[Story] Story a Week 30 – Graveyard

Curiosity brought Stormpelt further away from the town. She had seen very little of her leader and his family, though she sometimes saw them from afar. There was a little hill she liked to sit upon and watch the town; they were mostly awake at night, like she had been once. She still feared the people with the sharp spears, though they usually did not approach unless she got too close to the town. The pup was big now, old enough to come out of their den and run on his own. Stormpelt saw him sometimes, with his mother. She could not be certain, of course, but they looked happy to her. They didn’t need her to protect them any longer — they had the town and the people with sharp spears. In fact, they probably never thought of her at all, and the realization left her feeling restless. Was it sadness? Perhaps it was, or something like it. Her first master had betrayed her, leading her to this place in between alive and dead. Now it seemed the second had forgotten her. That was not as bad, but it still hurt. Stormpelt did not wish to give up on him just yet, however. He had saved her, and she had sworn to follow him and keep him and his family safe. There could be danger lurking here that she had missed, she could not afford to be complacent. 

Dawn rose over the dense forest, illuminating the dew that clung to the grass and low brush. Stormpelt knew it would not be long before the leaves began to turn color and fall to the ground. Then the rain and the wind would come, and she would have to seek shelter. While she could not really feel the cold, being wet was still unpleasant, and Grub Grub preferred to be warm and dry. The trails of deer — and perhaps their predators — were visible through the grass where the dew had been brushed away by their passing. Stormpelt faintly remembered the smell of them, the excitement of finding a path and calling to the rest of her pack, noses all to the ground as they hunted. Those days seemed impossibly long ago, just a fading memory. One day she would be dead longer than she had been alive, and she worried that she might forget everything good from those days. She did her best to hold onto them, but scents were the most difficult. No matter how she tried, she could not smell them as she did then, they were dull and faded.

Stormpelt moved past some crumbling stones, in a place she did not recognize. She knew the stones had been put there by people; they were carved and arranged into buildings and pillars. Or they had been, once. Now they were a jumble, overgrown with vines and thorns. Why had the people left? Stormpelt didn’t know, and the stones gave her no answers. The grass grew soft and green between the stones, and she thought she might rest there among them, not that she had to, but because it was so lovely with the morning sun. Something caught her eye though, further back beyond the ruins of one of the buildings. More stones, but these were not fallen, but stood on end in the earth. Words were carved into them, and though Stormpelt could not read them, she knew at once what they were. She had seen such stones back in Silverpine. They were graves, marking the places where bones lay beneath the earth. A place for the dead to rest at peace, not to wander as she did. Stormpelt went among them carefully, her nose to the ground. She took care not to knock any stones over or stand where she thought someone might be. What would they think, if they could see her? But she knew they could not. They were somewhere else, wherever people went when they were really dead. She liked to think they were warm and happy and peaceful, wherever they were. They could not feel cold or wet or abandoned any longer. Even so, she felt a strange sort of kinship with them. They needed someone to keep watch over their resting place. She could guard the stones, pull the vines from them and put them upright if they fell over. She could ensure that no people came to walk over the bones or dig them up. She would be their guardian and their keeper, for as long as she was able.

[Story] Story a Week 34

[[ Prompt: A story about loneliness

I have two characters who are very lonely, and both are undead! Sora, the mage, and Stormpelt the worgen. I chose Stormy because she’s needed to help watch over Feathermoon while Ornasse is away. ]]

They had all forgotten about her.

Stormpelt had roamed the woods for a long time. How long exactly, she could not be sure. She did not have to sleep, so she could not count the days easily. In this dense forest, the seasons ran together — it never got very hot in the summer nor very cold in the winter. It was either wet, or not wet. She could not feel the cold, though she enjoyed laying out on a warm rock in the afternoons. Stormpelt could not remember how many times she had done that.

Sometimes she saw others, but not often. If she got too close to the town, she’d see the ones with the sharp things. Stormpelt didn’t like those, so she was careful to avoid them. There were others sometimes, the big ones that smelled bad, but she could not remember the last time she saw one of them. The most interesting were the small people, in their makeshift camps. Once Stormpelt came across one as she roamed, and she had to stay and investigate because she had never seen anything like it before. They had food hanging out, meat and fish and berries drying on racks, and though they looked delicious, Stormpelt had no need of them. She found a place to rest and waited for them to return. What she saw surprised her. They were covered in fur, and they smelled warm and alive. They chittered excitedly to each other, eating together around the fire. Stormpelt felt a stab of emotion — she wasn’t exactly sure what, at first. Remembering her own pack, guilt for what had happened since then, a desire to be among these small strangers. But if they were like any other living people, they would not want her there. They would snarl and show their weapons and shout at her. No matter how much they might be alike, there would always be that one difference between them.

She had almost been welcomed, by the leaf-person and his mate. He had saved Stormpelt in the fire place, tended to her burnt paws and brought her back to safety. Stormpelt could tell that they were still wary, but they had been kind to her. She remembered how they used to wash her and comb her hair. They had a tiny pup, and Stormpelt would help watch over him while he played. He must be a lot larger now. Stormpelt wasn’t sure she would recognize him now, but she would surely remember his scent. But she hadn’t seen them for a very long time, since they had arrived here in the forest. They lived in the town, safe inside the strong buildings, but Stormpelt was not allowed there. Had they forgotten about her? It was likely so. They had their own lives — real lives, not the strange version that Stormpelt had, somewhere in between alive and dead. She longed to see them again, not only to see that they were safe, but for that sense of belonging. It was the thing she most missed about her pack — aside from Frostmoon, of course.

At least she still had Grub Grub. He, at least, had never left her. She withdrew into the cool darkness of her den, curling around herself. Grub Grub liked the warmth of summer, he was more active and hungry, and searched her open paw for the berries she had brought him. Berries weren’t his favorite food, he preferred meat, but he hungrily ate them, all the same. Stormpelt had just laid her head down to rest when she heard the whisper of feathers outside her den. She perked her ears curiously.

“Worgen?” a voice called, and Stormpelt’s heart leapt. It was the leaf person. He hadn’t forgotten about her after all.

[Story] Story a Week 27

[[ Sorry I haven’t been writing much, between my summer projects and cleaning/yard work/car hassles I have not had much free time. The werewolf should be done today though I hope!

Prompt: A story that features a song or a poem

I ended up using the poem for inspiration, rather than actually putting it into the story. I just picked one that I liked and felt I could apply to one of my characters! ]]

Winter Heavens
George Meredith

Sharp is the night, but stars with frost alive
Leap off the rim of earth across the dome.
It is a night to make the heavens our home
More than the nest whereto apace we strive.
Lengths down our road each fir-tree seems a hive,
In swarms outrushing from the golden comb.
They waken waves of thoughts that burst to foam:
The living throb in me, the dead revive.
Yon mantle clothes us: there, past mortal breath,
Life glistens on the river of the death.
It folds us, flesh and dust; and have we knelt,
Or never knelt, or eyed as kine the springs
Of radiance, the radiance enrings:
And this is the soul’s haven to have felt.

A cold winter wind blew over the crusted snow, flinging tiny specks of ice into the air, which caught the meager light and sparkled there. Stormpelt had always loved the winter, the feels and smells of it — the soft, fluffy snow and the hard, slippery ice. The rich sap of the pines and the way your breath hung in the air like a cloud. She loved the crunch beneath her paws of old snow and brittle branches, the sound of the wind rattling the bare branches at night. But most of all she loved the feeling of being warm and safe in their den together, knowing even the most bitter wind would not reach them there.

This winter was different. Wintermoon was gone. She could still see the image in her head, his gentle eyes wide in surprise and — she hated to believe it — perhaps fear, the bright blood seeping into the ground. She hadn’t meant to, hadn’t wanted to. But it had happened, all the same. Her master must have known how it would hurt her, that’s why he had chosen Wintermoon for her prey. There could be no other reason.

She walked down the long road, the one that led to the towns. Normally, she would avoid them, but no one was traveling now. The people there were snug inside their own dens, within the thick stone walls. They probably had their families with them as well. Stormpelt felt her stomach turn, and she  knew it was not hunger, for she had not felt hunger since the day she died. She went to a ridge where they had often sat to watch the stars as they emerged from behind the mountains, a secret place hidden by the trees.

Had he forgiven her? She liked to believe that he had, it was his nature. He had never growled or nipped her in earnest, though he was much larger and stronger than she. She had betrayed him twice, once in death and again in undeath. Was his heart soft enough to love her in spite of that? It was somehow worse if he had, made her feel even more guilty. He didn’t deserve what had happened. It was still light, so Stormpelt could not see the stars yet, but they would come in time. They always did.

When she was there with her master, some of them said they didn’t feel anything at all. She envied them that sometimes, it must be so much easier. They were not burdened as she was with the guilt of what they had done, the memories of what they had lost. They didn’t think back to cozy winter nights in their dens, to the thrill of the hunt through the woods, to watching the stars on a summer evening. They didn’t have the pain that seemed to crush their hearts within their breast at a scent, or a word, or a place. They had nothing at all. Stormpelt had at least the faint echo of her life, and though it hurt, it was something. Feeling something, even hurt, made her feel a little more alive. And memories were better than nothing at all. She vowed to keep them safe, one last promise — he would never be forgotten.

[Story] Springtime

Stormpelt knew the season had changed by the way the forest smelled. Even her dulled nose could smell the rain soaking into the soil, the fresh green leaves unfurling from their buds, and the little flowers that dotted the ground with speckles of color. The birds had returned too, from their hidden places in the trees, and now twittered from the first blush of sunrise. Most of all, Stormpelt liked the way the sun shone through the treetops and warmed her fur in the afternoons, if it wasn’t raining that day. She was not sure exactly how many times the moon had changed since they’d come here, but she knew how many springs it had been. It was easy to lose count when time didn’t change you anymore. She saw the whole rest of the world change — the forest, the animals, even her strange furless master and his family. Their small pup was not so small anymore, it seemed his legs had grown longer every time she saw him. She didn’t see much of Leaves and Berries now; they had the entire pack to look after them, and they still eyed Stormpelt with suspicion. Still, she often crept close to their den during the daytime, when most of the pack slept, to check on her master. It was her hope that one day the pup would be allowed to play in the woods, and she could meet him there. Stormpelt remembered playing with the pups before, in her old life. They tumbled and wrestled and gnawed on each other with endless energy. She had never had any of her own, and the thought filled her with sadness sometimes, but at the least she could help raise Leaves’s pup, and ensure that he was taught well. That was what the pack was for.

More distressingly, she had lost Grub Grub sometime over the winter. The worm had been her companion since those days with the bad master, her one small comfort. Normally she took very good care of him, and always ensured that he was tucked away somewhere safely, but one morning last winter, he was simply gone. He didn’t have much smell, and her dulled nose was not keen enough to sniff out where he had gone. She searched her resting spot, and the area surrounding it, but she could find no sign of him. The winter this year had been more harsh than usual, ice forming over the streams and riming the branches even deep in the forest. A few times, Stormpelt felt snowflakes accumulating on her back, and she had to retreat to her den underneath the tree. She had learned early on that they would not melt if she stayed out, and would eventually find herself coated if she did not seek shelter. She was always cold, but Grub Grub’s absence made everything more miserable. She paused to sniff every worm and caterpillar hopefully, if she should happen across one while walking. They weren’t the same sort of worm, though — some were thin and pink, others fat and green. Once she even found a hairy one, and that tickled her nose. None were the right color or shape to be Grub Grub, though.

Rain began to spatter the ground, big drops that splashed when they landed, and Stormpelt went into her den beneath the big tree. She did not mind the rain, but she did not like the way the mud felt if it dried on her fur. Even if it did mean that Berries would wash her with the soap that smelled like flowers after. She went to the back of the den, nosing her dry leaves into a pile, and curled up on top of them. She heard a crinkling from underneath her paw, and lifted it to look. One of the leaves was moving. Underneath were several small worms, more than Stormpelt could count. They were very tiny, but they were the right color and shape to be Grub Grub. Her heart leapt, and she curled her paws protectively around them. She would ensure that they were safe.

[Story] Winter Veil Postcards 2

[[ The other 6! They are kind of depressing this time around… sorry XD ))

Ornasse

The stormcrow beat his wings once, twice, to maintain his height. Where once the flying had been swift and treacherous, its shifting thermals and sudden jets of hot air, it now took some effort on Ornasse’s part to stay aloft. Though it had not been long, not even by human measurements, the forests of Hyjal had moved to reclaim themselves. The servants of Ragnaros had been banished, sent back to the realm of fire, and green growth sprouted over the charred ground.

Like all of the battles in his long life, this one would soon fade to little more than memories, perhaps with a scar or two to go along with them. Though his time in Hyjal had been different; Kelanori had been there. She was the beacon of hope that drew him home across these burning meadows each evening. Though he protested her staying, there were probably fewer places more safe than an ancient’s blessed shrine, and he had the selfish luxury of seeing her every day.

And the worgen, the very strange worgen who had followed him home from that nightmare. Ornasse had expected her to leave by now, returned to her pack or wherever it was that worgen went. For a time it seemed that she had, he would find her huge paw-tracks in the mud leading out of the town. But each night, if he looked, he could find her eyes glowing bright and blue in the night, like two wisps. She was watching, keeping them safe. He felt strange about it, but Kelanori didn’t seem bothered.

The druid alit on a crooked log, pausing to rest his wings. He was not so young as he once was. Tendrils of bright green vines covered the charred bark, drawing from the nutrients of the dead wood. From death, came life. It was the way it had to be. It was growing fast, aided by the work of the awoken Ancients, and the druids who remained behind. Farahlor was growing fast too, he thought he could already see himself in the child’s features. Who would he be? What would he become? In truth he had no idea how to be a proper father. He had been absent for all of Tathariel’s youth, and it was only by some miracle that she didn’t hate him for it. Things with Farahlor would be different.

Vassanta
There was nothing Vassanta could possibly want for Winter Veil. Her life had come a long way from the time the Exodar screeched to a crash in Ammen Vale. Most of it she could never have imagined, certainly not finding happiness with an elf, of all things. And hyenas, they didn’t even have those on Draenor, though Vassanta thought they would do well on the Bone Wastes.

Though she didn’t want anything for herself, she wanted to buy something for Jaeyn. If she asked, he’d probably say that he didn’t want anything either. He had a whole collection of good bows, and several impressive polearms. He had Dog, the faithful nightsaber who had remained by his side for many years, and Tumbles the bear they’d raised from a cub. Unless Jaeyn suddenly decided that he wanted a kid, Vassanta figured they both had everything they could possibly want.

Still, she had an idea for something he might like, and she made an excuse about needing new shoes to go into Shattrath for the day. She didn’t even -wear- shoes on her hooves, though some draenei did. Jaeyn touched her hooves often enough to know that, but he didn’t ask questions. Maybe somehow he knew her real motives.

The streets of Shattrath seemed busier than usual to Vassanta, and she noticed more blood elves than usual. She made a sour face. She’d thought they’d finally all left the city for good. As long as they kept to their own part of the city, they were tolerable — barely. She made her way down to the market in Lower City, jangling her coins as she went.

One of the stalls held an assortment of toys, mostly carved of wood, though some were soft and stuffed with wool. The one that Vassanta was interested in was neither — a boxy metal thing with a crank on the back. It was, the shopkeeper assured her, a rocket bot. When wound, the contraption would walk and sparks would shoot from the cannons that formed its arms.

Perfect, Vassanta said, and handed her coins to the toymaker.

Soranasha
Soranasha paused, her quill dripping two spots of ink onto the page. She frowned down at it, sighing quietly. She’d have to redo the entire thing. Master Andarthir was very fussy about having spots and smears on his pages.

She rose and moved to the little window that overlooked the dense forest below. For safety — his own — Andarthir had never told her exactly where they were, but she knew it was somewhere in Kalimdor. Soranasha could smell the sea, and on clear days she could see it, a vast grey line on the horizon. But today was not clear, today the air was crisp and tiny snowflakes danced on the wind. She remembered snow, from the time before. It never actually snowed in the city; the bubble kept out all of the rain and bad weather. But if you went out beyond into the countryside, you could see it. They took a carriage out once, the wheels getting stuck in the deep drifts, and they ended up walking instead. One of the boys had put snow down her robe in the back and she had shrieked in surprise. How cold it had been! How she wished she could feel it again.

Sometimes she wondered about the others, whether they ever thought about her at all. She thought of them, though she didn’t remember the names of the boys anymore. Maybe her memory was beginning to go. That happened sometimes, in time the decay would claim it. She wondered if it was better to know how long she might have left, or not. In the end, it didn’t really matter anyway. She picked up her quill again, and started a fresh page.

Stormpelt
The scent of the green pup-whelps was long gone from Stormpelt’s nose, of course her nose was not half of what it had been before. Still, she had not seen track nor camp of them in almost an entire month now. For a time, she had watched the purple pup-whelp, the one who was like Leaves. Unlike Leaves, he was alone and no one ever came to see him. Stormpelt thought he might simply need a Grub Grub of his own for company. But then one day, she didn’t see him anymore, and she could not find his track no matter how long she searched.

Leaves said that the green pup-whelps didn’t belong in the forest, and she should fight them should she see any. She had looked forward to this, eager to prove her worth to her new master, but the opportunity had never arisen. Each night, she kept watch over the village in case any should try to sneak in. The ones with stinging thorns did not shoot at her any longer, they were accustomed to her presence. Leaves had told them she would not harm anyone, though they still watched her with mistrust in their eyes. It was a look that Stormpelt knew well these days.

She sat back on her haunches and took out Grub Grub, still cold and groggy. The forest was colder these nights, and though it did not bother her any, it made the bloodworm sluggish. She sought shelter in caves or beneath branches to try to stay warm and dry. Slowly, the bloodworm stirred, its mouth searching over Stormpelt’s paw for food. Instead, she showed Grub Grub the gift that Berries had given to them both: a little cloth pouch sewn with a ribbon. Carefully, she opened the bag and put the bloodworm inside. Grub Grub was sure to stay safe and warm in there.

Sath’alor

He saw them when he went to find a mage. They were sitting on a step in front of a building, across from the inn. Her, and Aeramin. There was another man with them, one that Sath’alor didn’t recognize. He’d expected it, but that didn’t make the shock of actually seeing it any less. The ranger pulled his hood further over his face and hurried past. They didn’t notice him. He was a ghost.

He considered going back, saying hello, saying that he knew. But what good would it do? Better that she move on and be happy, even if that meant that he wasn’t part of it. He was trying to do the same, but he found it more difficult than he’d expected. This new place would help. None would know him there, and there were new people to meet, new cats to befriend. The mage charged him an outrageous price for the portal, but Sath’alor paid it.

Sath’alor asked to go to a forest, and the mage had obliged. It was a riot of green, and seemed to stretch forever. The natives — short and hairy creatures — assured him that cats lived in the area. They used a strange word for them, but when Sath’alor mimed claws and roaring, they seemed to understand what he meant.

Though he didn’t know the forest well, he found a high place overlooking a stream to make his camp. Tomorrow he would begin searching for a new friend.

Isandri

Theronil had been right, if the rumors were true. They’d left Dalaran just in time. Isandri heard the rumors in the library, and at the counter at the inn, down in the market. They couldn’t -all- be wrong, and they all said the same thing: the sin’dorei were no longer allowed in Dalaran. Those who had surrendered were locked up, and those who hadn’t… it seemed too horrible to even consider. Thero’s brother was still there, unless he’d moved and not told anyone. Though she had her own differences with Teniron, she knew how important he was to Theronil, and she feared his reaction if he should lose his only remaining family member. Were letters even being delivered? Or would they use them to find her and arrest her, too?

Most of her friends had come to Shattrath, but that only made her feel more guilty. Why should she feel relieved when so many others were suffering? And what if she -hadn’t- listened to Thero? The thought of it made her shudder.

The gifts were wrapped in bright gold paper, with red ribbons, but the sight of them made Isandri want to cry. She thought of the people who had bought gifts for their family and now would never get to deliver them. It didn’t seem fair. Someone had to do something. But she feared that it would only lead to more suffering, for everyone involved.

[Story] Feralas

Stormpelt had taken to Feralas quickly, its ancient silent forests reminded her of home. Her pack was different now — Leaves and Berries and the pup, and the hoof-whelps and their mates. They stayed in the town most of the time, and Stormpelt was secure in the knowledge that they were safe there. Her excursions took her further and further from the town in recent weeks. She wanted to run, wanted to see how far the forest went. Maybe she sought something else too, but she couldn’t be certain what it was.

She knew that Leaves wouldn’t worry. Probably he didn’t think of her very much these days. He was busy with his own family. Pups are a lot of work. They need to be fed and cuddled and played with every day. Stormpelt never had a pup, and she never would now. But she had Grub Grub, curled comfortably against her chest. The bloodworm went everywhere with her, and he would never leave. At least that was her hope.

She came to a stream, edged with steep cliffs. A bridge stretched across the span, but Stormpelt waded through the water instead. She wanted to feel it rushing around her legs, feel the sensations of cold and wet, even diminished as they were. They were things she had taken for granted, but no longer did. Now she relished every feeling she had, for they were rare and special.

Somewhere to the west, she could smell the sea. She went past the gnoll camps that stank of musk and cooked meat. Her stomach shivered out of habit, and she stole a chunk of meat from above a fire pit. Eating it didn’t make her feel better — it was hard and tasteless, and lay in her belly like a rock. It only reminded her what could no longer be. She continued west, her large paws padding on the hard soil of the road. How many people had walked along this same road? A lot, probably. But maybe she was the first worgen.

The ocean was very close now, the tangy sea-smell strong in her nostrils. She had been across the sea only one time, when she had left the place where she was born — and the place she’d been reborn, against her will. Stormpelt remembered little of that trip, aside from the darkness and proximity of so many others. She’d huddled in the belly of the ship, hidden behind the barrels and crates. She only emerged when the workers came to unload the ship and found her there, shouting and chasing her out with sticks.

She walked up to the ridge and looked out over the ocean. It was far, far below, at the bottom of the cliffs. Stormpelt didn’t know that the forest was up so high. She wondered if this was how birds felt, seeing the world so far below. It was a nice place. She might rest here for a time. Her nose twitched, smelling fire. Not a burning fire, but a fire that had been put out not too long ago. Did someone already live here, in this spot? She should be certain before she decided to stay. She followed her nose to the source of the scent, inside a small cave that was sheltered from the sun and rain. No one was here now. She stretched out on the cool stone, holding Grub Grub in her paws. She would wait and see.

[Story] Candy Hearts

[[ I wanted to do some little Valentine’s Day story things. I decided to use the in-game candy hearts as inspiration. Even if two of them are basically the same 😛 ]]

I’ll follow you all around Azeroth! Vassanta took the neatly wrapped box from the goblin and dropped a couple of extra silver into his palm. Last year, she and Vajarra had just arrived in Darnassus, and she thought the gaudy decorations were supposed to be there. And when she’d met the tracker in the temple, she thought he was an arrogant boor — and that he was trying to impress her sister. Vassanta was happy to learn that neither of those were true, though she didn’t mind the decorations so much now.

Inside the long narrow box were a set of finely-crafted truesilver arrows, fletched with pure white feathers. The goblin assured her that she was supposed to shoot them at the person she fancied, but Vass thought that was silly. She already had Jaeyn, and she could not imagine someone more daring and cunning and handsome than he was. She had a far better idea for the arrows: they’d go hunting with them, maybe at the orc camp where they’d gone that very first time.

They had hunted many things in many places, but she remembered that evening best of all. Even if he hadn’t yet noticed the way she watched him – or maybe he had, but was afraid to say something. He’d had other things on his mind then, important elf things, much more important than one draenei. She thought he was happier now, hunting with her, wherever they wished to go. And she thought he’d like the arrows.

You’re mine! The naaru had said it was so. They were together now, though O’ros had seemed hesitant at first. The naaru had asked him a lot of questions and spoken in its vague way. Zaethir wondered if they asked questions of everyone like that, or only elves. He didn’t dare ask Terivanis. The two kaldorei still didn’t care much for each other, though Zaethir was less worried now that he’d try to give Phaa some potion or other while they sat too close together and talked. From what he’d seen, the druid was busy preparing for his shop.

Zaethir had already got Phaa a necklace, as was customary for a courting gift. The goblins said that she would like any of the wares they were selling in the little booth in Darnassus. He frowned and looked over the dresses, if one could call them that. They were barely scraps of fabric, held together by ribbons. And as much as he liked them, she certainly couldn’t wear them in front of the Sentinels. But he supposed she could wear one at home. The blue one was nice.

“Do a lot of women like that one?” he asked, pointing to the dress in question.

The goblin leered widely. “Sure they do, pal.”

Zaethir considered it. He tried to look at the price tag without the goblin noticing. “Draenei women?”

“Absolutely. I’ll give you a good deal on it.” Without waiting for Zaethir to answer, he started to fold the dress and put it into a heart-shaped box.

Zaethir hoped that he was right.

All yours. The boats would be in Darnassus again. Tathariel remembered riding them last year, sitting close to Jaellynn on the bench that was really too small, but that was probably the point. There were a few other couples on the lake as well, but not many. Jaellynn had been so worried that everyone would stare at them, but no one did — at least not more than usual.

She frowned. Maybe he wouldn’t want to go back. Truthfully, she was hesitant about it as well. So much had happened, and a death knight — even one like Jaellynn — was not really welcome in Darnassus. She wasn’t worried about what people might think. She’d heard the cruel and thoughtless things people said about him, and no doubt about her for associating with him, but they didn’t dissuade her. It wasn’t true. He was no monster, he wasn’t cruel or evil, he had a heart and feelings just like anyone. Better than most people, in her experience. Though they’d just gone away on their trip recently, she wanted to do something else for him.

The most obvious answer was of course another of the dresses that the goblins sold. She’d got a red one last year, and it was still one of his favorites. It wasn’t a very interesting idea, though he’d surely like it. Maybe the black one this time. He liked the little candies too, the ones with words written on them in common. Tathariel thought they tasted terrible, but he ate them all. Or maybe they tasted better because of the words. I love you, they said, and All yours.

Maybe they could find another boat to ride. Not on the coast near their house — naga still slithered up and down the beaches. But perhaps in Feathermoon.

I’m all yours! Terivanis was so busy these days that Vajarra wondered when he ever slept. Probably never. The stock of soaps and perfumes had grown to an impressive amount, taking up a good portion of the common room of their house. They could open any day now, but he insisted on making more. Vajarra thought he might be anxious about the actual opening, but she couldn’t be more excited.

Sure enough, she found him outside behind the house, stirring the large barrels of ash for the soap. “You need a break,” she said, kissing him gently.

“But I’m almost–”

Vajarra took his hand and led him down to the moonwell. He glanced back toward the house but finally agreed to go with her. Some days he was like this, distant and thoughtful, and others he was charming and sweet. He still struggled with a lot of things, she knew, though he didn’t share all of them with her. She folded her legs under her and sat leaning against his side, still holding his hand. The druid smiled briefly at her.

He wasn’t what she had imagined when she thought of the future. He was an elf, for one thing, and a druid. Vassanta always said she’d pick the biggest, most obnoxious paladin for her mate. That would probably be true had they not gone to Darnassus. The whole trip had been Vajarra’s idea in the first place. Maybe that was part of the naaru’s plan. She didn’t doubt anymore, though he might not always tell her, she knew that the druid loved her and would always look after her.

You’re the best! Farahlor was screaming, his little face wrinkled up and his eyes squinted tightly closed.

“What did I do?” Ornasse asked, exasperated. He’d tried to hold the infant for just a minute while Kelanori got into the bath, but his son was having nothing to do with it.

“You didn’t do anything,” Kelanori said gently from the other room. “Try walking with him. And talk to him.”

Babies were frightening. Ornasse had never seen Tathariel as a baby, but if she was as loud and messy as her brother, maybe that wasn’t so terrible after all. He immediately felt guilty for thinking so. It wasn’t Farahlor’s fault that his father was clueless. He patted the baby’s back gently, walking back and forth in the doorway.

“He likes you better,” Ornasse pointed out. “You’re his mother.” He hoped Kelanori wouldn’t take too long.

He could hear her getting into the hot water, salted with mineral salts. He would have liked to join her there, as he had before Farahlor arrived, but that wasn’t really possible at the moment. At least he’d stopped screaming, and was now sucking on his fingers, looking up at Ornasse with his bright gold eyes. He was awfully cute.

“Maybe for now,” Kelanori answered. “Just wait until he can walk, then you two will run off into the forest and I won’t see you for days.”

It was hard to imagine him being fully grown, though it would happen eventually. He was already much larger than he had been when he was first born. He’d grow little by little until overnight they’d notice he wasn’t a baby anymore. Kelanori knew how to take care of a baby, thankfully. He didn’t have the first clue. It really was astounding that none of the males in Darnassus had noticed her — before he arrived, anyway. A priestess of her considerable talents and poise, and not to mention her beauty, surely couldn’t have gone un-noticed. She insisted that no one looked, but Ornasse knew that couldn’t be true. She just hadn’t known it. And she explained it away by saying that she was picky.

Whatever the reason, he thanked Elune for bringing her to him — and for allowing her to give him the son he’d always wanted.

Be mine! The Harrier stopped to look in the shop windows as he passed through the streets. He didn’t really intend to buy anything, he was just killing time. Lots of dresses, as usual, but in every shade of red and pink. There were a few black ones, too. This goblin holiday seemed to be all about getting lucky. Not that he minded terribly.

He touched the flower-twined band inside his pocket to be certain it was still there. One of the signs in the shop window said “Be Mine”. What a strange thing to say, as if you could ask for something like that. Mine, as if she belonged to you, like a shoe or a glass. He knew how much Rose fought against that word. In his mind though, she was, wasn’t she? His what? He wasn’t sure how to explain it, he’d stumbled when he was talking to Blackbrew about it. His Lady, his woman, simply his.

But she wasn’t, not in her mind. If that were to change, it would be a very gradual process. Maybe it was already happening. He couldn’t very well ask, or he’d ruin everything. He’d keep the band safe until he was sure.

Hot lips. Latahlali had gone to the park to practice with the flame. Raleth had gently insisted that she not do so inside, with her propensity for exploding things. The last thing he needed was his house burning down. It had been a trying few days for everyone. He was doing his best to keep her studies moving forward, even if they were the last thing on his mind.

He was certain she had no idea how beautiful she was. Last night she’d unbraided her hair and wore it long over her shoulders, with the deep red robes he’d bought for her. In spite of the danger from her grandfather and their worry about the missing Highborne, all he could think of was taking her in his arms and kissing her.

She asked if he liked her. He said he had, but that wasn’t true. You like toast with jam. He adored her, he thought for certain that he was in love with her, but was afraid she’d be frightened off. And perhaps he was a little frightened himself. It was easy to forget that Dalaran was not like the rest of the world. Others might not approve, and in the case of her grandfather, violently so. He thought of his own father, and he could only imagine the things he might say about it. Disgracing the family name, as if there was any honor left of their name to tarnish.

Kestrae and she had been talking about gifts, and Lali said she’d give him one in a few days. He knew what he wanted to buy for her, he’d seen it walking home past the shops. It was expensive, but what else was he going to spend his gold on? And when had he had the opportunity to buy gifts for someone like her? Never. He’d stop by the shop, and perhaps he’d peek into the park to see how Lali’s flames were coming along.

I LOVE YOU. Berries had managed to coax Stormpelt into the town, at least close enough to wash her. She picked the twigs and bits of bark out of her coat, and combed her mane with the nice brush that felt good, like fingers scratching. Then she put new ribbons in, pink ones this time. Berries smelled warm and good, like home. Some of that was the smell of the pup. He was too young to play yet, but soon she hoped she might be able to play with him.

Berries smiled and gave something to Stormpelt. It was small and hard.

“You eat it,” Berries explained. “Look, it has words on it. It says ‘I love you’.”

The worgen held it to her nose and sniffed. If there was any smell, it was too faint for her nose now. She poked her tongue out and touched it to the candy experimentally. It didn’t taste like much of anything, either. Berries smiled and shook her head. “You don’t have to eat it,” she said, stroking Stormpelt’s mane. “I don’t think they taste very good either.” She gathered up the brushes and ribbons and went back up to the house.

Stormpelt studied the thing in her hand. She could not read, but Berries had told her what it said. Love. She knew what that was. That was when Leaves and Berries sat close together and hugged. When she and Frostmoon would hide together under the roots of a tree when it rained. When he touched his muzzle to her ears gently and licked her brow. She picked up Grub Grub and put him into her hand. The worm touched the candy briefly but showed no other interest in it. Did Grub Grub love? Stormpelt was not sure. He liked to be close to Stormpelt, but she thought there was more to love than that.

It was the way Frostmoon looked at her, the way they ran fast fast together underneath the full moon, with the pack but yet not with it, just the two of them. Stormpelt and Frostmoon against the world. Except it wasn’t anymore, now it was just Stormpelt. His eyes looked at her the same way, but they had fear and confusion too. He didn’t understand why. She didn’t know either.

Stormpelt crouched down in the soft dirt. She scraped some of the soil aside, and dropped the candy into it. Carefully, she covered it again.