouldn’t use it anyway. They might be right, and it has some magical residue on it, but when it’s really hot I think I’d take the chance.

We just talked about normal things while we cooked the food. Mostly about druids and places he’s been, things like that. I’ve never really been anywhere; to the edge of the forest and to Darnassus, but that’s all. I want to, someday, but Northrend sounded pretty awful. I don’t think I want to go there. He told me about his mother and how she really wanted him to be a druid. She died when Auberdine was destroyed, and he feels like she’d still be disappointed in him. I wanted to say that wasn’t true, but how would I know? I told him there are more important things, like being a good person and helping others. If she’s not proud of that, then I don’t know what else to say.

We watched the sun come up over the hill. It was so late I was practically falling asleep right there. I didn’t want to be rude, but I don’t know how he can do that, I have to be up right at dusk for my patrol every night. It was also awkward because I didn’t know if I was supposed to sleep out on the grass or what. There are some trees in the camp, but not many, and it would be difficult to sleep in the bright sun. He said I could use his shelter, which was okay, but then he said he could stay there too if I wanted. Did I? I said I did, maybe I just wanted to see what would happen. I’m not sure whose idea it was to kiss, maybe both. I haven’t kissed anyone before and I wanted to know what it was like. Now I know, it’s pretty good. Nothing else happened besides that though, but it was nice having him there, if a little strange. I was so tired that I fell asleep right away so I’m not sure what he thought about it.

 

[Story] Ashenvale – On Patrol

Risarra had trouble keeping focused on her patrol. The chance of any danger was slight; no orcs or demons had been spotted in the forest for weeks, and the midsummer bonfires burned brightly, lifting everyone’s spirits. The spicy incense still hung in the air, even this far from the town. But none of those were reasons to lower her guard, Risarra was well aware. She could hear Avanniel’s voice scolding in her head: Danger waits for you to look the other way. When you least expect is when it is most likely to strike.

She crossed the river at the bridge, pausing to look down into the clear water. Fish rested there in the shadowed parts of the bank, and she considered stopping to catch some. It would be rude to show up without anything to eat, worse than that, she’d be hungry all night unless Bear had some fish. What she’d agreed to was reckless and foolish, Risarra was well aware of that. And no doubt she’d hear about it tomorrow, Zhyra was sure to notice that she was missing, as well as Avanniel. She planned to make up an excuse, though she wasn’t sure exactly what yet, but she had a feeling they’d guess what she really had planned.

More than likely nothing would happen at all, just like the other hundreds of times she’d gone to Bear’s camp. He would eat, and she’d talk and that would be all. If he had any other intentions, surely he would have made them clear by now. Although he did come to town, finally, and maybe that was the reason she’d finally agreed to stay with him. She knew the real reason was because he wanted the delicious dumplings that they made in town, but it had still taken months of coaxing, and even then he’d stayed outside the edge of town, across the bridge. He brought a basket full of berries, which Risarra had given to the cooks. They gave her muffins baked with the berries inside, and she planned to bring those along as well. And he brought sticks. She wasn’t sure what to make of those, it was the oddest gift she’d received. He said the bear had wanted him to bring them to her, and she wasn’t about to argue with a bear. She stowed them in the little chest underneath her bunk, just in case.

She did consider what might happen otherwise, though. He might try to kiss her. She decided that would probably be all right, as long as the bears weren’t watching. Anything more than that, she wasn’t certain about. She knew what was supposed to happen, more or less — she’d seen stags and sabers, and of course she’d heard the talk from the other sentinels. But knowing and doing were two entirely different things, and she didn’t want to try it simply for its own sake. She’d seen how some of the sentinels acted around the druids, the way they tried to get their attention, always tried to talk to them and stand near them. It shouldn’t be like that, like some strange competition. Risarra reminded herself that Bear might not be interested in that at all, so she may be worrying about something that wouldn’t happen. It was a bad habit she had, one she endeavored to break. Just wait, she told herself, and see what happens, and then decide. She did want to find something to eat though. Fish were good, but ordinary. A nice roasted spider would do well. She remembered where she’d seen a nest earlier in the season, with luck they would be large enough to eat now.

[Story] Story a Week 21

[[ This week’s word: Ripe ]]

Risarra hurried down the narrow trail, a basket over her arm. It was rare for her to be awake so late in the morning, but she was far too excited to sleep. The starberries she’d noticed on her patrol the other night should be fully ripe now. She could smell their sweet scent in the air, warmed by the morning sunshine. Starberries had been Risarra’s favorite ever since she was little, she loved their translucent sky-blue color and sweet flavor, the way the juice burst into her mouth when she’d bite into one. And if you were to look at the end that attached to the stem, you would see the pattern of a star left there on the fruit. Her mother used to say that Elune had made them as a special treat for the kaldorei.

She knew of a special spot, one along her patrol where few others rarely went. It was hidden in a small grove, behind some boulders overgrown with moss. The entrance was easy to miss if you didn’t know to look for it. Of course she planned to share the starberries, it’s just that she wanted to eat a few for herself first. Especially since she had come all the way out here this late in the morning to get them. Risarra smiled as she stepped into the clearing. The entire shady side was overgrown with the starberry bushes, their vines twining up onto the sides of the rocks. They preferred shade, and needed plenty of rain. Thankfully they had plenty of that in the past few weeks. The vines were laden with plump, ripe berries in their clusters. Risarra wondered if she should have perhaps brought a larger basket. She set it down on the grass and got to work, careful not to squish or bruise any of the starberries. Her mind wandered thinking of all the things the cooks could make with them — jam, pies, muffins, wine. Did Bear like starberries? She didn’t know if it even mattered. He would eat what she brought regardless of whether he liked it or not. But she supposed it couldn’t hurt to bring him just a few.

The rustling of leaves brought her back to the grove, and Risarra was startled to see a bear had joined her. It seemed unaware of her presence, head and shoulders buried deep in the leaves, picking off clusters of berries with its lips. It wasn’t one of Bear’s, she would have recognized them and, she hoped, they would her as well. Risarra remained still, watching for a reaction. If she had to escape quickly, she wanted to plan her route ahead of time. There was the gap in the boulders, through which she’d come in. That would work so long as the bear didn’t reach it first. It might not be able to fit through the opening, either. Or she could go up into one of the trees, just enough to jump out on the other side. The tree wouldn’t slow the bear down for long, though, not even with a belly full of starberries. She heard a squeak, and two cubs clamored out from underneath the bear, standing on their hind legs and trying to reach the berries. She remembered what Bear had said, that a mother protecting her cubs was the most dangerous kind of bear to come across. Risarra watched them in silence, uncertainly. She didn’t want to startle them, but neither did she want to hurt them. The mother bear pulled down one of the vines, bringing the berries low enough for the cubs to eat. They did so eagerly, their little jaws smacking with delight. Risarra couldn’t help but smile at their reaction to their first taste of starberries.

The mother bear paused, lifting her nose to sniff at the air. It was then she noticed the elf, crouched on the other side of the grove. She watched Risarra for a moment, checked to be certain her two cubs were safe, then returned to eating berries. Risarra sighed, relieved. Though she would still be cautious, she was happy to share her starberries with the bear family. There were plenty to go around.

[Story] Risarra’s Journal

I wonder if all men are as clueless as Bear is. Avanniel says they are, but that really makes me worry for the future. How is our society going to move ahead if half of them don’t even understand anything at all? I don’t know anyone who has one, otherwise I’d ask them. I would guess they probably would say they aren’t, otherwise they wouldn’t be with them in the first place. Unless they got lonely enough to ignore it, which I suppose is possible.

I thought I might take him some of my extra candy, I hadn’t eaten it all and I know it came from Sorias, but once he gave it to me, it became mine so it wouldn’t really be from him. Except I don’t think Bear understood when I explained it at all. He thought you were supposed to buy candy for the goblins. Why would anyone do that? I told him you bought it from them, and then gave it to someone else, but I still don’t think he got it. I also told him we’d had chocolate in Astranaar. The goblins had been selling it at a discount because it was the last day of the festival, so some of the sentinels bought some and brought it back for us. He could have had some if he hadn’t been so stubborn. I still haven’t eaten it all yet. Maybe I’ll try again, but maybe not.

He didn’t notice the perfume, either. Or maybe he did, because one of his bears got up and left when I got there. I thought it smelled nice. Definitely not enough to scare bears away. They should be used to my smell by now, I come by every few days at most. And of course, Bear didn’t notice at all. He said he wanted to give me some fish to take back. That’s good, I guess? We can always use fish. But I’d think he needs them to feed to the bears. We did talk a little though, which is more than usual. Most of the time he just stares off when I’m there. He talked about the places he used to live, and the sentinels there. I’ve heard about Feralas, but never been. I know there’s a large sentinel outpost there, you’d think he would like it, but he says they’re scary. I never heard anything so silly. I’m not scary, but I didn’t ask if he thought that. He probably would say yes, but he just puts up with me because I bring dumplings. He also asked what I like to do after patrol. Usually I just read books, or fish or something relaxing like that. He said that he likes fishing too, but he falls asleep during. That’s so strange. I told him he shouldn’t fish so close to dawn if that was the case.

I’ll have to ask Zhyra about the other one, or maybe go look for him myself. But he’s more used to Zhyra so he’d be less likely to hide from her. I should warn her not to use any perfume either.

[Story] Story a Week 7

[[ Another weird prompt this week… not happy about having so many I don’t like. So I wrote a little Valentine’s thing instead. ]]

It was the first time Risarra had even heard of the goblin holiday. She’d only been to Darnassus a handful of times, and never further than that. So she didn’t know what to make of the package from Stormwind; a small heart-shaped box of chocolates, a bag of hard candies, and a tiny vial of perfume. Sorias had sent it, along with a small note, but it didn’t explain what the things were or why he’d sent them. Avanniel made a face when she saw them sitting on the table at first-meal time.

“I wish they’d send those filthy goblins out of Darnassus,” she muttered. “But the people in Darnassus never did have much sense.”

According to Avanniel, the treats were all some sort of holiday invented by the goblins to sell candy and other things. You were supposed to buy gifts for people — so it was similar to what the dwarves did, except it was closer to spring and everything was pink. Also, there was meant to be some romantic connotation to the gift — the little hard candies had words printed on them in Common. Things like “Be Mine” and “Kiss Me”. Risarra wasn’t sure what to make of that. She had no intention of kissing Sorias, especially across the sea in Stormwind. She assured herself that he probably just didn’t know much about the holiday either, and had just sent them to be nice. The chocolates were very nice, after all. They were enrobed in a shell of chocolate that cracked when you bit into it, and the middle was filled with a creamy, sweet center. There were different flavors inside, some vanilla, others chocolate, and others some sort of berry. Risarra wanted to make them last as long as possible, but they were just so delicious she ended up eating most of them straight away. She did share a few with the other sentinels first.

She liked the little vial of perfume best, though. According to the writing on the bottle, it was called “Forever”, and it was like nothing she’d smelled before. Risarra thought she could recognize some of the scents in it, but then it would change and she couldn’t be sure. She dabbed a little on her wrist, and it seemed to shift as it dried, becoming deeper and more complex. It really was lovely. It was rare for the sentinels to wear perfume; it made them more noticeable to both animals and orcs, but sometimes for special occasions. There weren’t any of those coming up, though, besides the kite festival but that wasn’t for a month or so yet.

Zhyra suggested that she should wear it when she brought the dumplings to Bear’s camp. Risarra thought that was a bad idea — who knows how the animals might react to a strange scent. They were not normally aggressive, but maybe it had some sort of effect on bears that she didn’t know about. She certainly had no expectation that Bear, the elf, would notice it. He didn’t seem to notice anything at all, other than whether she had a basket of food with her. Maybe they ought to make dumpling-scented perfume. Still, she dabbed a few more drops onto her wrist, and added a touch behind each ear. It seemed a shame not to use it, if nothing else, she could enjoy the scent.

[Story] Risarra’s Journal

I’ve been taking dumplings to Bear at his camp before my patrols. I’m not sure why, he’s perfectly able to hunt for himself, and it’s always strange. I always tell him he should move in closer to the town, where it’s safer and people would be able to look out for him, but I suppose he’d rather be in danger than be around other people. Or sentinels, at least. He and the other one both have a strange aversion that I can’t figure out. I’ve never seen them be rude or cruel to anyone, strict yes, but not rude. Though I guess others might see it differently. I know Sorias dislikes them, and I suppose they weren’t very fair to him. He replied to my letter, saying that they were safe in the city behind the walls. I wonder if Bear and the other man might like it better there? Bear said that people yelled at him where he used to live, I asked where but he only said “up north”. That could be a lot of places. Maybe Feralas, I know there’s the sentinel stronghold there. But I really doubt anyone yelled at him. He can exaggerate sometimes. He also said they’d stare. That’s just because they are curious, I don’t think you can be upset at people for that. He does look a bit unusual, but not so strange that I think they would stare. I suspect there might be another reason, he just doesn’t want to say it. Usually he doesn’t want to say much of anything at all.

There have been a few more sightings, but still not a huge number. It’s discouraging that they are not decreasing, they must be coming from somewhere. A portal is the most likely, but we’ve not found one yet. I wonder if mages could sense that sort of thing? I should ask, though it’s not likely to be a popular idea. Still, if it could help us get rid of the demons for good, I think it’s worth trying. There have been some druids here trying to cleanse the river and the places where the demons were. It’s taking time, but it seems to be working. It would go faster if we had more, but they have all been called away to fight the Legion in other places. We need them here too! Our home is just as important as those other places. I would say even more so.

I was going to mention my strange dream, but in the end I decided not to. I thought it was too odd and he’d probably think I was mad or something. At least he wasn’t in it. I have had a dream about the fletcher but that was a while ago, and nothing happened, I just remember that he was in it. Bear asked if I could show him how to make dumplings. I guess so he doesn’t need me to bring them anymore. I explained that it would be difficult to make them in a camp, because you need a flat surface to roll out the dough and put the filling in. But it might be possible, I guess. I had a roasted quail with me too, because I thought he might get tired of eating the same food every day, but then I guess he eats fish all the time when I’m not there.

He hasn’t heard from the old man either. I’m beginning to think that the blood elves captured him after all. I’ve heard that they keep people as captives and drain out their magic. I don’t know if we have much magic to drain out, but they could have tried. I hope he’s not dead. I would feel partly responsible, because I was the one who helped convince Avanniel to let him go. I thought it was the best thing to do, but maybe it wasn’t?

[Story] Story a Week 43

[[ Prompt: A retelling of a recent Hollywood movie

I hardly ever watch movies, so I ended up choosing not a recent one, but a famous one all the same. I think you’ll be able to figure it out! ]]

Risarra awoke in a place she didn’t recognize. She wasn’t in her cot in the sentinel quarters, inside their barracks. She was in the center of a lush field sprinkled with flowers, the grass soft as fur beneath her. “That’s odd,” she said to herself, looking around for her bow. She couldn’t find that either. “I don’t remember being here before.” Without her bow, she was anxious and vulnerable, but at the same time, this place didn’t seem to hold any danger. It was so vibrant, so beautiful, while at the same time strange to her. Could it be the Dream? Risarra was no druid, so how was that possible? A spiraling pattern grew among the grass, starting from where she was now sitting. It continued into a path that led into some trees.

“I might as well follow it,” Risarra told herself, “And see where it goes.”

If it was the Dream, she saw no other elves here, no druids or even sisters. There were ordinary animals, though. Rabbits nibbled at the tender grass, and she could hear the chorus of birds overhead. As she approached the treeline, a deer watched her warily. Then, as she stepped into the cool shadows of the forest, she heard the rustle of leaves. There was no breeze; perhaps it had been another animal moving nearby.

“Hello,” said a voice, and Risarra blinked in surprise. She could still see no one around. She felt a twig brush her shoulder.

It was a treant — a very small one, but a treant all the same. It looked like the ones she’d seen when she went to Darnassus.

“Oh, pardon me,” Risarra said, flustered. “I didn’t see you — wait, you can talk?”

The treant’s stick arms moved in something like a shrug. “I suppose I can,” it said. “I’m talking now.”

Having never spoken with a treant before, Risarra wasn’t sure what to say. “I’m Risarra,” she offered.

“I’m Treant.”

“That isn’t a name,” Risarra pointed out.

“Yes it is,” the Treant replied indignantly. Well, she wasn’t going to argue. If it wanted to be called Treant, that was fine with her. “Where are you going?”

Risarra frowned, glancing around at the forest. “I’m not sure exactly. I’m trying to get back home. Do you know where this path leads?”

“No,” said Treant, far too enthusiastically she thought. “But I’ll go with you, if you want.”

She looked down at its roots. Sure enough, they were free from the ground. “Sure,” Risarra said. Some company couldn’t hurt.

She wasn’t sure how far they walked. The forest was new to her, so she didn’t know the landmarks, but she followed the path that wound through. It had to lead somewhere, if someone had made it. She just hoped it would be back to Ashenvale. The Treant didn’t know much about the forest, or much of anything really. But it was cheerful, and Risarra supposed it was better than being alone if she should run into any danger. Most treants were able to heal with druidic magic.

“Hey, what’s this?” Treant said, shaking its branch arm at something beside the path.

Risarra came to see. Sunlight glinted from something metal, obscured by the long grass. Carefully, she stepped off the trail to see what it was. She pulled back the grass and tugged loose some vines and leaves.

“Oh!” she gasped, as she heard something whir inside the metal thing. “What is that?”

It was shaped like a person, except not really — it was far too round and far too short, and of course it was entirely made of metal, every bit of it. It had huge eyes that were some kind of lamps, and Risarra could see a faint light within them. Was this thing… alive?

With Treant’s help, she hauled the metal thing up onto the path, where the grass was shorter. Dirt and rust had seized many of the thing’s joints. From helping with the glaives, she knew water would only make it worse. They needed some sort of oil — but of course she didn’t have any here in the middle of this strange forest. Treant shuffled over to the spot where the metal person had lay. Sure enough, there was a small can of oil hidden in the grass. If it had been right there, why hadn’t it used it on itself? Risarra didn’t know, but she poured the oil carefully into the joints and rubbed some of the dirt away with a corner of her shirt.

A series of loud beeps and whirs startled her, and Risarra backed away from it. Maybe it was broken?

“Activation complete,” said the small metal person. “Unit B10 operational.”

Risarra glanced at Treant, but it didn’t seem to have any idea either.

The metal person stared intently at Treant. “Beginning bio-scan.”

She — nor any of the sentinels — had ever seen anything like this in the forest before. The orc and goblin machines were huge, sharp, and loud. This seemed more like gnome technology, though she’d never seen it firsthand herself. She didn’t have any idea how to talk to a metal person any more than she did a Treant.

“Excuse me, hello?” she asked it. Treant was trying to push it away with its branches. The metal person stopped and looked toward Risarra.

“Voice identification failed,” said the metal person.

“Do you know the way out of this forest?” Risarra asked.

“Invalid command,” said the metal person.

She sighed. “Come on, Treant. I don’t think it’s going to help us.”

But when they began to walk away, they heard the clanking of the metal person following closely behind. It was very loud. If there was anything dangerous here, it was going to hear them now for sure. Still, maybe it could be useful if there was a problem. At the very least, she could take its arm off to use for a club.

They walked for a very long time. Risarra kept looking up to guess the hour, but it seemed that the sun wasn’t moving at all in the sky. Everything about this place felt strange, and that didn’t help. She was hungry, too. She couldn’t remember when she’d last eaten. They were probably serving the afternoon snack now for those who were already awake. Maybe dumplings. Tallstrider and vegetable and spider dumplings, her very favorite. She heard her stomach growl in protest.

Treant had stopped abruptly in front of her. Its branch extended shakily to point at something.

Risarra heard the growl again, but this time she knew it wasn’t her stomach. The path before them was blocked by a very large furbolg.

Ordinarily, furbolgs weren’t dangerous, but this one was much larger than she’d ever seen. It stood at least a head taller than herself — as tall as an elf man — and at least as wide. Its teeth were bared in a snarl.

“Is this your land? We didn’t know,” Risarra explained. Most furbolgs could at least understand, if not speak themselves.

The furbolg roared, spittle dripping from its jaws.

“There’s no need to be rude,” Risarra said. “Just tell us the way out, and we’ll leave.”

It dropped to all fours and made a swipe of its paws toward Treant.

“Stop that!” Risarra said, and smacked the furbolg’s nose. It gave a pitiful yelp and sat down on all fours.

“Well,” she said, checking Treant’s bark. “You didn’t need to do that.” If those claws had connected, Treant would have deep gashes that might not heal. She wasn’t really sure how wounds worked with treants.

The furbolg rubbed its eyes, still whimpering. She hadn’t hit it that hard. “You’re fine,” Risarra said, feeling guilty now. “Let me see it. Oh, you’re not bleeding at all. See?” It sniffled and continued to wail. Maybe the poor thing was hungry too. Risarra hadn’t seen any food at all the whole time they’d been walking. “If you show me the way out, I’ll bring you some dumplings.” It worked for the elves, maybe it would work for a furbolg too.

It perked up its ears and began to lumber quickly down the path. Risarra smiled and hurried after. They were finally getting somewhere!

Deeper in the forest, the light grew dimmer and Risarra no longer saw any animals or heard any birds. Even the trees seemed more ominous, bent and twisted. The ground beneath them looked black and charred, as if a fire had passed through, or — no, not a fire. Demons. She could smell them now, the stink of fel hanging in the air. Her traveling companions were reluctant to follow her, and she could not blame them for being afraid, but she had to get back. Beautiful though this place was, it wasn’t her home.

“Come on,” she urged them. “I need your help.” If there was a demon here, she didn’t want to face it alone and unarmed.

Risarra entered another clearing, charred black and twisted. In the very center stood the demon, each of its four arms holding a sharp blade. The smile on its horrid face widened when it saw Risarra. How was she supposed to fight it? She had no weapon — but she did have the furbolg. And the metal person. And the Treant.

“Will you help me?” she whispered to them.

The furbolg rumbled.

“Yes!” said Treant.

“Combat protocol activated,” said the metal person.

“Get one of the knives,” she urged the furbolg, as the metal person clattered over toward the demon. With one on either side of her, she was distracted, and the furbolg sunk its teeth into one of the arms. Risarra grabbed the knife. She wasn’t well trained in close combat, but she’d watched Sorias a few times, and he’d given her a few tips. Hopefully it would be enough. While she and the furbolg alternated attacks, the metal person assaulted the demon’s legs. Treant mostly ran back and forth at first, but it proved useful when it held the demon in place with roots that sprung up from the ground.

With a final shriek, the demon dissipated into the Nether. In the place she had stood, already small sprouts had begun to grow, covering the burned and ruined ground. There had to be a portal nearby…

When Risarra woke again, it was back in her cot in the sentinel quarters. It was dusk, and the others were preparing for patrol.

“Get up, sleepyhead,” Zhyra teased. “You’re going to miss breakfast.”

Had it all been a dream? She’d never had a dream so intense, so real. But maybe that’s all it was. She began putting on her armor for her patrol.