Today’s snippet, titled “Tears, pt V (a)”, 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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Nîda grinned as a quartet of small air elementals appeared around her feet. They played whimsical havoc with her long white robes, billowing her cloak and dancing with the veil hanging down her back. No taller than Jovi himself, they were androgynous sprites of pure wind and capriciousness.
“Four!” Jovi said triumphantly. “Four on my first try.”
“Very good, Jovi,” Nîda clapped her hands.
The halfling looked up at her, looping a finger into the chin of his coif and tugging at it. He had never gotten used to the head covering; unlike Nîda, who was most comfortable in hers, where she could blend in, Jovi would gladly give up his coif the instant he was initiated into the Order.
“Thank you, Arcanist Nîda.” He bowed with the proper courtesy and almost the right manner, yet the wicked little glimmer of humor in his dark eyes were ample evidence that he was only feigning solemnity.
“Are you prepared to do it again tomorrow, for the Masters Council?”
“And have you prepared-”
“All the spells and incantations I will need for the exams are ready and waiting for me, tiada. Don’t worry about a thing. I will not let you down.”
She would never admit it, but each time he used the affectionate appellation, tiada, she wanted to cry a bit. In her studies of halfling grammar, Nîda had come to know that its uses varied by region and even within villages or clans. Most often it was given to an older woman, not of blood relation, who one thought of as an aunt. Sometimes, as a mentor or honored elder, but always in an utterly platonic and singularly familial sort of manner.
It was never used to denote any personal attraction or sexual affinity.
She smiled at him and motioned for him to dismiss his summons. With a peal of laughter, each of the elementals obeyed his command and whirled out of this plane and back to their homeland. “I do wonder what we interrupted, by calling them here, and why they never seem to mind coming or going at our call.”
Jovi shrugged. “I just assumed they sat around waiting for the call and then leapt at the chance to visit the material plane.”
“No,” Nîda shook her head. “They most certainly do not. The Plane of Air is not a vacuum of wind just waiting for you to give it life Jovi. It is, as all the Planes, fiercely alive and much more populous than you imagine. Not as densely as the other elemental planes, of course. But it is alive.
“Though there is little land on that plane, as you might expect, there are great islands of ice, magically solidified clouds, and even some conjured rock. Silver and White dragons have wars up there, you know. Mephits born of Air live there, and elementals, yes. There are the ancient Djinn as well, and some outsiders. There are entire cities in the clouds, Jovi, entire communities built upon these queer iron spheres. No one knows when or why they were built or brought to the Plane of Air, and the Djinn avoid them, but they’re there.
“Someday, I should like to go back. I want to study those runes upon the bronze and iron orbs and find out what the symbols mean and who put them there – and why! I want to open one – no one ever has – and puzzle out the mysteries.” She paused, blushing a little as she realized how she had gone off on a tangent. “Master Sorvanir took me there some years ago…”
Jovi stopped short and Nîda was two strides ahead when she noticed and turned back to him. His face was cloudy as the sky before a storm and his hands were balled into fists on his hips.
“You should have gone years ago.”
“Nîda – you should be a master by now. You should be throwing around those seventh echelon spells like Master Sorvanir, you should be hopping to other planes to right wrongs and solve their mysteries and you should be on the front lines against the bad things in the Worldwound.
“Why aren’t you? Why did you just stop advancing? You’ve been Arcanist for, for years. You ought to be a Master by now. Everyone knows it but no one says it. Lord Henrietta told me and Mistress Yanagar that you have more potential than most any Arcanist to come through the Silver Legion in two hundred years. Why are you just my teacher?”
Nîda drew back, as if to hide her face behind the veil draping down from her wimple. An angry, embarrassed flush colored her cheeks and she struggled to frame a reply. Do not let yourself stagnate, Master Sorvanir had told her nearly ten years ago, You have it in you to become more powerful than I. More powerful than most. You have your motivations, I know, and you are so young yet – you must want to linger with other s of your maturity. But Celenîdaneth, you are like a daughter to me and my favorite apprentice in centuries, so I must tell you with the utmost love and respect that you are wasted here, tutoring the new wizards in their first- and -second-echelon spells. Go to the Tower. Advance yourself. Those scrolls I gave you when I thought to retire last year… they are of the fifth-echelon. You are only working third-echelon incantations because you spend all of your time helping the children. It is admirable, it is, to mold the minds of the youth but there are many who can do that. The world – Kenabres and Mendev – needs those with greater power to defend her. You should be amongst those great powers. Celenîdaneth… why do you stay?
She had not been able to explain it to her mentor anymore than she could explain it to herself in the years since. Yet as she looked down at young Jovi, twenty-four years old and vibrantly alive, filled with ambition and determination, Nîda realized that at last, she knew why.
“Because I- oh, by The Inheritor’s Blade, because I am a fool.”
She dropped to her knees before him and reached for his hands. Surprised by the tears welling up in her eyes, Nîda began to speak. “Jovi, I never knew it until it was too late, but I loved your grandfather. And when he left to marry your grandmother, it would have been uncouth and spiteful to tell him what I had finally figured out. And now, I have dedicated so much of my attention to you and to fostering your talent – one day you will be a fantastic theurge worthy of Mistress Yanagar and Master Sorvanir’s praise. But in all this time, I have made a horrible, unforgivable, disgusting mistake.
“I have allowed my heart to be clouded again – I love you Jovi, more than is appropriate for a teacher and her student. For a young man and his tiada. And that… the desire to stay here with you, to be near you, is why I have failed utterly to progress in my studies. I did not want to go. I beg you, forgive me.”
Jovi made a face she could not easily read and dropped her hands. “Arcanist Nîda, what in all the bloody hells do you think tiada means?”
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Note: Image is “King Jagiello Statue Central” by (Mulligand) from SXC.hu; edited by me