[Story] Story a Week 10

[[ Prompt: Obsession ]]

Uldred removed his spectacles and rubbed his eyes. They ached, and the pages in front of him were swimming. Perhaps it was time to turn in for the night. Only a little oil was left in the lamp, and by its struggling light he could see that the hour was well past three. Sighing, he gathered the papers up into a stack on the desk and placed a book on top so they wouldn’t blow away if he opened the window later in the morning. He’d just have to continue then, once he’d slept and had something to eat. The most frustrating thing was that he knew he was close — he had to be — it was only a matter of untangling the complicated web of spells before him. If a spell could be cast, its reverse could also be cast. It was a fundamental principle of magic.

That boy is obsessed, he recalled his father saying, when he first got his hands on magical theory books. Uldred used to read them by a lamp very similar to this one, sitting before the grey window-panes streaked with rain, a warm blanket all around him. He remembered the awe and wonder those books brought to him, the eagerness to learn and experiment for himself. Maybe he had been, Uldred conceded, because he couldn’t go to proper lessons. The books were all he had then, and proved a valuable resource now. Though of course he’d graduated to much more advanced subjects than magical theory.

The Stormwind streets were empty and quiet at this hour, but Uldred knew things still moved there, out of sight. Rats and stray dogs, thieves and cut-purses stalked the shadows, hunting. In Shattrath, Uldred hadn’t had to worry about such things, at least as long as he stayed on the upper tiers, but Stormwind was a much different place. It had taken some time to get accustomed to a city again. His room was on an upper floor, so he could leave the window open for air most of the time, though a truly dedicated thief could get in — if he’d had anything worth stealing. Rumors of elves infused with demonic magic had brought him back here, but thus far he’d been able to learn very little about them. He’d not seen one himself, nor found any books on the subject. Even if he did find one in the flesh, Uldred rather doubted he’d be allowed to conduct the sort of experiments necessary to learn what he needed to know. As they were elves, he might have more luck in one of their cities, but it was more likely they were driven into hiding, as he and his fellow summoners had been. Walking about the city stinking of fel energy was not a wise plan. But he had to find one. All of his years of study had moved him forward, but not far enough. There was a piece of the puzzle still missing, only Uldred wasn’t exactly sure what shape it was, or what it looked like. At this point, he wasn’t entirely sure what the end result was even supposed to look like.

He changed into his sleeping robes, and blew out the lamp. Even if he was able to finish his work, what was it going to accomplish? Would he not be the same person he was now? Would he be hailed as a great scholar and recognized for his achievements? Likely not. Would it bring his homeland and his mother back? Certainly it wouldn’t. But he persisted because he had to, because he had seen it this far and had worked too long to stop now. And partly out of habit. Without his work, what else did he have? On another night, this question might have kept him awake. But Uldred was asleep nearly as soon as he pulled the blankets up over himself.

I got my order from AcornPress, and they are now available in my Etsy shop! They’re a little more expensive than I had hoped, but that is because they are printed front and back. I am really impressed with the quality as well as the turn-around time to get these done. They also have clear instructions on how to set up your files. I would definitely recommend them!

etsy_charm_group

If you would like some druid charms of your own, please check it out! You can get them individually, or the set of all five. They measure 1 inch (3 cm) high.

[Story] Story a Week 34

[[ Prompt: A story about loneliness

I have two characters who are very lonely, and both are undead! Sora, the mage, and Stormpelt the worgen. I chose Stormy because she’s needed to help watch over Feathermoon while Ornasse is away. ]]

They had all forgotten about her.

Stormpelt had roamed the woods for a long time. How long exactly, she could not be sure. She did not have to sleep, so she could not count the days easily. In this dense forest, the seasons ran together — it never got very hot in the summer nor very cold in the winter. It was either wet, or not wet. She could not feel the cold, though she enjoyed laying out on a warm rock in the afternoons. Stormpelt could not remember how many times she had done that.

Sometimes she saw others, but not often. If she got too close to the town, she’d see the ones with the sharp things. Stormpelt didn’t like those, so she was careful to avoid them. There were others sometimes, the big ones that smelled bad, but she could not remember the last time she saw one of them. The most interesting were the small people, in their makeshift camps. Once Stormpelt came across one as she roamed, and she had to stay and investigate because she had never seen anything like it before. They had food hanging out, meat and fish and berries drying on racks, and though they looked delicious, Stormpelt had no need of them. She found a place to rest and waited for them to return. What she saw surprised her. They were covered in fur, and they smelled warm and alive. They chittered excitedly to each other, eating together around the fire. Stormpelt felt a stab of emotion — she wasn’t exactly sure what, at first. Remembering her own pack, guilt for what had happened since then, a desire to be among these small strangers. But if they were like any other living people, they would not want her there. They would snarl and show their weapons and shout at her. No matter how much they might be alike, there would always be that one difference between them.

She had almost been welcomed, by the leaf-person and his mate. He had saved Stormpelt in the fire place, tended to her burnt paws and brought her back to safety. Stormpelt could tell that they were still wary, but they had been kind to her. She remembered how they used to wash her and comb her hair. They had a tiny pup, and Stormpelt would help watch over him while he played. He must be a lot larger now. Stormpelt wasn’t sure she would recognize him now, but she would surely remember his scent. But she hadn’t seen them for a very long time, since they had arrived here in the forest. They lived in the town, safe inside the strong buildings, but Stormpelt was not allowed there. Had they forgotten about her? It was likely so. They had their own lives — real lives, not the strange version that Stormpelt had, somewhere in between alive and dead. She longed to see them again, not only to see that they were safe, but for that sense of belonging. It was the thing she most missed about her pack — aside from Frostmoon, of course.

At least she still had Grub Grub. He, at least, had never left her. She withdrew into the cool darkness of her den, curling around herself. Grub Grub liked the warmth of summer, he was more active and hungry, and searched her open paw for the berries she had brought him. Berries weren’t his favorite food, he preferred meat, but he hungrily ate them, all the same. Stormpelt had just laid her head down to rest when she heard the whisper of feathers outside her den. She perked her ears curiously.

“Worgen?” a voice called, and Stormpelt’s heart leapt. It was the leaf person. He hadn’t forgotten about her after all.

[Art] ToV Doodles

Over the summer I raided with my friend’s guild, since my own had stopped for the expansion. They were so nice and fun, I’m sad that I probably won’t be able to go with them again for a while because our raid nights are the same. Maybe a bit later in the expansion I will be able to!

Here’s two little quick drawings I did of the raid leader and one of the other healers!

tov_bubblestov_stoned

[Story] Story a Week 32

[[ Prompt: A story about a curse ]]

A screech like metal on stone announced the drake’s arrival into the clearing. Uldred watched it descend anxiously, the great leathery wings folding up over its back. Its prey was alive — stunned, but still moving. He’d made that mistake the last time he sent it out; the drake had swallowed it whole like a snake. This time, he’d waited until after the drake had fed before trying again. They shouldn’t be disturbed here. Uldred had searched for days for the right place in the forest. He hadn’t seen any of the giant insects here, nor the stalking reptiles, and there were no paths or villages close by. And there were small trees to tether the subject to, just in case.

The drake stood over its prey, its burning eyes watching Uldred intensely. He rubbed the smooth scales of its forehead. “That will do nicely. Thank you.” The drake was so huge now, grown rapidly from feeding off the creatures in this very forest. It was hard to imagine him as the weak, scrawny whelp he had been, on the edge of death. He still couldn’t understand how a creature that appeared to be undead could grow and thrive, either — but that was research for another time. Uldred’s subject was finally here.

Book knowledge and practical knowledge can be much different, and curses in particular were something that must be studied first-hand. But Uldred had little luck cursing small animals — often, they didn’t work as expected, and of course he could not ask the subject to describe what it felt. An aware subject, capable of speech, was required. Certainly there were dozens of people that Uldred would have liked to practice on, but most of them still lived back in Stormwind. Someone would surely notice if something happened to them, and he didn’t have a suitable place to work, either. For all its quirks, Shattrath was much better. Especially out here in the woods, away from the guards and the prying naaru. Uldred still wasn’t sure if they could know everything that happened in the city, but it was better not to risk it.

Seeing the bird people in the market had given Uldred the idea. He knew they had small settlements all around the walls of Shattrath. They were capable of speech, though rough, and no one would blink if one of them were to go missing. He wouldn’t even have to capture it himself and worry about being seen or attacked, the drake was large enough to carry one off — they were much lighter than they looked. The one that the drake had brought looked thin, too, or perhaps that was an illusion caused by the disarray of its feathers. It was alive, but the trip in the drake’s mouth hadn’t been easy. It stirred and, seeing the drake again, moved to get up. Its broad snakelike head struck and seized the bird again in its teeth. “Hey! Easy now,” Uldred said, frowning. He didn’t want to have to find yet another one. Quickly, he picked up the rope that he had left in the middle of the group of trees, and bound the bird’s hands with it. He’d had to research that too, and Uldred still wasn’t sure he’d got the knots properly, so he tied extra, just in case. The bird’s claws and beak looked sharp enough that it could probably cut through the rope, given enough time. So Uldred had to work quickly. The drake snapped its jaw and tossed its head before lifting off again, probably to find something else to eat.

The bird person’s small black eyes fixed on Uldred with a harsh glare. “Why,” it hissed, the feathers around its head rising. “Let go!”

Uldred didn’t answer, picking up his small notebook. Which one should he start with? There were so many, it was difficult to choose. Fireos? No, that would be too dangerous with trees around. Petrifesco? Maybe, but the subject would be unable to speak. Horribilius? Too loud, would surely attract attention. Arachiteus? Uldred scratched his chin thoughtfully. Hopefully it would attract only normal-sized spiders, and not the immense ones that lived nearby. It was worth a try. Carefully, Uldred recited the spell, sure to get every syllable correct. All magic was dangerous if done improperly, but especially curses.  He held his breath, watching.

Nothing happened.

Frowning, Uldred read over the spell again. He was sure to speak clearly, and in a firm tone. That was important for spells involving demons, it couldn’t hurt here either.

Still nothing. The bird’s eyes flashed, as if it was laughing. As if it knew.

Flustered, Uldred tried the spell on the next page. Then the next. None of them would take. Did the bird have some kind of magical protection? Or — the thought came to him with sudden clarity. Was the bird already cursed? It seemed fine, in fact it seemed to be gloating in Uldred’s frustration. Uldred snapped the notebook closed and stuffed it into his pack. All that research, wasted. He would have to find another subject, but he didn’t know where. He called for the drake, Naxitarius. This one would have to be taken care of.

[Story] Story a Week 27

[[ Sorry I haven’t been writing much, between my summer projects and cleaning/yard work/car hassles I have not had much free time. The werewolf should be done today though I hope!

Prompt: A story that features a song or a poem

I ended up using the poem for inspiration, rather than actually putting it into the story. I just picked one that I liked and felt I could apply to one of my characters! ]]

Winter Heavens
George Meredith

Sharp is the night, but stars with frost alive
Leap off the rim of earth across the dome.
It is a night to make the heavens our home
More than the nest whereto apace we strive.
Lengths down our road each fir-tree seems a hive,
In swarms outrushing from the golden comb.
They waken waves of thoughts that burst to foam:
The living throb in me, the dead revive.
Yon mantle clothes us: there, past mortal breath,
Life glistens on the river of the death.
It folds us, flesh and dust; and have we knelt,
Or never knelt, or eyed as kine the springs
Of radiance, the radiance enrings:
And this is the soul’s haven to have felt.

A cold winter wind blew over the crusted snow, flinging tiny specks of ice into the air, which caught the meager light and sparkled there. Stormpelt had always loved the winter, the feels and smells of it — the soft, fluffy snow and the hard, slippery ice. The rich sap of the pines and the way your breath hung in the air like a cloud. She loved the crunch beneath her paws of old snow and brittle branches, the sound of the wind rattling the bare branches at night. But most of all she loved the feeling of being warm and safe in their den together, knowing even the most bitter wind would not reach them there.

This winter was different. Wintermoon was gone. She could still see the image in her head, his gentle eyes wide in surprise and — she hated to believe it — perhaps fear, the bright blood seeping into the ground. She hadn’t meant to, hadn’t wanted to. But it had happened, all the same. Her master must have known how it would hurt her, that’s why he had chosen Wintermoon for her prey. There could be no other reason.

She walked down the long road, the one that led to the towns. Normally, she would avoid them, but no one was traveling now. The people there were snug inside their own dens, within the thick stone walls. They probably had their families with them as well. Stormpelt felt her stomach turn, and she  knew it was not hunger, for she had not felt hunger since the day she died. She went to a ridge where they had often sat to watch the stars as they emerged from behind the mountains, a secret place hidden by the trees.

Had he forgiven her? She liked to believe that he had, it was his nature. He had never growled or nipped her in earnest, though he was much larger and stronger than she. She had betrayed him twice, once in death and again in undeath. Was his heart soft enough to love her in spite of that? It was somehow worse if he had, made her feel even more guilty. He didn’t deserve what had happened. It was still light, so Stormpelt could not see the stars yet, but they would come in time. They always did.

When she was there with her master, some of them said they didn’t feel anything at all. She envied them that sometimes, it must be so much easier. They were not burdened as she was with the guilt of what they had done, the memories of what they had lost. They didn’t think back to cozy winter nights in their dens, to the thrill of the hunt through the woods, to watching the stars on a summer evening. They didn’t have the pain that seemed to crush their hearts within their breast at a scent, or a word, or a place. They had nothing at all. Stormpelt had at least the faint echo of her life, and though it hurt, it was something. Feeling something, even hurt, made her feel a little more alive. And memories were better than nothing at all. She vowed to keep them safe, one last promise — he would never be forgotten.

[Story] A Story a Week 13

[[ Prompt: A story that takes place entirely inside a vehicle.]]

“Best hurry, Lady Danforth,” said the doorman, opening the carriage door. “It’s raining something fierce.”

Large drops pattered heavily onto her woolen travel cloak, and the heavy clouds promised much more to come. A little rain never bothered Marjolaine, though it’s true she would rather not ride all the way out to the countryside soaking wet. She settled onto the plush velvet cushion as the footman tied her trunks outside. There were only two small ones, along with her small bag; she wouldn’t need any fancy gowns or shoes back at the farm. The footman gave the ropes a final tug and he came around to close the carriage door. “Travel safe,” he said, with a tip of his hat. “Hope that storm doesn’t catch you.”

Marjolaine heard the snap of the whip and the horses’ hooves scuffling on the gravel as the carriage began to move. She took off her shoes and got more comfortable on the seat; the countryside was a long ride from here, even in good weather. Her husband had called for the carriage, though she hadn’t expected it to arrive quite so late at night. He and the other gentlemen had lost track of the hour during their card game, as they often did, and she’d finally had to go and remind him. She hadn’t been back to see her parents since the wedding. How much had it changed? Or more importantly, how much had she changed? It was a fancy carriage at least, with real glass windows, which she appreciated especially given the foul weather. Gusts of wind pushed against it now and then, the rain lashing the roof in sheets. Marjolaine was glad she wasn’t the one driving tonight.

The gentle rocking of the wheels and the steady patter of rain made her drowsy, and she dozed off for a time beneath the warm blankets and furs. When she woke and checked her watch, it was well past one o’clock, which meant she still had some distance to go. It was too dark to read within the carriage, so she watched out the windows into the darkened forest. But were they near a town? Marjolaine saw dim lights in the distance. There weren’t any villages along the road, but perhaps there were houses back in the woods? It was possible. But she still thought it strange that their lamps would be burning so late into the night. They weren’t the warm golden glow of a lamp, either, but a cool bluish white, like the moon on cold nights. The storm had not relented, and rain seemed to pour down upon the carriage roof as if from a barrel. She could not hear the thunder over the din, but she saw lightning flicker on the horizon every now and then, illuminating the dark forest for only a moment. She hoped they would not need to stop due to the storm; there were no inns along the route, either. Sleeping in the carriage all night did not sound very appealing, nor did she wish to be out in these woods alone. Stories of bandits and worse, wild animals, were common. Marjolaine dismissed these as spooky tales meant to frighten children, but now that she was out here, she did not wish to test whether or not this was true.

Perhaps the horses and driver sensed it too, because the carriage kept a quick pace over the muddy roads, and Marjolaine worried that it might be dangerous to drive so fast in such poor conditions. She did not wish one of the horses to slip, or the carriage to tip over around a sharp curve in the road. She leaned forward and rapped on the front panel. “Driver? Driver!” She waited several long moments, but he did not open the panel. Likely he couldn’t hear her above the noise of the carriage and the storm. Marjolaine knocked again, more insistently this time, but he still did not hear her, it seemed. She settled back into her cushion, looking out the windows again. Surely he knew the route well, and would not push his horses into danger — or at least this is what she told herself for reassurance. Even above the din of the storm she could hear their hooves pounding the ground. Tree branches reached ominously out of the darkness like black spindly fingers, scratching the sides of the carriage as it rushed past. Shouldn’t they be close to the village by now? At the very least, the crossroads. At such a pace, they should arrive a bit ahead of schedule, yet Marjolaine saw nothing familiar outside. A fearful thought occurred to her; had the driver taken the wrong road in the darkness? If they had already passed through the crossroads, it was possible. But she knew from the map in Lord Danforth’s study that there were villages along the other roads; they would have come across one of them by now. Someplace she could stop and sleep for the night and get dry, have a little something to eat, perhaps a hot bath. It sounded nice, but at the same time so far away.

Where were they, then? She looked out into the darkness again, and as if in answer, the horses increased their pace yet again. The carriage jostled and bounced over the road, and Marjolaine feared they would certainly crash. It seemed that the horses now ran in a blind panic, how else could they keep such a pace? “Driver!” She shouted, pounding on the panel with her fist now. “Slow down!” The road curved, and the carriage leaned into it. Marjolaine had to scramble to keep from sliding along the bench. She pried open the front panel. Maybe he just couldn’t hear her. “Driver–”

The driver’s perch was empty. At first, she thought she just could not see him in the darkness, but a flash of lightning revealed the truth — he was gone. Panic rose in her, had he fallen off somewhere back on the road? How long had the driver been missing? How did the horses know where to go? She knew how to drive, she’d driven the farm horses around in their old wagon since she was a small girl. But there was no way to get up into the seat without climbing out the door, and that was impossible at the pace the horses now kept. They must tire soon, she assured herself, and she could guide them then. Or maybe she could pull herself up, it wasn’t very far but it would be difficult in the best conditions, nearly impossible in the dark and rain, with the horses at a full gallop. The last thing she needed was to end up stranded on the road as well, without any of her things in the middle of the dark woods. Still, she convinced herself to look. Marjolaine leaned as far as she could against the door, but she could not see to the front. She would have to open the door and lean out. The wind pushed back against it and the rain felt like a waterfall rushing against her. There weren’t any hand-holds that she could see. The carriage jolted suddenly to one side, and Marjolaine gave a little cry of surprise. Thankfully she did not fall, but she pulled the door closed after her quickly. Had they hit a rock? Probably–

The carriage rocked again, now the other direction. It felt like something large had hit the side of it, but she could not think what it could possibly be. And again, this time it seemed that the wheels teetered an instant off the ground before deciding whether to fall again. They would tip over, especially if it happened as they rounded a curve. The road was never this bumpy, what could be causing the carriage to rock so violently? Marjolaine pressed close to the glass, looking down at the road. There was something there. Something large and dark, darker even than the surrounding woods, and it was hairy. Her hands shaking, Marjolaine fumbled for her travel bag. It had fallen off the bench in the commotion, but she found it now. She’d thought her husband absurd when he insisted that she bring along one of his pistols, but now she was grateful for it. Had he known? She didn’t have time to consider that now. She prayed the powder was still dry enough, it had been inside the entire trip so it should be. She dropped one of the lead balls into the barrel and readied the shot. She couldn’t fire through the door. At best, it would make a hole and ruin a fancy carriage door, at worst it would simply bounce back at her. She would have to open the door again, and fire with the other hand. Marjolaine was not sure her aim was so good, but she’d fired pistols before. Just never in a moving carriage in the dark. But the thing — the animal, whatever it was, was only feet away. It had to be keeping pace with the horses, she realized in horror. What animal could run as fast as a horse at full gallop?

Holding her breath, Marjolaine inched open the carriage door. She could see the thing there still, hear its panting breath as it ran. She pulled the trigger, and smoke poured into the carriage. She heard the thing outside cry out — she’d hit it! But it was still there. A moment later, the carriage rocked again as it hurled its body against the side. Too far, Marjolaine realized, but it was already too late. She heard the loud snap of the wooden tongue as it broke, and the horses fled into the night without her. The carriage lay on its side in the mud, the wheels still spinning. The beast closed in.