Private Tales No Mistakes, Only Lessons

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Zephyrine

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Vel Castere was a struggle to find the rhythm for, but the strict daily routine outlined for her soon became easier to manage. Mornings started with a run, and by now her feet toughened and was able to take the distance. The forges were the most challenging, but Zephyrine did not complain. It almost seemed she had not spoken much at all for the week, until a missive was left on her bunk.

Zeph didn't expect to be part of any missions while here, but her presence in Vel Castere was to be there for whatever was needed of her. Her magic was not one to be wasted.

She headed out, packed light and the pouch of scrap metals and wood at her hip. Approaching the Southern Gates, she slowed her steps seeing who was there, waiting. It was too early for a run with Dreadlord Nevarro, but Dreadlord Sol was up and about.

And waiting for her.

Zeph held up the missive the closer she got.
"You too?"


Elias
 
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Even Elias had to adjust to the day-to-day routine of Vel Castere, and he had been the among the last Initiates who had lived entirely by the old ways from before the revolution. The Academy honed him into a weapon and taught him all the ways of taking the lives of men, but Vel Castere had drilled discipline into him.​
It didn't help that for a long while after their graduation, he loafed about without much direction or purpose. It was nice to get his edge back, but the lack of missions over the last year had left him feeling restless.​
He was an early riser, and the anticipation of his first assignment since he was an Initiate left him restless. He used the time to prepare for the short journey. Awaiting his companion by the gate, he stood with a single, fully equipped horse.​
"I should be saying that," his orders were delivered directly by Sam. He had no paper to show in return. "Anyway, you've got me."​
Eli pets the horse's side and gives its thick neck a gentle pat, then he takes the reins into his grasp and offers it to Zephyrine, "He's yours."​
Vel Castere stood on the fringe of the western Aniritan territory and the east end of Amol-Kalit's desert empire, though the imperial cities were far, far away. As such, the Empire and Vel Anir maintained a peaceful border. It was the warbands and brigands that caused disruptions.​
Maybe Zephyrine had expected her ward and trainer to accompany her, but a simple task like border patrol was beneath the Lieutenant.​
"If you're ready, we'll set out immediately."​
 
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She made no complaint, as there wasn't one present.

Zephyrine folded the paper and slipped it into a pocket before securing her gear to the horse, mounting and adjusting her seat. She could recall easily how it felt to be on horseback, having spent weeks traveling in the same fashion to get here.

Her muscles protested after she hauled herself upwards, even her thighs were not happy to be sitting after the daily runs Nevarro had her doing before training. Each day had her moving, strengthening her beyond anything she ever put herself through at the Academy, but she did not complain. Kor had encouraged her to learn beyond what the Academy had to offer, to hone her skills in whichever way she wanted.


"Right. Ready." She confirmed, offering Dreadlord Sol a small smile.

The last mission she had been sent on was to test the very magic she wielded, to see how far it could be stretched. Recreation magic was rare, and for someone her age to wield it as strongly as she could was a great testament to her early education before the Revolution came into place. Many gained freedom with the Republic, but Zephyrine could only see the loss she had suffered. A Proctor, one that took care of her like a daughter since she came to the Academy too young to be placed in classes, and in turn, Zephyrine tried her best to be unstoppable on the battefield.


"How long have you served under Lietenant Black?" Zephyrine asked after a while. Sol had been there are the introductions, had been the one to weather Thraah's dissonance.
 
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A gradient of vibrant colors painted across the sky as the sun peeked over the horizon as they left. They were well on their way down the main road out of Vel Castere when Zephyrine posed her question to the Dreadlord.​
"Hm. Nearing a couple months now?" Eli walked alongside the mounted Initiate. With the sun rising into the morning, there was no possibility of him tiring out during their short journey. Those that had business in Vel Castere finally began to stir. They passed by the occasional merchant or farmer. Vel Castere saw very few adventuring types, as wanderers and journeymen usually didn't have the papers necessary for entrance into the fortress-city. "But, I've known her for as long as I can remember. Survived the Academy together. Nevarro, too."​
Elias' attire was atypical for a Knight. His black clothes were loose-fitting, almost flowing. His trousers messily tucked into tall boots, and the sleeves of his tucked-in tunic cut off just below the elbow. If not for the grim color and intricate, subtle gold stitching indicative of his outfit's Anirian make, it would have been quite an ascetic look.​
He had never been fond of the Academy's tight, form-fitting uniform nor did he have a need for heavy armor.​
"She's wise beyond her years. It'd serve you well to learn all that you can from her."​
 
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Would herself, Kor, and Larkin achieve this together one day? Three friends, working together after the Academy?

She had observed the comradery between them, and not just to their small group, but with others also. Her earlier years at the Academy kept her private, kept her focused and isolated to hone her magic without distraction. But... then she began to warm to the idea of training amongst her peers. How else would she know to improve without watching and adapting to the stles of others.

And Zeph had been watching the Lieutenant closely, admiring the work ethic and experience she shows in her day to day.


"That is what I hope to achieve. I almost didn't want to go on this mission and miss another lesson with her... but I guess she deserves a break from teaching an Initiate once in a while. Nevarro too." Zeph looked down at the Dreadlord that kept up beside the horse. "No offense to you. I am sure there is much I can learn from you also..."

And Nevarro. These three individuals had intrigued Zeph, had fed into her willingness to learn and hone a skill. She had put up little arguement, always tried something first. If she didn't succeed, then she would go about it another way.

"I haven't met many Dreadlords that survived the Academy before the Revolution." She admitted. "It's... been an adjustment, the past few years. I used to think I would have killed someone by now, like I was trained to do..." But they were taught to find peace, to build alliances.
 
Elias dismissively waved his hand. The gesture conveyed that no offense was taken. He walked with long, powerful strides alongside the horse. There was little knowledge he could impart onto the Initiates aside from how to best stack corpses.​
"For us it felt like the earth had given out beneath us. Not even a year out from our graduation and the world we knew changed. Some adjusted quite well. The ones that didn't opted for exile." He mused. He had taken his first life before his eighth nameday. Since then his soul has become permanently stained with the blood of Vel Anir's enemies and even his own classmates. Standing before a mountain of corpses felled by his hand, he felt not a shred of guilt. Killing had become an action as natural as breathing.​
"Is that regret or relief I hear in your voice?"​
 
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Zephyrine was quiet for mere moments before answering. "I suppose it is... regret. All those formative years spent strengthening my magic, my goals... building me up to be this weapon I was convinced Vel Anir needed..." And then it came to an end. "If I am honest, I feel restless."

They hadn't given her missions either, until recently when large groups of Initiates were called upon. She had been Proctor Caddel's protégé, a specialised weapon that would not stop fighting.
"A friend told me that there is more to learn. Without my magic. That is why I asked Proctor Urahil for help... to get experience in what it takes to forge a weapon without my recreation magic."

Where would she go after this? It was easy to plan to up and leave, but Vel Castere had been her first taste of what life could be as the Dreadlord she had been raised to become.

Elias
 
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Elias stared straight ahead. He found himself nodding along with what the Initiate had to say.​
"Ah, I get it. Your recreations will improve because of a deepened understanding of the physical process. Interesting." The Dreadlord mused aloud with a tiny smile. She wouldn't find many smiths more qualified to learn from. A month would pass in a blink, and being ordered out on a mundane task like patrolling took away from her precious time to learn, even if it was for only a day or two.​
"If all goes well, we'll have you back at the forge on the morrow. I'm not unpleasant company like Nevarro, so don't hesitate to strike up conversation or ask questions if you've any."​
 
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"Nevarro isn't unpleasant." A small smile pulled at her mouth and Zephyrine looked down at the Dreadlord. "I learn plenty from him. After the first day, I began to understand and read his face or tone..." She shrugged. "We work well together." She said simply. Her ability to pick things up rather quickly after demonstration probably was gods sent for Nevarro to work with.

"You... got stuck with Thraah." She tried not to grate her teeth mentioning her supposed friend. "How's that going?" She had barely seen the other Initiate, Zeph began to wonder if they both were skilled in avoiding one another. She still believed she didn't need to apologise for her genuine feelings on the arrival to Vel Castere, how hurt she was by Thraah almost ruining her chance to learn from the best forges in the territories. "Still a shit, I assume?"

Elias
 
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"Well, well, isn't that great for you!" The Dreadlord's personality momentarily shines through what had previously been a thick, hard Knight's exterior. Elias has no qualms openly complaining about his comrade, "He could very simply use his words, but instead makes one go through unnecessary mental acrobatics to read his face and tone."​
But he falls quiet. Eli couldn't put any real fault on Davi for the way he was. The two had always been like oil and water, and most people at the Academy had been awful to him. Elias included.​
"Ah, well... Name any of your classmates who haven't been a shit at one point or another. I can say for certain I've had my moments."​
Besides, it wasn't easy for Thraah to be thrust under the temporary mentorship of a person who had no aspirations for leadership nor the propensity for teaching others.​

They carry on for a while longer. Sometimes they share words, but most of their boring travel is in a comfortable silence. On either side of them, the plains stretch out to the horizon. Nearly three hours had passed and they had traveled nearly four leagues since departing from Vel Castere. Just beyond the horizon, Elias spots a dark, billowing plume of smoke.​
He is notably fresh despite having spent the entire morning keeping the horse's pace.​
"Ah-ha!" Elias then says grimly, "That's promising."​
 
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Zephyrine was ready to offer her own name in a bid of not being a shit, until the memory of punching Kor in the gut for aggravating her came to mind.

She was notably quiet.




Smoke on the horizon was never something to look forward to.

From their vantage point, Zephyrine studied it, casting a glance down at Sol.


"Wood burning. It's brown, I think. Won't know until we get closer, I guess." They had not slowed their pace, but seeing the smoke in the distance made the Initiate want to pick up pace, but only one of them were on horseback.

"What do you think it is? Are there many burn outs this way?" She inquired as they continued, her tawny gaze set on the path ahead and ignoring the smoke that begged for her attention. Springing into action on her own accord was not the right move, not when Sol was the senior on this mission. So Zeph took on the position of observing, learning.