POM Part 17: Storms by RedPhantom ()
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The wind was picking up as they returned to the meeting house. Kith and the gnomes agreed it looked like a sandstorm was starting. They decided to use a shield for now and see how the storm developed. They would make a decision to evacuate once they had a better idea of what the storm was doing.
Kith offered to be the first to cast the shield. He used his fire shield because it was more durable. They made a schedule for all the mages to take a turn. They didn’t list times only the order because most didn’t know how long they could hold the shield. Each would do what they could, and then the next would take over. Kith used the shield frequently at the forge so he had a good idea of how long he could hold it. Bacna was next on the list, but he didn’t know that shield, only a spell shield. Since he only recently learned to cast at all, he wasn’t adept and didn’t know how long he could hold it or if he could cast a big enough to enclose the entire camp.
Ann was after him. With the Nim’s training, she’d gotten quite skilled at casting shields. They figured she’d be casting during the night. It was a good time for her since she didn’t need much sleep and could easily go all night without any sleep and not have it affect her the next day. By the next evening, they would know if they needed to return home or not.
Kith held the shield until after supper. Bacna was only able to hold the shield fifteen minutes and hadn’t been able to talk while doing it. But he was happy. He’d been told due to the brain damage caused by his inability to breathe when he was born, he’d never be able to cast anything.
Ann cast the next shield and sat down in the meeting tent to read. Deyama joined her after a time. “Would you like the company?” She offered.
Ann shrugged and put her book inside.
“I’m kind of surprised Kith isn’t with you.” The aide admitted.
“He’s resting. He pushed it a bit today.”
“So it’s not because there’s no chaperone?”
Ann shook her head. “We don’t need one. That’s more for Shunati’s benefit.”
Deyama nodded. “He’s a sensitive. He has trouble with groups in small spaces.”
“Exactly,” Ann agreed.
“Thank you for not mentioning I’m the one pledged to Vor.”
Ann shrugged. “We all have things we don’t want everyone to know about. You two will work it out.”
“You don’t want to work it out?” Ann raised an eyebrow. She’d assumed that since Deyama hadn’t wanted to end the pledge, she hoped they would eventually work it out.
Deyama started to say something then stopped. She sighed. “It’s complicated.”
Ann nodded. “Some things are hard to talk about. Even without the brand, there are things I saw in Lerjao I could never talk about.”
Deyama’s eyes grew wide. “Oh, this nothing like that.”
“He didn’t hit you, did he?” Ann’s eyes narrowed though she didn’t believe Vor was capable of that.
“No, no. Vor was always so sweet, right up until he left for school.”
“Did he cheat on you?”
“No, it’s…” She said again. “It’s complicated. I’d rather not talk about it.”
Ann nodded. “Like I said, that I do understand.”
Deyama fidgeted and looked at the tent opening.
“Does the storm bother you?”
She nodded. “A little, I guess. It’s the sound.”
“Storm’s used to make me nervous too.”
“It’s not that. I usually like to go out in the storms, but now I can’t because of the sand.”
“Storm’s used to scare me, then I went to Lerjao.”
“I imagine very little would scare you after that.”
“More than you’d think, but when your nightmares cause you to try to hit yourself with lightning, a few clouds don’t worry you.”
“You cast spells in your sleep?”
“It’s getting better. I always travel with lightning rods.”
Deyama smiled at the last comment.
“It makes for interesting trances. People talk about it being their worst fear. I must fear everything. I get assaulted by all sorts of things.”
“My trance was of the night Vor left for college. I went to say goodbye only in my trance, I was too late, and he left. We’ve been pledged since before I was born. We’d never been apart for more than a few days. The idea of being alone terrified me. Now, I don’t know if he’ll ever come back and I don’t know if I want him to.”
“If your trance is about him being gone, I’d say deep down you do.”
“Maybe. Just don’t tell anyone about this, okay?”
Ann nodded. “Okay. Trances are personal.”
The storm let up about midday the next day. Ann held the shield the whole time. The other mages were both impressed and concerned. They insisted she lay down and rest. Kith offered to sit with her. Shunati also joined them as a chaperone.
“I’m bored out of my skin,” Shunati sighed.
“You can act as an aide.” Kith offered.
“Ah, sit in a crowded tent and get bumped every few minutes? No. I’d rather be bored. Do you know how much it hurts to touch people?”
“Yes.” Kith nodded. “You showed me once.”
“It was at Emeton and Tylan’s wedding, and I was sober, so I remember it.”
“I think I remember that.” Shunati nodded.
“You used healing. You can’t blame Vor this time.” Kith grinned.
“I’d never.” Shunati insisted. “If Vor did it, he did it.”
Kith laughed and turned to Ann. “Anytime Shunati can’t remember something, he claims it was Vor not him.”
Ann nodded. “He’s pulled that on us too.”
Shunati shook his head. “That was Vor.”
“Vor stays in the servants’ wing when he visits. I don’t see him.” Ann reminded him.
Kith chuckled. “That’s because people keep thinking he’s Shunati. He spent an hour one time arguing with the man who wanted him to heal an infected cut.”
“That thing was nasty. I don’t know which was worse, people who come to me for every little bump or sniffle or those who wait until they’re about to lose a limb.”
“How long have I been resting?” Ann asked.
“Not long enough,” Kith said. “Do you want them to start thinking you're immortal?”
Ann sighed. “No. Does anyone have any cards? We can play troll bash.”
“Shun cheats at troll bash.” Kith frowned.
“Not as bad as Ann does,” Shunati claimed.
“I don’t cheat badly. I’m good at it.” Ann insisted. Everybody cheated that troll bash. It was part of the game. The trick was not letting people know. “I can go back to the palace and get a deck.”
“No. What if someone walked in?” Kith asked.
“Then you get some.”
“We have enough lying and scheming out there. We don’t need it in here.” Kith frowned.
“Besides, you two are telepathic. You’ll gang up on me.” Shunati claimed.
Ann grinned guiltily. “Us?”
They killed time until midafternoon when Bacna came in, leaning on the page.
“I am g-going to k-kill them.” He declared once the page had left.
“What’s the trouble?” Ann asked.
“I am n-not an imbecile.”
“Someone called you that?” Kith growled.
“N-No. B-But they m-might as well have.”
“Have a seat,” Ann said. “Calm down a minute. Think of Lillan.” He rarely stuttered around her.
“That w-won’t help l-long,” Bacna said, sitting. “As s-soon as I go b-back, I’ll t-tense up.”
“I could make an image of her in there.” Ann offered.
Bacchus smiled and shook his head.
“So what’s going on?” Kith asked.
“The gnomes c-can’t understand m-me, or won’t try. The d-dwarves ignore m-me t-totally. The elves are acting l-like I can’t think and I c-can tell your uncle is t-telling the c-council to listen to me.”
“The council knows you well enough that they don’t think you’re stupid. It’s more likely Uncle is reminding them not to show impatience with your stuttering and give you a chance to talk. They’re telepaths, and anyone who has speech problems is taught telepathy early and encouraged to use that,” Kith explained.
“And the gnomes don’t think you’re an imbecile. They may see you as cursed but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing either.” He continued. “Gnomes see omens in many things. Your ability to thrive after your traumatic birth will be seen as a good sign.”
“Sapphire speaks Dragon but doesn’t get much practice. When she was in Baj-tisk, she had a lot of trouble understanding one dragon with speech trouble. Mostly, someone had to translate for him. If you not used to hearing a foreign language, it’s going to be doubly hard to understand someone who has trouble speaking.” Ann added. “How about I go act as translator.”
“What about K-King Arlin and the d-dwarves?”
“Arlin is most likely trying to upset you, and it’s working,” Shunati told him. “Right now, your mom’s there alone.”
Bacna shook his head. “We’re taking a b-break.”
“The dwarf chieftains always think they’re better than everyone. Think of your Aunt Noyet.” Kith told him. “You’ll need to prove them wrong. And don’t repeat yourself unless they ask. If they can’t listen, they’ll look bad.”
“Think nasty noble.” Ann smiled deviously.
Shunati frowned. “Your dad told you not to play that game.”
“Who’s playing?” Ann asked. “We learned a lot about dealing with nobles that way.”
“What’s nasty noble?” Kith asked.
“When nobles came to the palace, and they or their family didn’t know who we were and tried to act like they were our betters, we used to try to put them in their place without letting them know who we were.”
“And they embarrassed several,” Shunati added.
“Only because of their pride. Getting upset because someone told them a magistrate’s son doesn’t outrank a prince is like getting upset with someone because they said that you had yesterdays underclothes caught on a shoe. Yes, it’s a little embarrassing, but it’s better to be warned early than to continue on embarrassing yourself.” Ann argued.
Kith stood. “Let’s get you back. Ann can act as translator for the gnomes. Don’t let the others intimidate you.”
“I wish I had my other c-cane. It would help with the s-sand.”
“Your four-footed one?” Shunati asked.
Bacna nodded, and Shunati disappeared. He returned a moment later with the cane.
“Thanks.” Bacna smiled.
“Now looks like you left for that rather than to calm down.”
“G-Good because I’m not that c-calm.”