[Story] Story a Week 22

[ This week’s prompt word: Grass

Not really about grass, but that’s where I started! ]]

Kamara stood atop the flat outlook, watching the grass intently. The smell of it, warmed by the heat of the mid-day sun, still lingered in the night air. Kamara had never seen the sea, but she had heard tales of it, from the story-tellers. They said that it looked very much like the grasses as they bowed to the breeze, catching the gleam of the Huntress’s eye. Tamazi was out there somewhere, she had to be. Someone couldn’t just disappear with no trace. There would be tracks, a scent, or — she shivered — at least bones, if something terrible had happened. But every day Kamara searched while she was at hunt, and she asked the others if they had come across anything. They never had. Tamazi was not her blood, but she had raised the girl as if she was her own, from when she was very small. Her absence left Kamara’s heart wounded, and the not knowing was the worst part. On the horizon, a herd of grass-deer moved slowly along. The huntresses had already returned for the night. They were in no danger.

She would have liked to stay all night, keeping watch, but hunger got the better of her. The meat was roasting over the fire, and she would miss her share if she stayed away too long. Tamazi was missing her share, too. Was she hungry now? Kamara had done her best to teach her, but hunting alone was even more difficult. She joined the circle, illuminated by the dancing flames. The others seemed eager and cheerful, untroubled by Tamazi’s absence. They had never cared much for her, a motherless and nameless child. But that didn’t mean they should forget she had ever been there. Kamara frowned. Even as she ate her share of the meat, she thought of Tamazi. Should she save some bones for when she returned? There were some still in her lair, full of sweet fatty marrow, but she was afraid they might be stolen. Eating them would feel like betrayal, as if she’d accepted that Tamazi wasn’t ever coming back. And maybe she wasn’t. The Huntress had blinked three times since Tamazi had disappeared.

The males moved up to eat their share, after the hunters had theirs. It was the comfortable part of the meal, the hunters lounging with full bellies as they listened to the stories. There was a new male among them tonight, as yet unclaimed by any hunter. Kamara thought him handsome enough; he had a full dark mane and clear yellow eyes, and subtle dapples around his legs. He was from the south, the strange lilt of his words unusual to their ears. As the hunters listened, he told them fanciful tales of a young hunter who moved like a ghost across the broad southern plains. She had, he said, flown across a canyon to escape hostile scouts, on wings of light. Kamara scoffed. They had all heard these tales before, every child learned the tales of the Huntress before she could even walk. But he insisted the stories were true, suggested even that she may be blessed by the Huntress herself. Had he seen this wondrous hunter with his own eyes? Well, no, he admitted, but he had heard the tales all over the southern clans. Kamara snorted, and picked up her bones to bring back to her lair. She had no time for such foolishness while Tamazi was still missing.

[Story] Story a Week 21

[[ This week’s word: Ripe ]]

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

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

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

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

[Story] Story a Week 20

[[ My word this week was: bread! ]]

Leinath stopped to check the instructions again. Was this the second or third time he’d kneaded it? Would it matter? Bread was so much more complicated than cookies. With cookies, you just needed to measure everything and then mix it together. Sometimes you had to keep the dry ingredients separate from the wet at first, and then sometimes you had to mix in the nuts or chips later, but that was it. Nothing more complicated than that. A few of them you had to let the dough rest in the cooler for a while, but it didn’t need any more attention. Bread, on the other hand, was downright demanding.

It had been Orledin’s suggestion, he assured Leinath that he’d done enough baking to be able to handle it. And at the time, he’d agreed, but now he wasn’t so sure. He’d never baked anything before coming to the rangers, and he felt that he’d suddenly got in over his head. The first part had been easy enough, mixing the flour and salt and other things. But then there was the yeast. Orledin explained that these were tiny creatures that ate the flour and it made the dough rise. That was kind of gross when you really think about it, but he assumed they died when the dough baked. Still, he’d always think about eating the corpses of all those tiny animals from now on. You had to have just the right temperature and amount of water, or the bread wouldn’t rise properly. He’d already had to start over once because of that, thankfully Orledin wasn’t in the kitchen to see that. Leinath was sure he’d be irritated over wasting ingredients like that. Once it did rise, then you had to take the dough out and knead it. Then back into the oven to rise again. This was repeated once or twice, he couldn’t be sure, and then finally the bread was baked. If he got to that stage, Leinath figured, it would be difficult to mess up. He hadn’t had any burning incidents since that first week. And he had to admit he looked forward to being able to eat it after all this work. Corpses of little creatures or not, there was nothing like hot, freshly made bread.

Orledin came in to check how he was doing. He took over kneading, though it seemed that he did it in a different way, and much more efficiently. He seemed surprised that it wasn’t in the oven yet, but thankfully he didn’t look into the trash bin and see the failed first attempt. Orledin was an expert at bread though. Besides the normal kind, he could make all different shapes, like little round buns or fancy braided twists, or bread with brown flour or soft bread with nuts in it. He thought they could probably sell it in town — well, maybe once there were a few more living residents. Still, Leinath thought he wasn’t doing too badly for someone who was brand new at it. His old friends would hardly believe it, if they could see him now. A legitimate ranger, and one who was baking bread at that.

He opened the hot oven and slid the pan with the dough inside. Now it was just a matter of waiting.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Linarelle’s Journal

I had a really lovely day, and the best part it was all a surprise. I always say Sunashe isn’t very romantic, but sometimes he does a good job. In some places there’s a special day to do nice things for mothers, but as mine is far away — she’s back working for the Reliquary — I didn’t give it much thought. Most of the rangers here don’t keep in touch with theirs either. The thought didn’t really occur to me that I was one as well. It seems silly now that I think about it, but it’s true. So I certainly was surprised when Sunashe brought me flowers in the morning and made breakfast. Well, he often makes breakfast, but it was extra nice, there was cut fruit and little cakes as well as eggs and juice and toast. He also brought some sunflowers for Snowflake, because he said it was “moth day”. Oh dear… had he really got confused about the day? I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed, but at the same time he’d gone to so much effort and it was so sweet that I didn’t say anything. I was going to enjoy Moth Day all the same.

After patrol, he’d made up a whole lovely dinner. I think some of it he might have got at the school, but he did cook a lot of it. No, it wasn’t moth! Salenicus asked me that. Even if I wanted to eat a moth, I don’t think they would be very good eating. Only the body would be edible and they’re insects so there wouldn’t be a lot of meat, not like spiders. He made a roasted wild bird with herbs, fresh greens and potatoes, bread and a lovely sauce. For dessert he brought out a tray of the cutest little moth cookies. He admitted that Orledin made those, I saw them later in the kitchen as well. The patterns on the wings were made with icing, they were just adorable. Snowflake also got some fruit to nibble on, in her own bowl. Normally she doesn’t eat with us, but it was a special occasion after all.

And he gave me a card, it was so sweet. And it mentioned that I was a mother, so he was just teasing me with the moth day stuff after all. I have to admit that I’m relieved! It was all so nice though. I think I should plan something for him for Lizard Day, although I’m not sure when it would be. Maybe near Father’s Day.

I got a chance to talk to Salenicus too. I’m a little annoyed that Orledin didn’t even give him my message, or maybe he tried and he just wasn’t listening. I think I did manage to convince him to go to the school again though. And he said he’s going to bring flowers, and a poem. If I’m right, that should definitely work. I may have exaggerated just a tiny bit, but she’s certainly not going to change her mind if he stays away forever. I hope it works out okay. It must be so lonely being undead. He’s already talking about living together though! I hope he doesn’t say that, he’ll probably scare her off.

[Story] Story a Week 19

[[ Prompt: Dice

Yeah it’s Sorias again, haha. I like writing him! ]]

Sorias fetched another platter of drinks from the back room, opening the tap from the enormous barrel and shoving the mugs underneath. Inevitably, some spilled this way, but it was much faster, and if the patrons were happy, Blackbrew was happy. Besides, the stuff was stolen anyway, so he didn’t care too much if a little was wasted. He emerged from the back room with the tray of drinks, hurrying around to set one beside each person seated at the table. When he’d accepted the job, of course he hadn’t known exactly what the dwarf had in mind. But barmaid was certainly not what he expected. He wasn’t just serving drinks, though. He was watching the entrance for anyone suspicious, and watching the patrons for any weapons or otherwise out of the ordinary. When he’d first started, Sorias had asked what that meant, and Blackbrew said that he would know when he saw it. He was right about that. The dwarf had given him a dagger of his own, finer than any he’d had in Kalimdor. It was long and straight, with serrations along the sharper edge and a delicate curve to its tip. Sorias liked it a lot, it reminded him of an eagle’s claw. He had free rein to use it whenever he deemed it necessary — which thus far he hadn’t. But he liked knowing it was there all the same.

“Oy, elf!” shouted one of the dwarves. “We’re starvin’ here.” Blackbrew — and the other dwarves — never called him Sorias. He was “Stretch” to Blackbrew, and simply “elf” to the rest. That suited him just fine. He was all too happy to leave his old life behind. Sorias pushed through the swinging doors into the makeshift kitchen, piling a bowl with stale bread and some suspect cheese. Their food wasn’t the greatest, but no one came here for the food. It was an underground alehouse, like several around Ironforge, sort of an all-in-one vice central. Blackbrew held nightly gambling, as well as selling stolen and smuggled goods, occasionally a hired woman would stop by to work the crowd as well. Sorias knew of a few others, Blackbrew paid him to visit them and get information, but it seemed that Blackbrew’s was the longest-running. It likely had something to do with the hefty bribes paid to the guards. Sorias himself was also something of a novelty, he’d not seen any other elves in his time in Ironforge.

Most of the patrons were huddled around the dice table, stacked with piles of gold coins. Sorias had never seen that many coins in one place before coming here. They won and lost them like it was nothing at all. He hadn’t actually figured out the rules, they were complicated and seemed to change at the whim of those playing. Sorias heard the rattle of the dice in the shaker and then a tremendous roar from the dwarves at the table. He guessed something good had happened.

“Why don’t ye join us, Stretch?” Blackbrew asked, with a sly grin. Sorias knew what that grin meant. It meant he wanted to win back all the money he’d just paid Sorias this week.

“I don’t know if it’s a good idea–”

But before he could protest any further, he’d been herded into a chair that was much too small for him and was seated at the table with the others. He still had no idea how to play, but he wasn’t about to admit that in front of everyone and look foolish.

“Yer turn,” said the dwarf behind him, with a curly red beard. He pushed the dice shaker into Sorias’s hand.

Reluctantly, he shook it and poured the dice out onto the table. There was a collective gasp from the dwarves. Was that good? He had no idea. The faces of all five dice had threes on them.

“Bite my foot,” grumbled one of the dwarves, tossing his hat down onto the floor. “I’m out.”

Blackbrew grinned widely and pushed a stack of gold coins over to Sorias’s seat. “Well done, Stretch.” He had no idea what he’d done, or why it was good, but seeing the coins made his eyes widen. They were huge and heavy. He didn’t even know how many there were. It seemed the game was over for the night. The dwarves who remained moved to different tables to talk or do business. Blackbrew slipped the dice into his pocket and winked. “Now get back to work, Stretch.”

[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.