[Story] Story a Week 25 – Harrier’s Journal

[[ This started with the word “rabbit” but it’s not actually about rabbits so I’m not sure if I should really count it or not… ]]

Nash has really taken a liking to that rabbit. I have to admit I’m surprised, it just doesn’t seem like the kind of thing he’d really be interested in. But he’s made it a little house to live in, and wrote his ridiculous name over the door. He even went to the library to get a book about how to care for them — and used a fake name to get the library card. That’s a lot of trouble to go to for a pet rabbit. I suggested he could go to the market around closing time, they throw out the bruised vegetables or the greens and he could take some for the rabbit. No one would mind since it’s just trash anyway, it’s not even stealing. I think it’s made him gentler somehow, having someone else to take care of.

But maybe not. He’s getting restless without any jobs to do. I told him I’d ask around, but I’m a little out of the loop right now to be honest. The shop is keeping me busy enough with making watches and clocks that I don’t really need to find other work. I still keep up with my business at the harbor, but not much else. Nash says the watches are too complicated, but I think he could learn if he tried to. I knew absolutely nothing about how to make those things when I arrived in Ironforge, but it interested me so I learned it. I think that’s the key. He just needs to find that thing that he’s really interested in. He said he didn’t think it was rabbits though. I told him he could do a show with the rabbit, do tricks and stuff like have it jump out of a hat. I think people would pay to see that, but he’s worried that people would stare too much and he’d be discovered. So then I said he could wear a mask, as part of the act, but I don’t think he cared too much for that idea either. Maybe magic isn’t his area of interest either.

I don’t remember how, but we got onto the subject of what I would do if something happened here like in Dalaran, and elves weren’t allowed in Stormwind anymore. Obviously, that’s probably not ever going to, but I doubt the elves in Dalaran expected it either. Humans have definitely got weird ideas about elves and other races before, it’s not so odd to think that they’d do it again, especially if there was some big bad thing that happened to cause them to blame us. I’d want to go back to Ironforge if I could, dwarves aren’t usually as jumpy, but they are allied with the humans so maybe they wouldn’t let us in either. Nash said we ought to go somewhere neutral, like Shattrath (too weird) or the Darkmoon Faire (even more weird). Of all the places I could live, I think the middle of dark woods with mud and animal poop is probably on the bottom of my list. Nash seemed really excited about it though, he was saying I could sell my clockwork animals there. He’s probably right about that — they also have those tonk things that always need repairs — but where would I get supplies in a musty old tent? I wouldn’t even have a proper work area or lamp, either. But I went along with it. Doesn’t hurt to think about it, right? Nash said it’s important to have a plan. I don’t think it’s much of a plan, but he’s not wrong. I said he should do a show where he’s blindfolded and throws knives. I’ve seen some guys swallow knives, but I don’t think he should do that, I am not sure how safe it would be. Not that throwing knives blindfolded is really safe either, but at least he’s not the one getting stabbed if he misses.

And what if cursed Gilneans were thrown out too? I can’t imagine Rose ever leaving the city otherwise. I think she’d stay until they made her leave, or maybe fight them. Still, I went along with it. I said she could do acrobatics on her horse, something like that. She used to ride a lot, back in Gilneas. I’m not sure if Blackjack would be too interested in doing tricks, but it’s all imaginary anyway.

Nash is right, though. I should have a plan, I mean a real plan, if something were to happen. I have money saved up, but that’s not enough.

 

[Story] Story a Week 24

[[ I actually used my prompt book this time! It was to write a story about a picture. Here’s the one I chose:

ProgenitusJaimeJones

The art is from a Magic: The Gathering card called Progenitus; the artist is Jaime Jones. Check out his work, it’s awesome! ]]

“Looks like she’ll be a bad one,” Elias Keller said, squinting up at the sky. All morning, dark clouds gathered above their little fishing village, biding their time.

Brenda nodded, tightening the tie-downs on the tarp covering her pick-up’s bed. “That’s what they say, but then they always say that, don’t they?”

Elias grunted in assent, starting up his sputtering motorbike. “Might be right about it this time. Keep yourself safe, Miss Brenda.” He steered the old bike down the gravel road, just as fat raindrops began to patter onto the ground. Like nearly everyone in their tiny coastal town, they’d stopped at the market for last-minute supplies. Folks in Leeside were well equipped for the regular squalls that passed throughout the season. The hills to the south took the brunt of it, but usually there’d be rain and heavy wind, sometimes the roads flooded and the residents were ready with sandbags. Brenda was well stocked with sandbags, as well as her generator and supplies of water and canned food. Since moving here twelve years ago following her divorce, she’d had to use them a fair number of times, but this storm looked as though it might actually follow through on its threat. One thing she didn’t have stocked up was animal feed; her chickens and pigs would need to eat, and if a storm blocked the road, who knows how long it would be until she could get to the market again? She made one last check of the ties, the wind already whipping the corners of her tarp, and got into the truck’s cab.

The sky had darkened, even since she’d left the store. She hoped old Elias had made it back home already. Big raindrops splashed the windshield, and out over the water she could see the pillars of heavy rain as they approached. Were there four of them? That was a big storm, indeed. Brenda wanted to check on the barn before it really hit, making certain the doors and shutters were closed, and the animals were secure. If one of them were to get lost in this, it surely wouldn’t return. She switched on her lights and her wipers as the rain intensified; it wasn’t so much drops as a steady stream of water, and her wipers could hardly keep up. A handful of vehicles passed her in the opposite direction, hurrying to the dry safety of their own homes.

Already the banks of the outlet had swollen, lapping at the bottom of the bridge. Brenda was thankful she hadn’t waited to make this trip — any later and the bridge would probably have been flooded. She held her breath as she eased the pickup over the narrow bridge, and onto the last stretch toward her house. Her first year here had been something of a shock. She’d chosen the tiny coastal town because it was as different as possible from the stark, barren desert where she’d lived with her husband. The rains there were fickle, short but intense. Brenda had always wanted to live near the ocean, so when she was free to move wherever she wanted, that’s exactly what she did. She hadn’t expected the storms, or how long they would last. There were winter storms, cold with bitter winds, and summer storms, roaring hurricanes. But being able to sit on her porch overlooking the sunset over the water made it all worthwhile.

Her two cats waited in the windows as the truck pulled up to the house. The feed would have to wait until the rain and wind subsided a bit; she could see the sheets of water blowing against the house. Brenda grabbed her keys and purse and hurried inside, the wind tugging at her. She set out the candles and matches and checked the generator, fed the cats and changed into dry clothes. Her picture window overlooked the bay, though she knew it wasn’t really a good idea to stay near it during a storm, she loved to watch them. The dark pillars of rain stood out even more strongly now, they looked — odd as it sounded — almost solid, as if she could reach out and touch them. The wind howled and shuddered around the house, and the electricity flickered once and blinked off. Brenda leaned forward to get a better look as something seemed to emerge from the clouds. It wasn’t her imagination this time, something was moving out there. Something really, really big.

[Story] Story a Week 23

[[ I used the word “Fern” which I could swear was on my list but apparently wasn’t, so I have no idea where I got it. But here’s a story about ferns. ]]

Vynlorin knelt on the carpet of moss, plucking a small piece and crumbling it between his fingers. It had a slight, subtle scent — green and woody, evoking spring sunlight on the forest floor. That was the scent he was trying to capture, something that would be suitable for a ranger. But knowing your goal and actually achieving it were two completely different things. Perfumers could spend decades trying to perfect that one particular scent. To complicate matters, he didn’t really have a proper laboratory, either. He kept tiny jars and bottles on every surface of his room — the shelves, his desk, the windowsill, but it was a sort of organized chaos. He looked forward to having a real work-room, fully stocked and with proper storage.

Even without a laboratory, Vynlorin thought he was close to being satisfied with his fire-inspired perfume. Due to the spices he’d used, it even gave a slight warming effect on the skin when used. The only thing missing, he thought, was the subtle hint of ash at the finish. He’d tried using both ash and charcoal, but neither left much of a scent, certainly not enough to linger after the other stronger notes had dissipated. Still, he’d given samples to Xarola and Master Firewind, and some of the other fire students and they’d all been enthusiastic about it. Some encouragement was needed as he struggled with trying to pin down a frost scent — and this ranger one. There were a number of mints he thought about trying for frost, but none of them had the right watery edge to them. When he was stumped like this, he would simply smell everything and hope for inspiration to come.

Vynlorin pulled another small tuft of moss and placed it in his basket. Even if it wasn’t exactly what he was looking for, he wanted to save it to experiment with. He glanced around the forest for anything else he could try. Leaf litter? Messy, and the odor had the faint undertone of decay — not what someone wanted to wear for perfume. Mushrooms? Possible, but it would be difficult to distill them. Vynlorin took one just in case, its surface brown and woody like bark. Tiny white flowers speckled the forest floor, but they didn’t have much scent at all. Ferns? He paused, considering. They were plants, but not flowers. Most simply had a green sort of scent, nothing especially unique. But Vynlorin crushed a few of the small leaves and held them up to his nose. Yes, it mostly smelled of green, but it had a deeper complexity as well — reminiscent of a fresh rain, shadowy places, and soft earth. In short, it would be the perfect addition to his ranger scent. Smiling, Vynlorin took out his small knife and cut a bundle of fern fronds and lay them carefully in his basket. He had some work to do.

[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] 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.”