Today’s snippet, titled “Tears, Pt. I”, is a piece I wrote about my PC in Mark’s new (Good) Pathfinder Campaign.
Be forewarned, there are mature themes and naughty language below.
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“Celenîdaneth, bring me some of those dried newts, would you?”
She bobbed a curtsy and rushed out of the chamber, drying her hands on her apron. At the far end of the apartment, which made no sense to her mind, was The Pantry. It was a room approximately nine feet deep and four feet across. Each wall was lined, floor to ceiling, with shelves and bins; twine draped from side to side across the top creating drying racks for a multitude of herbs and flowers. The smell was pungent, but not unpleasant. Several of the containers had tiny, inconspicuous locks upon them. These held Celenîdaneth’s favorite components – various gems, precious stones, and gleaming dust of the same.
As she plucked a handful of amphibian husks from the bin, Celenîdaneth closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. There was dust, yes, and varieties of musty dung, but there was also the sharp, spicy scent of clove and cinnamon, the soft honeysuckle, the delicate lily, the powerfully sweet silver rose. Brimstone and a hundred types of feathers, eyelashes, hairs and furs, rocks and minerals, eyeballs and claws and tails, ichor and blood and oozes. Chamomile, juniper, mint, rosemary, and rue. Coal and seeds, leaves and roots, bones and fingernails, bits of dried flesh. Chalk and talc and many fungi. An entire shelf dedicated to dozens of pots of ink from the inkiest black to a thick crimson that could have been blood and even a pale, ghostly white that would disappear when it dried. There were even a few living insects buzzing around in large glass jars and two cages of mostly tame mice tucked into the corner.
The Pantry was Celenîdaneth’s favorite place in all the world. Not for her, the verdant meadows and ancient forests of her ancestors. No, Celenîdaneth was an urbanite and given the choice – even taking into consideration her living conditions – she would choose the city every time.
Hastily, she tucked the dessicated beasties into a square of silk and dusted her hands off. She hustled across the apartment wordlessly.
“At last! Thank you, asuni-hîna,” Morgwendaneliel snatched the bit of cloth and shook the newts into her own palm. Dark violet eyes examined each one carefully, poking at them with a fingernail. At length, she selected four and cast a grin at Celenîdaneth. “Attend, child. This should be quite- hmm – interesting.”
Morgwendaneliel practically jittered with excitement. Each year her studies grew more intense, as if she was attempting to cram entire centuries into the final decades of her mortal life. Celenîdaneth clasped her hands before her, peering over her aunt’s shoulder as she mixed the last components into the stew. Within her iron cauldron, sparks began to pop, sending tiny bolts of purple lightening across the surface of a viscous blue liquid. Celenîdaneth bit her lip and cast a sidelong glance toward her aunt.
“…How very… Queer.”
“That is not reassuring, Aunt.” Celenîdaneth said, and took a single step back. “Is it supposed to rattle so?”
Morgwendaneliel pushed back her stood and waddled back a few paces, shaking her head. “Oh no, asuni-hîna, not according to my researching. Most unusual. Most- Oh! Oh, bugger all! I forgot the rice.”
The pot fizzled and danced in its bracket above the small conjured fire. Were it not for a very real fear of mortal danger – or at least, possible disfigurement – Celenîdaneth would have been terribly amused at the way her aunt began tottering around the study, flinging aside her tools and implements in search of that pinch of rice she had forgotten.
“Here it is!” The old woman was breathless as she held up the prized pouch. Wheezing, she tossed it to her niece, her asuni-hîna, and ordered her to dump it in.
“The whole thing?” Celenîdaneth’a eyes widened. This was an exact science – she could hardly fathom dumping in any component without a fairly precise measurement.
“Yes, yes! All of it! Quickly now, quickly!”
Celenîdaneth yanked the knot open and upended the rice into the pot.Instantaneously, the roiling cobalt goo calmed itself and the sparks ceased popping. It faded rapidly, changing shades until it was a fairly ill-looking grey hue. One last rebellious bubble burst upon the surface, startling her.
There was an awkward moment of silence and Celenîdaneth chewed her lower lip nervously. Suddenly, Morgwendaneliel began to chortle. Her entire frame, frail and white-haired and wrinkled as a raisin, shook with mirth and she had to cling to the edge of the ancient oak table just to remain on her feet.
Try as she might, Celenîdaneth could not refrain from joining in. Tears streaming down her cheeks, she doubled over and held her belly as she laughed. It went on for several moments, this hysterical scene, until both of them were gasping for air and crimson-faced.
“Erm- excuse me ma’am,” came a timid voice. “Is aught all right?”
Morgwendaneliel waved the serving girl away, trying to catch her breath. Her hair, a snowy-cloud of wispy braids which she wore artfully pinned atop her head while working, had tumbled down around her shoulders and the grin took six hundred years from her face. Rather than nearly eight hundred, Morgwendaneliel seemed as fresh as a maid of eighty.
“Oh, by the Grace and Glory,” she wheezed, plopping down on a battered velvet settee in the corner. “I think, Celenîdaneth, my dear girl, that your old auntie has reached the very pinnacle of her potential.”
“Surely that’s not true,” Celenîdaneth swept onto the bench beside her aunt and took those speckled hands into her own. “You’ve had a setback, that is all. We all must fail in order to learn.”
Morgwendaneliel stroked her cheek, pressing a stray lock of hair behind an ear. “Wise child. Oh, that I were as brave as you when I was young.”
She managed an embarrassed smile. It had been thirty years since she had insisted upon staying on in Kenabres, though in truth, she felt she had but blinked and the years were gone. Elves mature more slowly than other races, but Celenîdaneth had considered herself an adult from the very first day without her family, striding through the streets on her coltish little legs with her hunch-backed aunt at her side. Celenîdaneth had been certain in every fiber of her being, that she could simply present herself to the Silver Legion and be accepted on the spot.
Naturally, the Legion’s intake clerk had been tremendously polite, but he was also firm in his rejection. You may one day make a fantastic Legionnaire, dear girl, but today I cannot add you to our rosters. Return to us when you are grown and possessed of a skill – then we shall have our Reckoning and be pleased to name you a Sister.
“I was not brave,” she said softly, “I was foolish. Wreckless.”
“No, Celenîdaneth, you were brave. Had I been so, when I was a maid in the village, I may have had a happy life. Perhaps I would not have let my heart grow so bitter, perhaps I would have married and had children of my own, perhaps I would now be a powerful Wizard in one of these Orders, stamping out evil.”
“No, no, child. Do not coddle me. I am pleased that you will be here, amongst the other races, as you were meant to be. In fact, I have been meaning to talk to you for some time now.”
Celenîdaneth’s brows furrowed as Morgwendaneliel grew serious.
“You are of an age now, and it is past time that I release my selfish grip upon you. No- please, do not speak now, asuni-hîna, let me finish. You have been as dutiful as any daughter, you have served me most faithfully in my own endeavors and I could not ask any more from you.”
“My studies will not end, dearest, you needn’t worry about me. But Ermasine will do nicely – she’s competent at making tea just as I like it and she’s quiet and clean. Her mother taught her a good deal about soothing the pains of old age as well, so I shall be well cared for once you have departed.”
Morgwendaneliel pressed a finger to her lips and smiled. “You must learn to listen, child, and not to speak back. I have been led to believe that Master Sorvanir Dogandawielle is-”
Celenîdaneth could not contain herself, interrupting her aunt with a delighted squeal. “Master Sorvanir! Truly? Oh, Auntie! Are you sincere?”
“As the moon,” she smiled. “He has a need for a new apprentice and with the rumors of a Third Crusade on the horizon, there will be no better time for you to begin your scholarly pursuits. I trust I have given you the basics, as I learned them at the Blackwing, but Master Dogandawielle is in line to become the next Grand Arcanist in the Silver Legion. With him, you will learn to defend our city with Terendelev herself. You will fulfill your every dream.”
“I shall learn to be quiet, I shall! I shall learn all he has to teach me! Oh Auntie, I have never been so happy!”
She threw her arms around those frail old shoulders and squeezed.
After a moment, she pulled away. “Shall I not live here, with you?”
Those snowy braids shook for a moment. “Master Dogandawielle requires his apprentices to be at his beck and call at all hours. When the spark of brilliance emerges, it must be fanned – whether it be dawn or dusk or midnight. Don’t worry, child. I shall keep your room just as you like it, so that when you are granted leave, you may come home to visit.”
Celenîdaneth nodded, fighting back happy tears.
“Now, we must have a few garments prepared before you go,” Morgwendaneliel said, touching her hair again. “You’ll need ample white, once you are initiated, and a proper wimple, but for your training – plain unbleached linen and wool, he said. Tsk. Brown never was your best color, was it?”
Chuckling, Celenîdaneth shook her head. “No. But I have always thought, rather vainly, that I shall be lovely in white and silver.”
“So you shall,” Morgwendaneliel agreed. “Indeed.”
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Note: Image is “King Jagiello Statue Central” by (Mulligand) from SXC.hu; edited by me