Solfyre packs her things, swaddles the baby, tucks the tiny girl against her chest and under the cloak for warmth, and leaves. While it was unlike her to leave in the dead of night, she had had enough for one market. Her heart hurt, her disappointment mounted, and she was growing weary of the people at forum.

Leaving the forum proper, Solfyre trudges out into the wilderness to find comfort amongst the familiar paths and scents of the wilderness around Runeheim. Not long into her walk, she could hear the shuffle and grunts of a ghoul not far off. Glancing at it, she sighs, not in the mood to fight it off and wake the baby that was sleeping quietly beneath her cloak. Solfyre turns to meet the creatures eye’s and glares. Solfyre stills, waiting for it to catch up.

“Well, come on then. If you’re going to shamble my way, I’m going to put you to use,” she says aloud as the malefic growls hungrily. It stops rather suddenly as it is psychically assaulted and then shambles forward, staggering and falling to its knees in front of Solfyre.

Solfyre takes off one of her packs while being careful not to jostle little Calanthe too much and places a bag around the malefic. If a ghoul could look confused, she imagined this was what that looked like. The ghoul looks up and just watches her. Yet again, another psychic assault, and the creature’s disgusting, lifeless eyes glaze over with a sense of admiration, perhaps more.

“Come, come. I don’t have all night and honestly, I could use a good walk and talk—you know, before I put you down,” she grouches.

The ghoul groans and shuffles along behind her like a pack mule.

“Ugh…Tell me about it. Everyone is like ‘Solfyre, please give us influence’, ‘Solfyre please buff the towns people against the oncoming invasion’, ‘Solfyre, please, could you buy this sword for me?’ And you know what? I always say yes. Why? It’s so thankless and if something happened to me, who would shed a tear? They hardly like me if they do at all. They take what I have given, turn around and ask for more, all the while they accuse me of killing babies or being so untrustworthy and—get this—mercurial! If I were mercurial, based solely on the value of my services I have rendered to people of this town, you’d think I’d be wealthier! When the fire guild is hired, it is often at a cost. I work for free and you fucking know what?? Does this baby look dead to you?!” Solfyre turns to the ghoul and brandishes the sleeping infant. “No!”

The ghoul grunts. And looks at the baby. It starts to reach out for it and Sylfane baps it hard in the snoot while simultaneously hitting it with some magic. It recoils and so does Sylfane, shaking her hand. Like it hurt.

“No, bad ghoul, anyways, they’re just objectively rude and no matter how much I offer or sacrifice, it never feels like enough…”

The ghoul lets out a long groan.

“EXACTLY. And there is just No respect, no reciprocity, no acting in good faith. I Fed like a thousand people and the town comes knocking at my door for three copper. Three copper despite me getting the city food. The church told me it was something they really wanted but no one could pay. I could, I did, they basically forgot the word they gave to me that they would at the very least make some mention of my contribution since I wanted people to know I am on the side of the people. Nahhhh. I Paid the mages’ taxes before and, holy shit, instead of a thanks—the complained that they shouldn’t *have* to pay taxes—well, they didn’t, I did it for them. a couple weren’t even in my guild. Good faith. Ha, For fucksake. Sven said it would be nice if warfare got the fire mage units back and I felt bad for Hans for losing his men and our comrades, and so I worked for like six months to get those men back on the warfare map only for Ser Sven to do nothing but complain about me to the nobility, side eye me, huff and roll his eyes every time I speak, and tell me it’s not enough because the mages aren’t under *his* command. I’m not perfect, but I’m not worthless.”

The ghoul groans.

“I know, thank you, that’s so validating. Well, I have Hans… He reciprocates at least. But I see him only when he is around which isn’t frequent honestly. My own company threatens me, lies, and takes things away and hides them from me… very welcoming, really. Perhaps next time I get spice I shouldn’t share. Perhaps next time I have influence I shouldn’t feed the town and selfishly buy a tome or something instead. Perhaps next time a ghost merchant offers to increase my innate magic that no one anywhere can tell me about aside from the person who abandoned me, I will accept it and *not* help the town resolve him. Fuck it. What do I have to lose? Wulfric turned me down for tressertag and seems so distant, Caito left me and never returned with my heart he stole, my own mother abandoned me, I gave up my sister to Vindicta who I have been dedicated to who dismissed me with a hand wave as though I was an annoyance, my best friend left me and died—for a love mage I certainly have a terrible track record. If only I were willing to MAKE people love me… but… I don’t want that. You know? Have you experienced heartache like this when you were… you know… not…. well… ugl—I mean, dead?”

The ghoul grunts and then groans.

“Terrible, isn’t it? I have been trying to drown myself in my work. People get in the way of that too. I think I need to reach out to my mamì about coming here with papì. They could set up shop around here and at least I would have some company that I don’t feel wants me out of their presence. Have you ever worked in food business?”

The ghoul groans, grunts twice, and growls.

“Hmm, yeahhhh… [obey] tell me more about that,” Solfyre says and with that, they continue into the deep forests around Runeheim.


Solfyre puts down her quill and allows the ink on the paper to dry. Leaning back in the creaky chair of the small kitchen at her grandmother’s house she takes time to simply stare off.

“Is something troubling you? You’ve been so… quiet and unenthusiastic. It’s not like you,” her grandmother says, placing a plate of sweets in front of Solfyre.

“Oh, you didn’t have to do that, grandma. I don’t even know if I have much of an appetite,” Solfyre says as she looks at the plate. The warm scent of baked berries and shortbread fill her nostrils and her stomach grumbles audibly, betraying her. Her grandmother takes a seat beside her and raises an eyebrow.

“Fine. You know that I’m a beacon mage? the ‘love mages’, as it were.? Well, aside from my adoptive family, you, my mother, and my father… well, I don’t know if anyone else can or will love me. Hell, I got stood up by the one who possessed my heart, rejected by my longtime crush, AND rejected by a ghost all in one forum. I think perhaps I am not lovable outside of my family and I just have to be okay with that. I’ll probably die in some battle or another anyways so,” she shrugs, “it’s probably for the better. Anyways, I made a local chapter of my guild here so I suppose I will simply focus on that.”

Solfyre takes a steadying breath and fortifies her resolve so she can force a smile, “it all sucks, even the guild stuff because one of the firemages refuses to cooperate with things because he often believes himself more wise and intelligent than all those around him. It’s all upsetting. Ugh… but I won’t break. I can’t afford to.”

Her grandma listens and puts a reassuring hand on her back, “honey, anyone who doesn’t return your love isn’t worth it. You’re a fighter and can be wrathful, but I also have seen you sacrifice so much for people who won’t do the same for you. Perhaps you need to focus on those who would and those alone. As for the one who can’t be a team player, well, then let him go. He will be worse off for it, but that is his decision. Loners exist, you don’t need to include those who make things more difficult for you and who don’t want to cooperate.”

To make a point, her grandma sweeps some of the hair from her left shoulder and traces a couple of scars from when she was tortured in the place of other captive women who had been held prisoner by Rimelander raiders. She also traces another left from a battle in which an uncooperative member of her fighting unit had left her in a bad position and she’d almost gotten killed.

“You’re not wrong, grandmother, you’re not wrong.”

“Would you like me to make the chicken soup you like?” She asks Solfyre. Solfyre’s stomach grumbles again as if to respond, the traitor.

Solfyre looks to her grandma rather embarrassed and nods, “yes please? I have to write a letter with Hans, but I should be back in time for dinner. Anything you need while I’m out?” Solfyre stands from the table and heads towards the door.

“For you to be happy, dear one,” her grandmother replies sweetly.

“I will try,” Solfyre smiles back. With that she closes the door and slips away towards the woods rather than directly to where Hans would be. Tears fall from her eyes, but no sounds of sorrow fill the air. No one could see her cry, especially over such a selfish thing as to want to be loved.

And so, before heading to see Hans, Solfyre sits in the woods with her thoughts for a while letting the tears fall unbidden, washes her face in the creek, puts on a pleasant expression, and heads off to complete her duties.

Together on the Longest Night

“No, really, it’s fine. I will take her. I’m a wizard, this is paper writing material,” Solfyre gestured for Hakon to give her back the malefic baby that was latched onto his shoulder.

“Are you sure?”

“Yep,” Solfyre shrugged and again gestured for the baby. Hakon gave her over and immediately the little desiccated corpse of a child bit into her flesh. Clenching her teeth and letting a spell wash over her, she bid them a goodnight and left with the little creature.

Once in her own space Solfyre looked down at the creature and sighed. She had, like Hakon, promised the malefic baby’s mother, a ghost forced to wander on repeat and make the decision to sacrifice her child endlessly, that she would care for the creature. She promised, too, that the ghost had made a hard decision and the sacrifice wasn’t in vain, though she didn’t believe that for a moment.

“You didn’t deserve this, little one. Truly the old gods are evil if your innocence is the only thing that may sate their appetite,” Solfyre said as she climbed into bed with the horrifying thing. She could not bring herself to be disgusted and fearful of the thing, whom she had playfully named ‘Wulfrica’ since so many believed she was betrothed to Wulfric and it seemed a fitting name at the time of the child’s discovery. She had to make light of such a gruesome story, didn’t she? Sometimes a little light is all one has left and she certainly understood that to her core.

Pulling the covers around herself and the coo’ing malefic baby, Solfyre held her close and told her a story.

“I was also abandoned. My mother, god rest her misguided soul, was a runespeaker. Her 18th birthday she rolled the runes of fate and learned that her children would cause her death. Fearing this, she vowed never to have children—but supposedly fell in love, though no one knows who to. She birthed not one, but two children, my twin and I. I was born just after dawn and my sister was born before me around midnight. That’s what my mother told us, anyways, when we finally met her after 20 years apart. After she had us, she was hysterical and truly feared we would be the end of her, but she could not bring herself to kill us. Fearing backlash from the community or perhaps that our father would try and change her mind, she left in the night, but not before branding both my sister and I so that she would be able to see us coming if we ever returned to her,” Solfyre sighed, “she gave us no names, only hot iron that seared our flesh then she dropped us very far from one another. I was picked up by a lovely couple who took me in and loved me as their own. I love them dearly. My sister went to an orphanage but fate had other plans for her and she rose from her station.”

Solfyre smiles a little, “I’m sorry that no one found and saved you, but I am hopeful that I can be the answer to that. I will not sacrifice you to a dark god nor will I leave your side tonight. How about we give you a more appropriate name? One that isn’t a joke, yes?”

“Hmmm…. Adalgild, how about that? ‘Noble sacrifice’. You can’t very well be Quirinsdöttir so how about Solfyresdöttir? Adagild Solfyresdöttir. Ada for short. How is that? It’ll be my secret gift to you. A true name. It was my adoptive parent’s greatest gift to me,” She speaks and the child seems to respond with some sort of babble. Whether it is affirmation of choice or just babbles, Solfyre nods along anyways.

The night passes and Solfyre falls asleep in the early hours of the morning. Just as dawn breaks over the horizon, signaling the end of the longest night in Njordr, she is awakened as Adagild lets out a giggle and touches her face. Solfyre recognizes the gesture instantly and touches her forehead to the baby’s as she slowly fades away in the morning light. “Goodbye,” Solfyre whispers and suddenly the weight of the creature is completely gone. She sighs heavily, staying quiet in bed for a while recounting the events of the night, rolls out of bed with hardened resolve to continue forward, and begins her day.

Journal 3: Betrayal in the Flames

Solfyre lets out a deep sigh and looks up at the snow that had begun to fall overhead. Cool flakes drop and melt on contact with her face or cling to her lashes as she peers up. Shivering, she sinks down a bit further into the warmth of the hidden hot spring shown to her by her beloved. A streak of blue and white slithers overhead through the air as if attempting to eat every white cluster it can before they can reach Solfyre below. She can’t help but smile at this briefly before returning back to her thoughts and looking off into the dark gray clouds looming overhead.

The forum was disappointing to say the very least. While missing the ceremony Saturday night due to poisoned food was bad, at least that could be a plan easily changed to a later date. Disappointing, but not the end of the world. The death of her battlefield comrades being pushed aside for the sake of political niceties with no intention of resolve by those who were supposed to be her supportive collective and that being pushed so hard by a member of the fire guild and said collective, no less, well, that was unforgivable betrayal.

Solfyre growls and clenches her jaw, reflecting upon her observations and frustrations. That despicable hypocrite who claims to hate magic and who claims to hate the frivolous, unnecessary uses of magic seems frequently to be the first to use it for trivial and unnecessary things such as animating a suit of armor for a tournament or using a cloak to send a message. This idiot who claims he thinks things through better than I in his great, male-brained superiority consistently makes moronic decisions like opening an ancient vault and releasing a spirit impulsively and now at the cost to all the books in Runeheim. This same asshole who runs face first into battle despite being a ranged fighter then dares have the audacity to blame ME for his missing fingers and believing me a coward for not rescuing him when the odds were very against me as if I owe him when he does nothing but shit on every decision I ever make. The selfish dick that blocks the potential of others to resolve large problems he caused not out of ego but out of selfish desire to keep a gift from the spirit he released at the expense of all those around him. THAT hypocrite who claims moral superiority, integrity, and honesty over me yet he keeps secrets and flagrantly abuses his magic when he is the one who tells all who will listen that that is the ultimate sin of mages. HA. That same guy is the reason Han’s men will not receive the justice they deserve and the culprits will not be even reprimanded. He was the last straw, the reason she could no longer be a part of the Grym.

Solfyre let’s out an angry cry and sinks beneath the sulfur-scented hot water, letting out her breath till she finds the hot bottom. With the last of the air in her lungs, before coming up to the surface she screams and releases a violent wave of pent up magic she gathered from the hidden sun above then comes to the surface and gasps for air. The water practically erupts around her before settling back to a calm pool.

Instantly the blue streak floats down till blue crystalline eyes meet her own inches from her face.

“I’m sorry, Sylphanax, did I scare you?” She looks to the creature sympathetically and gently runs a hand along the length of its strange form. “I’m sorry. I’m ok. I’m just upset. Not at you. Sylph, can you get the coal from my bag?” She snaps her fingers and points to her pile of clothes by the water.

The creature trills and bolts for the bag Solfyre trained it to seek out and brings the chunk of coal. When Solfyre praises it, it excitedly chirps then slithers through the air, whipping around and playing on its own. Solfyre can’t help but smile at the marvelous gift from her love before turning her gaze down to the black mass in her hand.

She had thought all initiates blacked out when they were initiated. She had believed perhaps it was part of the cost of opening oneself up to the circles of power within the guild and becoming capable of channeling mama into the forms of fire, water, air, or earth respectively.

She was wrong. Sighing she puts the chunk in her mouth and begins to chew on the bitter crumbly thing until it is small enough to choke down. Then, she takes a sip of wine from her chalice on the rock shelf beside her before leaning back and relaxing once more.

At forum Hans had informed her that not only was blacking out not normal, but her initiation had had unforeseen consequences due to her relationship to the sun’s energy and apparently had resulted in a magical catastrophe. Her inherent magic clashed with the initiation ritual as it was a variable not adequately equated for. Now, well, now she would be eating coal for the rest of her life, she guessed. She wanted to feel bad about it, but Hans clearly felt bad enough and with the deaths of his men and the lack of justice for them, she figured he was hurting enough.

He wrote letters to their families of their deaths, told Solfyre about each one’s hopes and dreams, and deeply mourned the losses of those he considered family. It broke her heart to watch. Some of those same men had fought beside her and… well, her best friend, before her friend also was lost to her. They had sung to them on late nights by the fire, beacons treating incinerators to a song and a drink before battle. Then, together, they’d crushed the rimelanders who threatened to taint the souls of njordr and harm god with their heathenistic and sometimes heretical ways.

God she missed her friend. Now, she had Wulfric, she guessed, and of course Hans. Clearly, most turned their backs on truth and justice whenever it convenienced them most.


Slowly Solfyre emerged from the water, dressed, and threw on her cloak.

“Come on, Sylph, time to go. I told Caito we would be back for dinner and I want to see grandma and Hans before we do that,” she calls to the dragon-esque shape weaving its way between branches and terrorizing some finches over food it didn’t even want. At her command, it quickly flitted down and settled itself on her shoulder and then, they were off.

I miss you

“So then Vindicta smiled and said it was one of the best gifts she’d ever gotten and it just lit my heart right up. It was nothing in comparison to the thrill of seeing Vindicta with… get this, you ready? MY SISTER. I set them up. Lot to explain, but it avoids a rebellion I think and the two other houses will have valuable positions, everyone can win, and most importantly… Lady Dragomir And my sister look absolutely adorable together. What would you have called them? Vinistra? Callictra? I don’t know how you came up with good couple names. This is why you were the attraction mage…” Solfyre laughs, but tears begin to fall down her cheeks, “I often wonder where I would be if you were still around. If I hadn’t failed you. Hasn’t stopped me from failing others.. I really try… no one wants to listen to me… and when they don’t and they get hurt or killed, I hurt. Just like with you, the priests love to tell me I can’t atone for things like that. I swear I try… Should have been a fucking air mage. You’d think I was an insubstance mage with the way people have ignored me. Oh oh—unless they want to feel holier than thou—then they have absolutely no problem telling me how I was wrong, even if I asked or pleaded for alternatives to be considered or taken into action. Mostly the issue is that I don’t have a penis, it turns out. You’ve said it before. If I had a penis, I could also be an accusatorial hypocrite and still feel justified. Glory to a wizard and his ‘staff’ of authority. I’m glad my sister gets it. You would have adored her… probably would have liked her more than me,” Solfyre lets out a laugh but it’s choked off by light sobbing. She does her best to regain composure.

“Vindicta gets it too I bet. Really any woman with some semblance of station or power has dealt with it…fuck… I keep getting sidetracked…”

Solfyre wipes her eyes with her sleeves. She stumbles a bit on a tree root but catches her balance and continues her wandering.

“Anyways, Elgi… I think I’ve mostly caught you up now. I was hoping to see you again soon. I’ll bring the cake. Your birthday is not far out and while I don’t think you can eat it… well… it’s the thought that counts. You can always come to my birthday too. I’m sure Callistra and I will plan something. This will be our first birthday together since we were born,” she sniffles and smiles towards the skulking monstrosity still meandering her way.

“You said you’d always be there… you said you’d always be there…” it repeats over and over. It’s voice is only loud enough to be heard. The farther she gets, the louder and more pained it calls out.

Solfyre does her best to smile through tears and a tightly clenched jaw. “I love you. I miss you. Perhaps one day when we win this war, when I have annihilated those who took you from me… maybe then I will embrace you. Then you can be at peace. We can be at peace. I’d like nothing more than that… but I’m not ready to let you go yet, El. I’m… I’m so sorry.”

Holding up an herb with a lovely purple bloom, she sets it alight and blows the sweet smelling ashes towards what remains of her best friend before turning and running.

The cries of the creature call out to her as if pained as she turns and quickly weaves her her way through the woods. Her lungs and eyes burn by the time she no longer hears it’s voice and finally alone, she straightens out her attire, smooths out her hair, squares her shoulders and walks towards Runeheim with a smile on her face.

The tale of Comfort Weasel

Solfyre stroked the skinned weasel at her hip, or “comfort weasel”, as it was called, as she looked down over the city. Comfort weasel was his own story and had been a long time companion on her adventures.

When Solfyre was a young girl, around her eighth year, she had been walking home from butcher Valgrun’s farm with her best friend, Brunhilde. Brunhilde had noticed Solfyre was in a poor mood. When Brunhilde confronted Solfyre about her oddly distant behavior, Solfyre confessed to Brunhilde that she had felt deeply upset by something that had happened in the early hours of the morning. She went on to explain to Brunhilde that her mother and father had sat her down after a brief (and awkwardly silent) meal then told Solfyre that she was old enough to know that they, Quirin and Sylvi, the man and woman that had raised her, were not her birth parents. In that moment they confirmed the snippets of rumor that she had heard whispered amongst the White Eyes clan children for years—that she was adopted.

That morning they explained to Solfyre that she had been adopted by them after being found in the woods along the border of White Eyes territory by her father, Quirin. Despite Solfyre not being biologically their own, her parents had expressed their devoted and loving adoration for their daughter. She could tell that they were terrified she might reject them based on their expressions and abnormally meek demeanors. That said, they had nothing to fear. She could never do such a thing to the wonderful people who raised her.
They also told her that the mark on her chest was not a birth mark, a tale that they had been telling her most of her life when she brought it up, but a branding that someone had cruelly burned into her flesh as an infant. For what reason, no one knew. They apologized for not telling her sooner and told her that if anyone was going to tell her, they wanted to be the first ones rather than another clan member.

Solfyre embraced them and thanked them for the truth, making sure to also scold them for their slothful ways, of course. She was, after all, a good Benalian.

Solfyre had been honest about her feelings towards her parents, but she had left out that she wanted to know more about her birth parents. Her father, Quirin, hadn’t been able to tell her much other than where she had been found and that the only trace of another’s presence had been poorly masked footprints from a woman leading away from the bundle of skins Solfyre had been swaddled in. No name was etched into the skins, no beads or charms ingrained with runes. Quirin and Sylvi had named her themselves, calling her “Solfyre” or “suns fire”, a reference towards the sun rune and pattern burned on her skin.

Solfyre had been sitting on her emotions ever since. Why was she abandoned? Why was she branded like that? Did her birth parents leave her as a sacrifice? Did they want her to be found? Had she been stolen away from her birth parents? Who burned the rune into her chest? Did she have other family? All these questions tore at her.

After Solfyre had finished with the story, Brunhilde piped up, “sounds like you have a case of the brain weasels.”

“The…what?” Solfyre had asked.

“Haven’t you ever heard that? I don’t know what it means, but whenever I’m upset my mother tells me it’s just brain weasels. Dunno, that’s just what they say,” Brunhilde had shrugged.

“How do you get rid of them?”

“I’m not really sure. I think they just kinda leave on their own, you know?”

“Can you get rid of them faster?”

“I’ve never seen one, but normal weasels are pretty fast and stealthy. Can’t imagine the brain variety are easy to kill. They’re probably smarter. Good luck getting rid of them. I suggest leaving out cheese crumbs and leaving a trail of ‘em over to a neighbor’s house and stashing a pile of cheese under their deck. That’s what Mama does with rats when we get ‘em,” Brunhilde had told her before heading towards her own house and waving goodbye.

Later that evening, after supper, Solfyre was gathering some of the late summer berries by the forest’s edge for her mother’s famous honey-berry mead when out of the corner of her eye she saw a flash of reddish fur amongst the brambles.

A weasel, the longest she had ever seen, was looking up at her with a strange expression. It’s eyes were round, glossy, and unblinking. Based on other evidence, she could see that the critter had managed to make its den in a cluster of a plant her mom called “old man’s folly”. The rare plant, often harvested in late spring, would frequently be harvested for its seed pods which would burst by the beginning of summer into a white powder. The analgesic hallucinogenic compound was often used when treating those injured in gruesome accidents needing relief when no physicker was readily available—though recreational use was certainly not unheard of.

The weasel, it’s nose and paws coated in white powder, stared at her with and cautiously moved towards her as if stalking it’s prey. What kind of weasel hunts people? Oh.
Seeing her chance, Solfyre lunged, grabbing the weasel around its neck. They rolled through the brambles for a couple seconds, the weasel trying to bite at her face before she reached into its white den, grabbed a fistful of the powder, and shoved it inside the weasels mouth. She then proceeded to clamp the raging critter’s mouth closed and held it tight with both hands. The weasel’s wide eyes never shut, but after a short bit, it did grow limp. At least he died doing what he loved, she had thought.

As she had walked inside the door to her house, no berries, cuts everywhere, white powder streaked across her skin along with blood and a strange weasel hanging out of both ends of the basket she had been sent with, her father and mother paused to look at her. They were worried perhaps she had been too torn up about the news they’d sprung on her just that morning and she was going through a crisis. They each waited quietly, unsure of what to do or say as they didn’t want to make things worse.

But then she had spoken, “Mom, Dad, I did it. I got the brain weasel. It’s dead. No longer will I feel despair now that this wretched drug ferret has been slain… you are my parents. That’s really all that matters. I love you both. Also, I am going to take a bath. Save me some dinner. Oh, and I’d like hunting lessons.”

And with that she had walked out of the room, leaving the weasel in the basket on the table. Her father had been so proud of her first kill and triumphant endeavor that he had the clan furrier turn the thing into a trophy, of sorts, for his daughter. The glassier had even made bead eyes to replicate those from its life and helped stick them on the masterpiece.

When she told Brunhilde of the epic tale the following week and showed her the long taxidermy that hung from her belt, she had said, “well, that’s the craziest lookin weasel I ever saw. Has to be a brain weasel. I can’t believe you did it! Gotta be comforting to not have the brain weasels comin after you any more. Now it’s a comfort weasel. A sign to other brain weasels not to mess with ya.”

And thus, Comfort Weasel was given his name. Years later, Comfort Weasel was still by her side, having made it all the way to Runeheim.

Laborers and gatherers wanted

Lady Alexandria Vosslyn is looking for able bodied citizens with or without skill in gathering to assist her on her lands this end of the fall season and likely into winter. Compensation will be discussed based on skills or labor being contributed. For more information, please contact Lady Vosslyn at the Willowbrook estate.

Catt butt game reporting!

Ladies and Gentlemen of Stragosa!

I know we had a heartbreaking number of losses and I did not wish to interrupt grieving during the weekend. This said, it is time to show me your kitty’s licking their buttholes art!

If you found any art, please meet me, Lady Alexandria, at Prince Araga’s estate between today and tomorrow and show me what you have collected! I shall announce a winner and a prize once I have seen all the collections brought forth by individuals.

Thank you for your participation and I hope it lifted spirits in these dark times. The small things bring humanity together.

Warm regards,

Lady Alexandria Vosslyn

The Price of Freedom

Alexandria huffed as she broke into a run, heading away from the border of Prince Araga’s estate. For the last two weeks she had been cooped up in her room, with everyone and everything telling her that it was for her own good and that the baby was bound to arrive any minute. They had brought her meals, pampered her, brushed her hair, everything. It was too much for a creature of the forest like herself and she loathed the attention. Alexandria had tried to escape several times. All of those times, sadly, she had been caught and escorted back into the room by servants or Sir Tul’uk or a very grumpy husband.
This morning was different, though. The Prince was meeting with various members of the council and discussing the sewer project and Sir Tul’uk was, hopefully, out on some errand, for she had not seen him about. In the time between the bath the servants nearly forced upon her and the time she was allowed to spend in her garden, a measly thirty minutes, Alexandria managed to forge a distraction. As she left the room, she shed Aura, her familiar, from her body and let her spirit wander off with very specific instructions.
Just as they were about to enter the garden, the servants who were escorting Alexandria had seen smoke billow from the main hall of the dining room followed by a loud, shrill cackle.The second they disappeared, so did Alexandria. Behind her, she could hear cries and the bustle of many servants, likely trying to put out whatever small fires Aura had set, or so, she had figured Aura had set. The instructions had been more of permission, really, a “yes, you may eat the shiny chandelier”, a statement Alexandria never imagined she would have to say, let alone that she would be gifting her soul with permission for such a task. Either way, Aura had likely knocked candles from the giant metal object and set the table cloth alight. Alexandria would pay for it later, but it was a small price to pay for her freedom.
Despite being rather heavy and not at all well balanced, Alexandria managed to reach the garden’s edge, called for the plants to give her aid, and pulled herself onto the roof then over the other side and fell to the ground, landing with a light thud on a large pile of moss she had called forth. From there, she made a break for it and began to sprint as hard as her pregnant body would allow, making a beeline into the trees and across the busy Stragosa streets. All people and animals in her way were but obstacles and she danced around them, only once knocking into a person, though it was hard enough to make him drop a basket of fruit. She had no time for apologies now, though, and needed to get to the forest before someone returned her back to the prison.
Closely behind her, Alexandria heard a cackle and a howl and a wiry blonde with great ears of a fox, black with gold tips, and eyes of gold bolted up and alongside her. Shoving one leftover arm of the chandelier into her gullet as she ran. Aura, in the form of a small blonde girl, laughed again then proceeded to merge into Alexandria as soon as they crossed the border into the green brush.
Alexandria slowed as she passed through the line of trees, trying desperately to catch her breath while maintaining a steady jog. A couple dull aches spread from her back to her abdomen, but she paid them no heed. Pushing on almost another quarter mile, she finally could go no more and leaned against a broad pine’s bark at the edge of a large hill to catch her breath. She didn’t even notice the one man who had followed her from the street and into the forest, despite him not being particularly stealthy. Her head was elsewhere, the taste of freedom burning her lungs and urging her to leave all else behind.
When she finally did notice, it was because she had been struck by some sort of weapon in the back. A seal broke on her body, magic coming to life, and she whipped around, eyes glowing and teeth newly bared. The man, scared, dropped the knife he had been holding and fled immediately. In Alexandria’s brief carelessness and surprise, she had stepped away from the tree and as she stepped back to lean against it once more, found nothing beneath her foot. Down the hill she went, avoiding some of the trees and stumps, but not all as she tumbled. When she finally reached the bottom, she found herself on the bank of a creek, looking up at the hill and panting. The spell on her had minimized the damage to nearly nothing, but something felt strange.
Convincing herself that she just needed to get up, she rolled to her side and found her balance. The second she rose to her feet, there was a feeling of wetness running down her legs and onto the embankment. A bit puzzled and dazed, she looked from the water’s edge to herself, thinking it odd that she had managed to get so wet when having not even fallen into the water itself. Then it dawned on her, coming with it an alarming ache and a brief cry as her spell could not protect her from this sort of pain. The baby was coming. A slight panic seeped into her as she realized there was no way she would be able to get up the hill, at least not with out considerable effort, and that she didn’t wish to cry out and alert her attacker to her current dilemma, should he have remained close by or had friends. Now she was regretting her desire for freedom, if only a little, but was more regretting having not left anyone any clues as to where she may have departed off to. Another dull ache spread and became more menacing as it grew stronger and she staggered over to the deepest portion of the creek ahead of her and fell into it.
“Just another obstacle to overcome,” she muttered to herself aloud.

An outting

Alexandria closes the book that she had been reading aloud for the past hour and turns to the children sitting in a half circle around her.

“Just one more story?” One of the orphans asks.

“There aren’t any left,” Alexandria begins to get up, ” besides, all of you should be in bed. We wouldn’t want to upset Miss Maria.”

“If there are none left in the book, how about you tell us one you made up?” another orphan boy pipes up.

“Fine, I will think something up as you guys get into bed, okay?” Alexandria smiles and waits for the kids to get into bed. Once they’ve gotten in and are settled, she begins. “There once was a girl who was very strange. From a young age she was running around and getting into all sorts of trouble like sneaking into the stables, getting lost in the woods, getting muddy and playing outside with the dogs. She certainly did not fit in with her family and they definitely noticed. She tried her best to behave and do as they liked, but it was not enough and she failed more often than not. Her way of showing them that she loved them was too mischievous for them, too, such as when she would hide for hours in the dining hall only to sneak out and grapple her father in a hug during one of his warfare meetings with the adults. They were so tired of her. so sad was she and so she tried to change as to not disappoint them. It was never enough. She loved them, but being proper and prim seemed like something she was not born to do. She was so unlike her siblings.
One day her parents decided to send her away. She was sent off to another country. She tried and tried to get back. She even stole a horse! But it was no use. The kids in this new land didn’t like her either. They thought the way she looked and talked was weird, so they shunned her,” Alexandria says. As she speaks she gestures hand signs and paints a picture on the wall using the dust debris from the room and shaping it into figures with magic.

“So what did she do?” a little blonde girl with large brown eyes asks, her blanket pulled up over her nose as she watches from bed.

“Well, the girl was very lonely. During her studies, she discovered magic. The magic she went out into the world and used to help people–but they feared it. She would heal their wounds, build their houses, and help their crops grow big and strong yet still they treated her like an outcast… They shunned her.
She was cried most nights, ever lonesome. One day she wandered into the woods and she came across a still pond. She leaned over the edge of the water and peered down at her reflection. ‘Sometimes it seems as though my only friend is my reflection’ she muttered to herself. As a frog leaped and displaced the water, even her reflection vanished, even her reflection seemed to flee from her. Her heart ached something fierce. Finally, she came up with an idea. She crafted a blade and she headed back to the town,” Alexandria says.

“Was she going to hurt someone? hunt the mean people down?” One of the kids asks as he watches the figure drawn by magic move with a sword in her hands through the forest.

“No, no. She only ever wanted to help those people. She couldn’t change that now. Once she got to her room, she locked herself away. She took the blade and she cut herself in half, right down the middle!”
The kids all looked surprised as the figure on the wall took the blade and tore itself in two. Both halves turned to one another then reached out so they could hold hands. The frown and sad expression once painted on the figure’s face morphed into a smile as the two halves held hands and looked upon one another.
“oh, I get it, ” one of the children speaks up, “its so she would have a friend.” The figures on the wall turn to the boy and nod.

Alexandria turns to the boy as well, “So she would always have a friend.”

As Alexandria left the orphanage, she let out a deep sigh and turned her eyes to the night sky above. Her eyes became watery as she gazed at the lonely moon sitting in a sky of stars. Alexandria held out her arms as if cradling something and from her body a creature began to form. In no time a dark fox with silver claws and golden eyes was sitting in her arms and looking up at her.

“Aura, do you think anyone will ever actually accept me or will they always want me to change?” She asks the fox. Her familiar nuzzles her. “Yeah, stupid question.”

With that, they start the long walk home.