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Fanfic: Ves'xile's biography

Postby kirio on Sat Jul 14, 2007 4:42 pm

The longer I though about it the more I realized that Medea was right. Creating too original a character is stepping on Kern's creative toes, so to speak. So here in all it's glory is the original (mostly unusable) biography of Ves'xile Tei'kaliath.

Ves'xile Tei'kaliath

Basic physical appearance:
Female 200 years old (looks an aged 30 because of crows-feet at her eyes and deep laugh lines around her mouth)
a triangle shaped face with a hooked nose and high angled cheekbones
amber yellow eyes
The long ears of a mature drow with a long row of 12 closely spaced piercings along the lower edge of each ear.
She wears her hair in a tight single braid from the nape of her neck that hangs down to her waist.
193 cm tall and thin to stringiness
very broad, boney shoulders and an average bust-line
very small waist and above average hips
blue-black skin that makes her eyes and her white teeth and hair seem to glow
long arms and legs and unusually long fingers and long thin feet
Her aura (when she is not concealing or altering its appearance) does not match her eyes. It is "sky blue". When moving about in ordinary circumstances, she alters her aura to match that of Ilharess An'jhali, i.e. the same as that common to the ruling family of the old city.

Clothing & Accessories :
a white turtle-neck sleeveless pull-over of fine spider silk (slightly stained)
a grey calf-length pleated skirt of wool (badly torn and tattered at the hem)
plain white panties
She wraps her breasts with a bandage to make moving in hand to hand combat easier.
a gold-trimmed black bell-sleeved hooded cloak of satin (right sleeve torn off at the elbow and one of the neck ties is missing)
one small gold earring in the left ear (the last remaining of two dozen)
one heavy gold bangle on the right ankle (the last of six that were worn three to an ankle)
Other Possessions:
a backpack
a wool blanket
5 pairs of panties
2 extra turtle-neck spider silk blouses
an ordinary breast band for formal occasions
a spare bandage for wrapping her breasts (now cushioning styluses)
a small supply of hardtack
some dried apples
a week's supply of dried mushrooms
an ink stick
a stone ink tray
an assortment of bone styluses wrapped in a felt blotter
a basic mana manipulation textbook
an element affinity test handbook
an elements of spell-casting textbook
a hand-to-hand combat drill book
a half-filled notebook of spells written in her own hand
a notebook of lesson plans for introduction to spell casting
two blank notebooks
a battered dwarven short sword and sheath

Family:
Mother: royal ambassador in the old city, member of a minor branch of the royal clan, killed in an assault on the administration offices, was 346.
Father: former bodyguard to the ambassador, location unknown, left on a journey when Ves'xile was a toddler never to return. (rumored to have had faerie blood)
Daughter: a captain of the city guard, killed in street fighting, was 83
First son: joined a mercenary band, disowned, location unknown, would be134.
Second son: left the old city decades ago to seek his fortune, location unknown, would be about 109.
All three children had different fathers none of whom Ves'xile has seen for nearly 70 years.
Granddaughter by her daughter: location unknown, would be 23. Ves'xile hasn't seen the child since she was 6.
One of her dark elf great grandmothers is the same as Illharess An'jhali's

Education:
Element affinity: crystals & gems (earth), mana attunement (energy)
Completion of elementary instruction: high honors
Intermediate concentrations:
Unarmed combat: junior champion
Creation of power stones: above average
Intermediate aura manipulation: high honors
Self-directed study: high honors (created new spell "Mana Sting")
Advanced specialties:
Unarmed combat: senior champion (suspended pending investigation)
(probationary re-instatement due to lack of evidence of cheating)
(championship re-instated after victory in heavily monitored duels
with the top three contenders)
Construction of a mana enhanced dagger: satisfactory
Advanced aura manipulation: high honors
Aura healing: honors
Self-directed study: high honors (created new combat spell "Mana Strike")
*Disciplinary caution: (discovery of "Mana Stealing" aspect of student's
sorcery. Punishment: barred from participation in all future magical duels on school grounds)
Knife fighting: honors
Sword fighting: acceptable (student's preferred weapon too flimsy for non-
magically enhanced combat)
Graduation Paper: "The use of magical misdirection in one-on-one combat situations"

Employment:
Probationary assistant instructor (one year)
Assistant instructor (five years)
Junior instructor (about 150 years)
(two of five senior staff members vetoed further promotion)
Classes taught:
intro mana control
basic aura control and mana vision
aura camouflage (intermediate)
assistant instructor advanced aura manipulation*
unarmed combat
assistant instructor aura attack and defense*
mana enhancement of inanimate objects (introductory course)
mana triggers for armor and weapons (intermediate course)
weapons as spell conduits (advanced course)
assistant instructor knife fighting
assistant instructor intermediate spell research and construction*
*(not permitted to teach these classes unsupervised)

Condensed Biography
Ves'xile's Parents
Ves'xile, unlike most noble born children, was named by her father. Although he told her mother the meaning of the strange name, her mother refused to believe the fantastic story behind it, but charmed by his story-telling agreed to the name. Grieved by his failing to return after leaving suddenly on a journey, she refused to ever discuss him with Ves'xile.
In fact, Ves'xile's father was a mystery. Ves'xile's mother never saw him perform a spell during the relatively brief time she knew him. Even for a male, he was exceptionally short, standing a mere 145 cm. His skin color was also unusual --a velvety matte black. The contrast he made with Ves'xile's exceptionally tall (198cm) brown-skinned mother was the target of many jokes. But, no one joked about his fighting skill. Originally, Ves'xile's mother had hired him to be her bodyguard as she traveled about the city performing her duties for the royal family --a choice that immediately led to a bold mugger to try to attack her in the middle of the marketplace. When the would-be mugger swung her sword at the bodyguard, he leapt onto her back and cut her throat with such speed that it seemed he had teleported. One witness claimed he had changed direction in mid air to swing behind the mugger. In the tavern, he was nicknamed "The Sprite" for his size, speed and agility. Years later as Ves'xile's strange sorceery became generally known, there was speculation that her father had faerie-blood in his ancestry. A senior teacher in the school had been heard to remark in a bar once that she had seen a faerie use similar magic in her youth on the surface. Who Ves'xile's father was, was beyond question. From the day she was born she had a blue-black complexion that no one had seen in the city before.
Whether her father had faerie blood or was something stranger remains a mystery. At six years old, Ves'xile's sorcery was accidentally discovered by a servant cleaning her room. Thinking the girl asleep, the unfortunate light elf woman tried to take a plushie from the girl's arms before moving her from a pile of cushions on the floor to her bed. Ves'xile, half-dreaming, believed that her beloved friend was being kidnapped and lashed out with the full-force of her innate sorcery focused through the tiny hand grabbing the servant's arm. The servant let out a hideous scream of pain and collapsed in a corner shivering in terror of the 'evil' child. When Ves'xile's mother was brought into the room, Ves'xile was lying unconscious on the floor her mana dangerously depleted and the servant's arm, in spite of no outward sign of injury, totally paralyzed.
Her mother had the other servants assist the injured elf to the infirmary, and carried the girl back to her office where her father was resting in the bodyguards' break room. Carrying the child, she asked the father to come into the office. There, she explained what had happened as described by the terrified servant. The normally cheerful, happy-go-lucky attitude vanished and the father, as though witnessing a great tragedy, stroked the girl's hair and said, "So the family curse has come to you as well. May you bear the burden with dignity and mercy."
"And just what is that supposed to mean my young scamp?"
"That I pray that the child lives up to her name and is not crushed by it."
"Riddles. It's always riddles with you. I suppose this is more of your mysterious
forest nonsense?"
"Noble-born, you are far wiser than I. I would not presume to instruct you."
"Instruct me?! Instruct me?! How about finally telling me who you really are and dispense with all your evasions?"
"Truth is in the song, noble-born, not in the words we sing. It is the words that hide the truth you demand of me."
"Oooh! Get out! As usual, I'll have to solve this crisis myself! Go!"
"Your wish is my command."
"Don't flatter yourself, rogue!"
The sight of his bowed head as he closed the door was the last Ves'xile's mother saw of her father. When she asked of him at the bodyguards' dormitory, it was said that he had gone on a journey, but hadn't said where.
From that day on Ves'xile's strange sorcery became evident in daily life. Her untrained skill at mana vision was a marvel. She could stare at a wall and tell the names of all the elves in the next room. She could even see the gathering of mana prior to the casting of a spell. And, while she didn't succeed in paralyzing someone again until she was in her thirties, she was able to leave the feeling of having been burned with a mere touch, so that all the servants fled in fear when she was in a temper.
Before she began to attend school she discovered the ability to draw mana into herself from any mana stone and made a game out of drawing the mana from the lights, frightening the servants into thinking that a legendary demon had invaded the house and was sucking the very mana from the air. When her mother discovered this, she warned Ves'xile to hide this ability. Fearing for her daughter's life, she warned her that she might be labeled a demon and killed.
If Ves'xile's mother thought she had accepted the warning too easily, she gave no hint. It might be that she suspected that Ves'xile could drain the living mana from those she had 'burned', but was afraid of having her fears confirmed. Ves'xile had tried that trick successfully, but the servant had had trouble using his hand for days afterward and Ves'xile, frightened of the effect on the servant and of discovery, hadn't attempted the trick a second time.
When she took her element affinity test she displayed no affinity to any of the material tested by the teacher. On the suggestion in the letter her mother had sent with her, several mana stones were set before her on the table. Not only could she call the stones to her hand with a gesture, but she could name the function of the mana powered device they had been taken from. Careful evaluation by the earth element specialist revealed an affinity to crystals, especially those can store mana, but her ability in mana vision and her strange mana attack defied analysis. That her abilities were nothing like her mother's or anyone's in the ruling clan was commented on, but the oddity that was her father was well known among the nobles, so her strangeness was not unexpected. As time passed, some of the teachers took to whispering "faerie-child" and "changeling" under their breath when they noticed her doing something unusual or "too well".
Like her mother, Ves'xile was an eager student and enjoyed inventing endless variations of spells that had been introduced in class. She showed little interest in the rules for magical duels that were part of instruction. It seemed pointless to her to waste time countering spells with other spells when she could see what was coming long before her classmates cast and disrupt the spell before it began with a mana sting. She persisted in this in spite of being shown by an instructor that a spell could be completed before she could reach out and touch her opponent. She insisted that no student was fast enough to avoid her.
This was no idle boast. As she grew older, it became evident that she had also inherited somewhat of her father's legendary speed. To improve and preserve her advantage over the other students in magical duels, she put all of her combat training time into unarmed combat (a choice that worried both her mother and teachers). By the time she was 40, she could beat all of her fellow students in freestyle duels, unarmed, no matter what weapons her opponents chose to wield.
Finally, her advisor called her mother for a conference to discuss the arrogance born of Ves'xile's strange sorcery. Between them they arranged a duel between her and a talented young mercenary who was ten years her senior.
During the duel, for the longest time a stalemate held between them. The mercenary unable to hit the swift Ves'xile and she unable to get through the mercenary's guard to touch her with her bare hand. Finally, the mercenary's taunts of cowardice caused Ves'xile to lose her temper and attempt to slap the sword out of her way to get through the mercenary's guard. Seeing her chance the mercenary lunged at Ves'xile's shoulder and stabbed deep into the muscle. However, she had forgotten to allow for the incredible reach of the tall, lanky, young woman. Frightened and enraged, Ves'xile used the full force of the spell "aura strike" she had been developing in secret. A stabbing thrust to the mercenary's chest sent the woman rigid, her sword clattering to the ground, the muscles of her face pulled back in a soundless scream. An endless time later, Ves'xile finally pulled her hand away the young woman collapsed to the ground in violent convulsions, growing visibly weaker with every passing moment. Ves'xile, able to see that the mercenary's aura was fading as disrupted mana radiated away from the strike point, began to approach the mercenary with the intent of stabilizing the wound to the woman's aura. Suddenly, one of the mercenary's companions yelled out, "She's going in for the kill!!" and a forest of blades appeared between her and the weakening mercenary.
Later it was reported that neither the mercenary captain nor the medical officer were able to stop the progressive disintegration of the young woman's aura and she died two days later writhing in pain to the horrible end.
So the legend of "The Wasp" began.
Ves'xile was horrified at what she'd done and furious at the captain's refusal of her offer of help, certain that she could have saved the woman's life. It was easy for her mother to persuade her to finally take up the study of weapons, afterwards. Ves'xile, however, redoubled her efforts to research her sorcery and develop less lethal spells for attack.
After Vesxile graduated, she was asked to stay on as a spell tutor and assistant to the unarmed combat instructor. These two recommended her for a permanent position after a few months because of her skill at teaching lagging students. After only a year on probation she earned the title of assistant instructor and a mere five years later joined the permanent staff as a junior instructor. As she developed a reputation as a tough teacher who never let a student fail no matter how long it took to teach them, she was also given duties as a disciplinary officer for the school. The greatest fear of a student cutting class or sneaking out of the dorm after lights out was the tell-tale tinkle of Ves'xile's earrings from behind as she twitched her ears in irritation. Even though her numerous ankle bangles clashed loudly when she trained or demonstrated a move in unarmed combat classes, she moved as silently as a moth outside of the training room.
However, there the promotions ended. Two of the senior staff members remained very suspicious of her sorcery. And while they never brought formal accusations, both spread rumors about "The Wasp" who paralyzed her victims and sucked their auras away. One of them, in fact, was eventually banned from teaching new students because she had so terrorized them with threats of sending them to be "stung" that several of the children had run screaming the first time they met Ves'xile in the hallway.
Unlike the other combat instructors, she never wore any weapons outside of the training room in the school. Only when she went into the city would she arm herself with one of her special daggers strapped to the back of her right arm and her special sword hanging off her left hip.
Ves'xile had the privilege of teaching the ruling queen's youngest daughter, An'jhali. She was greatly impressed with the young noble's patience and diplomatic skills and sent a recommendation through her mother to the head of the diplomatic corps on An'jhali's behalf when she graduated.
Ves'xile had many lovers and had three children, whom she raised herself with the aid of a drow nurse, by three different men. However, none of her attachments lasted more than a couple years as her impatience with what she often called "males' innate willful ignorance" caused her to eventually kick them one after another out of her apartments. She displayed a similar lack of patience with her own sons and both left home in their mid-thirties to escape her badgering. The older boy openly defied her by joining a mercenary band to spite her; not only abandoning his own noble status but in contempt of her open hatred of the profession. Ves'xile disowned him on the spot and they never spoke of each other again. The younger boy's departure was not so contentious. Worn by the constant battles over study vs. military training, he persuaded his mother to let him join an exploratory expedition to the surface. He left not long before the strife that led to the fall of the city.
Ves'xile's relationships with her mother and daughter were not much better. In spite of nearly two centuries of demands, requests, appeals, and pleading she could not get her mother to admit to any knowledge of who or what her father had been or even when he had left and what he had been like. Everything she knew of her father had been pried from the lips of terrified servants and drunken mercenaries in bars. While Ves'xile and her mother were friendly enough with each other after Ves'xile graduated and joined the school's staff, they rarely met outside of each other's official capacities.
To Ves'xile's great disappointment, her only daughter never showed any aptitude for aura magic of any kind. She did inherit her grandfather's great speed and dexterity and Ves'xile was very proud when her daughter graduated from school and was selected to join the royal guard. But her daughter never quite forgave her for pushing her so hard to study mana arts and they tended to argue over the relative merits of armed vs. magical combat.
When word reached Ves'xile at the school of the assault on the royal diplomatic offices, she rushed off to aid her mother, but arrived to discover the buildings already engulfed in flames and the raiders nowhere to be found. She was recruited on the spot to help put out the flames and help any survivors. Many weary hours later her mother's charred remains were brought to her a half-melted pendant she had never before seen clutched in one blackened hand.
Suddenly feeling that she had spent far too long on this hopeless chore, she rushed back to the school only to find it ravaged by the passage of battle over the grounds and throughout the buildings. Wandering through halls choked with the bodies of students, teachers, and invaders, she eventually came to her office. The door had been smashed inward and books, papers, chemicals, specimens, and other articles were scattered about the room, all her ada and mana stones gone. This more than the successful assault on the castle brought home to her that the city was doomed.
Picking up her travel sack from where it had been thrown in the corner, she began to go through the mess systematically, salvaging her spell research notebooks, styluses, ink stick and stone, and what textbooks that might be useful to tutor from if she ever made it to another city. As she was debating with herself which of her many heavy reference books to salvage she noticed that the sounds of battle were getting louder rather than fainter. She cautiously approached the window of the classroom across the hall and saw a line of invaders slowly forcing a trio of royal guards down the street towards the school building. Three floors below her feet, several more of the attackers charged out of the building and the guards were soon surrounded and killed. The now larger group of invaders then ran back up the street towards the sounds of the battle still raging deep in the city.
With the travel sack slung over her shoulder, Ves'xile slipped quietly from the building and went over to the luckless guards to see if any had survived. It might have been better if she had not. One of the slain guards was her only daughter. Shock, grief, and terrible self-loathing combined to produce an uncontrollable fit of vomiting, as if every harsh word she had ever said to her mother and children were a poison in her belly that had to be purged.
At some point in the endless retching she must have passed out in exhaustion, she awoke clutching the hand she had never held in life to a city filled with a deathly silence. The reddish glow of a few dying house fires was all the light that was left in the city. It was no longer a place for the living and she knew that to stay here was to wait for death in the despairing gloom. Gently closing her daughter's eyes, she arranged her body and that of her comrades as if for a funeral pyre for heroes and slowly made for one of the roads leaving the city.
After about a half-day's journey, Ves'xile caught up to a straggling line of refugees walking away from the ruined city. Deep in their own personal grief and pain no one paid heed as she joined the end of the line. Indeed, she herself said nothing as others joined the growing train over the next couple of days. After nearly a week, the refugees came upon a trade caravan and the two groups stopped to rest and do business.
Soon after the camp was set up, a young woman dressed as a member of the royal family could be seen going from person to person in the camp and filling a large sack with ada, gold jewelry, and mana enhanced weapons. It was An'jhali. She was collecting money and valuables that could be used to buy food, blankets, and tents. When she came around, Ves'xile did not look up into the sad young woman's eyes but un-strapped her prize mana enhanced dagger and handing it to her asked for food and a blanket. An'jhali's eyes widened in surprise that so little was being asked for so valuable a weapon, but only nodded and continued to the next person.
The brief meeting with An'jhali revived Ves'xile's sense of purpose and she began to move up and down along the outside of the refugee line searching the shadows for threats and aiding the weak and injured who had difficulty keeping up with even the very slow pace of the refugee train.
Many weeks later, the refugees met another caravan. The food situation was now desperate and many of the healthy had gone without food for days. This time as An'jhali went about the encampment very little was going into her bag. When she came to Ves'xile, Ves'xile took off her sword and its sheath. Handing it to the astonished An'jhali she said, "Your Highness, I give you this sword on condition that it be exchanged for a non-magical weapon. The mana stones on it are worth enough to feed all this company for weeks and the blade is edged with adamantium."
"Whom do I thank for this gift unlooked for?"
"I am called, Ves'xile, Your Highness."
"I remember hearing that name somewhere."
"It is unimportant, Your Highness, all such memories should be left buried in the dead city behind us."
"You may be right. If we don't think of the future we may not have one. I shall personally return with what weapon we can acquire and your share of the provisions."
"You are kind, Your Highness."
The only weapon to be had from the caravan was a battered and rusty dwarven short sword. An'jhali had tried to apologize but Ves'xile, laughing, had stopped her commenting on what a fine dagger she had got. An'jhali managed to smile --the tiny sword looked like a toy in Ves'xile's huge hand. After An'jhali left though, Ves'xile frowned at the horrible condition of the thing. Could it be reconditioned into a usable weapon before it was needed? Ves'xile found a likely stone and from that point on spent much of her free time cleaning and sharpening the pathetic piece of metal. However, in the moment of truth, the sword did its dwarven maker proud and it was Ves'xile that failed.
A week or so after meeting the caravan, the refugees were ambushed by dwarves. Ves'xile had never encountered an opponent that had no aura to attack and never had fought more than one opponent at a time. Now she was faced with three grim dwarven warriors armed as she was and armored. Repeatedly she got through their defenses with ease only to be blocked by armor or leave merely a scratch.
"Pathetic dirt-skin! I'll break your arms like sticks!"
"Hah! Try it! You pale slugs! And I'll squeeze your intestines out your oversized noses!" Switching the dwarven blade like a knife to her left hand, she charged between the right and middle dwarf. The blade did its duty --biting a chunk off the collar of the breastplate, it rebounded and cut the dwarf's throat. However, Ves'xile had forgotten that it was not her own blade that she fought with. No metal sheath guarded her forearm as it was thrust out to block the swing of the dwarf on her right. The dwarven blade bit deep into the muscle between the forearm bones and sliced down toward her unprotected wrist. Ves'xile's miraculous speed was all that saved her from losing the hand outright. Spinning free of the sword, she landed a well-placed blow with her foot on the head of the third dwarf as he stepped awkwardly over his fallen comrade and was rewarded by the loud crunch of his breaking neck. The last dwarf was the one who had nearly taken her hand. Reckless with the rage of wounded pride, she sheathed her sword and began to circle taunting the now friendless dwarf. Looking around he could see that the raiding party was in full retreat and he would soon be left alone. He lunged at Ves'xile, hoping she would dodge and open a path to retreat, but Ves'xile came straight at the sword. He braced himself for the jarring impact of the huge drow skewering herself only to stare astonished as the blade slipped past her and her fingers punched through his throat only to be stopped by his neck bones.
Ves'xile turned back towards the refugees huddled on the path, a smirk of self-satisfied victory on her face. But it was not the cheering crowd of a tournament that met her gaze. Not two meters away was a woman choking and gasping, blood spurting from a terrible neck wound, while clutching a small babe screeching in terror. Just beyond her, two twitching drow bodies lay. A small boy was pulling on the sleeve of one. Ves'xile, dizzy with blood loss, staggered over to the boy, said, "Forgive me" and collapsed unconscious to the ground.
When Ves'xile came to it was to find herself in the midst of suffering. On all sides, the wounded coped with pain and loss while a few healthy went from one to another offering what small first aid they could. Her torn right sleeve had been cut off at the elbow and used to bandage her arm, but the ends of the cut protruded from both sides of the inadequate satin cloth. Those giving aid were very slowly moving further away, so she deduced that she had been among the first to be treated. Looking more carefully around she could see that those around her all bore weapons of a poor or makeshift quality, someone had had the presence of mind to have those with skill and a willingness to fight treated first. The sound in the distance of a mother shouting for aid for her dying daughter brought back the memory of a cold face under the helm of the city guard and the sick feeling in her stomach reminded her that she had failed again.
The next few weeks were a nightmare of cliffs, narrow tunnels, bridges so thin that a rope had to be strung across as a handhold, low ceilings that forced all but the smallest of children to their hands and knees, and a maze of false trails leading to dead ends or fissures too deep and wide to be crossed. Many, weakened by battle-wounds and hunger, simply lay down and died along the path. An'jhali moved constantly through the refugees urging them on a little further, only a little further, we can't rest yet, you'll see it soon! Somehow she kept them together and all moving steadily forward. Ves'xile watched fascinated at how An'jhali was able to get all but the unconscious to concentrate their will on the single task of putting one foot in front of the other.
When the sound of water echoing in a wide space reached her ears, Ves'xile closed her eyes and walked following the auras before her on the path. She didn't want to see yet another yawning chasm blocking their progress. The thought of turning around yet again was too much to bear. They had to find a real road soon and meet quickly with someone willing to sell food. Not that they would be able to buy much. Even the formerly wealthy Ves'xile was down to her last few ounces of gold --one small earring and her last heavy bangle on her ankle. All her ada was long gone. Her magic weapons sold. Soon she might have to give up the treasured books that were her only hope of making a living if they ever made it to another city.
Walking thus with eyes closed and occupied by thoughts of a grim future, she missed the whispers filtering back from the front of the train. When she stepped out into the cavern and heard the loud echoing sound of the water, the utter silence of the refugees, and the fact that everyone had stopped, she open her eyes resigned to seeing another impossible drop-off. But, there, standing like a goddess haloed by a blaze of light to eyes accustomed to near total darkness, was An'jhali. Ves'xile hardly heard a word that was said. The only impression left to her shocked and tired mind was the impossible image of a golden-eyed Sharess standing in moonlight welcoming them home.
The next few days was a time of confusion. An'jhali's speech from the ridge had lit a fire in the hearts of the newly declared clan. It seemed everyone had a plan for caring for and strengthening the clan. Heated debates flared up over the most obvious and trivial of tasks. No sooner than An'jhali, their newly declared Ilharess, asked for someone to lead in a task than someone was standing at her elbow offering their service. Ves'xile, too, offered advice and debated courses of action, but always from the back of the crowd. The shame of her arrogance at the ambush and failure to protect her fellow refugees preyed on her mind. And she feared that the evil rumors about her sorcery would follow her from the ruined city even to this place and prejudice others against her advice and aid.
Ves'xile sat listening as the debate swung from textiles to pottery to a strange proposal to use crab shells and insect carapaces for weapons and armor while her initial plea to aid the wounded was passed off as too obvious for discussion (while nothing was being done but discussion). Troubled by a sense of impending doom she got up and started helping the weak, the wounded, and the very young to move to the center of the camp so that they would, at least, have defenders between them and sudden attack. As she was doing this she began to feel more and more that this should be a time for action not talk. Waiting to be called to service galled her. She couldn't bear the thought that another that might have lived could die because of her inaction. But seeing the chaos of the debate she was sure that if more emulated her current action and began projects without consultation the clan would surely fall to the first mischance. Still ashamed of her failure at the ambush, she decided to have a young girl pass the request for an audience.
Ves'xile noticed two girls (in their mid-twenties) sparring with tent poles --a couple of the younger children cheering them on. They were pretty evenly matched and Ves'xile found herself enjoying it in spite of the artless ineptness of the half-trained children. Eventually, the girls' grew tired and fell to arguing over who was too tired to keep fighting. One girl slipped and fell and the other girl immediately stepped forward and, pointing her pole to the fallen girl's chest, claimed victory. The winning girl sneered at the girl on the ground, "Ha! I thought so! All talk and no talent! And you want to be the Ilharess personal guard? She'd be better off taking you on as a latrine digger! Ha, ha, ha ha, ha!"
As the other children walked away with the winner, the girl still sitting on the ground, her fists clenched, twisted her face with the effort not to cry in frustrated anger. Once the other children were gone the girl sniffed hard and with a determined look began to practice her footwork with dragging and exhausted steps. She noticed Ves'xile watching and, embarrassed, ran off to her tent.
The next day the girl was back in the improvised training ring practicing her footwork to the jeers of two of the small children that had witnessed the previous day's match. So intent was she in ignoring the noisy children that she didn't notice when the jeering stopped and they left. Ves'xile had quietly stepped up behind the children and suggested that they had duties elsewhere. The sudden appearance of the tall hooded figure startled them badly and they welcomed the excuse to be gone. When the girl paused to review her steps, Ves'xile stepped up behind her and laid her hand on the girl's shoulder while whispering in her ear, "Child
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kirio
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