RP:Fight Like A Girl
Part of the What You Leave Behind Arc
Summary: Celaeno returns to the Tranquility for fighting lessons from Khitti, and a rather large lunch, before the half elf joins the expedition to the Shadow Plane with Lionel and others.
The Tranquility, Cenril Wharf
The day that Celaeno would return to the Tranquility would finally come and when she arrived, she’d be escorted on board and led into the armory and training room that was just down the hall from the library she’d been in during her last visit. This room was not quite as large as the library, but certainly moreso than any room that should be on a ship of this size, likely due to those same secret magics that made the entire ship bigger on the inside. Along the wall to the left as she walked into the room, Celaeno would be greeted with a table covered in a feast that was more than enough for two. A double decker carrot cake sat in the middle, the centerpiece of the spread, adorned in little orange and green carrots made of sugar, crafted with love by the sugar-sculptor at Khitti’s bakery. The cake itself, as well as the rest of the finger foods that ranged from small sandwiches to various bits of cheeses and meats and crackers to cookies and small hand pies of all sorts to even a tray of raw veggies and fruit. The question ‘What does Celaeno eat?’ had been bothering Khitti for most of the week and as anyone could see, the redhead sought to cover all bases. It was the same for the beverages as well--lemonade, coffee, water, and even whiskey was set on the table as well. Whatever Khitti and Celaeno wouldn’t eat, the Tranquility crew would certainly dig into the leftovers afterwards.
“There was supposed to be a strawberry cheesecake too, but when I went to find it this morning in the ice box, it was already gone. I’m pretty sure Brand ate it, since it's his favorite and all. Next time I’ll have to put it under lock and key--or just make one for him as well. I think he’s been having sympathy cravings again.” Khitti’s voice came from the other side of the room where she was inspecting the melee weapons that had been laid out on another table. “If you’ve not eaten anything today, I’d suggest eating a little so you’ve got something in your stomach. Too little or too much and the exercise might make you throw up. I’ve been there. It’s not pleasant.” Exercise? What exercise? Wasn’t Cel just supposed to be showing Khitti what she can do? Clearly the newly appointed ‘defender’ of the Warrior’s Guild had other ideas in mind as well.
Celaeno may have forgotten breakfast while studying and made up the excuse she was saving her appetite for lunch with Khitti after the fact. As she was led to the training room, the first thing she laid her big eyes on was that array of food and her stomach growled. She gulped a moment, licking her lips to pick up any drool before it escaped. It all looked so yummy, and the speechless longing from the sweets-happy spirit upon being communicated to about the carrot cake was not helping matters. Khitti had certainly covered her bases.
“I’ve seen those at the bakery I think. I haven’t gotten the nerve to try one yet. They don’t make it where I’m from and it doesn’t seem like cheese and cake would go together very well, would they?” Khitti’s warning came as bad news for the half-elf’s stomach however, especially in light of certain side effects her increased necromancy practice had been doing lately. Still, she took off her robe, hung it on her pack, and rolled up the loose sleeves of her red shirt in preparation for the exertion before taking a gander at the smaller fare in front of her. The black runes outlined with warm colors she had tattooed up to her elbows would peek out then, though they seemed like normal ink at the moment, not buzzing with any magical energy. She settled for a couple finger sandwiches and pickings from the vegetable tray--celery, carrots and a couple broccoli florets. Her left palm was used like a plate to hold everything, no use wasting a plate in her mind for a snack, while the right popped the bite-sized fare into her mouth. Her belt had a short sword in a sheath strapped to it, something generic one would buy from a shop, aside from the runic engravings she’d added after the fact. Khitti had said combat practice, after all, and in her experience that always meant a sword. “What will we be starting with, Miss Khitti, if I may ask?”
“Well, magic, of co--” Khitti turned around finally to face Celaeno and stopped speaking just before she could finish. She, instead, took to staring at the half-elf like a concerned mother and crossed the room to close the gap between them, “Cel, what happened?” Red brows knitted together as a hand lifting from Khitti’s side to touch Celaeno’s cheek, though it just hovered next to it instead. “You look awful.” There was a visible frown now as Khitti searched Celaeno’s face for answers before the half-elf herself could speak.
“I have been...practicing a lot more.” Celaeno bit her lip, cheeks turning a shade redder at the extra attention. She went to tuck her hands under her robe sleeves, only for the robe not to be there. She settles for folding them together at her hips instead. “My men--Father’s spell to put Carina in me apparently went awry somehow. The healer who looked at me said it seemed like a side effect of soul magic done wrong. I thought it was normal until I did the ritual to suppress Cari’s spirit and my usual reaction to enchanting came out worse. It’s...like at that ritual in Frostmaw. Whenever I do serious magic, I’ve seen, including most Necromancy I try, it irritates this...energy sticking to my organs and damages them somehow. But as long as I have a healing potion afterwards, I recover fine, with some rest.” She glances down sheepishly at her gauntlets, her sister’s usual lecture springing up again. “I’m sorry I didn’t mention anything before...Last time I forgot to mention something, and this time I...well I’ve been trying to build up more of a tolerance. It’s something that needs to be fixed, but I can still learn despite it. It’s manageable.”
The color drained from Khitti’s face as Cel explained what was going on. Her frown worsened and she actually pulled Celaeno into a hug, “That’s why I had to be turned into a vampire. The dark magic from the Shadow Plane was poisoning my body. Necromancy already takes a toll but for it to be imprinted on our bodies like this, it could kill you. Maybe even worse.” She released Cel finally and gave the girl her space so she could continue eating, “We will figure this out, you and I. I promise. I’m not going to let you have the same fate or anything along those lines.” She paused in thought, those brows still scrunched together, “What were you planning on doing in the Shadow Plane? How are you going to fight like this? If you’ve only just told me, I’m going to assume Lionel doesn’t know.”
Celaeno hugged Khitti back, loose and the most comfortable the girl could get otherwise. When Khitti confessed the cause of her former vamprism, quite a bit of color drained from the young student’s tawny face. Having to live off of other people’s bodily fluids for the rest of her life? Sure, the vampires she had met had seemed normal functioning enough, but to force herself to ask strangers for their blood? It was nothing short of terrifying. “Y-yes. I hardily agree.” After taking a moment to bring herself down from that terrible image in her mind, she indulges in another finger sandwich. Khitti’s question had her shrugging, not with a lack of caring but more a lack of ideas. “I have stocked up on as many healing potions as I can afford and have done as much prep work as I can ahead of time. From there...I seem to do better with containment circles and barriers and the like. I’m hoping that will help combat the more severe reactions I get with higher level curses and any sort of reanimation thus far.”
Khitti thought things over for a moment and nodded, “Alright. You have to keep in mind though that whatever dark magic you use over there -will- be amplified and that’ll likely take a much larger toll on you. I’ll have the ship’s healer, Lennier, make you more and send them along to you so you’ve got plenty more potions to come back to.” She looked past Cel, at the table, and eyed some of the food. The cheese tempted her most of all and she suddenly realized that she couldn’t go without. A small handful of colby-jack, her favorite, was scooped up and popped into her mouth one at a time. “I don’t think I’ll teach you more than just shadowfire and ice, for now. Not until we get this situation a bit more stabilized. But, they’re effective, just like their normal counterparts. I think you should finish eating first, however. You definitely look as though you need it.”
Celaeno nods along, her mouth pressing into a line. “I will be as sparing as I can. And everyone seems very capable. Hopefully nothing too much with go wrong.” It was a vain hope, but better than nothing. She glances toward the carrot cake once more, but wrinkles her nose. “Better to save dessert for afterwards.” She settles for making herself a cheese “sandwich” with two crackers as bread, and snatching bits of fruit, all while using her palm as a plate. “I read over your journal before sleeping, between everything else. And knowing something of pyromancy will help, I imagine, at least with the former of those. My fire tricks tend to take minimal energy to manipulate as long as I don’t use too much, so I hope this has a somewhat similar effect so I can get the foundations down with you.”
Khitti was pleased as Celaeno made herself a sandwich and ate away. No sooner had the pointy-eared female finished her thought did Khitti’s demeanor visibly brighten, “Oh! Brand is a pyromancer too! He’s the one that taught me the somatic components for pyromancy so I could apply them to the shadowflames. I hadn’t always had those abilities, unfortunately. Shadowflames are basically the same, though they don’t utilize the same type of thermal energy. When you are ready, try to apply those same components you use to create regular fire, except try to weave your necromancy in instead. Imagine a low-burning flame mixed with shadows and focus your thoughts there.” Khitti tilted her head to the side, letting out a ‘hm’, “My magic had come directly from the Shadow Plane, so my fire took on the color purple. Yours may be different, because you pull the magic to you differently than I did, but either way, it will all work the same.
Celaeno blinked, pursing her lips as she glanced at the middle finger and thumb of her right gauntlet, the runes there typically how she summoned a flame with a dramatic snap. She does so now, a small ball of fire coming to life in her palm. It was her typical technique, nothing special about it. She closes her hand into a fist and snuffs the fire out. As she munched on a piece of fruit, she closed her eyes, chewing away as she focused on the image Khitti directed her toward. It was worth a try, of course, and she did enjoy toying with her fire. She visualized a bonfire at night, like what she would use to make her usual stews, shadows flickering over the stones surrounding it. She attempts to visualize that in the palm of her right hand while her left holds her snacks. A little, shadowy campfire...that hungrily fed at her life energy the same way the dark arts seemed to. As she feels that subtle pull on her lungs, she opens her eyes to find a small flame no bigger than a match floating across her palm. It’s edges had all sorts of shades of deep red, some bright as new blood, others the maroon of her shirt, devoid of the yellows and oranges that usually tinted what she summoned. It seemed her color came out to match her shirt. She beams at Khitti, pride evident in her features at the cute little speck.
Khitti watched eagerly as Celaeno worked her own strange breed of magic. When she’d accomplished just that tiny flame, Khitti fist-pumped the air with joy, “Yes! Good job!” She would’ve jumped a bit too, but… well… that rather large stomach of hers was keeping her pretty grounded. “I’m so proud of you!” Khitti beamed back at Cel, “If you have the runes for ice, or can etch them onto your gauntlets, you should be able to master both in no time. I liked to use the ice for defense mostly. Big shields of the stuff can definitely help against incoming attacks--and you could use it as offense too when it’s called for. When Brand uses his normal ice moves, he summons up shards in the form of daggers.” A mischievous grin found Khitti’s lips, “I -might’ve- copied him there. It helps in a pinch if you don’t have a blade of your own on you.”
Celaeno felt her chest bubble with Khitti’s excitement and her cheeks ache a bit from smiling so wide. It was one of the few times someone instructing her had expressed such pride in her work. Her chest puffed more as a result, despite that it was sore for the small effort. She shakes her head at the question of cryomancy. “I have actually never tried ice or water magic. I imagine the basic concept of elemental magic is similar though, right? Only harnessing different substances with slightly different...whims associated with each?” She snickers some at Khitti’s admission. “I have done that with barriers before! I made a sword for someone. It wasn’t too sharp, but it helped him kill a spider.” She glances around, voice lowering as if nervous Khitti’s pet would overhear.
Khitti smirked at the mention of spiders, “It's alright. I've had to kill several spiders in my time. Not all of them are as nice as Francis--and even then, Francis isn't always very nice to those that threaten his mother.” There was a nod of approval, the redhead beaming again with pride for her spider-doggo. “And, you're right. The concept is similar. Shadows and that electricity are a bit different though and may cause more harm than good right now. The electricity itself I pulled from shadow portals that came from the Shadow Plane. They're bristling with energy that you can make your own, but it's very advanced and will come after we've dealt with your problem. And speaking of…” She eyed Cel curiously, “How do you feel after that little bit? Nothing too serious I hope? If you're able to make the shadowflames grow beyond that size, then we can apply it to weapons too.” A nod was sent to Cel’s sword that hung at her side. “That must be an extension of yourself first, however.”
“Yes, that sounds best. For now, I think I can do more of the fire. My chest hurts some, but it’s mild. A good sign!” She bites her lip, concentrating on the flickering dot in her palm. It flares up a bit bigger, the size of a young apple. She coughs a moment, no blood spurting out or the need to wretch. She could go longer, play with it more, but for the moment, she lets it fade away as Khitti remarked on the sword. Her cheeks turn nearly as red as the shadow-flame she’d conjured and Carina may have been laughing in her mind, as all good natured sisters do when teasing their siblings. She glared down at the blade as if it had a rebellious personality of its own. “Raevyn’s bodyguard, Baelok, was teaching us some things before he disappeared. We didn’t get too far with it. And my coordination with it is somewhat...lacking, to say the least.”
The elder of the two women squinted her eyes at the other as Cel blushed profusely. Hm. That sister of hers was rather rude--Khitti didn't even need to hear what Carina said to know that look. “And that's not at all your fault. It takes practice.” She nodded at where Cel’s flame had been, “Just like that does. I'm sure you'll be very skilled with both in no time. I was trained by two of the best fighters I've ever known and you'll get that knowledge now too. Even when you're not going off to places like the Shadow Plan, I want you to be ready for anything.” I don't want anything to happen to you. I'll protect you from Kahran and anyone else that stands in your way, but I can't always be there for the little things. Khitti wanted to say this, wanted to take Cel by the shoulders and stare her in the eyes and proclaim it to her. But, she didn't. It reminded her of Dominic, the one who had been Brand's other half--much like Carina for Cel and Amarrah for Khitti, but still a bit different--for so long.
The thought of Dominic brought back a wave of grief that Khitti had thought gone. He had melded back into Brand's mind, but that bit of Brand's personality--the Dominic part--still came out from time to time. Khitti's lips creased into a frown briefly, reflecting on all the things she'd done wrong with Dominic. But where Dominic had not wanted to be a fighter, or to embrace his magic, Cel was different indeed and Khitti was grateful.
“Come. Take a break from the magic and take up your sword.” Khitti turned away from Cel, trying to will away that frown as she went to retrieve a sword of her own from the table across the room. When she turned around again, that unhappy demeanor was gone, replaced by determination. “Hold the sword in your hand, like this,” Khitti demonstrated, her own blade held out in front of her, the point aimed at Celaeno. “Just as I said, the sword must be an extension of yourself. Don't let its weight hinder you. It is a part of you and you it.” Khitti swung twice, cutting the air in front of her. “Attack me.”
Said twin did tend to be the pushier personality of the two, as Celaeno would continue to rediscover once they did start actual weapons training. Khitti’s determined encouragement did shut the silent voice up, for at least a few moments. It certainly made the half-elf sit with straight-backed attention for the conviction she saw in Khitti’s eyes, so much she didn’t offer any placating protests or self-effacing comments. Perhaps she could have some sort of potential? Given a lot of time and patience…
Celaeno reached under her gauntlets and tightened the straps until they chaffed, even through the stockings she wore under them. Perhaps learning archery next could be a worthy investment, considering most of her magical attacks were ranged… But that thought went away as she gulped at Khitti’s order, balking a moment as she unsheathed her own sword and pointed it toward the pregnant woman. For once, her sister’s assurance that she wouldn’t do any serious harm with that blade came in handy as she forces down her nerves and attempts to charge at Khitti. She attempted an overhand swing, one handed despite the over abundance of force she put into it. It made her fumble forward a step, making the girl resemble a marionette being danced around by a child for a moment.
Khitti took two steps forward and blocked the fumbled attack, the clang of both blades echoing in the room. “Are you not comfortable with close-quarters? I wasn’t either, in the beginning.” She pushed back on Cel’s sword, allowing for a brief moment of space between the two before she swung the one-handed sword at Celaeno’s left side, aiming for her ribs. She’d not hit, of course, if Cel wasn’t prepared to block it. “For so long I fought like this too. My weapon skills were erratic and misjudged. I’m certain the only reason why I was able to kill anything for so long was because most of my foes were shambling undead. I was careless and filled with angst. I was always throwing myself into danger and paying the price for it. Being a vampire made it worse.” Whether the blow was blocked or not, another swing was made, this one an overhand one like Cel’s, but much more fluid.
“I excel more with ranged attacks. The one that sired me--the loathsome, self-absorbed man-child that he is--taught me archery. It was probably the only good thing he did for me. I’m not as great as I was, like when I was a vampire--it enhances your senses and abilities more than you can imagine--and certainly even then I wasn’t as great as Orikahn, but it was enough for people to notice.” Khitti, despite being the pregnant thing that she was, continued her well-timed onslaught, taking her time with Celaeno, letting the girl block and parry and return swings as she needed to while Khitti spoke. The attacks would not come so quickly as to overwhelm Celaeno, and should she need it, Khitti would give the half-elf a break. “Hildegarde had a black ice bow made for me, for helping with her war against the frost giants. What I’m getting at, is that I know someone who could make something like that for you too, if that’s what you’d prefer. Doesn’t necessarily have to be a bow, either. There’s a paladin around here somewhere, named Rorin, he uses a crossbow with holy bolts.”
“Not usually, no.” Celaeno winced at the clang, so much louder than her gauntlets made when she accidentally clapped them in a library. Unfortunately the with the sudden direction in her head that shouted Block! Distracted her enough that Khitti’s sword had already paused in mid air for a couple seconds before her blade made contact with Khitti’s, more of a small ‘tink’ rather than a clang. The overhead blow was obvious enough that she saw it coming, and rather than block she stumbled back, out of the way with a soft ‘eep!’ Luckily she doesn’t fall on her rear, and catches herself instead. Then another one of those psychic directions as Carina seemed to be reading Khitti’s movements like Celaeno with a book. Between both voices drawing her attention, the half-elf only defended, her strikes becoming a bit better timed when she managed to sync up with her sister’s voice, but without knowing why. “I’m...I’m not sure what I would prefer. I usually resort to magic.” A panting parry there, a bit late. “It...nothing ever caught my interest. It never needed to. Papa was there. Cari was there. I never had to kill anyone. They did.” A late dodge, but at least she didn’t stumble. She winces as the spirit’s onslaught of hints calmed to quick, attempted lessons between Khitti’s. She holds her forehead as the headache sets in. “I...I need to learn something now. I understand that. I can’t need them anymore. I have to protect myself.” It was possibly to Khitti, possibly to the well meaning twin trying to play co-teacher, probably to both. She pauses to catch her breath, leaning against her knees. “The only muscle I have is from walking everywhere and my constitution has never been my best trait. I’ve only ever observed swordplay, so that is one point in its favor. However, I never picked up on it. I have elven blood, so they are supposed to have natural skill with bows, correct? So would that be better?" Her mind swam, this strange new thing coming to light, something she had never once read about or required in her life. And suddenly it all hit her at once... "I...I don’t know.”
The sword in Khitti’s hand lowered as Cel spoke, that pensive frown of hers reappearing. Oh gods. She really -did- sound like Dominic. Khitti’s stomach twisted and turned into knots, the redhead quite unsure of how to proceed just yet. Was she going to throw up? No. Probably not. Then why did she feel so sick? Was it going to happen again? Was Khitti going to fail someone else? Maybe Celaeno didn’t really want to fight--Khitti didn’t either half the time, but…
“I want to protect you. I’ve wanted to ever since I realized how like me you are. Ever since you told me what your father did. How you were tainted by necromancy like I was. I want to protect you, like I want to protect Brand and Meri and Lionel. But I can’t always be there. I’m just human now.” Those olive-green eyes of Khitti’s got rather misty. “I don’t want anything else to happen to you. I don’t want you to go through the things I had to. The vampirism. Having to find a cure. If that’s even something that was a possibility anyway. I don’t want this dark magic to kill you like it tried to kill me.” The pregnant woman paused and drew in a slow, shuddering breath as she tried to calm herself--it didn’t work much. “I do not want history to repeat itself--or get any farther than it already has. But… I can’t always be there and I just want you to know how to protect yourself if you -have- to.” She sighed, then shrugged, “I’m not sure if you having elven heritage means you’ll be skilled in archery. We can try it. But, ultimately, if you’re most comfortable with magic, then that’s what you’re going to excel in. You don’t always -have- to fight though. You could stand back and support everyone else. Fire off some fireballs. Put up those barriers for the people that really need it. You don’t have to be up in the fray like Lionel always is, but you at least just need some sort of protection--and something that’s not going to kill you right now.”
Celaeno caught her breath, rising upright to meet Khitti’s all too shiny eyes. She listens, intent and suppressing her sister’s frantic voice. Her focus was absolute, longing to listen and learn. Khitti reminded her so much of her sister just then in her desire to protect her, yet they different in that the human had made many of the same mistakes and gone through many of the same traumas she had. Was it some sort of destiny? Written in stone for their fates to align in parallel? No. If there was one thing the young mage had never believed in, it was all forms of predestination. No one decided her future but herself, that’s what she kept telling people, right? Well, this was the moment she would prove it, not only to herself, but to her friend standing before her. She gulps as she readies her grip on her sword, attempting to copy Khitti’s initial pose. This time Carina was given a firmer demand to quiet herself and watch.
“That’s true, and that will be my first resort, when I’m given the choice. However, you are right. I need to learn, and there is no one I trust more to teach me than you.” She squares her shorter gaze up at the pregnant woman’s. Her back was straighter, shoulders as relaxed as she could manage. It seemed she had mustered a twinge more confidence than before. “What little I know is of the sword. So, for now, we can continue to practice it. I’m stubborn, my body will follow suit. Next time we can go over archery, if you’re still up for showing me. Best to cover everything, for the long term, and I’d be honored to have you as both my instructor and my friend.”
It’s funny. Cel and Khitti would probably disagree about fate. Once upon a time, Khitti didn’t believe in it either… until there was literally a series of prophecies written about her and Brand in the Shadow Plane. All of them had come true. And the visions they’d shared? They were to come true as well, once their child was born. That part Khitti didn’t know quite yet, but it wouldn’t be much longer before she found out.
Khitti watched somewhat curiously as Cel copied that starting pose of hers and then Khitti did the same. “Alright. And when we’re finished? I’ll instruct you in the art of carrot cake devouring. Much like that cheesecake that Brand ate, carrot cake’s frosting also has cheese in it. You will learn that not all cheeses are made to taste savory, and also that it’s like eating ambrosia itself.” The redhead smirked and began her task of training the half-elf anew. It would carry on for several hours, with breaks as needed for either of them, until Cel seemed to be able to hold the sword and use it passably well, allowing for the younger female to practice on her own.