Archive for September, 2010

Untitled pt 2

Ten minutes later, the motley gathering huddled before the imposing oak doors. The winter sun had finally risen, making a halfhearted effort to melt the frosting on the high beams and carved railways of Nighthaven. Leafsong shifted from foot to foot, increasingly aware of the numbness slowly encroaching on her toes.

Fleetingly, she remembered her father musing one particularly hungry morning that a crippled child might bring in more sympathy coin. His fingers had lingered disconcertingly beside the knife until Leafsong’s mother had reminded him that a toe-less child couldn’t be sent out to scavenge for herbs. Missing fingers couldn’t slip discretely into silk-lined pockets. At this rate thought Leafsong grimly, shooting a scowl in response to a youth’s curious glance, I’ll return missing at least my big toe. She tucked her chin into her chest and bore the chilling wind grimly, her hard, pale eyes like flecks of ice.

The sound of a bell cut through the still air like a hunting knife, and in unison, the heads of the two dozen or so hopeful supplicants rose. Leafsong unstuck her feet from the stone flagstone and defended her place at the front of the huddled, her chin stuck out defiantly, frozen elbows ready to strike at anyone who dared to nudge past. There was silence for several beats, then the doors opened. Without ceremony, several druids crossed into the forecourt. All three were male, the elder dressed in the customary garb and his attendants in robes of muted brown. A thick bearskin was slung around the elder’s shoulders, protecting the old man from the bitter cold. The huddle took a collective intake of breath, eyes of all shades of amber and silver focused on the man who could – with a word – fulfill their life’s ambition.

With a gesture, the smaller of the two attendants prompted the group into a ragged line. Leafsong was enraged to find herself between two enthusiastic young females, both several decades older than herself, their white teeth gleaming like a shark’s as they beamed. Leafsong felt her own crooked teeth with her tongue, and folded her lips tightly. To add to her frustration, she was halfway down the row.

The elder and his attendants began to make their way down the line, the elder reaching out a wizened hand to rest lightly on the top of each hopeful’s head, closing his eyes for a brief moment. After a few seconds, he removed his hand, and – so far – had said nothing before moving on to the next candidate. The passed-over one had stayed there for a moment, clinging to a frantic strand of hope; but a quick shake of the head from an attendant confirmed their rejection. One by one, they trailed off, disappearing between the snowy buildings and naked trees. Leafsong closed her eyes as they came to the person beside her, biting her lip and bowing her head. She waited, her breath hovering in her throat, for the touch that could change everything.

She counted to thirty, before opening her eyes. The elder and his attendants were standing before the woman to her left, the one who should have come directly afterwards. She blinked for a moment, then opened her mouth, preparing to step forward. One of the attendants noticed her movement and shook his head sharply, flicking his eyes up and down her scrawny figure dismissively.

“You don’t belong here. Leave, now.”

Squaring her shoulders, Leafsong left the druidic temple and headed back towards the poorest district of Nighthaven, her jaw set.

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Untitled

(( This story is set about 12-13 years ago, the year before Leafsong met Aphel in the Hyjal foothills ))

Leafsong, known as Twiglet (a somewhat cruel nickname derived from the scrawniness of her limbs), had been standing outside the Circle’s Nighthaven headquarters since four that morning. Her father had deposited there with a clip round the ear and the strict instructions not to move, not for anything, not even if a vast, flaming Legion lieutenant materialised on the tiled rooftops and began hurling fireballs. Leafsong, however, did not need to be threatened. She was, in fact, perfectly happy to stand in place for three hours on a frosty Nighthaven morning, waiting for the sun to rise. If the winter nights had not been so bitingly cold, she would have been there, waiting, from the previous evening. Today, for the first time since anyone could remember (and being kaldorei, they had exceptionally long memories), the Nighthaven branch of the Cenarion Circle was accepting several students to join a special druidic class; one that did not require years of intensive study, or an expensive course of tutoring with a certified Shan’do; or innate proficiency. It was rumoured that the Circle had introduced this new scheme to quickly replenish their diminishing ranks; others whispered about a new Legion threat. Leafsong didn’t care about the rumours, nor for the Legion’s spectre. Too young to remember the horrors of demonic invasion, she was focused entirely on the opportunity at hand.

Her family had heard, through the word of mouth that flitted through the abandoned barrow den where they resided, that the Circle would be paying their new recruits a training grant and living expenses. This, reckoned Melarian Gladefall, was the chance he had been waiting for. Leafsong, who also liked the thought of a regular salary, agreed heartily.

But, for this scrawny urchin scuffing her feet to keep them warm, there was a more personal compulsion that drove her. The first time she had ever seen a silver coin, the greatest amount of concentrated wealth she had believed there could be, was between the fingers of a nameless druid of the Cenarion Circle. Dressed in full regalia, the antlers adorned his head like a crown as he strode, his great staff striking the earth decisively before him. He had paused, looked down at the pathetic begging girl for a moment, and tossed a silver coin into her lap. This coin had bought the medicine which saved her brother’s life, and the seeds from which they had harvested their first crop of silverleaf. From that moment, she too wanted to walk the streets of Nighthaven with antlers in her hair (though perhaps not tossing coins away like a fool.) She had nurtured this secret dream deep within her childish heart, where it had flourished despite her unfortunate circumstances. And now, for the first time, a chance had arisen!

As the sickly winter sun reluctantly crawled up over the rooftops, Leafsong waited. Her eyes were fixed on the vast pair of cedarwood doors that led to the Circle’s sanctum, shut tight against the elements. They were polished so thoroughly that she could see her reflection in the gleaming wood. She straightened up slightly, some small pride glowing within her. Unfortunately she had only the one outfit, but it was clean and (mostly) free of dirt. She herself had been scrubbed relentlessly, her nails cleaned, her hands and feet appearing strangely pink and clean. Her hair had been pulled back into a long braid, and she had been given strict instructions to not smile with her mouth open, displaying her crooked teeth.

As the sun crept up, others joined her. Most were a little older than her, though a few sad individuals appeared to be in the middle stages of adulthood. Clearly, they viewed this opportunity as their last chance to fulfill their so far thwarted dreams. One of the younger candidates, a youth with a hawklike nose and piercing Amber gaze, peered at Leafsong derisively. He took in the cheap, shapeless clothing with the stains lakewater couldn’t remove, the knobbled feet wrapped in brown paper to protect them from the snow.

(( part two soon ))

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Leafsong’s Diary 24.9

I had the worst dream last night. It was terrible, terrible; and worst of all, my lifemate laughed at me when I told him about it! It was so outrageous, I was forced to brutally attack him with a cushion until he fled to the sofa.

I dreamt that baby Analith had some druidic talent (inherited from whom, I wonder? My husband gave up on druidic lessons about ten thousand years ago, and I got expelled from my classes), and he impressed us all with his transformation into a grizzly bear. But then, he couldn’t manage to transform back into his Kaldorei form, and then he was overtaken by feral impulses and ate his little sister, Mirae! I woke up covered in sweat, my heart pounding, feeling sick to my stomach. I can’t imagine anything worse than your own children fighting among themselves. Oh! What if they turn against my mate and me in the future? They could be filled with rage at being brought up in Stormwind, rather than surrounded by Kaldorei!

Perhaps I should look into therapy. It’s never too earlier to begin the manipulation of their minds. I definitely know that I don’t want them to know about their mother’s less-than-salubrious upbringing. Or their father’s disgrace and exile. Hmm. Maybe I should start making a list.

In other news, I still haven’t told him about Ban and Lolli’s impending visit. I know that I’ve been putting it off, but the last time I told him that they were visiting; he put his hands around my neck and growled, before storming off. I don’t think he’d actually strangle me, but he hates my brothers with a passion normally reserved for the denizens of the Burning Legion. Why? Why?? He hates his family, and wishes that I’d stop being influenced by mine so much. He resents the influence that my father has over my life, and the GHE:SW. Just because he despises every member of his family!

Anyway, I can’t worry too much about him. I’ve got about six billion stock forms to fill in before he gets back with the babies from their afternoon stroll.

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Leafsong’s Diary 22.9

It’s been a lovely few days, so lovely, that I’m almost convinced something awful is going to happen soon (I’m notoriously unlucky, I never get constant runs of good luck, something always happens to mess everything up!). My family is all good and well. The twins, now they are nearly four months old, are beginning to sleep through the night. Mirae’s vocabulary has expanded to nearly five words; and Analith has learnt all his facial features, and is beginning on his body parts. My husband doesn’t seem to have grown bored with hanging around the house raising the children, the business is going well (winter, my favourite time of year, season of colds, bugs and the Azerothian flu!), and- well. It all seems a bit too good to be true.

Actually, I got a letter today which might disrupt things a bit. My brothers, Ban and Lolli, wrote to me saying that they are leaving the GHE: Feathermoon in the hands of trusted underlings (no such thing!) to come and visit us in Stormwind. They want to see the twins, who they haven’t seen yet, and visit some old business contacts. But, they’ll be staying with us. I don’t exactly know where, there’s no room; but they’ll be under the same roof as my husband. Who hates them. With a burning passion. Last time, he tried to kill Lolli. Just because Lolli gave him a friendly, familial embrace! He has informed me, on more than one occasion, that nothing would make him happier than hearing about the simultaneous deaths of both of my brothers. He ignores my cries of protest, and goes off into detailed fantasies about their tragic demise. It’s very upsetting; I love my brothers very much. Perhaps this visit will give them a chance to bond?

Ha!

In other news, I think I’m coming down with something, I felt a bit nauseous this morning. Perfect!

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Leafsong’s Diary 20.9

Aah, so my plan to bring down the Alliance War Council is not going altogether as pl aslpha plaa (ANALITH keeps grabbing at my quill!) as planned. The trouble is, it’s easy to discredit an official body; if one is an important and influential member of society. Or, alternatively, if one is in command of a powerful military unit. If one is just that- one insignificant, unknown foreigner – it is nearly impossible to make any sort of mark.

So far, all I’ve managed to do is get a bunch of slanderous pamphlets printed, and distributed them around the Park. And then I got lectured by a guard for about five hundred years, for the heinous crime of littering. So, I may have to resort to the time-tested strategy of sending delicious treats to the Council members’ domiciles (laced with heavy-duty laxative, and other surprises). But I can’t let them get away with treating my poor old husband so badly.

In other news, I’ve also been trying to discredit the bloody herb-stealing conniving bastards at the SHC. I’m almost sure that they’re trying to rip me off! They’re reverse-alchemeering GHE products and passing them off as their own, except without using cut-price, on-the-verge-of-expiry ingredients. Then they have the audacity to claim that their products are superior quality! Isn’t that a cheek? What happened to honour and integrity in the market!?

My husband has been keeping himself busy looking after the babies. There’s something so endearing about seeing him crouched on the floor, building castles with Analith and seriously explaining why a roof needs walls beneath it to stay up. Actually, I might have to have a serious talk with him before the next castle-building session. I noticed that his castle was lacking in both a) secure underground vaults (for stashing the gold) and b) dungeons (for imprisoning fiends who attempt to steal the gold).

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New art!

By the amazing SATTERLY!!

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Leafsong’s Diary 15.9

Ahh, just when life is neatly sorted and arranged; something comes along to throw it into temporary chaos and disorder! However, as the mother of small children, I am MORE than aware that nothing is immune from being thoroughly messed up.

I was bathing the children downstairs one perfectly normal afternoon, keeping an eye on a simmering cauldron of GHE Tranquilitea; when my husband bursts in through the front door, wild-eyed and bloodied. Apparantly, after the success of the Horde-Alliance movement against the Lich King, our coalition had begun peace talks with the wretched orcs. However, one of the conditions that the green beasts had insisted on was the handover of the Alliance lieutenant who had brought them so much grief over the past few months. To be clearer: they wanted my husband’s head, in a burlap sack.

This unhappy news prompted a flight to Darnassus, babies, bathwater and all. It was horrifying. After a few days exile, and much negotiation with the councils of Darnassus and Stormwind; my husband was allowed back into the human city, in the capacity of a private citizen.

I don’t quite know how to feel about this yet. Elune knows that I wasn’t happy about my mate, the father of my babies, throwing himself into the thick of battle with those savages. I’ve probably nagged and whined at him more these past six months, than during the whole of our- ah, two and a half year relationship. Yes, I do like it that he is at home, with me. I like that he can help me with Analith and Mirae at breakfast, while I’m busy with the little twins. I like to come back from GHE business to see him kneeling with Analith, teaching him how to pronounce “eyebrow.” When I think back to how he was when Analith was born, I almost want to laugh. An eleven thousand year old grizzled war veteran with a look of mingled terror and disbelief, clutching a tiny, screaming red thing. He was almost too scared to touch the infant, eyeing it warily, as if it were an unexploded grenade.

And now, three more later- he’s almost better with them than I. He was the one to look after the twins in their first hour of life, feeding and holding them while I lay sprawled on the grass, too exhausted to raise my head.

How DARE those bastards at the military council condemn my husband for doing what they ordered him to do? Ingrates! After all he has given them, the new scars he has suffered, the time, the sweat, the MONEY….! How dare they attack an old man, my poor husband, to please those green skinned savages! What kind of lifemate would I be if I didn’t immediately seek revenge? And their crime warrants more than GHE laxatives in their drinking supplies! Thank Elune that my husband is taking the children on a stroll around the Park. It gives me a chance to lie on our bed and think, and brood, and plot. They’ll pay, I swear it!

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Journey to Goldshire Pt 3

The afternoon light was beginning to fade, the shadows between the trees slowly venturing out into the wooded clearing with dark, elongated fingers. Ashamal, shading his eyes against the remnants of the sun, checked the time on a battered pocketwatch. With a grimace, he gave a piercing whistle; before he had slung his bow over his shoulder, an adult saber had loped out from the growing shadows, his muzzle stained brownish red.

Leafsong, who was scampering around the clearing like a demented, long-legged spider, looked up in astonishment.

“Ashaid’s ‘ere? Where’s the mammoth?”

He glanced over at her. She was standing in shirt and socks, clutching the purple hat pathetically.

“Ashaid is always here, you’re just oblivious. We need his speed now; the mammoth knows the way back to the city. Why aren’t you dressed?”

She shrugged helplessly, her hand spread wide.

“I can’t find my trousers. They’ve vanished.”

He snorted, reaching around Ashaid’s haunches to strap on his bow. The saber growled in recognition of his master, his golden eye flickering.

“They must be there somewhere.”

“They ain’t, I’m tellin’ you. I fink that deer must’ve stolen ’em” she said petulantly, her gaze sweeping the clearing once again. He sighed, reaching back to restrain his greying hair with the leather band.

“Well, we are going to Goldshire. You’ll fit right in.”

She shot him a dirty look as he cackled, mounting the saber with a grunt. Ignoring the twinge in his knee, he clicked his tongue to Ashaid.

“Come on, Leafsong. We have to go”

She moaned, but ran towards him, clutching the hat on top of her head. As he slowed, he reached down an arm and pulled her up behind him, the muscles in his bow-arm flexing. She slid her arms around his waist, grumbling to herself darkly. He raised his face, angling his body in the direction of their destination, closing his eyes for a moment to align himself with the unfamiliar wood, exhaling. A minute later and he was prepared, slightly elevated in the saddle, staring down his hooked nose at the path opening before him in the trees ahead. Wordless communication from Ashaid confirmed that the saber was aware of the route before them. He glanced behind him at Leafsong, who was hanging loosely onto his waist and craning her neck around in one last, futile search. A half-smile deepened the lines that framed his eyes as he watched her, then inwardly cursed for allowing himself once more to be distracted from the business at hand by his silly young mate.

“Hold on, I don’t have time to retrieve you if you fall,” he said, brusquely, and she shot him a surprised, slightly reprimanding look. He gave a sharp order to Ashaid (though not before checking that she had tightened her grip on his waist), and the saber leapt forward eagerly. Ashamal sat forward on the saddle, crouched over the beast’s neck, his concentration fully on the landscape unfolding before them; alert for any potential dangers.

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Leafsong’s Diary 12.9

I have tragically neglected my diary over the past little while, and for that I aren’t really am truly sorry. I’ve just been rushed off my feet (a peculiar human expression- I think they call it an idiom, though I could be wrong – which I am quite fond of.), with the twins and the older babies, and looking after my husband and – well, not really looking after the business at all. Honestly, I only need to sign the occasional form now, or deal with a customer if there’s an unexpected surge near closing time.

This might be a good time to remind myself why I begun a diary, why I began to torture myself for forty minutes every night struggling to turn the sentences in my head onto words on a page. Because I was a businesswoman, because I had to fill out inventory forms, answer correspondence, write receipts; and my literacy was atrocious. I had hoped that forcing myself to write a little, every night, would improve my writing skills.

It has, marginally, but crucially, I needed the impetus of the GHE to keep me writing. And now, I don’t have this impetus, anymore. My role in the business has been reduced to- well, occasional signer of forms, and token nominal Gladefall.

But I want to keep improving, Analith will be reading books more complex than picture books soon; and I’m sure he’s deduced my trick of memorising the entire thing the night before. I want to be able to read my husband’s books, too.

(Actually, no I don’t. They all have hideous titles, like The Benevolent Savages and Anthropology of a Dying Nation. I think proper comprehension of the quarterly Florian fan club pamphlet is a more reasonable goal for now.)

Anyway, like I said, I’ve been busy with the babies. Mirae has got into a vile habit of eating moths, which is so disgusting I can barely write it down. Why! She seems to have a wild personality (for a three month old). I hope that Loredar will have a calming influence on her. I’ve been sorting out the shipping forms for my husband’s military unit, when I’ve had time. Which hasn’t been often, which may be why that unfortunate mix up occurred. The one where I forgot to order the uniforms for the new recruits, and had to run around all the cheap second-hand stores (so I was actually saving money, I don’t know why he was so cross) to pick up spares. So what if they didn’t match? Or fit? My husband was very quiet when the new Sentinel squadron paraded in front of him in their skimpy metal chestplates. He only started complaining when the overweight Dwarf munitions expert strutted out in the skintight leather breeches. Hmph.

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Journey to Goldshire pt 2

(One hour later)

Ashamal leant back between the protruding roots of an old oak, his eyes half closed as he idly surveyed the undergrowth. Still dressed in slightly dishevelled leathers, one careworn hand rested gently on the hilt of a belted dagger; his other arm curling around the narrow shoulders of his mate as she slumped against him drowsily, her bareness covered by his travel cloak.

A roan doe crashed out of the bushes before them, pausing with a wild eye, before bounding back between the trees. Ashamal started, his fingers tightening around the dagger; and Leafsong opened her eyes in alarm, feeling the sudden movement. Loosening his grip on the blade, he pressed his lips to her ear, reassuringly. She frowned for a moment as she looked around the wooded clearing, then her brow uncreased as she recalled the events of the past hour. Catching her mate’s eye, she let out an involuntary cackle. Used to this immaturity, he raised his gaze to the fading afternoon skies, a smile reluctantly twisting the corner of his mouth.

“Won’t you be late for your meeting?” she enquired, tracing his greying eyebrow with a bony finger. He shrugged a shoulder expressively.

“They can wait. It’s just a minor Westfall division leader.”

She grinned at him, sliding her finger down his nose and tapping it.

“Analiff likes it when you do this,” she informed him solemnly, her pale eyes glowing faintly in the gloom. “I’m teaching him his features.”

He smiled to himself, an image of his little boy rising in the forefront of his mind. “Give me a progress report. On all my children.”

She nodded, tapping her mouth with her fingers thoughtfully.

“I am almost sure that Analiff is developin’ correctly. As you know, I got expelled from the Kaldorei mothers’ meeting, so I don’t have no one to compare wiv. But he can count to twenty and recite the alphabet in Common as well as Darnassian, so…” She trailed off, watching her husband’s face. When he nodded and waved at her to continue, she beamed.

“Mirae’s walking has got a lot better, though she still bumps into fings- clumsy like her min’da- and she can’t go as fast as Annie. I’m tryin’ to teach her the colours, but it’s awful hard; she only likes pink, purple and yellow. She hates red, and green scares her, so she won’t look at ’em.”

Ashamal snorted, rubbing his hand over the top of her dishevelled head, idly. “Our daughter is a coward. The twins?”

Leafsong watched a squirrel dart across the clearing, then turned to give him a snaggletooth grin.

“They’re lovely. Like little dolls, except for the puking.”

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