Private Tales Light At the End of the Tunnel

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer
Maric smiled with a tilted nod of his head. "Aye."

The Professor said.

"I think that might be for the best." They still had many hundred miles before they made it back to AlthHave. It would be a few weeks yet until they entered the mountains and things would become a bit more...civilized.

"Room 232." The Professor said as he reached out and offered Ciana a key. "It's your own, the driver and I are both next door."

He assured her. "Just in case."

Maric said with a smile.
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Ciana smiled as she reached for the key.. "Thank you.. Who knew a quaint little place like this had over two-hundred-and-thirty-two rooms?" she mused with a chuckle. In reality it would be lucky to have ten, but it amused her none-the-less.

"Good night, Professor." she bid him politely and retired to her room, managing to ignore the curious eyes that followed her. The room was at the end of the corridor and the door creaked open as she unlocked it. It was sparse and akin to the size of the pantry at home, but it was larger than the carriage and it was clean and comfortable.

It wasn't until the sun started to rise that she awoke to the realisation that the drapes were threadbare, and the sunlight was spilling into the room. She had only a moment to admire it before she felt her body feed from it and she gasped in pain, pulling the blankets up and over herself to hide from it. She fell from the bed with a clatter and stumbled into the only shadowy corner of the room, her blanket over her head as a shield.

"Oh dear.." she muttered to herself. Those weren't exactly the words on her mind but she wasn't in the habit of cursing. She pressed her back into the corner and slid down the walls to sit, peeking out of the little hole the blanket had made for her face, and watching the sunlight spread across the splintery floor. Her head was already pounding, her entire body thrumming with energy that could only attack her in the hopes of being released. Her glove was at the opposite side of the room, through the pool of light and she let out a quiet groan.

"Professor?!.." she called out, knocking against the wall and hoping it was the right wall to knock on.
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Maric had been writing a letter at his desk when the loud thump echoed against his wall.

The racket shook the loosely hung paintings and shifted the weight of the one mirror in the room. In an instant his head turned, lips thinning as he heard the muffled call echoing out. A curse slipped from his lips, and he quickly jumped up from the writing desk.

Within just a brief few seconds he burst through Ciana's door.

The lock upon it shattered as his boot clashed right against the mechanism. The crack of splintering wood echoing out as he jumped into the room. Half of him expected assassins, the other half some sort of monster.

When all that he found was sunlight drawing closer and closer to Ciana he almost let out a laugh of relief.

Instead he rushed forward.

He sprinted to the curtains, drawing them closed over the expanse of the window and tucking them between themselves to pull the sunlight out of the room. "It's alright."

Maric said as he stepped towards her.

"It's okay." The Professor offered. "You're okay, just take deep breaths."

He knew the power now coursing through her, the strength. The energy that whirled within her chest.
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She'd heard the thud of boots against the floor as he hurried from his room to hers, though she all but jumped straight out of her skin as the door came crashing in, and she let out a bird-like chirp in fright. Wide and glassy eyes followed the professor as he rushed to the window, her face shrouded in the darkness of the make-shift cowl she'd formed with her blanket.

Her heart was a drum in her chest, every beat of it pulsing pain throughout her entire body until she was weighed down by it and struggling to breathe through. She nodded frantically at him as he spoke to her, drawing deep breaths in through her nose and letting them out as slowly as she could, wincing as she did so.

A tear or two slipped from her eyes as she felt that familiar weakness settle over her light a blanket of thick chainmail, weighing her down. "I... Am sorry. I hope I... Didn't wake y-ou.." she stammered as she tried to focus on breathing long and slow.
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She had, but there was little chance of him openly admitting that to her. "It's alright."

Maric assured her quickly, a smile flickering over his face as he made his way completely over towards where Ciana was curled.

In his head he was shouting at himself, calling himself a fool. He should have known, should have made sure. Checked everything so something like this couldn't happen. It was his mistake, something he would have to pay for himself.

"These things will happen." He told her softly. "No one got hurt, everyone's fine."

Maric said with a smile. "You recognized the signs and called for help."

Slowly he reached out and offered his hand. "You did everything right."
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She nodded quickly at his reassurance, still trying to breathe through the sudden influx of energy.

No one got hurt.. Everyone was fine...

He was right, and she calmed further, forcing a small smile and a quiet, nervous laugh.

Then, she took his hand, without realising that her skin was scalding to the touch..
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Teeth clamped together the second that she touched him.

Her hand was the temperature of a boiling cook-pot. He could practically feel his nerves screaming in pain, but somehow he managed to keep his face straight. Fingers curling ever so slightly as she sough a comforting touch.

A slow breath filled his lungs, controlling the arching agony running through his flesh. "Deep breaths."

Maric reminded her, his voice detached to his own ears.

"You're in control, Ciana." The words were faster than they should have been. "Not the light, not your powers. You."

He tried to remind her. Tried to talk her through it.

She needed this more than he needed not to feel pain. He was her teacher. Her support. He intended to be until the last.
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She was so preoccupied with following his instruction and drawing in deep breaths that she continued to hold tightly onto his hand. Her eyes closed and she nodded again, the pain slowly subsiding and the heat in she conducted lessened with each passing second..

A trembled breath spilled from her lips and she opened her eyes again, the tension in her muscles visible easing. It was then she realised the tension in which he gripped her hand and she gasped, knowing full well how her touch could scorch. She recoiled, aghast.

"Professor! I.. I'm sorry a-a-are you?" she looked down at his hand, her eyes wide with panic as she pressed herself back from him to refrain from the urge to reach out. "Water.. On the dresser there.." she pointed behind him, holding her hands to her chest with a teary look of guilt.
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Maric stood in place, a perfect statue. The pain in his palms was ignored, the agony in the nerves was pushed away as though it were the notion of a foolish child. "Ciana."

This time his voice was more firm.

"It's alright." He told her with a smile. "It's all perfectly alright."

Half of his palm was a bright beaming red. The mar of his flesh more than clear, and yet the Professor did not show a single notion of upset or anger. Slowly he reached out, his touch caressing her brow and pushing back a lock of her hair. "I'm fine."

He told her.

"This isn't a step back." Maric said. "Just another way to learn, alright?"

The Professor smiled. "Sometimes, things are out of our control, and that's okay."
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The tone of his voice called her words to a halt and she stared at him, the panic in her eyes doused by his assurance and the disarming smile he wore. She frowned gently at him, allowing the touch of her brow to soothe her further..

"Alright.." she answered with a deep breath, mollified for now. She swallowed, her eyes falling to his hand.. "Aren't you... Doesn't it hurt?" she asked in confusion, though resisted the urge to insist they ask for a healer..
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Maric drew in a slow, measured breath. "It does."

He would not lie. Not now, not ever.

Ciana had to know what she was capable of, what she could do. The consequence of her magic was too important, something they couldn't just place aside. Yet at the same time he wanted her to know, wanted to encourage her.

"But." The Professor said with a smile. "It's not too bad."

He looked at her. "I'd gladly feel the pain to make sure you're alright."

A sentiment, he knew, that she had never heard before. "It's a little bit of hurt, Ciana, but it's nothing compared to the goodness you will bring to this world."

He told her, his voice solid.
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She really hadn’t ever heard that before. Everyone else wanted her locked in a room, or sent as far away from them as she could possibly go. Her eyes filled with tears as emotions collided, and she cleared her throat rather than let them fall.

“I hope so…” she breathed, her brow furrowing as she studied his face for a moment.

“Thank you Maric.. For caring as you do. Nobody has ever been quite so kind to me before.” she admitted quietly.

“Let me look?..” she asked gesturing to his hand with her own now that her skin had returned to normal..
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He smiled. "Then that is their fault."

Not hers.

Had she been born in a different city, in a different time, she would have been lauded as a saint. The world was so varied, so different in how they treated the gifts they were offered. It was a sad thing in many ways, something he cursed.

A small smile touched his face, and slowly he showed her his palms.

"It's not so bad." He told her, the slightly reddened skin making it more than obvious that such was not the whole truth. "I did worse with my own magic."

Maric said with a chuckle.
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Ciana returned his smile with a quiet sigh. He was so unfathomably kind, even when she'd managed to scald him, and her head shook subconsciously in disbelief. As he turned over his palms her smile fell and her brow knit, reaching to take the underside of his hands now that her own skin was cool enough to do so.

"That looks.. Goodness, I'm sorry.. You really should have let go.." she lifted her eyes, realising that she'd been hurting him the whole time and all he could do was reassure her. She sighed and guided him to sit on the armchair before filling the wash basin from the jug of water and throwing in the shreds of fresh cut cloth.

She carried it to the chair and knelt down in front of it, wringing out some cloth which she'd carefully wrap around the burns if he'd allow her to.

"Not the best start is it.." she laughed mirthlessly under her breath.
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Maric smiled. It was an easy and calming smile, an expression that he had worn often around her. "Perhaps not."

The Professor admitted as she began to bind his wounds.

"But it is a start nonetheless." Not a sliver of blame rested upon her as far as he was concerned. Had she not been born in that cursed place she would already be leagues ahead of where she was now.

He could not help but feel a bitterness towards those had kept her. Those who'd wanted her to be 'safe'.

"There will be many pitfalls, Ciana." He told her. "Hurdles you'll have to jump and mountains you'll need to climb."

That was how it always was. Everyone reached a wall, the important thing was getting over it. "You will have to work very hard, but I have faith in you."

For there was no doubt she could do it.

His fingers wiggled slightly. "Consider this nothing more than a stumbled step."
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"Your patience really is a marvel..." she answered him softly with a slow shake of her head and a quiet huff. He had endured pain to help her rather than allow his basic instincts take over, rather than yell or flinch back, and even still he was the one trying to calm her.

"I still feel terrible.." she admitted quietly, gently turning his hand to knot the damp cloth. "But thank you, for your unshakable faith." she smiled, lifting her eyes to him for a brief moment.

She ensured that the burns were fully covered, and let go. "I shall have to see if we can find some ointment, but that should at least stop the burn eating in any further for now. We can take these off in a few hours and let it breathe." she sighed, as though she were the burn that was breathing.

"I should.. Get dressed.." she chuckled sheepishly..
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Maric smiled, fingers curling over the bandages. "Do not worry yourself too much."

The Professor encouraged.

"Life is full of setbacks." Gently one palmed gestured towards the other. "And this is hardly the worst that I have experienced."

The thanks she had offered to him was entirely unnecessary. As far as Maric was concerned this whole incident had been nothing but another opportunity for her to learn more about her powers. The injury himself meant little, nothing.

He wanted her to succeed, to grow.

Ciana was his student, and she deserved only the best.

"Yes, you should." Maric said with a chuckle, Pulling himself up.

"Get dressed." The Professor told her. "We'll be heading on further today, and there will be more chance to practice when night falls."

For they would no longer be stuck within the restraints of common villages.
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"Its like.. everything you say ought to be sewn onto a cushion." she grinned with a quiet chuckle to herself, recalling those gods awful cushions with delightful little quotes that her step mother had her sewing as a child. When he said it though, he meant it, and it made her feel.. safe.

She washed, dressed and ate before spending a little time practicing summoning that little orb of light in her room. In the mid afternoon, the sun had been covered with layers of cloud so thick that it snuffed out most of the light and they managed to leave a little earlier. The barmaid had been sorry to see them leave, and had given Ciana a hug so warm she could still feel it more than an hour later as they trundled on down the road.

The thick drapes were drawn over the windows of the carriage, and so each time Ciana conjured the little orb between her hands it illuminated the small space in a warm, yellow glow as though she spun sunlight itself. Thunder rolled in the distance, cracking through the skies, and she could feel the carriage be buffeted by the rising winds. It wasn't raining quite yet, but the darkening skies above promised it.

"Should we turn back?" she asked uncertainly as she peeked outside.
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"I have ha d along time to say the right things." Maric said with a smile, hiding the deeper truth of those words.

In his youth he had made many mistakes. He had been arrogant, brash, even dangerous. All of the lessons he was now teaching Ciana were ones that he had ignored with his own magic. He had done terrible things, not always on purpose, but terrible nonetheless.

They were mistakes he would not allow anyone else to make, particularly not her.

Hours later as they found themselves within the carriage Maric frowned. The storm buffeted them, pushing and pulling at the heavy weight of the carriage. He glanced over to Ciana as she asked, lips thinning for a moment as he too peeked outside the curtain. " I don't think so."

He said softly.

"I think in fact...this may be an opportunity." The Professor said, a hint of excitement in his tone as he looked back towards Ciana. "When, after all, was the last time you were outside during a storm?"
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Ciana looked back at him, her brow knit and a small, curious smile on her lips.. "I.. Don't think I've ever been outside in a storm... You.. You'd get wet." she chuckled quietly, as though he'd just told her the sky were green and the grass blue.

"Isn't it a dangerous thing, to be caught in a storm?" her head tilted.
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Maric laughed. "Yes, well that's part of the point."

The Professor said with a shake of his head. It was a wondrous thing, just how sheltered Ciana was when it came to the real world. The idea that she had never been outside in a storm was...utterly marvelous. Even the Princess he had taught for a little while had stood in a storm.

He reached back, pounding his fist on the wagon.

"It can be." Maric said as they both felt the carriage shift slightly, clearly drawing up on the side of the road and coming to a stop. "But life is dangerous Ciana."

The Professor reached over, grasping the latch of the door and pushing it open to expose the storm outside. "Sometimes you have to embrace it."

He held out a hand to her.
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The rain was so thick that it was difficult to see far at all, and so loud they'd have to raise their voices above it to hear. The air was still relatively warm too, and thick with the scent of petrichor. She looked back at the professor as though he were completely mad, but it was clear that he was being quite serious.

Fine. Her chin lifted and her shoulders squared as she stood and ducked under the doorway and out into the torrential rain. She gasped at the sensation of cold water drenching her almost immediately, her gaze narrowed and her mouth hanging open as she turned to look back at him with her shoulders bunched up to her ears.

"I'm not sure what you hope to achieve by this, professor!" she yelled over the sound of rushing rainwater. Distant lightening flashed through the trees around them and she let out a yelp, her gaze snapping upward against the rainfall at the following rumble of thunder.
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Maric stepped out of the carriage just a few seconds after Ciana. A wide smile stretched across his lips as they stood within the rain, the storm lashing down upon them without a second of hesitation. The driver, silent in his misery, seemed somewhat bewildered they had made this choice.

"What do you mean?!" The Professor called out over the storm.

Winds howled all around them. The ground itself seemed to shift slightly. Lightning cascaded out and struck from the sky. Thunder roiling just a few seconds later as Maric stepped closer to Ciana. "When was the last time you were outside during a storm?"

He called.

"When was the last time you could stand and feel the rain?" The question rang out above the sound of the storm. "When was the last time you could walk free during the day?"
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Ciana watched him through eyes narrowed against the onslaught of rain and wind, tresses of wet hair stuck to her pale face as she looked up at him. Her brow dipped at the questions, and her head slowly shook in response.

She had never been outside during a storm, she had never felt the rain, and she couldn't recall the last time she'd been able to go outside during the day at all. She let her frown fade and a wide smile replaced it as she laughed. She really did feel free. Something as uncouth as this would never have been permitted for a lady when she was at home, nor ever, but Maric didn't seem to expect her to conform to the rules of high society.

Her head tipped back and she looked straight up, her eyes closed as she felt the rain on her face, her mouth opening to catch some. There was another flash of lightening , a fork that spread across the skies in all directions and her eyes widened in awe of it. She could feel the static energy in her skin and she drew in a gasp, her gaze snapping back to Maric in search of reassurance to her uncertainty.

"Perhaps it's not so wise to stand so close to me.." she smiled cautiously.
The brilliant flash of lightning lanced through the sky, and just as he had thought Ciana took power from it.

His head shook as he called to her. "No!"

It was difficult, he had found, to figure out a solution around the problem of constant light. A hidden torch would be hazardous, a hidden lamp would still provide a steady light, so what then would allow Ciana gradual glimpses of the power she could wield.

"Release it!" Maric called to her. "Focus, and use what you have when it comes!"

This was, Ciana wouldn't have to focus on two things; expending her power, while also being constantly assaulted by more. The lightening offering her brief waves of the magic her body ordinarily took in like a monsoon.