Winds of Change

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Ker Torvan’s eyes settled on her. Emanuella had trained herself to look though him. Feeling his eyes travel up and down the length of her made her want to strike out at him in some way – but she knew that was what he was counting on. Anything to dismiss unworthy students, cull them from the herd, so she focused on self-control. He spit between her boots and moved on, but she saw out of the corner of her eye him throw a thunderous glance back over his shoulder at her.

But then it happened. During drills, she triumphed over three classmates. As she turned in the practice yard to find a fourth, she abruptly found herself yanked backward by her braid. All she saw was a sudden upward view of the sky, feeling a calloused fist at the nape of her neck.

Emanuella sensed through her kyor the want to squeeze and strangle her, slice her bare throat open while it was exposed. She tried to stifle the reflexive impulsive to reach for her belt knife in automatic defense. Then Ker Torvan thrust her away, a sneer on his face as if he had smelled carrion or feces. But she saw he had not missed her grope for her belt knife, arrested though it was. He was after all, an Armsmaster, she reminded herself as she rubbed her neck and rolled it about, conscious that all activity had in the ring abruptly ceased.

“Perfect example of not keeping your guard up. I need only have cracked her neck or slit it to have killed her.” All eyes on him, they turned to her when he roared out, “Detention tonight, eighth mark, practice ring!”

The eyes of Emanuella’s peers grew wide as they took in this lesson. If Ker Torvan caught them in the Practice Ring with their guard down, they would receive Detention.

A number of conflicting emotions assailed her. She was receiving Detention – a serious punishment that carried demerits as well – for something so minor, equable to running out of ink in some other class, or answering a question incorrectly. Additionally, they were already out here on a weeksend day. Ker Torvan demanded upon occasion extra time in the Practice Ring and today was one of those days. Normally, she would be roaming the forest leagues away with Fiaz by now.

Eyes that met hers quickly looked away. She knew some did not feel she warranted the harsh treatment she received, especially since she held her own with her weapons and in her classes. Others felt similar to Ker Torvan, despised Kin'keska. None sympathized openly with her as they did not want to garner his ill will.

Nixy noted new gashes and bruises with a flick of her eyes but rarely interfered. She had a rather large bag, however, of Healing supplies, commandeered, she’d mentioned lightly, from a young Third Cycle Healer who “felt” her pain last autumn, in more ways than one, she’d hinted. Fourth Cycle was a different Armsmaster and so she herself had substantially fewer abrasions, cuts, or other need for the smelly salves and liniments, doeskin wraps, and herbal remedies that filled her kit. The kit was not nearly as effective as Gabriella or Fiorra’s quick healing, but they were far better than nothing at all.

And she kept putting off seeing her friends at the Sword and the Stag. She’d been playing with the idea of actually attending finally… but this Detention would never get her back in time. She found herself wondering what she’d be doing instead….

Emanuella brought her real sword to her Detention. She had no idea what Ker Torvan would require of her but she wanted to be prepared.

-- I’m sorry, Furface. It doesn’t look like I’m going to get out of the City tonight. I wish I could…. --

--There is a reason zary’andu choose not to intermingle with humanoid races. Your “instructor” is just one such reason -- Fiaz growled.

She sighed. --­You know I would rather be out there with you. But I have to do this. --

Fiaz sent a reply mixed with loved for her and general loathing for the majority of the company she kept, tinged with concession for her following the Prophecy as her comrades did. He still did not interfere in her day-to-day life and allowed her to make her own decisions so that he would not influence the Prophecy, but as always, he welcomed her presence with love.

She reached the Third Cycle Practice Yard, noting how very different it looked at night. Only sooty lanterns lit it, aside from the misty glow about the moon. She pulled her cloak closer about her, glad of her choice in woolen clothing, for she smelled snow in the air.

Sighing with impatience, Emanuella’s temper flared. She had been early and now Ker Torvan, fastidious to the smallest detail, was at least ten minutes late. She ground her teeth in an effort not to fume and watched the clouds pass over the moon and stars in an effort to calm herself.

Finally, he appeared, his arrogant stride identifying him even in the moonlight. She wondered why he was late....

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