The Staff

(( Still working on old prompts! This one is from the July 24 prompt – Write a story about a magical object. I chose a not quite magical object, but one that was in the process of becoming so. ))

Karuna Firewind slammed his text shut. Dragons. Everything pointed to them being the final piece in the creation of the staff. He grumbled as he stepped down the spiral stairs of his small tower, and brushed his long red curls back over his shoulder with his hand as to watch his step. It wasn’t much of a tower and the staircase was narrow and steep. However, most mages who lived outside Thril Gandir had one, and he refused to be out of style. His meager tower was better than being stuck in Thril Gandir at any rate.

His human adahi, Carl Foxrun, spoke before he even reached the bottom of the stairs. “Karuna, you look tired.” Leave it to Carl to point out the obvious.

“Start packing. We’re going south.”

The adahi raised a brow, “Where south? It’s quiet here, but much of the land is at war, Karuna.”

Karuna rolled his eyes and flicked one of his elven ears as he grabbed his staff. It was incomplete in that it hadn’t been enchanted yet, but now that he had figured out just the right ingredients and conditions for the enchantment spell, that would soon change. That is, if Carl didn’t stop him. As Karuna’s protector, he could very well do so. He turned to face his adahi, “I very well know the dangers, Mr. Foxrun, but we are going.”

“Have you told her yet?”

Her. Karuna knew he was referencing the girl in town who had taken a liking to visiting the tower. “Why? Are you jealous?”

Carl shrugged, “No.”

Karuna shook his head. He knew better. The way Carl looked away as he said no left no doubt in Karuna’s mind that he was definitely jealous.

“Maybe she’s been coming to see you.” Karuna grinned at the obvious lie. “Anyway, I can’t sit around and wait until her next visit. We have to leave now before the fighting gets worse. She’ll figure out we’re gone.” He tossed a couple of robes into his bag. He wouldn’t need much for the trip. Carl was always the practical one, bringing everything they would need.

“I’ll leave her a note then.”

Karuna rolled his eyes again, but remained silent as his adahi stopped packing and started scribbling a note. He was glad that Carl hadn’t decided to focus on his comment about the fighting getting worse. It would get worse, and that’s why there was such a rush to go now. He had waited long enough, making sure that his theories would hold when the time came to actually do the enchantment. While he wasn’t 100% sure, he was confident enough that it would work. The time to go was now.

The latest news was that armies were gathering in the woods at the base of the mountains, and readying to march North. It would greatly mess up his plans to find himself in the middle of a war, but the mountains were where he needed to go. The dragons there held the secrets he needed. Carl wasn’t going to like the details at all.

He glanced at his adahi who had finished writing and had begun packing. It was best to head out before he shared the details, and best to let Carl pack in peace before he started questioning. “I’ll go get the horses ready. If we leave now we can make it to the next town before nightfall.” Karuna said as he walked towards the door. Carl grunted in response. Perhaps he knew Karuna was escaping before any details could be discussed. Perhaps he didn’t, and Karuna wasn’t going to stick around to find out. He hurried out towards the stable to ready the horses. With any luck, they would be far away before Carl pressed for details.

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The Song

(( This story goes back to the July 3rd prompt for a story that features a song or poem. I didn’t pick an actual song or poem, and I’m not confident enough with my poetry skills to start now, so I wrote a story that has music sorta featured in it. This is set in Naren, and happens after book 1 but before Isturon is featured in his own book. ))

Isturon Lightmist sighed as he sat down at the table in the inn. It was a long trip from Elal’s Fork to Hollowmont. He wasn’t even sure of the name of the town they had stopped at for the night. He was too old for this, but he wanted to get away. He couldn’t stay in Elal’s Fork anymore. Well, he could have, if Verisna had left, but no. She flaunted her new lover in front of everyone, taking walks through the center of town while holding his arm, and kissing him when he left her at the door to the home.

OUR home. No. It wasn’t his anymore. He had left, and he had mostly forgiven her, though he couldn’t shake his own feeling of shame. Things had been difficult for him ever since most of the family was held prisoner in Moressley.

A waitress approached his table and asked, “Anything I can get you? We have imported drinks from all over to satisfy the thirst of many travelers. We also have a varied menu if you’re hungry.” She pointed at the board where the drinks and dishes were listed.

“Just a glass of water and a bowl of vegetable soup, thank you.”

She quickly trotted off to the kitchen, leaving Isturon to his thoughts once more.

Up on the small stage set up in one corner, a girl started playing a song on a lute. Isturon listened as his thoughts wandered.

His son had offered him a room in his home until he was feeling better. He was grateful that his children didn’t harbor any ill-feelings towards him after their ordeal. His wife— No, his ex-wife, blamed him. It was true he could have fought back while they were held prisoner, but that would have also revealed him as being a mage to any who saw. Though his specialty was healing magic, he knew enough offensive spells that he could have used them. He still didn’t think it would be enough to fight off all the guards in the castle they had been kept in. He had managed to pass undetected throughout his entire life. Two of his children were mages, but no one ever questioned him. Getting caught while trying to escape would have just ended with him in more trouble than before, and possibly trouble for his children as well, even if they were trained at Thril Gandir.

The song was sad and slow, and Isturon found himself wishing that the girl would play something more lively. The waitress returned with the water and soup, leaving it on the table in front of him, as Isturon started listening to the lyrics. The girl had a heavy accent, but Isturon couldn’t place it. He understood most of the words anyway. The tune was, at it’s core, about missed opportunities and regret, but the refrain stated that there was always a brighter tomorrow. Isturon’s ear twitched. He’d lived long enough to not fall into that trap. The missed opportunities and regrets would always be there. Good times and bad times would both continue to happen. The next day was not always brighter.

He started eating his soup. Tomorrow was definitely not going to be brighter. Today’s leg of the journey had them passing under bright skies, but just as they stopped the wagon at the town, dark clouds started rolling in.

Tomorrow promised to be absolutely miserable.

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Hethurin’s Letter

Dear Father,

I hope everything is going well, and that you are not too close to the fighting. I really wish you hadn’t needed to go in the first place, but I guess they need healers there. I have overheard people talking in the market about how bad it is there. I keep hoping they don’t know for sure, but when multiple people say it, then maybe there is some truth in it.

Or maybe multiple people don’t know what they’re talking about. I like that theory better. Anyway, I hope you are safe.

Malwen keeps asking to visit you, and each time I have to remind her that you’re far away right now. She wants to go there to visit you, and again, I have to explain that it’s dangerous there. I think she doesn’t want to remember that because you’re there, and you could get hurt. That’s why she keeps forgetting. She’s a very smart girl, and is doing great in her classes. She said that maybe she doesn’t want to be a mage like me anymore, and that she might want to help people like you do. I told her she has lots of time to decide yet. She’s only 9! I didn’t know I wanted to be a mage for sure until I was 60!

Narise is doing well too. I am a bit sad that she doesn’t like to be carried for long periods anymore. I might have to talk to Ter about visiting the orphanage again soon. Anyway, Narise loves running up and down the halls while yelling and dripping milk out of her cup. I think Tik might be a bit bothered about it, but he doesn’t show it if he is. It only bothers me when she does it outside my classroom while I’m teaching.

She’s starting to speak now. She knows Ter is ann’da. She calls Tik, “Dick”, which makes me laugh. She still doesn’t say arc’ann’da very well to refer to me. She also knows how to say a lot of other small words like hello and goodbye, milk, Muffins, cake, etc.

Vaildor was asking me when you would be back the other day after his class. I think he misses you too. I asked him if he wrote to you yet, and he said he was working on it. I wouldn’t hold my breath. Lali said it’s a chore to get him to turn in anything that involves him writing out words! Maybe I could suggest that he paints you something small to send. He seems better at that.

There are still demons in the Ghostlands, but there have not been any found at all on the estate. Theronil teaches his enchanting class in the morning, and patrols the grounds in the afternoon. He hasn’t seen anything within the area covered by my ward. That’s good because it means the outer ward is doing its job just as much as the inner ward is. I guess there aren’t a lot here to begin with, but it seems when the rangers remove some, others show up to take their place. That’s what Nessna says anyway. She also said they’re looking for how the demons are getting here. It’s most likely a portal. She wanted to know if there was some sort of spell to detect demon portals. If there is, I don’t know it, but I agreed to talk to a couple of people I know who might. If they do, I’ll go to Sath’alor about it.

Terellion and I both wish you well, and we all hope you will be able to come home soon.

-Hethurin

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Orledin’s Ranger Log

  • Pancat is happy that I’m back. I don’t trust Salenicus now, and I almost wish there was another person for night patrol so that there could be two teams of two instead of one team of three, and maybe he wouldn’t be on my team. I don’t want him dragging me off to the Ebon Hold again. I told him from the start that I didn’t want to be there, and he thought it was a good idea to make me go anyway.
  • I don’t like him.
  • I told him over and over that we’re needed here, in the Ghostlands. There aren’t a lot of rangers here, so each of us is important, living or undead alike.
  • I never want to see another dreadlord again.
  • Patrols have been going okay since we got back. I try not to talk to him too much. I guess Sorrowmoss noticed because she commented how I’ve been a little quieter. I don’t know if she was happy or concerned. It’s hard to tell with her. I think she was actually just saying it. She said it after patrol was over. She hardly ever says anything on patrol, even if I try to talk to her.
  • I can’t talk to either of them about the new guy. I don’t think they would understand at all.
  • But yeah, there’s a new guy, and I do think he’s cute. He also eats my cookies. I tried to tell him I have hobbies, but I’m not sure he believed me. I want to get to know him better.
  • I try to make time to sit with him, but I keep missing him by just a few minutes. He’s been spending a lot of time at the targets. I watch him sometimes out the kitchen window, and I don’t think he really needs to practice because he’s really good. I’ve never seen Sunashe so happy with a new recruit, and that’s really saying something.
  • Sometimes, I like to imagine him practicing without a shirt on.
  • I’d like to get to know him better before I ask him on an actual date. Maybe he secretly finds me repulsive because I’m undead, or maybe he would just need a little time to warm up to the idea. I figure if he at least likes me a bit before I ask, then that improves the odds.
  • He might not like other guys that way either. I guess I could start by trying to find that out. I’m going to ask him there’s someone he left behind by coming here, and that can open up a conversation about his past relationships.
  • I hope.

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The Letter

The words had barely left the boss’s lips as Alinash grabbed the envelope and tore it open. A letter. For him. From the Ghostlands. The mage had dropped it off earlier.

He didn’t need to hear anymore than that.

He pulled out the letter and unfolded it, turning towards the window for more light with his back to the others. His reading had improved greatly while he was at the school, but he preferred to be alone while sounding out words. If he couldn’t see the others, it at least gave the illusion of being alone. He still had problems with handwritten script, but this letter was neatly written, something he didn’t expect from someone else who was also from the Row. It was evenly spaced and easy to read, so he only had to pause a couple of times to work out the longer words.

He smiled upon finishing the letter. His contact had agreed to search the records for him and was asking a reasonable price for doing so.

He looked up, intending to turn to face the others and tell them the good news– and perhaps apologize to the boss for grabbing the letter out of her hands. However, he froze in place as a flash of reflected light came from across the street. It wasn’t the flash that stunned him. It was the source of the flash.

A woman walked, speaking with another woman as they made their way past the shops on the other side of the street. Around her neck was a chain, and on the chain, a bauble that sparkled as the sun hit it. Alinash squinted as he leaned closer to the winder, peering at the woman.

Was it…  It can’t be…

It is.

His eyes widened as he dropped the letter. He turned, and sprinted for the door.

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Aeramin’s Notes

  • We’ve returned from Tanaris. I have to say it was an interesting trip. Not entirely enjoyable, but interesting. We did see all sorts of new types of demons. One of them was the sun. My ears are still peeling from the sunburn.
  • I did stay mostly covered the first few days, but I forgot to bring a real hat. Imralion forgot to remind me too, and I thought I was being smart by bringing the headpiece with a veil to keep the sun off my face and the sand out of my mouth. I guess that was smart, but I still should have brought a hat too. Luckily, Embersun and Vallindra decided it would be best to work at night, so my sun exposure wound up being limited. It didn’t stop the burn from getting worse, but I guess it could have been worse than it turned out to be. I’ve just decided never to go to a desert again. Between the sunburn, the sweat in my robes and the sand in my ass crack, I’ve had enough desert to last the next 200 years.
  • Imralion didn’t get a sunburn, despite spending the same amount of time in the sun as me. He got a nice dark tan. It looks good on him. He managed to take a bunch of notes for the Blood Knights. I managed to take a bunch of notes for myself, and then we exchanged notes. It was interesting to see the things he noticed and how much they differed from the things I noticed.
  • The one part I really enjoyed was binding one of the large imps. I don’t dare leave it alone in the basement with the other imps, so it’s one of those I have to summon when I want to work with him, sort of like Gibrik, though Gibrik has earned the right to be left out now and then. Never when I’m not there, and never for very long. I don’t think I’ll ever trust him that much, but he’s been behaving for training the past year, and not trying to eat Zorkin or Yappy, so if I have to run upstairs to get something, I don’t mind leaving him in the warded basement with the others.
  • The large imp hasn’t even earned the right to be allowed out of the summoning circle. He’s not very happy that he’s bound, and tries to resist and break free. I think Embersun was interested in studying it further, so I’ll probably have to let him some night for a visit.
  • Anyway, that was my real reason for going. I wanted to see the imps, and there are some interesting new varieties so I brought one home. Our other reason for going, and the one that everyone else knows, was to strengthen the wards. It’s easier to ward against something if you know exactly what you’re warding against. So it was important to be able to go there and learn about the new types of demons, and the variations to the new demons.
  • One thing I hadn’t seen before was the structures. Well, they’ve had structures before, but these were larger, and appeared rather quickly. We never saw one being built, but we did note that they would show up in a place where there wasn’t one before. We didn’t seem to be able to catch them appearing though.
  • The other thing was the air ships. They were long and sort of triangular, and just floating in the air. I didn’t see any engine or anything to keep them up there, so it must be some sort of magic, much the way Dalaran floats. Since it’s demons we’re talking about, I’ll assume it’s some sort of fel magic, which could have interesting applications if we could learn how it works. Of course, I’d love to study one of the vessels, but I’m not sure how I could get into one safely. Maybe one will crash and the demons will abandon it. Then I could at least study the traces of the magic used.
  • When I got back, I spoke with Hethurin and helped him fortify the ward around the school grounds, then I went to the ranger building and redid the ward there with the adjustments. I also fixed the one at home, and adjusted my summoning circle in the basement to hold the new imp.
  • Maerista did a good job with the classes while I was gone. I know it was a lot of work to leave her with. There’s all the regular classes and all of the private classes. It looks like she stuck to the plan I left with her.
  • The Row students seem to be doing well in their classes. I try not to give them too much special attention. I don’t want the other students wondering why, but I do like to make sure they’re adjusting to the school and doing well. I spoke with Felarius the other night, and he’s worried about his frost class. He intends to study fire as his specialty though, so I told him not to worry too much as long as he’s doing well in one of the specialties. It’s very rare that anyone does well in all three. I told him how bad I am with frost and that my general arcane spells barely passed for my mage testing. He seemed a little encouraged by that.
  • I need to talk to Irael and make sure everything is going well for her too.
  • Yesterday, Tik showed up in the teacher’s room looking for me. He said Hethurin wanted to see me in his office. I don’t know why Hethurin can’t just come get me himself, instead of sending Tik and making Raleth and Keyalenn look at me like I must be in trouble. Actually, I don’t know if that’s what the look was. Maybe they were just wondering why he sent Tik too.
  • Anyway, I walked all the way to the other side of the building because someone is too lazy to teleport to me, and went into his office. He asked me who I knew in Stormwind. I didn’t think I did know anyone in Stormwind, and I told him so. Then he handed me an envelope. It was addressed to my name, and with the school’s address. The return address was Stormwind, but had no name listed. Hethurin said it came through Dalaran. At first, I thought it must be from the one human I knew in Shattrath. Or any number of humans I knew in Dalaran. Any one of them could have went to Stormwind. So I opened it right there to find out.
  • It was not from a human after all. I told Hethurin after I read the purpose of the letter that a sin’dorei living in Stormwind wanted me to do some research for him at the Spire, since he’s a little far to go himself. He gave me a look like he didn’t quite believe me, but he didn’t question it. I was allowed to leave his office without having to explain anything. I wouldn’t have been able to tell him everything anyway. I’m sure he wouldn’t believe me if I told him it was ‘Lhoris’.
  • Lhoris Brightblade, who is not Lhoris, but actually Alinash Brightblaze, might not even be Alinash Brightblaze. He wants me to name my price for checking the records to find anyone born in a certain range of years with any name similar to his. It would be a big job. He also wants information on the parents, and any other records of any names similar to his. He listed possibilities of similar names and it’s not something where you can just go search the ‘A’ section. It could be Elinash or Valinas or something like that. He thinks that because he didn’t exist when he went to check for himself, then that means his name is wrong. I think he’s probably just another undocumented little shit from Murder Row, but I guess I can look into it for him, or hire someone to. I know the search would be thorough if I did it myself, but I’m busy making up for the time I missed while in Tanaris, and there’s the mask party coming up at the school. It might be better to hire someone.
  • I’ll think about it anyway.
  • Imralion is, thankfully, not going to the Broken Isles like a lot of the other Blood Knights are. He’s staying behind to train new recruits, which there are quite a few of, so he says. One of them is Kuul. I don’t like that he flirts with Im, but I am glad he’s changing his life for the better, just like Julan and the Row students— and I guess my father too. I’m glad to be in a position where I can help get people who want to change their lives off the Row so that they actually have a chance. I’m glad Hethurin helps too. I wouldn’t be able to help as much if it wasn’t for him.
  • Kuul was over for supper the other night, and for use of the training dummy that Imralion has in the yard. I went out to watch while supper was cooling. I don’t really know how to tell if he’s doing well or not, but Imralion says he’s doing good.
  • I’m going to suggest to Hethurin that he helps Kuul with a small house in the spring. He’s been staying at the inn in town for too long. Maybe he’d be willing to flirt with someone else if he had a nice place to show them.

 

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Kuul’s Notes

  • Imralion should be back soon, and I’ve been working on a report to present all the investigating I’ve done together in a way that makes sense. It’s not easy because I have to walk all the way to the school each morning for a portal to the city. Aeramin was making them for me, but he’s gone with Imralion. I guess he needs to learn about the demons too for better wards or something. I think just killing them all is better.
  • I spent a lot of time in the Row while Imralion was gone. He would sometimes go with me when he was here, but I think he scares the people. I know I would have been scared if I saw him a few years ago. My first thought would be that they sent someone to clean up the Row, and that would mean busting people for whatever they felt like! Luckily, we haven’t had any problems though I’m sure more than one person has thought about spitting on him.
  • Anyway, with him gone, I’ve been able to walk around without the looks that we get when he’s with me, so that’s good. People do know me there, and that’s good too. I don’t have to try to fit in because I’m already in.
  • I’ve been visiting the places where we think the murderer has struck and trying to talk to the landlords. Landlords in the Row are really hard to get to see, unless they’re renting a place. I was able to talk to them first because I posed as someone interested in renting before changing the subject to the murders. I was able to get lists of the tenants from them. Some of them I had to bribe, but most cooperated because they don’t want to be in trouble.
  • The ones who didn’t have places for rent, I had to track down by checking the records in the spire to find out where they live. I know first hand how difficult it is to get these guys to come out. If something breaks, it’s your problem, not theirs! And they certainly don’t want to deal with the authorities coming to ask about the people living in their places.
  • I’ve spent a lot of time at the Spire too, double-checking the records there against what the landlords are telling me. I’ve found out that half of them don’t even report they have apartments for rent! So that’s why the Spire’s records are so bad about rentals on the Row. That meant my footwork was going to be more extensive than it had to be.
  • So I started, first finding out the owners of places, then finding the owners, and asking if they had anyone new rent in the past few months. I knew to start my search in the southern area of the Row first as that’s where most of the bodies had been found. Unfortunately, not all of them would give me the information I requested as there’s some thing about tenant privacy or something. So there’s a couple who wouldn’t tell me which apartments they had recently rented. I just want to knock and ask some questions! It’s not like I’m asking them to open doors and search the places. I don’t think we’re that close to finding the right place yet.
  • Some of the landlords were a little more helpful. One of them went with me to the newer tenant’s door and knocked. It was a family and there was nothing suspicious about that. A couple of others gave me the apartment numbers which I went to myself and knocked. Most of them answered, and again, I saw nothing suspicious. There’s a couple of others, I had to go back and check on.
  • There were two that I received no answer. I stayed around one spot and watched one apartment until I finally saw someone inside. Then I went and knocked, and it’s just some guy who works three different jobs. I’ve been watching the second one, but I don’t see anyone go in or leave. I’ve smelled around the door, and it doesn’t smell like there’s anyone dead in there, but then, what if someone needs help? What if they’re still alive? I can’t break in, but I’m going to feel awful if we find someone there, and it’s too late to save them.
  • I have to continue talking to landlords, and checking the records as well, so I can’t watch this place full-time either. If there’s no one there, I’ve already wasted enough time. But then if there is someone who needs help, I haven’t spent enough time trying to get in to help them. Maybe I can call upon a couple of friends who know a bit about locks.
  • Hopefully, Imralion will be back soon, and I’ll have some help, and some training. Now is a good time to apply to be a blood knight. I applied and I’ve been accepted, but they need more people who can train. I think Imralion plans to do that. I hope so anyway. He’s hot! I do hope we’ll still have time to investigate though. I really don’t want to give up now.

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