Arancon Firewind remained asleep on the lumpy, inn bed late into the morning. The light shining on his face through a small window finally woke him. It was that holiday again. Everywhere he went, there were reminders. There was mistletoe in doorways. The inn had a tree put up in the dining area, and they had put colorful bulbs around the outside of the inn. Arancon rolled over and reached for the drink he had left on the bedside table. There was still a little left. He tipped his head back to get the last drops out. The boy had found a new way to irritate him. He had spoken with the innkeeper and the barmaid about just how much Arancon was allowed to charge to the room. He had a limit of barely enough to have meals and a couple of drinks. He had thought about skipping a meal or two, but the innkeeper had brought him his food whether he wanted it or not. That boy had put limits on him, and who was he to do such a thing? The boy was the reason he couldn’t walk well in the first place. If he hadn’t been selling himself to that violent and dangerous mage, Arancon’s leg would have never been burned by a bolt of intense arcane energy.
Arancon pulled himself to his feet and started getting dressed, sniffing his clothes as he took them off a pile near the bottom of the bed. He threw a couple aside before finding a tunic that wasn’t too bad. The boy was also the reason he was alone for this holiday. He’d thought last year was bad, but it was worse with all the reminders this year. The boy had taken her. Worse, he’d taken her away, and let her die alone in a strange land. If that wasn’t enough, he hadn’t even bothered to tell Arancon until weeks afterwards. Supposedly, it was all because Arancon couldn’t take care of her. That rotten kid took her, and said he was going to provide all she needed. A lot of good that did. She died.
Alone, and in a strange land.
Arancon promised himself to make the boy’s day especially miserable as he started looking for a relatively clean pair of pants.
They were here. Keyalenn Goldbrand jumped up from his seat he had chosen to watch from in the library. There was an excellent view of the front gate from the library windows, and he didn’t want to miss his parents’ arrival at the school. He ran to the doorway, and watched as they handed over the reins of their hawkstriders to Tik. Tik temporarily tied them to the fence as he showed the guests to the front door. Keyalenn hugged them both as soon as they were inside. He was happy with his studies here in the Ghostlands, but he wouldn’t lie that he was homesick at times. He took their cloaks and placed them on the rack which had been put in the front room, as Tik headed back outside to take the hawkstriders to the stable.
“How was the trip?” Keyalenn asked as he started leading them on a tour of the school.
His father answered, “It was good. The way your mother talked, I thought we were going to run into all sorts of nasty things.”
“Well, I was told there were some awful things in the woods in the letters I received.” his mother replied, looking at Keyalenn as he lead them through the dining room.
“There are! There just aren’t as many now. The spiders aren’t so active in the winter. It’s too cold.” Keyalenn lead them past the stairs. “My room is up there, but over here first. See, this is the main classroom. There’s another on the other side of the house, but this is where Magister Fairsong teaches us.”
“Speaking of the school,” his father said as he looked around the room, “Did you want to spend the rest of the year here? I know you weren’t sure when we first sent you out here. Fortunately, one of your mother’s patients in Kalimdor actually works at your old school. He was so grateful for your mother’s healing that he offered to help get you back in there. Your disciplinary record would be cleared, and you would have a second chance.”
Keyalenn blinked, unsure he was hearing his father right, “Back in Silvermoon?”
Both of his parents nodded. His mother added, “There wouldn’t be any spiders outside, or ghouls, or whatever else may be here. You’d be able to stay at home again and see all of your friends too.”
Keyalenn frowned in thought. He would be able to see his friends, but they were the same friends who had dared him to pull the pranks that got him expelled in the first place. They were the same friends who encouraged him to join their parties instead of study. He looked at his parents. While it would be nice to live at home again, there was a certain freedom being at the school. Though the Magister did have rules, he wasn’t watching over them constantly. “I think I want to stay here.”
“Are you sure?” his father asked.
“I’ve learned more here than I did in Silvermoon. I’ll still be home for breaks though. Oh, come this way. I’ll show you my practice room.” Keyalenn smiled as he led his parents down the hall.
Gaelardrim unbuckled his armor and dropped it on the lumpy bed in his room at the inn. He wasn’t sure what to expect here, but he didn’t think he really needed it in town. Especially not if there were women wearing fancy dresses in the dining room. She had seemed so familiar. He paused again, wondering if he should go back down to try to talk to her once more. He was sure he knew her from somewhere. Perhaps they had met at one of the parties he had attended in Silvermoon last summer. He thought that was it, but she had made no indication that she recognized him. Could he be imagining it? He couldn’t go back down now. He’d look like an idiot, or worse, a creep, trying to convince her that she had to know who he was, when clearly, she didn’t.
He carefully picked up the armor and set it on the table in the room. Old, dented armor wasn’t any way to impress a girl anyway, though he hadn’t meant to meet any tonight. He frowned as he sat on the bed. Tomorrow, he’d start looking for the ranger captain to see if there was any work to be done. Maybe the next time he saw her, she’d remember him.