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.

Shariqyn: Ettiquette towards Wives (translated)

Text translated from Shariqyn to Rogalt:

” Women are the greatest of treasures, and men who marry must lavish them in comforts and luxuries. In Shariqyn society, a man is incapable of having honors for himself – he only gains esteem in those things he gives to his wife, be they directly useful such as fine clothing, or symbolic of some accomplishment, like a stone that may only be found in the place he has conquered in war, a man’s social value is reflected most strongly in the ways he can grant these things to his wife.

A Shariqyn man, aside from showing his devotion to his wives through presenting them with wealth and comfort, is in many ways judged by his diction, that is, his choice of words, in relation to their women. For example, a man who bestows wealth upon his wife, but does not listen to her advice and does not tell her he appreciates her council, but instead disregards it, is seen as a poor husband. Should he use language that is ambivalent or lacks appropriate enthusiasm, his wife or others observing a conversation between spouses may take offense. Other women are often warned and the man, more often than not, ceases to be able to find another wife, regardless of his wealth. Other men also look down upon the man as he has failed to fulfill his duties to his wife.

A Shariqyn man who has recently married is required to remind his wife of his affection for her no less than once daily. The most common form of this is simply words of praise followed by the statement ‘al enahim ebi kali ehr’ which roughly translates to ‘an oasis in a sea of sand’. In the days of nomads, a life which some still endure, oasis are the life’s blood of the dessert. An oasis is that which gives life where there is otherwise none, similar to how a wife may give a better life to her husband and bring new life into the world of his blood. Even after the two have been married for many years, it is important for him to remind her of his affections through words and actions lest she cease to give him council or heirs.

When a woman married to a Shariqyn man gives birth to a child, she is honored. Traditionally, the woman’s bestows a gift upon her just after his child is born. Though no gift can compare to that which she has given him through the growth and birth of his child, it is important that a man give his wife something that has immense meaning and/or value after her first nursing and rest after the child is born. Should she die during childbirth, a single drop of the water which holds the mothers soul is swept over the forehead of the newborn child so that her protection and wisdom may guard over him always. After a woman who has died in childbirth is laid to rest, her husband is required to take a grieving period in which he may not marry again for three months post his wife’s death. The gift he had meant to give to his wife is to be later passed to the child when they become seven along with a story honoring his late wife, the child’s mother. “

The fox and the hunt

The sound of the footfall of horses and hounds rang through the forest, disrupting the song of nature and making the birds fall silent. Alexandria let out a deep sigh and set her mushroom shaped mace and shield behind a tree, calling out “vindicur” which allowed the items to get rooted and stand up on their own. She placed a hand out, as if to say “wait” to the black fox behind her. Reluctantly following the command, the fox let out a grumpy growl and crawled beneath the mushroom.

“Manach, manach, Manach,” alexandria said to herself, flipped her cloak inside out, and began to walk towards the sound. She could tell the animals were fast approaching, for the animals riding on the back of the horses were loud and obnoxious in their chase. A rabbit raced from the brush and past alexandria who called to it and told it where to hide. Short on its tail, several hounds broke through the clearing. Alexandria spoke and the dogs came to a quick hault.

“What are you doing you lazy mutts!–oh? What do we have here?” a large man on horseback came through the trees followed by two scrawnier men in furs and leathers wielding guns. “What is a little lady like yourself doing out here?”

“Oh, I was walkin’ through the forest, gatherin’ ‘erbs when I came upon this clearin’ and stopped to catch me breath. Ye can imagine the surprise I got when yer dogs came a runnin’ through the bushes, gave me quite a fright!” Alexandria said with sincerity and acted as though she had been scared by the dogs who now laid down and watched her as if waiting for another command. I really need to work on my Dunnick accent, she thought to herself.

“Well, lil’ lady, what do you call yourself?” the head huntsman asked, a grin on his cocky face.

“Saoirse,” she said sincerely once more and bowed some with her black cloak dipping with her movement and sweeping the ground, “What ‘er you fine gentlemen doin’ out in these lands? If it were huntin’, I would warn ye against it. There is a guardian up’in these woods who protects it. I hear there is good huntin’ ov’r yonder that be just the same if not bett’r. ‘Sides, this land is owned by a Lady in Stragosa who don’t like any poachin’ on ‘er land,” she makes a point of pointing to the north east, away from her parcels when she mentions the other hunting spot.

The huntsman stops for a moment, his brow raised as he looked upon the woman before him. Alexandria stood before him, her cloak turned black, her hair grown out to a dark red that was tucked partially inside the cloak, her eyes rust brown, and her pale skin painted with freckles. She certainly looked the like a Dunnick woman and they definitely seemed to believe her. Alexandria was happy they didn’t examine her up close or they’d see the freckles were more like spots and the hair like that of a horses mane. Though even then they likely would not notice the likeness to an animal she displayed.

“Well, young lady, we’d best be getting back to the hunt. I haven’t heard of any guardians and this land seems full of game. Can’t miss out on the opportunity and so long as you don’t go snitching,” the man leaned over his horse in a threatening manner, “ain’t nobody gonna know. Don’t do anything you’ll regret, just go on as if you never even saw us.”

Alexandria held back a growl. She was more disciplined than to fall to his intimidation tactics, but he didn’t know that. She turned her eyes to the ground and nodded once as if to say she agreed, then allowed the men to go on their way. Once they and the dogs had left the clearing, she shook the magic away and growled. Her hands we balled up in fists at her sides.

“I tried to warn them, these are MY lands and MY animals. But no, fine, want to be like that? Fine. Want to play intimidation games? I’ll show you intimidation games. I hate when men try and intimidate women like that and I hate when they don’t take women seriously. You think you’re scary, guy? Okay, let’s do this,” Alexandria walked with purpose back to her mushroom and fox. “Aura, lets go.”

The little gold eyed fox looked up at her with what appeared to be a grin, knowing exactly what Alexandria was planning. Alexandria uprooted her mushroom and carried it off, getting ready for an experiment that would soon be under way.

The three men and their dogs ran throughout the woods for what seemed to be hours. The birds’ songs had died down and the animals all seemed to be in hiding. They cursed and swore, but still they could find anything to bring down and show for their day’s trek.

“Not one fucking deer or fox or even rabbit! I’m starting to think that guardian chased them off,” the scraggly brown black haired man on the last horse whined.

“Don’t buy into that shit. It’s probably just some rumor the noble who owns the parcel spread to keep people off of it, thinking the peasants would be too stupid to challenge their words,” the master huntsman grumbled. “If there were a guardian, we’d take it and gather it’s fur. Bear or monster alike, I dare it to come out and taste the bullets I have waiting for it. We’d hit it and let it run till it died then grab its hide all the same!” The man held up his gun and called to the woods as if taunting them.

Just as the man finished his sentence, a fox burst from the ground before the hounds who began to wail and bark. “Finally!” the men cried and they began their chase. Several shots rang out, but never did the shots seem to hit their mark. They chased the black furred fox through the trees and down to a river bank long enough that the dogs and horses seemed to grow tired. Once to the water’s edge, the fox still did not yield and it swam to the other side.

Once upon the other bank, the fox turned to them men and let out a startling, near human laugh which made the dogs shudder and retreat behind the horses. Though the men urged the dogs and horses forward, they would not listen to their commands. The men cursed and were about to shoot from where they sat when their eyes were drawn to the fox’s strange behavior. At first it seemed to taunt them, but then it dove clear out of sight and behind a rather large tree only to have a much larger figure appear from the other side. As it crept forward, the men all ceased their swearing and became fixated on the creature before them.

It stood the size of a man on four legs with black fur the color of a moonless night and looked upon the men with eyes that burned gold like the sun. Its legs were long and elegant and tipped in long black claws and it hoped upon a stump with speed and grace then sat before them in the dimming evening light. Even the remaining sunlight that sifted through the trees seemed to be swallowed up by the darkness of its fur. “You called, here I am, huntsmen. You have such disdain for the land, no respect, only in it for the next kill,” the horrifying creature spoke, “You have hunted me, you have hunted and tried to take from the land that I protect. Tell me then, why should I not come for you in turn? Were you not warned?”

The men stared in disbelief for several moments and the horses’ breaths became panicked though they did not dare move. The hounds had all gone into hiding.

The main huntsman seemed to begin to speak and lifted his gun just slightly, though at that moment the creature hopped from the stump and leaped to the bank across from them, readying itself to leap forward. “I, too, enjoy the hunt!” The creature roared. The horses with the men clinging to their saddles and the crying hounds began their frantic run from the woods. For a while the creature chased them, though by the time they were closing in to stragosa, they seemed to only be chased by a small black fox who ran hard on their heels all the way back. Many of the peasants who watched the men run into the city seemed perplexed and even laughed as they saw all the animals and hunters running so frightened with only a cute little fox in toe. The fox even stopped to pleasantly greet some of the people watching once the men had fled out of sight and into the city before returning to its woodland home.


The next day the men found themselves seats at the bar, their eyes sunken, tired, and still filled with terror. They tried to drink away the memory of the traumatic experience, when they found themselves listening to a curious song. They turned their attention to the stage only to see the same Dunnick woman from before, singing:

“And up there sprung like lightning a fox from out of his hole
His fur was the colour of a starless night, and his eyes like burning coals

And they chased him over the valley, and they chased him over the fields;
They chased him down to the river bank, but never would he yield
And he’s jumped into the water, and he’s swum to the other side
And he’s laughed so loud that the green woods shook
Then he’s turned to the huntsmen and he’s cried:

‘Ride on, my gallant huntsmen! When must I come again?
For you should never want for a fox to chase all over the glen
And when your need is greatest, just call upon my name
And I will come, and you shall have the best of sport and game!’

And the men looked up in wonder and the hounds run back to hide
For the fox, it changed to the Devil himself where he stood on the other side
And the men, the hounds, the horses went flying back to town
And hard on their heels come a little black fox, laughing as he ran…”

The woman smiled as she looked over the audience until her eyes fell upon the huntsmen. As they did, for a moment, her eyes reminded them of the beasts and seemed to burn holes in their souls. While the others in the room seemed captivated by the woman’s voice and hopeful, the men were traumatized and quickly ran from the bar, hopped on their horses, and fled the city.

After the song had finally ended, the woman dismissed herself from the stage and the band who had played so beautifully beside her. She went up to the bar with a smile, and paid off the rest of their tab. Then returned home at last, confident that they had been taught a lesson, and ready to be her normal self once more.