[Story] The Ghostclaw – Sath’alor’s Journal

Last night, I got to take Nessna to dinner and a play. Actually, her father bought the tickets for us, but I was still the one who took her. I originally thought he would be coming with us, since he took Hethurin and Vaildor, but then he said he’d watch the boys so we could go. I feel bad for not being able to take her out like that more often, I should see if Lin or Mae would be willing to babysit for us sometime. And she wore a dress! I couldn’t even believe it. Nessna said that Lani was the one who finally talked her into it, because she said you can’t wear armor to a play. I did, but I guess she meant that ladies can’t. I’m going to have to get Lani something nice to thank her, because I’ve tried and I could never talk her into it. She looked so beautiful though, I tried to make sure she knew without being too creepy.

We ate at a place that serves Pandaren food. It’s not really authentic pandaren food, because they don’t have any actual pandaren working there, it’s all elves. But they had it decorated to look like a pandaren temple and there was a statue of one and everything. And it was really good! I got these noodles that were fried with beef and vegetables in a delicious sauce, and Nessna got spring rolls. I will say I missed the food that they had in Pandaria, we’ll have to go to this place again sometime. We talked a little bit about some of the other rangers, mostly Arancon. I’m pretty sure he’ll be moving out of the mens’ quarters and into his own house soon. We’re both just a little worried because it’s right next to the inn, and he might be tempted to go there and get a drink. But hopefully Anorelle will be there to talk him out of it. I hope it works out for him, he’s worked really hard to get where he is and he deserves to be happy. Especially having to put up with Aeramin all the time. He also keeps getting her things! The other morning, there was a huge bouquet of flowers that he bought for her, and Sunashe got some for Lin too because he was there when Arancon bought them. Then yesterday afternoon, he got chocolates. I don’t want Nessna to feel unappreciated so I’m going to have to step it up. Also because she told me some important news — we’re going to have another baby around the winter holidays. I couldn’t believe it at first, but she said she’s seen Esladra and everything. I think it would be exciting to have a girl, but three boys would be good too. I’m going to talk to Gael right away to see about getting some plans made up to add a second story onto the house. There’s probably enough space now, but it would be great if they all had their own rooms, and a play room would be nice for when it’s cold or rainy outside. It’s so strange to think that I’ll have three children, when just a few years ago I thought I’d be alone forever. She’s really the best.

Of course I was kind of distracted by the news when we went to the play. It was my first time going to one, Nessna said she’d been before. She made sure to tell me the rules, like no jumping up and yelling when something exciting happens. You are allowed to laugh and clap though. The story was about a soldier who went to fight in a far away land, and he met a woman there and they fell in love, but she thought he was killed. Later on, she had his child and they were reunited at the end, so it had a happy ending. I liked the play a lot, I even forgot that I was watching actors for a while. I wonder if they have any plays about rangers? I’d definitely like to watch that.

On the way home, I got Nessna some flowers from the little stand they had outside. There aren’t really any blue flowers, but I got some that were purple mixed with pink. I know it’s not a lot, but I’m not good at writing poems like Arancon is. I also promised that I’d talk to Nessna’s father about trying to help with his girl problems. I’m really not an expert, but Nessna said I should because I’ve been in a similar situation. The lady he’s trying to impress lost her husband — in fact, around the same time that Vessen died. I’ll try, but I’m not sure he’s interested in my advice and I don’t really know if he likes me very much.

 

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[Story] The Ghostclaw – Sath’alor’s Journal

I had to write my first incident report in a long time today. Sunashe and Arancon came in, looking sheepish. Arancon’s hand was wrapped up and had a bag with ice on it. At first I’d thought there’d been an accident of some kind, but they told me that Arancon had punched Bailas on patrol. I couldn’t believe that! So, it turns out that he was running his mouth and saying some things he shouldn’t have. I guess I can’t blame him for punching the kid, but I feel like maybe he could have tried talking to him first? Arancon told me what he said though, and I have to agree he kind of deserved it. I don’t want anyone talking about other rangers that way. If he’d said that about Nessna, I would have punched him too, but I didn’t tell Arancon that. It did make me wonder if there’s something to the rumors but — hey, not really my business. Sunashe did say he was going to warn her to keep away from him. I can’t believe I gave him one rule: don’t bother the women, and he’s already broken it.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do. I’ll talk to the kid and see if he wants to stay, because I’m pretty sure Hethurin doesn’t want him back either. I could put him on another patrol, but I don’t really want them to have to put up with him either. Maybe he could just stay here around the grounds, help Teloth in the stables or something. Or he could keep trying to practice with that huge bow that Sunashe gave him. I felt kind of bad about that, and got him one of the practice bows out of the storage room. At least he can sort of pull that one back, though I haven’t seen him hit the target yet.  I told Arancon I’d give him a couple of days off, to get his hand looked at, and because there ought to be some consequence for what he did, even if I don’t really think it was wrong. On the form I wrote that Bailas hit himself in the face while he was trying to draw his bow, though. No need for Arancon to get in any trouble.

That egg thing is going on, I’d actually forgotten about it until Hethurin invited us to bring the boys. He’s having a big fancy egg hunt on the grounds and he invited everyone with little kids, Lali and the Confessor came, as well as Xanaroth and his daughter (but not Vallindra). I don’t really understand what it’s all about, but the kids love running around looking for eggs, and eating a lot of chocolate. I might have accidentally eaten one or two. Malwen also had a little turtle and was carrying it around to show everyone. I think the spring ball has got to be this week, I hadn’t realized it was so soon either. I’m definitely not wanting to bring Bailas to that, so I’ll have to think of some reason he can stay behind.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Sath’alor’s Journal

We have a new recruit — sort of. Hethurin begged me to let him stay here, because he’s been causing trouble at the school. He has no skills, has never held a bow, and wants to leave as soon as he can. Obviously not the ideal ranger candidate. I told Bailas — that’s his name — that I wasn’t going to waste anyone’s time if he didn’t actually want to learn. But Sunashe has agreed to keep an eye on him for a few days. I figure we can let him hold a bow and pretend to shoot it, tag along on a couple of patrols, give him the whole ranger weekend experience thing. Maybe that’ll be enough to satisfy Hethurin. Or, what I hope happens is that he discovers he actually likes it and wants to learn for real, as has happened with a few others.

I just hope he doesn’t bother any of the women. He apparently has a liking for older women — like a lot older — and has trouble controlling that urge. He said it was the stablekeeper’s fault that he ended up in the loft with her. Which I’m sure it was, to a degree, but I really doubt she forced him into it. I think the only one he might try to talk to is Anorelle, so I’ll warn her beforehand. Bailas is going to tag along with Arancon and Sunashe’s patrol anyway, so maybe he’ll be too tired to do anything else. He was worried about the mud though, bad season to join up with the rangers then!

He says he wants to go home to Verisna, which might be true. But he doesn’t plan to tell her about what happened in the loft. I don’t know if that’s right or not, I feel like she’ll be more upset if she ever does find out. Or maybe she’s replaced him already, I don’t know how her mind works. I do know for certain that I would never do anything like that to Nessna, even if she did kick me out. And I guess I’d do anything she asked to get her back, even if it meant doing something I hated. He’s worried that Hethurin is going to turn him into a sheep, and I told him maybe that wouldn’t be so bad. All he’d have to do is eat grass, not be a ranger or shovel hawkstrider poop or anything else. I was only half joking, I think. I do feel bad for him, especially when he started to cry. I’m just not sure he’s cut out to be a ranger, even a weekend ranger.

Nessna’s father got tickets for some play in the city. I think it’s just some family thing with him and her sisters, but I’m not sure yet. I’ve never been to a play, but I think it would be pretty interesting. If it’s just her, I’ll have her explain everything that happened when she gets home. But it would be nice to go with her. Maybe if she likes it, I’ll get tickets for her and I to go sometime. I’m not sure who I’d get to watch the boys though. I’d say Linarelle, but I’m pretty sure Sunashe would let them ride on his lizard, and Rylad is old enough that he’d want to.

 

[Story] Valentine Shorts

Sorelle pinned the lace edging into place, making sure that it lay flat against the seam. There were only a few days until the ball, so she’d had to take a few shortcuts to finish her new dress in time. Salenicus was the one who’d told her about the ball, though she’d seen the paper hearts and ribbons being hung, she hadn’t paid it much mind. A relatively new custom adopt from the goblins, it was meant to be a day to celebrate love, but in truth was probably just a ruse to sell candy and flowers. Obviously, Sorelle had never had anyone to go with before, but this year she did. Salenicus had asked her, and she wanted a new dress that would match the ruffly pink decorations in the ballroom. She’d given Tik a list of what sort of fabric and supplies she needed, and he’d returned with a length of beautiful soft pink cloth, like rose petals. For a butler, he was fortunately good at picking out cloth that she would like. Or perhaps everything in Silvermoon was nice, and it was impossible to pick something bad. She’d never been to the shops there herself, though she desperately wanted to. The Headmaster assured her that the arcane guards could see through magical disguises, and they might ask her to leave.

Though it wasn’t especially complex, the lines were soft and flattering, and Sorelle was pleased with how it was turning out. There was enough fabric left for some matching bows — she made one for herself, and one for Xarola. Of all the students, she was the one who had been the most like a friend to her, talking to her and loaning her books. Sorelle thought Xarola probably wasn’t very fond of pink, but maybe she’d wear it just for the ball. The last little piece she made into a handkerchief for Salenicus. Of course, he couldn’t really use it, but she thought it might look nice tucked into his coat or armor.

“Lin! You’re a woman, can you help me?”

Linarelle lowered her bow and looked at the Captain, puzzled.

“What?”

Sath’alor held a sheet of paper. From what Linarelle could see, there were a lot of things scratched out and rewritten. “I want to know if this is a good poem for Nessna.”

“Shouldn’t you ask her that?”

“Okay, yes,” Sath’alor explained. “But if she hates it, then it’s not a good gift, is it?”

Linarelle bit her lip. “Is that the only thing you got her?”

“No, of course not. I got flowers and some chocolates, a bottle of wine… oh, and a book. From that one shop. Forget I said that.”

Linarelle nodded. At least if the poem was terrible, he had a backup plan. She laid her bow against the bench and sat down. “Let’s hear it.”

The Captain read from the paper. “An ode to Nessna. My dearest Nessna, you are the best-na ranger I’ve ever known. I’d be a mess-na if you don’t say yes-na to being mine. You’ll never guess-na how much you mean to me. I’m truly blessed-na.”

“Um,” said Linarelle. “Do you want me to be honest?”

Sath’alor nodded.

“It’s pretty bad.”

“How can it be bad?” Sath’alor protested. “It rhymes and everything. I mean, kind of.”

Still, as awful as it was, he’d clearly gone to a lot of effort. And he probably meant every awkward line. Would Nessna at least be amused by it? Probably. Linarelle had her own share of odd gifts from Sunashe, but that didn’t mean she loved him any less. “It might not be the best poem ever, but she’ll like it.”

Sath’alor brightened. “You think so?”

“I’m sure of it.”

[Story] Story a Week – Family

[[ This is the last Story a Week of 2017. The book that I got didn’t end up being very useful and I stopped using it pretty early on. Next year, I think I’m going to steal my friend’s idea and focus on one character a week. There will certainly be a story, maybe some art or screenshots, to go along with each. I am making a big push to work on sewing more next year as well, so I think I can do both realistically. I hope. I’m going to need to make up a list of 52 characters though! ]]

The little evergreen tree stood in the corner of the rangers’ common room, covered in hand-made paper ornaments. Rylad had done most of them, and been enthusiastic with the glitter — Sath’alor was still finding it in places he’d never imagined finding glitter. But a few of the rangers had got into the Winter Veil spirit, cutting shapes from colored paper and hanging them with ribbons on the tree. He’d had to move a couple that Julan made onto the side of the tree that faced the wall, luckily no little eyes would see them there. They’d also folded white paper and cut it to form snowflakes, unfolding seemingly like magic from the ordinary paper. These were hung along the walls, and in the windows. Winter Veil might be a strange dwarf holiday, but it did serve to make the cold winter nights just a bit brighter. Besides, giving gifts was fun — especially to the kids. The pile of gifts beneath the tree had gradually grown over the past couple of weeks. Maerista had gone into the city and bought scarves and ear cozies for every ranger, he couldn’t imagine how much that had cost. She’d also got those sweaters for everyone who hadn’t already received one, because she said she didn’t want anyone to get too cold on patrol. Even Orledin and the other undead got some, Sath’alor wasn’t certain they were even able to get cold, but hopefully they would at least appreciate the thought. Unfortunately there weren’t any for the newest rangers, but Maerista promised she’d go to the city soon and get sweaters for them, too.

He and Nessna had bought toys for the boys, as well as some things for the other ranger babies. They’d even found a little soft alligator for Sunashe’s son, and tied a bright green ribbon around its neck. For Nessna, he’d bought a heavy fur cloak, made from Northrend shoveltusk hide. It was thick and waterproof, and would surely keep her warm on her patrols. Sath’alor hoped she would like it, she cared much more for practical things than jewelry or fancy clothes, but he still wanted to get her something nice. It was just difficult because she already had most everything she could need.

Rylad helped pass out the gifts. He was small, so he was kind of like a dwarf. He’d have to work on the beard before he’d pass for Greatfather Winter though. He was able to read the names on the packages and happily took them over to the person. Orledin put out a plate of fresh cookies, warm from the oven. They were shaped like snowflakes and were frosted with blue and white sugar. He must have been making them all night, there were several plates of them. Everyone cheerfully ate cookies while they tore the paper off their gifts. Some he hadn’t seen before this evening, there were some gifts to the boys from some of the rangers, and Sunashe had got him a block of wax for his bow strings. Nessna had got another map for the sitting room, with the new routes added on, and the estates updated — many had been bought and rebuilt since the Ghostclaw had first been formed. Arancon got a leather-bound journal and a fancy pen, but the package wasn’t signed and no one could say who it was from. Must have been Greatfather Winter. Or Sunashe.

They all seemed to be in a festive mood, eating cookies and drinking hot chocolate as the cold wind howled outside in the forest. He was proud of all of them, how far they’d come, and eager to see where the future would take them. They were a family — a large and unusual one, but a family all the same.

[Story] Winter Veil Postcards 2017

[[ Sorry it’s been quiet… I have unexpected guests over this weekend. Here are two Winter Veil shorts, I’ll do more later! ]]

“Just get him dumplings,” Zhyra said over breakfast. The night was chilly, fog had rolled in over the small lake around the town, and a steady rain dripped from the eaves. “He likes them, doesn’t he?”

Of course he did. And while she’d been doing her best to learn to make them herself, Risarra felt they weren’t special enough for a gift. Bear got dumplings just about every day, he had for all the time they’d been checking on him at his camp — which counted in years now.

Avanniel made a face. “I don’t know why you want to follow a dwarf holiday anyway.”

Risarra frowned and stirred her oatmeal, mixing the berries in for flavor. “It doesn’t have to be for that,” she argued. “It could just be a gift.” The other two sentinels exchanged a look, but said nothing else on the subject.

There would be a market in Darnassus today. She’d have to hurry, but Risarra thought she could make it there and back in time before her patrol if she could borrow a hippogryph. Surely there she could find something that would make a good gift — something for his house perhaps, or to keep him warm when she was away at patrol. A scarf or a cloak, something like that. Risarra hurried to finish her breakfast and dug her bag of coins out from under her bunk.

“Ouch!” Sath’alor pulled his hand back from the hawkstrider’s sharp beak. He’d like to think it had simply mistaken his fingers for a snack, but he couldn’t be sure. They were probably just nervous, he reasoned, being led away from their farm to their new home. Sath’alor had specifically asked for birds with good temperaments and steady nerves to face the rigors of patrol. He didn’t care what they looked like or what their bloodlines were — though they looked fancy and colorful to him, at least.  There were six in total, four males and two female, their feathers varying shades of blue and black. One had a slightly greenish tint if you looked at it in the right light. The seller said that Sath’alor could name them, but he wasn’t terribly good with names, he thought he’d leave that to the rangers, and perhaps Rylad.

The stable was warm and dry, fresh straw spread over the floor and the bins filled with greens and vegetables. Each stall had a bucket of water and a blank nameplate on the door waiting to be filled in. Sath’alor hadn’t yet figured out a schedule for which hawkstriders would patrol when, but they couldn’t be worked all day, they would need to rotate. And not everyone would need or want to ride anyway, ideally only one pair would be out at any time. He hoped that at least one of them would be gentle enough to give rides to Rylad, and the other children if they were big enough. He could even bring them to Hethurin’s parties if he so wished, decked out in matching saddles. For now, he just had the plain leather saddles and bridles from the breeder, along with detailed instructions for their care. Sath’alor knew a lot about cats, but practically nothing about hawkstriders, so he hoped to hire someone to look after them. For the time being though, it was his job.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – The Recruit

Hethurin appeared in my office. Fortunately I wasn’t working too hard or he probably would have startled me. It’s still startling to have someone just appear in front of you, but I guess you get used to it when you’re around mages a lot. I still wish he’d knock or something first. He did bring good news though, he said he had a potential ranger that he wanted me to meet in Shattrath. I didn’t know they had any there, I know there are a lot of mages and blood knights, but I agreed to come meet with them. Though we aren’t hurting for people, there are a lot of empty beds and we could always use more. I went through the portal with Hethurin and we started walking to the tavern. I remembered that place, I’d spent quite a lot of time there when I stayed in Shattrath before. It seems like such a long time ago now, and I guess it was. Thankfully if anyone recognized me, they didn’t say anything.

I didn’t see any rangers at first, until Hethurin pointed out the huge draenei. I thought at first maybe he was sitting on the ranger or something, but no. A draenei, an enormous draenei with huge horns and hooves and everything, and it wanted to join up with the Ghostclaw. I don’t speak Draenei, and he didn’t speak Thalassian, but all three of us knew enough Common to make it work — kind of. Hethurin translated mostly, he explained that the draenei’s sister would be going to the school to learn Thalassian and help the healers in town, and the ranger was her brother. He wanted to be close to her to ensure that she was safe, because they were the only family they had left after the orcs attacked them. I couldn’t help but feel a bit sorry for him, as well as admiring his dedication to his sister — anyone who cared that much couldn’t be too bad, I figured. The school is safe, there are wards and Theronil patrolling, so no harm would come to his sister. But sending a draenei out onto the roads in the Ghostlands is another matter. I didn’t want any residents to mistake him for a demon or something while he was out there.

The night patrol might be the safest option. I know it’s not easy for a living ranger, but I could split it into two patrols if there are two teams now. Or I could ask if one of them wanted to move to a daytime patrol — I have a feeling that Orledin would jump at the chance, especially if I let him patrol with Leinath. I trust both of them enough that nothing too improper would happen, and they’d both actually get their routes done. Hethurin asked for me what kind of experience he had, whether he’d used a bow or not. The draenei said he was, and he had five different ones. Five! I bet Sunashe will like him right away. I’m not sure about the others. He’s very different, but I do think he’ll do a good job and he says he has a lot of experience — 1,000 years, in fact. He doesn’t look that old, but maybe that’s not even old for a draenei. Hethurin said he thinks they are immortal or something, I don’t know if that’s true or not. But I think, despite his fearsome looks, that he’ll take his post seriously, I don’t know why he’d ask to go somewhere so dangerous if he wasn’t certain about it.

I need to talk to everyone — Nessna especially — but I said we’d be ready for him in a week or so. I think he’ll probably need two beds, but we have plenty, so that’s okay. Fortunately he has his own armor, which is good because we wouldn’t have anything that would fit him properly. If something needs repaired, I hope he can do it himself, because I’m not about to take a piece of draenei armor into the city. Nor do I even know what draenei eat, Hethurin suggested that maybe he could bring some of his own food so the change wouldn’t be too drastic. My cooking isn’t that bad. He did seem interested when I told him we had fresh cookies daily from Orledin — he also has a pet moth that needs bread. I’m sure Lin will want to talk to him for that reason alone. I feel like my instinct has usually been right about people, and I got a good feeling from him. I just hope the other rangers agree to give him a chance.