Today’s snippet, titled “Nîda: Tears, pt V (b)”, 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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Instantly, a defensive frown leapt to her face. “My research indicates that in the native halfling tongue, tiada implies ‘aunt’ or non-related adult female mentor, essentially.”
He began to laugh.
“What? Stop that!” Nîda rose sharply, slapping away the dust on the knees of her gown. “What do you find so amusing?”
The young man’s cheeks were flushed as he tried to compose himself. “It doesn’t mean that in our village. Iomedae forfend, Arcanist Nîda, no wonder you comport yourself just so. Damn.”
“Well then, what?”
“Its hard to explain, I guess. In Orcish, we might day Ira’kkashiribubabbi, which is a little more vulgar in truth, or in Dwarven, it would be something like, comychéile.”
Nîda spoke neither Orcish, nor Dwarvish, fluently – and he knew it. Though she knew enough of both to understand the rude term for sex in Orcish and the root of the word for wife in Dwarvish. “And in common?”
“Desired, but… untouchable?”
Jovi shrugged. “You know… that dream girl you know you shouldn’t even dream about, because it will never happen. Can never happen. The bards sing a million songs about it – the girl from the Inner Ring you can’t even ask out for a mead because you’re from the Outer Districts. That type of thing. Out of your league. Out of your caste. Out of… the realm of possibility.”
Nîda swallowed thickly, clasping her hands before her. “And you would say that I – me – that I was… comychéiele to you?”
“Yeah, I mean,” he suddenly seemed no more than fourteen again, awkward but charmingly so. His dark eyes were black velvet as he peered up at her. “Since I first-”
“Arcanist Nîda! Prentice Jovi!”
Both jumped, startled, and their heads turned in unison toward the source of the voice. Lord Henrietta, the elderly paladin who had been appointed to succeed Lord Ludovico, was striding toward them with the spry, purposeful steps of a woman half her age.
“I may take it that our little Jovi is quite ready for exams tomorrow?”
Nîda nodded so rapidly that her wimple slipped forward on her head. She pushed it back into place. “Of course, my Lord. I have every faith that he wi-”
“Good. Is he prepared to take the exams immediately?”
“Right now?” Jovi’s voice was on the edge of panic, the raw emotion grating on his already tense nerves. “But I have not had time to study new spells for the day.”
“Have you any remaining to you?” The Lord of the Silver Legion crossed her arms at her chest, peering down at him from behind tiny silver-wire spectacles.
“A few,” he stammered.
“That will have to do,” she said, and snapped her fingers. A clerk Nîda had not even noticed stepped forward and scribbled upon a scrap of parchment, then handed the note to the hin. “Tonight, at ninth bell. Do not be late. Now, go get yourself ready.”
Jovi cast an anguished look over his shoulder at Nîda as he hurried toward his chamber. She bit her lower lip.
“Stop mooning after that boy,” Lord Henrietta demanded. “Now look at me – oh, don’t act so wounded, Nîda. Everyone has long known – but as before, you are utterly lacking in emotional subtlety or awareness. Quite amusing, in fact, to the rest of the faculty – we had a pool going as to when you would realize how you felt for the new Bluetoes. I had ten years after his death. I suppose that means I lost.”
Nîda was horrified, her mouth hanging open like a fish out of water.
“Oh, nevermind. I’m sorry, my dear, that was callous. But still, you never have been very aware of your own feelings. It is part of the reason Master Sorvanir still believes you will be head of the Aracane Regiment one day. To that end, we must speak. Walk with me.”
No choice but to fall into step with the burly old woman, Nîda nodded and did so.
“I understand you are but young, in your years, but you are a woman grown Nîda, in all the ways that matter to us. It is far past time for you to complete your fifth echelon studies and step up to shoulder the mantle of Mistress. Master Sorvanir has not many years left to him – perhaps as many as a hundred, but you know from your time with your venerable aunt that in elven years, that is not so long. He has appointed you to take over his title, but you, my dear, are far from ready.
“No, do not think to disagree with me. I say this not to wound your pride, but to waken you to certain realities. You are an Arcanist in the Silver Legion, one of the finest guilds in Mendev and on the forefront of this unending war against the Abyss. We are stewards of Her glory and guardians of Her peace, but the enemy grows stronger and we too, must rally. It is past time to put this Wound to bed, sealing it shut and saving Mendev from the hordes.”
“To do that,” she continued, hardly pausing for a breath. “We need strong warriors from all the regiments and we need them to come together. With that in mind, the council of masters has come to a decision. When the novices take their first vows tomorrow at the great celebration in Saint Clydwell’s Square, so too will your prentice. Jovi will be iniitated into the Legion as an Arcanist, though he is likely to be the first theurge in the Silver Legion in a generation. Once he has taken his vows, Nîda, we are sending him to Nerosyan to study under the tutelage of Wizards and Priests in the Queen’s own city.”
“What? No. You mustn’t.”
“It is not an act of cruelty, though I presume you will see it as such at first. I pray you will be granted the wisdom to realize that you cannot move forward while you are distracted by his presence, and that he cannot fully explore his own talents while he is distracted by you.”
Lord Henrietta stopped. Her eyes glazed over as she peered out over the city. They had walked to the furthest corner of the practice yard, a space that rarely saw activity other than sneaky boots sneaking through a gap in the wall to visit some tavern or den of inequity in the city beyond. She pressed a scrap of paper into Nîda’s palm.
“Go to this address, present yourself as Goodwife Breuwyn Lancaster. The steward will see you to your room. You are to stay there, without question, until sunset tomorrow. Under pane of excommunication, Nîda, I want you to know that the council of masters is both sincere and deadly serious about this. You will not leave that Inn until the sun has set.”
“I know it sounds harsh, dear. But one day you will realize that it is for the best. We have two of the most important weapons in our arsenal who cannot progress as things are. Thus – for the good of many, we must surgically separate the two of you.”
Nîda tore her wimple from her head and flung it to the ground. “You hateful bitch! You cantankerous old cunt! How dare-”
Lord Henrietta’s eyes hardened in a heartbeat and when she focused them on Nîda once more, the elven woman went still as death.
“Pick it up. I will truck no further backtalk, Arcanist. You will comport yourself as a proper Mistress of the Legion or you will find yourself in the gutter so fast it will make your headspin. Now,” she pushed a hand along the side of her head, though not a single strand of hair was out of place. “I will forget that outburst ever happened. Do not think me without sympathy, Nîda I feel for you, for the both of you, but my sworn duty is to defend Kenabres to the last. Terendelev herself annointed me Lord of her Legion and I will not fail her. Nor, I think, will you.”
Nîda crumpled the rim of her wimple in her hands, staring down at the dirt. She was ashamed of herself, in so many ways, and she was angry beyond anything she had ever felt before. Every fibre of her being screamed at her to rebel, to run from this place with Jovi at her side, to cry out at the unjust treatment. It was all she could do to wipe a tear from her cheek before she looked up and met the Lord’s eyes.
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Note: Image is “King Jagiello Statue Central” by (Mulligand) from SXC.hu; edited by me