[Story] Story a Week 17

[[ Using a new prompt list for now with one-word prompts. I rolled and got “horse”. So this is a very old horse character I used to RP on a horse MU* (don’t judge me!). She is a mustang who has had quite an interesting life. ]]

Tempest looked out over the valley where their small herd grazed. The last of the evening sun had faded, and the air had grown cool and misty with the promise of rain. The warm days would be here soon enough, and so would the foals. She looked forward to seeing her new foal, of course, its tiny hooves and sweet breath, watching them all play together and meeting their father and siblings. Her son, Tristan, kicked up his heels and chased the other boys instead of grazing. She knew it would be time for them all to leave very soon, and she wasn’t sure if her heart was ready. More than that, though, she found herself thinking of the foal that she had lost, back when they had lived in the forest. Most times she had no cause to do so, and letting the sadness in served no purpose but to upset her, but she couldn’t help it. Sometimes the memories were just too strong, too persuasive to keep away.

She had been the herd’s leader then, as she was now, but for some years they survived all on their own, without a stallion. They didn’t need one. Tempest and her second, a fierce mare called Ironhooves, were more than enough to meet any challenge. The dense forest where they slept provided protection from predators, and sweet roots and berries when they had eaten their fill of grass out on the plains. Of course there were those who called them foolish, and every stallion who passed by took it upon himself to prove himself to them. It never worked, they were all chased off, bleeding and humiliated.

Heart-Seer had been different, though. He was striking to look at, the purest white with eyes the color of a clear summer sky. Tempest had never seen a horse that looked like him. But more than that, he had a serenity and wisdom about him. Whenever he spoke, his words carried ancient truth. They didn’t like him at first, of course, and tried to chase him off as they had the others. But Heart-Seer did not run or fight back, he merely asked to stay and graze. Tempest was doubtful, but they allowed him to stay. He was polite and deferred to Tempest in all matters, which perplexed her. He told them stories, fanciful tales about humans and about the gods. Tempest liked those  stories the best, could imagine the horse goddess galloping across the sky making thunderstorms. Perhaps as he’d planned all along, the herd gradually accepted him, and when her season came around again, Tempest found herself wanting a foal for the first time. Ironhooves scoffed at the idea, but even she was excited to meet the herd’s first baby.

Fate, though, had other plans. Heart-Seer disappeared one night, and though she searched endlessly, Tempest never did find him. It was as if he had vanished from the forest altogether. Ironhooves said that humans might have taken him. Tempest preferred to think that the gods had claimed him, to run at their side. It was less heart-breaking to consider than the other options. At least she would still have the foal, some part of him to hold onto. But a great drought struck the plains, and their surrounding forest, and lightning struck a dried tree and burned much of it. The herd was forced to move on, during the hottest part of the summer. Without Heart-Seer to protect them, Tempest and Ironhooves had to defend the herd against predators and would-be conquerors. Food was scarce and the days were long. It took them many weeks to find a place that was both unclaimed and safe enough to stay. And by then, it was too late. The foal within her had stopped moving, and she felt her heart stop moving with it. Ironhooves showed a rare gentleness as she comforted Tempest, and she told how the little colt would join his father among the gods in the sky. It didn’t help, not really. The pain was like a physical thing, dragging her down and pressing on her heart. It wasn’t fair to lose both of them, why was she being punished like this?

Tempest shook her head, trying to free herself of the thoughts. Titan touched his nose to hers, reassuringly. He was the stallion who had joined them after they found the new territory. He told them he had once been with the humans, but he escaped. When he arrived, he still had rope tied around his head, and he carried their smell on him. He was a dark bay with white socks, larger than any horse Tempest had seen before. Ironhooves wanted to chase him away, but Tempest felt defeated. She couldn’t do it alone anymore, and she wanted his help. He was polite enough, and proved to be a good father to the foals. But he wasn’t Heart-Seer. Was he watching her, even now? She wondered if he would be pleased. Their herd was safe and growing, their foals healthy and the grass good. Tempest studied the stars, wondering if he was among them. She thought that she saw one twinkle; a bright big star with a smaller star beside it, and she was reassured.

[Story] Story a Week 15

[[ Prompt: You are a kid’s imaginary friend. He’s growing up. You are fading away. ]]

It’s almost 3:30 pm. Zoey will be home any minute now. I check the table to make sure everything is perfect; every tea cup centered neatly on its saucer, the napkins folded into triangles. The teapot sits in the center, I can picture the white ribbon of steam. I seat myself in my usual place, and wait. It seems to be taking way longer than usual. I go to the window and pull back the curtain. There, in the driveway! I see Zoey, swinging her pink backpack as she walks. There’s another girl with her, a friend from school I guess. I check the table to make sure there’s a cup for her. We don’t often have visitors to our tea parties, but I always like to be prepared.

The front door clatters, and the girls race up the stairs into the room. They throw their backpacks onto the bed, and open the top drawer on Zoey’s dresser. I’ve seen her open that one before, it has lipstick and other weird things to put on your face. Once or twice Zoey has put them on me, but I can’t say I liked it very much. They don’t taste very good, either. But today Zoey doesn’t even glance in my direction. She and her friend are taking turns, putting the makeup on each other. It’s like I don’t even exist. I wait there at the table for a while, the tea getting cold, before I retreat to the closet. I don’t like the closet. Closets are for monsters, and I’m not a monster. Not the bad kind, anyway. I’ve never seen myself, because only Zoey can see me. But she’s drawn pictures of me, plenty of times, and she always draws me the same. I have shaggy purple fur with blue splotches, little horns on my head and down my back. My paws are big and friendly.

“You’re too old for an imaginary friend”, Zoey’s mother tells her. Zoey used to just laugh at that, but now I worry a little. Maybe she is too old. I set up the tea party every day, but when was the last time Zoey actually joined me? When is the last time we went walking in the woods behind the house, or reading stories late at night? Zoey still does those things, but she doesn’t ask me along anymore. She goes with her brother, or with her friends from school, kids in the neighborhood. I know some of them have imaginary friends, too. I’ve talked to some. They tried to tell me this would happen. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen some of them recently, either. I don’t know what happens to imaginary friends when their children forget them. Do we move somewhere else? Or is it more serious than that? Do we simply cease to exist altogether?

It’s true I’ve felt strange, but I have nothing to compare it to. I figured it was only sadness, or jealousy that made me feel this way. Had I only imagined feeling more tired, less ferocious, weaker than before — or was it some consequence of being forgotten? All my life, I have been defined by Zoey — she is the one who can see me, who named me. What will happen to me if she forgets? It’s a frightening thought. I would ask the monsters in the closet, if any were here. I get the feeling they, too, have long ago left this place.

 

[Story] Story a Week 2

[[ Prompt: People as Animals

I already write tons of stories about animals acting like people so this one was pretty vague! And a person acting like an animal would just be an animal… ]]

The buildings of Jaharria were formed and shaped by the ancient forest itself, trunks and boughs intertwined with specks of sunlight filtering through. The asenji had reclaimed it, ages ago, from the wild forest kiraal after they had lost the favor of Tuhlmarrok, the ancient dragon of the forest. Within the great meeting chamber, the asenji gathered like brightly colored butterflies within. Their robes were of the finest cloth, laboriously stitched with elaborate patterns and reinforced with magical thread. Some glowed faintly within the heart of the meeting chamber, lending a soft light. The chamber itself was composed of small trees that had grown in a circle, their trunks bent and laced with their neighbors — the result, a firm and enduring natural wall. In the boughs overhead, more rooms were formed by the branches, connected by footbridges that swayed in the breeze. Though asenji are not tree-dwelling by nature, they are able to escape forest kiraal and long-ear raids by retreating into the boughs above.

On this day the council had gathered, the wisest and most accomplished mages among the asenji. Murmurs ran among them as they took their seats on the worn roots and stumps. Mirren stepped out into the center of the gathering, his robes the bright white of new-fallen snow. White hairs frosted his muzzle and the ends of his paws. He raised a hand for silence, and all eyes turned to him.

“You all know why I called you here today,” he began, and some of the asenji chittered in assent. Mirren waited for the noise to die down before he spoke again. “Our brother, Harvian.” His hand traced the air, forming a map of glowing light. The asenji looked on, intently. “He has been reported here,” he touched a spot on the illusory map, leaving a small point of light. “Here, where he antagonized a drehl kiraal,” Mirren said, and small gasps ran through the assembly. “And here, in a small farming village near the outskirts of the Temple of the Moon.”

Sullivan stood. He was far younger than most of the council, and he had dark markings about his eyes that lent him a severe look. “Harvian has no connection with us,” he said, addressing first Mirren and then the rest of the gathering. “Whatever trouble he has got into, it isn’t our responsibility.”

Mirren sat back on his root, resting his feet. “Does anyone else wish to speak?”

“Others won’t see it that way,” Sorcha protested. “We are all the same to them.”

Sullivan’s expression hardened. “Then he should be stopped. He will bring his trouble back onto us, that’s the last thing we–”

Sorcha scoffed. “How? You know what he’s capable of. Harvian sat on this very council until he was exiled.”

The younger asenji frowned and took his seat again. Yes, he knew, as did they all.

“There is no need for that,” Mirren declared. “While we may disavow Harvian’s actions, I find it highly unlikely that he is working alone. He is strong, but not strong enough to alter history on his own. He must have help from an outside source. But we do not know who that might be.”

“If he stays in the south,” said Sorcha, “it might not affect us at all. Let him do what he wishes there, far away from us.”

“And if he does not?” Sullivan demanded. “We’re not even sure what he’s doing. But I doubt that it’s good.”

“To leap blindly or to wait and see,” Mirren mused. “That seems to be our dilemma. While Harvian’s methods can be unconventional, sometimes that is what is required. What says the council, then?”

Each asenji dropped his or her voting stone into the bowl. Carefully, Mirren sorted them into two piles — white and black. The asenji leaned forward, watching the number of stones in each pile grow.

“The council has spoken,” Mirren announced. “The rogue wizard Harvian is to be captured. Assemble the hunters and they will leave at dawn.”

[Story] Story a Week 52 – The End

[[ Prompt: A story titled “The End”.

I have seen prompts before that asked you to write the death of a character. I guess this is basically that, but larger in scope, it’s a vision of the Legion invading the Ghostlands. But don’t worry, as all Bronze dragons know, it’s only a possible outcome! ]]

The first streaks of dawn stretched over the Ghostlands sky, illuminating the wintry landscape below. A cold rain had frozen overnight, sheathing the branches and fences in a layer of ice. Renzdormu shivered, eager to finish his morning patrol and return to his cozy bed. There would be cake or muffins by the time he was back, and tea and chocolate. He occupied himself with wondering what sort of muffins they would be — manaberry, perhaps — as he glided low over the forest. As he crested the final ridge that led out to the ocean, something caught his eye, stark and jagged among the ashes of the scar.

It was a portal, a large one. As Renner watched, fel energy crackled over it, the surface churning like a stormy sea. His first thought was to try to break it, but he knew the structure was too strong — it was some sort of reinforced metal and likely had wards as well. He swung around and flew straight back to the school, beating his wings to carry him faster. Hethurin had to know, so he could prepare the portals to get everyone to safety.

Renner landed in the garden, shifting hastily into his elven form as he did so, jogging into the entry room. Hethurin wouldn’t be up this early, but he could ask Tik to rouse him. But surprisingly, he was, already speaking with the death knights. “There’s a–” Renner interrupted. Whatever they were talking about couldn’t be as important as this.

“Portal,” said Salenicus. “It appeared last night.”

So they did know. “It looks to be opening,” Renner said. “You must start the portals,” he said to Hethurin. “I’m going to find Zayel and see if she can help me close it.”

Hethurin was already making his way down the hall, knocking on doors to wake the students. Renner could hear confused and sleepy voices behind the doors, asking what was going on. Once outside, he made the flight over to the healing clinic in town, where Zayel would already be seeing to patients or making up beds for the day. Isandri looked up as he arrived, surprised. “Get to the school,” he said. “A portal is opening. Zayel, come with me.”

Zayel’s eyes grew wide, but she followed Renner outside. “Are you sure?” she asked.

“Very sure,” Renner said, looking south to where he’d seen the portal. The rangers! He’d forgotten they were here in the forest too, and first in the path of anything that might come out of that portal. “It’s this way,” he said, shifting back into his dragon shape, his great wings lifting him into the sky. His eyes scanned the forest below as he flew, searching for any demons. Maybe there was still time to close it before anything came out. He heard Zayel gasp, and he looked to her.

“Look,” she said, as the surface of the portal alit with vivid green flame. The spiraling surface seemed to pull apart, and a teeming swarm of imps poured forth from it. Renner couldn’t even begin to count how many there were; they were countless, like a hive of bees or ants. They ran over the ground, leaving it charred with flickering fel flames behind them, moving north up the scar — and toward the school. Renner had fought imps before. Even this many shouldn’t pose much danger.

“Is there any way you can close that?” he asked, turning to Zayel. She stared intently at the portal for a few long moments, and shook her head.

“It’s too strong,” she said. “There’s something very powerful keeping it open.”

Likely something much bigger than imps, even a swarm of them. “Go up to the school,” Renner said. “Hethurin will need help making the portals. If you could keep the demons out–”

Zayel nodded. “I can keep a ward up long enough for that, I think.” She looped around, heading north toward the school. “Be careful, Renner,” she said.

It wasn’t a matter of being careful, it was a matter of buying Hethurin and the others enough time to get to safety. The thought of the school — his school — being over-run by demons was unacceptable to Renner. The students, so eager and innocent, couldn’t be harmed either. He would not allow it. The bronze dragon landed squarely in the middle of the imp swarm, hoping to break their march. He snapped with his jaws, swung his tail, and swiped with his paws at any imp within reach. He could hear their pained shrieks, feel their bones crunch between his teeth. They jumped and crawled onto his back, their needle-sharp claws scrabbling to hold on. He could feel the fel fire burning into his scales, but he ignored it. There would be time to heal later.

The imps, seeing their kindred dying, finally scattered. They darted off into the forest in different directions. They were still out there, but they were far less dangerous alone. Renner looked back to the portal, and groaned. More demons were coming, and bigger ones. He recognized the mana-eating hounds, the long, tall inquisitors and the strange one-eyed orbs. They did not look at him as they emerged, rather they continued their march north. They had orders, Renner realized. Someone was in charge of this invasion. The demons were not simply roaming where they wished. It was even more important to stop their advance. But without the leader, it would no doubt continue. Where was he?

He would have a better view from the air. Though he ached from the fel burns, Renner spread his wings and flew up over the forest, searching. Even from afar, he could see a bright blue glowing barrier surrounding the school. He hoped it would hold against so many demons. Something whizzed past Renner’s head, and he drew back in alarm. A second later, the ground below shook with the impact, a smoldering crater of green fire. Infernals! Renner looked up, searching for more. If he could prevent them from hitting the barrier, that would help. He darted underneath the falling boulders, shoving them out of the way. It hurt, much worse than the imps had hurt, but if one of them got through the barrier — he didn’t want to imagine it. The forest below had caught on fire, the trees crackling with vivid green flames as the infernals pushed their way through. They were huge, their rocky heads towering over the tops of the trees. And more were coming.

A battalion of demons, each armed with two long swords, advanced along the scar. Each was huge, its hoofbeats causing the ground to tremble with each step. The portal yawned once more and Renner saw the general emerge — at least, he was certain it had to be the general. A monstrous pit lord, its massive body too large to fly, stepped out and surveyed the forest. Renner circled back around the portal, studying his prey. As long as he could stay in the air, he would have the advantage. It was surely weak around its head and especially the eyes, though its head was covered with spikes, and a pair of long curving tusks. He would have to stay away from those. But unless the head was stopped, the demons’ invasion would press on. If nothing else, he had to buy Hethurin enough time to make the portals.

Renner swooped down, clawing at the pit lord’s head. He didn’t seem to even scratch the thick, scaly skin, but the pit lord certainly noticed his presence. He bellowed and swatted at the dragon, but he darted away quickly.

“Captains!” the pit lord bellowed. “Remove that dragon.”

The eight demons with the long swords paused in their advance and turned around to look. Renner ascended up, out of their reach. Though they were more agile than the pit lord, they were still very large and couldn’t move as quickly as he could. And their swords only reached so far. Renner was careful to stay just out of range. Maybe he could draw them back toward the ocean, away from the school. But he could see the other waves of demons, continuing to walk north, ignoring his presence. They had their orders, and they would follow them.

One of the sword demons lunged toward Renner, swinging wildly. He ducked under and around them, flying up when he needed to pause for breath. The burns from the imps still stung, and he could feel the impact of the infernals — that would surely bruise later. He hoped Zayel knew how to treat dragon injuries as well as elf. Below him, the demons appeared to consult with themselves. He supposed it was a good thing that they weren’t more competent. The entire forest would have been burnt down by–

A bolt of fel fire caught Renner off-guard, causing him to stagger off-balance and flap wildly to regain his position. It had come from one of the long, thin inquisitors, and others gathered behind it, their hands glowing with magic. The fire had burned a hole in the leather of one of his wings, and the pain was almost unbearable. But he had to stay in the air. If he landed, he would be dead.

“Again!” ordered the pit lord. “Bring it down!”

The inquisitors’ hands alit with flame, and magic was much more difficult to dodge than slow swords. And his right wing already hurt terribly. Renner flew south toward the ocean, trying to draw them away from the school. He could hear the heavy hoofsteps of the sword demons following behind him. That was good. Another bolt of fire seared over his back and he shuddered in pain. It was enough for one of the swords to catch him, and Renner went tumbling head over tail into the brush. As his vision went dark, he saw the barrier over the school dissolve.

[Story] Story a Week 51

[[ Prompt: A story set at Christmas

This is actually a re-working of a story I wrote when I was uhh like 12? I know it’s kind of similar to Toy Story but I swear I thought of it before that. The main difference is in the original, the conflict was between Bears and Not Bears, instead of Animals vs. Electronic Toys. ]]

Caesar watched the snowflakes flutter by on the cold winter breeze. “Call the animals for a meeting,” he announced, when the doors were locked and all the lights shut off. Excitement buzzed among the shelves; those who had been here for some time knew what time of the year it was, the newer animals were filled with restless curiosity. They gathered, as they always did, on the rug in the play area, as it was large enough to hold all the animals. Some balanced on the cardboard blocks, while others perched on the wooden train table. Caesar took his place in the center of the brightly-colored rug and addressed the gathering.

“Animals,” he announced. “It is nearly Christmas. Some of you may not know what that means.” Caesar was not only the largest, but by far the oldest of the animals in the shop. He was Not For Sale, and had stood in the shop’s window since shortly after its opening, more than twenty years ago. He was from Germany, and very expensive. He knew a lot about almost everything, and all of the animals looked to him as their leader.

A murmur of excitement went through the gathered animals. “Christmas,” Caesar continued, “Is a time when all children receive gifts. It is your very best chance to have a home. Thus it is vital in these coming weeks that we all do our share to ensure that as many of us are bought as possible. Keep your ribbons straight, your fur unmussed, no dirt or stains–”

A sharp clatter emitted from behind the animals, and they all turned around to look. It was one of the electronic toys, an imposing dinosaur robot. Every surface of him was hard and metallic, his eyes small red points of light. Though it wasn’t the name on his box, the humans usually called him Rex. “Hah!” he scoffed, stomping toward the animals. Each step clattered the floor and sent a shiver through them. “You’re antique. Out-dated. Nobody wants stuffed animals.”

Caesar frowned, drawing his head up proudly. “On the contrary,” he said. “You are the one who will be out-dated. Next year there will be a new electronic toy that everyone wants. Animals are timeless, enduring, classic. We are the  best friends of children, their comfort and confidants. We keep them safe at night.”

Rex sneered, showing his rows of jagged metallic teeth. “Sounds boring! I’d rather stomp and knock things over! And so would they!”

The tip of Caesar’s tail twitched, irritated. “Now look here, you weren’t invited to–”

“Yeah?” Rex demanded, drawing higher onto his hind legs. “This is our store too! Look around, old man. How many shelves do you dusty old animals have?”

It was true. In the past, there had been an entire wall of animals, eagerly waiting for children to take them home. Then, as demands changed, they had given up their shelves to new kinds of toys. Now they occupied only one section, on the back wall of the store, under the words “Animal Friends” painted on the wall.

“It isn’t about how many we are,” Caesar said, shaking his head. “But how loved. What will become of you if a piece falls off? Or your batteries run out? How much do you think your child will love you then?”

Rex pointed one of his gleaming metallic claws right into Caesar’s muzzle. “I think you’re scared. You know what’s coming, but you can’t stop it. We’re the future. You’re nothing but an antique, meant for a box in the attic. Let’s see who gets bought and who doesn’t. Then we’ll know for sure.”

Just as Caesar had said, more and more people came into the store in those next few weeks. Tinsel and garlands were hung around the store, and a snow scene painted onto the window. Cheerful music played while the store was open, but even so, the animals watched anxiously as more and more of the new electric toys were sold. Robot dinosaurs, skittering mechanical insects, miniature flying machines, and chirping electric birds were set up on the counter and disappeared into boxes, to be wrapped up and put under a Christmas tree. Now and then an animal would be picked up, but often they would be put back down again.

Sooty was a black bear who had lived in the store for almost a year. He worried that he might be there forever. “We should do something,” he urged Caesar one night. Outside, the snow glittered in the glow of the street lamp.

“What do you propose?” asked Caesar.

“Sabotage,” said Sooty, his voice low.

Caesar said nothing, but blinked slowly and looked back out into the night. That wasn’t a no.

Sooty snuck over to the electric toy section. Everything looked so harsh and unfriendly, made of metal or hard plastic. But in this case, that was good. Sooty pulled himself up onto the shelf and crept behind the boxes on the shelves. One good shove, and an electric toy went clattering onto the hard tile floor. They beeped and whirred in anger, and Sooty escaped back to Animal Friends. The next morning, the workers picked up the broken pieces on the floor and gathered them back into the box. A broken toy couldn’t be sold, not even On Sale.

But if Sooty believed the electric toys would simply accept this outrage, he was wrong. Two nights later, a squad of robots found one of the animals alone, and their sharp edges tore a hole in his seam. Again the workers didn’t know how an animal had been damaged — perhaps an over-eager child in the store — but he could no longer be sold. He went into the trash bin with the broken electric toy.

It was only three days until Christmas. The shop bustled with last-minute shoppers looking for the perfect toy for their child or niece or nephew. It seemed that every time Sooty or the other animals looked, Rex was grinning triumphantly. Maybe he was right. Maybe no one did want animals anymore. Sooty was surprised by a woman picking him up. She smoothed his fur and read his tag. He felt his heart race — people only looked at your tag if they were thinking about buying you.

“What do you think, honey?” She lifted Sooty, showing him to the man next to her. He was wearing a fuzzy scarf.

“Every kid needs a teddy bear,” the man said, with a smile. He took Sooty carefully and held him in his arms as they looked around the store. Was it really happening! If a person carried you, it was almost guaranteed they would buy you. Not always, of course. But the chances were good, especially if it was a grown-up who carried you. The couple walked over to the electric toy section. Sooty was forced to look at that smug look on Rex’s face again.

“This is cool,” said the man, picking up a miniature helicopter. No! Sooty thought. If the man picked up the electric toy, surely he would put Sooty down. But he didn’t. He took both of them up to the counter. Sooty and the helicopter looked at each other doubtfully. But sure enough, both of them were wrapped in tissue and put into a shopping bag. Sooty heard the shop door jingle as they walked out, felt the cold wind blowing outside.

The man and woman drove home. Sooty watched as the helicopter was put into its box and wrapped up in colorful paper. The woman tied a beautiful ribbon around Sooty’s next, and set him beneath the Christmas tree.

“Can you hear me?” asked Sooty, once everyone had gone to bed.

“Yes,” said the helicopter. “Just barely.”

Sooty looked up at the Christmas tree. Tiny lights sparkled all through its branches, the tinsel and ornaments reflecting their glow. It was probably the most beautiful thing Sooty had ever seen.

“They liked both of us,” Sooty said, thoughtfully.

“They did.”

“Maybe Rex was wrong. Maybe Caesar was too.”

“Hmm?” said the helicopter, inside his box.

“Maybe it’s not either or. Maybe there’s a place for all of us.”

The helicopter was quiet for a while before it answered. “I like that idea,” it said.

Sooty smiled, and nestled down among the presents to wait for Christmas morning.

[Story] Berwick’s Notes

I have no willpower, at least when it comes to her. I guess I’m living there now after all. I mean, I do want to, just not yet. But I said I’d stay if she wants me to, and she says she does. I’m just scared worried not sure if it’ll work out and I don’t want that to happen. But we’ve got along great on the trips we’ve been on, so it should be okay, right? It is a nice place, way nicer than I would have got on my own. But that’s because I’m cheap. I’d rather spend it on finding a good place for my mother.

Oh, that’s the other thing. She’s going to go tomorrow and ask Sanimir’s parents about keeping the apartment. Then she’s going to tell her father that she’s going on a trip. With me, a guy she just met, out in the middle of nowhere. I’m sure her dad’s not just going to be okay with that, at least without meeting me first. He’ll think I’m going to do all sorts of improper things to her (which I am), but I’d never put her in danger. Besides, she can handle herself, that’s one of the things I like about her.

And then he’ll want to know about my family and I’ll have to tell them about my mom. I better find her new place fast so at least she can say she’s “retired”. I hope he’s never used the services of anyone in that part of the street, or he’s going to know I’m lying. But she will be retired. I don’t know what she plans to do now. Maybe she could bake or something. I know she didn’t have any choice. I didn’t have a choice about getting born either, but she wanted to keep me. Xyliah says it’s because she did want me after all, even if I was an accident. Sometimes I wonder if I wasn’t really. She put all her hopes for a better life onto me, and I’d like to think it’s happened. I’m doing okay for myself. I’m going to help her get out of there. I’m sure she’d probably like me to stop traveling, settle down with some girl and have some grandkids for her. That’s not easy to do when people look at you like dirt under their shoe here, or worse. Xyliah says she doesn’t care, but they always say that at first. It’s when things start to get more serious that they do, or usually, their family does. I guess I’ll find out soon.

I need to get out and find some stuff. This week hasn’t been very good for money. I went through my vault and I found some things Xyliah might want. I store things in there that I don’t think will sell, or I think might be useful somewhere down the line. Like her ring. I’m glad I kept that. I brought them over to her house, at first she wasn’t home so I was scared that she’d gone somewhere and not told me. Or she was home and didn’t want to answer the door. But she showed up as I was about to leave the box on the doorstep. There’s a little doll thing, it’s not quite a voodoo figure but it’s kind of similar. It’s frightfully ugly, anyone who gave that to their kids must hate them. But she liked it, maybe in part because it was so ugly. Then there was an ancient stone carving, she really seemed to like that a lot. She wanted to put it on a shelf in the apartment. It’s supposed to be a woman, or a female at least, it has suggestions of all the curves of a female figure. It was carved with primitive tools, but the carver’s skill is obvious. I told her I found it near an ogre camp, but surely they didn’t carve it — the craftsmanship seems too good for that. I guess it’s possible though. More likely they found it somewhere and brought it back to their den, ogres like to do that. And lastly, I brought her my stack of dirty books that I’ve collected over the years. They aren’t in very good shape — they’re made with cheap paper and binding so they aren’t very durable, and they’ve been uh, used frequently over the years by their owners. Yes, I’ve read them a time or two myself. Some of them have pictures, Xyliah was giggling over the one with the orc. She thought that was his arm, haha! They’re not high literature, but they are at least entertaining, and I thought she might like to read them. Some of them have some pretty good ideas, too.

But somehow I ended up agreeing to stay, and helping to pay for it. I don’t mind paying, and I try to tell myself that it’s the same as staying together out on a trip. Because it is. We’re just staying here together in between trips. Maybe it’s that “our” word she kept saying, our apartment, our room. It’s not ours, it’s Sanimir’s, but that doesn’t seem to bother her. It does me a little, even though she and Sanimir never did anything like that. I think I’d still prefer a place that doesn’t have his memory hanging around. But she’s right, it’s nice, and it doesn’t bother me that much. I hope everything turns out okay for them. Yes, he should have been nicer to Xyliah, but he’s a decent kid.

[Story] Sath’alor’s Field Notes – Shattrath

Note to self: basilisks bite. Which wouldn’t ordinarily be a big deal, but their saliva has something in it that stiffens up the muscles and skin. Fnar says I need to see one of the healers here in Shattrath, I guess I had better. It hasn’t gone away yet. It was just a nick, and it’s only a little part of my hand, but I’d have trouble shooting without it.

I don’t know what’s going on with that guy. He met me in the bar last night to check up on things and suddenly he’s my mother.

“Be sure you go to the healer.”

“Don’t forget to send your skins back.”

“Get them done on time.”

“Don’t be so rude to the pushy mage lady you’ve never met before and never will meet again.”

Yeah, there’s one other person in the whole place and of course she has to come over and start bothering me. Do I look like I want to be bothered? She’s a mage, I can tell because of the totally impractical robes she’s wearing. I ask why she’s here, because there’s a perfectly good library up on the tier. It doesn’t have ogres and drunks in it like the bar does. That’s about when Fnar shows up and thankfully he talks to her so I don’t have to. She wants someone to go to Shadowmoon Valley with her as a guard. She’s studying ley lines, and Fnar says something about them having to do with demons. I’m pretty sure she’s one of them too. Just what I need.

Fnar says he can get someone from his company to go with her. He asks if I want to do it. Hell no, I don’t want to do it. I’m too busy with all of my orders — which he gave me more of. Do I want to go alone to some dangerous, weird place with some demon woman? That’s just about the last thing in the world I want. Or the other world. I know I wouldn’t do anything, but she probably would, and it would just look bad all around.

I mentioned that I’d been having some trouble with Teagan. He’s refusing to drink the water here. I took him down to one of the streams, thinking that would help. I bought some from the inn, still wouldn’t drink it. I’m not sure if it tastes different, or if he’s just unhappy about being here. So then the crazy demon woman is trying to get me to take her conjured water. Fnar isn’t helping, “Oh see look, my cat will drink it.” I have no idea what effect conjured water might have on Teagan, especially here in Outland where magic acts all weird. I thought it was pretty rude of them to try to force me to give it to him. Like you’ve raised so many cats, crazy demon lady. I found Teagan when he was a cub in the Barrens, I’ve had him his whole life. I know what he likes and what he doesn’t like. I know that about every single one of my cats. But apparently I’m the rude one for saying “no thanks”. Maybe they do manners differently here.

If he’s still not drinking by tomorrow morning, I’m going to have to take him home. I don’t like it, but I can’t let him go on without any water. I wonder which of them might like it here. Ru’anthar probably, though as I said I don’t know if he’s magic or what. Magic behaves oddly in some places here, at least that’s what I hear. I don’t even know if it’s possible for him to come here. I’d have to find him in order to ask.

I wonder if Kes got her present. She didn’t write, but then I didn’t write to her either. Maybe it got lost. Maybe she hated it. Or maybe Aeramin made her get rid of it. I should stop thinking about it.