[Story] Winter Veil Postcards 2017

[[ I know it’s Thursday but I’m still doing Winter Veil stories instead! ]]

Terellion carried the brightly wrapped packages as they made their way through the Silvermoon market. Ordinarily he would have held Malwen’s hand, but his were both full — and hers were both sticky from the candy cane she was happily eating. He was sure to keep an extra close eye on her as they made their way among the stalls and crowds. They’d already bought some gifts for the students — lavish hawkstrider feather quills and inkwells — and some blankets and clothes for Galandil as well as Tik’s baby. Malwen had insisted that Narise get a doll of her own, and they’d settled on a soft cloth one with button eyes, in addition to a cuddly toy lynx. Terellion was sure that Narise already had one at home, but Malwen said that this one could be a big sister to the other, and watch after her. It was impossible to argue with that.

He set the packages down on one of the chairs and helped Malwen into hers. A morning of shopping and looking around built up quite an appetite. “We still need a gift for Arcan’da,” said Terellion, looking over the menu. “What do you think we should get for him?”

She was old enough now that Terellion thought she might be able to keep a gift a surprise, but even if not, Hethurin would like anything she picked out, even if it was strange. “Snails?” she suggested, over her sandwich.

The last thing that Terellion wanted were more snails in the house. Shelley and her enormous brood grew larger by the day, and they’d be indoors until the weather warmed in the spring. Even then, he wasn’t sure Malwen would be so willing to let them all go. “Um, well he already has Mittens,” he pointed out. “He might be jealous of another pet.”

“Oh,” Malwen said. “What about a dragon then?”

“A real dragon?”

Malwen giggled. “No, don’t be silly! Like a — statue dragon.”

Hethurin already had the enormous bronze dragon that stood at the entrance of the school grounds, but Terellion knew of a shop that sold small statues suitable for a shelf or desk. After he’d ensured that Malwen’s fingers were clean, they went in to look around.

“I like this one,” Malwen gasped, going immediately to a dragon cast in metal. Its pose was rearing up, a translucent orb of either glass or carved stone was set between its front paws. The orb had been enchanted to glow with a faint light, giving the statue a more lively appearance. “He could put it on his desk, because he’s a teacher.”

Terellion wasn’t sure if he’d really like it, but neither did he have any ideas for a present. He paid and added the very heavy package to the stack that he was carrying.

“What do you want for Winter Veil?” Terellion asked, once they’d left the store and stood in the square again.

He expected that Malwen would say dolls, or something for the snails, but she hesitated. “Well…”

Terellion looked at her curiously.

“It might cost a lot.”

“You can still tell me,” Terellion said. “It might not be that much.” Besides, they’d not even spent all the gold that Hethurin had sent them with, and if there was one thing he didn’t mind, it was buying gifts — especially for the children.

“The kids in the orphanage, I don’t think they’re going to get any presents,” said Malwen. “Could we take some to them? I know they’d really, really like some presents.”

Terellion set his boxes down and gave Malwen a hug. “Of course we can. That’s a wonderful idea. I need your help picking things out though.”

“Okay!”

He knew Hethurin would want to go along as well, not to mention he’d need the help moving that many gifts at once. They could go when Hethurin came to make their return portal, and he could already imagine how excited he would be — maybe even more so than the orphans.

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[Story] Fairsong Academy – Terellion’s Journal

It’s getting a little colder around the school, Malwen is helping me to get the shrubs covered before it freezes. Of course, she also wanted to cut some branches for Shelly and her children to climb on. There are so many of them, that I guess they do need some extra room to climb around. Do snails even climb? I guess they must, it’ll make the tank look more interesting at any rate. We also had to take down all the decorations from the fall ball, before long we’ll need to start making them for the winter ball. I think that one’s my favorite, I love the evergreen branches and sugar snowflakes and everything. We piled all of the gourds and leaves into the wheelbarrow and took them out to the forest. There we left them for the animals to eat, I let Malwen keep one of the tiny gourds to put into Shelly’s tank too. I know for a fact that they like squash because she gave them some from her dinner not too long ago. Hethurin said I should have made her eat it, but I know that he didn’t eat his, so I can look the other way once in a while. Squash was never my favorite either.

The workers are trying to get Isturon’s house done before the winter. I hope they do, so he’ll have his own place to go and won’t be in the school so much. I mean, it’s not that I don’t like him. He’s okay, at least he doesn’t think I’m trying to steal Hethurin’s money anymore. But I don’t like that he’s showing his clavicle so much. I think it’s not proper for someone of his age. The other night he was wearing pants and a shirt that was unlaced way too far. He said it’s the newest fashion, maybe it is, I don’t keep up with things like that. I know Hethurin wears pants sometimes, but usually it’s just when he wants me to notice his butt. Isturon better not be wanting people to notice his butt. Especially certain people, like my mother. Hethurin was convinced that something was going on, so I had a little talk with Isturon. I told him that he should look in the city for someone, like maybe when he was there getting lunch or shopping or something. I still think he’s too old, but he said he was seeing someone before he left for the islands. He was convinced she wouldn’t take him back, but I think he’s just not trying hard enough. I haven’t asked my mother about it, first of all because it would be too weird, and second because she’d just say I’m letting my imagination get away from me. It wasn’t my idea, it’s terrible and I don’t want to think about it. Besides, my father hasn’t been gone long enough for her to be looking for someone else. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t like it if she went around kissing other guys.

I guess Isturon also wanted to talk to Hethurin about what happened before I came here, when he was silenced at the ranch. I guess that’s why he made him come move branches off his lot instead of me and Tik, because that’s something we should be doing. Hethurin was really upset about it, I wish I could make him feel better, but there’s really nothing you can say to make up for your family betraying you. I guess it’s good that he’s still talking to his father, but he should never have gone along with it in the first place. Hopefully he’s trying to make amends. I wish I would have known so I could have helped him, or at least tried. None of his friends or family even did, well I think Xyliah’s husband did but not for a while. I would have gone there right away and figured out a plan to rescue him, just like in the books. Hethurin mentioned making one of the time portals, but I know it would make Renner upset, and he says it wouldn’t work anyway because I still wouldn’t know him. But I would if I traveled to a different time, right? I guess it’s better not to mess around with time portals. They made a big mess last time.

[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] Story a Week – Snail

Terellion and Malwen gathered burlap bags of fallen leaves and dead twigs, bundling and tying them up to be burned later. The grounds and gardens needed to be cleared of debris before the masked ball, and it also made for less work next spring — otherwise all of that old vegetation would rot beneath the winter snows. Terellion clipped the errand branches of the hedge maze with his clippers, and Malwen followed behind gathering up the sticks. She’d finished her schoolwork for the day and eagerly ran outside to help with “outside stuff”. She had a pair of overalls and her own little work boots so she wouldn’t get any of her dresses muddy. He thought before long, she might be able to help in the greenhouse with some of the older students, she would probably learn a lot about plants.

They finished trimming the hedge maze, removing the dead flowers from around the fountain, and put all of the fallen leaves into bags. No doubt there would be more soon, but it looked tidy for the time being. Terellion checked the greenhouse for leaks or breaks in the glass, and then it was time to clean out the garden. This late in the season, there were no edible vegetables or herbs left, they had all either flowered to seed or withered in the late summer heat. The only thing still growing was the row of plump orange pumpkins, which would soon be carved and cut up for pies. He started at one end and set Malwen at the other, pulling up the droopy greens and half-eaten roots. It was a little sad to see the garden end, but they would re-plant it again in the spring, and the vegetables would grow anew. They might even need to expand, given how many staff and students were living here now — not to mention those that brought food home. He knew some of them did that, Aeramin for one, sometimes others as well. Tik encouraged the growing of fresh produce here at the school, not only did it cost less, but they were fresher as well. Terellion left the little wooden markers in place, though he had a chart drawn inside showing where to put everything. They might need something different, or more space for one crop.

“Ann’da!” Malwen cried, crouched over a leaf. “What is this? Is it a snail?”

Terellion put down his rake and went over to look.

“That’s a snail, all right. He’s eating the leaves, see the little holes where he’s already been?” Malwen nodded. “We should probably move him off, since there won’t be any food here soon.”

She stared at him. “So he’s just going to starve to death?”

“Well, he’s a wild animal. He has to find his own food.”

Malwen frowned thoughtfully. “What does he eat in the winter then?”

Terellion shook his head. “I don’t know.”

The little girl dropped her little shovel and ran out to the greenhouse, emerging a short time later with a glass jar and lid. She plucked a few of the leaves from the plant and put them into the jar. Then, carefully, she picked the snail up by its shell and set it inside as well.

Hethurin wouldn’t like a snail inside at all, but he knew better than to try to argue with Malwen when her mind was made up. “He’ll need some holes in the lid, so he can breathe. Let’s go do that, we need a hammer and nail.”

At dinner, Malwen set the jar with the snail on the table, until Terellion encouraged her to set it beneath her chair. If Hethurin didn’t have a fit about it, Tik surely would. From time to time, Malwen would pick up the jar and drop a piece of vegetable into it. He wasn’t sure that snails would eat cooked vegetables, but admittedly he didn’t know much about snails. Later that evening, she marched into Hethurin’s library and demanded a book. About snails. He didn’t have one specifically, but he lent her a book on the native wildlife of the region, and that seemed to satisfy her request.

The next afternoon, they were tying up the bushes to prepare them for wintering. They would be covered with a layer of burlap to help insulate them from the cold and snow. “How is your snail?” Terellion asked.

“Good.”

“Does he have a name yet?” Malwen named every single one of her dolls, her soft animals, and sometimes even furniture. Surely the snail would have earned one.

“She,” Malwen corrected him. “Her name is Shelley.”

“Oh? It’s a lady snail?”

Malwen nodded. “She has eggs, that’s how I know.” She held up the jar for him to see, and sure enough, there were dozens of perfectly round, translucent eggs hidden beneath one of the leaves. How was he going to explain a baby snail invasion?

 

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Anorelle’s Journal

I don’t write often, mostly because there’s very little to write about. I fill out my reports properly, but that’s just about events on patrol. I have to be as objective as possible there, and truthfully there is not often very much to report. We have not seen any demons for some time, and the only trace of any undead is near the Scar, which is to be expected. Very rarely, Nessna and I will come across someone alive there, either people wishing to study it or sometimes casting magic to attempt to regrow things. I know there are some who can do such things, and it may be having some effect. There are small sprouts in the cracks here and there, but I haven’t gone any closer to investigate. I’m not sure how long those spells take, perhaps they are just making the existing plants stronger. They never wish to talk much, which is understandable I suppose.

There is another party coming up soon, the masked ball. I hadn’t put any thought into what I might wear, I always just wear my armor. No one seems to mind or say anything. In the past, Orledin and the other undead would be watching the road for trouble, but from what I understand both he and Salenicus will be attending the ball. So I intend to keep watch where I can, to help Sorrowmoss. She cannot possibly watch the entire estate at once, it’s too large. But I was also invited to a wedding, which was unexpected. It’s for Aeramin, and Arancon wants someone there to ensure that he isn’t tempted to drink anything. That makes sense, but I’m not sure if I could stop him if he really wished to — I may have guard training but I am still smaller. He said I just had to threaten to tell Aeramin, I hope that will be enough deterrent but I’m worried that it may not be, given how their relationship has been in the past. I think it would be better to find a distraction — the food perhaps, I hope that will be enough. I don’t know if armor is appropriate for a wedding. It’s nice enough armor, but I will feel out of place if everyone else is in a dress. Arancon said that Aeramin will be in a dress, that’s not very helpful. Maybe I should buy one? I don’t know who the other guests will be. I don’t know how to dance, but if I were to try, I assume it would be easier in a dress. At the very least it would hide what my legs are doing better.

It’s hard to believe I have been here nearly two years already. We spoke a little about his time in the guard. His captain wanted him to punish children who were stealing apples from the market. That does sound like something most of them would say. I know that not every guard and every captain is corrupt, but like much of the city, it looks polished and lovely on the outside. It takes time and close notice to see the cracks and corruption beneath. I didn’t, for a long time, because I didn’t want to. He asked if my captain was still there, and as far as I know he is. I try not to dwell on it too much, I was very angry at the time but now I wonder if I might be better off. Maybe one day I will be a ranger captain, but not for a long time. I think ours is doing a fine job.

[Story] Fairsong Academy – Terellion’s Journal

The builders finished making the little chicken house and pen. I hope this means the end of the stupid chicken jokes, but I kind of doubt it. I just worry he’s going to forget and talk about cocks in front of Malwen or something. He also thinks it’s hilarious to talk about picking up chicks, like baby chickens. But I do hope the chickens like their house and start living in it and laying a lot of eggs, we use a lot for baking and for breakfast, so it would be a big help to have them right here. Maybe I could talk Hethurin into getting a cow, too? But I think parents might not be too excited about seeing a cow on the lawn of their childrens’ school.

Hethurin wants to make more practice rooms, with more students they’re getting a bit crowded now and sometimes students have to wait to use them. He doesn’t want to cut down too many trees, nor does he want to ruin the view, which I agree with. We could make new buildings further back, but they’d be a pretty far distance from the main school which wouldn’t be very good for practice rooms. It’s okay for housing, or storage or something. I suppose we could add another floor on, but then we’d have to redo the whole tower including Malwen’s room. I thought maybe we could expand the basement into practice rooms. It’s not used right now, and I think it would be easy to expand — easier than moving the whole tower, anyway. Of course Tik and I will need to go through and figure out what’s down there, and make sure it’s warm enough and not leaking. I don’t think it’s been used for a very long time so there might be rats and things down there too. Oh, Hethurin also wants Narise to get her own room. I agree with that, but I’m not sure where it’s going to go. And eventually Galandil will need one. I don’t know if he intends to have a separate room for every child, if he does we’re going to run out of rooms really fast.

The other thing he wanted to talk about was really weird. His father has been staying here, I thought it would be just until he recovered but it’s been longer than that, too. And now Hethurin says he’s talking about retiring. Which wouldn’t be too weird, he’s old and we have enough healers in the town. But Hethurin thinks he’s trying to impress someone here because he’s wearing his shirts unbuttoned. Personally, I think it’s just because he’s trying to get cool because it’s summer and sometimes the rooms in the school get hot. Especially if people are working on fire magic nearby. But then he said he’s trying to impress my mother and I don’t like that idea at all. She’s too busy helping with the school and watching after babies to be looking at people’s clavicles… right? I was going to ask her but then I got too embarrassed, because either way it’s going to be really awkward. If she isn’t I’ll just look like some kind of weirdo, and if she is… well, I don’t even want to imagine that. My father hasn’t even been gone very long, it wouldn’t seem right to be thinking about that with someone else. I’m sure that if something happened to Hethurin I wouldn’t be interested in anyone else.

It could be the dragon, too. There’s a girl dragon here, and she likes to learn stuff about the Light. So maybe he’s just trying to impress her, and not my mother. That would still be weird, but a lot less weird.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Faeris’s Journal

Today is our first full day on the island. We arrived last night on the boat, we could have just got a portal from one of the mages at the school, but I wanted the whole experience of getting to ride on the boat and seeing the island get closer. It isn’t a very long ride, but they have snacks and drinks and you can stand up on the deck in the breeze. I’m glad I reserved the room ahead of time, because they were really busy — it’s the summer and everyone wants to go visit the beach. The room I got overlooks the harbor, so you can see the boats coming and going from the docks. You can also see the sun setting in the evening, making the ocean look all red and gold, it’s really pretty. The room itself is fancy as well, there’s a huge tub and bed, and a little ice-box with different kinds of drinks in it. There’s also a paper with things you can order if you don’t feel like going to one of the restaurants. It’s pretty expensive, but we’re on vacation so I’m not worrying about how much we’re spending. Besides, I have plenty saved up. I haven’t really spent anything since I came to the rangers, and I don’t plan to buy anything big for a long time. I don’t mind spending a lot on something that we’re both really going to enjoy and remember for a long time. Especially because I don’t think Julan’s ever really had a real vacation before. He’s so excited about everything, it’s like he doesn’t know what to do first.

I wanted to go down along the beach today, aside from swimming in the ocean there are all sorts of little shops along the beach where you can get food or drinks, or candy. There’s one kind there that I really like, it’s soft and squishy and they make it in all different flavors. There are also games you can play to win prizes, like they have at the Darkmoon Faire. Julan said they’re all just rigged, which they probably are, but I wanted to win him a prize anyway. I spent way too much on the game where you knock bottles down with a ball, but I finally got a red toy dragonhawk. Its eyes are kind of crooked, but it’s cute. We looked for shells on the beach and went in the water (it was colder than we expected). Being here reminds me of those trips I used to go on when I was little, except I’m here with Julan and not my parents. That makes it even better, not that being with my parents was bad or anything, but I’m doing whatever I want to do and with someone I want to be there. I guess it’s because I never really did anything like this before, I mean sure there were people that I saw in Silvermoon, but it was never really serious. And we never did things like going on a trip together. Julan is different, and I really want him to have a good time and have good memories of being here with me. I hope he is, it seems like it. Although we did both get kind of sunburned, that’s not so good. But tonight I want to go to one of the restaurants, there are a lot and they’re all really good. I know this trip is going to be over too soon.