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Draquesha last won the day on August 29

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  1. As she did every weekend, Soleil Titania Bloodstorm had visited a bakery within the sprawling city of Silvermoon to snatch a pair of overly chocolatey cookies for her and her beloved. The paper bag that housed them is placed into a light brown satchel slung over her shoulder as she strolled through the city towards where she always found her Starlight’s portal waiting to take her home. She stands tall. Confident and relaxed. The paladin whistles to herself. Nothing extraordinary, a simple tune she’d picked up at the bar one night. She whistled because Light save if she ever started to sing. She sways along to the tune, twirling around, and causing her fluorescent yellow armor to angrily clink and clank. In the quickly emptying courtyard, the sound echoes back off the walls to her as the sun begins to hide away from the approaching night. The shadows grow longer, the city lights slowly (dimly) coming to life. Soleil feels her breath grow shorter as she waited… and waited… and waited a little bit more. Eventually, none are left but Soleil, the moon, and the many stars watching over her in the darkened courtyard (as they always had since she was young). Soleil’s glowing green eyes nervously scan the empty courtyard, her armor providing most of the little light visible. She holds her hands together, trying to pretend she was still confident as she steeples her fingers, but it’s clear that her hands are shaking. Whatever confidence she hoped to show was easily seen as the ruse it was. Okay. Okay. This was fine. This was absolutely not a problem. Starlight got busy and she didn’t have time to make a portal. That’s what this was! Starlight knew that she had family nearby, so she wouldn’t be abandoned. Starlight knew. Starlight wouldn’t forget her. She struggles to move her feet, feeling like she was rooted in place. The paladin takes another deep breath. She taps her forehead. She taps her temples. She taps her cheeks. She taps her shoulders. It centers her and she manages to finally find the strength to move. Slowly, very slowly, she starts to make her way out of the courtyard and away from the guarantee that there would be a portal waiting for her. A small pouch strung up and around her neck, like a necklace of sorts, is pulled out. The hearthstone inside is held in her hands, squeezed tightly, like she might break it with her iron grip, before she finally musters the strength to send a quick “I’m spending the night at home” to her beloved. With every loud step, her heart is beating in her chest as if it were about to leap out and run away. Thump. Thump. Thump. She silently curses to herself, remembering just how far out of the city her father’s home was. The lights of the city begin to fade as she finally leaves the outer limits, the roads illuminated only by the faint glow of a few roadside lamps and the bright glow of the paladin’s armor. The walk home seemed a lot longer when she didn’t have the familiar company of her brother leading the way. No distracting stories, no smell of soap as his hair whipped her in the face, no explanations of the stars above. No matter how much she imagined him being there, the cold emptiness of the night was all the reminder she needed that she were alone on this little walk. The walk wasn’t long, she could manage it within ten minutes. It was a walk she was all too familiar with. Out the city gate, down the road, take a left at that fork. She knew it like the back of her hand. After what felt like an eternity of shuffling along the road, Soleil finds a branching in the road. Left to Mrs. Starstrider’s, right to her father’s home. She doesn’t hesitate and quickly turns to the right with a sudden burst of energy. Relief. Home, warmth, light. Safety. As she rounds the corner, she feels her stomach drop like she was falling out of the air, like it was about to spill out onto the ground in front of her. Cold and imposing, she walked towards her family’s darkened home. She takes a few shaky breaths. She taps her fingers her fingers against her temples. She taps against her cheeks. She taps against her shoulders. Calm. She was calm. She continues forward and twists the doorknob. Locked. Locked? Sure, it was late. They were in bed, of course they’d lock the doors! She fishes a key ring form the same pouch that housed her hearthstone and attempts unlocking the door. The key smashes into the lock, unable to fit inside. Panic begins to build in her chest. Locked outside. In the dark. Unwanted. She continues her tapping upon her temples, her cheeks, her shoulders. Over and over, until the rhythm of it calms her down enough to search for the spare key she always knew was hidden in the planters on the windowsill. Always. Plated fingers turn over the dirt, uprooting flowers and herbs, until finally she finds the key in question. Good, not everything had changed. It was merely an oversight! They’d forgotten to tell her that they were getting new keys. The key fits into the lock, of course, granting her access. Everything seems normal. Everything seems fine. Everything is… no, everything is not fine. Everything is not normal. As she peers further into the home, she notices that the house is in a state of disarray. It was like a tornado had swept through, furniture upturned, and walls laid bare. She flicks on a light switch. It doesn’t turn on. SHE FLICKS ON A LIGHTSWITCH. It continues to not turn on. Her heart starts to pound, threatening to jump out her throat. To flop onto the floor and hide away from everything in the world. She pushes against walls that aren’t there, walls that feel like they’re closing in on her, as she rushes through the home. She slams open doors, looks under blankets, throws pillows across rooms. Nothing. Nobody is here. Nobody is there. She is well and truly alone. Again… The world starts to spin, like she was on a ride at the Darkmoon Faire she never agreed to get on. A ride she desperately wanted to get off of. The paladin settles down onto the floor, choking upon the very air she needed to survive, as her trembling hands pick up a small sphere sitting beside her. As her hands come into contact with it, the orb begins to glow a soft, warm light that washes over her.
  2. Brick Aneirin Howe was never one for his studies, a fact that his mother Meirwen knew all too well as she continued to drill him on which spoon to use and when. She pinched at the bridge of her nose as she listened to her son's latest explanation of why some part of him was bruised, battered, or broken. Sometimes it were all three at the same time because, instead of the little nobleman she were trying to raise, she'd ended up with a little monster. A monster she loved, but a monster nonetheless. "I was runnin' wif that kid from down the street, Mam! You know the one, 'e's got the really big, poofy 'air loike you and we was runnin' to see 'oo was faster when I tripped on the cobbly stones and went slidin'. 'e got to the end of the street before me, but 'e chea'ed because I fell over. So, we's gonna go again anovver day." He holds up a skinned elbow proudly, red and raw from the small rocks he'd run over on the road. He flashed her a grin (that was too big, one of those childlike smiles that lit up his entire face, because it took up the entirety of it), several of his baby teeth missing. As the boy went on, she watched while he took one of the spoons and placed it on his crooked nose, holding his hands out proudly, and showing her just how small of a spoon he could manage to keep from falling. One of the spoons finally went clattering to the table below him, unable to hold on much longer and seeking sweet freedom away from the young boy. The boy picked it up, crinkling up his nose as he placed the spoon back. His eyes crossed as he kept a careful watch on the spoon. Meirwen snatched the spoon away, setting it back down onto the table with a sigh. Meirwen nodded in the direction of the room they shared, unable to keep the smile off of her face. As much as she wanted these lessons to go well, she had almost as little idea of what she were doing as the boy she were trying to teach. The room was... cozy, to say the least, almost too small for the two of them to share. The walls were bare, save for a framed finger painting of a fish that the boy had made at school. Most of the walls in their home were the same. A few small pieces of artwork (never very good, all things considered) set against an old, bare wall. But while they weren't swimming in money, Meirwen had made a point to decorate with whatever she could. The window had a set of tasteful yet worn curtains that helped keep out the light in the mornings, the bed had a large, woven quilt. Their house was a home, damn it! She pointed at the bed as an invitation to sit as she pulled out a small tin from within their broken, shared wardrobe. Once filled with festive, holiday cookies from Winter's Veil past, the tin now housed buttons, string, and needles. The wrong tin. Meirwen sets it back with a purse of her lips, grabbing a near identical one. Near identical in that it were the same tin, but with a dent in the side, and filled to the brim with bandages and what little medicine they could scrape together. There would have been more if the little monster didn't get hurt every other day. "Lambkin," she finally says, a glimmer of playfulness in her eyes, as she begins cleaning the injury with what little alcohol they had. "You 'ave to be more careful, we's runnin' out of the good stuff to patch you up. You can't beat no neighbor boys if you's so clumsy. 'ow're you gonna be a lil noble lad if you can't even use the two feet I gave you?" She pokes him in the nose, knowing full well that this scheme to teach him to be noble was all for naught. But it was at least a fun little way to bond with her son. "Why're you teachin' me to be one of them stuffy nobles anyway, Mam? Not loike we's one of them." He shrugs his little shoulders, a pout upon his face. "Why I gotta act loike somefin' I'm not?" "Because you is one," she says simply, eyes softening as he winced away from her touch. She takes one of the last few strips of bandage from their little tin of medical(?) supplies and wraps his arm with it. "Because your da's noble." "But 'e's not 'ere!" And now it were Meirwen's turn to recoil, that had stung. Defiant. Stubborn. Too aware for his own good. "Why I gotta be loike 'im? Why can't I be loike you?" Because being like him is better for you, she wanted to say. Because being like me means struggling. But she couldn't say that. She placed her hands upon his shoulders, looking into his warm, brown eyes. But what could she say? She struggled with her words when the little boy spoke up again. "I loike you be'er than 'im, anyway." She laughed. She couldn't help it. As much as she wanted to, she couldn't stay serious any longer. She never was good at being serious. "Obviously, it's so you can infiltrate their ranks and become one of them," she says with another chuckle. "Don't you wanna know wot it's loike on the ovver soide of the 'ills? Come on, I can show you 'ow to talk loike one of them and you can show off for all your lil friends. Wif the funny voices, ye? The ones you loike so much? I'll put a pot of tea on and we can make fun of them togevver." Meirwen watched as Brick's little face lit up, like a thousand lights had been turned on. Tea? Funny voices? Silly words? That was everything to him. That was why he loved her so much! He seemed to move on past their little conversation quickly, kicking off of the bed and following after her towards their meager kitchen. Kitchen? Was it really a kitchen? Or was it more of a kitchenette? It could barely fit the both of them, with a small countertop and a few overhanging shelves that they struggled to fill with much. An old, dented tea kettle is set over a fire as the two take their seats at the worn, round table that served as dining space, living space, guest space, and everything else under the sun. The woman looks across the table at her son as a smirk played upon her lips. She holds up several of the spoons from earlier: large and small, long and short. All from different sets that she had managed to sneak away during her time as a servant in various noble homes. It was her dirty secret: spoon thief. Her voice changes, from whatever potato mouthed, street talk they usually frequented into something half resembling the sounds she had heard while working. "So, which of these spoons do you think I can hold on my nose the longest?"
  3. Today was the day: the day Draquesha would turn ten years of age! At ten she would be able to finally say which family job she would pursue -- whether she would join her father's family as hunters or follow after her mother as a shaman. Though they knew long before that she, unlike her brothers, lacked the magical aptitude to follow in her mother's footsteps, she finally had the opportunity to become more than her failings. She had spent the last week, no the last month, looking forward to her birthday. Her birthday meant that there was finally a day for JUST her! No brothers, no parents. No. This was her time. Finally! She didn't have to worry about rocks being thrown at her face or wayward magic used to encase her bow and arrows. No. Today, she could relax. She could enjoy today. She had stayed up all night, waiting eagerly as the moon came and went. She lay in her little pile of blankets on the ground, staring up at the ceiling of their thatched hut giddily. Father would let her use his bow today! Father would take her out to hunts now! She could stand in the spotlight now, as the only hunter in the family now! The little troll shoots up immediately, blankets tossed aside, pillows thrown asunder, as the light of the sun finally begins to stream into her room. Little Draq had risen before anyone else had, setting out to get her daily chores finished. She whistled a cheerful tune, brushing the dirt away from their front walk and dancing in the rising sun. As she was spinning, arms out around her, and kicking up more dirt than she was intending to sweep away, a pair of strong, adult arms picks the tiny troll up and pulls her in for the biggest, warmest hug she had ever remembered. The tiny troll found herself erupting into a sea of giggles, arms wriggling to try getting out of the hold that had her. Who was it? Who had a hold of her? Was it her shitty brother? Was it one of her parents? Maybe it was an uncle or an aunt. She never did find out. Without another word, the arms carry Draquesha inside to their little worn hut. The hut is simple, with two three rooms: one for her parents, one for her, and one for her brothers. Somehow she'd managed to luck out at get a room alone. Somehow. She figured it was because she was the only girl. Or maybe because she was the nonmagical child. The center room was well decorated, with many handmade ornaments and knickknacks collected throughout her family's many years on the Isles. Bright red and blue masks with white accents, the skull of an old murloc long since killed, beads, and stone carvings. On the walls hung a long bow with a quiver of arrows, a fair few more lain upon a nearby table that were being worked on. It was simple, rustic, but it screamed of home to the little troll. As the adult holding her brought her inside, Draquesha couldn't help but smile when she saw the baked desserts sitting on their meager dining table. The family hadn't much, but they always did their best for special occasions. Her mother had sent her away the night before to play at a family friend's home to allow her to make the birthday treats without a little troll managing to get her little fingers in every single pie. Once she were finally free of the horrid adult's arms, Draquesha ran up to the table that she was finally taller than, and got a good look and smell of what was waiting in her near future: a pie with a pinched crust, filled with a sweet and sticky coconut mix; a warm coconut cake with spices that her mother had gathered the week before; and a sort of sugary sweet, sticky, and coconutty bar that was dyed bright green (the little troll's favorite color!). Excited, wiggly fingers reach out, trying to steal a few of the treats, before being carefully swatted away. A finger is waggled in her face, 'no, not yet'. First, she had family to greet and gifts to receive! She had always hated this part. The same conversation, over and over and over again. The well-wishes followed by the simple, shallow words exchanged between parties. Were they really interested in her? Did they actually want to know how she were doing or were they posturing for her parents' sake? She had been given paper and furs, a skull headdress, a necklace made of shells. It was all the same thing every year! Nobody knew her or they would have known she didn't need this! As she finally rounded on the last relative, she found a man holding a small, wooden cage. He was an uncle, one of her father's many brothers from the Echo Isles. Her mother's family were never able to attend, not that little Draquesha minded. It meant less gifts, but it also meant less talking. Her uncle looked at her from where he sat upon the floor, legs crossed near the center of the room. In the cooler months, they might have had a fire here, but in the heat of the summer that was unheard of. As all in her father's family were, the man was a hunter and the injuries he sported proved as much: a patch over an eye he had lost from his son's missed arrow; a nose broken so many times it looked like it an angry zigzag; and a missing finger on his already few fingered left hand. Draquesha bowed respectfully to her uncle, taking a seat in front of him and crossing her legs. The cage is slid towards her and she looked at it curiously. The cage makes a sort of excited chirping, clicking noise. Draquesha gasps, holding her head closer to the cage and poking a finger inside... only for it to get bitten by whatever was inside! She yelps in surprise, trying to get the finger back from the little creature inside. When she finally gets the finger back, she waggles it at the creature inside the cage, 'no, don't do that! That was mean!". She finally gets a closer look inside the cage, finding a newly hatched raptor: bright red with blue and green accents. Fluorescent blue eyes stared back at her, sizing her up. Assessing if she were worthy of it. She stared back, determined. They kept this little staring contest up for what seemed like ages, until a hand tapped at her shoulder and she looked up to see that same uncle gesturing for the cage. When she gives it back, he cracks it open and the little raptor she'd just had a staring contest with began to run around the room, chirping at everyone present, before returning to Draquesha and squeaking at her loudly. As she tries to pick the little monster up, her little monster now, it would try biting at her again. She smiled brightly, the most genuine smile she had sported since she'd begun speaking to the relatives. The little raptor bites at her legs as she finally stuffs her face with coconutty cakes, fingers covered in the shredded fruit when suddenly ouch! That one had hurt! He'd grabbed hold of her ankle and scratched her. Uphill battle with this little one, it seemed. She would work on that. No, they would work on that.