Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Three Siblings

(( Last week’s prompt was ‘write a story about three siblings’. I wrote it, but on paper. I finally got around to typing it up today. ))

“Yara, come see what Xyliah found!”

Yara Amberlight jumped up to follow her brother, Vessen. They were on vacation with their father on their grandparent’s land in Eversong Woods. It had become a yearly tradition since their mother had passed. Yara barely remembered her, but their mother had grown up in these woods. Ann’da said he felt closest to her here, and always said he wanted them to feel close to her too. Most of the year, they stayed in the city where their father made furniture to sell in his shop. The annual trip to the woods was something they all looked forward to.

“It’s nothing dangerous, is it?” Their father called after the two before they wandered too far.

“No, ‘Da. It’s not far either. We won’t be long.”

Their father gave a consenting nod, “Make sure Yara stays with you. She’s a little young to be on her own in the woods.”

Vessen nodded as he grabbed his sister’s hand. “Come on, Yara.”

She hated that everyone always said she was too young for everything. She was 12 now! Xyliah had just helped her get her first bra. Surely that meant she was old enough to explore on her own once in a while, or have a glass of wine with supper, or walk for treats from the shop on their street alone. She was sick of the answer always being ‘No, you’re too young.’ Still, she was eager to see what Xyliah had found so she let Vessen lead her without protesting.

Vessen wasn’t that much older than she was, but those four years made a big difference. Even she had to admit that. He had grown tall and strong, whereas she still looked like a scrawny little kid. Xyliah was almost 19 and definitely not a scrawny kid either.

Yara saw her in the clearing up ahead. She was peering at something in the tall grass near the stream. She looked up as Vessen and Yara approached, and put one finger up to her lips, urging them to be as silent as possible.

Yara crossed the clearing with Vessen, careful not to step on any twigs. “What is it?” she whispered upon getting close enough.

“Look.” Xyliah whispered back as she parted the tall grass with her hands.

There was a nest there, hidden behind all the grass. In the nest were three very small dragonhawks. Yara gasped in awe.

“They’re very young. I’d guess no more than two days old.” Xyliah whispered. “I have no doubt that the parents are nearby, so we shouldn’t linger. I know how much you love dragonhawks, so I wanted to show you.”

“They’re so cute!” Yara exclaimed, trying to keep her voice down. “I want one. Can I touch them?” She started to reach for one, only to be stopped when Xyliah grabbed her wrist.

“No, don’t touch them. We’re already close enough to see them. You can’t take these because they’re wild. Ann’da said he’d buy you one when you’re old enough.”

Yara frowned. She was never going to be old enough.

“Let’s go back to our camp. We can tell ‘Da about them, and remind him how much you want one.” Vessen smiled as he took her hand again.

 

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Yara couldn’t sleep that night. It wasn’t that they were staying in a tent. She had already had a few days to get used to that. It was her thoughts keeping her awake. She wanted to see the baby dragonhawks again, but she doubted whether anyone would make time to take her there again, and she knew if she asked to go alone she would just be told she was too young.

“Xy?” she whispered, looking over at her older sister’s sleeping bag. Xyliah didn’t answer and appeared to be sleeping.

Yara crawled out of her sleeping bag and peeked outside of the tent. Her long ears strained to listen for any noise coming from the other tent where her brother and father were. She thought she heard her father snore. She undid the rest of the ties on the tent flap, stepped out and looked around. It was dark, but in the clearing where they were camping, there was enough moonlight to see. The paths leading off away from the clearing into the woods were dark. Yara hesitated as she looked towards the darkened path that went to the stream. “I’m old enough to do this on my own. I’m not afraid.” she said in a barely audible whisper, and stepped towards the path.

It was not an easy hike. She was barefoot for starters, having left her shoes back at the camp in her haste to leave before anyone woke. Strange noises stopped her more than once or twice. Each time she paused, trying to figure out what the noise was and if she was in danger. She decided it was fine. Her older brother and sister walked around in the woods by themselves all the time. Noise was normal, right?

She finally reached the clearing near the stream. Despite not being able to see as well, she was quieter than she had been during the daytime as she made her way closer to the water where the tall grass hid the nest. She was about halfway there when she heard another noise. She paused as a low rumbling growl came from her left. She froze, not daring to turn her head, but glancing over the area with her eyes. What was that noise? She waited, her heart racing, but she saw nothing.

After a couple of minutes, she managed to calm herself down. You’re not too young for this. You’re a big girl. You came to see the dragonhawk babies again, and that’s what you’re going to do. Night noises are nothing. She repeated the same thought over and over in her mind until she wasn’t even sure she had really heard a sound. It couldn’t have been anything dangerous after all, or it would have already shown itself. She slowly took another step, but still kept her eyes to the side where she thought she might have heard something, just in case.

A lynx jumped out of the tall grass at the same moment she started to take a second step. She screamed as it landed on her. It had been aiming to bite her neck, but Yara had thrown her arm up in the way. The large cat’s jaw came down on her upper arm. She screamed again, this time in pain. She used her free arm to hit the cat on the nose, which seemed to make it mad, but did nothing to make it loosen its grip.

“Help!” she cried out. Was she too far from the camp to be heard? She screamed again as the lynx tightened its jaws on her arm. She was sure she was going to die.

Then the lynx let go. Its body rolled backwards across the path to the stream, and Yara heard the flapping of large wings. The lynx growled and leapt towards Yara. She covered her head with her arms, bracing to be bit again, but it didn’t happen. Instead, a series of growls, hisses and odd chirps sounded. Yara opened her eyes just enough to see a large dragonhawk fighting off the lynx. She decided it was time to get out of there. She got up and started back towards the woods, trying to stay low as to not attract the attention of either animal. She glanced back to see them still fighting next to the stream.

“Yara! Come on!”

Vessen ran towards her and grabbed her hand. They ran along the path until they were almost back to the camp. “What were you doing out there? You could have gotten hurt!”

Yara looked at her arm. It didn’t hurt as much now, though it looked awful. “I did get hurt. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry. I’m just glad I got to you in time. Ann’da and Xyliah are looking for you too.” he found a first aid kit in their supplies and started wrapping Yara’s arm. “I think you’re going to need to see a healer for this.”

Yara started crying.

 

###

 

Yara’s arm hurt more the next morning. She watched as the others packed up camp earlier than planned. She felt horrible about making the vacation end early. Though her injury wasn’t life-threatening, she still needed to see a healer for it, and their father didn’t want to delay, deciding that they would leave that morning.

Xyliah sat down next to her. “Yara, are you feeling okay?”

Yara nodded, “I’m just sad.”

“I know it’s hard being your age. You’re not a little kid anymore, but it’s a long time before you’re really considered an adult too. It’s not easy for me either. Imagine looking grown-up but having another 30 years before other elves even think about considering you as more than a child. You’re coming up on that soon yourself, I think. Still, it was a little reckless to wander off in the woods by yourself in the dark. There’s usually good reasons when older elves make rules. They have more experience than us, and Ann’da is no exception.”

“I know. I just wanted to see the baby dragonhawks again.”

Xyliah frowned and nodded, “Wait here.”

Yara wasn’t sure where else she was going to go with her arm all bandaged, so she watched as Xyliah ran over to their father. They were far enough away that she couldn’t hear what they said. He didn’t seem too happy about what she said at first, but then after Vessen also joined the conversation, he nodded. Xyliah jogged back over to Yara after he nodded again.

“Come on, Vessen and I can go with you to look at the babies once more before we go. Vessen’s going to bring his bow, just in case. Everything is almost packed so we have to hurry.” Xyliah grabbed Yara’s hand and led her through the woods. Vessen followed with his bow with an arrow nocked and ready in case any danger presented itself.

They reached the clearing near the stream, and Yara gasped at the sight. There in the trail lay the battered remains of a large dragonhawk.

“Oh no!” Yara cried and ran up to it. “No, it’s dead!”

Xyliah walked past her to the nest. Yara watched as she pulled aside the grass.

“Are they dead too?”

Xyliah shook her head. “They’re still here. Come see.”

Yara went to her sister and looked in to see the nest. All three baby dragonhawks were there. “Are they hungry? Who’s going to feed them with their mother dead?”

“Baby dragonhawks are always hungry. They still have a father to take care of them. They’ll be okay, Yara.” Xyliah said, “Let’s get back to Ann’da. I don’t want him to worry about us, and we still need to get you to a healer.”

As Yara followed her brother and sister back through the clearing, it occurred to her the dragonhawks were like them now, with only their father to take care of them. She looked back towards the stream one last time before following the trail into the woods. Xyliah’s words echoed in her mind. They still have a father to take care of them. They’ll be okay. She hoped Xyliah was right.

 

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The Princess and the Pea

(( This week’s prompt is a retelling of a fairy tale. I picked The Princess and the Pea by Hans Christian Andersen. ))

“Once upon a time in a kingdom far, far away, there lived a prince named Lor’themar Theron.”

“Ann’da! That’s not right! Lor’themar Theron is a regent lord, not a prince!”

Terellion smiled at Malwen, “I thought you wanted a princess story? And if it’s a princess story, it has to be a prince, not a regent lord.”

“But he’s not! I learned it in class with Miss Lali!”

“Well, who do you think should be the prince then?”

Malwen thought about it for a moment, then pulled her blanket back up as she lied down. “You can be the prince.”

“Me?”

Malwen nodded.

“Oh, okay, but that means the princess will have to be Arcann’da.”

Malwen nodded again.

“Okay then. Once upon a time in a kingdom far, far away, there lived a prince named Ann’da.”

“No. You should use your real name because it sounds funny to say Prince Ann’da.”

“Oh yes, you’re right. Let me start again. Once upon a time in a kingdom far, far away, there lived a prince named Terellion. Prince Terellion and his mother, the Queen, were looking for a princess for him to marry. They met many candidates, but there was always something wrong with them. One of them had big feet. Princesses don’t have big feet. Another had hair that was dull and drab. A princess’s hair must be shiny and beautiful. Still another was invited to a feast at the castle, but that princess burped loudly before the meal had even started! Princesses shouldn’t do that! Prince Terellion was sure all the princesses that he met weren’t really princesses, and he needed a real princess to marry, not a fake one.

“One night, there was a terrible storm. Lightning flashed, and the rain poured down. Thunder rumbled and the wind howled! Prince Terellion and the Queen barely heard the knock at the door. The Queen had thought it was just the wind, but Prince Terellion decided to double check, just to make sure that no one was stuck outside in the storm. It was a good thing he did because there was someone there! There was a beautiful man there, but what a sight he was in the rain! His fancy clothes were soaked through, and his wet hair clung to his face. He claimed to be a princess who had gotten lost in the storm, and said his name was Hethurin. Terellion couldn’t believe it, but he had to make sure that Princess Hethurin was a real princess and not just a fake like the others, so he went to his mother to ask what to do.”

Malwen giggled, “Of course he’s a real princess! Marry him!”

“Oh, but Prince Terellion doesn’t know that yet. He has to make sure.”

“How can he do that?”

“He has to go to the Queen and ask her.”

Malwen nodded.

“Okay, so he goes to see the Queen, and she says to put a pea under twenty mattresses and ask Princess Hethurin to sleep there for the night. So Prince Terellion goes and sets up a bed with 20 mattresses and slips a pea under the bottom one, and then they all go to sleep.

“In the morning they all meet for breakfast and the Queen asks Princess Hethurin how he slept. Princess Hethurin told no lies and stated that there was a horrible lump in the bed and he was certain that he was bruised from it. The Queen then knew that he was a real princess for only a real princess could be that delicate!

“Prince Terellion then married Princess Hethurin because he knew he had found a real princess at last! The pea was taken to the royal museum, and unless someone has stolen it, it is there still.”

“What about them?”

“What do you mean?”

“They lived happily ever after, right?”

Terellion smiled, “Of course they did, and they adopted two little princesses to tell the story to.” He leaned over and kissed Malwen’s forehead. “Goodnight, Princess Malwen.”

“Goodnight, Ann’da.”

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The Death Knights Talk

Orledin put the muffin tin in the oven, and made note of the time. He’d have to take them out in fifteen minutes. During that time, he had bread dough to knead. He turned to where he had left the dough to rise on the kitchen counter. He almost jumped as he discovered someone else in the room watching him.

Salenicus, the other death knight, stood by the kitchen door. He was taller than Orledin, and looked to be stronger as well. Orledin had managed to avoid having to talk to him much up until now. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to welcome him, but he was a reminder that Orledin was also a death knight. It was easier to forget when existing with mostly living elves, and while he did patrol with Sorrowmoss who was also undead, she wasn’t a death knight. Salenicus was.

“I’ve been meaning to talk to you.” the other death knight said as he crossed the kitchen to the middle countertop where Orledin was working.

“Then talk.” Orledin said without looking up. He concentrated on his work, flouring his work surface and his hands before beginning to kneed the bread as Salenicus continued.

“I’ve noticed that you don’t carry a bow on patrol.”

“Why would I?”

“They seem quite insistent that I learn to use one.” Salenicus folded his arms and leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table. “I’ve noticed you’re never at the practice targets either.”

Orledin shrugged and continued to kneed the bread, “I’m too busy baking.”

“Did you ever have to practice at the targets?”

“No, I was always too busy baking.”

“So they just sent you out on patrol without any bow training?”

Orledin shrugged again, “Yeah, that’s pretty much what happened, but again, I bake for them most of the day. They might realize that if I have to go out to the targets, there will be less cookies and bread.”

“I suppose you’re lucky then. I can’t fall back on what I used to do.”

Orledin glanced at the clock, ten more minutes. “What was that?”

“I worked on the docks. I died there too, or just off them.” He frowned as he watched Orledin kneed the bread, “I suppose you died in a bakery?”

Orledin grunted, “I wish. It would have been more comforting than dying in battle. I was in Silvermoon, and things were okay until the Scourge broke through to the south. That’s when everything was ordered closed and everyone who was able was called to fight. I’d never even held a sword before, um well, I mean, not that kind.”

Salenicus raised a brow, but let it lower again without questioning anything about swords. “The others were asking me last night how I died. I think I drowned. I don’t remember the exact point when I died. I remember all the dock workers loaded into the boat as soon as we knew it was a losing fight. We thought we’d be safe out on the water.”

Orledin twitched an ear. It wasn’t his favorite subject to talk about. He’d rather forget it happened at all, but he figured if he talked about it now, then perhaps Salenicus’s curiosity would be sated. “I don’t remember dying either. One minute I was fighting and the the next, I woke up on the wrong side and unable to do anything about it. I have a wound at the back of my neck. I’m glad it’s in a place that’s easy to conceal. I fit in a bit better that way, I think.”

Salenicus nodded, “The others said they were sorry that I died. I understand they mean well, but it made me think of the others who died. Do you get that? A lot of the other death knights I’ve talked to didn’t. I mean, looking up what happened to them was the first thing I did upon gaining my free will.”

Orledin continued kneading the bread as he answered, “I don’t think a lot of the others want to know, or they don’t want their families to know what they’ve become. My first act upon gaining my free will was writing letters. My father had died when I was just a little over fifty, so I ran the bakery. My mother was ill a lot of the time, but she was alive at the start of the attacks. I found out she had died from a cousin. The same cousin told me not to contact them again. The family had already mourned me and my mother. I also wrote to my boyfriend, but he didn’t want to see me either.”

“At least you had people write back.” Salenicus frowned, “I found out that everyone in the town I lived in died. Everyone. My wife had been at the docks with me. We had just seen our two sons onto the boats that were meant to take the children to safety not even two hours before we got on a boat ourselves. I remember thinking as our boat was being attacked that they had to be far enough ahead.”

Orledin looked up, “They weren’t?”

Salenicus shook his head, “There were three boats. They all sank. I didn’t know until after everything. I did know my wife had died. She was raised in the same group that I had been raised with, but held too much free will. She wanted to leave to find the boys. They killed her again. I remember seeing it, but I don’t remember feeling anything at the time.”

Orledin glanced at the time. He put the bread dough aside and put his oven mitts on to take out the muffins.

“Why do you still bake?”

“I enjoy it.” he answered, reaching into the oven to pull out the muffin tin.

“But you can’t enjoy what you make.”

“I still enjoy the act of making it. It’s like a hobby for me.” There was a pause before Orledin added, “Maybe you need one. There is a lot of spare time here, especially for those of us who don’t sleep.” He put the muffin tray on a rack to cool.

“I don’t know. I don’t seem to have much spare time between archery practice and studying the maps of the patrol routes.”

“Maybe if you thought of archery practice as a hobby…”

Salenicus huffed, “That would be easier if the trainer wasn’t yelling at me constantly. Hobbies are supposed to be enjoyable.”

“You’ll find something. As for the trainer, he’s like that with everyone. At least he’s not treating you differently because of what you are. You could bring it up with the Captain if it really bothers you.”

Salenicus nodded, taking time to glance at the clock, “Speaking of, it’s about time to meet him at the targets. I have a feeling he’d be grumpy if I’m late.” He started towards the door, but paused and turned back around, “By the way, thanks for the talk. I know it’s not an easy subject, and it’s good to have someone around who understands a bit.”

Orledin nodded and watched as the other death knight left the room before returning to his baking.

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Bhaqrin’s Struggle

( The second weekly story prompt is writing a story about a character rising to the challenge. I decided to write about one of my OC’s in my own fantasy world of Naren. My first nanowrimo book is set there, and hopefully it will be published sometime this year. There’s lots of editing to do yet. Bhaqrin, the OC I’ve chosen for this week, isn’t in that novel, but will be in a future one. This is part of his backstory. )

Bhaqrin’s eyes fluttered open. He groaned upon realizing where he was, and silenced himself just as quickly as he caught sight of movement from the corner of his eye. He was in the pit, and a gracxul was watching over him. He must have impressed the masters quite well to be personally watched this time. His tail flicked as he tried to recall exactly what he had done to cause their ire, but it didn’t come to him. He turned his attention to assessing how dire the situation was as he heard the shuffling footsteps of the gracxul crossing the chamber to where he was imprisoned.

He had been placed in a small cell. His hands and feet had been shackled, and his wings were wrapped with rope. The cell had been cut into the rock and was only about three feet deep, three feet wide and four feet high. It was a small space, and Bhaqrin struggled to turn over to get his feet underneath him.

“Filthy lucaja.” the gracxul growled as Bhaqrin righted himself in his small space. “You refuse the master’s will, and now you will be marked as undesired!” The gracxul laughed as he held up two clawed fingers and made a snipping motion.

Bhaqrin frowned, but remained silent. He knew what the gracxul meant, but speaking to any of the masters was a grave offense, no matter the reason. Bhaqrin was not allowed to make any sort of plea to keep his wings, even if the gracxul weren’t as important as the greater dragons. Their wingless lizard-like forms were never to take to the skies, thus it was their job to handle the slaves, most of which were lucaja, like Bhaqrin. Even though the gracxul were lesser dragons, the same set of rules applied. Lucaja were not allowed to talk, and must always obey the masters.

The gracxul sneered and leaned towards the bars. “You have to wait for the big event. Your owner is petitioning the royal lair to bring your mother to watch. According to the records, she still serves our queen.” His mouth turned upward into a grin as he watched Bhaqrin’s reaction.

Panic overtook him. They couldn’t bring his mother to watch. He hadn’t seen her in so long. It wouldn’t be good for her to see him like that. He grabbed the bars with his clawed hands and shook them in protest. They couldn’t do that to her. She had been the only one who had ever shown him any kindness. He recalled the day that he was sold and taken from her. She had told him to be strong, and do what he was told. It wasn’t fair to disappoint her so.

The gracxul laughed as Bhaqrin shook the bars once more. “Ah, now you wish you had obeyed! If you keep this up, they’ll seal you in the torukil caves. There you will have much more to worry about.”

Bhaqrin paused. The gracxul was right. He had heard tales told of disobedient lucaja being abandoned deep within the caves, and he had heard stories of the torukil as well. He had never seen one, even in his time in the pit caves, but according to the stories, they resided deeper underground, and never came to the surface. Some of the stories told tales of them hunting the gracxul who wandered too far into the pit caves. He wondered if the gracxul in front of him had ever seen one.

He went back to his first thought on the subject. The gracxul was right. They absolutely would seal him in the torukil caves, and that sounded better than having his wings chopped off in front of his mother. His eyes narrowed into a hateful glare. He spit at the lizard’s grinning face. “Let me out, low-life gracxul.”

 

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Bhaqrin woke in pitch black, noticing no difference between having his eyes closed or open. Lucaja had good night vision, but with no light source at all, he was as blind as anyone else. His head was sore, and it took him a few moments to get his bearings. He remembered that he had been in the pit and had spit on the gracxul watching him. His body ached all over. His hands and feet were still shackled. He was relieved that his wings were still tied. He still had them. He felt intact, though badly bruised.

He waited a few minutes to see if his surroundings would come into focus. They didn’t. The darkness could only mean one thing. They had sealed him in one of the torukil caves. As he recalled, that had been his goal, but now that he was here he wasn’t so sure. He reached over his head with his shackled hands and searched for the knot in the rope that bound his wings. He found it, almost too far to reach. He was able to grab it with one hand, and he worked a claw under one of the loops in the knot with his other hand. He gently pulled. If the loop of rope in the knot moved at all, it wasn’t enough to notice. Bhaqrin continued by selecting another loop to try to pull out. This time, he was sure the rope moved a little. He set about loosening the knot more, and slowly the knot unraveled. The rope fell down to the ground and Bhaqrin spread his wings. The edge of his left wing met with the wall, and the tops of both hit the ceiling, but despite being in a confining dark space, he felt a lot more freer for the moment. He began searching the ground for a rock both strong enough and big enough to break the locks on his shackles. He found one near the wall that his wing had found. He sat with his legs in front of himself, and positioned his feet so that the shackle lock rested on a larger rock underneath. He held the chain with one hand so that he would know better where it was and started hitting it with the rock in the darkness. It only needed two hits and the lock broke apart. Cheap gracxul craftsmanship worked in his favor. He hurriedly positioned his other foot near the larger rock and pounded that lock off as well. His feet were free.

His hands would be more difficult. He wouldn’t be able to hold the chain to steady it in one spot, but even then, it only took five extra tries to get the lock off his left wrist broken. He dropped the rock as the lock released, and he fumbled around in the dark looking for it. It hadn’t gone far. He found it on the other side of the larger rock and wrapped his free hand around it.

He stopped. There was a noise. It sounded like claws on rock, tapping and scratching as they scurried along. The noise stopped. Bhaqrin waited and listened, not daring to move. A hiss from the right caused him to turn his head that direction, but as soon as he did, a searing pain ripped through his left wing. The torukil had found him.

He reached back, grabbing the one that had sunk its claws and teeth into his wing and ripping it away. They were smaller, and much lighter than him, and this one thudded with a crack against the wall. More hissing filled the cave, and Bhaqrin realized there must be at least five others, probably more. Not that it mattered. They were at an advantage as he was a stranger in their hunting ground. Bhaqrin wanted to make a run for it, but not being able to see left him at even a greater disadvantage. He had a better chance if he stayed to fight.

A bite on his neck made him immediately question that decision. He grabbed the torukil by its throat and squeezed. While waiting for the torukil’s jaws to release, another torukil jumped on his injured wing. He extended his wing, slamming the small beast into the ceiling. Another bit at his arm, but the torukil at his neck loosened its grip and Bhaqrin was able to slam both against the wall at the same time. He heard another hiss followed by clicks, then the scratching of the claws on the rock again. It sounded as if they were retreating, for now. Bhaqrin knew that if he didn’t find a way out, and quickly, they would be back and in greater numbers.

He stumbled along in the darkness, his right wrist still shackled with an empty chain hanging from it and clanging in the dark. He felt along his neck. Luckily, his collar with his identification tags had wound up protecting him. Although the torukil’s teeth had broken the skin, the bleeding had stopped and there was very little pain. His wing was another story. The pain throbbed through it. Just as he was thinking about how long it would be before he could fly again, the bottom of the cave sloped at a dangerous angle. Bhaqrin lost his footing and slipped. He slowed himself by outstretching his wings, but it was not enough to stop him from sliding off an edge. He flapped both wings, fighting through the pain to stay aloft and land gently. He was failing at the staying aloft part, and felt the landing wasn’t going to be very gentle either. He spiraled downward, doing his best to at least slow his fall.

He landed with a splash. Water. He gasped as his head came back to the surface. He’d found an underground river. It carried him along as he struggled to stay afloat. He grasped for something to hold onto, but found nothing. He didn’t hear the roaring sound at first, and had little time to prepare by the time he did. He saw it before he heard it. The water seemingly disappeared just a short distance away.

Then he realized, he saw it. There was light. Where there was light, there must be an exit to the outside. He tried to push himself towards the waterfall while fighting the current to keep his head up. He needed to be able to break free of the river, otherwise the water would push him down, probably into rocks. He raised his wings up out of the water just as he reached the edge of the roaring water and flapped just once, pulling himself out away from the water and into a glide. The cold water had temporarily made his wing feel a little better, though it made the rest of his body numb. He landed, less gently than he would have liked, on the bank of the river, and near the exit of the cave. He looked outside to the glaring light. He had no idea where he would go, but he knew it had to be far from here. The masters would certainly kill him if he was found. He gave himself only a few minutes to catch his breath then hurried out into the open air.

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Alinash’s Notes

We’ve finally returned to Stormwind. Harrier seemed worried that I would want to go back to Silvermoon or something because he said it was different going back home. I don’t think it was that different. People in the city are still two-faced liars and all the guards want take me in to make me pay for my crimes or some shit. Nothing’s changed. The only thing that has changed is that I’ve decided not to attempt to write to Syrina anymore. She’s not even my real mother. She’s just a whore who took pity on me at first, then took advantage of me when I was older. I hate her. Harrier thought it was because I didn’t want to get her in trouble. I suppose it’s fine if he thinks that. I’d rather not have to talk about the real reasons. For a long time, I forgave her, and I accepted it as the way things were. I don’t forgive her now.

It was the time I spent at the school in the Ghostlands that made me make that decision. The headmaster there never asked me for anything. I explained, with a lie, that I couldn’t pay the tuition, and he let me stay anyway. I figured there would be some strings attached, but all I needed to do was pass my tests. I was never asked for more than that. I didn’t have to do work, or sleep with him, or anything. Just study, and pass the tests. It was odd, but nice. I felt bad about lying to him in the end. I never really felt bad about lying before either. There’s no need to when everyone else does it, but he had never lied to me. He’d never done anything to hurt me.

I guess I learned a lot at the school, and not all of it was for my studies there. I learned that not everyone is out for themselves. Even that whore, Firewind, was looking out for the others, and I can’t blame him. They are good people, and I’m not, and he knows that. He knows what I used to do.

It was also during the time that we were gone that Harrier and I started sharing a bed. He had a room at the school because he got a job there making clocks, but he always snuck into mine at night. Things weren’t supposed to be complicated. I knew going into this that things had happened between him and the boss, and that things could happen between him and the boss again. And really, it’s not complicated. It’s just sex, but then last night, after getting back, we were talking to Josie, and she mentioned that the boss had missed him. He questioned her on it, and Josie said that the boss said she loved him. At that point, I was thinking to myself that it was done. There would be no way he wanted to see me anymore, but then Josie went to the kitchen to make cookies for us. Then we started talking about sleeping arrangements. At first he said I’d have to sleep on a cot, but then he said I could sleep in his bed. I don’t think he’d offer to let me sleep there if the boss and him are going to be sharing a bed, so I nodded, but now I’m confused. It’s not supposed to be complicated. She loves him, but I think he still wants me, which is odd. No one’s ever really wanted me before, not like that. So it might be more complicated than I thought it would be, but it feels kind of nice to be wanted. We did share his bed last night, and today he’s going out to find some clothes for me. I hope he can find things that fit right. In human sizes, I’m about average height, but I’m still kind of scrawny, even after eating amazing food at the school for the past months. I think I did gain a little, but it doesn’t show much. Humans tend to be a bit thicker than elves. I suppose I can make adjustments on anything that doesn’t fit quite right.

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A New Beginning

(( I’m doing a 52 week writing challenge and this weeks prompt is a story titled, “A New Beginning”.  I decided to write a little bit about Malwen’s backstory for this week. ))

Malwen sat by the window watching people pass on the street outside, just as she had for most of the previous three weeks.

“They’re not coming back for you, you know.”

Malwen turned to see Naeni, one of the older girls at the orphanage. She had just celebrated her twelfth birthday. Malwen was only six and a half. Certainly that didn’t mean she was too old to adopt. That was a phrase she had overheard the Matron use when discussing which children to move to the home next door. That was where the older kids went to focus on their studies. They had special classes to learn how to take care of themselves, deal with banks, and budget time and money. Malwen didn’t think she was even half old enough to be moved there, so there must be a chance she could have a real family yet. “They said they’d come back for me. They promised, so they have to come back!”

“Don’t be a stupid baby. You’re old enough to figure out they didn’t mean it. If they really wanted you, they’d already be here.”

“That’s not true!” Malwen couldn’t believe it. The week she had spent with them had went perfectly. They took her for sweets, and bought her a doll. They had told her they very much wanted her to be their daughter. When she returned to the orphanage at the end of the week, they promised they would be back with the papers filled out in a few days. Malwen looked back out the window, not wanting Naeni to see her cry. It had been more than a few days. “It’s not true.” She repeated, this time at a whisper.

“Is so. No one wants you. It’s the same with me, you know. You just need to get used to it like I have. No one’s wanted us since the day we were born.”

Malwen frowned. She always imagined she had a mother who loved her, and a father who cared. Something must have happened to them. Maybe they were murdered for their money, and she was really supposed to be in a mansion right now with a million dolls all to herself. Maybe they had been sent to fight in a war, and they had died protecting the people which made them war heroes. Maybe it was just an accident that took them away from her, but she knew that someone must have cared for her. “I don’t think you’re right.”

“It’s true.” Naeni put one hand on her hip and shook her finger like the Matron did when she scolded them. Malwen could see her reflection in the window. “You shouldn’t argue with me.”

“I just know it’s not true.”

“And I know it is. You were found in the garbage.”

“That’s not right!” Malwen turned and yelled as she stood, balling up her fists with her arms straight at her sides. She continued as Naeni took a step back, “The Matron would have told me if it was.”

“I was here when the priest brought you in. It’s one of the first things I remember because you were a baby and I never saw a small baby before. I remember him saying that you were found in the garbage.”

“I was not!” Malwen shrieked. She was close to hitting the other girl when the Matron swooped in between them. Malwen felt herself being lifted out of the altercation.

“There, there. We can’t have the two of you fighting.” The Matron hugged Malwen and patted the back of her head. “Naeni, go upstairs to your bed.”

“But it’s almost supper time!”

“We’ll work something out. I’ll be up to see you right after talking to Malwen.”

Naeni frowned and glared at Malwen. “She started it.”

“Upstairs, Naeni.” She waited until Naeni left the room before putting Malwen down. “Now, what seems to be the problem.”

Malwen had allowed herself to cry the short time she was in the Matron’s arms. She wiped her eyes now, “Naeni said I was found in the garbage.”

“Did you think to come ask me before yelling at her?”

Malwen frowned, “No, but she wasn’t being very nice.”

“Nice or not, you come talk to me.”

“Is it true?”

The Matron took a deep breath and exhaled before answering, “I won’t lie to you. You were found in an alley on Murder Row, but that has nothing to do with your worth as a person. It only means that someone didn’t take the time to get to know you because I’m certain that if they had, they would have kept you.”

“What about Miss Dawngazer and Miss Roseblade? They got to know me. They said they’d come back, but they haven’t.”

The Matron pulled Malwen to her in a hug. “Sweetie, taking on a child is a big responsibility. Sometimes people say things, then they think about it and change their minds. There’s still a chance they might come back yet, but it might be best if you look forward instead.”

“There’s not another week like that for a year.” Malwen frowned.

“You know sometimes people come in at other times of the year.”

“They all want babies.”

“Malwen, you’re a beautiful, sweet little girl, and I’m sure someone will see that someday, and they’ll be prepared to adopt you. I’m certain of it.”

Malwen nodded. It wasn’t the first time the Matron had said something like that. She wasn’t sure if she believed it anymore.

“Now, go wash up for supper. I need to go speak to Naeni.”

###

A year had passed. Malwen sat by the window watching people pass on the street outside, just as she had for most of the previous three weeks. She knew now exactly where the two men would appear from their portal from the Ghostlands. They visited often, and continued to promise to adopt her. Last time they visited, they had said it would be very soon. She hoped they weren’t lying like the two women from last year.

Naeni was gone. She had managed to find someone to adopt her this year, but Ratha was still here. Her feet were always stinky. Malwen could smell her walking up behind her.

“They’re not here yet? Maybe they forgot.”

“They didn’t forget.”

“I wouldn’t want to live in the Ghostlands. It sounds scary.”

“It’s nice there. They have a big house.”

“It’s probably haunted.”

“So?”

“So I wouldn’t want ghosts watching me sleep!”

“I don’t mind ghosts if it means I have a family.”

“You say that now.”

“And I mean it.” Malwen turned back to the window just in time to see the two men materialize in the same spot they always did. “They’re here!” She jumped up and ran towards the door. She wasn’t allowed to open the door, so she sat at the bench near the shoes and waited. The bell rang, and the Matron made her way to the door, taking far too much time in Malwen’s opinion.

The Matron smiled as she passed Malwen, “Let me guess, your visitors are here?”

Malwen smiled and nodded as she stood and smoothed her dress.

The Matron opened the door, “Welcome. Malwen has been waiting for you.”

Malwen ran up to them with her arms outstretched. The elf with dark hair, Terellion, bent down on one knee to catch her in a hug.

The taller elf with dark red hair, Hethurin, took some papers out of a satchel and handed them to the Matron. “Everything should be in order. They just need to be signed by you.”

The Matron leafed through the papers. “Yes, let’s go to the office to finalize these. Malwen, go pack your things.”

Malwen gasped, “Really?”

Terellion answered her with another hug. “Really. Come on, I’ll help you pack while they finalize the paperwork.”

Malwen grinned and grabbed his hand, leading him to the room she shared with seven other girls. She couldn’t believe it! She finally had a family. She couldn’t wait to get to her new home, and have her own room, and not one, but two dads! This was going to be a great new beginning.

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Julan’s Letter

Kuul,

Hi! I hope everything is going well for you. Have you found anything else out about the murders? Is the investigation still going? It’s nice of them to pay for your apartment for you. I’m glad to hear the murders have stopped, and I hope there won’t be any more. Maybe the guy got in trouble for something else, and that’s why they stopped. Or maybe he died or something. I wouldn’t let my guard down too much though. Not until more time has passed.

I’m doing well with the rangers. I still think you should come out and join them too! I mean, I know why you don’t, and that’s okay, but they do take care of their own here. I’ve been going on patrols and learning how to shoot a crossbow. It’s not bad work. One of the rangers is also a baker, so we have cookies and fresh bread and muffins and everything all the time. There’s also a mage school nearby with an actual real cook who makes amazing spinach rolls. I don’t even like spinach, but I think they’re good. If you ever change your mind, you know I’ll put in a good word with you with the Captain!

Part of my training is going to be working with and training an animal. Lots of rangers get animals to work with. One of the trainers here has a giant lizard, and the woman training me has a moth. The Captain and his wife have cats, and one of the other rangers just got a dragonhawk. I’ve been thinking about what I want for a long time, but I keep changing my mind. But then I guess one might have picked me.

I was walking along the beach here below the mage school. They always have big parties there, so I like going for the spinach rolls. They had so much food! There was a lot of wine too. I had a couple of glasses and decided to take a walk, so I went to the beach. It’s cold here so I didn’t think there would be anyone else there, and there wasn’t. It was quiet and the stars were bright and clear, and the sound of the waves on the shore was relaxing, but then I heard a bird. It was just there on the ground. I had almost stepped on it! I didn’t think it was normal for a seagull to just sit on the beach and let itself be almost stepped on. So I bent down and inspected it. It was holding one of its wings out, and there was a bit of blood, so I picked it up and carried it back to the mage school. I fed it while I fed myself and at the end of the night, I took it back to the ranger building. Now I’m taking care of it. I took it to the priestess in town for its wing. She said she wasn’t a specialist with animals, but then she helped anyway. She said it was broken, but it should heal just fine. She thinks one of the bats tried to get it. I think that sounds about right. She also said it was a young seagull, that it’ll get a little bit bigger, but not huge. I’m not going to make it stay with me, but if it wants to, then I guess it’ll be my animal.

Anyway, I have to go practice my crossbow yet today before patrol, and I want to send this letter when we pass by the town on patrol, so I have to stop here. Again, I hope everything is going well, and that the murder investigation catches that guy!

Your friend,

Julan

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