Private Tales Silver Bladed Dreams

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer
Kor raised a hand, gesturing to nothing that could be seen, perhaps the field beside them, perhaps the whole of Arethil itself. This had been the desire he'd suspected was buried beneath the surface of Zephyrine's rage. Not out of assumption, but because he'd found it in himself as well. In their desires, in their yearning for freedom, they were kin.

"The path is only so written out as you allow it to be. Starting now, we work towards not the futures of Dreadlords Kor and Zephyrine, but the people behind those titles. We will be unshackled from any such burdenous title, and achieve our own unique ones."

Kor already knew what he wished to be known as. Someday, he would hold dominion not only over birds, but all living creatures. From simple dog to mighty dragon, all would heed his beck and call, and he would become Master of All. Kor was not delusional, however. The Initiate knew well that the path to such an end was long and arduous.

But he'd lived without sight for his entire life. If any boon had come from that affliction, it was the patience that it had brought him. In the darkest times of his life, when moving from one room to another was a frustrating and painful affair that could take hours, he'd learned the value of being patient. If he'd waited through those agonizing days of falling to the ground and waiting for help, he could wait as long as it took to never be helpless again.

Did Zephyrine have such patience?

"It will not be easy. The wait will be agonizing, and you will become frustrated. If you will place your faith in me, however, I will take you there."

Zephyrine stared at Kor for a few moments in the quiet of the day. His words echoed into a silence, until she shifted and looked down at the torn blades of grass she had been picking at.

"I want to be stronger, to be able to not have my energy depleted from larger scale recreations." And to do so on her own terms, not determined by whatever mission handed to her to test her capabilities. She knew what she could and could not do, but to be scrutinised and shaped for specific things were no longer her interest.

"I... had the thought of studying healing the non-magical way. Perhaps, in theory, I can understand muscle and blood and be able to create a synthetic way to stitch wounds." They had been introduced to a new Proctor, one blessed with the ability to heal, but Zephyrine had heard the Proctor promise to teach first aid if an Initiate wished to learn. If she couldn't recreate skin and muscle repairing, then her hands will have to learn it.

She did not want to watch a loved one die before her eyes ever again if she had any way to help it.

Kor nods along with her as she sets goals for herself. Whether she realized it or not, she was already thinking in a different manner-- Not of what she was told to do, but what she wished to do. It was a small, but important change, and one that would gather in momentum, and lead to more.

"A perfectly attainable goal." Kor concluded, "This academy, for all it's faults, does have several comprehensive courses on such practical healing. It behooves us to take advantage of such training while it's freely available." It wasn't lost on Kor that telling her she could attend optional classes went against the rebellious ideals he'd been touting only moments earlier, but he too believed in using what was given to them. Zephyrine would do well to learn such a skill, for when they no longer needed these walls.

"As for your energy, only regular training will grant you the increased stamina you seek. However..." Kor paused, and the bird on his shoulder darted its head toward the field they sat beside. "Such training is usually easier with a partner. I would be willing to help you, assuming we are agreed in our alliance?"

Zephyrine regarded Kor with a guarded expression, waiting to see what else he would say or do after presenting his offer. Did she think things would be done differently, or perhaps undermined the intentions Kor had in helping guide the way?

After chewing her cheek, her tawny eyes dropped to the grass again as she considered what he was putting on the table.
"Alright." She agreed, taking a breath and lifting her gaze again. He was so unlike the first time they had met, and so was she. It was always her first defense to have her hackles up, but she needed these weeks to think on her own what she wanted to do.

Becoming a Dreadlord was not something she dreamed of... that was Proctor Cadell's before their untimely passing. She had felt special to have such a gift, to have the ability to recreate just about anything that was not a living thing like wounds.

She was on her own, and now had the opportunity to figure out what she wanted.

"So... we are on the same page. We are in agreement to work together. How soon are we to start?" She was ready whenever he would call for it. It was that soldiers training she grew up with to always be ready no matter what. Three meals a day, always, to ensure she had energy to help fuel her magic. She had her routine, a bed time schedule, and most importantly, the bag of scrap material in the pouch that was tied to her waist belt day in and day out.

It was rare that a genuine smile crossed Kor's lips, but with three simple sentences, Zephyrine brought the raven-kin's lips up to his cheeks. Finally... he'd grown so bored without a partner to fill the void left by his last 'companion'. Even if this relationship was purely one of mutual benefit and nothing more, perhaps this would quell that strange, nagging ache he'd felt.

Of course, the boy was simply lonely, and was too far gone to realize it at this point.

"I see no better time to begin than now. We are on the sparring field, after all." Kor brought in his knees and stood up, stretching his arms out and rolling his neck for a moment. The last time the two of them had scuffled, Zephyrine had been easily overwhelmed. In fairness, she'd been caught off guard and hadn't a clue to his powers at the time. "The only way to increase your stamina is to stress your limits. So that is exactly what we are going to do."

Keeping a hand on the wall of the shed to guide him, Kor walked around to its door and pulled it open. Just inside was a wheelbarrow, full of wooden and metal scrap. Attempting to grip the handles to pull it, the blind man stumbles a bit, grumbling under his breath. "Help me wheel this out onto the field. I have an idea."

Seeing the wheelbarrow holding much more than what her pouch at her hip could contain was too tempting for the Initiate that could recreate. Her hands twitched as she took over the handles, pushing down and wheeling it to where Kor mentioned.

She was mindful to go slowly, allowing Kor to touch the barrow and follow alongside her until with a heavy exhale, dropped the wheelbarrow to rest just shy of the edge of the field.
"I hope you aren't going to set more birds onto me." She had been flinching from the sound of wings alone, not trusting even the smallest robin.

Zephyrine sifted through the contents of the barrow, inspecting the different densities of each scrap and imagining what she could do with it. She liked working with metals, preferring the feel of pommel in hand.
"This is enough to build a few decent shields. Maybe armour." Gods, hopefully she could manage armour before he set birds upon her again.

Kor rolled his eyes at her concern, safe in doing so considering one couldn't see much within the pale, empty white orbs. If Zephyrine expected the two of them to collaborate while also having a fear of birds, she was in for a rather rude and sudden awakening.

With some assistance, Kor moved the wheelbarrow into the field and stepped aside, reaching for the necklace of different-shaped whistles he wore. Plucking a long and narrow one whittled from a pink wood out of the bunch, he brought it to his lips and let out a sharp, but brief chirp. Quickly there was a response, and a fiery red cardinal emerged from one of the trees surrounding the field, landing on Kor's shoulder.

"Yes, but you've done shields and armor, those are in your comfort zone. Our goal is to expand your abilities, to pull you out of those confines." As he spoke, Kor connected with the cardinal in order to regain his sight, and the brief appearance of a white tendril of magic between the boy and the bird signaled a change in Kor's posture. When connected to a creature, he appeared far more confident in his movements, turning without any of the hesitance he'd shown before and grasping the barrow to dump its contents on the grass. "It is one thing to create stationary objects under no time pressure or quality standards. I intend to apply both to you in this exercise."

Again he chose a whistle from his neck, this time giving a long, trilling cry that summoned forth no less than half a dozen hawks, each arriving one by one and perching atop the shed behind them, watching Kor intently.

"These hawks will be flying around the field in formation, somewhat low to the ground," Kor explained the task he planned for her, "Your goal will be to construct a cage around them with the materials provided, capable of containing them."

A difficult task, but the size of the birds was to Zephyrine's advantage. Hawks were large, and would not be able to slip through bars easily. This meant she could get away with simplicity. Kor intended this, as he could increase the complexity requirements as her powers strengthened.

By the time Kor regained sense of sight, she still wore the incredulous look on her face. She turned to watch the hawks come into view, her stomach tightening in ill thoughts at what those talons could do.

He wanted her to trap them?

Zephyrine crossed her arms and furrowed her brows, watching as the hawks formed their positions and soared around the field like Kor explained. His word made it seem easy, as if the initial theory was achievable, but he was right in knowing her comfort pieces to recreate. Her strengths laid in anything that could be used in combat, defense and offense.

One foot in front of the other, until she stood amongst the mess of scraps littering the ground. Her hands hover by her sides, palms facing downwards towards the pieces, watching them levitate a few inches from the ground and gave her time to balance each piece, getting a feel for where what lay and what she could do with it. Zephyrine was also known for her speed, but it was easy to conjure up something when she had done it thousands of times before.

This task had proved difficult.

Zeph was on her sixth attempt before bending over and grasping a piece of wood and flinging it hard. Her anger made the piece hit the ground, not doing as much as her irritation had tried to manifest in the force she used to throw it. "This is impossible." She seethed through gritted teeth.

Kor would have excused all of her frustration, all of the anger that came from her failure to complete the task set before her, were it not for her use of the word impossible. Scowling, he scooped up the wood she'd thrown onto the ground and threw it back at her, none too softly.

"Stop your sniveling! I wouldn't have asked you to do it if it wasn't possible!" He barked. No, what he'd laid out before her was very much accomplishable, but her confidence wasn't there; Neither her head nor her body had been acclimated to failure, having spent so long doing routine magics that she'd already mastered. A failure on the Academy's part. "You will never learn if you cannot keep your composure beyond six measly attempts."

Still, perhaps he'd set the bar too high for her first foray out of her usual norms. Kor dismissed the hawks, instead retrieving another whistle and summoning a hummingbird, flattering swiftly out of the tree line and hovering in place over their heads. "If you do not think yourself able to track a moving target, we will start with stationary. This bird will stay in place. You have three minutes to construct a cage around it."

He would not allow Zephyrine to rest after one outburst. If she was ever going to reach her full potential, he would need to drag it out of her, kicking and screaming. She would find few lengths that he wouldn't travel to that end.

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She had wanted to retaliate the thrown piece of wood, to construct something deadlier to lob his way and make him hurt... but her anger issues had to be pushed to the side. They had an agreement, and Zephyrine wanted to honour it best she could.

A stationary subject... easy enough. Her tawny eyes began to trace out a structure, choosing wood as her material and went to go find the pieces that would work well. She wanted it thin, able to contain the small fluttering bird and in turn not use sturdier materials on something so frail.

The box began to piece itself around the hummingbird, turning into a wooden cage with the imagination of Zephyrine guiding the design. Once it was done, a wooden post shot from the ground to keep it in place. She turned then, to Kor and shrugged her shoulders.

"Right. That was easy. No need to be rude." She muttered.

"You're thinking too much, letting your mind dictate your actions instead of your instincts. How long have you been doing this, Zephyrine?" Kor asked, ignoring the petulance. Zeph knew as well as he did that she had to place to complain about his tone being that she'd just been whining like a child over the difficulty of the exercise. He crossed his arms, walking in a slow circle around the cage to inspect it from all angles. It was well crafted-- She was quite capable when she wasn't trapped inside her own head.

"Your body already knows what to do. It's what you were raised for, right? So let your body do the work, and quit fretting over the birds and their movements. We're doing a moving target again. No whining this time."

Once more, Kor summoned a large Hawk with a whistle. He opted for just one this time, rather than a group. This would allow her to make a smaller cage, and perhaps decrease the level of anxiety that seemed to be interfering with her work. In slow loops the great bird swooped and swung overhead, flapping its wings and crying out whenever it spotted its master below.

"You need to push the thoughts out of your mind. Let your eyes guide you, let them move your arms independently. You are capable of this."

He'd never admit it, but of that much, he had faith in her.

Hawks were birds of prey, agile and perceptive. Zephyrine needed to inhibit the same qualities in order to get this right. She watched the hawk for a moment, her light brown eyes unblinking as she tracked it's path as her hands relaxed at her sides. Her magic filtered from her fingertips, traveling over the large pieces of scrap and relaying information to her. She would know what pieces would create a better foundation for a cage, already forming the plans in her mind.

She watched the hawk make another pass behind Kor, just as it continued to fly after identifying it's master. Wood creaked before shooting into her hand, splinters digging into her flesh but she did not waste time in reacting to the pain. Zephyrine plunged the split wooden stake into the grass below, working past the cold and firm dirt before the shape warped and shuddered as the construct grew within mere seconds of the hawk flying into it's path. The hawk was fast, but Zephyrine's mind was faster.

A door, made up of the loose swarf that came from metal shavings, creating the only face of the cage to see inside the wooden box. In moments, Zephyrine had trapped the bird in an aviary of her making. It was tall, and after, Zephyrine made perches for it to use once it calmed down. Still, she kept her distance from the wired door.

"You might want to help calm it before it hurts itself."

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The hawk quickly went docile, only a sharp look from Kor necessary to quell its anger at the sudden prison erected around it. Zephyrine had made relatively short work of that exercise, once she'd gotten over her own mental hurdles. If she hadn't given him so much lip in doing so, he might have actually felt the slightest sense of pride in her accomplishment.

"My theory proves correct," Kor grumbled, again circling the cage with Repent swooping down to his shoulder to view it from all angles, just as he had with her last construction. "Your biggest obstacles are your own fear and hesitation, not a lack of talent or skill." It may have sounded like an insult from some lips, but Kor spoke it as if it were a puzzle he was slowly piecing together, bit by bit.

Stopping once he was satisfied with the cage's structure, he looked back down at Zephyrine, and returned to her his his arms crossed over his chest, seeming to clutch the black coat he wore as if struck with a bout of chill. "Not that there is any shame in that. Even the mightiest creatures exhibit some form of those behaviors. Fear keeps us alive, and tempers our desires when they may lead us to an early demise. Hesitation is the tool that fear uses to accomplish this."

There was an uncomfortable pause, and Kor's gaze, not the raven's, shifted downwards, his voice lowering a bit.

"Is it the birds that cause you fear? Or is it me?"

Zephyrine did not rise to hearing his praise, nor did she get any closer to the cage she constructed with her magic. Her arms crossed, eyes dropping to the mess of wood and metal surrounding her. She did not want to admit she was even remotely frightened of the birds, but hearing Kor ask if she feared him had her instantly defensive.

Instead of embracing the quick refusal at her tongue, she bit down on it and thought of his question. The birds were easy to blame for their vicious attack, still lightly there on her arms and the back of her neck after a few weeks, but it was not entirely of them.

When Zephyrine realised the potential of her answer, she turned away, busying herself with searching through the scrap and throwing them into organised piles.

"Maybe." She said quietly, heart pumping loudly in her ears. Admitting it... it felt like she was opening up for him to ridicule and make it into another lesson. "I think I fear birds because... they are an extension to you. That you have that power to give a command and suddenly..."

Zephyrine still refused to face him. She did not want to look into his eyes, that cloudy and unseeing depths, or even that of a bird now that she knew he could see through their eyes.
In that moment, Zephyrine had a level of power over him that she was blissfully unaware of. Despite Kor's attitude, his bleak view of the world around him, and his apparent disdain for people in general, he did have some amount of self-awareness when it came to how he was seen by those he did choose to associate with.

Kor was not a monster, not a man devoid of feeling or morality, but the birds had always been his only true friends, the only ones who understood him. To many, that made him irreconcilably different, and he understood that well enough to keep his distance and temper his more social instincts. After all, it wouldn't matter once he'd claimed what was his.

"My control over them is not absolute." Kor finally replied, looking up towards a blue sky he could not see. There was no ridicule or chastisement in his voice. "They serve me because I care for them, because I shelter and nurture them. My magic only allows me to efficiently communicate with them and see through their eyes. My commanding of the birds... that's not really a 'power'. At least, not one exclusive to me."

If they were ever going to progress, if Zephyrine was going to work with him in freeing the both of them from their chains to this Academy, they needed to find some common ground. They needed to tolerate one-another. If he'd learned anything from Soleil Verdane, it was that even monsters could make 'friends'.

"Besides, you speak as though you do not have the power to cage them." He turns towards the sound of the Hawk, making idle sounds within its makeshift cage. "In time, you'll grow more skilled with that trick. You'll be able to stop any flock I see fit to send your way."

Her stomach dropped slightly, enough to make her shift her weight on either foot before turning to stare at Kor's boots. Perfected execution of the task would have merited meeting his sightless eyes, but Zephyrine was wary even after his explanation. Even if Kor intended on shaping Zephyrine with his own methods, the determination of getting it right would be all on her own. She would take the time to study different scraps, to practice on what materials would hold the best; and if she failed, she would try again.

The next time after this day Kor asks her to produce a shelter to cage a bird, it would be done within seconds.

"I think within a week I could cage more than just birds." She threw out the challenge, not at all daunted by any ideas being inspired in the blind Initiate's mind. In truth, Zephyrine thought there was a briliance in Kor, to his thoughts that seemed to know more than he lets out. "But... it will take time for me to forget how these wounds hurt before they healed and scarred." And the sounds of wings flapping, the cries as the avian fleet pierced and cut into her exposed skin.

"And before you say I will get over it, I won't. Only twice in my life here have I felt useless. That I failed. Protecting myself against birds and being unable to stop the Initiates that hunted down Proctor Caddel when revolution came." Memories started to come into picture, manifesting in vivid detail that she through up a wall in her mind to keep the nightmare from replaying. "I was not the weapon I am able to wield today when I was younger. Determination... I do not think you will find another like me driven by it."

Kor's face tightened as she spoke, perhaps affected by her words of both challenge and hurt, perhaps merely attempting to button up the brief vulnerability he'd allowed himself to display. Either way, a smirk found his lips as she expounded upon her resolve, declaring her desire and determination to improve upon the woman he'd faced days prior.

"I'm well aware of your drive, Zephyrine. Though my eyes have no vision, I saw the potential in you from the moment I laid eyes upon you, taking out your frustrations on that measly target." The Initiate crossed his arms, nodding his head for her to follow him before walking past her back towards the shed, a passing sparrow chirping and landing on his shoulder to guide him. "I wouldn't be bothering with this if I thought you didn't have the capacity to improve, to surpass the boundaries they've set for you.

With a small bit of difficulty, Kor retrieved the wagon and began to pull it back slowly to where they'd taken it. His words were only half-true. In Zephyrine he'd sought a replacement for Soleil Verdane, to fill the void that strange girl had left in his heart, a bizarre ache in his chest that he still did not understand. Zephyrine was nothing like Soleil, however. In their initial meeting, Kor had realized the fruitlessness of such a wish.

But she had shown him something else, something he'd not been expecting. While the scarlet-haired recreator would not ease the unrest in his heart, she had awoken something else within him, something he'd not felt for any human before: Kor believed in her. He had faith in her potential.

Tch... There truly was something wrong with him.

"You flatter me, comparing my assault to the trauma of the Revolution." He murmured. "But to wound you so was never my intent."

Zeph gritted her teeth and steeled herself before looking up at Kor as he turned away and was aided by a small sparrow. She followed him, keeping quiet for a moment while he spoke of the potential in her that he had seen since their first meeting. Not that she would admit it so, Zephyrine had to owe it to Kor for making her question her time and worth here at the Academy.

"It isn't so much about the Revolution... more so the timing." She mumbled. "And the significance that I was now alone here."

Zephyrine sighed and hurried her steps to walk alongside Kor, chewing on her lip and scowling at the grass below. "Kor," she began still unable to really meet his gaze. To be so open with someone like this... it was just an odd thing for Zeph. She had made friends since that ill-fated punch to the Initiate beside her, but she did not tell them about the loneliness she felt. Only to Kor she admitted this. "What will we do when we will leave this place? Is there a plan?" She could not see him running off to a rogue Archon, or living a life as a free spirit. Zephyrine did not know him well, of course, but she knew the sightless boy always had a plan.

"What will we do when we will leave this place? Is there a plan?"

A plan? Kor seemed puzzled by her question, his brow knotting and his tongue slipping into his cheek for a moment. The sparrow on his shoulder seemed to regain itself, looking between Zephyrine and Kor before chirping and fluttering away. Kor slid the doors to the shed closed and re-locked the hatch with the key he'd 'borrowed' from one of the groundskeepers, ultimately answering with a shrug of his shoulders.

"I'm not your master. Once we've broken our chains I have no illusion that you'll wish to associate with me any further. At least, I've been working under that assumption." Turning to face her, the boy leans back on the doors and pulls the whistles from his neck, sharpening the end of one of them with the edge of the key. "If my assumption is incorrect, if our partnership is to extend beyond our own freedom... it does beg the question, what goals would we seek?"

Truthfully he'd never thought about remaining closely associated with Zephyrine once they'd reached the end of their time here together, but the prospect wasn't one without merit. One with as much hidden talent as her would make many of his personal goals far more attainable, and while he was unsure of Zeph's aim for the future, he was certain that he could reciprocate.

"Allow me to turn this question to you, Zephyrine. What end do you seek? Obviously, the happenings you've been put through have instilled certain values and desires into your mind, so now I must wonder, what mark do you wish to leave? What memory shall the world have of you?"

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Zeph scrunched her face. "Well, of course I will go with you." She crossed her arms, as if to say that was final. "It's nice having some one that would push me to do my best." On her own, Zephyrine kept to her comforts.

"My friend Larkin... he worries I push myself too hard. That I burn out too much." It was a brother's worry, someone looking out for her when she had not felt as if she needed it.

But... what I want people to remember of me is that... there is nothing that I cannot fix." Power hungry. She sounded power hungry... but a taste of it was all she needed. Her magic could aide villages, settlements, and even shipwrecks. She could mend wounds, one day perhaps, or even arm a group with their own armour and weaponry. "I want to be boundless."

It seemed that perhaps Zephyrine had finally managed to catch the conniving avian master off guard, a look of surprise crossing his features as she declared her intention to remain with him. Perhaps he hadn't expected it, perhaps he'd hoped she wouldn't... Even he wasn't entirely sure what it was he'd thought she'd say.

"Boundless, hmm?" Kor replied, a smile sliding across his lips as he uncrossed his arms and tucked them into the pockets of his coat. He liked the way that word sounded, the meaning behind it... without limits or restraints. It suited him just as well as it did her. "Then that's what we'll do. We'll train until we're ready to break free, and when the time comes, we'll do it together."

The words perhaps reeked of sentimentalism to his ears, but they were true, they were unwavering. Together, the two of them stood a far greater chance of reaching their true potential and spreading their clipped wings to fly far from the confines of this cursed establishment.

"And then, without the eyes and hands of those who would control us looming overhead, we will be just that. Boundless."

As if he'd decided on the path ahead of them all at once, Kor nodded and gave a single clap, seemingly satisfied with himself. "We'll continue tomorrow, Zephyrine. We've much to do, and you've given me much to think about."

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When she had said that word, she did not feel it struck her like it did Kor, but upon his lips and tongue, she could envision what that dream tasted like. It was the perfect imagery, to be well versed in their magic and not at all tied one this one place, this one ideal for Initiates like them.

"And Larkin. I want my friend Larkin to be there with us." He had filled that void of chosen family she created here, had been there to watch her and remind her to stick within her strength and not burn out. Zephyrine was grateful for him, and she was beginning to think the same of the blind Initiate opposite her.

"Right. Tomorrow." She grinned, excited by their plans moving forward, what they will work towards. "Shall I meet you back here again? Or should we venture towards the Falwood?" They needed a space where they would not be disturbed, with no prying eyes. Kor should remember Zephyrine Caddel was not one for having an audience.

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"Falwood?" Kor tilted his head, stopping in mid-step as he'd began to head back to the dorms for the evening. Zephyrine was correct in that a private place would be beneficial to them, but to leave the Academy for such a gathering seemed overzealous to him. "No. If we begin leaving the Academy together at the same time, we will arouse suspicion. For now, we will take what we can find here, in terms of privacy." The school was a large enough place, and while busy, had its nooks and crannies that even the proctors didn't often sweep through.

Then there was the other matter she raised. Larkin? Kor had heard the name, and had a vague recollection of his visage. A rather baby-faced fellow, a musician perhaps? Kor creased his lips in doubt, and one of his arms rose to his shoulder, fiddling with the seam of his jacket. "I'm not running an orphanage, Zephyrine. I can't take every wayward soul in this place, or half of the roster is leaving."

Alas, Zeph's tone was firm, and he could see in her eyes this would be a sticking point for the girl. If she felt that strongly about the boy, Kor wouldn't jeopardize the progress he'd made arguing with her. With a shrug, he concedes. "Very well. I'll talk to him. I can't promise you more than that, though."

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The rarest of smiles pulled at the corners of her mouth.

"I keep few friends, don't you worry." And with that, the two went their separate ways.

Dawn broke over the nearest building, and Zephyrine wrapped her coat tighter around herself to combat the considerable chill that settled overnight. Snow blanketed the entire Academy in the early hours, and although it was a light coverage, more would come later in the day. She had begun to make the trip back to the old storage shed when something caught her eye.

A bird, peering at the scarlet haired Initiate. Her stomach curled, perhaps with anxiety or hunger, as she had skipped an early meal.

"Where are we headed today then, bird?" Zephyrine crossed her arms, tucking her bare hands under her arms for warmth. She could not risk the cold biting wind to touch her skin to recreate a pair of winter gloves.

And what new challenge did Kor have planned for her today? She had half wished he had sent a note, saying that it was much too cold to continue today, and that she may remain in her warm and comfortable bed.

The little bird staring down at her quickly turned its head at her call, and flew away, out and over the dormitories she'd just left. The small black speck stood out against the white sky and the falling flecks of snow, flying high towards the opposite end, the men's dorm.

Kor wasn't a huge fan of the cold, but the beauty of the snow falling from the sky always made him feel a strange sense of nostalgia. A memory, or perhaps a dream of looking up into a snowy sky, not feeling or hurting the way he so often did now. In one hand was a cylinder of wood, freshly carved from a log being saved for firewood. In the other the boy held a whittling knife, carving a divot into the wood without looking down at it, using his thumb to feel where it needed to be.

As Zephyrine followed his little bird back to him, he would hear her feet crunching against the layer of snow on the ground as she approached. Though he could not see her, his eyes nevertheless looked in her direction on instinct, and he regarded her with only words. "Zephyrine."

The corner of his lips curled, barely and for less than a second, before he turned his gaze skyward once again.

"You don't have to do anything today if you don't want to. I have some personal business I'm handling."

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