Part 7 – So much work to do.

Sahren looked up to the man, literally, and figuratively from the new interest blooming onto the lines of her features, something fierce to them, a hunger that even nervousness and fear cant’ quite contain.

“So much work to do…Y-yes, that I can see…So much work for you to do, and so much in your hands. I think you are just what we need to teach us, Sir. Now is not a time for lessons, for soft and steady exercises, not after last night…There is no time to learn, is there? There is only time to be shown how to prevail…A Mage has a path that only they can walk, so why worry about walking it with them, all you can do is show us how to survive until we each reach out destinations.” There was a sad knowledge to her tone a certainty odd for one so young, though in trust she’s so close to womanhood, childhood fading

Anrui took a long, slow breath.

“Hey,” he says finally with a small smile. “I thought I was supposed to be the one consoling you here. Teacher to student and all that?”

Sahren blushed, a blaze of ruddy red blooming across her cheeks, teeth chewing her lower lip as she seems to shrink a foot into the pebbly sand, muttering away out to sea.

“S-sorry, I didn’t m-mean to overstep any bounds…”

“Not at all,” the Regulator said with a laugh, wrapping a protective arm around Sahren’s shoulders. “It shows a kind of strength few of us ever bother to practice. Compassion.”

Sahren stiffened against the surprise of his arm, then as if her whole body sighs she relaxes, a shiver running down the length of her body.

“You seemed as lost as any of us,” she said, struggling for something to say. “It is easy to forget that Regulators are people, you all seem so calm and knowing. I saw my father cry, just once, when my brother died…It was a lesson I haven’t forgotten Do you feel any better, at least?”

“Mostly,” he nodded. “Though I’m still steamed that the Gault got in. And Moar…” A bewildered shake of the head. “I can’t believe they sent the Chief of the Gault tribe. Must have been after someone specific to send that killer.”

Sahren set her hand to the small of his back, a conciliatory rub, soft and unsure, her small hand a butterfly’s wing of uncertainty.

“They will not have an easy time in future, Sir, I know you will be ready for them, and with your help we can be ready for them. Do you know who they were after…I am sorry to say I still get confused over who is who and who does what here.”

“It’ll get clear,” he said with the vague certainty of one who’s had the same trials. “But as to who the Gault were after… I can only guess. And guesswork is not productive.”

He relaxed somewhat, finally, the singing of his ametrine bangle rippling to a halt. The man’s nearly dead on his feet for lack of sleep, and it’s beginning to show in his mood.

“I’ll be leaving the Blackcards to Grale and Caspiain for a few days,” he said distractedly, eyes glazed and forcing for focus. “Cas lost the majority of his class. Has some free time. And Grale is better with physical battle than I am.”

Sahren let her arm drop, just looking at him, a little disappointment rippling her face but soon hidden.

“You will come back, won’t you?” It was as close to a plea as she’d give in to, finally finding someone to talk to a coup. “Though, I’d say a little rest would go a long way for now…” The young farmgirl used to mothering it seems.

He nodded, raising his free hand to rub at his eyes.

“I’ll be back, yes. I just need to make a jaunt up to Wyvern Lake, see how Morvran is doing up there with his. Bring him a note from the Accord. Shouldn’t be more than five or six days, weather permitting.” He smiled and gave Sahren’s shoulder an affectionate squeeze before nodding, and heading down the beachfront, back toward the barracks. Five or six days yes, but only once he actually woke up. With the ache he’s in for, that might double the trip.

She offers a weak smile, but it is a start, the worry lines of her features smoothing prettily as she watching him go

“Have a safe trip, Sir…” Her arms fold about her chest soon enough. The words soft and tremulously spoken as she turns back to the waves, watching dawn break higher over the sea, tired herself, but sleep a long way off, past all the clouds of her own thoughts and doubts, and the new hopes seeded by a single conversation.

Part 6 – Finding a reason

She was watching him now, interest a soft blue flicker of flame in her gaze

“How did you cope with what you were? What you can do…I don’t even know myself anymore, I was happy…And now I feel so lost, lost in the mists I’m supposed to become a controller of. My gift controls me, Sir…It scares me more than those who sought to kill me.”

There was a shiver of strength to the set of her shoulders now, the tall man so much more than the boys in her class, she didn’t have to stoop to talk to him, ad she was slowly learning that.

“I don’t want to hate myself anymore, Mireya told me I had to work to avenge the evil done against the good, but what if the evil sees me as evil and themselves as good…It is all a grey mist, things were simple on the farm with Ma and Father.”

Anrui  just… Smiled.

“Good and evil are perspectives.” The pale man shrugged, lifting his hands uselessly. “It’s hard to say what the Dornans and the Xul think. They attacked first, many years ago, and we’ve been fighting a slowly losing battle, ever since the Saervan Beach engagement when the Grey Man disappeared twenty years ago. I think I was only about three then.” Anrui shook his head, looking back out over the ocean.

“You need to find your own reason to fight. Everyone has one. Everyone has their own way. Mine is through battle. Some turn the path of the Healers, though there is danger in that as well. Some become assassins. Some, artisans, shaping armour and weapons for the mundane soldiers in Wyvern Lake. You’ll find your own path. Just hope you do before one is forced upon you by the Divine.”

“War, does it serve a purpose for the gods, or is it a purpose for men?” The girl had obviously been spending much time asking questions that would not have answers, a keen intelligence behind the slovenly reticence that many had taken for backwater stupidity. “How do I find my path, Sir? Being a healer sounds nice…Until I think of the wounded, the dying, the helplessness that comes with having to watch young men become young corpses….They are so calm, and I feel like there’s a storm broiling in my head….Will you teach us what we could become? How do you teach something you yourself have said is so personal

“That’s part of my trouble.” He frowned, crossing his arms against the cool breeze. “I’m not cut out for this teaching thing. I’m a field agent. An assassin. It’s a harsh job, but it’s what my talents play to. It’s definitely not what I want, but what I want often doesn’t enter into the matter. And now that I’ve been made Arbiter…”

He shook his head.

“I can tell you about the professions. The paths in the mage forces. But we won’t have time for that yet. There’s so much work to do.” This last was said like a mantra for Frost’s entire life. So much work to do. A sad vector to a brilliant Weaver’s thoughts, but perhaps the only thing keeping him in line. This was a man who existed for Duty. Honour. Courage. There was clearly little else of value in his life.

Part 5 – “Power comes to live inside those who are willing.”

The attempt turned out to be pointless. Less than a half hour later, Anrui was back on the beach.  Dawn shuddered over the horizon, leaving the outline of massive gouges where the Gault ship had beached the night before, as well as trails of footprints leading up to the main quadrangle, where still lay the [...]

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Part 4 – Real Power

Even among the mists and the lightning, the two carved an awesome path against each other, primal rage meeting incredible focus – but none could say which of the two embodied what. The Gault chief’s sword was a blur of black steel, meeting the massive sword of light at every turn and – - the [...]

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Part 3 – Chimecleaver

A void formed about the Regulator and his charge, fear forcing the students away from the clump and into each other. Kintere , Mireya and Rhayd found themselves beside a shivering Sahren, many ranks behind the front, having earned a momentary respite as the battle resumed after the brutal slaying of one of their own. [...]

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Part 2 – The Moar Gault

Anrui saw the last of his students emerge. Among them was Sahren, barefooted and rosy cheeked, freshly plucked from the flowerbed of sleep. Lithe, wiry muscles bunching and contracting beneath the thick cotton of her nightgown, adrenaline surged as she sprinted to the call of her teachers, running headlong into fear. Far from her usual [...]

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Part 1 – Attack!

A burning pain in Anrui’s shoulder wrapped icy fingers around his chest and heaved him out of the calm warm river of his dreams, depositing him on the cool sweat-coated sheets of his bed. It took a moment for him to realize where he was; back in the real world, back at Lockwood. Unable to [...]

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Part 10 – Different…

Sahren chewed on the words a moment, looking down to watch the surf lapping at the sand, refraining from looking at him as she spoke. “There was an accident on the farm, Pa got trapped under the harvesting thresher, there was blood everywhere and Jarn the farm hand was screaming….I ran to help – I [...]

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Part 9 – Surprise!

Sahren stood agape, completely taken aback by the change in the man – her Instructor – watching him with near open-mouthed surprise. Nearly taking a step back as he springs forward but instead she finds herself swaying towards him, even letting a smile slip across her own lips – infected by his enthusiasm. “I don’t [...]

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Part 8 – The Lessons Begin

Sahren was late again, the girl’s long legged sprint proving her penitence for her tardiness at the very least. Easily as tall as most men, each stride sent sprays of sand after her, flaxen hair an unkempt flag glowing in the morning sun. Still trying to straighten out the rough wool tunic and properly tighten [...]

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