Chapter 9 - Changes

Chapter 9 - Changes

A Chapter by VassD

Ania and her friends begin to advance in the Knights. Echo gets her Companion, and takes the opportunity to unleash some frustration.


Ania stood up the instant she saw Echo walk into the central training area. The euphoria coursing through her body made it very difficult to keep herself from running to her friend, grabbing her arm, and proceeding to tell her every microscopic detail of the ten minute walk she had taken with Skaught. Skaught. She shivered a little as the heart stopping image of his smiling face, his ever-deep brown eyes seeming to dig into every face of her soul. He made her feel the way she was certain someone who stood at the base of an impossibly high mountain, or at the shore of an ever reaching sea, stretching to eternity, would feel. It made her feel small, almost helpless, but his smile seemed to say she was safe. That she could trust him…with everything.


Echo finally made it to her side, after taking what seemed like an overly long time to return Aimon his knife. Honestly, couldn’t she walk a little faster? Before Ania could overwhelm her with the intricacies of a ten minute walk through the Compound, however, Echo held up her hand, as if to physically shield herself from the torrential onslaught of words sure to come. “Ania, I know you are about to tell me what happened in the last few minutes, with enough detail to last me at least twenty lifetimes. But I need to tell you something. I met up with someone on the way here. She said she had a gift for you on behalf of another.”


“What? Why didn’t she give it to me personally? Or better yet, why didn’t the first person just give it do me? Doesn’t it seem excessive to go through two other people just to give me something?”


“Apparently, the original giver doesn’t want to be known just yet. The person who gave it to me said that even if she were to give it to you, it would give away the identity of the original one.”




“Don’t shoot the messenger. I’m just telling you what I was told. Anyway, I promised to keep it secret, so don’t go badgering me for hints. Feel free to speculate, but you’re getting nothing from me. I’m saying nothing.”


“Technically, you are…”


“Oh, shut it. Just take the present, will you?”


“Alright.” Ania giggle a little�"she enjoyed baiting Echo like this, especially because they both knew it was all in fun. Taking the small package, she noticed that it seemed to have been wrapped and rewrapped several times, the simple white paper crumpled and slight torn. As she unwrapped it quickly, a small torn piece of paper floated to the ground.  When she finished, Ania stopped, unable to do anything but stare at the silvery-gold bracelet glinting in the palm of her hand. She stared at the small figures, amazed at the detail in the small figurines. She could have sworn that there was a small change in the way the fur sat on the wolf no bigger than the tip of her thumb, just the way Hakem’s fur sat over his scars. The horse tossed its head precisely the way Jimande did. The small panther seemed to stare her down as Nyika, Sir Alecgorn’s Companion, enjoyed doing just before she pounced and began wrestling with whatever poor wretch had taken her eye that day. The hawk stood straight and stoic, a face set in stone, just as the symbol for the Knights did. But it seemed sad…


And the little heart…it seemed to beat. Even though it was made of a cold, hard gem, it seemed to glow with an inexplicable light and warmth. She felt sure that if she held this bracelet out in pitch blackness, it would glow, just as would the Krystyl.


Ania wrapped the bracelet around her left wrist, clasping it tight just far enough from her hand that it wouldn’t interfere with her weapons training. She never wanted to take it off.


Rotating it on her wrist, her face fell as she noticed something she hadn’t before.  The beautiful little ruby heart was cracked down the middle. It tugged at her own heart, nearly making her cry. Her perfect little heart… Who had hurt it?


Desperate for a hint as to who had given it, she picked up the largest piece of paper. Just above a pronged tear, three words nearly made her heart stop.




I Love You



She looked below the words, hoping�"irrationally�"that the sender had written his name.  On the thin finger of paper that reached into the pronged tear, part of a word caught her eye.



Staring at those small lines, Ania tried to figure out who it could be. If that first line was the last leg of a k, and the last one was the leg of a u… Skaught?


Even as she felt the tell-tale shiver when his name and face flew through her mind, now accompanied with the heart stopping thought of “He loves me?” right alongside it, another face, not in focus and far off, with blue grey eyes like the sky after a summer storm, sped through her mind faster than a hawk in flight. When it was gone, she couldn’t remember the face, though the memory of it seemed so familiar…


Once again looking at the paper, Ania saw a short scribbled line. I’m right here. I always have been. Can’t you see me? Everyone else sees it. Don’t you? Do you feel it, too? Please, say you do. Please.

Ania felt her heart lift, the blue grey eyes fading to the back of her mind, replaced by the familiar brown-black ones that swam through her dreams at night. I’m right here. I always have been. Can’t you see me?

Of course I do, she thought, how could I not?

Everyone else sees it. Don’t you?

See what?

Ania paused, her mind blank, but then, coming in so fast she was stunned she hadn’t realized it sooner�"


He loves me!

Everyone else can tell, but I haven’t seen it! Stupid girl!

Do you feel it, too?

Yes. Forever, yes!

Feeling a new beat in her heart, one eager to fell the harmony of another, Ania turned seeing Lady Zeriphanth walk in.


“Young Dativs.” The training yard, already quiet, went silent. “This past month marked the fourth year since you joined the Covenant. At this time, you will now move on to new training and new responsibilities. This includes training in the art of battle magic. Today, your daily schedules change to appropriate this addition.”


Ania listened attentively. Up until this point, every day had been filled with mostly general training. Every morning after breakfast, they would meet in the training yard and begin weapons training with older Dativs and Knights. After the noon day meal, they would spend four hours with their chosen Masters, and then one hour with each of the other two. After supper, they were given time to do with as they wished. Ania hoped that the change would still allow her time to spend with the others.


“Starting today, you will spend two hours of general training in the morning, followed by two hours of magic study, followed by two hours to group among yourselves and assist each other in your various training. In the afternoon, the schedule will remain the same. The older Dativs will show you to where the magic lessons will be held. Proceed.”


Echo turned to her, a vibrant glint in her hazel eyes. “Finally! I can’t wait to show the TruMage what I can do!”


“Focus, girl. You’re not there yet.” Taking a defensive posture, Ania and Echo began a routine almost as familiar as the morning spars with Randen.




*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *




After obtaining the location of the magic lessons, Ania and Echo set off at once, leaving a laughing Aimon and a strangely surly Randen in their wake.


Climbing the main stairs to the royal gardens that grew on what was both the courtyard of the Palace and the roof of the Inner Compound, the two girls ran through the tall fruit trees and luscious flowered paths. The massive white tower that rose in the curve of the crescent shaped palace loomed above them, and the beautifully wrought doors that led to the halls of the representative from the different guilds were standing tall before them.


They were running past a final patch of flowers when Echo stopped suddenly, her eyes staring unblinkingly at a point deep into the flowers. Before Ania could say a word, Echo began walking towards the point she was staring at.


Five steps into the flower bed, Echo stopped, looking all about her. Ania was about to say something, when a flicker of color passed through the corner of her eye. Turning to investigate, Ania was stunned to see a score of hummingbirds flying towards Echo, flitting and spinning around her friend, looking like nothing so much as a living, breathing rainbow.


Echo turned in a slow circle, seeming to meet the small, shiny eyes of each little bird. After what seemed like a long time, but she knew it was only a few moments, all but one of the little birds flew away. The one that remained was a small green one, with vibrant red feathers on its breast. Holding up a finger that the petite bird promptly perched upon, Echo looked up. “Ania Kyatei, meet Nyllia FleetFeather.”


Ania ran over to her, a huge smile on her face as she congratulated her best friend. “Echo, this is amazing! I can’t believe you finally found your Companion!”


“Believe it, sister,” Was all Echo said before walking towards the double doors ahead of them.


Walking into the amphitheatre-like room, the two girls made their way easily to the front rows. Sitting down behind the long oak panels that looked to serve as desks, Ania left an opening beside her to let an eager Hakem jump up and admire the miniature Companion. 


Almost without their noticing, Aimon and Randen slid onto the seats next to Echo, fawning over the little bird almost as much as Ania. But something caught her eye that drew her gaze away from the beautiful little bird.


Walking onto the stage area was a tall woman in her mid-twenties with dark, smooth brown hair that fell in soft waves past her shoulders. With blue-green eyes that sparkled with intelligence, there could be no mistaking her.


Vaulting over the low oak desk, Ania ran up to the TruMage in deep midnight purple robes. “Xanya!” was the only word out of her mouth before she gripped her older sister in a tight hug that seemed to exude the emotions of over four years of separation from her favorite sibling.


After the initial shock of seeing her baby sister again, Xanya Kyatei hugged Ania with all her might. After a few seconds of silence, Xanya whispered, “We’ve missed you, little one. All of us.”


Despite the ambiguity that was enmeshed in those words, Ania just pulled back and smiled. At a small nod from Xanya, she jogged back to her friends, answering their various questioning gazes with a simple, “Later.”


Walking to the center of the stage, Xanya looked up at the silent gazes surrounding her, not surprised to see less than a score of children ranging from fifteen to seventeen. Making quick eye contact with her baby sister, Xanya felt that, for the first time in ages, she was doing was her aunt had asked of her all those years ago.


“I have been selected to teach you the basics of magic to be used in the defense of the Shining Land. My name is TruMage Xanya Kyatei.” Ania felt several pairs of eyes glance her way. “Magic is not, as you might think, an arcane entity that only the most privileged and skilled may learn. There are the rare few who are born with a special affinity to a specific magic. But anyone can practice it.


“Magic feeds off energy of all kinds. Those with that rare connection seem to have a cache of specific energy that is used only to fuel magic, and the effect is that it does not seem to cost them as much as it would you or me. But it cost them the same as any other. Cause to effect. Equivalent exchange.


“Those without that connection use other forms of energy. Some use their emotions�"fear, anger, sadness. Others use sensation, such as pain. Some people can team up, combining energy to create a more powerful reaction. I’ve even heard of people being able to reach outside themselves to use sources such as fire, wind, or rain.


“But like I said, there is always a cost. Using anger or fear or sadness or pain to fuel the magic will seem to eat away at the sensation, removing it temporarily from your body, but once the continuation of magic is ended, it comes back, all the pain, all the fear, all the anger, all the sadness you fed into it coming back, concentrated into a single instant of irrational, incontrollable energy, worse than you can imagine. The stronger you are, the quicker it ends, but all the more intense is the concentration of energy. Whatever you fed into the magic come back, tenfold.”


Pausing for a moment, she looked out over the amphitheatre, looking into the eyes of the young black-clothed youths. “I’ve been told one of you has a natural affinity for magic. Would you mind coming down and showing me?”


Echo stood, motioning Ania to come with her, and ran forward with a mischievous glint in her eye. After introducing herself to Xanya, Echo tossed a glance at Ania. “The knife.” Ania raised her eyebrows, amazed that she’d picked that one. They’d only perfected it last week.


Echo got in position first, one hundred paces from the side wall, facing it. The instant Ania stepped into position, she turned on her heel, pulling a knife from her belt, and threw it straight for Echo, aiming, just as they practiced, for right between her eyes.


Ania kept eye contact with her friend, and that was when she saw the look in Echo’s eyes.


Just as Echo began rocking back, Ania heard Hakem’s voice. Mistress, I would duck.


She hit the floor just as the knife came rocketing back towards her, imbedding itself into the wall where Ania’s head had been moments before.


Xanya’s face was stunned, and the rest of the Dativs’ faces were white. They had never truly seen Echo in action.


“The Echo effect,” Xanya whispered, to an enthusiastic nod form Echo. Ania came up behind her, smacking the back of her head, muttering, “Showoff,” and throwing her best friend a dirty look. She had to enlist Xanya to pull out the knife.


At the end of the two hours, as the rest of the class filed out, Ania confronted Echo, and all she got was, “It was for dramatic effect!” Rolling her eyes, Ania looked around for Randen, and saw him talking to Xanya. Just as she was turning to go back to him, he ran over to them. Waving off their questions, he started off when something seemed to catch his eye.


Coming over to Ania, he grabbed her arm, staring at her bracelet. “Where did you get this?” She wasn’t even sure she heard him right, but she answered anyway.


“Echo gave it to me. She said it was from an ‘anonymous giver.’” She said it somewhat sarcastically, but her voice trailed off at the look in his eyes. “I really like it.” As she said this, Ania watched a light come on in his eyes, and she was reminded of the eyes that had flown through her mind at the sight of those three words.





© 2012 VassD

Author's Note

The second half of this worked well, but I'm not terribly impressed with the first half.

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Added on April 25, 2012
Last Updated on April 25, 2012
Tags: knights, covenant, fantasy, novel



A tiny random town-city-dimension, ID

I'm a fledgling author with dreams about as big as one of Robert Jordan's books. Maybe more than one on top of each other. I love writing fantasy and science fiction stories (No matter how long a piec.. more..

Synopsis Synopsis

A Chapter by VassD