Archive for October, 2010

Recuperation

Leafsong bowed her head, ducking as she entered the shelter beneath the stairs. Her eyes were focused on the slumbering man in the narrow bed, who had his eyes closed in some semblance of sleep. Bandages swathed his upper body, muscle built from decades of training with the bow, and his arm was encased in a cast. His cheek was marred with a cut that ran from his cheekbone down into his faded beard, and the wrinkles framing his eyes seemed to have deepened in the past few days. She crept across the confined space, stepping over stuffed animals, wooden figures and items of clothing belonging to various members of the family, a precariously stacked tray in her hands.

“I’m not asleep, there’s no need to to skulk,” said Ashamal quietly, his eyes giving off a muted amber glow in the darkness. She started, then smiled tentatively at him, her one good eye shining.

“Hullo. How you feelin’ this morning?”

He paused for a moment, appraisingly, before replying.

“Like saber shit. How are you feeling?” He looked her over, taking in the trailing bandages on her arms and the swollen face.

“The same” she echoed, the corner of her mouth curling upwards wryly. Perching on the edge of the bed, she lowered the tray to her knees and swivelled to face him. Carefully, her brow furrowed, she began to peel the bandages from his upper torso. He smiled at her, broken tooth flashing for a moment, reaching out a hand to touch her bruised knee.

“You don’t know how glad I was to wake up here.”

She gazed back at him solemnly, her hand moving to cover his fleetingly before reaching for one of the small jars on her tray. With fumbling fingers, she undid the lid and scooped up some of the pungent mint-green salve. Biting her lip, she began to smear the ointment over the raw pink wound that curved over his chest, lurid and vicious. He hissed through his teeth as the cut stung; she grimaced in sympathy, but continued to daub the thick paste over the broken skin.

“Hurts to help, ‘usband,” she reminded him sternly, shooting him a look from her good eye. He nodded, exhaling as she withdrew her fingers and wiped them on the grubby fabric of her trousers. She began to uncoil a fresh white roll of bandages, strands of hair falling over her face. As she wound them carefully around his torso, he let out a muffled snarl of pain. She winced, but continued to apply them determinedly. Once she had finished, she sat back and he looked down, surveying her work. As usual, her first aid skills were inferior, but the care and gentleness with which she had tended his wounds had soothed him more than any trained healer. He smiled at her once more, attempting to penetrate her gloominess. He knew that she was worried about his wounds and angry on his behalf for his treatment at the hands of the Sindorei; but her dejection unsettled him. It reminded him of the sullen, surly child she had been when he first knew her, embittered by the drudgery of her life.

“Come up here,” he said quietly, leaning back against the headboard. She hesitated for a moment, then lowered the tray to the untidy floor and crawled up to lie beside him on the narrow bed, her arms wrapping around his neck. He reached up to cup the back of her head and closed his eyes.

Advertisements

Leave a comment »

Untitled

“Is she up yet?”
“What do you think? She’s still in bed.”
“Still? Well, she had better get up. I’ve fed the oldest two, but the little ones need feeding, and I can’t help them there.”

Elurina Gladefall, eight thousand years old but as formidable as an Elder, emerged from the doorway of her cellar room with Mirae on her hip and Analith clinging to her leg.

“She’s still bawling up there?” she queried in her oddly refined tone, incongruous to the lowborn tongue of her Gladefall progeny.

Shyla nodded grimly from her position behind the counter, sorting through the week’s paperwork. Although she was secretly delighted that the onus of running the GHE: SW had fallen upon her, she was not too pleased with the masses of paperwork that came with the managerial position. The twins were in a bassinet beside her, making small snuffling sounds of hunger. Flora was chewing her brother’s forehead gummily. Elurina growled under her breath, shaking a squeaking Analith from her leg and depositing Mirae neatly on the sofa beside her prized mirror. “This is ridiculous; it’s been two days!” The family matriarch’s handsome, almost Highborne features were contorted into a snarl as she grabbed the bassinet and stormed upstairs to the master bedroom.

“Girl, you get out of bed right now, or so help me, I’ll throw you out the bloody window myself” she bellowed, bearing down on her granddaughter as she lay huddled on the bed.

Leafsong made a pathetic sight, unwashed for three hairs, her broken cheekbone distorting the right side of her face. Both skinny arms were swaddled in trailing, grubby bandages from shoulder to elbow, and one of her eyes was swollen shut. The other eye was pink and watery, watermarks cutting through the dirt on her face. Exhausted from bawling like an infant for incessant hours, she was now sobbing wordlessly, her small fists balled.

Although she hadn’t spoken about what had happened during that expedition up to the scourged land of Tirisfal to gather gloomweed, she had left there with her mate and returned, distraught and battered, without. Elurina and Shyla, after the initial shock (Ashamal had been older than all three Gladefall women combined and had had twenty lifetime’s worth of combat experience) had taken their young relative in and tended her wounds with a combination of GHE remedies and cheap local healers. After the first night, where she had screamed the house down for her mate; she hadn’t spoken a word or eaten a thing. Elurina was thoroughly fed up of it – her husband was surely dead, but she had known him but three years. A love of merely thirty months was nothing to weep this copiously over.

“Child, you look at me right now and stop being so bloody selfish,” She crossed to the head of the bed and grabbed her granddaughter’s pointed chin, tilting her face upwards. Leafsong eyed her sulkily, her mouth contorting. Elurina glared at her, the older woman’s still-attractive, fading features blazing.

“Your mate is gone, it’s very sad. Goddess knows, we’ll all miss that lucrative and wealthy man. But, you’ve done well- you’ve got children on him, four strong and healthy babies; and you’ve got his fortune. Wasn’t that what it was all about in the beginning, remember? Though I suppose it was too much for us to throw a silly little girl in with an attractive (and rich) man and expect her not to lose herself to him. Anyway – you don’t need to worry. We’ll help you with the babies, you know that. They’re Gladefall flesh and blood. But you are still their mother. You have to pull yourself together, girl!”

Leafsong sniffled wetly, her face crumpling as she dissolved into fresh sobs. Elurina raised her eyes to the ceiling, where a faded Florian poster was tacked to the beam.
“Gods-damned it, how is there any moisture left in you? Look, we’ve run out of bottled milk for them.”

She reached down to pluck a squirming Flora from the bassinet, lying the baby down in Leafsong’s lap. Flora began to instinctively burrow against her mother, pushing her chubby face against Leafsong’s grubby cotton shirt. Leafsong stopped wailing, and Elurina eased her tone slightly, encouraging the girl.
“That’s it. Look after your baby, Ashamal’s children”

Leafsong swallowed a hard lump in the back of her throat. Her limbs felt stiff as she sat up slightly, reaching to pick up Flora and hold her to her chest. Elurina sat beside them and reached out to open the front of Leafsong’s dirty shirt, allowing the baby to begin nursing, cheeks moving hungrily.

Leafsong wiped her nose on the back of her hand and looked down at the little girl, who was gazing intently up at her mother’s face as she fed, round eyes the same haughty amber as her father’s. As the baby settled into a contented rhythm, her young mother turned her head to look at her grandmother, who was soothing an impatient Loredar.
“They took me away from ‘im, Granny,” she breathed, her face as pale as her diluted grey eyes. “I begged ’em to let me stay, but they wouldn’t.” She swallowed thickly, her mouth twisting. “He looked- he looked like he had given up, he looked old, he looked -defeated. I wanted to stay with ‘im but they dragged me off. It ain’t fair!” she cried suddenly, her eyes flashing as she raised her head. “For someone so proud, so strong, to end his life in a crumpled heap on the floor, aged and alone, it ain’t right. How could Elune let that ‘appen, eh? He was her most loyal servant. I hate her, I hate her!”

Comments (2) »

Post

She wandered across the Park, barefoot, absent-mindedly leafing through the morning’s post. Two druids shuffled hastily out of her path as she squinted at the crooked writing on a lumpen package, totally absorbed in deciphering the text.

 

“Bill, bill-” she muttered, recognising the distinctive brown envelopes and tossing them surreptitiously into the bushes. “Bill, ooh- coupons!”

 

It was early enough that the district was still quiet, the tavern doors shut tightly against the stark light of morning. Several Kaldorei students were gathered on the benches beside the pond, listening attentively to an early morning lecture. A year ago, the sight of the young scholars would have caused her to pause and watch in jealousy; but now she just ambled on, idly sifting through the bundle of letters.

 

Clambering onto one of the vast stone boulders that circled the pond, she thrust her letters into the pocket of her masculine work-coat and swung around a carved wooden pillar. She was about to hop down onto the grass, when a leather-clad hand reached up to her.

 

“So you cannot even leave me to go get the post on my ownsome! One would fink I were a tiny, tiny infant, unable to even walk fifty feet unaided ” she observed archly, raising a quizzical eyebrow. He didn’t respond to her attempt to provoke him; she relented, hopping down without the aid of his hand and landed squarely on the grass with a grunt.

 

“I told you, I’m not letting you out of my sight while these quakes are still occurring,” he said after a moment, following her across the grass. She grinned at him over her shoulder, waving the coupon booklet like a banner of triumph.

 

“Twenty percent off infant clothing at Kaldorei Baby. BOGOF on socks!”

 

“BOGOF” he repeated, catching her up with several quick, long strides and sliding his arm around her skinny, boy-like waist. She tipped her head to him, nodding solemnly. “I’m goin’ to buy so many socks, they will have a pair for every day of the week.”

 

“But baby feet grow so quickly. Analith has already outgrown the booties you bought the other month.”

 

She scowled, linking her arm through his as they ascended the ramp towards the GHE.

 

“Then I’ll stretch ’em.”

Comments (1) »

Leafsong’s Diary 21.10

Leafsong’s Diary 21.10

 

Oddly enough, the babies seem to have become more accustomed to the earthquakes than I have, now. In a way that’s comforting, because it suggests that they still feel safe in the presence of me and my husband, despite the fact that the earth is rocking beneath them. It doesn’t comfort me, particularly, since I don’t even feel safe in my own presence. So far, I’ve fallen into the canal (twice) and had a building partially collapse on my head.

 

Not even the solid companionship of my mate is reassuring, though I do appreciate how he shields me with his own body during the tremors. It’s very kind of him. The GHE’s reinforced structure seems to be holding up well, we’ve only had a few accidents with spilt vials and smashed glasses. The cupboards are study and have a good seal on them. Shyla has given the job of mixing the more concentrated GHE alchemical concoctions over to me, the utter wimp. Just because she accidentally spilt some SHE Liver Tonic on herself and it gave her a slight burn. I’ll have to pick up some more of those industrial strength gloves from the engineering market.

 

One good thing – perhaps the only good thing – about this horrid quake, is that business has gone through the roof. I’m not sure how effective these GHE anti-dizziness drinks actually are (since it’s just a mixture of Tranquilitea and migraine tablet), but perhaps it’s psychological. They were queueing from half past five in the morning yesterday, and Shyla had to open a half hour early. The bad thing about sleeping in a shelter beneath the stairs is that, well! you’re practically sleeping on the shop front itself. We were all woken by shuffling feet, low muttering and the jangle of coins in pockets – usually the sweetest sound in the world to me, was most unwelcome at such an hour. Especially since the babies (who would usually sleep uninterrupted until ten) are then woken, and insist on constant attention. Analith is getting rather bored of the cramped sleeping conditions beneath the stairs, he keeps demanding to go upstairs. I’ve not let them be taken upstairs ever since I fell from the balcony in the grocery store.

 

Ah, but there’s nothing else that we can do! Even Darnassus has begun to feel distant rumblings. Nowhere is safe, except Outland – horrible thought! Didn’t the sundering of that planet begin with the quaking and trembling of the earth? What if Azeroth is tearing itself apart? Where would we go? I may have only lived on this world for less than two centuries, but it’s precious to me. I don’t want to travel to other worlds to live, I’m no Draenei! I must talk to my husband about my worries.

 

The following part was added later, in a scrawl

 

I read over my entry for today and decided that it sounded far too depressing, so I’ve copied out the lyrics to Florian’s new lullaby. All the girls in Darnassus are humming it. He’s performing at the Blue Recluse tavern next week – must find way to persuade mate to come!! He can’t miss the chance to see Florian in person!

 

Under a Milky Moon (written and performed by FLORIAN, Kaldorei singing sensation)

 

Lunar lunar lunar

Your love turns me into a

Fool (ah!) fool (ah!) fool (ah!)

 

Milky moooooon.

White like my face

When you spit on me

 

Milky moooooon

Why can’t you see

You’re the one for me

 

Milky moooooooon

I want to howl and rip you apart

With my ray of light

 

MILKY

MOON

 

MOOOOOOON.

 

 

Leave a comment »

Untitled

“Would you like. Another. Cup of tea?”

Leafsong nodded reflexively, being physically unable to deny any service offered to her for free. This would be her third cup of human-style tea in as many hours, and she was uncomfortably aware that she might have to leave the warmth of bed and seek out a bush soon. Not that the bedroll was exceptionally comfortable- by the time she had been ferried over from the Old Town by stretcher, all of the Kaldorei/Draenei sized mattresses had been taken up. Earthquake triage had been set up in the antechambers of the Cathedral, the priestesses concentrating on those with life-threatening wounds; while the novices undertook the role of nurses.

Leafsong, on her unconscious arrival, had been labelled as NE-F-8 and assigned to the care of an enthusiastic older novice who had bandaged the broken wrist and bathed the cut head. Leafsong had woken an hour or so later, feeling vaguely nauseated, but in only mild discomfort. The novice, on hearing the Kaldorei’s broken and disjointed Common, insisted on speaking to her slowly and loudly, her mouth contorting with every word. On one hand, Leafsong found this vaguely insulting; on the other, she did find the woman’s Common easier to understand.

She sat up slowly, looking around at the other victims of Discount Groceries’ disintrigation, most of them sleeping or sedated. She had been gratified to spot the paladin who had made an effort to help her, resting on a bed beside some bookshelves. His priestess friend, however, was nowhere to be seen.

“Leafsong. Leafsong!”

Her head snapped upright and rotated to the arched doorway. Her husband was shoving his way past an outraged priestess, who was holding a clipboard and parroting “Name? Name?”

Leafsong waved her good arm at him frantically, sending a shower of dust and flakes of plaster onto the blanket. He spotted her instantly and, on seeing that she was sitting up and appeared relatively uninjured, closed his eyes for a moment, mouth moving silently. A second later he was crouched at her side, gripping her by her shoulders, his face grey. He looked every one of his eleven thousand years.

“Gods, are you hurt?” he demanded breathlessly, taking in the neatly stitched cut and the bandaged wrist. She shook her head, thinking of those next door with the priestesses.

“No-oo, just- I broke my wrist.”

“I saw. My poor child,” he breathed, brushing some of the plaster dust from her dirty fringe. “Has it been healed?”

She shook her head once again, her brow furrowing.

“No, there’s a- a priority service for that. You gotta either be rich or half-dead.”

He growled quietly, still inspecting her grubby form for any hidden injury.

“We’ll have that seen to. My Goddess, Leafsong, they told me that a building had collapsed on you.”

“It did,” she said, absurdly proud. “I guess I’m tougher than what you give me credit for.”

He scowled at her, disabusing her of that misguided belief.

“I’m not letting you out of my sight until these damned quakes cease.”

Comments (1) »

Grocery 2

Avoiding the seventh step, which she had put her foot through on her last visit, she padded cautiously out onto the creaking balcony. The floorboards gave a groan of protest as she added her weight to the stacked boxes and crates, and she grimaced. “ONE PATRON AT A TIME ON THE BALCONY” read a hastily scribbled sign, tacked up over the boarded-up window.

 

Smiling triumphantly over her shoulder at a customer who had ascended the stairs a fraction too late, and had to descend with a scowl, Leafsong crouched down and began to rummage through the trays of jumbled tins. The best bargains were always in the most obscure places, she knew from experience, her fingers expertly sorting the diamonds from the dross. With a triumphant cackle, she pulled out a slightly dented tin of Stranglethorn white peaches (a delicacy, normally a gold per tin), for only fifteen silver. She would be able to serve it up with the murloc fin soup from yesterday for dinner, and the peaches could be mashed and fed to the babies. Mirae, who had a sweet tooth (six of them), would be especially pleased. Humming to herself happily, crossing DESSART off her list, she turned around to inspect rows of slightly bruised fruit.

 

She was just holding an apple in each hand, inspecting them for worm-holes; when the building gave an eerie groan from its foundations, a sound of protest that seemed to come from the walls themselves. Almost immediately afterwards, there came a menacing rumble from somewhere deep below, rolling up through the layers of earth like an ocean swell. Discount Groceries, one of the oldest buildings in Stormwind, gave a protesting lurch. A moment later, there was a crack, hollow and piercing as a gunshot.

 

The apples fell from from her hand, along with her basket , as she stumbled. The floorboards beneath her pitched, like the deck of a ship caught in the throes of a storm. Barely registering the cries and shouts from the floor below, she lost her balance and pitched forward into the tray of fruit, sending the contents tumbling to the no-longer horizontal floor. The balcony structure gave an anguished creak, the fastenings beginning to tear away from the wall. Leafsong clutched at the wooden railings, hanging on for dear life, peering down between the slats to the floor below. The shopfront, so familiar to her, had been transformed into something unrecognisable. With horror, she realised that she could see straight into the basement below. Broken floorboards edged the cavernous opening, the counter had vanished completely. The thunderous sound of the earth shifting drowned out most of the cries, only the hysterical shrieks of the priestess were audible over the cacophony.

 

Stupidly, Leafsong spotted her discarded bruised bananas sliding towards her on the angled floor, and grabbed for them. There was a sickening crack as one side of the balcony broke away from the wall, and the floor beneath her dropped away. She felt herself drop and flung out her arms, her fingers locking around a broken beam, nails gripping in. She hung there for a moment, desperately trying to channel strength into her scrawny limbs, her body like the dead weight of an anchor. She was too absorbed in clinging to her splintered lifeline to realise that the shuddering of the earth had stopped. A warm trickle down her cheek left a salty taste in her mouth, plaster coating her hair.

 

Now the true destruction began, as weakened foundations subsided and broken joints failed, several dozen city structures entering their death throes. The deafening rumble had died away, to be replaced with a far more terrifying sound; the pathetic cries of the trapped and the moans of the injured. Leafsong gritted her teeth, clinging on to her beam, unable to muster the strength to pull herself up. Below her, the old paladin was crumpled in the door frame, his golden sword still sheathed. The knight was slowly coming back to his senses, his first thought clearly for his priestess companion as he looked about him in bewilderment. Absurdly, Leafsong watched him, distracted from her own precarious situation. To his credit, he seemed to compose himself in moments, hauling himself to his feet. She called out to him in Common, her voice hoarse from the dust that coated her throat.

 

“Hallo, hallo..”

 

He looked upwards, as if in a daze, not seeming surprised to see her hanging there.

 

“Where’s everyone gone?” he asked, his voice slurred, as if awakened from deep sleep. She shook her head helplessly, gritting her teeth as she hung there.

 

“Gone, gone.. please, ‘elp.”

 

Discarding his sword, which had proven to be useless, he avoided the gaping chasm in the floor and attempted to reach her. She was about to release her grip on the beam to drop into his arms, when the house gave one more sickening lurch, caught up in the throes of an aftershock. The paladin lost his balance and fell between the broken floorboards, arms flailing, a curse on his lips. Leafsong let out a wail of horror as the beam tore itself away from her fingers, her stomach lurched and she felt herself fall away into space. The broken shop front spun around her in a whirl and she felt something metallic strike her forehead. The chaos instantly muted itself and she felt herself sinking into a quiet peace, her vision shrinking to a black dot.

Comments (1) »

Grocery

Basket in hand, Leafsong hummed tunelessly to herself as she clambered up the crumbling stone steps of Discount Groceries, pushing her way inside the crowded shop-front. Although the shop, located in a tucked-away corner of the Old Town, was not the most convenient location to buy food (being on the opposite side of the city from the Park), it had the lowest prices; and for low prices, she was more than prepared to walk a little further.

There hadn’t been an quake since the previous evening, the tremor hitting just as she and her mate had been preparing for bed. They had fallen together into the shelter which had been rapidly constructed beneath the stairs, bringing the hanging door curtain down with them. Only Mirae and Analith had been woken up, both of them sitting up dozy-eyed in their shared crib. The twins, slumbering beside them, had barely noticed the shuddering.

Leafsong slung the blanket onto her other arm, pushing her way through the crowd (mostly human) gathered before the counter. Ruptured water pipes and interrupted delivery schedules had led to mild panic and mass buying; and tonight it seemed as if the entirety of Stormwind’s poorer population had flocked to Discount Groceries to stock up. Fortunately, the less than salubrious owner had means of obtaining goods other than through the disrupted official channels. An ageing human woman, her face lined with wrinkles like a young girl peering through a lattice window, sniffed at various lumps of cheese. A paladin, looking somewhat uncomfortable, stood restlessly beside a pretty priestess. The golden-haired woman was surreptitiously inspecting bottles of cheap wine, eyes flickering nervously.

Clutching a bunch of rather battered bananas in her hand, Leafsong gazed at the rabble before her and briefly contemplated popping them straight into her basket. Her hand hovered for a moment, before she decided against it. She wasn’t willing to risk being banned from the cheapest food source in the city. Scowling as she surveyed the dented pyramid of tins, she raised her voice to call across to a harassed shop clerk.

“Where soup? Where soup?”

The man, whose hair was practically standing on end, jerked his thumb towards the stairs. Leafsong nodded, making good use of her bony elbows as she navigated through the crowd, her jaw set. Nearly losing a sandal as she tripped on the first step, she caught her breath sharply. Was it a tremor that had caused her to stumble, or a wave of nausea-induced dizziness? She was terrified of getting sick. Pausing on the bottom step, she tucked a dirty curl behind her ear, completely still. The ground remained solid beneath her, and she clambered up the rest of the stairway with trepidation. The building, as if reflecting its contents, was shabby and cheaply built; the upper storey almost seemed an afterthought, tacked on with nails and string.

Comments (1) »