[Story] Character of the Week – Linarelle Flamereaver

[[ Lin is Imralion’s twin sister, currently a member of the Ghostclaw rangers. ]]

Linarelle pried open the lid of the wooden crate, revealing a tangled nest of straw and a sealed envelope. She recognized the handwriting right away as her mother’s, and broke the seal with a smile. The box had arrived earlier that morning, but she hadn’t had time to open it before her patrol. The sturdy wooden box looked as if had travelled a great distance to arrive in the Ghostlands, its corners scuffed and the ink-stamps faded from the sunlight.

Dearest Linarelle,

Please forgive me for not being there with you today. I promised I would never spend another of your birthdays away, but I hope I am there in your heart and your thoughts. I’ll make it up to you and Tialan when we return. The professor has discovered a tomb that has been untouched by thieves or raiders, so it promises to be a very important trip. Maybe they’ll put something in the museum in Silvermoon, and you can tell everyone that your mother helped find it. Please wish Imralion well for me too, even though I know he’s going to make that face.

Love,
Liara

When they were little, they’d never known their birthday — not for certain. The Matron could guess, based on how big they were when they’d been left with her, but not the exact day. Imralion had seemed to take this indignity in stride, he didn’t seem to really care which day he got cake and presents, so long as he got them. But to Lin, it was part of their story that had been taken away from them. She remembered crying under her little cot in the orphanage because she insisted it wasn’t her real birthday that day.

Now, of course, they had it back. Their mother had returned to their lives, and it had been awkward at first, and there had been a lot of difficult conversations. Imralion still seemed a bit hesitant, but she thought eventually he would come around. He was less angry about it than he had been, but he still bristled at the mention of their father. Lin could understand that — her mother had her reasons for giving them up, her father didn’t even have an excuse. He didn’t deserve to know how they were doing now.

Linarelle removed the straw, curious to uncover what her mother had sent. She’d already bought Tialan everything he could possibly need for the next several years. Lin thought spoiling her grandson was her way of making amends for her absence, but then it was probably just a grandparent thing. He had dozens of little outfits and shoes and hats, not to mention all of the toys and books. They didn’t really need anything; their house was small but neat, even with the enormous lizard lounging on the floor most days.

It was an art piece of some kind, hardly the kind of thing you’d want to have around a little baby, but they had shelves that were out of his reach. It was from Uldum, a golden statue of a humanoid figure with the head of a lizard. The figure wore a head-dress inlaid with different colored stones, and held some kind of weapon in its carefully sculpted hands — a staff with some kind of symbol on its end. Lin didn’t know exactly what she’d expected, but it wasn’t a lizard-man statue. Still, it was beautifully sculpted, the gold burnished to a warm patina. She wondered just how long it had lain underground, just waiting to be discovered. And perhaps Sunashe would know something about who the figure was supposed to be. At the very least, he’d be excited about yet another lizard decoration.

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[Story] Fairsong Academy – Braedra’s Journal

Outland was lovely, but it’s nice to be back home in my comfortable room and familiar bed. It’s not to say the places weren’t nice — they were lovely, even the ethereal inn, though it was a little unusual. But I think I was ready to come back and see everyone again. The girls managed just fine on their own, they ate at the school and kept everything neat and tidy at the house — or if not, they cleaned it up before we got back at least. I asked the lady who lives in the girls’ building to check in on them now and then. Summer classes are out, so there aren’t as many babies in the nursery, but there are still a few. The most exciting news we missed is that Anorelle is going to have one of her own. She’s younger than me, but still a bit old to be having her first. I hope everything goes well for them, although it does make me wonder if Isturon will bring up the subject. We have so many between us, I think it’s a bit late for any more, but I don’t want to assume anything either.

That’s the other thing, I suppose he waited until we were back home to tell me about some things so I wouldn’t be stuck there and make everything awkward. He told me he’d been seeing another woman while he was still married to Verisna. Things weren’t working out, so I thought he must just be after something fun, but he said he wanted a relationship. If that’s the case, why was he staying married? He says it’s because of the children, but they’re old enough to understand if he would have been happier away from their mother. It would be a different matter if they were very young, but they aren’t. Am I being too judgmental? I don’t know. I told him he should have left properly first, and he didn’t argue with me on that. It’s just that he was just so… unapologetic about all of it, as if he was totally justified. I’m sure it was uncomfortable for him, but he was the one who chose to stay. And if he’s willing to look elsewhere once, would he do it again? I know he’d say it was because Verisna didn’t care, but she might have a different opinion. Not that I’m going to ask her about it, Ter has already warned me to stay away from her. In a way I could talk to her though, just to get her perspective. I certainly can’t ask Nessna or Lani, it would be awkward to talk about their father in that way, and if they don’t already know, I don’t want to be the one to tell them. I don’t know what Anorelle has been through, maybe she would have some perspective. But I don’t know her very well, and I’m sure she’s busy with her new husband and preparing for the baby.

I know we should have a more serious discussion about it if things are going to go much further, but I feel like I already know what he’ll say. I couldn’t have imagined him doing that, but he didn’t even deny it, so now I’m re-examining everything he’s said and done while I’ve known him for clues. I guess it’s something I should bring up with the Confessor, though he’ll probably just tell me I need to speak to Isturon about it. He’s right, of course, but it’s not going to be a pleasant conversation for anyone.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Leinath’s Journal

It had been a while since Orledin invited me to come over to the huts. I thought that it was because he didn’t want to, that things had been kind of awkward before, but he assured me that wasn’t the case. He said there was a surprise there and I had to wait to see it. With everything else going on, I’d actually forgotten about it for a bit. Julan and Faeris had their party, and left for their trip. They’re going to Booty Bay, which is probably the perfect place for Julan to go on vacation. Nessna and Anorelle are both expecting, which everyone knew only because the Captain and Arancon told everyone, you can’t tell from looking yet. I expect patrols will have to be moved around a bit once they get closer to when it’s time, because you can’t have two pregnant ladies on one patrol. Esladra has been coming from the clinic often to see them, but I think she’s also coming to see Teloth who works in the stables. He’s somehow always in the lodge and all washed up whenever she’s here. We still see a little demon now and then, but it seems like wherever they were coming from has been closed off, which is good. Now all we have to worry about are stray scourge and spiders, but that’s what we are used to.

From the outside, the huts looked the same, they’re still made of wood and painted with designs on the walls. The larger one is where Orledin keeps all of his assembled skeletons, because he doesn’t want them to get damaged by rain or snow. I’d think bones are probably okay in the weather, but I guess eventually they would get worn away. I think it’s more likely some animal would try to steal them to chew or something! Ever since Arancon got his riding machine, Orledin has been talking about maybe getting one too, he says he could keep it in the hut with the bones. It’s easier to care for than a hawkstrider, though Orledin says you do have to put oil in it, and repair the parts sometimes. I guess I just worry a little about what will become of the hawkstrider keepers and farmers if everyone decides to get machines. I suppose there will always be some who prefer the old-fashioned way. But if we’re having to go back and forth every day, we definitely need something.

It just kind of happened, Orledin didn’t ask or anything. He showed me the living hut, he’d done a lot of work fixing it up. There’s a chimney and fireplace so the hole in the roof is closed up now, that will be nice when it’s cold outside. He also got a lot of new furniture, including a stove and kitchen area. Since it’s round, there aren’t really proper rooms but Orledin got dividers to separate the kitchen from the sitting room and things like that. It actually feels like a real house — or at least like one of the cabins. He still wants to get some curtains for the windows, but there’s never anyone around here so I think it’ll be okay for now. It’s nice to be able to look out and see the forest so close. He kept asking if I liked it, and I do. It’s really great. I wasn’t sure if it would be okay for me to stay away from the lodge, but Orledin said that he asked the Captain about it. I might want to double check, just to be sure. I don’t think he mistrusts me or anything, but there might be rules about it in my file. I’ve also never lived with anyone before — I’ve shared a tent, but that’s not really permanent. It feels different, more serious. I could have said no if I didn’t want to do it, but it’s been nice having more time alone. We’re kind of alone in the kitchen, but not really, and anyway our hands are usually covered with flour or something. I’m just not sure what it means, or where it’s going. I should probably just relax and try to stop worrying so much about it. We do have a lot of really comfortable pillows, after all.

[Story] Character of the Week – Malavar

[[ Malavar is the older brother of Zamarra, my Jedi Consular. He was reluctantly trained as a Sith Assassin but primarily to earn his own freedom. With Zamarra still missing, he decides to take matters into his own hands. ]]

Malavar rubbed his eyes, the little dots of the holo-map blurring and merging before him. He’d pored over the coordinates for hours, studying each pinpoint of light, watching — for what? Some sort of clue that he was on the right track perhaps, some flicker of her signal across the frequencies. Not long ago, that privateer had located Zamarra’s ship, docked at the fleet, of all places. She was not in it, the ship’s droid and navigation system had guided it back to safety. Kif had scoured the logs for the navigation history, but they were encoded, and Malavar had not heard anything since then. Breaking codes could take time, but the more days that passed, the more Malavar began to lose hope.

You’ve lost her again, they scolded him. Just as you did before. You couldn’t keep her safe. You couldn’t keep any of them safe.

Malavar did his best to push the voices further back; he had not long ago believed that they were actually gone, that he’d rid himself of their interference for good. And for a time they had been quiet, and Malavar had allowed himself to believe that he might be able to carry on as everyone else, have something normal after all. But it had only been a trick, another of their cruel games. Just as the world around him began to crumble apart, so too did his sense of normalcy. They had only receded, and now they flooded up onto the banks of his consciousness, as they did whenever he was distressed. Sometimes he could ignore them, at least for a short time, but they were always there, and he could not pretend not too hear them for too long.

Frowning, he tapped on a planet for a large view of it and its satellites. Belsavis, Kif had said that was the most recent location he could clearly identify. While Malavar wasn’t sure if he could entirely trust Kif, he did believe that his goals aligned with his own in this case — even if his motivations were more selfish. The blue twi’lek had been attempting to court his sister for years now, and though she’d never seemed to reciprocate, Kif was persistent. Malavar knew he’d be willing to help locate her, and he had been. But there had to be some mistake, why would Zamarra go to Belsavis? It was a remote and hostile planet, housing some of the galaxy’s worst criminals. That is, if the local fauna didn’t tear her apart first. Malavar stared at the image of the sphere, turning in its artificial orbit on the map. There were a lot of moons. Were any large enough that she might be there?

Kif’s snooping had turned up information that Zamarra had departed Tython with some children during the attacks. It hadn’t been that long ago that Malavar had seen her, and she hadn’t had any children then. But it was possible — likely even — that she’d fled with some Jedi students. A remote moon of a planet that nobody wanted to visit would be a good place to hide. But even then, why would she have sent away her ship? Likely to prevent being tracked, but then she would be stranded. He should go to her.

You’ll just ruin things as you did before. Why would you even bother? Remember your mother? And Ashara?

That was different, Malavar assured himself. He couldn’t have done anything then — he could now. He still had his ship, and he still had his saber. If he could find Zamarra, he could help her — somehow.

 

[Story] Fairsong Academy – Sorelle’s Diary

Dear Diary,

I think summer is the nicest month. It’s warm outside, even at night, and all of the garden is in bloom. I can smell the flowers if I walk close to them, and Terellion’s vegetable garden is growing well too. Malwen helps him water the plants and pick vegetables to take inside for Tik to cook with, there’s even a little patch of lettuce for Malwen’s turtle to eat. I haven’t grown vegetables before, but I can’t imagine that it’s much different from flowers. I wonder if I could help with it next year. In the greenhouse, all of the plants are going wild with all of the warmth and sun! Hethurin’s manaberry bushes have already flowered and will have some berries soon. I don’t think there will be too many, but they are still young. I think next year they will probably have a full crop. But it’s enough to sprinkle them on top of a cake, or with a bowl of cream or something. Xarola’s herbs are doing really well too, and I thought about clearing off a little shelf for Malwen. She’d probably like being able to grow things when it gets cold outside, too.

Salenicus brought me a present, it’s a really big about plants. It’s really old, but the paintings are beautiful and take up the whole page. I have been just sitting and looking at all of them, then I get distracted reading about plants I’ve never seen. It includes plants from Kalimdor and Northrend, it doesn’t have Outland or Pandaria plants because of how old it is. I showed it to Xarola and she said it was really valuable, her mother has one like it but it’s more worn. So I have to be really careful not to damage it! I didn’t expect him to get me a present at all, that was nice of him. He can only come a couple of times a week because they have other routes to patrol as well. There’s only one night patrol since Orledin is on the daytime patrol now. It sounded like Salenicus misses him a little, because he said they used to talk.  I think it would be awfully boring having nothing to do except walk every night, and not even being allowed to talk. Well, the draenei doesn’t know much common or Thalassian, so he can’t. Most nights I don’t think much happens, sometimes they might see a demon or some scourge on the Scar. Salenicus said they found some traps down there, he thought it might be someone trying to capture one. I don’t know why anyone would do that? I’m hoping it’s just someone trying to catch an animal for food, but he’s right that they shouldn’t leave them around where someone might step into them. We don’t go down that way usually anyway, but I’m going to tell the Headmaster just in case.

We also walked along the beach, that’s another good thing about summer. I guess you could go there in the winter too, but it’s more beautiful in the summer. The moonlight reflects on the water and there are little things that glow, I think they must be tiny animals or maybe jellyfish? I don’t know. We held hands and he wanted to kiss some, that was nice too. It’s nice late at night because there’s no one else around to look at us or say it’s gross because we’re not alive. I told Xarola about it and she said that the beach is a very good place to take walks. Sunset is probably even more beautiful, but I’m worried there might be other people there. I would like to be able to find some shells though, at night it’s too dark to see them very well. Maybe I’ll go very early in the morning, right when the sun comes up, and try to find some. I’m not sure if Salenicus would like shells or not, but I’d like some for my shelf, I think they would look pretty.

I know it’s early but I’m already thinking about the masked ball. I need to decide what kind of mask I want, and then what kind of dress would go with it. I wish there was somewhere else we could dance before that, because it’s a long time away.

~Sorelle

[Story] Morthorn’s Notes

For the most part, the clinic has been quiet this summer. Vaildor and Lukian are finding things to do outside. Lukian is very excited to be going to the same school as everyone else next year, and I plan to take him before classes start so he can learn his way around and get to meet all of the teachers. Even if he won’t have a class with them yet, it will help him settle in, and he will feel comfortable asking for help if he does get lost. Esladra has two patients now — well, three if you count Isandri, but she’s always here, and a healer herself. We’ll have three new little elves arriving over the winter. I’m sure Esladra is delighted to not have to do busy work around the clinic any longer, she’s been going out to see Nessna and Anorelle at the lodge.

Aeramin and Arancon have both kept their appointments this week, and of course both wanted to talk about the subject of Aeramin’s new sibling. Aeramin is afraid he’ll be pushed aside and forgotten once the new baby arrives, and that Arancon won’t want to see him anymore. He’s also upset that he or she will have the experience of Arancon being a good father that he missed out on, though I pointed out that Arancon is doing his best to make amends now. That’s all that he said outright, but I do think he’s still missing his mother, and this must feel a little like a betrayal to him. Arancon tried to speak to him about it, but Aeramin got upset and asked him to leave. From what I know about Aeramin, it might be best to let him cool off and adjust to the idea on his own before approaching him again. Or I could be wrong, and his resentment will grow and fester. I don’t always have all the answers, as much as I’d like to think that I do.

Arancon on the other hand, seems excited and eager to have everything just right. He told me of his plans to make the sidecar of his machine softer for Anorelle and the baby to ride in, and he’s going to fill in the parts of the road that might be bumpy. They’re fixing up the guest room to be a nursery, and I’ve seen him here with Anorelle for her check-up with Esladra. He said he never wanted Aeramin to be an only child, though it didn’t seem to bother him much. Truthfully, I was an only child and I found ways to entertain myself. Would I have liked a sibling? Possibly, I can’t say for sure. But I don’t think it will do any damage to grow up on their own. I hope that Aeramin will warm to the idea of a sibling, but if not, there are a lot of children of similar age at the school for the new baby to play with. I suggested to Arancon that he reassure Aeramin that he’s still important to him, and encourage him to interact with the baby if he’s amenable to the idea. Maybe by the winter he will have had time to come around.

Arancon asked me if Lani wants more of our own, as he pointed out, she is from a large family. To me, we already have a large family, but I hadn’t thought to ask her. Telinda is still young yet, and Lukian just joined us recently. Or Lani might want to adopt another older child, I suppose that would be all right too. Maybe I should ask Isturon how he managed so many. He hasn’t been in for a while, but now that Verisna has gone back to Silvermoon, I hope he’ll drop by again soon.

[Story] Character of the Week – Berwick Amberlight

[[ Berwick is a treasure hunter, he travels around the world digging in ruins for things to sell. He was captured during the purge of Dalaran and was held there until Xyliah and Kitty helped him escape. Since he lost his house and gold then, he’s been working to build his fortunes back up again. He’s married to Xyliah, a former ranger. ]]

“What have you got there?” Xyliah brushed a stray strand of hair back from her eyes with her wrist. Her hands, like Berwick’s, were covered in a heavy layer of dust and cobwebs.

Berwick held a small ornamental box that he’d plucked out of the rubble on the cave floor. It looked valuable; the lid and sides were carved with an elaborate floral design with gems inset. Even if it was empty, the box itself would fetch a nice price. But he didn’t think it was empty — it looked like the sort of box you’d store little valuables in. He ran his fingers along the seam, searching for a latch and hoping that it wasn’t locked. With a soft click, the latch released and Berwick peeked inside.

The interior of the box was lined with a fine soft fabric dyed a deep purple, despite its age it still held its color well. That was probably because it had been hidden in this cave all that time. Berwick and Xyliah had found dozens of caves just like this one, tucked behind trees and around hidden corners. Not all of them held valuables, but enough of them did that Berwick was glad they’d come. Sure, they had a few demons to deal with, and more than one cave had been home to a cranky animal, but it had been well worth it. Berwick couldn’t wait to get back to Silvermoon to sell their haul. There was nothing that collectors in Silvermoon liked better than old elven artifacts, and they had plenty.

Berwick hooked a finger inside the box and lifted out the contents — a necklace made of some dark-colored metal, set with deep red stones that reminded him of droplets of fresh blood. It was well-made, but it didn’t have the same style as the other things they’d found, it was more harsh and severe, the angles sharper and the edges rougher. Something about it made him feel uneasy. Still, he held it for Xyliah to see.

“Necklace. Ought to be worth something, I’d say.”

Xyliah gasped, gingerly taking it from him. “Wow. It’s beautiful.” Berwick regarded her curiously. Usually her superlative of choice was “valuable” or “rare”. She didn’t usually call things beautiful, especially jewelry, which she never showed much interest in. Xyliah draped it around her neck, fastening the latch in the back. “What do you think?”

“Yeah,” Berwick motioned to the box. “Let’s put it back in so — it doesn’t get damaged.” He didn’t want to tell her the real reason, that that feeling of unease had leapt higher when he saw it around Xyliah’s neck. “It’s probably cursed or something.” He was joking — wasn’t he? Berwick had no magical ability, no way to know if something was cursed or not. Surely some of the things he’d dug up had been magical at one time, but ordinarily he dismissed such silly ideas. Things were just things. It had lain here for centuries, how could it do anything to them now.

Xyliah touched her finger to one of the gems. “I want to keep it.”

“What? Why?” Berwick blinked at her.

“I like it. You always say we can keep one find from each trip, and I usually don’t even do that. So I want to keep this.”

He couldn’t think of a reason that she shouldn’t keep it — at least one that didn’t sound like superstitious nonsense. Besides, she was probably right, she was wearing it and nothing bad had happened. “At least put it in here while we’re still working, then.”

She nodded and undid the latch, carefully coiling its lengths back into the little box. To Berwick, they looked like the black shimmering body of a venomous snake, with little red gems for eyes. He was relieved to clap the lid closed and not have to see it anymore. Could he talk her out of keeping it? That was unlikely, once Xyliah had made up her mind it was not easily budged. He could pretend to lose it, but he was certain she would know that it was intentional. Nor could he lie to her, for one she’d known right away, and the guilt would eat away at him. Berwick dropped the box into his pack and tied the string tightly. He was just being ridiculous, he could imagine Xyliah saying just that. There was nothing to worry about.