1874-08-12: The Forge
The Forge
Summary: Alia settles to her studies.
Date: 1874-08-12
Related: Wild Berries
NPCs: None

Alia ached. It was not what she felt, as she settled onto the chair in the map room, one of the only places in the keep where she might be afforded a moment of privacy, it was what she was. And it was not solely her body, but something in her mind, some part of herself that was more than the headache that pounded at her temples. She reached out, using the back of her hand to test the temperature of the draught which the apothecary had provided her. Likely, she could have crafted better, and if money had been no object, she would have done. Or perhaps it was simply that part of her that refused to surrender to the pain she endured daily that made her take the low road when she could have gone high. That made her accept the lesser healing rather than the greater. So that she had something to remind herself of what it was to still be imperfect, a tool not yet fully forged.

'Not quite yet.' The draught had not reached the point where it would be warm enough to drink, the only way she could manage the pungent taste of the healing potion. How did those who had only this to resort to endure it? Well, she had done well enough, and she would endure it, so long as it was necessary. She looked down at herself, at the bruises, new ones built upon older ones, that gathered there along her arms, noting the glisten of the numbing salve which had done something to ease the pain, feeling the ones beneath her armour that she could not see. She judged that there were not so many as there had been on the morning after that first lesson when she began her training with the Centurion. She thought it would not be long, before she could acquit herself well enough. Each morning, every morning, with no days set aside for rest, respite offered only on those days when Maximus could not spare the time. Training with the blade, and with the armor for which she had been fitted. It was not an evil, but simply another pain to be endured. No steel was ever forged in a chill furnace.

Like the burns, which dotted and streaked upward along her strong left hand and forearm, which were also much reduced, another step on the road. And as she considered, her hand found the small coin, which she now kept always on her person, a thing of pure lightsilver, so precious that she might have worked half a year or more to afford it, settled it on her knuckles as she began to roll it across her fingers, the silver circle igniting with flame, bright and pale platinum as the coin flowed over her fingers, leaving her skin unscathed. It has been the first trick she had been taught once her lessons had begun. The morning was for her martial training, the afternoons for her sorcererous one. On occasion, she had been privileged to train with the Princeps, but most often, she found herself working with such members of the legion's sorcerers as had the same power that she did. They studied, they practiced, and they fought. No scholars these, but battle hardened sorcerers who had training that even the College of Sorcery had not been able to offer to any of the ones who came to Four Corners. Those lessons were more draining than any work with the blade. That training worked muscles which were not physical, but mental, stretching her abilities to the breaking point and remaking them into something finer and more focused.

The coin faded, the flame flickering out as it settled onto the back of her fingers, cooler than the warmth of the skin beneath it, lying still there for a long moment, before she set it aside. This time, when she checked the draught it was warm enough, and she poured a measure of it, before she drew the letter she had been set to finish back towards herself. Ink and quill, set the paper.


All is well. I am with the XIIIth, and have found a place here. I do not know yet when it will be, but I am set to make a return to Four Corners shortly to acquire such supplies as we need, and to see you, of course. Have you found a new 'apprentice' to replace me yet? I trust they have not left your station in as great a shambles as I once did. I look forward to hearing your news, and sharing with you what I can of mine.


Alia set the pen aside, dusted the parchment with sand and set it aside as she picked up the glass, sipping at it as she pulled a small wrapped parcel to rest in front of her, her hand drawing back the supple sheepskin, revealing the book held within. A treatise on magic which had been leant to her for study. Even touching it, still, was a wonder to her. No such tomes existed in the Western Kingdoms, not since the Church and those who had allied themselves to the same cause had carried out their crusade to burn every bit of knowledge related to sorcery, and in so doing, left those who had been touched by magic upon its return stumbling like children in the dark to teach themselves how to use this new, terrible power. Alia sipped the draught, and as she delved into the text, she did not even notice the flavour.

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