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> Nemesis
Jacki Dice
post Jul 31 2011, 04:37 AM
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This is a little something I've been toying with for awhile. I've decided to bring it out to the forums here. This story will include the original version of Kalila Blackstone, from Madness Helps me Save Myself. This version of her has absolutely no ties to the one borrowed in the story.

Speaking of, Madness Helps me Save Myself will continue as planned. Sometimes working on something separate for a while soothes my writer's block.


~~~~~♦~~~~~

Prologue

“That which is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil.”
--Friedrich Nietzsche



In a perfect world, it would be an assassin. Or maybe a bandit. It would be someone who was out to hurt her, who deserved to die. However, as Tara Karminova clutched her dagger to her chest, she knew it would be no such person. The world was too imperfect.

She looked around the dark alleys of the Imperial City for someone no one would miss. Someone who’s death wouldn’t prompt a thourough investigation. Maybe a skooma addict or a prostitute.

Oh, dear gods, what am I doing? She leaned against the wall of one of the shops. Her heart was no longer fluttering and her stomach no longer churned. Instead, she seemed to simply accept it. That was what scared her. “It’s for Clarissa,” she reminded herself. “It’s for her.” She clenched the grip of her dagger tightly and continued lurking through the alleys.

At first she thought she had blended in quite well with the street urchins in the Imperial City. She simply threw on an old robe that was covered in dirt and had torn a little on the bottoms. Her black hair was tangled and thrown back in a messy bun. Once she saw the beggars in person, she realized how far off she was. Their clothes weren’t just dirty, they were barely intact enough to keep them out of prison for indecent exposure. None of them wore the soft cotton that she was in. They appeared to be stiched together from whatever scratchy fabric they found on the ground. Tara was also far too healthy looking. Her cheeks were somewhat plump and the robe hugged her hourglass frame tightly. The beggars were nothing but skin and bones. The biggest difference was their eyes. Tara could easily tell who had lived on the street by the hardness or loss of hope in them. There was no way for her to imitate them in that way.

She turned behind the Copious Coinpurse into a small garden. It was empty save for a young woman sleeping on the ground. Tara crept toward her, running her finger over the black soul gem stashed in her pocket.

The girl stirred slightly as Tara approached. Tara straddled her and turned her on her back. She was pretty. She had quite a young face. She was probably no more than nineteen. Tara hesitated for a moment before raising her hand. A violet flash erupted from her fist and washed over the girl. Once that was done she took out the dagger and plunged it into her gut.

The girl opened her eyes wide as blood splashed onto Tara's hands. A scream rose from her throat and Tara quickly covered the girl’s mouth with her free hand, stabbing again and again until the girl stopped moving. She took out the soul gem and was satisfied with the glow of the soul.

She got up and panted, staring at the girl. Did she have a sister too? Parents? Probably not. Still, Tara was overcome with mixed emotions.

“It’s for Clarissa,” she said to herself. “I do this for her.”



Tara had to hold in her disgust as she stared upon her Clarissa’s corpse.

Three years had passed since Clarissa Blackstone’s murder and time had not been kind. Clarissa’s skin was gone for the most part, only remaining in small patches. On the pieces of skin around her temples, sat dry tufts of her once luxorious black hair, though the slightest brush would turn it to dust. Her bones were not white, like the models shown at the Arcane University. Instead they were a filthy brown. The sockets that once held beautiful grey eyes were now empty and covered by a paper thin layer of skin. The gown she had been buried in had long since been eaten away. Though she went out and bought a new robe, Tara did not look forward to redressing her. Logically that shouldn’t have bothered her anymore than digging Clarissa up or even setting her body on the kitchen table.

Tara wanted to pass the time doing something other than staring at Clarissa, but she was unable to take her eyes off of her. She was repulsed but fascinated at the same time. When she finally tore her eyes away, she decided to head into the basement to distract herself.

The basement once was full of alchemical equipment. The shelves had been lined with empty bottles and crates full of filled ones ready to be sent off to the different Mages Guilds. Jars of ingredients sat in the windows. Now it was empty. The windows were boarded. A metal collar attached to a long chain sat in the center of the room. Tara picked it up and tugged it with all her strength. It held fast to the wall. She sighed deeply and dusted off her hands. Hopefully it would withstand the added strength of the undead.

She took a broom from a corner and started sweeping. Clarissa still deserves cleanliness, she thought. But she had cleaned days in advance and there was nothing much to sweep. She finished in seconds. She looked at the Mages Guild banners still hanging on the walls. Her eyes welled up with tears. How could she still keep those up knowing what she was going to do? How could she ever look at Arch-Mage Traven in the eye again?

With a trembling hand, she took the banners down. She tried telling herself that it was to keep them from getting ruined, but deep down she knew it was because she felt unworthy. When she returned upstairs she was pleased to see that the hourglass was nearly empty. It was time.

For something so complex, it was strange that it was so simple to accomplish. She had imagined an elaborate ritual involving candles and conjuring. Strangely, the hardest part had been obtaining the soul gem. That and getting the soul. She closed her eyes, forcing away the girl she had killed. She couldn’t afford to think about it.

As the temple bell rang twelve times, Tara placed the soul gem directly over where Clarissa’s heart had been. She focused on the soul inside, transferring it they way she would to an item.

The soul was stubborn. Even in death, it resisted Tara’s demand, almost as if it knew that it would cease to exist as itself. Tara trembled violently. Her heart pounded hard and she broke into a sweat. The soul would cooperate. It had no choice.

Tara grunted hard when the soul finally entered Clarissa. She panted heavily as the gem crumbled into dust, falling into Clarissa’s bare rib cage.

Clarissa’s eyelids fluttered. She sat up, turning her face toward Tara. Though the sockets were empty, she could feel the intese stare going straight through her. Tara backed up instantly. Would Clarissa remember? Or would she react with hostility? Clarissa opened her mouth, though the only sound that escaped was a dry crackle. Her body wouldn’t return to a normal living being until she received more souls.

“Clarissa,” Tara whispered. “Do you remember me?” She took a step forward. “I’m your sister.”

Clarissa tilted her head back and forth. A chunk of skin plopped on the floor causing a surge of bile to rise in Tara’s throat. She swallowed it back down and forced herself to ignore it.

“Everything is okay now,” she said. “You’re back with me and I’ll protect you.”

She held out her hand. Clarissa ignored it, seeming to be more confused than anything.

“She’s just in shock,” Tara said to herself. She glanced at the robe. She decided to put it on her when she had more skin as there was nothing really to cover.

She led Clarissa into the basement and locked the collar around her neck. “This is just to keep you safe. When you’re back to normal you can have your old room back. I’ll even get you into the Arcane University like you always wanted.”

Clarissa crackled again, though Tara doubted that she understood anything she had been saying.

“I’m going to go clean upstairs and then I’ll have to fix up your grave outside. I can’t have it looking like it’s been recently disturbed. I’ll be back soon.”

Once she was back in the living room, she locked the door and then placed a plank of wood in front of it. She couldn’t chance Clarissa getting out into the open. She would be killed on sight. Tara couldn’t have that. She refused to lose her twice.

She immediately set out sweeping up the living room and kitchen. There was so much dirt. Too much. Should any guildmates come for a visit, it would cause immediate suspicion. Her sudden insistance to work from her home instead of the guild halls already seemed strange.

Though it had to be done, she couldn’t keep her mind on her task. She felt drained. She sank to her knees staring at the basement door. She could hear Clarissa shuffling faintly, the chain jingling with her every movement. She glanced at the turquoise banner on the wall bearing the Mages Guild symbol. Her life as she knew it was over. She wept.

This post has been edited by Jacki Dice: Jul 31 2011, 09:56 PM


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Madness Helps Me Save Myself
Nemesis

Standing on the cliffs that kiss burning winds
We are rising together
Brazen, exalting, a hiss of triumph rings
I am yours
...Yours immortally
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Black Hand
post Jul 31 2011, 05:43 AM
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This is an excellent introduction into your story! I could feel the tense clutch of fear and uncertainty as Tara wandered through the night in search of an innocent soul, and the description of Clarissa's corpse was creepily dead-on!

And the images you evoked of the undead Clarissa...or soon to be living through some dark means?, was provocative in the grisly horror it brought to mind.

Yet, that quote you provided from Nietzsche in the beginning ties in perfectly with the underlying humanity contained within this story. The irrational desire to bring our individual sense of fairness to an unfair world, a desire that has little to do with morality, and everything to do with love. A selfish love perhaps,....but love.
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haute ecole rider
post Jul 31 2011, 05:09 PM
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This is quite the promising start to what seems to be an interesting character. Most necromancer characters I've read have explored necromancy because of their lust for power. Tara is only the second necro character I've read who've gone into this out of love for one who was lost too soon. But I fail to see how this will turn out well for both Tara and Clarissa - wouldn't it be better to leave the dead in their eternal sleep? How can Tara keep true to herself as she seeks to recover what she once had with her sister? Will she end up following an even darker path - one that leads to insanity and Oblivion? There are so many questions raised by this little beginning that I want to see more of this story.


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SubRosa
post Jul 31 2011, 05:10 PM
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An excellent piece! You have given us a character whom we can identify with, as who would not move Aetherius and Nirn for their sibling? Yet at the same time one who is chilling, given the depths that Tara is willing to go to in order to get her sister back. Or at least a reasonable facsimile of her sister. As h.e.r. noted, this cannot end well. But it is a good example of how many people are doubtlessly lured down the path of necromancy. A very cool and creepy tale!


nits:
Three years had passed since the Clarissa Blackstone’s murder and time had not been kind.
I think you have a the left over from a previous edit.

to the different Mages Guilds
This is one that I wrestled with at first too. There is no apostrophe in Mages Guild, or the Fighters Guild for that matter.

This post has been edited by SubRosa: Jul 31 2011, 05:11 PM


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treydog
post Aug 1 2011, 02:01 AM
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You manage to take a character whose actions I want to abhor- and make me care about her. And the Nietzsche quote captures the "why" of that perfectly.

The descriptions are immediate and- well- creepy. But that is in keeping with the subject matter. Like haute, I do not see a "happy" ending- but then, not all stories do end happily.

One typo:

"...empty, she could feel the intese stare..."

The stare must have been so disconcerting that it scared the "n" out of "intense."


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The best-dressed newt in Mournhold.
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King Coin
post Aug 1 2011, 03:52 AM
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Interesting read, but I don't like the character yet. I'll read the next update.


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Grits
post Aug 1 2011, 03:02 PM
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I am completely creeped out and intrigued. I like that Tara is appalled by what she is doing, it makes her interesting. And of course Clarissa faintly shuffling and jingling her chain in the basement will have me turning the lights on tonight. ohmy.gif


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Zalphon
post Aug 8 2011, 08:15 PM
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I am eager to see the next part smile.gif Clarissa may be getting in trouble... Exciting smile.gif


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"You have the same twenty-four hours as me; don't be mad just because you don't use yours like I do." -Tupac Shakur
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Jacki Dice
post Aug 16 2011, 08:03 AM
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Black Hand~ Your last paragraph was exactly what that part was about and you described it wonderfully smile.gif

haute cole rider~ I'm glad to see all the questions. Of course they'll be answered as the story progresses

SubRosa~ Its something I wish the Elder Scrolls would note, that not all necromancers would do it just to have undead slaves. I'm sure at least a few would do it out of desperation to have a loved one back.

treydog~ I knew the moment I heard the quote (well, technically a reference to it) that it would be perfect for this story.

King Coin~ Well to be honest, she isn't exactly meant to be liked right now, especially seeing what she did

Grits~ I imagine some first-time killers would be appalled... then again maybe not all that appalled since they go through with it

Zaphlon~ I'm glad you find it exciting. That's been my biggest worry about posting this, if it was exciting enough

~~~~~♦~~~~~

Chapter One



Kalila Blackstone sat in Hannibal Traven’s office just as she had countless times throughout her stay at the Arcane University. She sat up straight, her green eyes lowered as though she were in trouble. Her hands were neatly folded in her lap. Traven couldn’t help noticing that her aqua robe lacked any adornments. Most students added their own touches, like a colorful sash or some jewelry. Not Kalila. Strangely, it was her lack of distinction that made her stand out among her peers.

Traven smiled gently at her and received a slight one in return. He couldn’t remember ever seeing a full, beaming smile from her. Not even while Clarissa had been alive. The girl was just too damn serious.

“So,” he said, his hands folded on his desk. “Graduation is coming up. Have you given any thought to your plans afterward?”

“Sir?” She looked questioningly at him. “I’ve told you the same thing everytime you have asked me for the past ten years. I am going to be a battlemage.”

He nodded, chuckling a little. “That you have. You know, most students come here with a goal in mind but it changes drastically over the years. By time they’ve graduated, they want to pursue something completely different.”

No response.

“Alright, well let’s see how you’re doing academically.”

Traven set out a piece of parchment and tapped it once with a wand. Before their eyes Kalila’s grades appeared.

Kalila Rhianne Blackstone

Senior, level II

Mysticism: 6

Restoration: 3

Alteration: 7

Destruction: 10

Conjuration: 5

Illusion: 8

Alchemy: 9


Traven nodded as he looked it over. “I see you still require assistance in restoration.” He looked up at her. “Have you considered joining the Mages Guild? There’s one in Anvil that would greatly help you with restoration.”

Kalila hesitated before speaking. “I had considered it briefly,” she said. “But I’m not so sure I’d want to join. Even here, I’m known as Tara Karminova’s little sister. If I do well, it’s attributed to her. If I fail, then they remark how good Tara was at it. I would much rather be merited on my own skill, not hers. Same goes for my cousin.”

Traven nodded. He too had been guilty of that crime when they first met.

Even if she weren’t a mage, it was obvious that they were related. They shared the same hair color and texture, the same eye shape, the same nose and lips. Traven quickly averted his eyes. He had never noticed it before, how similar she was to Tara. He licked his lips. Beautiful Tara… He cleared his throat.

“It’s true that trhe Karminova family has produced some especially talented mages. Your mother, though she dropped out, had extrordinary talent, as does your sister, your aunt, your cousin… you as well. It may be a little annoying to be under their shadow, but I assure you that you will make a name of your own, especially with your skill in destructive magic.”

Kalila didn’t say anything.

“You know, I was head of the Anvil Mages Guild and we did train a lot of people who went on to become wonderful battlemages.”

Her eyebrows raised.

“You see, its not all sheilds and fireballs. You have to be able to heal yourself or one of your allies in case of serious injury. That said, the Anvil Guild is a wonderful place not only to learn, but it would be a good opportunity for you to go out and see more of Cyrodiil. You’ve never left the Imperial City. Anvil is a beautiful place. Its right on the coast, so you can have the most amazing views and you wake up to the scent of the ocean.”

He could tell that she was considering it. After a long pause she sighed. “And you’re sure this will help me?”

“Kalila, I would never steer any of my students in the wrong direction. Just think it over and if you decide that’s what you want, I will write you a glowing recommendation.”

“Alright.”

She stood up and turned to leave.

“Oh, Kalila?”

“Yes, sir?”

He paused, trying to appear nonchalant. “Will Tara be attending your graduation ceremony?”

“Yes.”

“Ah.” Traven nodded, once again unable to get the image of Tara from his mind. “Just wondering. Its always a joy to see our valedictorians at a graduation ceremony. Perhaps she will agree to a speech.”



Kalila left the room and sighed deeply. She tried not to view it as a setback. She knew Traven was right, after all. Her restoration was atrocious compared to her other skills and it would prove necessary on the battlefield. Still, she had planned on going into training straight after the University since childhood. Instead, she tried to think of it as a slight curve in the path.

She walked back to her dorm room and once she was there she stared out the window. She watched the battlemages train for a moment. She closed the curtains. There were so many of them and not a single one was able to respond to a distress flare? Disgraceful. Though everyone told her not to place blame on anyone but the murderers she couldn’t help holding them at least partially responsible for Clarissa’s death. For heaven’s sakes, it would have been a mere five minutes to their house on horseback. There was simply no reason why Clarissa should have died!

She sat on her bed, tears threatening to fall. She was only a child when she died. She had such a bright future ahead of her. Traven was right. The Karminova bloodline had produced many skilled mages: Tara with, well, anything, Kalila with destruction and Clarissa was already learning alchemy without any formal training. She would have been great, even better than Claudette Perrick on her best day.

Tara laid in the corner, a dagger sticking out from her stomach. A pool of blood seeped onto the floor, surrounding her. Clarissa was bleeding at well, though instead of from her stomach, it appeared to be coming from her thighs, her neck bent at an impossible angle. A noose was still around her throat. Kalila felt a sharp pain in her back, followed by another. She looked down and saw an arrowhead protruding from her shoulder.

Her hand flew up to her chest and her legs clamped shut.

She woke in the Arcane University’s infirmary. Tara was sobbing on the bed to her right. The pain in her back was dulled. She could feel stitches in her shoulder. There was a small body on the bed on her left. The sheets were pulled over its head. Tara was screaming for Clarissa. “Bring her back,” she screamed. Some people injected her arm with something. She quieted down soon after.

“Bring her back,” she whispered. If only she could.

This post has been edited by Jacki Dice: Aug 20 2011, 01:54 AM


--------------------
Madness Helps Me Save Myself
Nemesis

Standing on the cliffs that kiss burning winds
We are rising together
Brazen, exalting, a hiss of triumph rings
I am yours
...Yours immortally
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Black Hand
post Aug 16 2011, 11:22 AM
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A new character! The sister to our anti-heroine no less. Widening the perspective a bit, we see the the affection that Clarissa had in life and the trauma her death produced. Well done, and please continue!
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haute ecole rider
post Aug 16 2011, 04:17 PM
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This is really a heartbreaking piece and just adds to the tragedy that was Clarissa and is Tara. What will happen when Kalila finds out what Tara is up to? I assume that she doesn't yet know the truth. Tara strikes me as the super-secretive type - brooding, not talking to anyone, even her own cousin.

And yes, part of being a battle-mage includes being able to heal on the battlefield. Otherwise, if you're the only one left standing, what's the point? So she's thinking about heading off to Anvil now, is she? Wonder what she'll find there?


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Grits
post Aug 19 2011, 02:26 PM
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If I do well, it’s attributed to her. If I fail, then they remark how good Tara was at it.

This is so true! Then the younger person ends up defined by the older even more, as trying to get out from under the shadow guides their choices more than what would be natural just for them.

I don’t need a story to be exciting all of the time, as long as it is interesting. I find your story very, very interesting!! I look forward to more. smile.gif


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Zalphon
post Aug 19 2011, 11:20 PM
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I like how believable Tara is. I can't wait for more smile.gif


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"You have the same twenty-four hours as me; don't be mad just because you don't use yours like I do." -Tupac Shakur
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mALX
post Aug 21 2011, 12:30 PM
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Hey! Where did this come from? GAAAAH !!! I just saw this Jacki, will have to do some catch-up! <3


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Jacki Dice
post Nov 27 2011, 07:36 AM
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Black Hand~ Yes, Kalila (hopefully) will be the one to show the other side of the coin when it comes to Tara's actions.

haute ecole rider~ I wouldn't say Tara is more brooding, but as she has a lot at stake in the Mages Guild, she is super, super secretive!

Grits~ I'm glad its interesting smile.gif I was worried about topping the adventures of a poor mortal getting tangled with the Madgod tongue.gif

Zalphon~ Thank you smile.gif Out of all the major characters in the story, Tara is actually the most recent creation and I think that gives her the advantage as she isn't over developed therefore easier to make work naturally.

mALX~ Lol! Yeah this has been hidden away for very old characters that don't quite fit with Wrothken's tale tongue.gif

~~~~~♦~~~~~

Chapter Two: Graduation Day


The kitchen was once Tara’s favorite room in the house. The warmth of family meals always made it seem brighter than normal. Now it was lonely, what with Kalila at the University, her cousin, Naida, off studying in Skyrim, and Clarissa dead.

Well, not so much dead anymore, she reminded herself as she sliced some vegetables for dinner. But without digestive organs, Clarissa had no need for food yet. Tara dreaded that day. She still hadn’t found out whether or not necromancers fed their “creations” human flesh out of necessity or for kicks. She huffed in disgust. Those were the ones that needed to be stopped. The ones that did it for nothing. At least she had a reason for it, a very good reason… not that it would make a difference if she were caught.

“Clarissa,” she called to the open basement door. “When you can eat again, what would you like me to make? I can fry up some chicken or maybe a casserole? And of course I’ll make you a big cake! Chocolate pumpkin marble, your favorite! Do you remember?”

The jingling of Clarissa’s chain was the only answer. She knew it would be, but she felt like hearing her voice would be helpful, maybe even soothing, as the long process went on.

Tara went down to take a look at her. Some of her old toys had been brought down, but seemingly ignored. Clarissa simply walked around the room as far as her chain would allow. Tara frowned. She couldn’t believe how long it was going to take to get her even partially back to her old self. It was like having a mudcrab wander the basement! Still, getting her closer meant killing again. That was something she would happily put off if possible.

The faint sound of galloping caught her attention. It wasn’t the casual trot of someone on patrol. It was quick, the rider knowing exactly where they were going. And it was heading for the house.

Tara quickly shut the basement door and locked it. The good thing about Clarissa not having vocal chords was that she couldn’t cry out and cause suspicion.

The galloping stopped and was replaced with heavy footsteps. There was a knock at the door.

Tara took a deep breath before opening it. Act natural.

A battle mage stood before her dressed in his uniform. “Wizard Karminova?” Though it was a question they both knew that he was fully aware of who she was.

“Can I help you with something?”

He pulled out a letter and handed it to her. Hannibal Traven’s official seal was on the front.

She tried to keep her face expressionless. After all there was no way he could have found out and even if he did, he would send a whole group after her, not just one man. The battle mage stood there waiting. Traven must have wanted a response.

Dear Tara,

I hope you are doing well. It has been awhile since I have been able to visit the Skingrad quarters, though now that you are working from your home, perhaps we may be able to visit more often.

Kalila has done very well in her studies, though she requires a bit more training for restoration. Her instructor says the skill is present but it’s an issue with her mind that prevents her from being able to heal properly. I have recommended the Anvil Mage’s Guild to her. As you know, it’s a lovely place to be, though admittedly there have been rumors of rogue mages in the area. Of course Kalila is far too on the straight and narrow to get herself caught up with such things.

I was wondering if you would be willing to speak at the graduation ceremony. I heard you will be present and it’s always a treat to hear from our successful alumni. Please let me know as soon as possible so I can make sure we have a slot from you. Hope you will join us.

Arch-magister Hannibal Traven


She sighed. Thank the gods it was only that. “Oh, alright.” She looked at the battle mage, though not before glancing at the basement door. “Please, come in while I write out my response.”

She showed the battle mage to her living room, kicking herself mentally for not straightening up further. A few of her alchemical supplies were still scattered on her armchair and on the coffee table. The Mages Guild banners were still draped on the couch.

“I had to rearrange some things,” she offered before he could ask. “With my sister graduating, I wasn’t sure if she’d be staying with me for awhile.”

“Ah…” he said. He had no reason to disbelieve her, but Tara still felt nervous.

Dear Archmagister Traven,

I am glad to hear that Kalila has done well, though it comes as no surprise to me. She has been dedicated to her studies since childhood. I’m glad she will be able to get some further training in restoration before she goes on to battle mage training. “


She pressed the end of the quill to her lip.

I would love to do a speech at the ceremony. Really, it would be an honor. I will see you then.

Wizard Tara Karminova


“Here you are,” she said folding it up. She didn’t bother sealing it. Frankly, she wanted the battlemage out of there before any strange jingles came from the basement. She handed him a septim for the postage and another as a tip.

“Thank you, ma’am,” he said with a nod.

“Ma’am?” She asked aloud after he left. Good gods, she wasn’t that old, was she?



The morning of the graduation, Tara went down to visit Clarissa. Clarissa had been sitting cross legged on the ground. One of her dolls was before her. Clarissa didn’t touch it. She simply stared. Tara wondered how she could see from empty sockets. When she heard a faint, steady crackling from the girl it occurred to her that it could be a form of echolocation.

Tara knelt next to her and waved her hand in front of Clarissa’s face, slowly. Clarissa mimicked the motion. She gasped softly as she realized what an opportunity she had. No one in the Mages Guild had studied very much of the undead. Doing so would cause far too much suspicion and could result in being kicked out. However, it could be beneficial at least for personal study.

Everyone knew what the undead did, but not how. Figuring that out could greatly help adventurers and mages clear out some of the haunted locations or caves of necromancers. The evil necromancers, she corrected herself, as she was technically a necromancer herself.

“Clarissa, I have to go out for a few hours,” she said. “Kalila is graduating from the university today. Do you remember her?”

Clarissa only crackled.

“She’s grown up a lot since you… since you last saw her. She misses you very, very much even though she won’t talk about it.”

Hell, Kalila wouldn’t talk about much of anything these days.

“Sadly, I don’t think you’ll be able to go to the Arcane University after all. I forgot that everyone knows you’re dead. Or you were, I mean. But don’t you worry, they have places in High Rock or the Summerset Isles. I think there’s one in Morrowind, too. When you’re all set I’ll take you to one of them, you’ll see.”

Tara stood up and glanced back at Clarissa. She would be fine in the house alone. Tara just hoped no one tried to break in while she was away.



Kalila sat with the rest of her class, all of them dressed in bright purple robes and the traditional caps. Of course hers kept slipping and frankly, it looked ridiculous. She couldn’t wait to toss hers up with the rest of her class… and abandon it afterwards.

She stared up at the stage where Arch-magister Traven was speaking. Dreams, hopes, future, blah, blah, blah. She looked behind him. High Chancellor Ocato was there, looking about as bored as Kalila was. Next to him were the heads of the Cyrodiil Mages Guild halls. And Tara.

Something was off about her. She was usually poised and confident looking. Today she seemed nervous. She kept wringing her hands and glancing elsewhere.

Traven stepped down and the audience applauded. Someone else took the stage, basically echoing Traven’s sentiments.

Kalila turned her gaze toward the section for the students’ families. Proud parents from all over wept and clapped, occasionally shouting out their child’s name. A couple even blew loud horns when a speech was touching.

She scanned the crowd for her own parents, but didn’t see them. That meant that her mother was probably not there. Rhianna Karminova was known for many things, but blending in wasn’t one. She would have brought her entire crew for the occasion and would be hooting and hollering throughout the speeches. It was just as well, she supposed. If her father happened to be there, then there would be yet another ugly and possibly physical fight between them. Kalila didn’t feel like playing referee on her graduation day.

Another round of applause went by and another speaker stood up.

Kalila looked down at the ground. She sighed. She had spent so many years at the Arcane University. It was going to be strange not going every day. It would be even stranger being in Anvil. For the first time in her life, she would be truly on her own. Well, not entirely. She knew a few people who would be going there as well but this time Tara would be nowhere near and save for the Guild, she had no one she had to report to. It was exhilarating yet anxiety quivered in her stomach.

After the last applause, Tara stood at the podium.

“What an unforgettable day for everyone present,” she began. “It wasn’t too long ago that I sat in your seats,” she said to the students.

Sure, if nearly a decade isn’t too long ago, Kalila thought, pursing her lips to keep from giggling.

“I still remember it like it was yesterday. My mother stood proudly in the audience, with a flag she had enchanted to let out fireworks every time she waved it. My two younger sisters sat with her, beaming with pride, as I do now looking at one of them among her students.” Tara smiled at Kalila.

Several people turned and glanced at her. Kalila wanted to sink into her seat. Did she have to be so sentimental all the time?

“This is the moment where life begins whether you go into your chosen profession or continue your education even further through the Mages Guild. The best part about right now is that you can still do anything, anything at all.”

As Tara began going on about successes and achievements, Kalila thought about the day Tara had graduated. Though Tara remembered it well, much of it was a blur to Kalila. She remembered Rhianna’s flag and also Rhianna fighting with her father over whether or not he had any business there, as he was not Tara’s father. She also remembered her mother getting fined for assault over it. Most of all, she remembered Clarissa jumping up and down and screaming Tara’s name as she walked across the stage. Tara was right. Clarissa had been beaming with pride over it, as though she had a hand in Tara’s success.

A change in Tara’s voice grabbed Kalila’s attention. She sounded distant and she was looking away again. “And you may find yourself doing things you never imagined you would. And you’ll find that beliefs you held dear, that were once unshakable, you just might think the opposite one day. Just keep an open mind and listen to your gut above all else and you’ll do just fine. Thank you.”

Kalila clapped along with the rest of the audience, though she couldn’t escape the feeling that something was definitely up with Tara.


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Madness Helps Me Save Myself
Nemesis

Standing on the cliffs that kiss burning winds
We are rising together
Brazen, exalting, a hiss of triumph rings
I am yours
...Yours immortally
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McBadgere
post Nov 27 2011, 08:00 AM
Post #16


Councilor
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Joined: 21-October 11



*Opens mouth to say something*...*Closes it*...

Erm...

Wow...Umm...My eyes misted over...Genuinely...

Fantastic...


Nice one... biggrin.gif ...
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mALX
post Nov 27 2011, 09:42 AM
Post #17


Ancient
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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Cyrodiil, the Wastelands, and BFE TN



You have a really nice deep undercurrent of emotions going in this chapter, very poignient moments and very realistically portrayed !! Awesome Write !!


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SubRosa
post Nov 28 2011, 06:41 PM
Post #18


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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Between The Worlds



How did you sneak two posts by without me noticing? Well, now that I realized you have updates, I had best start reading!

So Kalila gets an aqua robe instead of the usual green bag? No fair! laugh.gif I did like Traven's assessment of her, and how she stood out by not standing out. So nice to see that she is also a sister of the faint smile.

Oh, I loved how Traven pulled up her grades on his parchment computer! That is the everyday use of magic that I like seeing in fiction.

And it seems Traven is smitten with her sister. I was wincing at the end of that scene, where he asked if Tara would be at the cermony, and give a speech. Talk about twisting the knife after Kalila had just lamented about being in her sister's shadow!

And a gripping memory/flashback of Clarissa's death. No wonder Tara is so broken up. Let alone why Kalila is so interested in Destruction and being a battlemage.

On to the next episode. I loved Tara's rationalizations at the beginning. It's those other necromancers who have to be stopped. Of course. wink.gif

I loved her response to being ma'amed!

It looks like their mother is something else! Is she a pirate I wonder? The reference to her crew made me think that. And her father gets in real, physical fights with her? And she was fined by the guard! It is nice to know that while perhaps academically perfect, the Karminova's have all the dysfunctional issues of any other family. Well, not counting the necromancy of course. wink.gif




nits:
It’s true that trhe Karminova family
looks like some necromancer summoned up an extra letter in your the.

I noticed that in the last post you used the term battle mage, while in the one before it you said battlemage. Just something to consider fixing up to maintain continuity of your terms.

This post has been edited by SubRosa: Nov 30 2011, 12:37 AM


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Colonel Mustard
post Nov 28 2011, 10:32 PM
Post #19


Master
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Joined: 3-July 08
From: The darkest pit of your soul. Hi there!



This is stark, shocking and incredibly compelling. I love it already; you've set up a morally grey scenario that would normally make you label the person enacting it as the villain, and then you make them sympathetic to us. That's no mean feat, and I'm seriously impressed.

The best thing for me so far is Tara, for me; you've managed to capture knife-edge of nervousness determination that she's balancing on and the strain its already beginning to put on her brilliantly, and all her worries about the food and so forth for Clarissa as well as her efforts to try and bring her back are both tragic and slightly disturbing at the same time. Not to mention her attempts to justify it make for an interesting read so far, and I liked that comment about the other necromancers that you slipped in there.

Nothing really to nitpick, so all in all fantastic work, and looking forward to more.
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Grits
post Nov 29 2011, 11:10 PM
Post #20


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Joined: 6-November 10
From: The Gold Coast



Figuring that out could greatly help adventurers and mages clear out some of the haunted locations or caves of necromancers. The evil necromancers, she corrected herself, as she was technically a necromancer herself.

And one who is thinking about killing again, although reluctantly. I should be repelled by her, but instead I’m still fascinated. salute.gif

“Thank you, ma’am,” he said with a nod.

Ma’am is a fighting word! laugh.gif


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Jerric's Story * Darnandex * Morning Star Screenshot: Cyrodiil Meadow
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