The day had started out like any other. Clearing up her garden, making sure her things were picked up in Doran’s treehouse, and off to work she went. She was not expecting to find a message waiting for her when she arrived. Apparently, before her arrival, a carrier had stopped by just long enough to drop off a sealed letter. The letter sealed with a wax seal, unlike any she had seen before. It gnawed at her while she worked so once her break happened, she was all too eager to dip off into a corner to read the letter.
What could be in it? The what-ifs were many and she had quite the imagination. It wasn’t any of the list of crazy things she was concerned with. Instead, it was a short letter from her ‘alter self’ telling her to be at a certain place, at a certain time. Luckily, it was after her shift ended but whatever could Katt want with her? The last time they spoke it wasn’t the best parting of ways.
She went back to work without much thought about what was going to happen. What was the worst that Katt would do? Kill her? ….well...okay yeah that was on the list of possibilities! But for her customers and boss lady, she would hold a smile and cheerful demeanor. She even took her time to nibble on a slice of cheesecake drizzled with strawberry sauce after her shift ended. After all, there was always time for cheesecake.
But now she was standing among the trees just a few miles from town, near the cave that she had...spent many months in before she had been found. Why here? The memories that came with it were not all pleasant ones and she scowled at the maw of the cave that hovered a few feet away.
“Well, well. Ah was told that Ah would be meetin’ a youth but didn’t think ye would look so displeased.”
The silken voice caused a shiver to rush down Sylva’s spine and she shot around like a deer caught in headlights. That voice was not Katt’s. “Uh..” she started dumbfoundedly. A few feet away stood a rather tall man with a rather amused expression on his smooth face. Sylva gauged him to be close to seven feet. Gawd he was tall! But that wasn’t all that threw her off. His eyes were a clear blue that looked far too unreal and it felt like he was staring right into her soul despite how gentle his gaze was. His hair seemed to shiver in the night air, long white strains that glistened a hint of blue. He was hauntingly handsome. “Wait,” something clicked in her brain after the shock of his presence left, “Katt sent you to meet me?”
His head dipped into a single nod as he leaned on his heels, threatening a lean to the nearby tree. “That is correct, young miss. She has requested I speak with you about a little,” his amusement grew, lighting his bright gaze, “problem.”
Sylva’s face squinched up. “I have no...ugh. How much did she tell you?”
“Enough to know that you are a mirror of her existence yet no longer thus.” His demeanor was gentle, each word could easily be lost on the breeze. “I am Orion, second branch and servant of his Majesty Aren. I am here by request of one Kathryn Batten to aid you in your learnings as a-” he stopped mid-sentence as he eyed the young woman before him. “You are not full-blooded Vir’Nliemar.”
“N-No…” Sylva admitted quietly.
“That is why I was sent,” he mused warmly, “Any other of the house would have turned you away. What is the blood that courses through you?”
“Hmm..” Orion wasn’t phased by the admittance but at the same time became thoughtful as he looked at her. Finally, he offered out a hand. “She told me you were coming into age and you are having some noticeable changes.”
She reached out to touch his hand while nodding cautiously. Just how much had Katt told this man about her?
The moment her hand touched his, he knew more than he should. His long fingers curled around her hand and he just held it aloft while they spoke. “Your Reevi blood is near non-existent now. Are you aware of this?”
“Sorta. Katt said it was…” Her brows furrowed, “Lessened but not like that…”
“The need for blood?”
Ugh! He knew even about that??! “I haven’t had the need for it for a long time.”
“I am not surprised. Your appetite has been ferocious, hasn’t it? For food, that is.”
She gave a bit of a lopsided smile. “I have always had a big appetite.”
He chuckled as he gently rubbed his fingers along the sides of her hand. “Do you know what you are, then?”
She shook her head slowly, “Abo-
“I do not wish to hear such a word from your lips.” As if he knew what she was going to say. Orion grew silent as he stared at her then finally, like a bulb went off, he blinked at her. “By the Goddess,” he whispered, “By whatever means that has changed you, you are Va’Nimia. You are of noble bloodline to the Vir’Nliemar. While you are of mixed blood, by a small fraction, you are still none the less of noble blood.” What bothered him was this he felt from her was familiar. Far too familiar. “Are you related to Lady Sera O’Shae?”
“I am not but that name is familiar. Chaos--”
Orion’s fingers tightened around her hand. “What about Chaos?”
Sylva’s expression twisted. Okay, ow? “H-He is the one who changed my blood. He said her name. I think. I was kinda half awake!”
Realizing he was hurting her, he relaxed his fingers. “I apologize.” He took a moment to collect his thoughts. “Chaos is a snake and I am surprised you are mixed up with him.”
“Not by choice,” Sylva assured him, “More out of ...necessity?”
He nodded slowly, “I think he used her blood with whatever he did to you. If this is true, you are essential-”
“Don’t tell me I am her! It is bad enough I am going through that with Katt!”
He chuckled though her words left some questions to be asked later, “More like her legacy. It is no longer her blood. It has fused with what was in you and is now yours. With this blood come abilities that will awaken in time. Changes you will no doubt feel and have to overcome.”
Well, that wasn’t something she was wanting to hear and she wore the expression fully. “I am me…”
“That you are. As I said, it is yours now. Whatever it replaced, it has bonded with your Reevi and has suppressed it. You are not Lady O’Shae.” His eyes twinkled playfully, “Though some might question if you are her child or grandchild. You could easily come back with me and live like a noblewoman for the rest of your days.”
“I am no noble person.”
“I am sure Lord Fatima would love to accept you as a grandchild.”
“I ..don’t have any family but what I have here,” she squinted at him. What was his game?
“I am sure that is not true but I shall leave it be. Now then,” he tilted his hand so hers was on top, “Do you feel a difference when you touch my hand? Feel something unseen?”
“There is a soft ...flow from you? I don’t know how to explain it.” Her brows furrowed. It was like she could feel the very breath in his lungs. It was...weird. It was all around him, in him.
“You feel my aether flow. Where are all my points meet? My core.”
She had to concentrate a moment but she raised her free hand to point at his center.
He chuckled. “Correct. Very good.” He released her hand. “Your core is fractured and you will have to practice to ‘piece’ it back together. It will take time. Now you have a choice. Will you come with me and learn what I have to teach you or will you go into the unknown all by yourself?”
“You came here because I asked Katt to help me. I want to ...I want to be able to help people. Protect the people I...The people I love.”
He gestured for her to follow him as he started his way back to town. “I have rented a place to stay while here. We can start your training to make your core whole.”
“Then training truly begins. For now, let us away. While we walk you can regale me more about yourself and your life here in these curious lands.”
Many people have such skills. So why was it that Sylva could feel the aether flow? Katt had once told her that magic was not something Katt herself could not do. In fact, she had a painful reaction to magics that were of a healing nature. Katt’s abilities were not exactly magic but were definitely not normal. Was it because of the blood that now coursed through her veins?
Each morning she arrived he would stay around long enough to see her settled before venturing to the market. Each day he returned at noon, on the dot, with plenty of food for Sylva to indulge in and replenish her energy. Like he was specifically waiting for that very moment to arrive so as not to ruin her concentration. And like every day she trained, she sat in the middle of the living room, legs crossed and hands resting at her core.
She could sense the shards of light in herself and over the past few months, she had slowly migrated most of them to her center. She was so close to completion and in those hours that Orion was gone, she had barely managed to bring the final pieces inward. And just as those pieces were pulled to the collective core, the front door opened.
Orion, who had just returned, was met with a great force of energy that rushed from Sylva’s person - a force that pushed the man right back out of the door and yet managed not to break anything inside or the windows that the force pressed against. As it died down Orion cautiously re-entered the cabin to find Sylva still in her position of meditation with a calm aura of wind about her. As the wind died down, Sylva’s body pitched over to the side - completely spent.
She woke up two days afterward but when she did she felt great! Every fiber of her being hummed with energy and her hunger...well..she was always hungry and Orion had prepared for such for when she woke up. While she feasted, he explained to her what had happened and congratulated her on making her core whole.
A core spoke about a person’s being - Sylva’s core, Orion explained, was a soft gold that spoke of room for growth and much potential. Sylva was quick to explain to him that she didn’t want power. She didn’t want to hurt people anymore. She didn’t want to give into blood lust. She didn’t want to be the monster she was being molded into by her past. She just wanted to be able to help and protect those she cared for.
For some reason, Orion had found this amusing.
Another month was taken to strengthen her core but Orion offered Sylva plenty of chances to sneak off to enjoy her normal daily life. A fine balance between training and being able to do just normal day things - go to work, spend time with family and friends, etc, or *gasp* sleep in!
Orion only had so much time before he had to return to his own duties, after all, so for those precious moments, she also lost the chance to grow this power that was awakened within her. Orion assured her that it was important to go be with the ones she was working so hard for and that before he left he would make sure that she had all she needed to help herself grow to whatever potential she deemed.
“I have decided to teach you one last thing before I leave,” Orion spoke to Sylva as he placed his cloak across his shoulders and reached for his staff. “I am going to teach you something that, for many, is impossible. To meditate and absorb the mana around her while moving and possibly even fighting.” By example, Orion moved across the room while drawing on the aether around him. He moved with ease and once he had gathered enough energy, he used it to create a portal that allowed him to drop off his items into the waiting void.
Sylva blinked up from her task of cleaning up after herself. Seriously, she hated leaving a mess behind. Seeing him perform the ability so easily had her staring. How the hell?! She had trouble just concentrating on aether let alone moving while doing drawing into herself. “H-How?”
Orion chuckled, “No different from what I have seen others do here. Magics are abundant in these lands and I am sure it is a simple feat to those of the magical variety here. However, for magics like ours, it is not so easy. It will take practice and time. Start with small movements and work into something bigger. Consider it a sort of multi-tasking.” Orion mused as he watched her. “If you are able to master it, you will be able to fight and move with ease while keeping a steady supply of aether at the ready.”
“Easier said than done,” Sylva admitted. Just focusing on collecting aether could be taxing at times.
“I am aware. That is why I said it would take time. For the next couple of weeks, I want you to collect aether from around you while doing your daily tasks. Walking home. Working. Bathing. Use these times to work on this skill.”
Looking at her hands, she nodded slowly. “Alright.”
“This ability, when mastered, will let you bend and weave the aether as you need. As it stands, you seem to be wielding this legacy very well and making it your own. I have no doubt in time you will be able to shape this power to your wants. Be it protection or fighting.” He turned his gentle gaze on Sylva. “I think that is one other thing I could teach you.”
Sylva’s nose wrinkled a bit, “I don’t need to be taught how to fight.”
“I am aware you don’t. What you need to be taught is the frame of mind you are in.”
She blinked slowly at him, “I don’t understand.”
Orion sighed and gestured her to join him near the window. “I know your past has left its scars..”
Her face twisted up. She knew how he knew that but didn’t like it one bit. He was right, however. “I was a monster.”
“How can you say that? You didn’t know how I-”
“No. I don’t. I wasn’t there to witness how you were. I have been told of a few things so I have an idea but really,” he lowered his hand on top of her head, rubbing his long palm against her crown, “Do you think so little of those around you? We all have our pasts, Sylva. Not all of them are perfect diamonds. Who are you now? What you do now? These changes in your life that you have gone through make you who you are today. That includes your past and those hardships.”
“But all the people I killed…”
“Not by your own choice.” Orion pointed out as his hand slid down her hair, noting the roots of white with amusement. “Let it go, Sylva. Do not let your past ruin your future. Let it inspire you to grow and become more.”
She sighed quietly. “I...will try.”
He chuckled and nodded. “Don’t you have work today? You should get going. Remember to practice as you go. If it becomes too hard, take a break but do not give up.”
“Alright,” she mumbled as she started to the door.
“Sylva. You can fight. It is alright to do so. Even if it is just to protect those around you. You can fight without the ones you care about turning their backs to you.”
She stared at the door silently as she listened to his words. After a few minutes of chewing on his words, she turned her head to smile at him. “I ..shall consider that.” Then she headed out for her day, all the while concentrating on collecting aether. It was going to be a long work shift!
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