From Outsider to Friend
The stone of a ceiling was brought into clarity and with it, the sight of Helena nearly nose-to-nose. She was able to ignore the stiff and soreness of her body with this girl, as she bared a frightening resemblance to the Lady Rowena who Avalon initially mistaking her for her mother. This certainly caused quite a fright for the warrior.
“Mother! She awakes!” Yelled the girl in Avalon’s ear.
Fenrir, who slept on the bed at Avalon’s feet, growled, tucking his head under blankets. She felt the same as him, the alchemist rolled away from the opened window and folded the pillow over her head. Why must she suffer being hounded and annoyed while in the midst of recovery? Does the cruelty of sorcerers know no bounds? Avalon wondered if sending in her rampant child was Rowena’s version of punishment.
“Come on! Its time to get up!” Helena commanded, pulling at the blanket.
Fenrir was no less happy than Avalon and moved, causing the blanket to give and have Helena on the floor. The wolf huffed in what was known to be a laugh before moving to the space between Avalon and the wall and dropped. He seemed to think he was still the size of a puppy when he was taller than Avalon standing on his paws. For once she did not mind, without a blanket he was her substitute.
She turned an angry red, “That is not funny!”
“Helena!” Snapped Rowena, entering the room, “What did have I told you about edict?”
Avalon wanted to ignore them, but found herself listening.
The daughter recited with a sigh, “To be mindful of the room and its occupants.” Rowena rose a brow for her to continue, “And respect the privacy of guests.”
Satisfied, Rowena gave a small smile and tilted her head for the daughter to run off. The grounded blanket was lifted as the witch flicked her wand, cleaning the long-vacant residence as the guest kept to the bed. Rowena went to speak of her laziness, but found her words caught as she saw the other woman’s back. The traditional tribal of the Anexus was a strong blue tattooed on her back, colored in an elegant drawing of a tree, but they were not the only ones to occupy her flesh. Scars from years of battle and hardship, though not distinct and darkened, as magic had healed them in their infancy, they were nevertheless present. A couple on her arms, one on her leg, a few on her chest and one distinct scar, most-likely cause from a blasting-spell on her lower core.
The witch nearly forgot Avalon was a warrior and that the Anexus were very close-quartered and direct fighters. To be in seclusion this far and this long, it is easy to forget the horrors of the outside world. It was then the witch realized she was staring at the shirtless body of her guest and quickly turned away.
She cleared her throat, “If you plan to lounge lazily about all day the least you can do is make yourself presentable as you accompany me.”
Avalon ignored her--a wave of a wand had the bed flip the two occupants out and proceed to straighten and clean itself. With the large wolf on her Avalon was pinned between the floor and was too tired to move him and get up. Rowena gave an uninterested look.
“Where is that nonsense about manners you preached about earlier?” Avalon rested her chin on her hand, tapping her finger to the floor impatiently.
The witch scuffed, “You must learn a skill first, before you may learn when the time to use it is.”
She practically strutted to the fireplace wearing what Avalon imagined to be quite the grin. Rolling her eyes, the alchemist pushed up and Fenrir slid off, freeing her to locate a shirt and pants. Pants floated in the air by the witch’s magic, enabling Avalon to catch and put them on.
“If you are inclined to stare.” Avalon refered to the witch whose eyes she felt burning the back of her head, “Then at least help me look for a shirt.”
“Accio shirt.” Charmed the witch, summoning a shirt into Avalon’s face before she saw her reddened face.
Annoyed, the alchemist rolled her eyes and dressed, layering and watching Fenrir laze on his side. He huffed, peaking an eye to Avalon giving the notion he was not going anywhere today. Lucky pooch. She inspected the healing of her leg, pressing in certain points to ensure she could actually feel something. The village of Hogsmeade had many surprising things, one of which was a sqeamish-towards-blood Enchantress who now personally watched the alchemist from doing what she worded as ‘particularly problematic provocations’. Avalon snarked about saying that phrase four times fast.
She slipped on her boots then finished with Caliburn’s strapping to her side. During battle it was kept on her back because of the equipment and armor she donned, having space on her sides allowed for mobility and comfort. It was not unusual to have a weapon sheathed to her side, as she had done this most of her youth, but it was something her body had to remember and adjust. Leaving the shack of a residence, Avalon found Rowena waiting outside the door with an impatient look on her face. The alchemist responded with a shrug:
“You were the one to raise me during my day of rest, you must not complain of the time I take.”
The witch glared, “To take a day where the sole purpose of accomplishing nothing is a waste.”
The younger shrugged again, “Taking a time to recover and to relax every-so-often is no waste. Working yourself into an early grave is.”
“Speak for yourself, I will have at least accomplished something when my time comes.” The witch’s words stabbed into Avalon at her core and silenced her.
Lady Rowena thought this silencing to be favorable, though she silently admitted her words were indeed harsh in light of what she has seen and knows. Avalon seemed rather affected by those words and finally the lady went to apologize, but was interrupted by Helena. Her daughter ran over, wand-in-hand, asking for her mother to help her with a spell: Spongify. The alchemist did not know what that spell was, but it sound something of a flaming nature and such a thing should not be wielded carelessly by a young girl who probably was just seeing her eighth winter. For an alchemist, more complicated and dangerous alchemy was practiced and trained in a controlled environment with no less than three elders, often one being the Volva. It was not to be used in combat unless control and skill was achieved else danger and death would come to kin.
“I have matters to attend to Helena and have no time to teach a spell I know you have already learned.” The witch said coldly.
“But mother, you cast it much better than us--”
“Have you seen alchemy-conjured flame?” Avalon interrupted stepping in front of the witch and kneeling down to the girl’s height.
The poor child was on the verge of tears and had Avalon not distracted her, she was certain to cry. What a cold-hearted woman the witch was to deny her child attention she obviously asked for. The alchemist rolled up her sleeves showing the tattooed markings for a formula of standard transmutation on the topside of her right forearm.
A group of children stood as Helena and Avalon began to walk towards them.
Lady Rowena missed the alchemist’s arm, “Anexus we are not--”
“Sorry? I thought you had matters to attend to?” Avalon sung, waving as the distance between them grew.
The alchemist asked for parchment, ink and a quill answering the questions of the children and drawing a crowd.
“How does alchemy work?” One brown-haired boy asked.
Alchemy is the act of changing an object from one form into another of the same element; a process of knowing, destroying, and creating--in simplistic terms. It can change almost anything, even magic itself into different forms and with outside influence it can create great and terrible things. One of those happens to be creating flames in manners similar to that of sorcerers.
Avalon noted to herself of her own experimentation of alchemy--dangerous and not something to be tried here. Performing alchemy was easy, creating new formulas, the words that connect nature and magic is well...difficult to say the least. Her interest lies in the process off alchemy. That process is one that can be disrupted mid-way between destroying and creating allowing for the energy, the magic used, to take changing, but also unstable form. This is observed as ‘alchemic lightning’, but to be correct that is more of a discharge of the unstable magic that shoots out as the object takes a new form.
The parchment given was no longer bare, ascribed onto it was a simple flame transmutation that was small and use for torches, lanterns, pits and such. It had no battle use and could do little more than scare a few wild animals away. Avalon had the children step back as she held the parchment between her thumb and pointer finger, gripping Caliburn in the same hand and a transmutated dagger in the other. She pressed the circle and strummed the dagger down her sword created sparks; the sparks grew and burst into balls of fire floated around Avalon in what could be mistaken as a whil-o-whisp.
The children were delighted, chasing the tiny balls of flame that floated just out of reach. The flickers did not last long as they were not meant too and went out with a stronger gust of wind. Others whispered of alchemy’s time-consuming and inefficient system of conjuring, a challenge Avalon thought to take. She placed the parchment on the dirt and clapped her hands together, transmutating it into a growing green sprout of a plant. This silenced them. Alchemy is not only about changing into something else, but also about return to what it once and originally was. This is why alchemy is able to work within nature, rather than exploit it.
Questions flooded: what are its limits? How and where does it draw magic from? What can it be used for? An older and heavier man’s voice sounded above the crowd asking if it can be used to repair--the rest became quiet and opened a path for Avalon to speak to him with ease. His shop, Dogweed and Deathcap, was in disarray from the last winter, its roof was leaking and chard from dragon fire and would not hold this year for much longer. Just yesterday a bucket full of snow and froze overnight, resulting in a slipping on ice earlier. His magic can only repair so much and with each day the roof seems to have more and more holes and now that they were in winter he cannot hope to replace the by hand.
Avalon followed the man thru the road and arrive in front of a shop of green half-columns, primarily made of glass, flanking the sides of the main entrance and being raised to the midsection. The alchemist asked the nature of this shop and was answered as it being a herb shop--it was worth the effort of repair. The man, whose name Avalon did not bother to remember, began pulling a ladder from the side, but by then the alchemist had already transmutated the ground beneath her to rise and have her walk the roof. From this vantage-point she was able to see much of the village and see that this roof was not the only one to suffer at the hands of time and dragon-fire. This was to be a long day.
New wood was transported and risen to the roofs that required repair. Rather than scrapping the entire roof, Avalon mixed that woods of new and old seeing that to not do would otherwise be a waste. There were five roofs that required her attention and two buildings with structural damage, one of which Avalon decided to just destroy all together and transmutated the remaining into usable tinder for other use. By the end of the day, the village was up in arms in celebration and gratitude of their guest (rather than the outsider many called her before). Though they were in high spirits...Avalon was worn more than she anticipated.
"Spongify.” The Lady Rowena said as she stopped beside the sitting alchemist, “Is a cushioning spell meant to make things soft and comfortable. A rather elementary spell, it was one of the first spells Helena learned, though not as early as I had.”
Avalon laughed at her miss-understanding of the spell. It was not her fault the words used to conjure spells were quite different than her own native language. Alchemists have no need of shouting to the skies, perhaps that is the weakness of casting spells, but it also takes time to draw out a formulas and that is the fault of alchemy. Which was the greater magic was an ongoing focus of debate: alchemy draws in natural magic and is nearly limitless in its power, but wizardry is far more flexible and dynamic in its possibilities. Alchemists cannot cause objects to float, cannot create shields from magic alone and certainly cannot manipulate magic in its raw form to take on any element of choosing. It was difficult for the chief to see alchemy as the superior of all magics.
“Your daughter did not seem to mind, it stopped her from crying.” Avalon sighed, leaning back on the timber.
“Crying? Helena was not--”
“You are a terrible mother, Lady Rowena, if you cannot see the efforts your daughter goes to for your attention.” Avalon glanced up, “She looks up to you and strives to be as you, but if you do not take care you will cause her to chase your shadow and it will bring you both unhappiness.”
The alchemist said this directly from experience. Lady Rowena was quiet for a time, she tucked her hands under her bum and smoothed out the back of her dress before sitting.
“Her father spoiled her, gave her all the affection she wanted when he was alive.” The witch was quiet, almost at a whisper, “With him gone, she comes to me with the longing of two parents and that is not something I can provide.”
The Anexus could not understand those feelings--her family was...complicated. Within the clan, the death of one’s family was something to be expected rather than feared, but that did not mean it was without pain. Avalon had no expectation of affection from her father after her mother’s death, and the memories of when he was were often over-written with the reality of it never being such again. She accepted their relationship and left it be...it was less painful that way.
“I do not know how to act towards Helena. She maybe my own flesh and blood, but she is a foreigner to me and with my duties to the Library, the coven and now the dealings with the dragons--” Lady Rowena sighed, “I can only hope she understands when she is older that I do love her.”
Avalon fondly imagined the faces of Osmond and Eskil playing with Fenrir as Elene and she watched. It warmed her heart on this cold night to still have family, though the clan would never be aware of this. Helena ran around with her friends, throwing snowballs the old-fashioned way. Nothing felt better than the gratification of knowing your own hands landed a snowball in someone’s face.
“As short as life can be, as mine will be, I do not take the chance.” Avalon stood, scooping a handful of snow into her fingers and packing them into a ball, “As much as the war has taken...I do not take the chance anymore, I tell my loved ones my feelings outright so when my time comes there is no question.”
The alchemist aimed and threw the ball, landing on the back of Finlay who was speaking to a rather attractive witch smaller than he and the alchemist. His attention was caught as he scanned to find the source of the attack--another met his face.
“If I recall a saying by your people: love is the strongest magic.” Avalon ducked, the snowball hitting the Enchantress in the collar.
All stopped as the witch rose, her wand flicking a rally of snowballs into Avalon knocking her off her feet. The majority of the village became enthralled by this game, especially with the ordinarily stoic Enchantress playing. It was rare for her to engage in such a physical activity let alone anything that could be considered ‘fun’.
Having the alchemist in the village seems to be a positive influence...but as to why she came here, would the Enchantress agree to an alliance? Were they willing to fight for a war outside of their boarders? Sacrifice lives of their coven at the hands of these Dark Ones who may never even interfere with their lifestyle? There were many questions as these, but for now no one thought of them because for a brief moment they were free from the day-to-day mundane; they were happy; Avalon did not focus on the end, her end, if only for a moment.
Lady Rowena carried Helena to her daughter’s room in the Ravenclaw residence. Her caretaker was surprised when seeing the Enchantress in this action, but kept her surprise hidden. It was a good surprise, to be certain, Lady Rowena held her daughter almost all hours of the day when she was an infant and when the Lord Ravenclaw was alive, but after becoming the head of the Coven...what little show of affection she did have vanished almost entirely. The lady was soaked to the bone, nothing a drying spell could not solve.
The nursemaid new just the thing, as the enchanted tea was heated and poured, she fetched the means to inflate the fire place. Entering the living room she jumped, dropping the wood in her hand at a frightening sight. A horned shadow with golden eyes towered the wall and reached its fangs and claws to her, growing bigger and bigger--She squealed when a hand touched her shoulder of the opposite side. Even more surprising was the alchemist Avalon Anexus, a woman the Lady Rowena had voiced her discontent with on more the one occasion.
“Are you alright madam?” Avalon asked with concern in her voice.
The nursemaid looked to her then to the shadow on the wall--it was gone. The shadow was cast-ed, the only person in the room, in front of the fireplace was the Anexus.
“Did you see that?” The witch asked shaken, “On the wall: a shadow with horns it--”
Avalon’s expression was indistinguishable, the witch wrote it off as a trick of the light. She apologized, collecting the wood and continuing her task. Avalon watched her tend to the fire and looked at the wall she had been frightened of--that was not meant to happen. The alchemist glanced back to the nursemaid who broke eye contact, she brushed off her hands then kept one close to the wand at her belt. Avalon made no movements, only watched the witch’s who was certain of the shadow’s clarity.
The alchemist narrowed her gaze--she saw something. The witch lowered an uneasy hand towards her wand, a move Avalon advised against. The idea to keep a distance was the best chance of keeping out of harms way and if something were too happen the witch was familiar with the house and it would only take a shout to have the lady to her aid. The over-arching question was finally asked:
“What are you?”
The question pierced Avalon at her core. None had ever asked such a thing to her face, but it was because there was only one aware that Avalon was to become something other than human. She had to remain cool, calm and composed, acting as though all was well as she had been. Hiding certain aspects of her relations and of herself...it was unnatural to her, but nonetheless something she must become used to. Avalon gave a warm smile--Lady Rowena entered and was the saving grace of this exchange.
“Are you alright Anne?” The lady asked when looking at the nursemaid who bored a frightened expression.
The nursemaid shook her head, the obvious fear subsided as she looked to the lady, “Ah yes, forgive me, I was not expecting a guest and she startled me.”
Avalon apologized, “I promise I do not make a habit of frightening people.”
Anne nodded, dismissing herself to fetch the tea and avoiding eye contact with the alchemist.
“I have heard of people who could kill with a single glance, but Anne is not one to be easily startled.” The Enchantress said, gesturing to the chair opposite of her own.
Avalon took a seat and looked to the numerous books, paintings, and an eagle that donned the fireplace stone. How odd it was to see a bird, one would think that the bird that represented here would be...perhaps a raven? This caused the alchemist to chuckle slightly from her internal conversation.
“Is there something you find humorous Avalon?” The witch crossed her legs, brushing her fingers to the stack of books on the stand beside her chair.
The Anexus was speechless for a moment...that was the first time the Enchantress had called her by her first name. It was not unusual to not hear her first name: Anexus, Chief, Chief of the Anexus, alchemist--these were all things strangers that lacked trust called her, but for some reason to hear the Enchantress call her by her first name was--she felt happy.
“The eagle--I find it humorous to be in the Ravenclaw household.” Avalon rested her elbow on the chair’s arm, then leaned her chin to it.
Lady Rowena bore a small smile, “My maiden name was Agnew, our crest was one that housed an eagle in it. Though I married into the Ravenclaw family, I had no intention of forgetting where I came from and that characteristic of my personality has led me well in life. My late husband had that eagle placed there the night of our wedding, he was the only one who did not mind my persistence in magic...and he was the only man I loved enough to give it up.”
Avalon listened without words of her own. She found it easier and more fulfilling if a person naturally gave their history willingly, it was a sign of trust. That trust was something she desired for more than just convincing the witch and her coven to join their effort, she was starting to believe that though they held strong personalities that collided the witch and her could be friends. This same witch noticed Avalon’s engaged listening and apologized, blushing and growing embarrassed that she had been rambling about herself and still seemed to know nothing of the guest. After today, after coming back from the Dark Forest shaken, Avalon was a complicated woman; stranger that the witch desired to know. Knowledge was power and if they were to be in such close proximity during winter, she would be better to gain as much knowledge from Avalon as possible.
Lady Rowena relaxed, "Consilio non impetu."
Avalon rose a brow.
"By wisdom, not by force. It is a saying of my family that I have failed to live by it seems." The witch waved her wand, summoning a book, quill and ink from a table to her lap, "I know nothing of Avalon Anexus save for myth and legend that has slipped thru in our isolation. If we are to discover the reason of the dragon's presence, then we must work together, but I will not work with one I know nothing about so tell me...who are you?"
What did she want to know was to be the next question, but Avalon felt that was an insult to her intelligence. Therefore, she just started from the beginning, from what she was told of her birth; memories of her yearly childhood as many details as she could fathom, excluding the obvious details. Elene, the twins...her coming end, these were things that would not be recorded in what the witch called an autobiography--Avalon had difficultly pronouncing the word. Lady Rowena wrote every word, though Avalon kept her sentences slow, the witch was skilled in quick writing, but also very elegant and neat in appearance.
Hours went by and half the book was filled before a break was needed. Lady Rowena went to fetch herself and Avalon tea and departed for less than two minutes before returning to an enjoyable sight. The battle-hardened warrior, whose life was full of unspeakable horrors and tragedy was fast asleep. To think someone of barely twenty-one years had such a will to change not only her entire clan, whose customs and traditions were carved in stone, but also the entire wizarding world. She desired peace when taught war, harmony when given chaos, and still Avalon has remained true to her way.
Lady Rowena felt she understood more of Avalon's motivations, her reasons for her actions by understanding her past. They both understood each other a little more, though their imminent goals and how to go about them differed. What was unsettling however, was Avalon's earlier comment--someone so full of life and possibly, spoke of her death as though it was sooner rather than later...she expected it and accepted it.