The Ballroom Theater

(( I’m behind again and this is for last week’s prompt, a story set in a theater. I had an idea for a school play, which is kinda like a theater, even it it was just a temporary theater set up in the ballroom at Fairsong Academy. ))

Malwen Fairsong peeked out from behind the curtain that had been placed next to the stage that was set up in the ballroom. They had started to come in and take their seats. There were students, other teachers, and parents. She didn’t see Arcann’da yet, but she did see Ann’da. He was helping to organize the seating, and counting the chairs. She watched as he left the room and brought back two more chairs, placing them with the others.

“Hey.”

She recognized Vaildor’s voice behind her. She turned to face him as he spoke again.

“Don’t let everyone see your costume and makeup before the show.” He pulled the curtain closed.

“I was just checking the audience.”

“Oh, Miss Lali is about to introduce us. We have to be ready.”

Just as he said that, she saw Miss Lali, her teacher, step up onto the stage. She joined the other children who watched from the side, still behind the curtain as her teacher began speaking.

“Thank you all for coming. The students have all worked very hard this year, and this play is part of their combined history and performing art project. This year our focus has been on world history, and the history of the different races of Azeroth. The students have chosen the War of the Ancients as the subject for today’s theater play, and they hope you all enjoy it.” Lali flashed a smile before walking off the stage towards the students. Tik, who stood on the other side of the stage pulled on a rope to close the stage curtains.

“Okay, let’s get the props up.” Vaildor said. He had spent weeks helping make the props. Fake wooden trees were moved into the background and up front another piece was painted to look like water. Malwen thought he had used too much glitter on it, but she moved into place.

She was left standing on the stage alone as the others moved off to the side. A nod from Miss Lali indicated that the curtain was about to open again. Malwen took a deep breath and watched as the audience came into view. She smiled when she saw her Arcann’da standing near the door holding her sister, Narise, but quickly remembered her role. Highborne queens didn’t smile did they? Not evil ones anyway. She took another deep breath while waiting for Tik to finish opening the curtain all the way.

Another nod from Miss Lali indicated it was time to start.

She held her hands out over the glittery painted water and waved them around. “I am Queen Azshara, and I have great power in the Well of Eternity.”

Miss Lali’s voice came from off-stage, deepened as she tried to sound like a big bad demon, “Oh, but if you open a portal and let me through, I will make your world a paradise and perfect for you.”

“Who are you? Are you in the well?” Malwen called out while looking at the painted water.

“Yes, my name is Sargeras. Help me, and I will help you become the queen of paradise!” Lali responded using the same voice. Malwen thought she sounded silly, but did her best to refrain from laughing.

“Lady Vashj! Come here!” Malwen called out.

Irael, one of the new students at her father’s magic academy who also had general education classes, walked onto the stage. “My Queen, how can I serve you?”

“We need to open a portal in the well. My friend, Sargeras, is stuck in there, and if we help him, he will help us. Get our best people on it now!”

Irael nodded.

Miss Lali narrated from off-stage. “And so they started opening a portal with the Well of Eternity to allow Sargeras into the world. Sargeras convinced the Queen to allow his forces through first, telling her that they would be needed to assist him and make her very powerful.”

At that moment, Naraleth ran onto the stage, his little costume giving away that he was part of the act. A tail was pinned to the back of his pants and he wore tiny little horns. Felarius followed him, another of the magic students who was also in general classes. His horns were bigger.

“I am Mannaroth, and this is an imp. We are here to assist you!” Felarius said.

“Oh good. Just stand over there until I need you.” Malwen said, pointing towards the back of the stage.

Miss Lali narrated again from off-stage. “More forces came through, and word of what was happening spread to the elves outside the Highborne circles. They decided something had to be done to stop it.”

Malwen, Irael, and Felarius held still while Naraleth fidgeted. On the other side of the stage, three other elves walked up in front of the fake painted trees. The magical lighting focused on the new trio while dimming over the others.

“Malfurion, what will we do?” Terellion’s youngest sister said.

“I don’t know, Tyrande. We should ask Malorne to help, and maybe the dragons too. We need to destroy the well before anymore demons can come through.” Kiandris replied. He wore tiny antlers on his head.

“Don’t be hasty, brother. I, Illidan, will go to the palace and ask the queen to stop. We must save the well.” Vaildor said.

“She won’t listen to you. The well is what caused all of this mess in the first place.” Kiandris replied.

“I bet she just doesn’t know what’s going on out here. I can tell her!” Vaildor said.

“Boys! Stop fighting! Illidan, you shouldn’t go, but I love your brother!” Terellion’s youngest sister said.

Miss Lali once again narrated from offstage. “Illidan went to the palace, upset that Tyrande wasn’t in love with him. He was able to speak with the queen.”

The lighting shifted again, following Vaildor as he crossed the stage.

“My Queen, the resistance is planning an attack on the well. We must save the well.”

Malwen looked at him, “I can take care of them.” She looked at Felarius and Naraleth. “Mannaroth and imp, go stop those elves from getting near the well!”

Felarius took Naraleth’s hand and helped him across the stage. The light followed them as Miss Lali narrated, “The demons attacked the kaldorei fighters, but they hadn’t expected that the resistance would have found help so soon. The dragons came to help. Malorne and Agamaggan also assisted.”

Terellion’s other sister walked on the stage wearing a dragon costume, “I am Alexstrasza, the dragon queen, and I am here to help. The other flights have come too, but our brother, Deathwing, betrays us.”

Miss Lali narrated again, “Even with the loss of many dragons, the kaldorei resistance was able to fight up to the palace.”

Felarius and Naraleth moved backward while Kiandris and Terellion’s sisters walked closer to the well prop.

“Oh no, they are here!” Vaildor said, moving closer to the well.

“Relax. Sargeras is coming now. He’ll take care of it.” Malwen said.

Vaildor took a vial out of his pocket and held it towards the painted water. At the same time, Kiandris waved his hands towards Felarius and Naraleth.

Felarius fell to the floor. He whispered, rather loudly, “Naraleth, play dead. They killed us!”

Naraleth laughed and fell across Felarius.

Kiandris ignored the giggling, “It is too late! We have succeeded in defeating your demons, and now we will destroy the well!”

Malwen stood and faced him, “No, it is you who is too late. Sargeras is coming through the portal now!”

“We need to disrupt the spell!” Terellion’s youngest sister cried out.

Miss Lali once again narrated from offstage. “When they disrupted the spell being cast to allow Sargeras to pass through, the well imploded on itself. They had little time to escape, and many of the highborne, including Queen Azshara and Lady Vashj were turned into naga as the area flooded. The land was broken but safe for the time being.”

Vaildor held up his vial and winked as the curtain closed.

 

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Boyfriend

“Please, I need to talk to someone.”

Aeramin turned in the hallway to face the other elf, “There’s a confessor in town for that, Julan.”

“He’s not going to understand this.”

Aeramin raised a brow while noting how anxious Julan appeared, “Does it matter? He’s there to talk to. I think he tries to understand no matter what his patients say.”

“Tries to understand and actually understanding are two different things, but you— I know you would understand.”

“I have a lesson to be at in ten minutes, Julan. I don’t have time right now.”

“You have ten minutes. You just said so.”

Aeramin sighed, “Fine.” He turned back around and walked the other way in the hallway, “Follow me, we’ll talk in my office.” He heard the quickened footsteps behind him indicating that Julan was doing as he asked.

He opened the office door and waited as Julan passed through. “Have a seat, and not on the desk this time.” He moved to his own chair as Julan took a seat at a chair on the other side of the desk. “Okay, what is it?”

Julan took a deep breath, “Faeris said I’m his boyfriend.”

Aeramin twitched an ear in the silence that followed. “Okay, and?”

“That’s it.”

“Umm, okay, congrats on that.” Aeramin started to get up.

“No, wait! I mean how can he think that? I’ve never been a boyfriend before. I don’t know what I’m doing!”

“Julan, we have shared a bed, and I know that you know very well what you’re doing.”

“I don’t mean sex. I mean boyfriend.”

Aeramin sat back down, “Wait, you mean you’ve never..”

“No! I’ve never been in love. I don’t know how it works or what to do, or if it’s love or what. Does he mean he loves me by saying I’m his boyfriend? What do I do?”

“I’m going to say what I hear the Confessor say a lot. Talk to him. I think you need to ask him what he expects of you as a boyfriend. Most guys, when they say that, expect their boyfriend to be with them and not trying to get with all the other guys. Also, I am going to guess that if he thinks of you as his boyfriend, he probably wants to spend time with you.”

“Time with me exclusively?”

Aeramin nodded.

“Oh, I think I’m going to faint. How can this be happening?” Julan threw himself dramatically back in the chair and looked at the ceiling. “Maybe I should go back to the Row.”

“You don’t like him?”

“I do! I just— I don’t know. I never saw myself being with one guy.” He leaned forward quickly, his curls bouncing as his head came to a stop. “Aeramin, I don’t know if I can do this.”

“I think you can, but you won’t know if you run back to the Row. I thought you liked the rangers.”

“I do! Except Orledin. Well, I like his cookies.”

“Then why leave? So you have a boyfriend, give it a chance. Maybe you’ll like it.”

“But what if some other cute guy wants to be with me?”

Aeramin shrugged, “Ask Faeris if he wants to have a threesome?”

“Do you think he’d be okay with that if he’s really serious?”

“I don’t know. That’s why you have to ask him. If he’s not okay with it, then don’t—” He was interrupted by a knock at the door. He glanced at the door then back to Julan, “That’s probably my student coming to find me for her lesson. Stay in the room and leave after I leave. I don’t know if she’d recognize you or not, but I don’t need her thinking I have you in my office for anything other than talking.”

Julan nodded once, stood, and stepped out of direct view of the doorway.

Aeramin hoped he’d listen and talk to Faeris to sort things out. Teaching fire magic theory quickly put thoughts of Julan’s troubles out of his mind.

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Trouble

((I took a little liberty with this week’s prompt. It’s supposed to be to write a story set in a country you’ve never been to. Since I hadn’t really developed western Naren yet, I decided to set it there since I wanted to stick to my own fantasy world. Here’s my first story about Naren Sorias/Harrier.))

Trouble. That’s what you are.

The words echoed in his mind from a distant past. He quickened his pace as he approached the edge of the roof, jumping just as he reached the edge, and landing on the roof on the other side of the alley below. He kept running. They were, no doubt, looking for him. He just had to find the right spot in this block of homes to descend before he came to any wide streets that he wouldn’t be able to jump over.

It worried him that they had found him here. The oasis town was not large, and he hadn’t been here for long. In fact, he had just been passing through, and the caravan he had joined had stopped here for the night. Of course, he was running, where else was he going to go? He supposed he could have taken a ship, but something unnerved him about being in a tiny boat in a large body of deep water. That and the fact he expected them to think he had taken a ship, made him decide that it would be better to take the caravan.

Except it wasn’t.

He hopped over the dividing walls between the uneven roof tops, and ran to pick up speed again. Another alley, this one was only slightly bigger than the other, but it presented little challenge to his long legs. He supposed it was one of the benefits of being a western elf. They averaged a bit taller than their eastern cousins and humans, and much more taller than the dwarves in the mountains, which is where he had been hoping to go. He already knew people there, and they didn’t care that his name was not official. Thril Gandir mages never showed up there. Dwarves had their own regulations for mages, and their own rules about names. As far as Sorias knew, they and the dragons were the only societies in all of Naren that did not celebrate Name Days. Not that he ever met any dragons, but he had heard from travelers from the east.

He jumped another alley, glancing behind after he landed on a roof on the other side. He didn’t see any sign of his pursuers. So he looked over the sides of the building. It was late, and most people were inside by now. He saw no one in the street below. He decided to climb down the back of the building. It would be easier with the back stairs. He gingerly climbed down from the edge, careful not to fall. Although the distance to the first landing wasn’t far, it was enough that it would hurt. Once he was there, it was easy to descend, but he stopped at the second floor and knelt by the door there. He couldn’t go back to the inn, and going with the caravan in the morning was a bad idea.

So was running off into the desert alone, but he didn’t know what other choice he had at this point. The town was too small. They would be able to find him again if he stayed another day. He pulled a hair pin out of his bun, letting a strand of his long white hair drop down his back. Now was not the time for being vain. All of his desert covering was back at the inn. He had his money and the clothes on his back that he had been wearing in the common room of the inn when the men had come in looking for him.

Nothing but troub—

The memory of the voice was interrupted by a lock clicking. He pushed the door open to find himself in the kitchen of the home. A white cloth headcover and headband hung beside the door. He grabbed those, and an bag which he emptied of facial beautification products before continuing. He took some fruit off the table and some full waterskins and put those in the bag, which wasn’t big to begin with but it would do. He left the bag and head cover next to the back door as he tiptoed further into the house. He lucked out by finding a rack with clothes left to dry on it. He grabbed the largest white robe and took it with him to the back door. Before leaving, he took out his coin purse and left a few coins on the table.

He climbed down the last stairs as he put the head covering on, draping the cloth over his ears to protect them after daylight arrived. He decided against changing his clothes in the alley. At night, it was cooler, and he was dressed appropriately for that. He stuffed the white robe half in the bag; most of it resting on top in a messy pile. He hurried off towards the northern street that led out of town and into the desert night.

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The Chua

(( This week’s prompt is a story that starts with a gunshot. I don’t have many characters who use guns. Guns are non-existent in Naren, and all of my WoW characters who shoot things use bows. However, I do have this almost max level aurin character in Wildstar who has pistols. I decided to go with that, so here’s a random Wildstar story! ))

Bang!

Kiratt Brokenbark refocused on his target.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

A dominion varmint, on his property!

Bang!

He ran towards where he last saw it as the small chua ducked behind one of his trees. He was careful not to shoot his trees, but the chua had to go. He sped around the tree and shot again.

Bang!

He wasn’t anyone important. He wasn’t doing anything important. Why the chua was here in the first place was something he couldn’t figure out, not that he had a lot of time to think about it right now.

Bang!

The chua fell over, flopping onto the ground face first with a tiny thud. Kiratt approached the small ball of fur carefully. He wasn’t sure if chua played dead, but he didn’t want to find out the hard way. He kicked it lightly with his foot and watched for any movement. There was none. He knelt beside it checking for breathing and a pulse. He had hoped not to kill it, but it hadn’t seemed very keen on stopping with just an injury. He verified it was dead and stood, his ears twitching.

He didn’t like it. Nothing about this was good. He had to choices now. He could report it, like he supposed he should. They would come and ask questions, most of which he’d be unable to answer. Then they’d search for clues, turn all his stuff upside down, probably find his magazines and laugh at him, but eventually they would go. The body would be taken away, and he’d spend the rest of the week putting things back the way he wanted.

The alternative sounded better, if the chua hadn’t actually done anything. Was there a bomb somewhere? Maybe it had poisoned his plants. Anger swelled up in him at the last thought and he balled his fist as he walked to his storage shed. The chua didn’t deserve to be sent home, or sent anywhere. The alternative would suffice. He’d check for bombs and keep an eye on his plants on his own.

He grabbed a shovel from his shed and walked to his garden. He started digging a hole.

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The Nameless

(( Last week’s prompt was to write a story about a festival. — I am still behind, but I should be able to catch up this week, and yes I still remember I have free sketches to catch up on too! — Anyway, I kind of already did Naren’s Name Day festival in another prompt, but I decided to touch on it again. This time I chose to write Naren Alinash, who has a similar story to World of Warcraft Alinash, with one major difference. That difference starts on a Name Day festival. ))

Alinash pushed his way through the crowds that had gathered in the largest square in Kingsfall outside of the palace. He hated name days. He didn’t have one to celebrate himself. His name was unofficial, given to him by a whore who had taken pity on him when she found him abandoned in the slums on the western side of the city. He had been three or four at the time. It was difficult to tell, and he didn’t remember. Neither did he remember his name. He had refused to talk for almost a year after she had found him, and by then, his new name had already embedded itself in his brain. He couldn’t remember being called anything else. He was unsure of his age as well. Twenty, twenty-one maybe.

Of course, having an unofficial name caused all sorts of trouble when dealing with official things. If he was caught, at his age, unnamed and possibly untested for magic, he would likely be imprisoned for not having adhered to the rules. He couldn’t work. He couldn’t travel to certain areas. He couldn’t marry — not that anyone would want him. Jobless and unofficially named, his main income came from stealing, and tonight, despite his hate of the holiday itself, the quarterly festival gave much opportunity for ‘accidental’ bumping and stealthily lifting wallets out of pockets and purses. Tonight was no exception. He’d already run back to his shack once to empty his bag, burying his treasures in a hole he had dug under the bed he had made out of old boards and torn blankets. His second bag was filling quickly.

He jostled against someone dancing, his hand darting in an exposed pocket, and pulling out a small coin purse. The people who danced to the musicians playing on the stage were some of the easiest targets. He also enjoyed pretending not to watch where he was going, and running into people. While helping them pick up things, or regaining their balance, he’d check as many pockets as he could. He slipped the small coin purse into the bag he carried and continued on through the crowd of dancers, picking the pockets as he went.

Ten minutes later, he decided he had enough to sell and feed himself for at least two months. He began to make his way back to the slums, and was almost to his shack when he heard a tiny cry. He looked around for the noise, turning his head and flicking his ears, waiting to hear it again. He waited a few minutes, but only heard the sound of the party in the center of the city.

He turned and started to head back to his shack. He stopped when he heard it again. It sounded like a small child crying. He didn’t see any children in the path between the flimsy shacks. Perhaps it was inside one of them. Satisfied with that possibility, he continued to his shack.

He moved aside the bed and dropped his loot in the hole with the previous trip’s earnings. Then he heard it again. A small cry coming from nearby. He walked back to his doorway and looked out. Again, he saw no children, but then he heard it again. A soft sob coming from around the corner. He looked between his shack and the next, and that’s where he saw her.

Her hair was done up, and her red and white dress had streaks of dirt on it. She was definitely not from the area. Her tiny elven ears were just starting to stick out properly.
“Hello? What’s your name?” Alinash asked, hoping she was old enough to talk and understand the question. He had no idea how to tell how old a kid was.

The girl scooted away from him, but didn’t get up and run. Was she old enough to run? Her legs were so tiny.

“Do you know where you’re from?” He tried again to get some sort of answer from her while kneeling down, hoping he wouldn’t scare her.

“Mama” the girl sobbed.

She at least knew one word. Alinash didn’t find it was very helpful. He needed more information. “Where? Where is mama?”

The girl pointed the opposite direction. Alinash stood and stepped over her as he moved through the tiny space between the shacks. Most adults wouldn’t have fit, but he was not large. He stopped when the girl grabbed his leg.

“No!”

“No?” Alinash was close enough to the other side to peek out around the edge. He listened to the girl try to explain.

“Mama.” It was all she said again as she picked up a small rock, and hit the ground with it.

There were lots of unsavory types in this part of the slum. If the mother was dressed up as much as her daughter was, and took a wrong turn, he had no doubt something bad happened. Of course, he had even more questions now. Was her mother still alive? Was she hit with a rock, or was the girl just playing with the rock? Where was the father? Did she have other family? He saw nothing in the path on the other side. The girl continued her sobbing.

He made his way back to the side his door was on and knelt down again, not sure what to do. He couldn’t take her to the guards. They would want to investigate. He would need to make statements and sign documents with his name. He couldn’t. He was nameless. He looked at the girl, hoping it would be easier for her, “What is your name?”

She did not answer.

Alinash frowned. He couldn’t leave her outside. After all, he was found in a similar way. If it hadn’t been for Syrina taking him in, who knows what would have happened.

“Are you hungry? I can give you some food. I don’t have a lot. I have water too. Come here.” He held out his hand, waiting for her to take it.

She took it and unsteadily stood. Alinash helped her out of the space between the shacks and showed her inside.

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The Lord of Moressley

(( Last week’s story prompt was to write a story from the villian’s PoV. I decided to go with a Naren villian, and while I’m not ready to reveal the true big bad of the books, there are plenty of minor villians to choose from. I decided to go with the one who was most developed, Lord Miray, who appears in the first book. Also this is last week’s prompt. I was sick for about a week and fell way behind in things. This week’s prompt will come either tomorrow or early next week. I’ll be caught up then, at least on the story prompts. ))

It shouldn’t have been necessary. Thril Gandir sent mages to all provinces who requested one. They had denied him his right to a mage. Yet they allowed his enemies, those who would encroach on his borders, to have powerful spellcasters in their employ. He had not been happy upon receiving a letter rejecting his request for a new mage. He still wasn’t happy. He stormed from his chambers and out into the common area where one of his attendants waited.

“Has he arrived yet?”

“No, my lord. Your spies reported that he crossed the bridge over the Aduandel River early this morning. He should arrive soon.”

“Good. My strongest guards are on duty today?”

“Yes, my lord. They are awaiting you in the courtyard as you requested.”

Lord Miray nodded, and moved onto the next room where his breakfast was waiting. He frowned as he ate his eggs. They were good enough, but not enough salt. He’d have to go to the kitchen later to fix that. For now, he would eat them as they were. It was difficult to get good help in Moressley, and to be denied a mage as well! He was taking care of that. If they had just sent one, he wouldn’t have to have gone through the trouble of baiting one. Then there was going to be the process of keeping him here.

His scouts had told him much about this one before his plan was put in motion. Shortly after beheading his last mage and adahi for crimes against the lordship, he received the letter that stated he would not get a replacement. He sent his scouts out to find one and send back information. There were plenty of mages in neighboring provinces, but the one that intrigued him most was the mage who had been released from Thril Gandir as a free-traveling mage. He had been found in Kingsfall with his adahi at first.

Lord Miray had the mage followed while he hatched a plan. He discovered that the mage wrote frequent letters to his family in Elal’s Fork. He sent spies to Elal’s Fork to find that he visited his family rather frequently. His family was the key to getting him to Moressley. He had them kidnapped and brought to his castle. They were now under very close watch with two guards in their small suite in the castle, and one outside the door. The mage’s father and mother were too old to worry about, but his sisters had put up a fight more than once. After he had them here, he sent a letter to the mage informing him that they were being held for a ransom. If Thril Gandir was notified, he would kill them. The ransom was an amount he knew the mage could easily gather together. As he had hoped, the mage and his adahi did not contact Thril Gandir. They quietly gathered their money together and began to travel towards Moressley. Now they were arriving to the city, and if all went well, should be arriving any minute.

He was just finishing his breakfast as one of his attendants entered the room. “Lord Miray, the mage and his adahi are here. They are being escorted to the courtyard to wait for you.”

“Good, are the archers in place in the windows on the second floor?”

“They have been notified and are moving into position now.”

Lord Miray nodded as he stood, leaving his plate on the table for the servants to take away. “Good. Let’s go.”

He walked ahead of his attendant, stopping and waiting at each door for the attendant to walk ahead just enough to open the door for him to pass through until they reached the courtyard. The mage was already there. He was a tall elf with long reddish-brown hair. He looked down his nose at Lord Miray, and forgoing using any titles of any sort or waiting for any introductions, he asked, “Where is my family?”

Lord Miray withheld his anger. He’d have plenty of time to teach this mage a lesson. He just needed to separate him from the adahi, who was much more dangerous as he did not have anything at stake. “Where is the money?”

The mage looked at his adahi. He was also an elf, shorter but much more muscular. He carried a sword and a shield, and his long blond hair hung loosely over his armored chest and back. The adahi loosened a bag of coins from his belt. “Every copper should be accounted for. Now release his family.”

Lord Miray looked at the bag, but did not take it. “Hold onto it. I will take him to see that his family is safe and release them in front of him.” He started towards one of the doors leading from the courtyard. He turned and looked at the mage. “Coming?”

The mage took a few steps, but the adahi did as well.

“Not you. Stay here with the gold. We’ll be right back with his family.”

“I do not allow my mage out of my sight. If he is going with you, then I am as well. We can exchange the gold at the same time that you release his family.”

Lord Miray frowned, “I think you forget, you aren’t in charge here.”

“Moressley has no power over-”

He was interrupted as Lord Miray raised his hand, then lowered it in an arc. Arrows flew free from the windows over the courtyard. Some of them merely bounced off his armor, but others thudded in where the joints were. The adahi fell to his knees. The mage, untouched by the arrows, knelt beside the adahi.

“No! Kerran!” The mage looked up at Lord Miray, “I’m leaving. My adahi needs healing.”

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you. I still have your family. If you leave, they will die.”

The mage took the bag of coins and threw it at the lord’s feet. “Take your money and let them go.”

“Come with me. I will release them for you, then you may come back to collect your adahi and all leave together.”

The mage looked away from Lord Miray and back to the elf who was still on all fours next to him. Blood dripped off the arrows that stuck out of him at different angles. “I’ll be right back, Kerran. I need to get my family first.” He bent closer and kissed his adahi’s cheek before standing. “Take me to them.”

Lord Miray once again turned and walked towards one of the doors. He waited as the attendant opened the door, and waited a second longer as the mage caught up. “Walk with me. We will talk about the conditions of your family’s safety.”

The mage frowned and twitched an ear. He was visibly irritated. “You will release them, and allow us to leave, with my adahi.”

Lord Miray grinned, “I should warn you that the guards following us now are all trained adahis. If you try anything, they will kill you. If they kill you, your family is useless to me, and I will kill them. Thril Gandir has no power here. You are in my city, and in my castle. It is best if you do as I say.”

He watched as the mage glanced behind them to see the four guards he had chosen to follow. “If Thril Gandir has no power here, why do you have four adahis. Why aren’t they assigned to mages?”

“They are adahis from Moressley, when Thril Gandir broke their end of the agreement to send a mage, the adahis from Moressley returned home.”

They turned down a hallway as the mage asked, “They denied you a mage?”

“Yes, and you foolishly walked into my trap. Your family is here. Your family is safe. They will remain that way as long as you serve me. I will show them to you.”

The mage scratched his ear, and looked around at the guards again, “What of my adahi?”

Lord Miray shrugged, “Do you want your family to live?”

“Yes.”

“Then no more questions. You do not question your lord’s authority.”

He was pleasantly surprised that this shut the mage up. He reached the door to the suite where the mage’s family was being kept, and spoke to the guard, “Open up the door.” He turned to the mage, “You will not go in the room. Which family member do you want to see?”

“My father.”

Lord Miray waited until the door was open before motioning to one of the guards inside to come to the door, “Get the old man, show him that he’s still alive and in good health.” The guard nodded and returned inside the suite. He returned a moment later pushing an older elf towards the door.

“Heruthin!” The old man exclaimed. He was stopped from running towards the door by the guard.

“I’m sorry, Father.” The mage managed to say before Lord Miray closed the door.

“You see they are alive and in good health. They are being fed and cared for and are well-guarded. I usually have one of the adahis in the room as well. It will not go well for you if you try anything.”

“I want to see Kerran.”

“No, we’re taking you to your room next. Tomorrow, I want you ready to cast some warding spells over the west wing where you will be staying. Also, you will call me ‘Lord’ when you address me. There will be no more demands from you. If you do not comply, your family will die. It is that simple.”

The mage fell silent once more as they walked into the west wing. They went down one of the hallways and up a flight of stairs. Halfway down another hallway, Lord Miray stopped at a door and waited for an attendant to open it before pushing the mage in.

“This room has been prepared for you. As long as you are compliant, you and your family will be treated well. Lunch will be brought to you soon.” Lord Miray grinned as he pulled the door shut. It had worked. He had a mage to serve his province again. The only bad part was that he was an elf, which he was willing to overlook if the mage did as he was told.

He left one guard to stay behind and watch the mage. As he headed back to his own suite within the castle, he sent the other three guards to finish off the adahi in the courtyard. He watched from the doorway, satisfied that his plan had worked so well, before continuing on to his chambers.

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Another Student

“No, don’t go! Please!”

Hethurin Fairsong stopped mid-cast upon hearing the request. He flicked an ear upon hearing Aeramin sigh beside him, and glanced his way as the teleport spell ended. “We’re here to help, right?”

Aeramin sighed again, “Yes, but I’m tired, and you already found someone?”

Hethurin flicked an ear this time, “Irael. I think she’ll work out well, but I won’t deny another applicant his chance.” He moved to sit at the desk, motioning for Desdeyliri to follow him. Aeramin frowned but took a seat nearby, and Terellion moved back to the door to guard it, letting only the young elf who had spoken to pass.

“I’m sorry, I’m late. I just filled out your form even though the teacher said I’m too late to see you. Please, give me a chance.”

Hethurin heard another sigh from Aeramin. They had heard similar pleas throughout the day from people who wanted off the Row, but weren’t very studious.

“Please sit.” Hethurin said, motioning to the chair on the other side of the desk. “May I ask why you are so late with your application?” He started glancing at the answers. He had made the application based on general education tests, and was looking for those who could at least answer a few of the more advanced questions. He raised a brow upon seeing the detailed answers on this applicants answers.

“I just got off work and just got back to the city. I’m really sorry I’m so late.”

“What kind of work do you do?” Hethurin asked, passing the application paper to Desdeyliri to look over.

“I work on the docks just outside the city.”

Aeramin spoke up, “Why are you on the Row if you work on the docks.”

“I’m only there part time, when they know a lot of ships are going to be in and need the extra help. My father wants me to be there full time, but that would cut into my study time, and I’d really rather be a mage than a dock worker.”

Aeramin spoke again, “What does your father do?”

“He can’t work. He lost a leg during the Scourge invasion.”

“Your mother?” Aeramin asked.

“She died during the Scourge invasion.”

Aeramin frowned, “I’m sorry.”

Hethurin asked, “Do you have any siblings?”

“I have a younger sister.”

“Is she still in school?” Hethurin queried, hoping that Aeramin wouldn’t interrupt again.

“No, she’s working, but my father and I only get a little of the money.”

“What does she–”

“That’s not important, Hethurin.” Aeramin interrupted.

“I just want to get an idea of what the family life is like.”

Aeramin looked at Hethurin, “Good, he lives with his disabled father and gets a little assistance from his sister. Is that right? Umm, what’s your name?”

“Felarius, and yes, that’s right.”

Hethurin frowned, “Okay, Felarius, have you had an magic instruction before?”

Felarius shook his head, “No, sir, but I read a lot about it, as much as I can. My father gets upset with it and wants me to work the docks full time. I can’t check out books at the big library because I can’t pay for the ones he destroyed, but I can go to read there.”

“So you do actively study.”

“As much as possible.”

“Can you cast?”

“I haven’t really tried. I’ve read a lot about it, and I want to try, but I don’t want to mess things up so I’d really prefer to have someone who knows what they’re doing with me.”

Hethurin nodded, and glanced at Desdeyliri who was still going over the application. She glanced back and nodded once. He looked to Aeramin only to see he was already dozing off. It had been a long day, and he couldn’t blame him really, but it was an important decision. He had already told Irael that she had the scholarship, but now there was another student who claimed to study often. He had planned to only give one scholarship away, not two, but then there wasn’t anything stopping him from giving a second.

He turned back to Felarius. “Will your father be okay without you?”

Felarius nodded. “He has my sister. I mean, it’s not a lot, but it’s enough.”

Hethurin looked at the application paper as Desdeyliri passed it back to him. She had marked that he had 95% of the questions right, and he answered the bonus question with a yes. “I’ve already given out the one scholarship that I was planning to give, but it seems as though I might expand that and give out two instead. You’ve never been accused of any crimes?”

Felarius shook his head.

“We will do a background check with the Spire, but you’re welcome to come to the school while the check is processing.”

“Really?”

Hethurin nodded. “We’ll take care of everything you need too. If you need robes or shoes or notebooks, or anything, just ask. We’ll make sure you everything. Room and board is included in the scholarship as well. Do you have any special dietary requirements?”

Felarius shook his head again, a look of disbelief on his face.

“Good, we’ll be here again tomorrow just before supper to provide a teleport to the school. Do you need a note to your father?”

“No, that’s okay. I’ll tell him.”

Hethurin smiled, “I’ll see you then.” He motioned for Terellion to come closer then began to cast his spell to take him, Des, Ter and Aeramin back to the Ghostlands.

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