[Story] Winter Veil Postcards 2017

Leinath wandered between the market stalls, certain to keep hold of his coin purse at all times. He’d heard stories about pickpockets in the city, and if someone was going to pick pockets, it would be a perfect opportunity to do so. Everyone was distracted by the stalls full of gifts, the cheery music and decorations. Most of the stalls were staffed by goblins, at least in the front. It seemed anywhere things were being sold, goblins were there.

“Happy Winter Veil, friend,” one of them called. She wore a huge floppy red hat with a bell on the end, perched on one ear. “What can I help you find today? A nice sweater, perhaps?”

In truth, Leinath wasn’t really sure what to buy. He’d thought looking at the market might give him some ideas, but he just felt more confused. What were you supposed to get someone who couldn’t use most things? And he still wasn’t sure where things stood between them, so there was a balancing act of not getting anything too expensive or sentimental. The goblin hopped down and went around to the other side of the stall. “Some chocolates?”

Orledin couldn’t eat chocolates, but of course he didn’t want to tell everyone in the market that. “He’s uh, he’s a ranger, so something practical.”

The goblin nodded, her bell jingling. “Say no more!” she said, and disappeared behind the counter again. “What about these fine boots, crafted of the finest crocolisk leather?”

Orledin probably could use new boots, while his were still in decent condition, these were really nice. And practical. But it didn’t really seem very personal. He already had all the baking equipment he could ever need, and Pancat had a nice bed and collar. Leinath had thought about a pocket watch, because he didn’t think Orledin had one, but he didn’t want to give the idea that Orledin was always late or something. He definitely couldn’t go back without anything at all, though.

“I’ll take the boots,” said Leinath.

The library in Shattrath had an abundance of books about its native plants, and Sorelle had brought several back to her room to copy the drawings. They weren’t allowed to go too far out of the city, so she’d only been able to find some terocones and felweed, which grew practically everywhere. She’d carefully shaken the seeds out of the terocones and saved them in a little paper pouch, labelled with the name. For Felweed, a cutting was necessary, and this she kept moist in her fruit bowl, once she’d removed all of the fruit.

They would be going to the market today, and she hoped she’d find someone selling more seeds there. In Dalaran there had always been people selling flowers and herbs, so she guessed there would be something similar here as well. Even if they didn’t have seeds for sale, they would better know where to find some. She might have to get special permission from the Headmaster, but Sorelle thought he’d probably allow it so long as she went with a teacher.

As they weren’t allowed in the market alone, she asked Xarola to go with her. Aside from being her best friend at the school, she knew a lot about plants — at least Azeroth ones. She was interested in learning more about Outland plants as well, and was eager to visit the market with Sorelle. The fellow at the flower stand was one of what Xarola called fungus people, short and tiny with mushrooms sprouting from their body. Sorelle was fascinated by these — she’d seen some Forsaken who grew fungi, but that was more because of poor care than anything else. Were these people some kind of hybrid, or were they fully fungi? She would have to do more research when they got back to the library. He — or it — Sorelle didn’t think fungi had genders in the way that people do — had an array of very small potted trees lined up on the table. They were evergreens, similar to the ones that had surrounded Dalaran when Sorelle was a student there initially, but these were an Outland variety, probably the same that composed the forest around Shattrath. The bristles were dark green in color, clustered together into little branches that alternated up the trunk. The pots were wrapped in brightly colored foil, and the little fungus person gestured excitedly to Xarola and Sorelle as they approached. “Winter Veil,” it kept saying, and pointing to the trees. “Ten silver.” She thought that might be the extent of all the Common that it spoke.

The tree was alive, fully rooted in its pot, not cut. If cared for, Sorelle thought it could be kept in the greenhouse until the spring. It would look festive in her room as well, lit with magical lights and hung with ribbons and maybe some cookies from the party. Of course, she’d need to ask permission from the Headmaster, but since small pets were allowed, she didn’t see how he could object to a tree. She took the coins from her pouch and gave them to the mushroom person, picking one with a red foil pot.

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[Story] Winter Veil Postcards 2017

[[ Sorry it’s been quiet… I have unexpected guests over this weekend. Here are two Winter Veil shorts, I’ll do more later! ]]

“Just get him dumplings,” Zhyra said over breakfast. The night was chilly, fog had rolled in over the small lake around the town, and a steady rain dripped from the eaves. “He likes them, doesn’t he?”

Of course he did. And while she’d been doing her best to learn to make them herself, Risarra felt they weren’t special enough for a gift. Bear got dumplings just about every day, he had for all the time they’d been checking on him at his camp — which counted in years now.

Avanniel made a face. “I don’t know why you want to follow a dwarf holiday anyway.”

Risarra frowned and stirred her oatmeal, mixing the berries in for flavor. “It doesn’t have to be for that,” she argued. “It could just be a gift.” The other two sentinels exchanged a look, but said nothing else on the subject.

There would be a market in Darnassus today. She’d have to hurry, but Risarra thought she could make it there and back in time before her patrol if she could borrow a hippogryph. Surely there she could find something that would make a good gift — something for his house perhaps, or to keep him warm when she was away at patrol. A scarf or a cloak, something like that. Risarra hurried to finish her breakfast and dug her bag of coins out from under her bunk.

“Ouch!” Sath’alor pulled his hand back from the hawkstrider’s sharp beak. He’d like to think it had simply mistaken his fingers for a snack, but he couldn’t be sure. They were probably just nervous, he reasoned, being led away from their farm to their new home. Sath’alor had specifically asked for birds with good temperaments and steady nerves to face the rigors of patrol. He didn’t care what they looked like or what their bloodlines were — though they looked fancy and colorful to him, at least.  There were six in total, four males and two female, their feathers varying shades of blue and black. One had a slightly greenish tint if you looked at it in the right light. The seller said that Sath’alor could name them, but he wasn’t terribly good with names, he thought he’d leave that to the rangers, and perhaps Rylad.

The stable was warm and dry, fresh straw spread over the floor and the bins filled with greens and vegetables. Each stall had a bucket of water and a blank nameplate on the door waiting to be filled in. Sath’alor hadn’t yet figured out a schedule for which hawkstriders would patrol when, but they couldn’t be worked all day, they would need to rotate. And not everyone would need or want to ride anyway, ideally only one pair would be out at any time. He hoped that at least one of them would be gentle enough to give rides to Rylad, and the other children if they were big enough. He could even bring them to Hethurin’s parties if he so wished, decked out in matching saddles. For now, he just had the plain leather saddles and bridles from the breeder, along with detailed instructions for their care. Sath’alor knew a lot about cats, but practically nothing about hawkstriders, so he hoped to hire someone to look after them. For the time being though, it was his job.

[Story] Fairsong Academy – Sorelle’s Diary

Shattrath has been really interesting so far. I’ve been before, but this was the first time that I got to go and see the dragons. In Dalaran, we’d see blue dragons flying overhead sometimes, but they were always very far away. Still, I remember sitting and watching them in the sky and thinking how beautiful they were. The ones here are beautiful too, in their own way. Their heads are pointed like a shark, and they have crystal spines on them. Hethurin said that they’re dangerous and not to get too close. That’s probably true of all dragons, but these ones especially look ferocious. The place where they live is dark and barren, the ground is just hard rock and there are no plants or trees anywhere. Green stuff comes up through the ground and I guess it must be lava, because I don’t think the people from Undercity brought it here. Crystals grow in large clumps all over and they are beautiful, these humanoid things with big claws scrape at them and eat the little pieces that flake off. Hethurin put us into pairs and we had to fill out a sheet with our observations. My partner was someone I’ve never even really seen before, his name was Amor-something. I just remember Amor because that’s what he wrote on his paper.

He probably wasn’t too excited about getting me for his partner, but he said he’s been here about six months and still doesn’t know anyone. After class he just goes straight to his room and doesn’t go to the parties or anything. I felt bad for him, I’m sure others would talk to him if he tried. He seems nice, he’s not undead or a human or anything that would make others dislike him, he just gets nervous. So maybe I could be his friend, kind of for practice, though that might make others think he’s weird too. I don’t know. We worked hard on our sheet, I tried to think of anything else we could add on for extra credit. He’s studying frost mainly, but he thought it would count toward our Arcane grade. Maybe it does, if so I hope we got good points on it. We even got a little piece of the crystal that one of the things chipped off while it was eating. I thought for a minute that Amor was going to eat it! That probably would have been really bad, aside from eating rocks, it was very sharp and who knows what kind of magic is in them. The dragons are almost transparent in places, as if they are fading out of existence. That might happen if he ate it! Anyway, I hope he didn’t mind being my work partner too much, and I told him he should go to the parties even if there are a lot of people. At least to eat the food, I would if I could. Normally he said he waits until everyone’s already left.

I told him about the greenhouse too, and he seemed kind of interested, though he didn’t want to be there when someone else was. Usually it’s just Xarola and Vyn, once in a while Tik goes in to get cooking herbs and things. I found a library in Shattrath about different plants here, and I’m going to try to get some seeds to take back to the school so I can try to grow them. I’m not sure if it will work, but hopefully at least some will sprout. I still don’t really know what’s going on with Salenicus, but at least I have something to keep me occupied at night.

[Story] Fairsong Academy – Braedra’s Journal

Terellion and all the students are away on a trip to Shattrath. I’d still like to go one day, it sounds so exotic and interesting, and I’m sure they could use the extra help supervising everyone. Terellion always tells me breathless stories about the strange things there, the bird people and naaru and the refugees in the Lower City. I’ll certainly ask to go next time, but the winter holidays will be here soon, and I wanted to take advantage of having everyone away so I could get gifts. The babies are the easiest to shop for — they like any sort of bright and colorful thing, I think little Galandil will want something to chew on, and Narise likes soft things that she can carry around with her. It might be a good idea to get her a soft doll so she doesn’t try to take any of Malwen’s! She’s a little more difficult, only because she has so many dolls already. I feel that another would just be forgotten. Perhaps something to do with snails, her newest fascination. Terellion’s baking has made him easier to buy gifts for — I can find some pan or bowl in the shops and I’m sure he’ll like it. The girls are too old for “baby things” as they call them, like dolls and toys, but not quite yet grown ladies. I thought perhaps a painting set or books might be good. I’m not certain about those books the students read though, no doubt they’ve already snuck looks at them, but I’m not sure I want to encourage that. Then again, I remember borrowing my mother’s to take into the bath, and I think I turned out fine, so maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Hethurin is a puzzle, however. He already has so much, and his tastes in robes (and other things, surely) run to the extravagant. But I do want to get him something that reflects how glad that he’s in Terellion’s life, and ours. I’m very grateful to him for allowing us to stay here at the school, and letting the girls attend classes here. It’s so nice to be able to see them more, rather than having to travel to the city and back every day. And of course, I enjoy helping to care for all the babies. They’re just adorable and I’m going to be sad when they move up to Lali’s class.

I decided to enlist Isturon for help on my trip. For one thing, I am sure he needs to get gifts too — he has twice as many children as I do, and more grandchildren. I also thought he might be bored sitting around the empty school, his house isn’t finished yet and it’s so quiet without the students here. We mostly need to go to the same shops, and we could get lunch there besides. As I was, he was having difficulty finding something suitable for Hethurin. I suggested that they could spend time together, perhaps doing something Hethurin enjoys, like fishing. They would have the chance to talk and just enjoy each other’s company. That’s something you can’t really buy. Isturon seemed to like the idea, and even looked at fishing poles in one of the shops. Maerista, one of the younger teachers, suggested that I buy sweaters for everyone. We saw the sweater booth in the market, they do have a great many of them. And it can get cold out in the garden, so I got one for Terellion to wear while he’s working outdoors. I had one ordered for Malwen with a snail on it, I think she’ll like that. I’ll have to return in a week or so to pick it up. I do enjoy the city near the holidays, it’s always decorated so nicely with the lights and ribbons. There aren’t many evergreen trees, so they usually use some other sort of branch, I know the dwarves use evergreens though. We went to so many shops that it was difficult to carry all of the packages, thankfully they have mages for hire in the market who can make you portals to get home. We did have to ride from Tranquillien, but that’s not far. I can’t wait to see what Terellion does for the winter ball this year.

 

[Story] The Ghostclaw – The Recruit

Hethurin appeared in my office. Fortunately I wasn’t working too hard or he probably would have startled me. It’s still startling to have someone just appear in front of you, but I guess you get used to it when you’re around mages a lot. I still wish he’d knock or something first. He did bring good news though, he said he had a potential ranger that he wanted me to meet in Shattrath. I didn’t know they had any there, I know there are a lot of mages and blood knights, but I agreed to come meet with them. Though we aren’t hurting for people, there are a lot of empty beds and we could always use more. I went through the portal with Hethurin and we started walking to the tavern. I remembered that place, I’d spent quite a lot of time there when I stayed in Shattrath before. It seems like such a long time ago now, and I guess it was. Thankfully if anyone recognized me, they didn’t say anything.

I didn’t see any rangers at first, until Hethurin pointed out the huge draenei. I thought at first maybe he was sitting on the ranger or something, but no. A draenei, an enormous draenei with huge horns and hooves and everything, and it wanted to join up with the Ghostclaw. I don’t speak Draenei, and he didn’t speak Thalassian, but all three of us knew enough Common to make it work — kind of. Hethurin translated mostly, he explained that the draenei’s sister would be going to the school to learn Thalassian and help the healers in town, and the ranger was her brother. He wanted to be close to her to ensure that she was safe, because they were the only family they had left after the orcs attacked them. I couldn’t help but feel a bit sorry for him, as well as admiring his dedication to his sister — anyone who cared that much couldn’t be too bad, I figured. The school is safe, there are wards and Theronil patrolling, so no harm would come to his sister. But sending a draenei out onto the roads in the Ghostlands is another matter. I didn’t want any residents to mistake him for a demon or something while he was out there.

The night patrol might be the safest option. I know it’s not easy for a living ranger, but I could split it into two patrols if there are two teams now. Or I could ask if one of them wanted to move to a daytime patrol — I have a feeling that Orledin would jump at the chance, especially if I let him patrol with Leinath. I trust both of them enough that nothing too improper would happen, and they’d both actually get their routes done. Hethurin asked for me what kind of experience he had, whether he’d used a bow or not. The draenei said he was, and he had five different ones. Five! I bet Sunashe will like him right away. I’m not sure about the others. He’s very different, but I do think he’ll do a good job and he says he has a lot of experience — 1,000 years, in fact. He doesn’t look that old, but maybe that’s not even old for a draenei. Hethurin said he thinks they are immortal or something, I don’t know if that’s true or not. But I think, despite his fearsome looks, that he’ll take his post seriously, I don’t know why he’d ask to go somewhere so dangerous if he wasn’t certain about it.

I need to talk to everyone — Nessna especially — but I said we’d be ready for him in a week or so. I think he’ll probably need two beds, but we have plenty, so that’s okay. Fortunately he has his own armor, which is good because we wouldn’t have anything that would fit him properly. If something needs repaired, I hope he can do it himself, because I’m not about to take a piece of draenei armor into the city. Nor do I even know what draenei eat, Hethurin suggested that maybe he could bring some of his own food so the change wouldn’t be too drastic. My cooking isn’t that bad. He did seem interested when I told him we had fresh cookies daily from Orledin — he also has a pet moth that needs bread. I’m sure Lin will want to talk to him for that reason alone. I feel like my instinct has usually been right about people, and I got a good feeling from him. I just hope the other rangers agree to give him a chance.

[Story] Ashenvale – Risarra’s Journal

I’m back in Astranaar, and Avanniel will be leaving just before dusk to travel to Ratchet. I’m a little nervous, but not too much — everyone already knows their patrols, and knows me, so it should just be a matter of collecting reports and reading them. Unless of course, something unusual happens like some orcs invade, or we find some demons. That’s the part that I do worry about, but I’ve thought a lot about what I’d do and I feel like I’m ready if anything like that happens. I want to prove that I can do a good job and Avanniel was right to trust me to be in charge.

I hope I won’t be too distracted though. It’s hard not to think about other things, especially on nights when patrol is boring and nothing is happening. I think it’s probably the prettiest place in the world, except that I haven’t been anywhere else so I can’t really compare. I think about maybe one day I’ll get to see them too, I hope I do. I would like Bear to be there too, although I’m still a bit confused about what’s going on. When he asked if I could go, I thought there was some special reason — I mean, other than just seeing everything. Probably it was silly of me to think that, after all he usually just says what he means. And I did love it there, other than being cold, which wasn’t so bad because we had a fire in our little cabin and lots of blankets. It was incredible to see the sabers and their families out there in the snow, and the furbolgs in their little villages. On the second day we went to the hot springs and they were amazing! The water in them is really hot, so hot that steam comes up, but some of the shallow ones you can actually go in. It feels just like a wonderful hot bath. The water is bright blue, because of the surrounding ice, I guess. Then later we went and saw some blue dragons. They were just little ones, Bear said, but I’ve never seen dragons before and I loved them. I don’t know how to describe them, like bright little jewels flying in the air. The last thing we saw was a whole cave full of moonkin, well we didn’t get too close because they can be unpredictable. But they were beautiful too, their feathers were white and grey and blue, not like the ones in Ashenvale. I didn’t find any tauren, though Winterspring is very large and there could be camps or villages hiding in the hills, we didn’t go everywhere.

I can’t ever tell what he’s thinking. I know he’s probably back at his camp, working on the little house. Before we left, I brought some more blankets from the supply building, so we should be warm enough. I know there’s also a hole in the roof so we can have a fire. Ashenvale doesn’t usually get too cold, so that should be enough. But I still don’t know what he thinks beyond that, I mean other than wanting dumplings. Which I do plan to work on while I’m here, and have a proper oven. If I can make up a few batches I should have enough until Avanniel’s next trip. Maybe I am just expecting too much, I don’t know. I should just be patient but I don’t like not knowing what is going to happen.

[Story] Thorns – Harrier’s Journal

Rose has been taking Josie out to the countryside to look at places for sale. I wish she wouldn’t do that during the busy season, because I hate having to work the front. I’m not good at being friendly and smiling at everyone when I’m trying to get things done. Pup tries his best, but I think customers would rather have an adult behind the counter. I’m glad the shop is doing well, but it’s hard to keep up with orders if I’m always having to answer questions. I set my stuff on the counter though so people can watch me if they want, I guess they like that. I’m also not happy about the idea of moving at all. Rose didn’t even talk to me about it, she just went out and started looking. No, she doesn’t need my permission, but it would have been nice, you know? I live here too, it affects me too.

She said she wants a bigger place with more rooms. Okay, that makes sense, I guess. Pup does definitely need his own space, and Nash might too. I can never tell what he’s thinking. There would be room for growing vegetables, and Rose and Josie are already talking about getting some animals or something. I don’t want to live on a farm, thanks.  I guess she did already talk to Nash though, and he’s mostly sold on the idea. I think because he thinks he can get a bunch more rabbits and he won’t have to hide under a hat all the time. Which I can understand, I guess. I’m just worried about him having to go through the guards twice a day. He already passes them in the city, but I feel like they pay more attention at the gates. I couldn’t ask him to put himself at risk like that, even if he is getting the illusion from the other elf, it seems really dangerous. And we’d have to ride to and from the city every day. I like being able to just go up to my room and sleep after working.

I mean, I could just stay here. Maybe that was Rose’s plan all along. I should be the one there with her making these decisions, not Josie. Maybe it’s her way of showing that what I think doesn’t matter as much, or maybe it never did and I’m just an idiot. That’s probably the case. But I still don’t know what I’m going to do. I guess it depends on if they find a place, and what it’s like. And it depends if Nash wants to go or not. I still think it’d be a pain to have to ride there and back all the time, I don’t have a horse either, and neither does Nash. Though I guess if we’re getting a whole farm, we can get some. I don’t want a horse. Machines are a lot more reliable, and they don’t bite. Or poop.

And if that’s not enough, Risarra wrote to me too. She’s got a boyfriend named “Bear”, which I can only imagine means he’s huge and hairy. I know I shouldn’t be jealous, if I wanted there to be anything, it could have happened when I went to visit. But I’ll never belong there, just as she’d never belong here. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t still hurt a little. And if he hurts her I’m going to poison him or something, I know better than to try to fight someone called “Bear”.