Holiday Short Stories

(( I’ve been short on time since the school year started, but I really wanted to catch up on some characters for the holiday, so here’s a few short stories! ))

Malwen’s Diary

Dear Diary,

We had a really great holiday! Ann’da and Arcann’da gave me a really fancy doll. I have to keep it in my loft to make sure that Narise doesn’t get to it. She can’t climb up there yet.

There was a big party too, and everyone came to it. There was music and dancing and Tik made his really good food again. Ann’da says there’s spinach in it, but I don’t believe him because it tastes better than spinach. They’re called spinach rolls though, so maybe there’s a little spinach in them. Tik must use the good-tasting kind.

The day after the party, Ann’da and Arcann’da wanted to talk to me. They asked me if I would like to have a little brother! I like babies and I’m getting old enough to really help! They said they have to wait until a baby boy comes to one of the orphanages, but they have their name on the lists! I’m so excited!

Alinash’s Perch

A light snow fell around Alinash Brightblaze as sat between two chimneys on the roof across from the building he was watching. He shivered as he watched below. If the gate around the property hadn’t been enough, it was guarded as well. He was beginning to believe he’d never get his stupid trinket back. The guard rarely left his post, and never for a very long time.

What do they want with my bauble? He was angry he had left it out of his sight to begin with, but now it was in the hands of this rich woman whom he had only seen wear it once. Typical. She probably put it away and forgot about it already.

He frowned, and continued waiting to see if there would be an opportunity tonight.

Isturon’s Letter

Dear Lanthiriel,

I’m sorry I haven’t been able to write sooner. As you may have suspected, I’ve been quite busy tending the injured, and we are short on staff, so there is rarely a free moment. I only hope I have the time to finish this letter. You don’t know how many times I’ve started to write, only to stop, intending to come back to it later, but being so busy that I don’t get to sit down again until three days later.

The worst injuries were in the first few weeks, but for now the demons seem to be driven back. There is still a lot to do. They are driven back, but not gone. The tent here is far enough away that we aren’t in any immediate danger.

I believe I’ve met someone here who your brother may know. She says her son attended Fairsong Academy, and currently works there as a teaching assistant. She is one of the few healers we send out with a portal mage to stabilize and quickly transport the injured to us. I’m guessing she has less time to sit than I do, so if you could, let her son know that she is doing well.

Also, please let your siblings know that I am fine. I wish I could write to each of you individually, but already, I must get back to work.

Light bless,

Isturon

 

Aeramin’s Letter

Alinash,

I’ve spent my late afternoons in the Spire doing the search through the records as you requested. I did not have much luck at first, but I think I may have found something that will interest you.

The first thing I found was a birth record from 38 years ago for a Thal’inas Blightblade. I figured I’d follow up on it, and found a missing person report three years after. I found no other records for Thal’inas.

So I looked up the parents. His father, Beluar Blightblade, was a common blacksmith. I found records indicating that he specialized in making metal frames for carriages. I also found a missing person report for him filed on the same day that his son’s was filed. Both were filed by the guard. Along with that, he is also wanted for questioning by the guard.

I looked up the mother, Cythril Daeras, after that. She was born to one of the lesser noble houses, but at the time of her marriage to Beluar, there were changes to her parent’s will, where she was written out of it. Yes, I checked. You’re not in line to inherit anything if you are Thal’inas, but you have one living cousin who survived the Scourge invasion, and she appears to be living modestly and without title in Eversong.

There was a death certificate for Lady Daeras. She died just before her son and husband went missing. The cause of death was listed as blunt trauma combined with blood loss.

I could do a search of the newspapers archived at the library, but it will take some time. I wouldn’t request more pay for the task as well.

– Aeramin

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A New Assignment

(( I’m still working through last year’s prompts. This one is to satisfy the one about a story on a boat, and happens just before my second novel, currently being written! ))

Abinar was dead, and it felt almost like a relief to Imralion, who, fresh out of his training to be an adahi had been assigned to the aging mage. Abinar had been assigned to a small town in central Naren, and although his post had been given to a younger mage ten years prior, Thril Gandir had given the permission for the older mage to remain there with his adahi. When his adahi passed of old age before him, Imralion was sent to be the mage’s new adahi for the rest of his years.

After the mage died, he had returned to Rathel. Now he already had a new assignment. Imralion glanced out the porthole next to the table he sat at in the mess deck next to the ship’s galley. The ship had started moving. He watched the dock pass out the window as his thoughts continued.

A relief. It wasn’t that the old mage wasn’t pleasant to be around. It was quite the contrary. Abinar had been full of stories, and never failed to share them, often joking as he told his tales. Imralion had often thought of him as the grandfather he had never had. At least, that’s how it had been at first. Over the past year, the mage’s condition had worsened. The last few months had been the hardest. The relief came from knowing the old mage was no longer in pain.

Imralion looked out over the waves as the ship began to drift away from the shore. He’d only been back for a little over a week before being called forth to receive a new assignment. He had been relieved to find out that he would have to meet this one in Thril Gandir. That meant there was a much better chance that this one was not elderly. He had been told little of the mage except his specialty was fire magic, a fairly dangerous magic which was not often allowed out of Thril Gandir, indicating to Imralion that his assignment must have the record of a saint. Furthering this belief was the fact that they weren’t being assigned to a certain town. They were on a free travel assignment, which basically meant that they could go anywhere at any time. Imralion had never heard of a fire specialized mage having free travel assignment before, and he hoped that meant the job would be an easy one of camaraderie rather than control. An adahi was trained not only to protect the mage they were assigned to, but to also protect other people from the mage. A fire specialized mage would be trickier to stop than say someone who’s specialty was wards, or conjuration.

He glanced out over the water out the porthole. The mainland was already fading in the distance. This time tomorrow, he would be traveling back with his mage.

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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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