Author: Lousy Hero - KT PM
Adelina had been a servant in the palace since she was young; but she always knew she was destined for something - well - not in the palace. After being whisked away by the mysterious Caden, she has a charge from the Goddess Sarket to become her representative in the mortal world - her AcolyteRated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Adventure - Chapters: 18 - Words: 30,062 - Reviews: 17 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 4 - Updated: 03-08-13 - Published: 01-23-13 - id: 3094702
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The next morning was a little more physically taxing on Adelina. After running all over the mountain with Aster, she was focusing on the elemental powers she had been given, and after that, she was blocking Caden's punches. The heat of the day, after the mid-day meal, was reserved for learning to read and write. And as all teachers do, each one of hers believed that the information they had for her was the most important – Caden being no exception.
"You would do better if you got your head out of the clouds," he grumbled at Adelina after he landed a fist on her chin one late morning. She was nursing the forming bruise when he swung at her again. She spun away, hand still at her face. "Good," he said, "Your enemy won't wait for you to heal yourself between shots." He twisted his body into a knee strike and Adelina stepped backwards to evade the hit.
"When am I going to learn all that sword and punching stuff?" Adelina asked. Caden adjusted his clothes, "You're not. The priestesses asked me to teach you self-defense. The best strategy is for you to defend yourself and get away from the situation."
"And what if I can't get away from the situation?" Adelina asked with her hands on her hips.
"'That sword and punching stuff' won't help you."
Adelina sighed and her arms dropped to her side, "Fine."
Caden crossed his arms, "You are not training to be a champion fighter; you are training to keep yourself safe, understand? I have to teach you what will be of most use to you, and swordsmanship and strikes isn't it."
Adelina nodded silently in understanding.
There was much more confidence and determination in her face than there was the night she had fearfully wobbled her head in response to his instructions. And she was filling out rather nicely; she had been a starving husk of a woman in the palace, but the rest and nourishment from the temple was improving her health and her figure.
"That's all for today. The priests are serving the mid-day meal now," Caden stated as he turned and headed inside the temple.
It was the end of the day, and Adelina was once again at her pool with her feet in the water, relaxing. But she was also practicing her new gifts; she lying on her back, holding an orb of water up to the sky and watching the sun refract dazzling colors through it. She was concentrating on keeping the orb in such a way that it was meditative. Adelina wasn't paying any attention to anything other than the water and its colors.
Caden's head came into her field of vision and blocked the sun and her concentration. Adelina gasped in surprise, and shrieked when the ball of water burst and fell on her face.
"Caden!" She shrieked as she shot to her feet, dripping wet.
His mouth was twitching horridly as were his shoulders, but his eyes were smiling. Caden, who was usually trying not to smile, was trying not to laugh.
Adelina swiped at him, missing his face; but the trail of water that had followed her hand met it's mark and soaked his head and chest. His giddy twitch was gone. He scooped her up and made two steps to the creek.
"Caden, put me down, I swear!" She kicked and clung to his neck.
Gods, she was scrappy when she was frightened. No wonder that king didn't succeed.
He dropped her in the water; she shrieked as she fell.
She scowled at him from the creek. It wasn't deep enough to cushion the impact on her bottom, so that hurt a little. She scowled at him from the water and demanded, "What do you want?"
"Oh, just to tell you we are neighbors now. The priests moved me to the room next to yours. Its nicer than my old room; I must be winning favor with your Goddess. So, try not to snore too loud, ok?"
He offered his hand to help her out of the water. Adelina yanked with all her might to pull him into the creek with her, but he was too strong. He shook his head at her, "Just get up."
After she was pulled out of the creek, Adelina released Caden's hand. She was disconcerted and soaking wet. Later, she would have to figure out how to dry herself off using the water or wind gift, but all she wanted to do right now was retreat into her room. So without saying anything to Caden, she hurried to her quarters.
Caden, sensing the Goddess appear behind him, asked her quietly, "Did I make her cry?"
"Nope. But I would be careful who I let around my food now, if I were you," Sarket replied.
He wheeled around to face her and examined her expression as he asked, "Why do I care, Goddess?"
She looked a puzzled, "Could you be more specific?"
"Why do I care if I made her cry? What spell did you put on me now?" Caden demanded.
Sarket's mouth wobbled, then she burst out with laughter. In her throws, she slapped her knees and wiped tears away from her eyes with a trembling hand. "You think…? Ha! Look boy, you did that one to yourself. Or maybe she did it to you, but there is no spell, curse, hex or otherwise!" A lingering giggle hiccupped on her lips.
"Then why do I get light-headed around her? Why does my stomach go sour?" Caden pressed further.
"You've never had a sweetheart, have you?" Sarket sat on a felled pillar and crossed her legs.
"I did a long time ago. It didn't make me light headed," he said.
"Well, it was an 'it'; I would imagine it wouldn't," Sarket mocked in an honest tone.
"She," Caden corrected himself. "What are you trying to say?"
Sarket flashed her devious smile, "You, boy, are in love. Or infatuated at the very least."
Caden's face turned bright red and he became embarrassed and therefore, angry. His mouth worked, trying to find something to say, to deny it, but he could say nothing. He turned on his heal and stopped to his room. He stopped, looked a few feet over to Adelina's door, turned, and stomped off in a different direction. Sarket giggled and patted her stomach, which was now fatigued with laughter.
Regardless of if he was truly infatuated with Adelina, Caden was still concerned that he had upset her. He reasoned to himself that he had in fact grown fond of her, which was the only reason he gave a damn whether or not she was crying on her pillow. Women could be so sensitive. But when his time was up at the temple, he would leave, maybe miss her for a day or two, then be so caught up in his own lie he would never give a thought to her again.
So, how would he clear his conscious?
Adelina stretched in bed the next morning. She felt better, a little stiff, but as the days went on the soreness was subsiding as her body got used to the physical activity. She threw her feet onto the floor and noticed a brightly colored flower on her bed table. She didn't remember brining it in; she generally left flowers on the plant since they lasted longer that way.
Despite herself, she picked up the bloom and held it to her nose. It smelled just as sweet as if it had still been on the vine. Adelina smiled to herself as she relished the sent, twirling the stem between her fingers. But she had to set it back down and dress for the day.
No one mentioned the flower to her, so she reasoned that none of her teachers or familiar acquaintances had placed it there. It did disturb her that someone had entered her room while she was sleeping, but she felt safe here. As long as it didn't escalate, she was ok with it.
Through he course of her training, Adelina had learned that the elements were controlled by genderless spirits, and that the spirits blessed whomever they saw fit with the gift to call upon them to use their element. They had all agreed to bless Adelina for the mission Sarket had for her. She was learning the personalities of each and which sacrifices each one liked best. Once the sprits had gifted the individual, they were able to control the respective element. While the spirits rarely communicated with their gifted after the blessing, it was still wise to thank them with a sacrifice every once in a while.
Adelina noticed that fire, water, wind, energy and lightning all flowed through her body's pathways, so they were easy to learn to use (lightning was a little erratic, but still used the same pathways as all the other elements).
Earth, however, needed to be forced. Adelina was not very forceful. Tad, a large priest with no neck and her teacher, instructed, "Imagine pushing it. You're angry and want it out of your face." He had pounded the table with a boulder of a hand of effect, making the table and its contents jump.
Adelina stared at the wobbling stone on the table as it settled, her hands folded in her lap as she sat. She looked up at Tad. Was she seriously supposed to shove a rock just slightly larger than a pebble without touching it?
She looked back at the rock, unfolded her hands, and tried to muster up a little force – a little anger, a little frustration, just enough to shove. She shoved the stone, unfortunately, using the palm of her hand. It scooted to the other end of the table.
Adelina sighed and shook her head.
Tad rubbed his cleft chin, thinking, "I will get that runt of a self defense teacher to help. I don't want to hurt you." He left the room. Adelina imagined the floor shaking with every step he took. Wait… why was he going to get Caden?
Tad returned after a few minutes with Caden in tow. Caden looked less than thrilled to be there.
"Shove her," Ted commanded Caden as he pointed at a wide-eyed Adelina.
"Why?" He asked with his arms crossed.
"To teach her force," Ted explained, not a man of many words.
Caden grunted, unfolded her arms, and turned to Adelina. She braced herself. Caden shoved her at the shoulders, stepping into the shove. Adelina stumbled back a few steps, grabbing the table to keep herself upright.
"Now you shove him," Tad commanded.
Adelina looked at Caden and raised her palms to the air in a shrug. "Just like I did. Push at my shoulders and step into it," Caden offered.
Adelina stepped closer to Caden, shuffled her feet to find better balance, and then shoved Caden. He slid one foot behind him to balance himself, but otherwise didn't move.
"Again!" Tad bellowed.
"Step into it," Caden growled at her. He only used one hand to shove her this time.
Adelina shoved Caden harder. He moved his foot behind him a little faster this time.
"You are using your arms too much. Use all of your body and step into it," Caden said underneath Tad bellowing for another set.
Adelina, a genuinely frustrated now, shoved Caden more out of annoyance than practice. Not focusing on the form, she actually got it right. Caden wheeled back a few steps and caught his balance. He turned to Tad, "There, she's got it. I'm leaving now."
Tad scowled at Caden, but nodded. He turned back to Adelina as Caden slid out the door, "Now, shove the rock."
Adelina could now shove a stone across a table. Interestingly, the concept of force gave more body to the other elements. The flames that licked from her fingers were fuller and burned hotter, the breeze she could stir was stronger, she could sustain lightning longer and she could pull more water from its source. She contemplated this as she sat in the sanctuary, staring blankly at the glowing flowers, and smiled at her accomplishments.
Sarket appeared on the bank of the pool next to her, "I hear you are doing very well, my dear."
Adelina smiled back, "I am making progress."
Sarket nodded, "I wish you had more time here. I feel guilty about sending you out into the world so soon. Not that you are unprepared, but that you could be more prepared."
Adelina nodded, "I understand."
Sarket snapped her fingers, "There is someone I would like you to meet. He will be your advisor on your journey."
A crow flew down out of the darkness above and landed on Sarket's hand. "Adelina, meet Da'de."
Adelina looked at the bird, "H-hello."
"She sure is gawky," the crow commented.
Sarket smirked, "You should have seen her before. She's finding her woman-body."
Adelina's face felt like it burst in to flame.
Sarket clucked at her, "Oh please, that man was starving you before. You are simply eating the way you ought to and filling out."
Adelina looked down at herself.
"You aren't fat," Sarket said flatly.
"Self-conscious too," Da'de observed, "What am I supposed to do with this?"
Sarket shot the bird a dark look, "Advise her, be a direct line of communication between her and I, teach her more, and generally help her."
"Yes Mistress," Da'de flapped his wings uncomfortably under Sarket's golden eyes.
"Hold out your hand," Sarket commanded Adelina.
Adelina did as she was instructed, and Da'de flapped over to the Acolyte's hand. The feel of bird feet on her wrist was a new experience.
"You only have a few more weeks here before you go out into the world. I suggest you two get to know each other and play nice."
And those few more weeks were generally the same: Adelina woke up to a new flower on her night stand every morning, she would run with Aster, train with Caden, practice the elemental gifts with the masters, practice her reading and writing, learn some miscellaneous general (although helpful) knowledge with Rudbeckia, be pestered by Caden and now Da'de when she was trying to unwind, bathe and go to bed to start again the next day until it was time to start.