haute ecole rider:
I don't know that he's that
much of a softie inside. He just still has a conscience is all, plus a boatload of regret. I was watching Rio Bravo
a few days ago, and I realized that John Wayne would also be perfect in the role of Vols.
It does look like his scars scared away his h. Thank you for wrangling up that stray calf for me. Olen
: Vols has always been a popular character. I think because he is a manly man in what it otherwise a chick story. That and he really is a classic archetype that makes him easy to grasp onto.
Good eye on the repetition. Fixed.
If you include the next post (which ends this chapter), the total word count for the TF 2.0 is 250,221. Of course 1.0 was a lot smaller, as I added in a lot of chapters in the middle of the old ones when I restarted over here, like Vilverin, The Witch of Lake Trasimene, the Battle of Bruma, etc... Not to mention some of the old chapters received a lot of extra material, like Knight of Swords, which quadrupled in size.ghastley
: Words found, thank you for spotting them.
Vols' room was the most difficult part of this chapter to write. I can look around a modern bedroom and describe what I see. But so much of that vanishes when we change settings. Brekke on the other hand, was easy to write. Grits
: You hit the nail on the head about this chapter. It is all about a new start, for both Vols and Brekke. Acadian
: This is another of those non-Teresa chapters that I did not mind writing, because as you said, you can see the influence she has had on the characters here. And as you said, you can look at Brekke and see Teresa ten years before, and imagine What If?
Teresa will be borrowing Buffy's Emma hat soon, next chapter in fact. Thomas Kaira:
I guess because as I said to h.e.r., I don't really see Vols as being a big softie on the inside. He is simply a man who is old enough to become filled with regret for the coulda', woulda', shoulda's in his life. Unlike when he was younger, he now has enough grit (maybe) to step up and try to break that cycle. mALX
: you hit it in your first sentence. Vols is trying to make up for his past mistakes. Also as you said, the lives of him, Simplicia, Teresa, and now Brekke have all been bound up with one another in a spider's web. So tightly that as you said again, when he committed murder, twice, we all cheered. Jacki Dice:
Imagine Brekke in eight years, when she is all grown up after the tutelage of the meanest Imperial Centurion in Cyrodiil? Next
: Our previous segment followed Vols as he searched for and found Brekke, who has become the target of bullies due to her friendship with him. Next we see Vols take the first step in keeping his promise to teach Brekke to take care of herself.Chapter 30.2 - Starting Over
"I thought we were going to the chapel?" Brekke asked as Volsinius set her down in a portico lined with shops. Above the pair swung a wooden sign emblazoned with an eye, and the words Mystic Emporium
painted over it.
"I had a better idea," the centurion explained, and jerked a thumb toward the door before them. "I know the guy who runs this place. He's ex-legion. He fixed me up after the Daedra attacked."
"He's going to heal me?" the girl asked as Volsinius led her into the shop. The stone walls were decorated with silk tapestries, each adorned with one of the magical star signs. On one wall was the Mage, the figure of a wizened man holding a staff. On another was the Apprentice, this a young man also carrying a staff. The last was the Atronach, a humanoid creature made of rocks that floated around one another.
Between the tapestries, the walls were lined with bookshelves and display cases. Volsinius could see the crystal of magicka gems beneath the glass lids of many, and curled up scrolls in others. A long wooden counter ran half the length of the store, graced by a row of softly glowing welkynd stones perched upon elaborate bases of silver. Hanging from the high ceiling above was a small metal chandelier that supported not candles, but glowing white crystals, bathing the room in their soft light.
"Welcome to the Mystic Emporium
, I am Calindil," came the soft, slow voice of the Altmer who towered behind the counter next to the front door. His auburn hair was swept back from his forehead in a pronounced widow's peak, and he was dressed in ordinary russet and blue linens. "Please allow me to offer my personal congratulations on earning the Grass Crown centurion. It is quite a distinction." Screenshot
Also behind the counter, and sitting by a small table while reading a book, was another Altmer. She had the same auburn hair as Calindil but with skin far smoother, and a frame even more delicate than the man's. Unlike him however, she did not even look up, much less acknowledge their presence. She could be anywhere between twenty and three hundred, Volsinius thought as he stared at her black-clad frame. With elves you never knew, especially the Altmer.
Turning his eye back to the man, Volsinius looked up to meet his gaze, something he was not used to doing. The Altmer did not blanch at the sight of his burns, something else he was not accustomed to, but found welcome nonetheless.
"Thank you sir. I saw you at the presentation ceremony, and I won't forget what you did for me after the Crisis." Without wasting time on more pleasantries, Volsinius gestured to the girl beside him. "Can you teach this kid a healing spell?"
"Well of course I can brother," Calindil said easily, walking around the counter to stand before Brekke. He had to bend a long way in order to lower his eyes to meet those of the Breton. "It looks like you have seen some trouble young lady. Perhaps I should take care of that first..."
The Altmer reached out a hand to Brekke, who flinched away, stepping behind the armored legs of the centurion.
"I think it's better if you just teach her how to do it," Volsinus said, laying a light hand on Brekke's shoulder. "She's seen some hard times, and needs to learn how to take care of herself."
"Hmmm," the Altmer hummed, staring at the young girl for long moments. Then he rose to look at the other high elf behind the counter.
"Eltraena," he said, "please watch the door while I work with our young mage here."
The other Altmer closed her book with a sigh and rose to her feet. Volsinius had the distinct impression that the high elf would rather be somewhere else as she stepped up to the counter.
"My niece, from Cheydinhal," Calindil explained as he led the pair to the back of the shop, where a round table of polished mahogany sat with several chairs. He gestured for the two to sit, and once they had he squatted down beside the Breton.
"My name is Calindil," he said, "and this is my shop. And you are?"
The girl's eyes darted from the high elf to Volsinius, who nodded from where he sat beside her. "Brekke," she finally answered. "Is it true that you were in the legion too, like Vols?"
"Why yes indeed." The Altmer's voice rang with what could only be pride. "I gave forty good years to the Empire. Although not quite in the same manner as our friend the centurion. I was a battlemage you see."
The Breton's eyes widened in surprise, and the magician went on. "Now that we have been properly introduced, let us begin. Do you know any magic already?"
The Breton shook her head violently.
"Alright, I am not surprised," the Altmer continued. "Now, do you know what magic is?"
"Well, it's spells, and potions, and stuff!" the young girl blurted.
"Not exactly," the magician explained with a soft smile. "Those are just expressions of magic, but they are not what magic is. Magic, my young apprentice, is the ability to create change in accordance with will."
"That's it?" the street urchin said under crowded eyebrows.
"Yes indeed," the Altmer shopkeeper insisted, his eyes dancing with mirth. "It is that simple, and that powerful. Magic is the quite literally the ability to reshape the world, and every one of us has it. Including you." The magician tapped a light finger on the street urchin's nose, the corners of his lips upturned in a smile. "In fact, your race has graced Tamriel with many of our greatest magicians. I expect you will be no different."
"I will?" the street urchin said, her doubt clear by the continuing scrunching of her eyebrows.
"Well, let us find out, shall we?" The Altmer rose and took a seat as well. "There are three important things which comprise all magical workings, be they spells, scrolls, potions, or enchantments."
"They are: magicka, a symbol, and the will of the magician." The high elf rose his hand and ticked off a finger as he named each. "Everything a mage does always comes down to these three things. Now, let us talk about each one."
"Magicka is the first. It is the energy that powers all magic, just as pieces of wood are the fuel for a fire." The high elf explained, and Brekke nodded as he spoke. "All beings with souls have magicka within them. It comes down to us from the Aetherius, through the sun and stars, and builds up in our bodies. Our spirits attract magicka, just like you have probably seen flies attracted to garbage. And just as the bigger pile of trash attracts more flies, the more powerful magician learns to store more magicka within them."
Brekke barely stifled a giggle at the elf's comment about the flies, and the magician smiled as he went on. Volsinius could not believe how easy a manner the elf had with children. His soft voice, they way he looked in Brekke's eye, the down-to-nirn analogies of his. He could see how they combined to make her warm up to him. Suddenly the centurion found himself wondering if the former battlemage had any children of his own, or if he was just naturally good with people?
"Now let us start by learning to feel the magicka within ourselves," the high elf went on. "I want you to rub your hands together like this," the Altmer slid his open palms back and forth in a quick motion, as if he were trying to rub the cold out of them. "Now you do it."
Volsinius watched as the Breton rubbed her hands together as the elf had. "Now what?" she asked earnestly.
"Do you feel that tingling in your skin?" the high elf asked, and when the street urchin nodded, he went on. "That is magicka. In time you will learn to feel it within you with only a thought. But for now just rub your hands together like you just did."
"Next is a symbol, which is very important," the magician explained. "This is because magic is not governed by the rational mind, what is called the Middle Self. To use magic, we must speak with your Lower Self, what some call the unconscious. So dreams are the language of magic, mythic poetry buried deeply within ourselves. Which is of course another way of saying symbols."
"The symbol tells your magicka what to do. The only difference between a spell that summons a sylph and another that makes you invisible is this symbol. So learning a spell is really a matter of learning the proper symbol. As you probably guessed, the more powerful the spell, the more complicated the symbol is."
"Now there are all kinds of symbols for spells." The magician edged closer in his chair. "In fact, there are often many different ones to make the same spell. That is because magic is as much about your own personal inclinations as it is about universal rules. What works for one person does not always work for the next."
"For beginner spells, the symbols are usually very straightforward," he said. "Simply imagine the result you desire in your mind, and channel your magicka into making that occur. So for the healing spell we are going to learn today, I want you to picture yourself healthy and whole. No bumps, no bruises, no cuts, just a whole, happy little girl. Now picture that in your mind."
Volsinius saw the street urchin close her eyes tightly and nod.
"Alright, now let's try," the high elf said. "Rub your hands together to feel the magicka, and send it into that picture in your head."
The Breton did as ordered, furiously rubbing her palms. She sat there for long moments, until finally she opened her eyes with a frown.
"It doesn't work!" she cried. "I'm no good at this!"
"Oh you just wait and see my apprentice!" the Altmer's eyes sparkled. "No one gets it right the first time. That is because there is one final ingredient we must speak of: Will. You must make the change happen. It is not enough just to want it, or hope for it, or even believe in it. You must know it. Just as you know the sun will rise tomorrow, you must know your magic will work. If your will is not this absolute, then you will cause your own spell to fail. Now let's try again, and this time focus your will."
The Breton rubbed her hands together once more, and this time Volsinius could see her features scrunched together in concentration.
"That is right," came the soft voice of the Altmer. "You can do it. You have the power within you. You can do anything. You can make it happen. You will
Brekke opened her hands, and a white light burst from her palms. First it rode up her arms, then it washed across the rest of her body. After it had completely bathed her in its glow, it faded away to a memory.
"Akatosh's bloody balls!" Volsinius breathed in amazement. The cuts on her face had completely vanished, without even a scar to mark their passage. The bruises still remained however, like black and blue birthmarks, but it was certainly a start, the soldier thought.
"You did it!" He clapped a light hand on the street urchin's back, and she stared up at him with a mixture of surprise and triumph. Before the centurion knew what was happening, she climbed into his lap and threw her arms around him, pressing her cheek into the cool metal of his gilded breastplate.
"Well done apprentice!" The Altmer slapped a hand on the table with a grin. "Very good indeed. Few people learn a spell, any spell, so quickly, let alone their first!"
"I really did it!" the Breton gushed from Volsinius' lap, now looking back to Calindil. "I could feel it inside me, just like you said!"
"Indeed, you have the makings of a fine magician Brekke. But only if you study and practice." The Altmer shopkeeper rose to his feet and walked to a bookshelf. Tracing a slender finger across a row of leather spines, he drew forth a thin volume named Manual of Spellcraft
and returned to the table.
"I want you to take this book and read it, my young apprentice," he said, handing the tome to the Breton. "This will go into more of the basics of magic, and give you a bit of the history of our craft. When you are finished I want you come back and we will talk about it. If you have learned well, I will teach you another spell."
"I want to learn a fireball!" the Breton exclaimed, leaping from the centurion's lap with the book cradled in her arms.
Volsinius could not restrain a smile as the girl darted to the door of the shop, drawing a raised eyebrow from Calindil's niece. "Maybe a shield spell instead," he said loudly, rising to his feet as well. Turning to face the Altmer mage, he reached into the coin pouch at his hip. "How much do I owe you?"
"Nothing at all," Calindil insisted, holding his open hand up to stop the centurion. The elf's gaze traveled to the street urchin by the door, who was now thumbing through the pages of the book with a look of wonder on her face. "It breaks my heart to see them on the streets, with no parents, and no one to look after them. I think it is very commendable, you helping her like this. I would be glad to do anything I can. She truly does have quite a bit of talent."
"You really think so?" Volsinius asked, looking from the high elf to the Breton. All he had hoped for was for Brekke to learn a simple spell, he thought, so that she could take care of her herself. Now Calindil was intimating that she could be a real magician someday, and a damn good one at that?
"Indeed," the Altmer responded. "I have rarely seen a student learn to cast a spell so quickly. It took me nearly half a day my first time! I will wager she was born under the sign of the Mage, or the Apprentice."
Volsinus nodded. It had taken him a week to learn the same spell when he had been in training. Magic was such a damn hard thing to wrap one's brain around. Yet Brekke had learned the spell in just the space of minutes! His mind whirled with the implications of that as he walked to the door with Calindil beside him.
"Now keep casting your spell my young apprentice, even after you are all better," the Altmer said to the Breton. "You will probably have to wait a while between each time, to let your magicka rebuild. But practice is important, without it, talent is wasted."
"Thank you Calindil!" the Breton exclaimed, a smile beaming through the bruises that marred her features. She lifted one hand in the air, in the same pose Volsinius had seen so many mages use. A white light burst from within her fist, and fell about her as she uncurled her fingers. The centurion stared in amazement as half the bruises on her face vanished in the wake of the brilliant glow. "I will!"
"Alright kid," Volsinus grumbled. He led her out of the shop and under the portico outside. "Let's leave the man to his work. Besides, we need to get you some new clothes if you are going to be working in the palace with me."
"I want to be a battlemage!" the young girl declared as they walked in the shade within the columns.
"Damn right you will be kid," Volsinius said, laying a hand on her shoulder. Inside he groaned however, how on Nirn was he going to pay for the Arcane University on a centurion's salary?