[Story] Story a Week – Imp

Xanaroth held his breath as the portal opened, fel-green smoke swirling through the room. Though Elara was safely upstairs, there was always still that moment of danger before whatever it was stepped through the portal. Felarius wasn’t powerful enough to open large portals, but that wouldn’t stop something that was really determined to get through. Most demons, though, preferred to stay in their own realm. Imps were generally a bit easier to coax over — and they never seemed to guess ahead of time what lay ahead of them.

Felarius, his summoning student, shook faintly with the effort of maintaining the spell, his eyes fixed on the demonic portal. He had made great progress in the past few months, and Xanaroth felt he was ready to work with his first demon. Of course, that meant he had to summon it first. For a few long seconds, he believed nothing would happen. Though the portal had opened, perhaps there was something wrong; a rune slightly smudged or the angle just slightly wrong. But Felarius’s rune drawings had been immaculate. He’d copied them over and over in his books and was meticulous about his work — more so than Xanaroth himself had been at that age. The Twisting Nether teemed with demons, especially the little imps, which traveled in swarms for protection from their larger cousins. Was it possible that they were all in another spot?

A tiny hand appeared from the portal, followed by a wobbly oversized head. The imp stepped warily out of the portal and into the rune that Felarius had drawn on the workroom floor.

“Now,” Xanaroth said, and Felarius let the spell drop, the portal collapsing in on itself with an audible fizzle.

The imp, now alarmed, attempted to flee, but the magic circle held it in place. As it realized this, its panic grew and it began to shriek, flinging itself against the magical barrier.

Felarius frowned faintly. “Is it supposed to do that?” he whispered to Xanaroth.

The older summoner nodded. It wasn’t unusual at all for demons to resist binding. Once it accepted its fate, however, it would be easier to work with. And for imps, the protection of a warlock was preferable than being eaten by a larger demon. “Ask for its name,” Xanaroth reminded Felarius quietly.

“Imp,” Felarius announced. “You will give me your name.”

The imp cowered at the edge of the rune, its little clawed hands over its large ears. It wouldn’t matter; the rune that Felarius had drawn compelled it to obey. “D-dagtuk!” it screeched. Xanaroth hoped it wasn’t going to scream like that all of the time. It hurt his ears, and it would likely wake Elara.

He had also had Felarius practice the binding spell repeatedly. Any error there could cause the binding to weaken over time, putting the summoner at risk. As Felarius recited the binding spell, shadowy shackles formed around the imp’s wrists and ankles. “Dagtuk, I bind you to my bidding,” he said, and the imp whimpered quietly, but seemed to have calmed down, at least.

Xanaroth walked the perimeter of the rune, checking for any errors and inspecting the imp’s bindings. He was well aware that any mistake he overlooked would put his student in danger, so he took his time to see that everything was done correctly. Felarius watched him anxiously. At last he nodded. “Break it,” he instructed Felarius. With his boot, he smudged away one of the runes of the binding circle on the floor. Dagtuk crept warily to the spot and stuck his arm out tentatively. When nothing happened, the imp crawled slowly out of the circle to crouch at Felarius’s feet. For the first time, his student allowed himself a smile. “It worked,” he said, sounding a little amazed. “Can I pick it up?”

“Of course,” said Xanaroth. “Don’t lose it. Or if you do, you remember the recall spell?”

“I won’t,” Felarius said, touching the imp’s head gingerly. “And I do.”

As Xanaroth had expected, the imp calmed down once it realized that it wasn’t in immediate danger. It would still be curious about its new surroundings, and cause trouble if not supervised, but in time it might even grow fond of its master. Once it got a taste of proper food, it would never want to leave.

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[Story] Thorns – The Shipment

Despite his attempts to distance himself from his kaldorei past, some nights Harrier still found it impossible to sleep. Most times that happened, he would find some work to do. The winter holidays were quickly approaching, the shop’s busiest time of the year, and he’d have to hurry to make enough to meet demand. He could get to that a bit later, though. Tonight he was expecting a shipment at the docks, the sort he didn’t want to unload in the middle of the busy morning. While Nash and the rest of the house still slept, Harrier put on his boots and cloak and went out into the chilly night.

He made his way across the roofs, not only because it was faster, but because he missed it. Maybe Nash was right, he had been too safe and boring lately. He preferred to think of it as not taking any unnecessary risks, but greater risk brought greater rewards. Hadn’t that been one of the first things he learned in Ironforge? The ships and their crews slumbered in the docks, only a few street lamps burned to light the way. Harrier made his way to a small ship on the end, its bow decorated with a leaping wolf. From its bared jaws hung a lamp, lit with a tiny green flame. Harrier rapped at the captain’s window, and a short time later he appeared on the deck. He was a gnome, Harrier hadn’t expected that. But he’d known plenty in Ironforge, and they were incredibly quick and agile, and stronger than you might think. They also had a certain knack for taking charge.

Harrier took some coins from his pocket. They would no doubt be the last, this was just to get things moving. “I heard you had a shipment for me,” he said, his breath steaming into clouds in the cold air. The gnome inspected the coins before dropping them into his pocket. Nodding, he motioned Harrier up onto the deck. There, the captain opened one of the cargo hatches and lit another lamp.

“First pick, just like you asked for,” said the gnome. “There you’ve got some orc weapons, axes and stuff,” he said, gesturing to a very long box along the edge of the cargo hold. “ Harrier wasn’t really interested in weapons — at least, weapons that large. They would be difficult to sell and would attract a lot of attention in the shop. The gnome also had a load of expensive fabric — not illegal, but he could easily resell it for a huge markup. There was a crate of books, they looked magical so Harrier opted to take those. Mages — and others — would pay through the nose for books, especially if they were of questionable legality. He was less interested in the goblin magazines, though he supposed he could sell them to kids who wandered in with their parents.

“Got anything from Silvermoon?” Harrier asked. The person who’d given him the gnome’s name had said he often did. He wasn’t exactly sure how a gnome managed that, which made it all the more impressive.

“Sure do,” said the gnome, hopping onto another stack of crates. “You got some mana crystals here,” he pointed. “Some Eversong wine and–” he paused and pried open the lid of a very small crate that was stuffed with straw. Harrier looked inside.

“It’s an egg,” said Harrier. What would he want with an egg? Unless it was made of gold or something.

“Not just an egg, it’s a phoenix egg.”

The elf had never had a pet, didn’t really have any desire for one, but he thought Nash might like it. He had no clue how to care for it though, let alone hatch it. “How do you–”

The gnome held up a finger and rummaged around in the straw, pulling out a sheaf of papers. They were instructions. Very detailed instructions. “Now, if you mess it up, I’m not responsible.”

“Understood,” Harrier said.

He gave the gnome the rest of his gold, while the captain called his crew to come haul the boxes onto the dock.

 

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Fishing

“Ann’da, can we go fishing?”

Sath’alor looked over the stacks of paperwork that covered his desk. Most were reports that needed to be read and filed, some were equipment requests, there might have even been a letter of inquiry in there, but he hadn’t got that far into the pile yet. Whatever it was, fishing sounded like a much better idea.

“We sure can,” he said, patting Rylad on the head as he got up. Perhaps he’d already known that his ann’da would say yes, because he had on his boots and coat. “Do you think Zaren would like to go too? I think he’s big enough.”

Rylad seemed to consider for a moment and then nodded. “Yeah, but he can’t hold a pole.”

“No?”

“He’d drop it,” said Rylad.

That was probably true. While Zaren had grown a lot, he was still little, and he was still at the age where he was more interested in eating things off the ground than much else. “I’ll help him,” Sath’alor suggested, and Rylad agreed to that plan.

Nessna was still away on her patrol, so he left a note that he’d taken the boys fishing with him. He also put on the scratchy new sweater she’d just bought for him. It would take some getting used to, but it was certainly warm. And it had lynxes on it. Sath’alor had never seen a sweater like that before, and he would have bought it if he had, so he was pleased with her choice. He wrangled Zaren into a hooded suit with a zipper, and helped him into his boots. Rylad could do most of it by himself, so he fetched the fishing poles and basket. They could stop along the way to look under rocks for grubs and worms for bait.

The forest was ablaze with autumn color, the once-dead trees having regrown some of their leaves over the past few years. Birds and little animals — squirrels and chipmunks — dashed and chirped overhead. Rylad delighted in stomping on every particularly crunchy leaf along the trail, hearing the satisfying crackle they made. The morning was chilly, but not too cold, and the day would grow warmer as it went on. It was a day that was practically made for fishing.

He baited the hooks and helped them get into the water. Rylad was an old pro at fishing, he gripped his pole and stared intently at the water, watching for any splashes or ripples. Zaren was more fascinated by the grub on the hook, but Sath’alor didn’t let him eat it. He had snuck some cookies in his pack though, and gave one of them to each.

Rylad had a lot of questions about fish, though. Sath’alor didn’t really know terribly much about them — his main interest in fishing had been finding food for his cats to eat.

“Do fish sleep?”

“Where do fish pee?”

“Does it hurt them to get caught?”

“Do fish have ann’das?”

Sath’alor hoped they might catch one or two — fresh fish with spices sounded delicious for dinner. But even if they didn’t, it had been a perfect day.

[Story] Xanaroth’s Journal

Felarius’s lessons have been going well. Fortunately I’ve been able to keep Elara with me much of the time, in the same way that I imagine Hethurin must. I feel safer having her there with me rather than leaving her alone in a room during that time. Though I take her out any time we are summoning, even with imps. I’m not taking any chances. If she shows interest when she is older, that would be another matter, but I won’t take the risks I did in the past. It isn’t worth it. Nor will I put Felarius at risk. He’s so curious and eager, and I don’t want to dampen that, but at the same time I want to ensure he really understands the dangers of what he is working with. Like any tool, demons can harm the user if used incorrectly or carelessly.

He’s copying and studying bindings, and learning about the various types of demons. Sometimes he has questions that I don’t know the answer to — like last night, he was asking me about imps. I’ve never given imps much thought, they are just simply there most of the time and taken for granted. But he asked me about where they come from. I explained that they are born in great litters? Clutches? From broodmothers, something like a queen bee will give birth to all of the bees in a hive. And like bees, individual imps are simply workers who exist for the greater good of the swarm. Who fathers them? That question stumped me. Something  must, assuming that demons work in the same way that animals do. But perhaps they do not, perhaps the female doesn’t require a male at all. Or perhaps she finds a mate before she becomes so large. There is much we still don’t know about demons and their lives, given their secrecy and ability to hide away in the Nether. Maybe Felarius will be the one to discover it one day. He also asked if they miss their families. I said that they didn’t, because they don’t form familial attachments in the way that we elves do. Doesn’t the mother miss her children? I doubt she even knows how many she has, but it is true that imps form attachments easily to their masters. Perhaps they do seek some sort of parental figure, though I had always assumed they wanted protection from the Nether’s more dangerous residents. It’s an interesting thought, one I am glad that he brought up. A student who challenges the teacher is sure to go far in his studies, and in turn should make me a better teacher.

I do worry a bit that he’ll fall behind in his fire lessons. Aeramin is away, so his assistant Maerista is taking over his classes for the trip. Normally, Felarius does his private fire lessons with Aeramin, but it seems that he’s been studying his summoning instead. I don’t want to discourage that, of course, but nor do I want him to fall behind in fire. Not only is it incredibly important to have a good fire foundation, it would look awfully suspicious if he’s taking private lessons off site and still not doing well. I don’t want to raise any questions.

I think he’ll be ready for an imp soon. Obviously he can’t keep it at the school, but I could probably set up a place in the work room here. It will be easier than constantly summoning it, and I will also be able to keep a closer eye on its behavior. I’m somewhat relieved that he doesn’t seem to have any interest in a succubus. Those are nothing but trouble.

[Story] Fairsong Academy – Lora’s Letter

Dear Haani,

I have some wonderful news! I spoke to the Headmaster here and he said it’s fine for you to come and study for a while. I wanted to wait and make sure he was in a good mood, he was about to eat cake and he had two of his little babies with him. Have you ever seen an elf baby? I guess you must have at the orphanage. They’re very cute. Narise is a little bit older but Galandil is still just a small baby. They also have another daughter who is older and goes to classes, but just the general class so she probably won’t have any with you. But you’ll definitely see her around because she’s always curious about everything and likes to talk to new people. I wonder if she’d want to learn draenei too!

There are all sorts of classes you can take here. There’s the schools of magic, of course, and all of the teachers are really nice. Magister Firewind is the fire instructor usually, you’ll be able to meet him when he comes back from his trip. Maerista is a student who helps him with his classes, she was a student here who passed her exams. The Headmaster teaches the arcane classes, and Des helps him with that. If you want to learn ice magic, that’s Magister Raleth and Keyalenn, who you already know. There’s also a class about enchanting, and hawkstrider care and riding, and learning to grow plants in the greenhouse. If you want to learn sewing, there’s a student who helps people with that. She’s an undead, I guess you probably don’t have those in Shattrath. She looks a little scary but she’s really nice. There’s also a kaldorei who teaches the younger students, so you could probably talk to her about what it’s like if you’re anxious. The only thing is, you probably want to avoid the towns and you definitely shouldn’t go into Silvermoon. They can be very mistrustful of strangers.

Magister Fairsong also said your brother might be able to come if he’s worried about you, I suggested he could be a guard here for the school but he doesn’t think we need any more. However, there’s a unit of rangers nearby. If you don’t know what those are, they patrol around the forest to keep it safe from undead and robbers and spiders, things like that. I think your brother would be good at that, if he’s interested! He needs to speak with the ranger captain though. We’re going to be in Shattrath in two weeks, he thought we might be able to meet and talk about it then. If you have any more questions you can ask him then, and also just to get a chance to meet him. He’s very protective of his students and always wants them to be safe. Oh, I also told him that you could help the chef make some draenei food. I bet everyone would be excited to try that! We could even have a draenei festival maybe. If you come in time, you’ll be able to attend the masked ball. That’s where you have a costume and everything is decorated with pumpkins and spooky things. It’s really fun, trust me.

Also, if you like, I can introduce you to the ghosts that live here. I know the ones inside the school well, and they trust me. There are more out in the woods that I’ve seen but haven’t spoken with as much. There must be hundreds more out there, ghosts of elves who died in the scourge attacks and were simply left alone out there. I am sure they would appreciate having another person to talk to.

Your friend,
Loralinde

 

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Faeris’s Journal

I had to give dancing lessons to Salenicus the other day. He asked Julan first, but I guess Julan told him that he didn’t know how to dance — which is pretty silly considering that’s what he was doing when he first came here. Maybe Salenicus forgot that part, although I guess to be fair he wasn’t here yet. But it’s not like Julan hasn’t talked about it, either. Maybe it was for the best, because I’m not sure the style of dancing Julan was doing would be allowed at a school dance anyway. My mother made me go to all kinds of lessons when I was younger, and I’ve been to a lot of dances in the city, so I do actually know them pretty well. That doesn’t mean I’m a good dancing teacher though, I don’t think I am. Plus, honestly I didn’t really want to have to hold hands with him and stuff, so I picked the easiest dance I could think of that didn’t require a lot of touching. Just a regular waltz, which is easy to remember and would go well with slow songs, which is I assume mostly what they would be playing. And you can always just go faster if you need to. But then he said he might dance out in the garden, where I’m not sure you could hear the music anyway. Which you could do, but it’d just be a little weird.

The girl he’s going to dance  with studied in Dalaran — I mean old Dalaran — so I’m going to guess that she knows how to dance properly too. They used to hold balls there all the time, and anyone who could afford magic school in Dalaran is rich enough to be sent to dance lessons. So Salenicus better hope that she’s forgotten all of the steps, or she can pretend to be impressed by a boring waltz, I guess. I kept asking if he remembered, and he said he did, but I told him it was a good idea to practice anyway. It helps to let your feet remember how to go, then you can focus on other things like talking when it is time to dance for real. Or kissing, but I don’t even want to think about that. Would it be cold? I bet it would.

He was also married before, and had two kids before he died. I’m assuming that they died too, but even so, that’s kind of a big deal. I’m not her, but I’d hesitate a little if Julan had been married before, that’s a serious thing to lose and I’d worry he still wasn’t really over it. Also she’s a human, and a lot younger than him, he got really upset when I mentioned that. He said I was shallow for thinking about her having small ears and being too different from an elf. I don’t think it’s shallow to like how a person looks at all, obviously it’s not the only thing that matters but it’s important. Maybe dead people don’t care, but then why is he trying to impress her by dancing anyway? He also asked if I was with anyone before Julan, obviously I was, and obviously Julan was too. But neither of us had anyone we were really serious about, and that’s a long way from being married and having kids. I just told him that he should talk to her about it because she might hesitate because of that. Probably not during the dance, though.

I suggested he bring her a present too, normally I’d say like wine or candy but she can’t eat those. Flowers are good, he wants to get a live plant to put in a pot, because it won’t die as fast as cut flowers.  I mentioned that all plants die eventually, I think he pretended not to hear me. But she likes working in the greenhouse, so she’s probably pretty good at keeping plants alive, and she would probably like that for a gift. He doesn’t have a mask yet though, so he should make one soon, the dance is only a few weeks away. Julan and I haven’t either, he keeps thinking of stuff that’s funny but probably wouldn’t be allowed at a school dance. I think we should make a set for the school and then a set to wear here, we could hang them on the wall when we’re done too.

[Story] Ashenvale – Risarra’s Journal

Two important things happened, and I’m not sure about either of them. The first is that Avanniel got a letter from the old man, the one who she let to go look for his grand-daughter. He wrote that he is in the Eastern Kingdoms — which is where he’s supposed to be. A blood elf took her and is keeping her there. But Avanniel pointed out that the address on the envelope is a box in the goblin town on the coast. Is he actually there, and lying about where he is? Avanniel wants someone to go there and watch for him. If he’s expecting a reply, he will have to go there soon to get it. She also suggested asking the goblins about him, though I don’t know much about them, I expect that will take some coins. I asked who will have to do that, and she said she didn’t know yet. I don’t want to, it sounds awful. Goblins are terrible little things and I can only imagine how bad a town full of them would be. And it’s really far away. What if something happens? But if I get picked, I will have to go. There’s no way around it. Avanniel is concerned that he may have fallen under the blood elf’s control, as well. If he is, I’m not certain he would be able to write such a letter, but of course, if the blood elf is pulling the strings it is possible. It could be a trap, too. In the letter he asked about whether any tauren were in the area. That’s a very odd thing to ask, does he think they have her? Avanniel said she grew up with them, so she might return to them. But I haven’t seen any in the forest for quite a long time. I know there is a small camp at the border, but it’s too dangerous to go there alone. If she was there, I think she would have been killed by now. I will keep watch for any tauren on my patrols, but I don’t expect to see any.

Bear said that if I had to go to the goblin town, he would too. I thought that was very kind of him to offer, but I’m not sure Avanniel would allow it. I would feel a bit safer, though I know he wouldn’t want to stay in a goblin town any more than I do. Probably less, given how much he dislikes Astranaar. That’s the other thing that happened. I don’t regret it, I’d been thinking about it for a very long time and it was nice. But now I don’t know what it means. Bear was talking about moving his house to a different spot, and I think he was saying that because I wanted it. I know he’d be unhappy, not to mention the bears would have less room, and I don’t want either of those things. He has a good camp, and he’s already done a lot of work on the little house, I’d hate for him to give it all up just because I don’t want to walk as far. I do want to see him more often though, I’ll just have to get up in time to make it back to the barracks to report in time. Unless I got a hippogryph, but I don’t know where I’d keep it. And he doesn’t say things like Sorias did, I know they aren’t the same person but I guess I expected it a little. He does things though, he picked a whole basket of berries and I am taking the extras back for muffins and jam. Are we mates? I don’t know. I can’t exactly ask Zhyra about it and I think Avanniel would just roll her eyes.