Finding (Becoming) Home
A Story in Four Acts
Trisiana Chandler's arrival in Summersea was surprisingly low key. Not, she supposed, that she had expected a party or a procession, but she had expected it to feel - somehow more momentous. She took a moment a ship arriving in port, running flags of the Namorn Empire to tighten the pins in her hair that fastened the veil over her eyes and looked over the harbour that she had left years ago. The breezes that had accompanied her throughout her travels danced and twined with the air over the harbour and the city, returning to her with bits and pieces of information. The veil kept out all but the most persistent of images. However, there were still many that made it to her eyes and it did nothing for the sounds. a round woman at a potter's workshop hugging a young boy Tris was used to seeing and hearing what was not directly in her presence, and had been since she and her teacher Niko had visited Tharios where she had developed the ability to see images on the wind in order to help stop a serial killer. She had become used to the relative calm and quiet while on the ship that brought her and her teacher back to Summersea a crowded building with many people in foreign dress and she was bracing herself to be in a city once again. She hoped that once she arrived home at the discipline cottage in Winding Circle, she would be able to let down her guard some. While most mages came to look at her with envy or outright fear, she hoped that amid her friends at Discipline Cottage she wouldn't seem odd.
"I do not understand," a girl's voice rang out from a small cottage within the walls of the Winding Circle Temple. The girl in question was plump with hair in braids that seemed to have no beginning or end. The girl, Tris, did not crackle with energy even though she was stunned and angry. This was an accomplishment of which she was most proud.
"I'm sorry dear, but the discipline cottage is only for students. And you are well past that." This was said with a proud smile by a woman in a dark-green habit. Lark went on, "Daja and Sandry have not written to you about this?" They hadn't. Even if they had, Tris likely would not have received the messages on her travels homeward. Niko had not warned her that she would be required to find her own place once they returned. They had left shortly after the four of them had been given their mage's medallions and hadn't been back. Sandry living with her uncle hadn't seemed odd - she took care of him and helped him rule Emelan. She and Daja hadn't written since Daja returned home.
"Daja has a house in Summersea, I'm sure you are welcome to stay there." Lark looked sympathetically at Tris, "Unfortunately, unless you take your vows you are not allowed to live within the Temple. "
"Don't think you can get out of visiting once in a while though," rang out from behind the cottage. Rosethorne, the green mage, had been listening to the conversation.
"No, of course not," Tris replied. It felt like the wind had been removed from around her, like she no longer could hold onto the power of the earth to ground herself. Her home was gone. Tris knew that Daja would allow her to stay in her home in the city but Tris did not want charity. a woman's voice. "that ship was filthy. how do you expect great magics when you cannot even find me a clean place to stay" She would make her own way and when she was in a position that would not make others pity her, only then would she see her friends and visit her mentors.
A knock at the door startled Tris out of the monotony a group of five men surrounding a sixth at a table. It was some sort of tavern - dim and smoky. the sixth, dressed in clothes that spoke of wealth, was gesturing as if explaining of peeling potatoes for dinner. She looked up as Daja walked by to answer it. Tris had been living with Daja for some time now. She had been in the market looking at some books about academic magic when Daja had seen her. In their conversation, Daja had drawn the information out of her like wire form gold, that she was staying in one of the only places that would allow her to keep both Little Bear and Chime. Daja had declared her silly and invited Tris to live with her. Tris had not wanted charity and had told Daja that - in what Daja has since informed her was a stand-offish tone. Daja had insisted and told Tris that if she wanted, she could pay rent and if she didn't have the money, she could work as housekeeper. This worked for Tris. Daja's housekeeper was rubbish anyway.
Tris looked at the door and was surprised to see Sandry walk through it. Daja had made no mention of contacting the stitchwitch during Tris' stay in her home. Though, Daja looked just as surprised, so Tris assumed that she had not expected the noble to appear in their doorway either.
"Who's there?" a voice came from the back of the house. Briar Moss, green mage, appeared at the back door. Briar had shown up soon after Tris had moved into Daja's home. Daja had a garden space set out for him already when Tris had arrived "they say that the Lady of the Lake has come to Summersea." "What's she doin' here?" and took his presence as the natural way of things. Briar had commented once that Daja must have bought the house with the four of them in mind because there was a room that backed into a garden for him, a forge for Daja, and a room that was up in the attic with windows and access to the roof for Tris. Sandy didn't have a room but it was in Summersea and relatively close to the Duke's citadel so Sandy could visit. However, none of them had talked to Sandy to let her know where they were, that Tris knew of.
"Honestly!" Sandry exclaimed upon seeing them, "I had to find out from Lark that you were all back in Summersea. Why didn't you tell me that you were all living in the city? I could have helped you find places to stay or you could have stayed with me."
"Cause of that Sandry," Briar said before Tris had a chance to finish prickling at the unintended insult, "you woulda wanted us to stay with you and none of us want to live off your hand-outs." Sandry looked saddened at the quick comeback.
"It wouldn't be hand-outs! You are my friends and you are welcome wherever I am."
"Still, it would feel like charity," Daja interrupted with a more reasonable tone, "we wanted to be on our feet before we saw you."
"None of you even talked to me"
"Maybe we didn't want you in our heads. We've gotten older and some of us have other interests that we don't want your opinions on," at this Briar gave Sandy a leer. Tris blinked at this, in the entire time she and Briar had been living at Daja's house, Tris had never seen Briar do anything inappropriate to a woman. Though he did leave the house often and came back smelling of strange perfumes and incense.
"Sorry Sandry, but none of us are comfortable in each other's heads right now," Daja seemed to be trying to avoid hurting Sandry's feelings more than the minimum.
"You're not even talking mentally with each other? But you live together!"
"We are different people now. We've grown apart and have things about ourselves that not everyone needs to know," Tris broke in. The conversation continued from there. Sandry reluctantly was persuaded that none of them wanted to be that open with each other. Also, that none of them wanted to move to the citadel. But they would visit now. And to be honest, Tris felt better now that she had connected with Sandry again, even if Sandry was going to be nosy and try to figure them all out. Tris could keep secrets. Daja and Briar hadn't figured out she could see on the wind yet anyway. a silhouette bent over a large basin of water. the water was swirling one way then the other. an image began to appear
A boy, looking to be in almost an adult, was thrashing in a bed obviously in the throes of a nightmare. He screamed silently and his hands- covered in inked vines beneath his skin - flailed, grasping at something that wasn't there. Briar The boy continued to thrash until something woke him from his nightmare. He sat up and murmured "tomorrow, I'll do the rest of the stores tomorrow. No more of you will have to die." Tris blinked away the vision. Something was wrong with Briar. He had nightmares, almost night terrors and had been having them since he moved in - probably before too. Tris' room was above his and so she could hear him. He never screamed but the thrashing got loud sometimes. She had figured it was something from his journey and had decided to wait silently for it to go away but knowing that he was going somewhere tomorrow and that was connected to this made her worry.
The next afternoon Tris was dusting. She liked dusting, "she is alone often. she has not visited her friends in some time" "that is sad. everyone should have friends." it was peaceful. Daja was out visiting Sandry. In the time since Sandry's visit Daja had been visiting her more and more often. Tris couldn't be sure but if she had to guess she would say that they had opened up the bond between them. Briar came in from the garden, fetched a bag from his room, and headed through the front door. Tris sent a breeze with him, it was a hot day after all.
Tris' breeze came back to her sometime later with visions of a squat building. It looked somewhat rundown, like it had been in much worse shape and had been inexpertly patched up. Briar went in the door of the building. Tris' breeze followed. The man gave him a strange look at his fluttering clothing. "Don't worry about that, my sister charmed the wind to follow me." "Ah." A sidelong glance. Tris almost called the breeze to her at that moment but for the fact that this was in the past. The man led Briar past rooms full of people. Some looked fairly wealthy, some looked like street rats, all were in foreign dress. A young girl ran up to Briar, "will you come play with Yang today? He says he's feeling better but you said he wasn't s'possed to move." "I'm going to fix up the medicines today Shen, so the others who are sick can get better, if I have time after I'll play with you and Yang, ok?" "'k" Briar continued down the hall to where the man was waiting at a heavy door. He opened the door for Briar and Briar went inside. After pulling out many, many jars, Briar sat down and began to meditate. Even on the wind, Tris could see how much magic Briar was pouring into those medicines. If he continued he would be burnt out soon. "tomorrow, I'll do the rest of the stores tomorrow. No more of you will have to die." Tris was on her feet and following the path Briar had taken earlier before she knew what she was doing.
When she got to the building she realized it was the refugee center that had been created for the Gyongxe people because of the amount of them that were fleeing from the civil war in their country. Tris realized that Briar must have been in Gyongxe when the rioting and war began. No wonder-
"Who is it that calls upon us," A different man than the one whom Briar met answered her knock.
"I am Briar's sister. He is in danger, I need to see him."
"The green man is in the midst of a ceremony to renew our medicines," the man blocked her path inside.
"I am aware of that. However, he is going to kill himself if I don't see him now," Tris was getting impatient. The longer they waited the less chance that Briar would still be alive when she got to him. With his guilt driving him to renew these people's medicine he was likely to burn himself out.
The man took one look at her face and led her through the halls. She saw faces, young and old, all affected by war. Some with the same expression that she saw every so often on Briar's face. She would force him to talk after this, Tris decided. Even if it meant revealing how she knew. They arrived at the door to the stillroom and the man unlocked it. Tris stepped inside and closed the door behind herself. Briar looked just as she had feared. He had barely any magic left and even that was draining out of him as fast as a sea breeze flew from a harbour.
Tris did not even think, she reach out with her mind. "BRIAR" she screamed down their bond.
"Wha - Tris" came the faint response.
Tris thrust power down their newly open connection. The connection strengthened and opened further. Tris began undoing an inch of the braid down the center of her head. This braid held the energy of an earthquake and she sent this to Briar. Briar used the energy to strengthen more of the medicines.
"Save some for yourself," Tris demanded. But she continued to drain power from the winds surrounding the building to feed to Briar. After what seemed like both an eternity and a mere second, all the medicine was renewed and Briar broke his concentration and flopped onto his back. Tris collapsed beside him, dropping the link. "Do not ever drain yourself like that again Briar Moss! I do not care what guilt you are keeping from the war in Gyongxe but I expect you to live for these people, for Sandry and Daja, and me. " Tris trailed off, exhausted and burnt out.
Briar was silent for a while but eventually she could feel his hope at the end of the channel that connected him. "So, you ever see anything good on the wind?" he asked with a tired leer. Tris gave a huff of laughter and they lay there until the man that had shown Briar into the room opened the door and called for someone to help them into beds. Tris felt Briar's laughter in her mind and felt more settled and rooted than she had for a long time, maybe since she left Summersea all that time ago.
The market was a loud and crowded place in the mid morning. Tris was out looking for more string and some food for dinner when a woman called out to her. Tris turned around and saw a woman who was decidedly round behind the counter of a stall strewn with glass beads. Tris smiled and headed over to the shop. The woman was one of Tris' favourite vendors in the market and she always tried to go when the woman was supposed to be there. On her way over, Tris passed by a couple of mages arguing whether to go see some great mage that was in town about the dwindling water supply north of the city. Tris hadn't known that the woman selling glass beads was setting up shop this week, she only came to sell her beads for three days in every two week period. Chime, who until this moment had been riding on Tris' shoulder to avoid the crowd leapt off and headed towards the woman and her stall. This woman loved to coo over Chime and would bring strange powders and dyes for Chime to try eating. Tris had never learned the woman's name but she knew that her home was in the city somewhere and that these three days were the only days that she got to see her nephew. After some small talk, and much disappointment on Chime's behalf since there were no new substances for her to try, Tris said goodbye to the woman and turned to go with a purchase of several strings of glass beads in her hand. As she turned, she saw a tall, for a woman, dark figure hurrying through the crowd. Daja was fairly distinctive, especially as that she was toting her newest creation made of living metal around. Tris waved to her and Daja came over.
"Hello, did you Fire everywhere. The flames leaping from the walls to the ceiling, clay shattering from the heat. get everything you were looking for? I didn't see-" Daja was interrupted by screams.
"The potter's workshop! It's on fire!" A man was screaming. Daja looked startled but began to run in the direction that the smoke was coming from.
When Tris arrived at the burning building, heaving for breath after following Daja's run there, she saw a workshop that was doused in flame. The flames were writhing up the walls and were trying to jump to the buildings on either side. Daja was yelling at people to get buckets of water to douse the flame, not only the flames on the workshop but also to douse the roofs of the surrounding buildings so the fire would not spread. Tris could already feel the air heating up above the roofs , the water would not get there in time. She could deal with that though, she yelled for Daja's new fire crew to deal with the potter's workshop and the grounds and that she would deal with the roofs. Daja was dousing a blanket with water and walking towards the building but got the point across to her people. Tris concentrated on pulling all of the air away from the roofs. The air fought her, it did not like to create a vacuum and she could feel twisters forming "Jay! Jay! My nephew Jay is in there!" A struggling round woman held back by a burly man. as she pulled the air and did not allow more to replace it. a boy of maybe ten years huddling in the back of the workshop, his mouth covered in a wet cloth, surrounded by fire. 'Daja!' Tris screamed. She was not sure whether she screamed aloud or with her mind or maybe both.
A man was talking to her "we've wet the roofs, y' can let go of them missy, if y' can without sweeping us all away anyway" Tris let the air rush back into the vacant spaces with a BANG that had some of the bystanders screaming but she did not care.
'what?' Daja asked confused. Tris shoved the image of the boy at Daja. Their link burst wide open and Tris could see the memories that the fire was bringing back for Daja a man. tied to a pole with fire at the base. why the fire? the feeling of guilt and horror from Daja and the fire burst sky high consuming the man in an instant and Daja could surely see the events that led Tris to have the power that she did now. Tris felt the bone deep acceptance from Daja and could feel her own acceptance of Daja through the bond as Daja went to the boy and pulled the blanket over him and carried him out of the house. Tris came back to herself in time to see Daja exit the house completely naked without shame. Their eyes met and Tris knew that she was no longer staying at Daja's house, she was staying in their home.
Tris was alone in the house. This was a rare occurrence with three mages living there, especially because Daja's forge and Briar's garden were attached to it. However, today Daja was out helping the new fire fighting squad in their training and Briar was visiting the Gyongxe compound. "where is she?" "at the docks milord, seeing to the sails on the Duke's vessel." "Good, is she alone?" "for all intents and purposes yes, she has two guards following her but those are negligible obstacles." "Soon, soon I will have my bride!" Tris was taking the time to renew some of her charms and meditate. a man in wealthy clothes stood before five men in ill fitting soldier uniforms "approach the Duchess carefully, the Lady is on her way and we don't want to let on the game before the pieces are in place." Chime came to land upon Tris' shoulder and Tris stroked her gleaming, smooth back. Chime was purring when the vision came that changed everything - "Remember," said the wealthy man, "that the Duchess is a stitchwitch." All of a sudden many visions came together and Tris realized Sandry was in trouble.
Normally, a kidnapping attempt would not be such cause for alarm but Tris had asked around about this Lady of the Lake, and she was a powerful water-based mage. Tris had been unable to determine whether she was an academic that focused on water or if she was an ambient water mage. Either way, all reports had her more than powerful enough to give Sandry a fight - especially if Sandry was caught unaware. Tris called on the wind but there were no more visions of these people. She needed to warn Sandry. Tris felt the visions were happening now, not in the future, but the docks were fairly far away. Daja and Briar would be no help, if Briar had even opened up to Sandry, which Tris could not confirm. Tris began to hurry to the docks "there she is," one of the not-soldiers said. another of the fake soldiers left the group and approached Sandry openly, "Greetings Lady, we have word from your uncle" Tris cut the vision off and opened a mental link with Sandry.
'Sandry?' she called.
'Tris? Oh how wonderful! Can you wait a moment, I am in the middle of something-'
'Don't trust them'
'The soldiers that approached you just now are going to try and kidnap you.'
'What? Tris, how can you know-'
'I see things on the wind, I have been seeing visions of these men for some time now but had no connection between the visions and no context for them.'
'I believe I can handle-'
'They had a water mage known as the Lady of the Lake somewhere with them. I am on my way.'
'I - OH!' and Sandry was distracted. Tris began to hurry even more. When she came into view of the docks she could see a huge wave cresting at Sandry's back, a woman in blue gauzy fabric was standing with her back to Tris with her hands raised, shouting in a language that Tris did not understand. The soldiers were on the ground, their clothing binding them and preventing their movement. The Lady's clothes, for this must be the Lady of the Lake, were writhing about her but were for some reason not working in ways that Tris could see as helpful. Sandry's face was screwed up in concentration. Tris turned her attention to the wall of water - the moment the woman was no longer in control of it, much damage would be caused. Tris began leeching the power from the water, it began to still and settle in its new shape, like liquid in a cup instead of straining against the power like a river against a dam. The Lady did not seem to notice, she was understandably distracted by the way her clothing was winding about her.
'Her clothing!' Sandry called, 'it is like nothing I have ever felt. She has woven water into the fabric. The water will not follow my weave.' Tris joined Sandry at looking at the woman's clothing and she could see the lines of power running through it. The clothes would be unwilling to move because they were thrumming with the power of the tides - maybe not wholly an academic mage after all. However, her control of the tides was through their water, Tris controlled the energy of the tides themselves.
'together,' she said to Sandry and their minds clasped hands they wove the thread to the rhythm of the tides and the woman fell. As she fell, so did her water wall but SandryTris spun the water into the finest threads and a delicate mist came to settle upon the harbour as the Lady of the Lake came to settle upon the ground. As Tris and Sandry's bond came to settle in their minds.
Tris opened the door to the house that she considered a home. Daja greeted her, calling from the kitchen, where she was heating something - again, how many times did Tris have to tell her that she had a forge for that. Briar waved to her as he passed through to his room, tracking dirt through the house, of course, and Sandry called a cheerful hello and the carpet expelled that dirt. Tris grabbed a broom to sweep it away.
"See anything important today?" Sandry asked.
"You would know as soon as I figured it out. But, no," Tris replied.
"All is well then."
All was well.