Thank you so much, mALX! You picked up exactly what I was hoping to show with Kado. And now of course I have a whole bunch of Kado story buzzing in my head, argh! Jerric may never get out of Anvil. haute ecole rider:
I’m glad you enjoyed the breakfast scene. Jerric was definitely in over his head, and it was nice to let Darnand take care of business. I had to give Clesa some help, no way was I going to let Ernest get his hands on Flash! Thank you for your approval of Kado. Acadian:
The lamp post is one of my favorite Jerric and Darnand moments, I’m so glad you pointed it out! Thank you for your remarks about Kado, he had a lot to say in a few words. D. Foxy:
I am astonished and humbled. And also
Thank you so much, Foxy!Where we are:
Abiene has arrived at the beach hut to teach Jerric some illusion magic.Chapter 10: Septims, Part 18
Abiene swept into the hut, pink-cheeked and breathless from the wind. Her cold nose pressed into Jerric’s open collar made him laugh. He lifted her over to stand in front of the fire.
“Business first,” she said resolutely, even though she already had her arms around him.
He decided that meant he should quit grinding against her. He stepped back and crossed his arms over his chest. “I’m ready when you are.”
Abiene removed her cloak and hung it on the wooden peg by the door. “At the guild hall I would give you a potion first, so that you could feel the spell’s effects before you try to cast it. I’m sorry, I forgot to bring one. Do you know how to make a potion that will light the area around you? I don’t remember. I’m afraid I haven’t spent much time with illusion magic since University.”
“Sure. White seed pods and alkanet flowers. I’ve never used one, but I’ve made plenty. Let me check my bag.” Jerric dumped his gathering sack out onto his small table. “Look, here’s… Well, there’s a lot here. No alkanet. I know I found some dried ones, must have given them to Felen.”
Abiene looked away from the jumbled mess, smoothing her skirt. “I’ll cast the spell then, and you try to read it. Like an enchantment. If Darnand is right, you might be able to do it. Are you ready? Here it goes.”
Abiene raised her hand and whispered a word. Green light spilled out of her open palm and seeped into the space around them. Jerric stretched out his magical sense, reading the spell.
It was in his mind. The sense of wrong forced the breath out of him, and he reached out reflexively to shove Abiene. He stopped himself in time, barely. The green light winked away.
“What is it?” she gasped, taking a step back.
“I’m sorry! It’s just… The light was in my head
. It’s a trick! There is
no light.” He ran a nervous hand through his hair.
Abiene’s eyes were still wide and startled. “You’ve seen a light spell before, haven’t you? You must have!”
“Yeah, but I didn’t know what it was doing. Are other folk all right with this?”
“Of course.” Abiene stepped toward him again. He let her take his hands. “When I’ve healed you, I’ve sent my magicka throughout all of you. It didn’t seem to upset you at all.”
“You weren’t tricking me. That light spell changed my thoughts
. It made me see what isn’t there! How can you do that to someone?”
“Jerric, I…” Abiene looked embarrassed and confused. “Illusion magic is… No one means you harm with a light spell.”
Jerric squeezed her hands, still disturbed by his reaction. “I know you don’t mean me any harm. You can cast light around me any time, I trust you. I just won’t pay attention to it, or something.” He drew her closer and ran his palms up to her shoulders, trying to shake off his uneasy feeling. Somehow her hands got under his shirt.
“We should try again,” she said with determination. “You learned your first alteration spell so quickly. I know I can teach you an illusion spell.”
“All right.” He stepped back. “How about one that only I can see by. ‘Eyes at Night,’ or something.”
“That’s an apprentice spell. Light is the one everyone starts with.” She looked thoughtful for a moment. “A weak charm spell isn’t too difficult. I’ll do it first, like before. Are you ready?”
Jerric nodded, and she cast the spell.
It could have been hours later, or only one. Jerric’s head pounded as if he had tried to drown himself in flin. His neck burned with tension, and his legs needed to run. Abiene looked ready to weep. He still had not learned any illusion magic.
“Once again,” Abiene said hopelessly.
“Never mind, I’ll keep using torches.” Jerric reached over and opened the door for some air, then closed it when he saw her shiver. “It’s getting late. You should stay, and I’ll cook us some dinner. I’ll go kill something. There’s always a crab nearby.” He rolled his shoulders, letting go of his tension.
Abiene took a deep breath and let it out. She looked at his hearth dubiously. “Can you even cook here? There’s no… thing you hang the pots upon.”
“It’s just like cooking on a campfire when you don’t have a crane. The hardest part is hauling the water from town. The well here is foul. Sometimes I just use seawater.”
“Eew! Fish — I’m not drinking seawater!”
“Not to drink.” Jerric laughed, his strain easing. “To boil things and wash with.”
“No, thank you! Seawater is dirty.”
“I’m surprised to hear you say that, considering where you’ll put your… That is to say, what you’re willing…” Abiene’s look did not encourage him to continue. “Never mind,” he concluded.
“That’s different.” She smiled up at him, sliding her hands back under his shirt. “I mean there’s the bedchamber, and then there’s what you’d put in the soup. I don’t mind seawater in the washbasin. I just don’t want to swallow it.”
Jerric decided to let that statement go unremarked upon. “I’ll try to remember to bring more water from town. I just keep forgetting the damn bucket.” He began to lose track of what they had been talking about. “Look, my head is killing me. Let’s open the wine.”
His clay mugs were less than elegant, but the vintage was good. He handed Abiene her cup and watched.
“Tamika’s 415!” She was clearly surprised. “This wine is excellent. You shouldn’t, Jerric. It must have cost you more than anything in this room.”
“Well you don’t like beer or ale, and I’m not going to give you cheap wine. Don’t take this the wrong way, but you’re too fine for this hut. I mean, whenever I picture you in my mind, you’re always in a nice place. Like your room at the guild.”
“You picture me? When?”
“Whenever you’re not here. Last night, for example.” Jerric grabbed his crotch and grinned at her.
Abiene threw her head back, laughing. “You are so rude
“Just how you like me. I love to hear you laugh like that, Abiene. Why aren’t you always this way?”
The smile left her face. “People are always measuring me, checking to see if I’m doing anything wrong. Not everyone, but sometimes it’s too much. When you look at me, I know you just see who I am. I don’t have to guard myself with you, Jerric.”
“You can be yourself with anyone. Who you are is good enough. The rest of them can go hump themselves if they don’t like it.”
“I know that’s how you feel. I suppose I just can’t let go of all the expectations. I’m afraid I’ll disappoint them.”
“I don’t even know any more.” Abiene looked away, chewing her lip.
Jerric took her cup and set it with his on the cluttered table. “Abiene, I don’t mean to upset you. But this is pretty important, I think. Is that why you don’t want people to know about us? Are you ashamed of me?”
“Jerric, don’t.” She wouldn’t meet his eyes.
“Because I’m a Nord? It’s all right to say, I know I’ll never be smart like Darnand. I’m not angry, Abiene. I just wonder, that’s all.” He tried to turn her face toward him, but she pulled away. “Is it the drinking? I haven’t been on a real bender since I got back.”
“Please stop, Jerric.” Her face crumpled in distress.
“Look, don’t cry. Dammit, I’m sorry.”
“There is nothing
I would change about you. Nothing,” she choked.
“All right. Hush, Abiene.” He reached out to draw her to him. “I won’t ask again, promise. I’m not going to start saying no to you.”
“You should say no to me!” She hit him on the stomach. “You should say no, because I won’t, I won’t say it! And you’re going to go, and I won’t be here when you return! And what if you don’t? How will I know what’s happened to you, if you never return?” Her words ended in ragged sobs.
Jerric caught her hands, bewildered by her outburst. Everything she had said was something that they already knew. “We’re both here now,” he said softly, trying to soothe her. “This is borrowed time, we should just enjoy it.” He doubted that reasonable talk would help the situation. Instead he held her close until the storm passed.
Eventually Abiene sniffed deeply in the folds of his shirt. Her voice sounded thick with tears and a stuffy nose. “I don’t want them to know that I lost you,” she said in a muffled tone. “When everyone looks at me, it will remind them that you left. It’s too much to bear.”
Jerric didn’t have an answer for that, but he understood it. A sudden glance of pity could feel like a punch in the throat. He still hadn’t been able to face Rhano’s parents, knowing that he stood for everyone they had lost.
He decided there was nothing to be gained from that kind of talk. Maybe he could tease a smile out of her. “Look, you’re making me upset too,” he said, keeping his tone light. “Come on, let’s get our clothes off. We can go swimming, it’s only a little dark and cold. Unless you have a better idea.” He tried not to grin, but he couldn’t help it.
Abiene started laughing through her tears, her hands still twisted in his shirt and shaking. Jerric thought that was a good beginning.
Later he held her in his bed, watching the fire die down. Her skin warmed the length of his side, but he could feel the cold creeping through the wall. She was so still, he thought she had fallen asleep.
“What did you mean, you’re on borrowed time?” she asked him softly.
Jerric wound his fingers in her hair and tried to look at her face, but she kept it turned toward the fire. He spoke quietly too, as if a normal voice could cause the moment to break. “I don’t belong to myself any more. What I need to do, I won’t live through. I’ve seen it in my dreams. There’s no future with me, Abiene. We should go ahead and say goodbye.”
“It’s what they say about you, isn’t it. Lionheart. You’re going to save us from the daedra when they come.” He saw the firelight gleam on her silent tears.
“Not just me, and I have to try. That’s why I’m still around, my purpose. You saw how I was when I got here. You helped me pull myself together again. I’m so sorry that it hurt you.”
Abiene turned her face toward him now, letting him see the depth of her grief. “Don’t you want to live?”
He knew what she was asking. “I can’t hope for us and still do what I need to. I guess a better man could. I’d just keep wanting to take you away somewhere and keep you safe.” He brushed his thumb under her eye, gathering her tears. “There’s a lot for you to live for, Abiene. It’s going to get darker, but there’s still a way through it.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean don’t give up, no matter what. It’s not for me to explain.”
She was silent for several minutes. Jerric listened to the embers crackle and the surf outside washing up onto the shore.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t teach you the light spell,” she finally said.
“I couldn’t learn it. There’s a difference.”
“I wish there was more I could do for you.”
“If you think of something, I know you’ll do it.” I wonder when the message will come from Martin, he thought. Each time I hold her could be the last.
Abiene lifted her head to look at him again. “What do you see in your dreams?”
“Fire. Teeth and claws. A daedroth kills me, I think. It’s always the same.” Fresh tears slipped down her cheeks. He felt relieved that they had stopped pretending it would somehow be all right. Better to face this now together than later when she’s alone, he decided. “Don’t worry, I’ll go out fighting.”
“You must go to Leyawiin, Jerric.” Her voice held a desperate note. “You’ll need to for your recommendations anyway. Dagail is the Chapter Head there, she’s a powerful mystic. Dreams can tell you all kinds of things, it might not be what it seems.” She pushed herself up, taking his face in her hands. A burst of pain sent his breath out in a grunt.
“Abiene,” he gasped. “Your knee —”
“I’m sorry!” Her frantic scramble cost him more agony. By the end of it he lay curled around himself, groaning. She sprawled on the floor, rubbing her hip. “I’m so sorry! Let me heal you! Oh, this floor is so sandy…” Her voice trailed into giggles, unsuccessfully smothered.
The pain faded into glittering light, and he rolled onto his back. He found Abiene’s hand still on his side. She held her other hand across her mouth, tears and laughter spilling over it.
Jerric sighed and looked up at the hut’s exposed rafters. “I know this is only temporary. But we could stand a bigger bed.”