Nîda: Tears, pt II

      Today’s snippet, titled “Tears, Pt. II”, 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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      “You clumsy little bitch!”
      Wincing, Celenîdaneth ducked her head so low that the heavy wimple slid forward upon her forehead. Frantic to avoid a beating, she reached up to push the headpiece into place. For a moment, the world slid into slow motion. She saw a curl tumble down in front of her eyes in unison with the apples from her basket, as they bounced to the floor. One splattered, the pale flesh and clear juices smattering the hem of Marianne Lightweaver’s gown.
      By the Grace and the Glory! she cursed, hurtling herself after the wayward fruit. “I’ll get them, ma’am, just a moment-”
      “It is too late, you oaf. There will be no dessert for the returning warriors and-” Her black eyes narrowed to emphasize her point. “You have stained my best dress.”
      Celenîdaneth felt her face going pink with humiliation. She bit her tongue – hard – as her Aunt had warned her weeks ago (after the second behavioral suspension was handed down) to keep from pointing out that the clear fluid would be invisible once it dried and that the Lady was just being a petty old witch because she knew that Master Sorvanir preferred his newest apprentice to his most senior one.
      “You will skip your afternoon lessons today and take my gown to that ugly fellow who lives on the Rhododendron Circle. His are the only washerwomen who can get stains out of fine silk.”
      Rage flared in her heart and she leapt to her feet. “I will not miss my lessons, Marianne. I will not.”
      A sharp slap surprised her and she could only blink in horror as the senior apprentice’s tirade continued. “Don’t you dare speak back to me, you dirty little leaf-licker! And how dare you use my given name, as if you had earned the honor! You are a worm beneath my boot heel until the Master says otherwise and at this rate, he shall never do so!
      “For that matter, if you don’t make yourself presentable before decent company this instant, I shall recommend to the Master that you are flogged as a harlot and sent back to that demented old aunt. You will never learn anything beyond a cantrip, if I have my say about it!”
      With that, Marianne Lightweaver turned on her heel and stormed away before her subordinate could frame a reply.
      Celenîdaneth hurled the empty basket to the ground, furious as she had rarely been in her life. Hot tears spilled down her cheeks as she stooped to retrieve the bruised apples.
      “You shouldn’t let her speak to you that way.”
      Glancing up, Celenîdaneth saw Harry Bluetoes standing in the doorway. Her face burned with shame as she reached up to push her hair back into place. “I wish you hadn’t seen that, Harry.”
      “Pfft,” the halfling waved his hand, moving closer. “Marianne is a bit of a twat. You ought to ignore her, everyone else does.”
      “She’s in charge of the other apprentices, myself included. You know that. If I don’t bite my tongue she’ll ship me back to my Aunt in a heartbeat.”
      “You worry too much,” he plucked a damaged apple from her arms and took a bite. The juices ran down his chin and he grinned. “They’re fine. Once they’re chopped up in a pie, no one’ll know they’re bruised to all Hell.”
      Celenîdaneth sat back on her heels and smiled at him. “You are such a fool, Harry Bluetoes. I do not know why we put up with your antics.”
      “You love me. Admit it.”
      A blush colored her cheeks and she turned to reach for another fruit. “You do make me feel a mite better about it here. You know, I hadn’t expected it to be like this.”
      “You wanted glamour and fame right out the gate? All silver gowns and parades?”
      “No,” she paused. “But I expected I would be learning real magic by now, rather than just acting as serving girl to Marianne and the kitchen staff. I didn’t realize how much of a pain this bloody wimple would be either!”
      He laughed, “Its temporary. Once you’ve got the discipline required, you’ll have a bit more freedom. And the spells and all that, it’ll come soon and it’ll be overwhelming I bet. In a year or two, you’ll come round crying, ‘Oh Harry, it is terrible! I have to brush my hair all the time because learning Gust of Wind tangles it so, and the Master gives so many papers to write, my hand is want to fall off!’ I bet you’ll miss the wimple and the simple days of bruised pears-”
      “They’re apples!”
      “Whatever.” Harry shrugged and took another bite, speaking through the pulp. “You’ll miss it.”
      “I probably won’t be around long enough to miss anything,” Celenîdaneth sighed. “If Marianne has her way.”
      Harry touched her arm. He was half her height, but she never noticed that – his confidence and bearing made him seem as tall as a giant and as mighty as a lion. “Master Sorvanir – all the Masters – they like you. They talk of your dedication and improvement all the time at supper. Give yourself a bit more time, Celenîdaneth, and a bit more credit too. You are doing well. And anyway, it is far beyond time Marianne graduated into the ranks or was put aside. She has been an apprentice for fifteen years, after all.
      “She’s too frail to be a Paladin or a Warrior, and she’s too prideful to settle for any mundane position. I imagine, to save face, she will soon as to be transferred to an itinerancy, where she can interview potentials in the hinterlands and where no one will know of her failure to qualify for a full entrance into the Legion.”
      “Fifteen years isn’t so long,” she said. “I have waited twice as long just to be admitted as an apprentice.”
      “You’re an elf, Celenîdaneth, she’s human. You are what, less than fifty? She is thirty-two. You are fully grown, but your own people will not consider you an adult for some decades yet. By that time, maybe long before – she will be dead.”
      No one had ever put the differences out so plainly for her. She frowned.
      Harry squeezed her hand. “Don’t fret, they do not despise you for your elven blood. Marianne, and the others of a like mind, are really just jealous. You are a constant reminder of their own mortality.”
      “I don’t mean to be.” Celenîdaneth pursed her lips thoughtfully. “What can I do?”
      “To be less an elf?” He was amused and his gaze was locked on her lips, which puzzled her.
      “To fit in… more. Better.”
      Harry pulled away and gave her a once over with a critical eye. “Keep your wimple on, for one. Those ears… yikes. So elf-y. Can’t do much about your eyes, I guess. Are you practiced with that one cantrip Mistress Sobiesse uses to keep her hair glossy red?”
      “Prestidigitation. The second spell my Aunt taught me.”
      “Great. You can-” Harry frowned. “Bugger that, ignore me.”
      Celenîdaneth thrust a fist into her hip. “Harry – tell me what you were about to say.”
      “I don’t reckon you oughta change a thing about yourself. You just keep watching them with your lovely weird eyes and if your ears peek out of the wimple, so be it. You are who you are, after all, and who you are is pretty fucking great.”
      Blushing once more, she reached up to adjust her headpiece. “Harry… I-”
      He stood upright suddenly, stepping away from her. “You know, there is one thing you could do. If you really do want to fit in more better.”
      “Anything. I really do.”
      “These folk can speak a dozen languages each and memorize incantations and prayers all day, but if there’s one thing they love it is a shortcut. Give yourself a nickname – quick before they give you one. What was that Marianne called you? A leaf-licker?”
      Celenîdaneth made a face. The insult was common enough that she refused to let it bother her on a personal level, though may the Inheritor strike down any brave enough to use it in regard to someone she loved.
      “My name… is Celenîdaneth Hinawynakir Iamorganel Loshenthenniel. It is a proud elven name. Why should I give that up?”
      “No one said give it up, not entirely anyway. Besides, you gotta admit it is quite a mouthful, even for an elf name. But you did say you’d do anything, didn’t you? Why are you okay hiding your ears and changing your appearance but not with a short name to uh… what’s the word?”
      “Aye, that. Why for?”
      She thought for a moment, then gave a rueful shrug. “You are wise, for a little sword-swinger.”
      “Damn right, I am. So, what’ll it be? Cellie? Nettie? Daisy?”
      With a shake of her head, Celenîdaneth straightened her shoulders. “No, none of those. I think… it will be Nîda.”
      “Nee-dah,” Harry tasted the word, experimentally. “Nîda. I like it. Suits you.”
      Genuinely pleased, Nîda beamed.

– – – – – – – – – – –
Signed, Josie
Note: Image is “King Jagiello Statue Central” by (Mulligand) from SXC.hu; edited by me

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