Tuesday, November 30, 2010

[RP] The Tree, Part III [PG-13, Scary]

Today I finish NaNo. Life will go back to normal. Sort of. Hammy will spend some time buffing out the marks left by the friendship tug o’ war and there will no doubt be some sort of post-event letdown as I flail at my to-do list: jumping back into The Game, slowly tying up the loose ends left in The (as yet unnamed) Book, finding a realtor (again) and preparing for the holidays.

Did I mention more RP writings?

Speaking of which, this is the one where it starts getting kinda freaky. You might wanna skip it if you’re really squicked out by disturbing imagery.


Rarely are our minds so vulnerable as when we sleep; we become unqualified to distinguish desire from reality and the task of untangling the two is rarely possible until one wakes.

Libby began to see the fox in her sleep. It invariably darted into the bushes as before, and Libby invariably took off after it, assuming a sleek feline form as she chased it over the hills of Feralas into the misty northern forests. Every dream was identical to the last and realistic down to the feeling of cold, damp grit under her paws as she ran.

Wait for me, she called out in the chilly air, and always the response came singing back to her flattened ears.

Come, there is much to be done. Come, the Mother is calling.

Morning would find the druid scrubbing frantically at the pots, the floors, what meager rugs they’d brought out to their home in the wilds. The beat of her heart mimicked the rhythm of her frantic plea.

Mother, hear me.
Are you there?

More than once she caught herself staring blankly north. Always north; this began to feel of supreme significance to her, that if only she could find a proper northern path she would emerge in some hallowed ring of earth, to be greeted by the Mother Herself. Her daily forages took her on paths that drifted inexorably toward the great cliffs that divided Feralas from her northern sister, Desolace.

In a breathtakingly brief span of time she’d convinced herself that it was only right that Desolace held the key to her restoration. It was, after all, her homeland. Where better to connect to the spirits than to the very soil which saw her greeted into this world?

So, when one day the fox appeared on her path, looking expectantly at her with those gold-rimmed yellow eyes, she twitched and fell into the well-worn course of her daily dream.

Over the hills, cross the road, under the canopy of enormous trees they ran, sleek black cat tailing bushy red fox, neither winded even at the point they reached the forbidding pillars of the desolate gate.

The lush greenery of Feralas quickly gave way to ruined, ash-like soil as they crossed the border into demon’s territory. They kicked up tiny plumes of gray dust, they bounded over stones and dodged roving guards, they skirted pools of viscous purple fluid that were once ponds teeming with life.

Libby began to slow. The fox took note of this and paused to watch her trot along until she got close, then bounded ahead. They continued in that fashion for an hour before they came upon a deep ravine lined with stunted trees and the corpses of lesser vegetation. Another pool of burbling demonic fluid lurked below. It was there on the shore of that sluggish puddle that the fox came to a final stop and waited patiently for the druid to catch up.

When at last the sleek, panting black cat reached the creature, she had to fight the urge to lie down and rest. Instead she circled the yellow-eyed beast and sniffed tentatively at its fur. She could smell nothing but the overwhelming odor of fel taint from the scummy pond and the sour ashy dust that seemed to lie over everything here.

You have come.

At the sound of that voice, a new and powerful hope sprang up within Libby’s heart. She lay down on the filthy earth and whined with her tail lowered.

You are needed, my daughter.

An unseen hand shoved her forcibly out of shifted form; the cat was now a groveling black tauren with her waist-length braids trailing in the dirt. Her hair and short black fur, matted and wet with sweat, were painted with powdery gray streaks of dust and dirt. It filled her nose and left gritty poison on her tongue.

“Please, Earthmother, tell me how to serve you. I humble myself before you, instruct me!”

You will serve me here, little one. The dead foliage began to groan and rustle, whipping about as though caught in some tumultuous wind.

This place was once a beautiful grove, my daughter. You will purify and restore it.

“Every day of my life, Oh Earthmother, I swear it! Only grant me the means to do so and I will be your humble servant for the rest of my days!”

So be it, said the magnificent voice, and there came a crackling sound from the earth. The sky dumped a torrent of rain on her head and soaked her to the bone in an instant; the little fox fled to a boulder nearby and observed as the terrifying scene unfolded with its watchful yellow eyes.

Clumps of blackened, twisted briers uprooted themselves and limped along on their stumps; a hollow sapling dripping with violet ooze creaked and groaned as it lifted itself from the earth and set its witchy dead branches toward the prone druid, inching forward one root at a time.

Libby felt fear welling up inside her and cried out for the spirits of the earth to keep her safe. If any heard or answered, she could not tell. Her hooves began to itch. Rising up to her knees, she tried to stand and was unable; a frantic glance revealed gnarled roots growing out of her feet, her legs gone hard and dry up past the ankle. It spread. All at once her entire body itched with searing intensity. She scratched at her skin only to find that it cracked under her fingers, splintering as it slowly petrified from the ground up.

She began to scream.

The foul rain streaming down in buckets filled her screaming mouth and threatened to drown her. It turned the powdered earth into a sinking, stinking cesspool of sticky mud. Her calves and knees began to sink into it. Roots burst out of her legs with painful force and buried themselves in the quickening mud, planting her solidly into the earth from the knees down.

Leaning forward to brace her hands on the earth, she used her last ration of coherence to try pulling her legs out of the sucking mud. She could get no purchase. The ground was too soft and her hands sunk in to the wrists. Meanwhile the brambles had finishing their lurching trek across the stormy ravine; they coiled themselves around her thighs and arms, yanked her hands up out of the mud and twined between her fingers. In spite of her vigorous struggle, they pulled her arms up over her head, curling about her face and throat as they did so. When her spine finally snapped erect she was solid from the neck down and could no longer move anything but her eyes.

The animated sapling reached her and sank into the dead mire before her. As the brambles lashed the pair together, the druid’s frozen face and body fused to the dead bark of the tree with thousands of mind-breaking crackling sounds. She was still screaming silently when her braids turned into vines that lashed about in the storm.

She woke screaming, flailing wildly on a patch of dry, dusty earth many miles from her bed.

Thank the Mother, it was only a dream, thank you thank you--

Cersei stepped on her throat. “Welcome to hell.”

Monday, November 29, 2010

[RP] The Tree, Part II

Woof, has it been a long week. NaNo is drawing to a close and I’ve got about 2600 words to go (Verdus beat me after all, fistshake!). That means I’ve got enough time between breaks to post more of the fuckery that is The Tree.

Poor Libby.

The first time she saw the little red fox, Libby was gathering herbs in the Feralas lowlands. Her basket was full of flatleaf parsley and wild thyme for their weekend roast, a tradition not unlike the countless other traditions that stemmed from the exhaustive workings of her compulsive mind. Today’s roast was venison, which was one of the few variations permitted on this particular day of the week.

A flash of color at the corner of her eye got her attention, and she turned her head to get a better look, prepared to defend herself and her little basket of woven grasses.

Instead of the odd winged serpent she expected to find was a small bushy fox with sleepy yellow eyes. It barked at her, then hopped into the row of sedge lining the slope above. Libby smiled to herself and made a note to avoid that particular tangle of undergrowth, lest she disturb the fox or the kits she imagined the creature might be guarding.

As the weeks went on, however, the fox began to appear more frequently, often watching her from a distance as she went about her daily chores on the inland. She began to think of the beast as a sign of good luck; she often found (or thought she found) the most succulent greens and potent herbs near the places her fox appeared.

One evening in the late fall, when most of the leaves had gone yellow and shaken themselves loose from a good portion of the forest foliage, she addressed the little fox directly.

“Soon it will be winter, and we will see each other very little. Will I see you in the spring?”

The fox looked at her with its sleepy yellow eyes and blinked slowly.

An idea had begun to form in Libby’s head over the last several days, and since it appeared the creature would not be spooked by the sound of her voice, she gathered up a little nervous, self-conscious courage from somewhere deep down inside herself and said, “Little fox, have you brought me a message from the Earthmother?”

Once the suspicion was no longer rattling inside her head but spelled out on the air in a puff of iced breath, she winced at her own stupidity. Of course the Earthmother hadn’t come to her in the shape of a fox, that was only wishful thinking and would get her nowhere.

Unbelievably, the sleepy-eyed fox grinned at her.

As it turned tail and darted into the brush, Libby felt an almost frantic impulse to follow. Only the thought of being late to start dinner kept her--barely--from dropping her basket and launching herself into the brush, taking the fluid form of a plains cat.

It is said in some draenic sects, in stories of the Creation, that all possible worlds revolve in tandem on an infinite plane. Such tales suggest that in these infinite worlds, all possible outcomes can and do occur, making subtle changes to the future events of those worlds. Perhaps on one of those separate, but parallel worlds, Libby did not close her eyes and wait until she could no longer hear the sound of the fox as it barreled through the bush.

Or perhaps, on yet another plane, one of infinite Libbies chose to keep her eyes open and saw the little fox shimmer and morph as it hit an unexpected pocket of warm air trapped under the fallen leaves. That Libby might have discovered the guise of an errant felhound and returned home in a hurry, determined to safeguard her home and family. That Libby might have remained safe.

Alas, the trap of ‘what-if’ is broad and empty. Even if such worlds exist, it is beyond our ability to return to the past and undo what has been done. And so Libby opened her eyes as the sounds of the fox’s retreat faded away, wonder and fervent hope wild in her heart, and made her way home to the cliffs of Feralas.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m going to pause the tale in progress to wish you all a lovely holiday. No matter how big or small your gathering, no matter what you’re eating, or with whom you break your bread, I hope you have something wonderful to be thankful for this season.

For me, it’s the sheer awesomeness of the friends I’ve made over the years, my awesome family, and my perfectly brilliant husband and son (hubby brought me breakfast in bed at least three times in the last week and seems determined to spoil me).

If you were in my neck of the woods, I’d gladly share a slice of the pie (yep, that pie right up there, I made that!), feed you with all the goodies we’re having, and keep the mulled cider--or wine--a-comin’. But since that’s highly unlikely (sadness), I’ll content myself with raising my mug in the direction of my computer screen and wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

[RP] The Tree, Part I

Okay, guys. I want you to remember the last few posts, how nice and hopeful they were. I want you to remember how sweet Fenniel is to his Libby, and how Libby would do anything for her dear Fenn. In spite of everything, they have made a lovely home together where almost all is sweetness and love. Isn’t that something we all want?

I want you to picture a welcoming hearth, in a warm, lamp-lit house perched over the sea. Smell the herbs and roasting game of the evening meal, the pie cooling on the immaculate table. Hear the muffled sounds of hot pitch popping inside the wood-burning stove, the shuffle of coals and the wind outside. Libby, sleek in her feline form, sprawls out across her husband’s lap in a moment of tranquility; he is content to scratch her ear and listen to the howl of the anguished wind that cannot, no matter how it tries, find a way into their sturdy, tidy little home.

I want you to take a good, long look at this cozy scene. It’s the last one you’ll see.

Now let’s get this show on the road.


The simple prayer had become the cadence of her life. When she scrubbed the floors, each motion forward and back was punctuated in her head with the same four syllables.

Hear me, Mother.

When she prepared the meals, mixed her draughts, or basted with methodical stitches the holes in her husband’s shirts, every cut, stitch, stir and slash was a song in her mind.

Mother, hear me.
Hear me, Mother.

It soothed her in some small way, just as her repetitive washings did; there was a calming effect in the re-ordering and counting of her herb stock, over and over, every day, with the flat intonation of her plea to the Earthmother resonating within her.

Hear me, Mother.

Awake, Libby only vaguely recalled the sequence of events that led to this hellish severance of communication with the spirits of the earth, but in her dreams she still felt the blast of static electricity lift her fur and make her hair stand on end, the flood of arcane energy engulfing her at a fierce, final battle in the Netherstorm.

Fenniel may, with such information, have been able to explain to his wife the concept of an electrical short, ending or redirecting her meditative mental whispers, but he had no way of knowing. So she continued on a course amplified by her inherent compulsive tendencies, and while her decline was stealthy beneath her happy, honeymooned exterior, it was devastation in the making.

Monday, November 22, 2010

[RP] Moving, Part IV

So the saga continues, with a post written by Fenniel aka Hammy. This will, I’m afraid, be the last idyllic post for a long while.

Enjoy! D:

(PS, Doodle-arts by me. But maybe you knew that already.)


This cave had been the perfect choice for a workshop, Fenniel decided. Engineering parts were already strewn over the floor, a prototype sidecar rested against one wall, and a near-overflowing bucket of bolts was placed in one corner. A mechanical squirrel was hopping around the cave in a semi-circle, chirping noisily to itself. Cuddles was lying on her back in the sun outside the cave mouth, emitting the occasional grunt as she slept and dreamed.

Fenniel was building a gun.

And not just any gun; this would be a special gun for Libby. He had decided it wouldn’t do to make her the kind of gun that he used for work, with a scope that required careful aim. Libby’s gun would have multiple chambers, a rapid fire trigger, and an obscenely large ammo clip. Libby had never used a gun and in the event that she would need one, he decided it should be lightweight, and have the capability to shower anyone that came after her with bullets. He’d chosen star wood for the stock and forestock, sanded and stained with a violet lacquer, her favorite color. For the trigger, best quality Truesilver, spring loaded. If Libby simply held the trigger down, the gun would spray ammunition. He’d crafted four barrels out of adamantite, stacked two on top of two. The gun would hold up to ten rounds of four bullets each. Last, but not least, he’d set a huge emerald into the stock. Just so it would be nice to look at.

It had taken Fenniel the better part of two days to build. Libby had of course wanted to know what he was spending all that time on in his “workshop”. He explained to her that he was getting things set up the way that he liked it (and she would probably clean it up anyways).

He popped a bullet into each chamber, and walked out of the cave opening. The sun barely filtered down through the trees of Feralas. Even though it was late summer, Fenn couldn’t feel the heat. He smiled, humming contentedly to himself. He cocked the gun back, and Cuddles opened one sleepy eye up at him. She grunted and rolled onto her right side.


Cuddles’ head jerked up, and she crankily roared at Fenn. Smoke rose up in wisps from the gun. A tree ten feet away was sporting a brand new and rather large hole through its middle. The wood around it was black, and splinters were sprayed out around the roots of the tree.

Fenn grinned from ear to ear.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

[RP] Moving, Part III


Of course I still heart you, now read the story and hush. Mommy has a lot of writing to do.


Somewhere in Feralas, perched above the relatively calm waters of the western sea, a slender tauren swept the threshold of her new home. It had taken quite a bit of elbow grease and ingenuity to bring all the materials they needed from various lumberyards and machine shops all the way out to the sheer coastal cliffs where they’d decided to build; not to mention the stressful moments leading up to (and during) the lifting of said materials up the side. More than once Libby was sure she’d be flung right out over the ocean, landing miles from shore moments after the broken lift crushed her husband down below.

Fortunately, none of the horrible visions cooked up in the druid’s adrenaline-addled mind during the hoisting process actually came to pass, and they were soon hammering away at lengths of board, creating a frame for their honeymoon house.

They went to bed sore every night for weeks as the frame went up, snuggled into a corner where a niche in the rock would protect the western wall from being buffeted by the constant winds. They slept on a low makeshift mattress in a cave nearby until the walls went up and Libby was able to start housekeeping. Fenniel couldn’t have stopped her if he tried; she was a machine, and it began to look very homely (if a bit sterile) in a remarkably short period of time.

Soon the need for an oven became apparent, and they repeated the hauling process (with much less difficulty, it should be noted). On the day it was installed properly in the place Libby dictated, she baked for the first time in the new house, and it became home. Fenniel tripped into the house from his cave workshop as though he were wafting along on the scent of butter and spices and they sat for some time in the mostly-barren main room, watching the fire burn and eating muffins.

Life in exile was starting to seem pretty good.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

[RP] Moving, Part II

I feel really busy this month. I think it’s a combination of NaNo (I’m sitting at 23,541 words, still stuck short of the halfway mark but not behind enough to lose hope that I will finish), impending holidays, ridiculously hard 3rd grade homework, and a new blog project with some ladies I know.

Regardless of the reasons, that’s why this is short and sweet. I have to get my happy ass back on the NaNo train, like, now.


Tucked safely into her husband’s sidecar, Libby pulled her furs more tightly around herself. Feralas was known for its beauty and temperate climate, but along the coast a chill breeze swept in from the sea as they made their quiet way north.

The morning started with the newlyweds in fine spirits, cruising merrily along ancient pathways made by elves of another age. The sun was bright in the clearings and warmed them in spite of the brisk air.

As the hours crept on without the discovery of a suitable haven, however, Libby felt waves of panic set in that tightened her chest and throat, stilling their lighthearted banter.

She felt the day slip away more rapidly with every moment they spent in fruitless searches and forays into the woodline. By the time they had crossed much of the great forest and deemed it unsuitable, time was hurtling along, as audible to Libby as the rush of blood in her own ears.

Follow the sea.

Fenniel, unnerved by her silence, was relieved to hear her voice and responded admirably, taking them along the packed dun-colored sand of the beach. They left a wake of foam and tracks, eaten slowly by the encroaching tide.


He braked a bit too quickly and winced as Libby pitched forward in her seat. She was unperturbed, her dark face upturned to the cliffs that bordered the sea. To their right, the roots of a single massive tree clung defiantly to the wall of ancient stone jutting up from a narrow and crumbling shore.

“What is it, Libby?”

“Look.” The druid pointed up. Fenniel’s eyes widened as he followed her gaze and discovered a ledge fifty feet above the beach. Tenacious windswept branches hovered protectively over the scrub-covered shelf, a gift from the ancient mother tree.

A black sparrow launched itself from the sidecar in a burst of feathers and fought the steady winds to the half-hidden nook. The elf sat alone on his motorbike and waited for his wife to return.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

[RP] Moving, Part I

In spite of a hiatus from most things WoW over the last few months, I’ve still found a little time for RP here and there. Planning storylines for the upcoming Cataclysm has proven to be a pretty daunting task and implementing them can be even more difficult. Ambika is midway through a plot that will, for better or worse, attempt via indirect therapy to repair character flaws and put her on the path to becoming a more pleasant person to be around; Ysani is caught in an unenviable position between what she wants and what her conscience tells her she should do.

Other characters, because I am capable of visiting great evil upon the characters I create in the name of a good story, will have to endure great tragedy, or even pain.

Libby and Fenniel are a sweet, adorable couple, but a great part of the reason they are together is fear for the alternatives, the fear of being alone, of never finding anything else worth having or able to cope with their various neuroses. Because of this, they’ve made a choice to live together in a world that doesn’t accept what they are to each other, and it’s put them in a tough spot.

As cute as they are together, they are finding the world is a hard and unforgiving place, and there are very few happily-ever-afters to be had.

I expect this arc, a sad, sometimes funny, sometimes depressing collaboration between myself and Fenniel’s player, will play out most weekdays over the rest of the month. This segment follows their decision to move after they feel threatened by people who disapprove of their union.

Authors: Me & Hammy

Libby tugged at one of her long braids. It was starting to come undone at the bottom and had frayed all the way up to her waist, but she was oblivious. They had a Problem.

There was entirely too much stuff in their apartment.

She had appropriated a half-dozen crates from various Dalaran businesses, scrounging behind storefronts in the early morning while the pot simmered. (Libby was a firm believer in soup, even for breakfast. This one was flavored with bacon, full of potatoes, swimming in cream, and she was pretty sure it would substantially boost Fenniel’s mood. Like, into the stratosphere, at least temporarily.)

The apartment was a large, open-ceiling room at the top of the Legerdemain, with an alcove to one side that held the kitchen, and a small bedroom opposite. Inside the bedroom, four crates were neatly lined up at the foot of the bed, each filled to the very top with color-coordinated, neatly-folded clothing, towels and linens, alphabetized books, toiletries (mostly homemade) in bottles, boxes and bags of every color, arranged carefully in precise rows by purpose and main ingredient.

She hadn’t even touched the alchemy supplies or the kitchen, and she was deliberately Not Thinking about Fenniel’s shop tools. Libby frowned and tugged on her braid some more, now clutching at it feverishly with both hands. A stack of folded fabric and clothing sat on the bed, mocking her.

So deep in anxious thought was she that when Fenniel burst loudly into the room she nearly fainted. Everything went gray, then Fenniel was chattering in her ear a mile a minute, nearly dancing with excitement. “It smells really good out there, Libby! What are you cooking? It smells like bacon. Is it time for breakfast? I finished my packing! Come see!”

Fenniel had supplemented the two remaining crates with four more of dubious quality and cleanliness. They sat on her pristine floors among smears of motor oil and drifts of dirt and sand. The contents were jammed in haphazardly, once-clean clothing next to bundles of shop rags and greasy half-repaired gyrochromatons.

“What’s that?” Libby heard her own voice speaking from a great distance and felt her arm extend, finger pointing at the object in question: a bright chrome tube, dotted with smeary fingerprints, that jutted out of a crate heaped with what was, for all appearances, garbage.

“That’s a muffler,” Fenniel said matter-of-factly.

“I see. Go get some soup, dear.”


She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Earthmother, give me strength.

Rolling up her sleeves, Libby began the arduous task of re-packing the crates.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Flash Fic Party, Day 14: Verdus!

It's Friday (yaaaay!) and you know what that means (boooo). Or maybe you don't. But I'll tell you.

Today marks the last day for flash fics and my lovely guest authors. I know, it's the saddest news ever, please don't cry--wasn't it was fun while it lasted? I've saved one of my favorites for last, written by Verdus the emo-tree (still shocked at how prolific he was for this challenge. It really blew me out of the water).

Thanks to all my guest writers who contributed fics, and to everyone who stopped by to read their stories over the last couple weeks. You are awesome!

Happy reading!

Author: Verdus
Word count: 418

Even from hundreds of meters away, the blast sent me sprawling onto my face. One second I'd been walking away from the latest settlement to run us out of town. The next I was flat on the asphalt with half my face scraped off by road rash.

Struggling to recover my wits and the wind knocked out of me by the shockwave, I pushed myself over onto my back. Surprisingly, this didn't help much as I thought it would. Sure, I could desperately heave my lungs without being constricted by the pavement, but the shockwave had kicked up so much debris that I was gasping down more dirt than air.

Nina was already standing by the time I came to my senses. Whether she'd simply recovered faster than I had or just hadn't been flung down in the first place I'd never know, and she wasn't likely to tell me. Shielding her eyes against the glare of the sun, Nina gaped in astonishment back in the direction we came, seemingly oblivious to the wind whipping her chocolate curls into a frenzy.

Following her gaze, I just barely saw the smoke trail before it finished dissipating. Stabbing down from the heavens like the finger of God, it led straight to the ruin where Graywall used to be. Even looking at it right in front of me, I could barely believe my eyes. Where just minutes ago there had been homes and shops, broken and crumbling though they may have been, now there was only a choking cloud of dust expanding from an impact crater. The settlement's eponymous concrete barrier had been strewn across the landscape like a sand painting, completely shattered by the impact blast of... what, a meteorite? A satellite whose orbit had decayed since all the radios had gone silent? It didn't much matter at that point. Fifty people had lived in Graywall, maybe sixty. Now they didn't, and though no science of man could ever prove it, I knew that it was because of me.

Tearing her eyes away from the vista of devastation behind us, she looked down at me, still flat on my back. She continued to stare for a moment, her dust-streaked face a shifting mix of incredulity, black humor, and just the barest hint of fear as I looked back up at her, dumbfounded. When she spoke, her voice was one of gentle, almost teasing reproach.

"Jesus, Peter... Now look what you did."