I have elected busywork to be the balm for my frustrations until I can sort my head back out. When not hunting with Windsong or sparring with Shadewhisper, my time is now spent perusing new texts (dishearteningly expensive, they were)--the term may not have officially begun, but the information is proving new enough to serve as a suitable distraction from relationship troubles. Besides, it won’t hurt anything to get as much of a head start as possible. (Ended up adding Enchantments to my curriculum after all, on Mel’s recommendation. Even if I am not likely to be simply murdered for failure anymore, I shall have to be more careful than ever that I don’t set myself up for a repeat of the sleepless nights spent with the morrowgrain studies.)
Also helpful yesterday was the latest of the Impromptu Squid Adventures. Killing kobolds for a farmer in Elwynn is not much to write home about if one glosses over the trap we had to remove from Mel’s leg, but I must grant it was good to step away from the books and get back outside after these weeks of hiding. It was...encouraging to know that I can still be dangerous sometimes. I had forgotten that fact rather well. I would enjoy if we made this into a recurring outing when I’ve time in the future--nothing grand, just little jobs to keep my skills sharp and help folk out now and then like I used to do.
Ny and Sev, as it happens, are recently “just friends” now. I still don’t trust my judgment enough to do anything about it, but somehow the news doesn’t actually bother me much.
--The takeaway from sparring: No more trying for brute force alone. Blade proficiency is still important for emergencies or spells being nullified, but focusing on sustained toe to toe combat was indeed both hamfisted and ignorant of how my existing magic could further help me. Just be fast, don’t get hit, and abuse shields, freezing spells, and teleportation to be a slippery annoyance and maintain distance. The strategy will doubtless be refined with time and training, but it’s working well enough so far against Shadewhisper. Getting better with enchantments will help with this as well.
Right, next time Mel Silentsky so much as starts to breathe Beurghes’ name I need to give him a sharp kick in the shin. Why would he tell Berrist I was involved with his dead uncle?! I’m still nauseous whenever I think about everything that happened, and for good reason! It was all horrifying and disgusting! I was almost forced to have his child, for Titans’ sake! The last thing I need is his bloody nephew he advocated for Warden training blaming me for getting into that mess and all but handing his killer the knife as if I don’t already know this was all my fault and I could have avoided it from the start!
Just a kick isn’t good enough. Next time he visits I’m tossing him an Anger Cat.
Alright, so back to my contingency plan of just never leaving campus in case I run into Berries again and actually have to explain everything. At least I have Vela’s task to keep me distracted from brooding too much. Four new books, all thick and promising a satisfyingly detailed enlightenment: An Advanced Look Into Azerothian Ley Lines, The Science Behind the Arcane’s Instability, Responsible Magical Principles, and Why Abjuration is the Most Important School for Young Mages. Read all four, dissect their contents, chose two and provide a minimum three-page explanation—front and back—comparing the two chosen and their similarities. I’ve a month in which to present Anklaris with my finished work, and access to her personal library and laboratory for any future research and experimentation. I’ve already got an inkling which two I’ll end up gravitating towards; goddess knows I learned plenty about the arcane’s dangers last year.
- “Doorways close. Locks seal shut. The key, to the way, resides within the Realm of Unbridled Flames.”
- “You will find no solace in the written words. It is but a temporary escape. It is but a meaningless step in the Master’s grand scheme.”
- Six schools of magic bound by runes to the cube. Void, frost, fire, arcane, and the other two I’m not familiar with–I will, however, hazard a guess for nature and Light.
I haven’t had much time for personal writings between my assignments and now this. I just wanted to get the whispers down before I forgot the words, in case it proves important to the puzzle later. Hopefully Nadradina and Alsonys will be a little more inured while inspecting the thing.
This had better not end in me falling under the thrall of a second artifact. The necklace was bad enough.
I am not getting anywhere with work. Can’t find the focus.
Clearly I’m not moving on at all if I’m still obsessing about
Just write it, Shrub. Work will still be there after.
I never meant to tell Mel about the other threat. It just…I lost my head, and it just escaped with the rest of the outpouring before I could think about it. All those weeks of suppression, all the distractions and barriers I put up to keep it at bay–gone in less than a minute. I still haven’t been able to settle
Why didn’t I get the help I needed before this could happen, when I still had the time and didn’t have to balance seven classes’ worth of work plus Anklaris’ essay, and training, and still finding time to hunt with Windsong
This is not helping anything. I don’t know what I expected to get from writing about it that I haven’t already these past months. I’m just going to take that dreamless brew and get this night over with just like the rest of the week, and then tomorrow I will find some suitable apology for Mel’s face and paste on my functional face for that social.
For once I’m going to do the smart thing, take Vela’s instruction and force myself to get to bed early tonight rather than stay up til dawn again working. A few notes first, though, before the dreamlessness kicks in:
Starting to think Berrist is onto something about humans being ridiculous. One chestnut-haired superior twat in Phys. Ed spends the whole class doing naught but complaining and whispering horribly rude comments about everything else to her friends (honestly, it’s like she doesn’t think my elf ears can hear her as plain as if she were next to me!) Also one puffed up, floridly wordy upperclassman who seemed downright affronted that I wasn’t leaping into his arms after an hour of calling me a radiant beauty and bragging about his amazing skill with a rifle. At least Berrist had a bit more dignity! And wasn’t two heads shorter than me!
Told Enna I would talk to someone properly about the abduction. I still don’t feel like this can end well, but I’m going to at least try once. I won’t do anything until I have these assignments out of the way first—I’m not going to risk missing a deadline for this.
Staff dinner was not horrible! This is good. Zhangshe showed off the most wonderful painted scroll his prior colleagues had done from an almost finished paper of his, I was able to smuggle some bean buns away for later, and I almost felt safe and like just a person again. Wonder of wonders, Vela actually complimented my work ethic before ordering me to make sure I got enough rest! I’m just trying to stop feeling giddy and relieved about it before the other shoe drops, as it always does for things like this.
Things are still alright between Mel and I after the Anger Cat face mauling. That being said, I’m glad I chose shrimp for my apology—he’s like an excited child, the way he immediately started doting over those tiny little things! I didn’t even mind the hug this time, it was just that nice to see him so genuinely happy! Shrimp babies aside, I’m more willing now to come out of hiding and be around Berrist again if it means I can see his reaction to Mel’s ridiculous proposition and egg my new co-conspirator on. If he starts getting ornery about Beurghes, I can always just teleport away.
In hindsight that is perhaps not the most mature way I could handle it.
January 19 20
I finally broke down crying and spilled the ink on why I can’t stand being touched but she wasn’t scared away and then I think she said I love you and Ironforge was a very loud mess and I think Lynae was mad and I don’t know anymore, I’m just too tired to think about tonight anymore.
Alright. Slept, trained, buried my face in a frostsaber, got my hair licked into a mess by said frostsaber, finished a few more papers. Feeling a bit more coherent now.
The craft fair was…a mess. By which I mean it was technically a success and I did get some nice things out of it, but overall it was an overwhelming cacophony of noise and crowds not helped by Lynae’s sulking or being literally on the other side of the Great Forge from the hovel Findreth and Beurghes dragged me into last year when Mythandos was discarded. The worst part was finally breaking down and telling Ny why I can’t stand dressing up or being touched anymore. She didn’t recoil like I’d been afraid of, but…Elune, I hate that I even said it.
And then she said I love you and I don’t know if she even meant it in that way but I’m surprised I haven’t turned into a giddy little schoolgirl about it yet. Must be too exhausted and sick of myself still for it to fully sink in.
That was the worst of it. Moving on now to the more bearable parts.
I was afraid Lynae might be disappointed when I didn’t ask to be her apprentice, but it’s been long enough now that I worry this is becoming something else. I saw how friendly and smiling she was with her other customers before she caught sight of Ny and me, and how quickly she shut down and turned cold and curt with us. For the first time in my life, I couldn’t even get excited about new books and journals–I’ve never walked away from the chance so fast as I did then. I’m not sure what I’ll do if this bleeds over into our professional dealings Or, maybe I’ve found where to start on building that confidence Vela demands: standing up to a colleague’s moodiness. Sooner or later I’ve got to start advocating for myself and not just hide behind someone else’s skirts.
Perhaps I could stand to start cultivating a little inner Beurghes after all. Not the murderous parts, obviously, but the more useful aspects: the sureness, the refusal to be cowed or manipulated, the confidence to command respect. This will be my new training, then. In a way, he’ll at least be giving me this much in the way of reparations for all he did.
The thought strikes me that Ilyssae Duskwhisper could have truly been a force to reckon with, if she hadn’t had Ilyssae Starspire’s upbringing at her foundation. How much more could I have become had I actually been raised as his daughter? No! Bad Shrub! Do not even go there. Burn it.
It looks like I’ll be able to keep my promise to Enna after all. As embarrassed as I am to still be telling strangers what happened, Ny’s old tutor did say I was welcome to come spend time with a group of other survivors if I wished. I just need to set aside an hour a month, starting a week from tomorrow.
Memories and noise aside, if I can improve on those problems then I don’t think I’d mind coming back to the next craft fair to see what else I can get my hands on. I could get used to letting other people pay for me sometimes; the pocket watch is a new little weight in my pocket to feel proud of, and I’ll admit it’s nice having new makeup to complement the hairsticks I got from Ny. I just…need to work up the courage to put on the finer dresses I got from my time with Beurghes, and then I be able to properly pull the look together.
Oh, look at that, a second goal I can work towards: dressing up nice again without feeling like a target. Maybe I am improving after all.
Core thirty-two finished and ready to go. Sixty-eight still waiting to be enchanted and made ready. I have sorely underestimated the sheer quantity of a hundred when taken off of paper.
I’m not sure yet how I feel about the use of Azerite to power constructs like Iveren. As I’ve not the strength nor an inkling of what I can do otherwise, I’ve settled for keeping my mouth shut about this project—I don’t know what hoops Anklaris had to go through to get this much or if she even has it legally, but I’ll not be the one to go hollering about it for the wrong people to hear.
I belatedly found after the eleventh core that I’ve a small hole in the palm of the gloves I’d been using. I had bumped the core over the table’s edge, and unwittingly lunged to catch it.
In actuality it must have brushed skin for just the barest half second. It was still enough.
Power to dwarf any ley nexus, with none of the surging chaos, and bringing lucidity far clearer than the thrumming brighthotsharp rush of a siphoning. Fear became a foreign, inconceivable thing; I stood straight backed and held my head aloft as I had not since the stargazing, and was suddenly certain in that moment that if I wished it, I could weave from as many leylines as I please. I could bring the heavens crashing down on this world, reshape all to my whim with but a passing thought. None would ever lay a finger on me again and I would at last carve out my place above all others—
But I am only Shrub—small, cast-aside, diminished Shrub, and I have seen too well what power would do to those who seek it in excess. So I swallowed my disappointment, set the core down and stepped away to acquire new gloves with no holes.
Timepiece says quarter ‘til six. I’ve a few minutes yet to finish sorting my thoughts before I get back to work.
Cornelia Beckett, the complaining gossipy Phys Ed bint, is as insufferable as I’d pegged her for and more, and my patience for what Oliver Perry thinks passes as barely acceptable courtship wears thin enough that I could likely stick a whole finger into the metaphorical gaps between the threads. Now that the latter has proven himself bold enough to track down which dormitory is mine I believe it is high time to start using those security runes.
Humans. Now I can surmise see why my kind preferred keeping to themselves.
First therapy session was…not awful. That is about as much as I can say about it. I cannot claim it was comfortable, but it was mercifully short and I only had to share the scant barebones basics of my captivity before being allowed to flee straight back to campus.
Anger Cat is now Gryphon. It just fits her.
Nymaeria said yes! To a date, anyways. In hindsight I perhaps ought to have clarified that I was asking as a date and not just as friends, but it was already getting awkward enough and I thought it best to hurriedly change the subject before I put my foot any further down my throat. I still need to make up my mind on how I’m going to doll myself up for the Moonglade tomorrow; I have few fancy clothes left that I haven’t outgrown, fewer still suitable for Lunar Festival, and no budget to go out and get more. Whichever way I go about it, I suppose I’ll know tomorrow where I stand with her.
Mel’s pirateboozecrab is capable of jumping clear out of its aquarium, and is indeed very hostile. Apparently he’s also hosting a nether-damned naga sometimes, but apparently it’s okay because she’s not at all like the other evil naga so I shan’t say another word about it unless it’s I told you so. Still need to ask him about meeting up with Macezori again. No sign of Berries Berrist; Mel says he might have finally shipped off to Darkshore. It’s probably for the best—I can’t afford to keep fretting about that whole situation, and it feels unfair besides to keep hanging about when I’m already holding a torch for another.
((Another undated entry, written more loosely and ponderous than the last. Ily’s handwriting is just a mess by now.))
healer made me drink sonething, now I’m happy again
Nys not here amymore. She had a cat but then someone yelled and i coulbnt see out the bandage
i wannna go home but i have to sleep in the infirmaryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy
((The entry devolves into lines of repeating loops until Ily presumably drifts into a painkiller-induced sleep or has the book taken from her. Someone’s had a rough day.))
Lucid again. Let’s try coherence, shall we?
So, starting from the beginning: Perry now fancies himself a fearsome swordsman in the making, as if being an amazing marksman and failed poet is no longer enough. Enough absent yesterday that we had an odd number and had to rotate folk out for drills and sparring. We were both out of circle at the same time, he was holding onto one of the training swords and started swinging and generally showboating until he spun and...failed to account for me sitting in the range of his weapon.
I’m just thanking all that is good in this world that the training swords aren’t true iron, but wood with a lead core. It was still bad enough.
Injuries totaled up to a fractured zygomatic bone (fancy words for the side of my eye socket, I now know), lateral concussion from the impact, stitches for the gash and a healthy dose of wood splinters left behind in my skin and eye. All I really remember is trying frantically to throw myself down, out of the way, then a sickening jolt and feeling something drag and scrape against bone. Everything afterwards is fuzzy until waking up in an infirmary bed with gauze covering my eyes. The splinters have been removed, and I’m expected to retain use of that eye. By now I’m mostly being kept another night to make sure there’s no permanent brain damage or hidden injuries.
Ny came by at some point, I know that much, and she brought one of the cats. Probably Nimbus—I’d be surprised if Gryphon submitted to letting anyone carry her so far as to the food bowl. I’d already been given potions to dull the pain and was feeling rather loopy; I’m sure I laughed at how funny I thought Nimbus’ meows sounded.
Oh nether hide me I just realized I’m going to be missing classes. I’m going to fall behind, I’m going to fail everything and there are cores that still haven’t been enchanted and Vela’s going to be furious. A rusted spoon is more mercy than Oliver Perry deserves.
Discharged early this morning with a schedule for those potions, instructions to take it easy and a pass from sparring for the next week. The wound has diminished, but is still very puffy and reddened and so I shall be hiding behind makeup and parting my hair much farther over again to try and conceal it. If Beckett dares say anything about it then we shall find out how smug she is with some of those pretty pearly teeth missing Oh my goodness I am mean when I am sober and have a great ruddy slice from where an idiot hit me at full force with a blunt object of course I’m going to be grouchy! I’m actually disappointed that Perry had the rare sense to rabbit away when he saw whatever look I was wearing—I was in such a mood that I could have laid every inch of his stupid flesh open for the crows and then brought down a rampaging drake for good measure. Still might if he finds the audacity to start pestering me again after this entire debacle.
Alright, alright, anger vented, time to wrangle it back up and be productive again. I still can’t believe how much I’ve missed from just a day and a half! I shall be very upset indeed if I’m needed at this week’s conclave, because even without those precious few hours I am already looking at an all nighter just to get back up to speed. Nymaeria won’t be happy Nymaeria shall receive my apology and copious gifts of chocolate when I’m done and have a moment of free time again.
Stitches are out. Lyca will be seeing Perry in her office in the morning. Hopefully a month of cleaning theatre closets, scraping enchanted gum off of desks and not actually being castrated because these people aren’t Beurghes and don’t mean their threats in earnest damn it will keep him away from me long enough for his sights to fall on some other poor girl. Then again, he might just double down worse than before. I do seem to have terrible luck with the menfolk who take that sort of interest in my person.
I should probably be concerned by the fact that I don’t seem very alarmed by Alice boldly abusing her void rifts or apparently having a mad wife who happens to drink blood now on top of also being touched by the void and whatever else. I do wonder, however, how much of her quips and references to “other worlds” can be attributed to this madness she keeps claiming. I’m sorry to say my curiosity just doesn’t seem to extend beyond my own sphere of existence.
Elune help us if Mel’s mutation ever progresses enough that he starts saying he can pierce the veil to other worlds on a whim.
The thought strikes me that, in spite of my initial intent, I’ve relapsed straight back into my relentless study habits from the morrowgrain days. Somehow this has become a comfort—I still only feel at rights if I’m learning how to better make myself useful. Idle hands are anathema.