I’m participating in NaNoWriMo again this year and I thought I’d share my progress with you.
The second chapter switches back to Creme. Time has passed, and she’s now 17 years old… and in trouble with the law! This is not an uncommon occurrence for her, for the Warden William Wilshire (one of the sillier names I’ve come up with, I know) seems quite familiar with her.
Her crime? Stealing expensive goods and accidentally lighting things on fire. The punishment? A magical necklace that will keep her close to a guardian who will then do community service with her (read: questing). I wonder who that guardian will be…
At any rate, Creme gets to roam free that evening, choosing to go to her squatting grounds at the Orphanage, where she talks with the Matron.
Creme is ridiculously sulky; I probably need to adjust her character to have more depth instead of just scowling at authority figures all the time. I may also need to later write a scene with her ‘gang’ and flesh them out a little. It also may make more sense that a private individual would ‘sponsor’ her and make her travel with a guardian rather than having a member of the guards do it.
I’m also ignoring the fact that Stockades would be under seige. My guess is that the common civilian wouldn’t be aware of that so they could still hang it over people’s heads.
Formatting from my original document doesn’t copy/paste over into the wordpress blog, so please be reassured that various emphases and thoughts are actually italicized.
Also, there is a rant against The SA in there because he was reading aloud what I was typing. I don’t like it when he does that. >.>
Chapter 2: The Problem With Authority
“You “‘spose”,” the Warden repeated flatly.
“Yup. ‘Spose I was.”
“And why do you suppose when you should have been there?” he asked with great emphasis.
“‘Cause I didn’t wanna work there, man.”
“Sir,” he corrected.
“Sir,” she repeated, rolling her eyes.
“And because-” he continued, “you did not wish to be working at your honest job, you decided to go stealing?!” The Warden slammed his palms down on his crappy wooden desk, causing it to shake. Creme sat up in her seat; it seemed the Warden meant business this time.
“S’not like I haven’t done it before, Mister Warden Sir,” she said with an innocent feel. The Warden was not amused.
“When they’ve brought you in to me before it was because you were stealing food to share with the orphans. Not jewelry!”
“What’s the big deal?”
“What’s the BIG DEAL?” he roared, jumping out of his seat. Creme leaned away from him in her chair, taken aback. “You ask me what the big DEAL is about this? Here I am, with my young ward, who I have said to the force I will take under my wing and stop her stealing rampage in the city. Here I stand, taking the heat for you and keeping you out of the prisons because she is too young, it’s only food, the orphanage can barely afford to feed and keep their children, she’ll grow out of it. I find you job after job after job, and you get dragged back in here for stealing at your workplace, for stealing even more food than anyone could eat, and now for stealing Light-forsaken JEWELRY!” The last statement was punctuated by another fist against the desk. Creme was speechless.
“You know how much that shit cost, Creme? Do you know how much?”
Creme shook her head.
“Five. Five hundred. Five hundred gold pieces. FIVE. HUNDRED. That’s more than I make in a year. More than you’ll likely see in your life.”
“Not if I had gotten away,” Creme muttered.
Warden William shot her a glare. “Funny thing about running away from the scene of a crime. It’s a lot easier if you don’t leave a TRAIL OF FIRE!”
“Well I didn’t mean to set the house on fire.”
“Of course you didn’t mean to. You never mean to. And yet things around you just keep catching on fire. And have you been going to your lessons?”
“A few of-”
“Not enough of them, apparently. I spoke with your teach, Magister Smith. She hasn’t seen you for weeks.”
“Well I’ve been busy.”
“Busy stealing! Busy getting into trouble! Busy causing trouble for me, for everyone in Stormwind!” The Warden threw up his arms in apparent defeat, falling back into his seat.
They were silent for a moment; the Warden obviously trying to contain his anger, Creme stewing with her own anger and guilt. The Warden was the first to speak again.
“I know you’re not a bad kid, Creme,” he sighed. “I know you’ve had it rough.
<explaination of why he doesn’t like this, why the others want her in Stocks, and what the eventual deal is. She has to go to her mage trainer.>
Your mom, she was a good lady. I said I’d watch out for all you kids from the riots, and I’m doing my best. But your mom wouldn’t want this-”
“Don’t talk to me about what my mom would’ve wanted,” interrupted Creme. She glared at the warden, fists clenched.
He put his hands up defensively. “Fine, fine. I don’t want this for you, Creme. But you’ve pushed it too far this time.” He leaned forward, hands now on the desk in front of him, clenched together. “Do you know how much this latest fire has cost our great city, Creme?”
She avoided his gaze, causing him to repeat himself.
“Do you know how much it cost?”
“I dunno, like fifty gold or something?”
“One thousand. One thousand gold. Twice the cost of the necklace you stole. And on top of your theft charges, you are charged with intentional arson.”
“Intentional?” Creme squawked indignantly. “I told you it was an accident.”
“Shooting fireballs at someone and missing is still intentional harm!”
“I was just trying to light my way to see!”
“Then obviously you need more training!” the Warden spat. They glared at each other again.
“Do you know what happens when someone is charged with theft of this degree and arson?” he asked, calmly again. Creme shook her head.
“You go to the Stocks.”
Creme’s eyes widened in surprise. “The stocks? You – you can’t send me there! I’m not a real criminal!”
“According to the law you are. That’s what most everyone else in the guard wants me to do. Send you to simmer and stew in the Stocks with the rest of the thieves and murders of the kingdom for a few years or more.”
“So you’re just going to abandon me then,” Creme said in a defeated tone.
“That’s what they want me to do. But I’ve talked them down to a final solution. One last chance, Creme,” he said, waving a single finger in her direction. “This will be your last time getting help from me. Any more slip ups with the law and you will be in the Stockades and there will be nothing I can say to keep you out of there. Do you understand?”
Creme nodded, still looking a tad angry. She knew the Warden wasn’t messing around this time. From all their many, many talks in the past, he had never brought up the Stockades as a possibility for her. She had obviously been too young to throw in there in the past; only adult criminals went there. And stealing food was something all the street urchins ended up doing on the streets of Stormwind; it wasn’t too big of a deal. Maybe she did push it too far; it wasn’t the first time she burned something down; maybe that’s what made this a much bigger deal.
“What’s the ‘solution’ then?” she asked.
“A strict probation along with community service,” the Warden said succinctly.
Creme stared at him. “And what does that mean, exactly?”
The Warden sighed. “It means these things. Listen closely. First, you will be assigned a Guardian who will be spending their time with you. All of their time.”
Creme rolled her eyes with a disgusted sigh. “It’s not you, is it?”
“No, it is not. I’ve arranged for an experienced Paladin to be your guardian. She will be performing acts of service along side you.”
“She in trouble too?”
“No, she is not. Turns out some folks like to help people out just because they are kind. Fancy that. She gets to help out you AND others at the same time. At any rate, you and your Guardian will be linked so that you may not run away from her, so she can keep tabs on you.”
“Linked?” Creme asked, puzzled.
“Yes, through a spell some mages whipped up from us. I guess if you actually went to your classes you would know about things like this. Let’s see, I have it here somewhere…” The Warden rummaged around in one of the drawers of his desk and pulled out a thin blue necklace. It looks like a simple string, except it had a metallic hint to it and a small clasp at one end.
“Put this on,” he said, waving the necklace at her. She grabbed it suspiciously and played with it in her hands.
“Do I have to?”
“Unless you would rather like a trip to the Stocks, yes.”
Creme frowned, but complied. She fiddled with the clasp to undo it and slipped it around her neck. She then spent a long time trying to reclasp it around her neck, prompting the Warden to leave his desk. He walked around behind her chair and latched it himself. A light blue glow emitted from the area where the clasp was; it hummed softly too, vibrating slightly on Creme’s neck.
Her hands reached back to try and find the clasp herself as the Warden walked back to his desk. The entire necklace felt smooth, a fact she confirmed as she turned it around.
“What just happened to this?” she asked, puzzled.
“It’s magic. Don’t you know? Or have you not gone to class.”
“Even if I did go to class I wouldn’t be learning about magical objects yet,” Creme replied sharply.
The Warden shrugged. “I’m not too familiar with the details myself. But this will be the object that keeps you near your Guardian. You’ll suffer some very… unpleasant consequences if you’re not near her.”
“But I’m not near her right now. Isn’t this a problem?”
“It hadn’t been attuned to her yet. Right now it’s scheduled to activate if you do not report to your teacher at the usual place by 9:00am tomorrow morning.”
“Oh. That’s kinda early, isn’t it?”
“I guess you will just have to wake with the rest of us then,” the Warden huffed. “Now, onto further rules of your probation. Your Guardian will be with you at all times-”
“You mentioned that already.”
“I was just recapping. Besides her being ever present at your side, you both will have to perform community service. This will be tasks both in and out of the city.”
“You mean I have to leave Stormwind?”
“Yes. You will have to, at some point, leave the city and attend to the Alliance’s needs elsewhere. We have need for skilled mages on the field-”
“But I’m not a skilled mage!” Creme protested. “I can barely handle most of my spells-”
“All the more reason for you to get some hands on practice, especially when it comes to not burning things.”
Creme ignored his quip. “And you expect me to fight for the people who ruined my life? Who killed my mother?” she asked, her voice dropping. She knew better than to exclaim these things loudly in the house of guards.
The Warden frowned with concern. “I understand your feelings on the matter.” His face grew more stern as he continued to speak. “But you must put aside these differences for the time being. Instead of thinking it as aiding Stormwind’s royalty, consider it helping your fellow man. And woman. People out there need your help, not just the city.”
Creme frowned; she wasn’t convinced. “And is that all there is to this strict probation?”
“Ah; you will have to report to Magister Smith for lessons when you are available. Every day at 9:00 am until she or your Guardian sees fit to have you leave, unless you are out of the city on business.”
“Nine in the morning again?” Creme asked. “Can’t you guys pick a better time than that? A time when normal people get up, for example?”
“That is a normal time, Miss Stonemason. I believe that is all the important information you need to know for now. Remember to report to the Mage’s Tower at 9:00 am sharp to see Magister Smith and your Guardian. In the meantime, you are free to go and tidy up your affairs.”
Creme stood and gave a quick bow to the Warden. She headed for the door.
“And Miss Stonemason – if you get into trouble between now and then, I will escort you to the Stocks myself.”
“Understood, Warden,” Creme called out behind her as she stepped through the door… which she slammed for good measure as she marched out of the guard hall.
It was early afternoon as Creme wandered the streets of Stormwind aimlessly. The streets were bustling with people running their afternoon errands, businesses still open and doing all sorts of business, no doubt.
“This,” Creme thought to herself, “is probably the worst amount of trouble I’ve ever gotten into. Even worse than the cart crash incident. Or the exploding watermelons. He at least thought that was funny too.”
She ambled down the familiar cobblestones in the Trade District, fiddling with the blue necklace which seemed to now be a permanent fixture to her attire. She couldn’t see it looking down, just feel it. It was definitely too small to slip over her head; she had tried that already to no avail. A nearby store window, while small, let her give it another look. It was just like a shiny string of metal, but it felt soft and very light against her skin. She tilted her chin from side to side. It actually looked like a fancy piece of jewelry, not unlike the jewelry she had tried taking just the other night.
The Warden was right about one thing; it was a pretty stupid idea to steal some jewelry. She didn’t need the money; if she really wanted to she could’ve kept that job at the inn. It was mundane work though. Folding linens, taking orders for ridiculous amounts of food and drink and then serving that food and drink, keeping the fires going, cleaning up disgusting messes. And then there were the accidents; fires becoming too large because she fed them too much magic and it consumed all of the wood in an instant. Burning guests who touched her in the wrong places. Crisping the laundry in an attempt to get it to dry faster. Candles that became melted wax. Sometimes she didn’t even intended to use her magic to do these things; it just came to her. One of her teachers said it was because she had an ‘innate talent for contacted the arcane’, whatever that meant. But apparently she only liked arcane that was on fire. Her teachers had tried working her to learn other spells, but it was a lot harder and seemed like a pain. ‘If you learn other schools, you can control your outbursts’ they had said but that just didn’t seem to be happening.
The store owner started to give her dirty looks for staring at the window for so long. She gave a little wave to her and began to meander again.
“Yup, pretty dumb move for us to go steal something that wasn’t food,” she thought to herself. Her little gang of orphans who she hung out with came up with the idea. Harvey said it would get them enough cash to feed themselves for years without needing to do another thing ever. And why not try it? They had stole food before with marginal success, they reckonned this wouldn’t be much different.
They obviously did not do the needed research. Jewerly stands had guards, sometimes in plainclothes nearby. They had magical alarms. They had city guards watching out for them. If she hadn’t set the cart on fire, the guards would’ve gotten her friends too. It was just an unfortunate accident that the nearby building caught on fire too.
She fiddled with the necklace some more as she walked. “I wonder how much this cost. Mage trinkets are expensive as it is… how did the Warden convince everyone not to just lock me up.” He really did care about her. He meant well. He had always been good to their group. Hell, he was good to all the orphans from the wars, but especially them who had lost their parents during Stormwind’s reconstruction. He had been friends with her mom and her dad, and even Mister Jordan. The Warden really did understand.
<note that she hasn’t seen necklaces like this before, so it might be an original punishment plan. her meanderings eventually bring her to the orphanage>
And she never had heard of anyone getting a punishment like this before. What kind of cop let their criminal go after a single night in the slammer on apparently strict, magical probation? Not any she had heard about before. She had been expecting some time in the slammer or something else unpleasant; the building did burn down and all, even if they recovered all the things they had taken. There were usually consequences for burning things.
Not that she was complaining about not being dragged down to the Stocks. The Stockades were a nasty place; once you went in, you pretty much never went out. A few of her gang still had parents down there ’cause of their involvement with with Defias. The place was guarded up the wazoo, and she did not doubt that it would be a rough place for a woman to be.
“But a mage made necklace? He couldn’t’ve just through of that in one night. Maybe he was preparing for it. As if he expected this from me.” Creme kicked a nearby pebble. She had let the Warden down, it was obvious. But it didn’t bother her none. He didn’t control her life. She did. So what he got her a special necklace that would apparently try to keep her out of trouble and did so specially for her to keep her from ending up in jail? He probably did that for all the orphan kids anyway.
She made her way over to The SA to kill him because he was reading what was written. Slowly she crept behind him, sharpening her knife on her whetstone that she carried for just such occasions as this. (Aka for MURDER). She made nary a sound as she slunk across the living room, footsteps muffled by the thick carpet. Soon she was at the futon, knife at the ready. Her victim was unsuspecting, as he kept reading the words. AND THEN SHE STABBED HIM AND KILLED HIM. AND THERE WAS NO ICE CREAM.
She made her way over one of the many canals in Stormwind, stopping at the top of the bridge to look down at the water. It was barely murky; she could see to the bottom. They said there was a team of mages who’s job it was to purify the water in the city so people could drink from it whenever they wanted. It always seemed clean enough to she and her friends did, but there were those who would still snub it. They were probably right to do so, given the number of drunkards who would pee in it each night. But it was good enough for a drink or a swim when you were board, as long as you avoided the fishers or the heavily trafficked canal channels, where the merchant goods would come into the city from the port to be loaded into carts to be taken around the city. /longsentence.
There was her reflection again, clear in the oddly still waters. Creme tried tucking a wayward hair away behind her ear but it just popped out again, like it always did. Nightingale always did say her hair would look lovely if she grew it out, that it would be nice and wavy, but her Mom had always like her with short hair, so she left it short.
“Still as stubborn as ever, Mom.” she thought wistfully before moving on to wander the city streets.
Evening had fallen by the time her feet had carried her to a familiar location; Stormwind’s Cathedral. It had just started to toll it’s bells for the hour. Creme counted them to herself; one, two, three, four, five, six, seven. Reliable as always those bells. Loud, filling nearly every crook and cranny of the city until ten o’clock, where they stopped chiming for the sake of the sleeping populace, only to start again at 6 the next morning. Every hour, on the hour. There were a few other bells for special occasions, but there was only the one big one that rang for the time.
It was familiar, like everything else in the city. Creme remembered the times she fell asleep to the gentle peals of the bells at night, or the elated feeling she held when they would go off for the last time in the evening while she was still awake, even though she wasn’t supposed to be. That feeling never left even as she got older, and left her home in Stormwind’s orphanage to go off to better ‘opportunities’ that would ‘further her in the world’ but only left her feeling dissatisfied.
Maybe that’s why she was back here, at the Cathedral. The orphanage was not far from the Church’s tall spires, it’s ever present gaze upon them. It still was one of the best maintained buildings in the city, though it’s white stones did not gleam as bright as they did when new, Creme thought. But even the resentful workers who stayed in their city would pay their respects to those who followed the Light, who healed and guided them, and would provide repairs to the stone and woodwork of the church.
Creme stopped standing around in the square and headed to the east, to where the orphanage sat in less glory than the church, though for many like her it was not that much less important. It was what had saved them from starving on the streets, from becoming another casualty to ‘war’, as it were. Everything was due to the wars. Men and women were needed to fight – never mind the children they left behind.
She approached the doors to the Orphanage cautiously. Creme technically didn’t live there anymore. She was supposed to be living at the Inn, where she had been employed. Well, they pretty much had fired her, or if they hadn’t fired her they weren’t expecting her back. None of her belongings were there anyway; she kept most of her non-essentials at the Mage school. Things like the few extra clothes she had (and the ones provided by the mage school itself; no way was she going to wear a freakin’ robe if she didn’t have to), that silly mage staff they insisted that she use. Important things she left at her group’s hideout… which was, ironically, in the back of the orphanage.
Nightingale knew about it, of course. She knew about everything they did. Creme still maintained that the lady had eyes on the back of her head, to keep track of so many kids like she did without too much help. Or maybe she was a mage type too, leaving little spells and things around to alert her when a kid was about to do something bad.
But she let them stay in the dusty old back basement, a room from the Stormwind that had been here before the new one. They had built right on top of some places, leaving spooky rooms beneath. That’s where the older orphens stayed, when they could not find steady employment or someone to marry (as if that was ever an option she would consider, even IF she had a sweetheart who was in a position to ‘provide’ for her) once the state stopped caring for them at sixteen.
Sixteen was the magic number after all, where they could stop being considered children and start being considered adults on the records. No one cared if some adult was found dead in the street.
And while she legally could not provide them the food, the room was one never intended to be used by the orphanage at all. In fact, Creme was pretty sure that it moved over some as you wandered down the rickity stairs and the small tunnel, so their little underground room was actually underneath some shop on the other side of the street. So Nightingale let them stay there, as long as they didn’t get into trouble.
Which was exactly what Creme was in. Nightingale usually didn’t like a fresh jailbird hanging around the property. She always knew when you got into trouble too. Her and the guards were in cahoots. ‘It’s in your best interest,’ she would say, before giving you the spanking of a lifetime. Creme’s behind ached just thinking about it.
“Ah, but the seven bell just went out. That means it’s bedtime for the little ones, and dinner time for everyone else. She should be plenty busy. Busy enough for me to slip right in.”
With those comforting thoughts, Creme quietly crept into the Orphanage’s front door. Her feet carefully set themselves upon certain wood boards of the flooring; years of practice told her which ones would squeak and which ones would not. Creme’s awkward gait lead her down the one of the hallways that circled the central common area, where the kitchen, dining hall, and learning area were. She could hear the sounds of the older kids chowing down. From the smell of it, it was some fresh cooked bread and … fish? So a fancy meal!
Her nose betrayed her, as it alerted her stomach as to how hungry she was, exactly. She hadn’t eaten since the morning guardhouse meal of oatmeal, with no honey or any other frills (obviously, since it was jail food). It growled loudly, just as she was crossing a door frame to get to the other side.
A few more observant eyes saw her small dash, eliciting giggles from those near the door. And one pair of those eyes Matron Nightingale.
Creme knew she was caught but kept going, just in case Nightingale was feeling lenient.
“Creme Stonemason! What a delightful surprise to have you here this evening! I wasn’t expecting you!” the Matron called out from the dining hall with a fake cheerful voice she saved for when her children got in trouble (or when she was pretending to be quite pleased at the fact the Orphanage was getting even less money from the Crown than usual and would therefore have to pull lots of strings to get all of her children fed, a task she looked forward to with GREAT cheer, it’s no trouble at ALL.)
There was no escaping getting called out in front of everyone. It was much worse if you ran, she knew from experience. Nightingale was much faster than you would think for someone so old. Creme slowly shuffled to the doorway, leaning against it casually as if that was her plan all along.
“Oh. Hey, Miss N. Thought I’d just drop by for a bit…” Creme began, hoping that she could just slink off somewhere – anywhere – else real soon.
The Matron’s eyebrow raised slightly at being called Miss N. Creme knew that she wasn’t fond of that nickname, but most everyone around there who knew her well enough could call her that without fear of retribution.
“I’m so glad you could find the time to visit!” exclaimed the Matron, bubbling with an eery pleasantness. She moved over to the doorway from her position at the head table, where it looked like she was about to enjoy her meal. The rest of the dining room, satisfied that the Matron was about to chew out Creme as she always did, settled into their food with gusto. The fishy smell from earlier turned out to be some sort of chowder.
Matron Nightingale quickly appraised Creme, looking her from head to toe. “Why, is that a new necklace?” she pleasantly hummed.
“She never misses a damn thing,” Creme thought to herself sourly. “Oh, this? It was uh… just a gift. Got it just today.”
“Is that so.”
“Oh, yeah. Totally. Probably could get you one if you’d like it,” continued Creme nonchalantly.
“I don’t think I’d be in the market for something as… interesting as that,” the Matron demurred. “Strange that such a gift given to you would be blue; anyone who would give you such a nice trinket would, or should, know that you do enjoy red. It would look much nicer with your outfit at your employment or one of those nice robes they made for you for your lessons.”
“Oh for Light’s sake, she knows everything I did. Did Harvey tell? Probably had his ass covered with soot, no doubt. No guessing on her part where that came from.” Creme had always been one of Nightingale’s more challenging charges. Not too many others had a tendency to light stuff on fire all of the time.
“Yeah, I’m sure,” was what Creme said out loud. “I think blue is a very nice color.”
“Is that so…” the Matron mused again, starting at Creme long enough for the teen to break eye contact.
“At any rate,” Nightingale continued, “since you are here for the evening, it would be ever so helpful if you could volunteer some of your time for the children. There’s a set waiting for a bedtime story that would be so very excited to hear you read to them.”
Ah, the Matron had taken pity on poor old Creme. She had probably heard about the incident the night prior and the punishment thereafter. If Nightingale wanted her only to help out for the evening, she would with gusto, for Nightingale would not force her to leave after getting in trouble if she had helped in the evening. She would not be sleeping out on the streets tonight!
“Yeah, I can go read some stories,” Creme said. She turned to head down the hallway where the little ones slept.
“And if you could help with the dishes, it would be most kind,” Nightingale added.
Creme turned, walking down the hallways backward. “Yeah, I can help with that too.”
“And there’s some laundry to be done.”
“Okay,” Creme replied, scooting back faster.
“And if you could wipe off the tables and stoke the fire and-”
“Gotta read the stories now! Bye!” shouted Creme as she escaped into the younger children’s room. “Maybe I didn’t get off so easy after all!”