[Story] The Ghostclaw – Anorelle’s Diary

I had been feeling a little odd lately, not bad or ill, just a little off. It was enough that Nessna noticed, and commented on it one morning. Then she suggested that I might be pregnant. Surely that was impossible, but then I realized that it wasn’t. The more I thought about it, the more I thought she might be right. After all, she probably would know better than I would, she’s on her third one. Arancon always said he didn’t think it was possible, but they did have Aeramin, didn’t they? After patrol I went right to the clinic. I knew I had a few hours before Arancon’s patrol was finished.

There was a strange woman at the desk, not the usual blonde girl. I found out later that it was Esladra and Nessna’s mother, she’s in town to meet with Hethurin. She wanted to ask me all sorts of questions about why I was there, I didn’t really think it was appropriate but thankfully no one else was waiting at the time. Nessna was right after all. I asked Esladra if she was sure, and she said she was. I’m not certain how she can tell, but she’s trained in this sort of thing, so I trust her. She gave me a lot of books to take home and read, and I have to go back every two weeks to make sure everything is going well. I’m older than most women when they have their first, I know that. Especially when I see some of them at the school parties, they look so young! I’m afraid that something might go wrong, and Esladra gave me a list of things I shouldn’t do. Patrol is fine, at least for now, that will change later I expect. I’m glad that Nessna will be able to answer all of my questions, I hope she won’t get annoyed by them. I have so many. What if I’m not good at being a mother? What if Arancon doesn’t want a new child after all? And what if it makes Aeramin hate him? That’s what I am the most worried about. I don’t really mind if Aeramin dislikes me — I mean, of course I’d rather we get along, but I’m not greatly upset if we don’t. But I do want him and Arancon to have a relationship, and I’m afraid this is going to take some time for Aeramin to get over. Maybe he never will. What if Arancon decides he’d rather not cause trouble with Aeramin?

Esladra showed me a drawing of how the baby looks right now. It doesn’t even look like an elf yet, but it was interesting to see all the same. It doesn’t really feel real yet, like there’s a chance it could all just be a mistake. I guess I will find out soon. I took the books home and hurried back to the lodge. Orledin happened to be making some test cakes for Julan’s wedding so I asked if he could decorate one for Arancon. He wrote “congrats” on it, because it was just a little cake.

It took him a little while to figure out what the cake was for. I had to give him some hints. I think he’s happy, he said he is. But he’s worried about Aeramin too. He wants to tell him soon before he hears it from someone else, which I think is a good idea. I just don’t know if he’ll take it well at all.

Besides Nessna, the girl who is usually at the desk is expecting around the same time, too. They’re both younger than I am, but I think it will still be good to know someone else is going through the same thing. Maybe we’ll even see each other at our appointments. I’m going to be in the mother club! I never thought it would happen, certainly not this late. I have to do my best to be a good mother, just as I tried to be a good guard, a good ranger, and a good wife. This seems like it will be more difficult than any of those though.

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[Story] The Ghostclaw – Anorelle’s Diary

I know people say that the island is just for tourists and overdone, but I’m really enjoying it so far. Everything makes me feel like we’re some nobility or something, they see to everything. Our room overlooks the beach, and at sunset you can look out over the water and it’s so beautiful. The tub is enormous and it’s shaped like a heart, which is admittedly kind of silly but still fun. They have the room stocked with all sorts of fancy soaps and salts too, to encourage you to use it. Arancon asked them to take the wine out, but we have fruit juices and Aeramin gave us some sparkling grape juice, and we had some of that the first night. It would be tempting to just stay here with him forever, but for one thing it would get very expensive, and for another I’d actually miss patrolling. At first I didn’t much like the idea of being a ranger, it felt like an enormous step backward, and I thought I’d miss the city terribly. Sometimes I do, but there are more things to appreciate out in the forest, and I’m confident that all of the other rangers are good people. There’s nothing going on out here that I would feel the need to put a stop to. And of course, Arancon is here. He’s been such a good friend to me for so long, but I’m glad we’re more than that now. Very glad.

Aeramin surprised us by showing up, just for a little while but I’m sure Arancon appreciated him being there. He said they’ll both come to the party when we get back. I don’t know what kind of cakes Orledin will be making, but I’m sure whatever he makes will be delicious. I’ll also have to go to the Spire to get my records changed when we get back, so I can be a Firewind. It’s a nice name, I like it. I said we might have to make another trip eventually, and Arancon said that he’d like to go to Shattrath. I’ve never been, but Aeramin has a house there. That’s where he was living when he was taking care of his mother, so there are a lot of feelings involved for both of them, and it might not be an easy trip. I told Aranon that I’d come with him if he wanted me to, though he might want some time alone with her too. She’s been gone for a long time, but visiting the place where she died will surely bring those feelings back again.

Though it’s a little early in the season yet, the beach is still lovely. The water is so clear you can see all the way to the bottom! Lani gave me some cream to rub on so we don’t get a sunburn, hopefully it works. In the morning, we walked along the shore and looked for shells — the water was still a little cold for swimming, but it was lovely for wading. The wind blew his hair and he looked like the cover of one of those books that the girls in the womens’ quarters are always reading. We got a whole bucket full, I’ll have to think of somewhere we can put them in the house. Maybe in a glass bowl or something. There are so many restaurants here, I don’t think we’ll even have time to try all of them. There’s also a menu in our room, we can send it down to the kitchen and they’ll bring it right up to us. That’s probably good if we’re too tired to go out. The most unusual thing is a goblin invention show, Arancon saw the flyer for it and wanted to go. Normally I’m a little wary of goblin machines, but as they were trying to get people to buy these ones, I think they took some extra effort to make sure they are safe. They had machines to clear trees, a machine to wash clothes, and a lot that I wasn’t even sure of the purpose. Arancon saw a riding machine and he immediately wanted it. The goblin explained that it was much easier to care for than a hawkstrider, it only requires a little oil now and then and it’s much safer because you can’t fall off. I’m not sure if I agree with the last point, it’s probably at least as dangerous, but I can certainly see the appeal of the others. If we got one, we could just put it in our yard, we wouldn’t need a stable or to buy food for it. And it could carry us more easily than a hawkstrider, it wouldn’t get sick or injured. Arancon thought he would have to talk me into it, but I agreed, especially after the goblin showed me the little car on the side that I could ride in. I think I should get a turn to drive it sometimes, though! Since the one at the show was a sample, the goblin’s going to build one especially for Arancon. That way he’ll also get to pick all the colors and decorations, I’m not sure what he’ll decide on yet because he was looking over the paper all evening. It’s nice to see him so happy and excited. I’m sure the other guys will want one once they see it, too!

It’s hard to believe I’m really married! It doesn’t feel different, I feel just as happy as I did before. I told him now he’s not allowed to change his mind, though, and he said he wouldn’t. I know I won’t either.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Anorelle’s Diary

I think we’ve settled nicely into the house. It still feels a little strange sometimes to leave the lodge at night, we often stay a while after our patrols to visit, and I think Arancon wants to make sure he gets some of the cookies before they all disappear. The captain has allowed us to still keep our old bunks for now, in case we should want to lie down or something — Arancon says he sometimes does after I’ve left and before his patrol starts. I expect if we got a lot of new rangers we won’t be able to anymore, but for now there are plenty of beds. Well, maybe not as many in the mens’ quarters, because Jamos takes up three or four, I’m not sure. We’ll need to figure out about getting a hawkstrider soon, I think there’s room in the barn but of course we’d have to ask if it’s all right. And hopefully the inn has room in the evenings, but we’ll see. They aren’t terribly busy most nights, but I don’t know how many stalls they have. For now we’re walking, which is normally all right but it’s been quite rainy and muddy. In the winter it would be rather unpleasant, and it does take some time.

Last night Arancon cooked a hot dish with the leftover spider meat, it was perfect for a rainy evening. I feel a bit spoiled having him cook for me every night, but I do always help him with the dishes. All afternoon I was trying to think of how I’d bring up the subject of children, sort of working up to it, but then he just came out and asked. Maybe he knew I was thinking about it? Or maybe Nessna had mentioned it to him. Either way, he asked what I thought about it, I think he wanted to hear what I’d say before he answered. It was just one of those things that I assumed would never happen, so I tried not to think about it too much. I’d convinced myself it wouldn’t, so it didn’t upset me anymore. But now Arancon thinks it’s possible, and he seems really excited about the idea. He wants me to see Esladra and ask her if there’s anything I could do to improve our chances. On one hand, I love the idea — if I was going to have one, there’s no one else I’d rather be the father. But I also don’t know anything about children, what if I’m an awful mother? What if we’re too old to keep up with an energetic little one? And I also worry what Aeramin might think. I know it’s not his decision, but I don’t want to cause any intentional trouble with him, especially now that he seems to be coming around to the idea of us being together. At least, that’s the impression I got when we spoke. He said that they might come for the party, and that he could invite us for dinner one night. I think those are both good signs!

I also told him I felt a little guilty, like it was somehow wrong for me to feel so happy when they’d both been through so much. I know it isn’t my fault, but I can’t help but feel it anyway — if his wife was still here, I wouldn’t be here with him. He assured me that she would have liked me, and approved of us being together. I hope that’s true, I’d like to think she would want to see him happy after she was gone. Obviously both Arancon and Aeramin loved her a great deal, she must have been a wonderful person. She’s also a talented painter, I’m glad Aeramin let him have some of her paintings to hang up. I hope I can see the ones at Aeramin’s house if he has us over for dinner.

So I guess that means we’re trying to have one, or at least not trying to avoid it. Arancon was talking about how we could turn the extra room into a nursery. I think we’ll have to wait until something actually happens first, but he’s already making plans. He said we could have the captain look after the baby while we’re both away on patrol — he already watches his boys, and Lin’s son while they’re away. I still have the feeling that it’s one of those really nice dreams, and I’ll wake up and be back in my bunk in the lodge all alone. It hasn’t happened yet, though.

Arancon did some more sketches, too. Those ones he said are for our private collection. I told him I’d like one of him, too. Or maybe the two of us together, though I suppose it’s not easy to draw yourself as it is to draw someone else. I’m afraid if I tried it would just look like a scribbly mess. Maybe the room on the island will have a big mirror and he could use that. It’s only a short time away now, I’m really looking forward to our trip. It’s been years since I’ve been there, and most of the time I went by myself. It’s really the kind of place that’s better with someone special.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Anorelle’s Diary

Arancon and I have finished moving our things into his house in town. Truthfully, there wasn’t very much to move at all. I just had my armor and the one trunk from under my bunk, he had a little more — some things from when Aeramin was little, and some books. It’s still hardly anything at all, the house feels far too big for just the two of us, and we have furniture for the main rooms, but some of them are empty still. I thought maybe he’d like to have a little painting studio, or I suppose we could make a guest room. I don’t expect that Aeramin and Imralion will be staying over very often, though.

I did get a chance to speak to Aeramin the other day, though. I have a few hours after my patrol while Arancon is still away, it also gives me a chance to visit with the other rangers. Aeramin had come to check the wards, as he often does, though usually he comes in the evening after Arancon’s back. I wondered if he might be avoiding him. It was also a little too late for donuts — they disappear quickly but I had one left on my plate. Orledin insisted that I take it, even though I rarely eat sweets, but in this case I was able to offer it to Aeramin. I think he might have worried that I had poisoned it or something. We talked more about his mother, how he wasn’t upset with me — or even him, really — but the situation in general. I haven’t been in his position myself, but I think I understood what he was saying. I wish there was something I could say or do to make it easier for him, but I think time is really the only way. I assured him that Arancon hasn’t forgotten his mother, that her memory is still here. We have many of her lovely paintings in the house, which really do make it feel more like a home. I couldn’t tell why Aeramin was upset that Arancon had asked for some of them, but I didn’t want to press him too much. It was already enough that he trusted me enough to talk. He also told me a little about how he and Imralion had met, and gone along with his training expedition in Outland. It sounded very dangerous! I’m relieved to know that if we ever have any demon problems, we could ask Imralion for help. It was nice to just talk about ordinary things. I’d like to think he is beginning to trust me more, I’d certainly like to get along with him too.

I was surprised that he asked about the wedding. I told him that of course he is welcome to come if he wishes, and he seemed to at least be considering it. At the very least, I told him he should come for the food. Orledin is going to make a lot of cupcakes, he keeps wanting me to try different flavors and tell him which one I like the best. I’m sure they are all good!  I haven’t bought a dress yet. I need to do that soon. Nessna surprised me the other day on patrol, she asked if I was drinking mageroyal tea or not. I hadn’t even given it much thought, I just assumed that I was too old for that to happen, and Arancon had said he and his wife weren’t able to have any more children other than Aeramin. I should bring it up with him, but I’m not exactly sure how I feel about it myself. I’d always thought it just wouldn’t happen, so I never allowed myself to think much about it. I’m also not sure what Arancon would think, considering that he has a young grandchild already. And I’m sure it wouldn’t make Aeramin very happy to have a baby sibling, either.

[Story] Fairsong Academy – Terellion’s Journal

Last night was not good. Hethurin’s mother came onto the grounds, Tik must have been busy with his son because normally he’d be the one to stop any strangers from getting in. Hethurin noticed right away that the ward had been breached, and he went with the kids into one of the hidden rooms. I went outside to talk to her, probably not the best idea but there was no way I was going to let him go out there. She’s even worse than I remember! First she just said she wanted Bailas back, so I offered to go and get him. I don’t care if Hethurin has forgiven him or not, I just want him to go home so we don’t have to put up with him anymore. He’s got in too much trouble to stay at the rangers, and we are running out of dumb jobs for him to do. He said that he polished every rock in the garden — I don’t really believe that, but whatever. So then I gave him the job of sweeping the dirt to get it smooth. That’s what he was working on today. Hethurin’s mother was also upset that “we” broke his nose. We didn’t do anything! That was all his own dumb fault! The ranger captain said that he walked into a tree, but Isturon said that someone punched him for saying nasty things about one of the girl rangers. Either way, not our fault. If he got punched, I am sure he deserved it.

But then she kept wanting to go inside and talk to Hethurin! I know there is no way he wants to talk to her. She also kept calling him “Sanimir”, which was his name before I knew him. I am pretty sure she’s just doing it to upset him. And she also said our kids aren’t “real” grandchildren again. Like she would know what a real parent is like! She also said my mother had low standards because she was seeing Isturon, who is the one who was married to him? And she claims they’ve kissed. That’s not true as far as I know. I think I’ll believe my mother over this woman.  I was hoping Hethurin would turn her into a frog or something from the window, that would have been funny. Or a pig, because she hates dirt so much! That would have been perfect. Then it started raining, and she insisted that she had to go inside again so she didn’t get any drops of water on her. Finally I said she could sit in the greenhouse. I know there are a lot of bugs in there, so I hope some crawled on her. I went inside and told Hethurin what was going on. He said to tell her to stay at an inn in town, and we’d send Bailas to her. So I went back out, she was still there in the greenhouse and I didn’t see any bugs on her. Sadly.

She agreed to that, but she said “Sanimir” had to come with to talk to her. I don’t know what she could possibly have to say to him. Whatever it is, it’s probably awful and evil like everything else she says. So since I know he’s not Sanimir anymore, I agreed. I guess that was the wrong thing to do, because now Hethurin thinks he has to go. I tried to explain that he’s not Sanimir, but he says he is. I’m kind of confused, I don’t know why he’s doing anything she says. But he suggested they could meet at the clinic, so Lani and the Confessor would also be there. It’s unlikely that she would do anything bad with other people there, and I’ll also come so I can be his guard. But I didn’t feel like a very good guard today. If I was, I would have been able to get her to leave right away. Instead I got him into a worse mess. I hope he’s not upset with me. I made an extra special manaberry cake tonight. I also asked Renner if he’d come so he could eat her if she does anything too bad. He gave me a weird look, but I guess that’s not a no.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – Anorelle’s Diary

I don’t think anyone looks forward to “spider day”, which is when we all go and clear out the spider nests with torches. They nest inside caves, so it’s dark and cramped, and it also smells bad, and no matter how hard you try, you’re always going to end up covered in spider guts. But it’s important to keep their numbers down, otherwise they’d be everywhere in the summer and fall. I was looking forward to it because it means I’d get to see Arancon though — well, I see him here, but I mean without a lot of other people around. He’s been coming to see me after his patrol, and he’s brought something every day. Sometimes he gets flowers, or chocolates, one day he even brought a little toy bear. I worry that I haven’t got him anything, but he says that I don’t need to, he’s happy just that I’m with him. I feel the same, but I think he enjoys getting things for me. Lin appreciates it too, because Sunashe always feels like he has to compete and bring her something as well!

We were able to catch a few of the adult spiders, which Arancon cleaned and brought to use for dinner. He also brought some fresh bread and cupcakes from the kitchen. This time I was prepared, and I brought along the surprise as well as some comfortable clothes. The captain gave us the next day off — I don’t remember him doing that before, but maybe he felt like being generous to everyone. I certainly won’t complain about getting to sleep in, especially with company.

Arancon did mention that Aeramin was still upset. I wish he wasn’t, though I can understand why he is. I don’t know if there’s anything either of us could say that would help, but I don’t want to make things worse either. He’s certainly not going to be excited with the news. After dinner, Arancon gave me a ring and asked if I’d marry him. He said he’d measured it when I was here last time, which meant he’d already been thinking about it then and planned ahead enough to have a string ready. Of course I’d thought about it too, but I didn’t really think it would happen, and certainly not so soon. I know some people will think it’s too soon, but we’ve known each other for years, and I’m absolutely sure that he is the right one. He’s even more charming and funny and romantic than I imagined, which is saying something. We have a reservation for the island in a few weeks, they have a chapel there. Neither of us have much in the way of family, so I thought we’d just have a small celebration here when we get back. The rangers are our family too, and I’d like them to be there. Aeramin is welcome of course, but I’m not certain that he’ll be happy about it. I don’t want him to feel that he has to if he doesn’t want to. I’ll need to get a dress too!

I think he liked the surprise. I suggested that he could do a sketch, and it looked really nice. We’ll have to keep those ones somewhere private, but I thought it would be nice to have one of us together for the sitting room. And he liked the idea of dance lessons — at least I think he did. He might have just been going along with it. I still can’t really believe all of this is happening, I keep looking at my finger to be certain the ring’s still there. I thought we should get something engraved in them, but I’m not sure what yet. Maybe something from his poem, or our names. I can’t wait to show Nessna! She’s going to say she knew all along, I’m sure.

[Story] The Ghostclaw – A Rainy Patrol

Anorelle and Nessna’s early patrol greeted the dawn each morning, but today was so grey and dreary that the sun hardly showed itself at all. A steady rain fell, lending the woods a misty and melancholy air. It was the perfect sort of day to stay in bed, and that’s where Anorelle wished she could be. Especially if Arancon was there with her.

“Yara said you weren’t in your bunk last night.” Nessna knew, of course. The news was probably all over the Ghostlands by now. Even if it hadn’t been, Anorelle would have to tell her, it was too much to keep to herself.

They navigated a large puddle that took up most of the trail. “That’s true,” Anorelle said.

“And?”

She was thankful for the hood covering her ears, which were probably bright red by now. “We had dinner. Aeramin and Imralion came over too.”

Though she walked a few steps ahead and Anorelle couldn’t see Nessna’s face, she could tell she had an amused look. “How did that go?”

“It went okay. I think. I’m not sure, it felt like it was a test that I had to pass to see if they liked me or not. I was worried I’d say the wrong thing. Arancon cooked, did you know he could cook? I didn’t. He can draw and cook and he’s so clever and handsome and I’m just — sort of there.”

Nessna paused to look back at her.

“He wouldn’t be going to all this trouble if he thought you were boring. Believe me.”

Anorelle sighed. “Maybe. But I suggested we could learn something together. Maybe not drawing, because that’s something he did because of her. But I don’t know what else. Dancing? That’s not really a hobby, is it?”

Nessna shrugged and returned to scanning the forest for danger. It was likely that anything was out this early, especially in this weather. Sometimes they saw animals returning to their dens. It reminded Anorelle that they’d need to burn the spider nests soon, and she’d gone and ruined that surprise, too. She hadn’t brought any of her things with her to the house, as she hadn’t intended to stay, but then he suggested it and she was helpless to say no.

“And?” Nessna asked, still with that knowing smile.

“I hope you’re not all talking about me.”

“Of course not. Maybe just a little. Did you have fun though?”

Arancon was much more experienced in that area, too, though she hadn’t minded of course. She still couldn’t really believe she was there with him and it was really happening. She felt so happy and safe there with him that she was afraid to wake up and have it all be a dream.

“I’m sure I love him. I can’t tell him, can I?”

Nessna raised a brow. “Why not?”

“It’s too early.”

“For who? Other people? Who cares what they think?”

Anorelle frowned faintly. That was true, but she was worried about things going too quickly and reality catching up to Arancon. She was the first person that he’d seen since his wife’s passing, and she didn’t know how he’d adjust. He’d seemed fine last night, but who knows what he and Sunashe would talk about on their patrol? To have everything fall apart would hurt too much for her to contemplate.

“I ruined the surprise, too.” Anorelle tried to avoid getting her boots too wet, but it was a lost cause at this point.

Nessna shook her head. “I don’t think he’s going to mind.”

She hoped Nessna was right. After all, she’d been married for some time now and she and the captain both seemed happy. Things had never gone well for Anorelle before — there had always been some reason they ended things, and that reason was often her work. That shouldn’t be a problem for Arancon, but there were a hundred other reasons he could find to say that he didn’t want to see her anymore. Maybe because she’d agreed to stay too easily. She looked forward to seeing him after his patrol, but she was nervous too. Especially since everyone else at the lodge would probably be listening. Anorelle did her best to focus on patrol for the time being. There would be plenty of time to worry later.