The Nowhere War (Peregrine x ze_kraken)

  • So many newbies lately! Here is a very important PSA about one of our most vital content policies! Read it even if you are an ancient member!


Waiting for Wit
Original poster
Invitation Status
  1. Looking for partners
Posting Speed
  1. 1-3 posts per day
  2. Multiple posts per week
  3. One post per week
  4. Slow As Molasses
Online Availability
On fairly regularly, every day. I'll notice a PM almost immediately. Replies come randomly.
Writing Levels
  1. Adept
  2. Advanced
Preferred Character Gender
  1. Primarily Prefer Male
  2. No Preferences
High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
She was kneeling, shins pressed against a cold surface, although she couldn't remember falling to the ground. Trembles raced up and down her body, almost in time to the splitting pain that was arcing through her head, down her neck, and seemingly through every nerve in her body. She gasped painfully, lungs almost seeming to resist the intake of air for a split second before yielding to the demands of her body and allowing oxygen down her throat.

There was nothing around her but darkness, and in a desperate moment of panic, she realized that she couldn't tell whether or not her eyes were open or closed. She tried to move her hand to claw at her face, body still fighting to breathe with every gasp she took, but it felt like her entire body was moving through sludge, muscles trembling desperately as her entire body fought her own movement. A moment later and her fingers touched her face, before her nails dug sharply into her own flesh jabbing into the corners of her eyes and catching on the delicate skin at the corners of her mouth and ears. A cry of pain tried to squeeze from between her lips, but the noise was silenced as her entire body suddenly froze rigid.

"Look at me."

The voice was demanding, almost echoing, and for one moment the image of a smiling, wrinkled face appeared in her mind's eye, his gentle eyes at odds with the harsh demands of her voice. And though only a moment ago she could not find her own eyes, she found herself looking forward.

A man stood in front of her, and for a moment an ache of familiarity burned in her chest. However, a second later and the figure distorted around the edges, the uniform dissolving into a haze of green, the face partially warped like the melting of hot wax.

The person in front of her frowned, arms folding in front of his chest before one hand passed through his own forearm. "I hate dealing with the new ones," he grumbled, before eyes locked onto her form and flashed a bright gold.

"You have been Chosen. I, Vaius, God of Ambition, have brought you here to serve Me and My goals. Fight well, and you shall be rewarded. Cower, and I shall slay you Myself."

An echo, a tingle of wrongness, flooded through her at the sound of these words. She didn't know where 'here' was, didn't know what this meant for her, but she knew it was wrong. This wasn't where she was supposed to be, this wasn't what should be happening.

Her body was still fighting her. She couldn't move, and the trembling of her body only got worse the more she tried to reign it in. The god before her looked down on her with some mixture of pity and disgust as her body rebelled against her control. "You won't last long, will you? And I had such high hopes."

The god vanished with a wave of his hand, and even in the darkness that remained the world seemed to twist around her. She tried to gasp, but there was no air to inhale, she tried to move, but she was no longer sure where her body was. Darkness pressed in all around her, squeezing into her, crawling down her throat and through her ears and nose. And just as she was sure she was about to be consumed, it ended.

She landed, kneeling again, but this time on hard packed dirt. Sunlight stung at her eyes, causing them to water, but as she gasped the air flooded easily into her lungs, and the shaking slowly faded away. She lowered herself slowly to the ground, still gasping, before burying her head in her hands.

"There's a new one!"

Another voice wormed its way into her ears, but this one didn't have the strange, echoing grace of the god that had spoken to her before. In fact, it would have seemed entirely normal if it wasn't for the unfamiliar sounds, which somehow contained a meaning she understood.

Gradually, she lifted her head, mid-length dark brown hair falling in front of her face, covering lightly tanned skin and green eyes. Gradually, she began to orient herself. She was crouched in the middle of a circular space, surrounded on all sides by foreign structures. Just on the outside of the circle, which would be large enough to hold two or three people spread-eagled, a man with wild black hair and bright amber eyes was staring at her. Her breath finally settling, she lifted her head to glare back at the intrusive gaze, a frown spreading across her lips.

"Someone go get the Lieutenant," the man said again, before staring at her once more. "You just sit still, someone will come deal with you soon enough."

And, left with those ominous words and little more, she froze in place, awaiting whatever fate was coming her way.
Keishara's forehead beaded with sweat as she side-stepped a blow aimed for her head, her lung burning from exertion as she swung her sword two-handed to intercept her assailant's weapon and thrust him off balance. With a satisfying and resounding crack her blade sunk into the wooden shaft of the spear, severing the tip of the weapon and sending it clattering to the stone floor as splinters discharged out from the now-useless weapon.

Caught off balance from the blow momentarily, Keishara let go her of blade before its momentum carried her arm too far, her forearm still jarred from the impact. As her opponent tossed aside his spear and drew his dagger from his belt, Keishara adopted a defensive stance on the ball of her feet, eyes tracking her opponent as the two began to circle one another. Keishara stiffened. There. His front foot leaned forward. His shoulder followed suit. Keishara lunged forward, catching his knife thrust across her left vambrace with a spray of sparks as metal grated against metal. Her right arm winded up in a punch to the man's diaphragm, knocking the wind out of him. He wheezed out, spluttering and coughing as he stumbled backward. Pressing the attack, Keishara put all of her weight on her right foot as she propelled herself into her opponent, knocking him square on his back and drawing her own knife, pressing it squarely against his throat.

"Dead," she spat out.

The onlookers in the chamber around her watched as she clambered to her feet, sheathing her knife and removing her helm, tugging her copper hair out of its tight knot and letting it fall in messy, sweat-matted clumps around her face. Taking a deep breath to steady her rapidly-beating heart, Keishara began to shove her way through her soldiers, a handful of which tended to the man on the ground as he uneasily rose to his feet. Keishara spared him one last look before turning around and exiting the hall, calling out behind her.

"Let that remind you why I'm in command!"

Right as Keishara exited the ceremonial proving grounds, the guards to the chamber parting their spears to grant her leave, she collided with a clearly winded young man, his helmet crooked, spear fumbling in his hands as he attempted to stand at attention.

"Lieutenant! A newcomer!" He exclaimed, finally standing at proper attention.

"Just one?" She questioned. Odd. Newcomers were uncommon enough, but to pull just one was unheard of.

"Just one," the young man confirmed.

"Take me to the Well," Keishara stated sharply, following the young man as he escorted her to the spot where the newcomer sat hunched over on her knees.

Keishara reminisced briefly about her own experience arriving in the God of Ambition's service, hand reflexively clutching the god's symbol hanging around her neck. The moment felt oddly nostalgic, warm almost, even as she watched the newcomer struggle to come to grips with her surroundings. Just beneath the woman's feet stood the Well - the name given the small porthole where newcomers entered from, no wider than a hand's breadth.

"Well come on then, get her on her feet," Keishara ordered the man with the unruly hair. "Remember your name, girl?"
It only took a few minutes before the young man who had been sent away by the black-haired man returned, this time with a copper-haired woman in tow.

The brown haired woman seated in the middle of the clearing still hadn't moved, trapped in a mental web of bewilderment and confusion. Nothing around her struck any chord of familiarity, and there was still the lingering, aching sensation that sent occasional trembles up her body. It was like, the longer she sat here, the more her body resisted simple movement, further trapping her still.

For that reason, the Lieutenant's arrival was a relief, as the black-haired man moved in closer to the seated young woman, before roughly hauling her to her feet. The movement was a release, freeing her to shake herself out of the man's grasp, as her gaze turned to stare at the woman in front of her. The question she was asked, however, took her by surprise.

Her name. Of course she knew her name. It was....

"I... don't," she eventually responded, as splitting pain arced its way through her head again. What was wrong? What was going on? She'd been so focused on the strange situation around her, about the words of the god, that she hadn't realized everything before the moment she appeared in that dark space was a blank in her memory. It was like she'd simply been conjured into existence, if it wasn't for the deep-seated sense of wrongness that thought brought her.

"What's going on?"
"This one won't last long," the man with the unruly hair remarked as he hauled the newcomer to her feet.

"Like you knew what was going on when you first arrived," Keishara hissed. "You're Nowhere, girl."

The lieutenant stopped as she saw no recognition flicker across the woman's face, frown tugging at her lips.

"You spoke to Vaius?"

That got her an uneasy nod.

"Well that's something at least," Keishara remarked dryly. "This is Nowhere, girl - for one reason or another, Vaius has decided that you're worthy enough to be put into the service of a god. Can you walk?"

When the woman was initially hesitant to answer, Keishara snapped her fingers at the man with the unruly hair. "Make sure she can keep up."

Without waiting for confirmation of the order, Keishara turned about and began to walk at a brisk pace away from the Well and toward a large, ornate structure just twenty yards directly ahead. Large columns stood towering high atop a wide flight of stairs, decorated with carvings of figures climbing over one another to the top of the columns. Standing squarely upon them was a large plinth of stone pointed up in a loose triangle, depicting several exaggerated divine figures in a scene of battle.

"You'll be processed here and bound to Vaius' service in proper," Keishara explained as the trio headed in the direction of the structure. "You'll be marked as one of Vaius' own, so that way if you get lost or killed we'll at least know it was one of ours. After that it's to the barracks."
Won't last long.

It was the second time she'd heard those words, in short succession. First the god, now this man. This... soldier. Why wouldn't she last long? She didn't understand what was going on, and no one seemed interested in explaining it. She grit her teeth in frustration, but once she started moving, the strange resistance in her body stopped fighting. At least for a moment, her legs walked normally, and she sped up gradually, before falling into step behind the Lieutenant.

It was like she could almost unconsciously follow behind the Lieutenant, like even if she closed her eyes she'd stay perfectly in step. It was as strange a sensation as the way her body had rejected her own movement before the eyes of the god, but not one she was inclined to fight at the moment. At some point, when she was by herself, she'd take the time to figure it out. Right now, though, she had more important matters to worry about.

Like the Lieutenant's words, for one. Bound to Vaius' service. So that if she was killed, they could identify her corpse. And then it was to the barracks.

Abruptly the familiar words penetrated through the haze of her memory, and if it wasn't for the strange compulsion that kept her body moving, she would have stumbled to a halt. Abruptly, she realized what was going on.

She'd been drafted.

She'd been drafted into the army of a god. And she doubted she had either the right or the ability to refuse. A sharp breath of air escaped her lips on her exhale, while a frown slowly sculpted its way across her face. But, for some reason, she wasn't panicking. The notion that she either had to fight or die felt oddly familiar. And she wasn't about to give up now.

"And what happens after that?"
"And what happens after that?"

It was a good question, Keishara mused to herself as the trio arrived at the base of the temple-like structure. It was the same she had asked when she had arrived, and she gave this woman the same answer she had received so many years ago.

"You serve," she said.

"You serve," her companion with the unruly hair echoed.

"That will be all," Keishara remarked to the man. "She looks steady enough on her feet. Get Gaius from the training grounds if another set arrive, understood?"

The man nodded and headed off back from where they had come, walking at a brisk pace. Keishara watched him go before returning her attention to the woman.

"Right, on we go then," she said, escorting the woman up the stairs. The stairs were intricately carved, and upon further inspection were inscribed with thousands upon thousands of names. The names fluctuated, shifting from stair to stair, sometimes heading on top, sometimes sinking below. As names reached the base of the stairs, they disappeared in a faint gust of dusty air. And they were steep - even Keishara struggled to leverage them.

As the two went, the stairs grew steeper, the names fewer until finally they stood at the top of the stairs. Before them rested a large, lavishly sculpted doorway depicting one half of a man and the other half of a woman in pure marble. On either side stood armored and armed men, brandishing spears and shields. Upon seeing Keishara, they stepped aside and the doorway opened.

"Whatever you see in there, it will be your own burden to lift," Keishara said to the woman, pulling her aside momentarily. "If you have already spoken to Vaius, then perhaps this will be easier. Once you return, there is no going back."

Keishara paused, chuckling. "Not that there really is a choice."
She serves.

The words felt oddly familiar to the brown haired woman, like a concept that had become such a part of her life it had fused into her bones and blood. Even so, nothing but static emerged from her aching head, and as the headache grew from irritating to positively splitting, she stopped trying to plumb for whatever secrets were hidden away inside her head.

Soon enough, the other men walking with the two women peeled off, returning to whatever duties they had been pulled from, leaving the two women walking, and then climbing, alone. Somehow, the strange force that seemed to be moving her body for her, almost made the climb easier. She didn't have to worry about her will weakening as her legs began to burn slightly and her lungs gasped deeply for air. All she had to do was climb step after step after step after step after...

Until they halted. The nameless young woman lifted her head, staring at the doors as a feeling of foreboding built within her heart. Somehow, the beautiful doors seemed more like a gateway to hell than heaven. But, it was just as the Lieutenant had said. There was no choice in the matter. Already, she could feel her body pulling her forward, as the doors swung open wide, and then swallowed her whole.


The voice slammed into her, and her body snapped to salute immediately, thumb pressed so tightly against her forehead that it felt as though someone was driving a nail into her head. But, no, it wasn't her hand. Another nail pressed against her scalp, the crown of her head, the point where her spine met her skull, until suddenly she realized that her helmet was full of nails, each and every one of them trying to burrow into her skull. But she couldn't move, and she certainly didn't even dare try to imagine the consequences of lifting her helmet off her head. All she could do was wait and endure as the voice crashed into her like a tidal wave.

"Listen up, maggot! You think you're ready? You think that just because you made it through Basic, you're ready for whatever comes your way? Well let me tell you. I'm going to be putting you through hell, and only if you can endure will you truly be able to call yourself the Elite. Prepare yourself!"

There were nails in her suit now, in her gloves, driving into her skin, before transforming into thin worms that wiggled their way into her veins. She could feel her flesh twitching, muscles and skin lurching under the influence of unnatural invaders. But she couldn't move. All she could do was shout.

"Yes, sir!"

And then it began.

Her legs gave out from under her the moment the door opened again. She crashed heavily to the floor, gasping for air even as it felt like there was something worming its way around her neck, aiming to strangle her. Her hands, once more at least partially under her control, lifted to claw at the skin around her neck, but met nothing but her own flesh.

Warm blood trickled down from her nose, and the headache that had accompanied her had grown once again, transforming from nails into an axe that was splitting its way through her skull. She wanted to scream, cry, protest at the injustice that had been wreaked upon her. But all she could do was choke.

All the empty space in her mind had been forcibly filled, crammed with knowledge she had no claim to and no desire to know. The names of the gods, their troops, the unnatural realm of Nowhere, the battles that were to come. And magic. Magic, which felt like worms crawling around through her brain.

Still gasping, she forced her way back to her feet, the choking sensation fading slightly as she peered at Keishara. A woman whose name she hadn't known before, but now whose face and rank she recognized, at the cost of another flash of white hot agony through her head.

Gradually, she lifted one hand in a salute.

"Reporting for duty."
"Reporting for duty."

The remark was strained, and Keishara knew it came with great pain. She could feel the white-hot daggers raking the back of her mind if she shut her eyes, the burning sensation flooding her veins. She had not been able to stand for minutes after her initiation, and yet this woman had managed that feat in a fraction of the time. Instinctively, the woman's name sifted through Keishara's mind, rolling off her tongue as she spoke as if she were an old friend.

"Colletta," Keishara began, returning the salute briefly before resuming a more casual stance. "Do you know who I am?"

Colletta inclined her head a fraction, strained eyes flickering in recognition.

"Can you walk?"

Another slight incline.

"Good," Keishara said, pivoting on one foot and beginning to traverse the narrow set of stairs behind the duo.

Colletta could see that she had been transported to the other side of the tall central structure and now stood on a small platform overlooking the rest of the encampment. The stairs before her were less steep than those on the way up, but now she recognized each of the names sifting and flashing as they manifested and vanished along the fine marble. She could hear distant, faint chanting and though she had never heard it before, it felt as familiar as the lullabies a mother might sing a child. War chants, marching boots - they all felt like more daggers piercing her mind, but they were oddly comfortable.

Keishara and Colletta descended the stairway, walking in the direction of a collection of unadorned, windowless square structures surrounded by a spiked fence. Each of the spikes ended in the face of a snarling lion with a spear protruding from its gaping maw, the fence itself made of interlocked threads of steel. Keishara guided Colletta around the fence and to a wide gap, suitable for five men to walk through shoulder to shoulder. Keishara stepped through the gap, the intricate inkwork tattoos on her neck shimmering and glowing faintly as she did so.

"Come," she beckoned for Colletta. "None that are marked by another god may pass through this point."

When Colletta stepped through without incident, Keishara continued without a word, guiding her finally to one of the square structures and letting her inside, shutting the heavy oaken doors behind them. Inside stood rows of bunked beds and trunks, armor and weapon racks dispersed every few feet.

"Here is where you will be staying," Keishara explained. "Quartermaster Reinald has been notified of your presence and should be here shortly."

Colletta looked quizzically at Keishara. Amused, the woman continued.

"Don't worry, this is not the last you'll see of me."
It was almost a relief to fall back under the control of whatever influence seemed to be moving her body against her will. Colletta fell into step behind and to the side of Keishara, trying to ignore the agony the sound of her name brought to her mind.

Her name. It was her name now, whether she liked it or not. Even though some gut instinct told her that it hadn't always been her name. But now it was assigned to her, as much a part of her being as the unnatural memories that were still wreaking havoc on her head.

It would get better. She hoped. She prayed. Gods, it had to get better, didn't it? She wouldn't have to endure this agony for the rest of her life, would she? If she did, Colletta was quite certain that the others would be right in their assessment of her. She wouldn't last long.

Desperate to distract herself, Colletta forced herself to pay attention to Keishara's words, and to their surroundings. In a way, Vaius' barracks in Nowhere had a beauty to them. It was the beauty of efficiency and discipline, of neat grids and buildings constructed for an exacting purpose, which they filled without any room for waste. It was also obviously a city built upon the concept of merit. The tower they had just climbed acted as the center of the barracks, the hub of the wheel that was this military city. And the closer the buildings were to this center, the more generous their design.

Of course, it was not wasteful, neither garish nor ostentatious, but it was comfortable in a way that the distant buildings appeared to lack. The message was loud and clear: if you want to live comfortably in Nowhere, you're going to have to work for it.

As Colletta passed through the fence, she felt the collar around her neck momentarily tighten, almost causing her to gag on reflex. Out of the bottom of her vision, she caught a faint light from the tattoos on her shoulders and chest, which she presumed crawled all the way up her throat, in mirror of Keishara's own. They were her markings, and a collar wasn't a bad way to describe them. As long as she wore these brands, she was marked as a member of Vaius' soldiers. It was a sign that told her allies not to harm her, and her enemies to kill her.

Unsurprisingly, as the newest of new recruits, there was nothing like comfort waiting for Colletta. She was led to an unmarked rectangle of a building, one of the identical dozens that surrounded it. These were the buildings that housed the mass of Vaius' army, and Colletta doubted she'd be getting anything like privacy for a while to come.

All the same, it wasn't unfamiliar, through more than just the echo of the mass of memories inside her head. Colletta had no doubt that this wasn't her first exposure to being a soldier. Maybe that was obvious. In truth, Colletta doubted Vaius would ever have drafted someone who didn't have some experience with fighting.

However, at that moment, all Colletta could think about was getting the chance to lay down on that bed, and curl up into a small ball until her headache went away and she could think like a normal human being again. Frankly, she wasn't sure she'd get the opportunity.

Colletta nodded in response to Keishara's promise, before offering the woman another salute as she turned and departed. This was her life now, she supposed. And maybe she might be able to adjust to it, if only she was able to rest for a bit.

Unknowingly to the woman, she gradually tilted sideways after she sat down on the bed, until her head came to rest against the mattress. Before Reinald could arrive, she'd already fallen into a deep sleep.
Seemingly moments later, the long din of horns blaring tore Colletta from her slumber. At first the horns were distant, faint, easy to ignore. They sounded as if they were miles away, perhaps along the walls of Vaius' encampment. Then came the second round of horns. Louder this time. Still, Colletta only stirred as they sounded off. By the third blast of horns she was awake, unsure if the pain behind her eyes was from poor sleep or the events of the day before.

Though the barracks were windowless, a faint pink glow seemed to sift through the walls, emulating the sun at dawn. All around her, the rest of the soldiers were donning their uniforms - plain trousers, a leather-backed tunic, spear, shield, helmet. Colletta looked down and noticed her own set at the foot of her bunk. As if compelled, Colletta lumbered into motion and roused herself from her bed, dressing in the uniform and shuffling in line with the rest of the soldiers as they marched out of the barracks, double-file.

As if on cue, the doors to the barracks all opened simultaneously and men and women began to march out on to the training grounds, headed by a more ornately-dressed officer at the head of each rank. Colletta continued to follow as if by instinct, falling into a rank of soldiers six wide and five deep. At their head stood a broad-shouldered man, and Colletta knew him instantly to be Reinald.

"We have a newcomer in our midst today," Reinald began, deep booming voice ringing out over the din of the other officers and quartermasters beginning their own training.

Without further prompting, the gathered soldiers turned their attention to Colletta, who stood on the left side of the first rank.

"Which means," Reinald continued as the soldiers began talking among themselves excitedly.

"Which means," the quartermaster snapped, cutting through the clamor and silencing the soldiers. "Today we will only run three miles. Spear and sword drills will last only an hour. Afterwards, it is expected you continue with conditioning until sunset with the other quartermasters. Understood?"

"Understood!" The gathered soldiers echoed, Colletta joining in without thought.

"Great, no let's get this under way!" Reinald boomed.

The quartermaster began to march, ushering the ranks forward behind him and back towards the outer perimeter of the surrounding barracks. Colletta could already see other groups of soldiers running - or, well, jogging in step - around the perimeter. Without warning, the soldiers around her mimicked their comrades and she found herself swept through with them, urging her legs to jog in perfect rhythm with them as Reinald began to chant.
She was starting to get used to the way her body moved against her will.

Her headache was gone for a moment when she woke up to the sound of the horns. Floating in a state somewhere between awake and asleep, she didn't question the impetus that drove her body to rise from bed, quickly donning uniform and picking up her weapons before she followed her new comrades out of their sleeping quarters.

As her body moved underneath her, Colletta began to fully awaken. Her eyes moved almost unconsciously under the gradually returning throbbing of her head. As she came to a halt among the thirty soldiers, a stabbing pain in her head informed her of the man who led them. Reinald. A survivor of a dozen battlefields who had earned his current rank when a magic spear of ice had plunged through the head of a commander under the God of War.

He was an obedient soldier, who would see those under him crawl through the pits of hell in training if it would give them even another percent chance of survival when it came to a real fight.


Training was a familiar sort of hell that she couldn't remember. But it taught her one thing. Colletta wasn't weak. The strength in her legs and rhythmic pounding of her heart as she ran told her that. The first two miles were easy. The mile after that, more desperate, but not undoable. The pounding in her head didn't help.

However, the moment things turned from familiar to foreign was when the run came to an end, and she was handed a sword.

The metal sat unfamiliar in her grasp, the weight of it strange against her arm. That was the moment when Colletta knew, she might have been a soldier in the past, but she was no swordswoman. What made it unbearable was that the echoes in her body and mind didn't care. Accompanied by the splitting headache that was starting to grow more and more familiar, if no more welcome, the sword and spear techniques of the God of Ambition shoved their way into her head, honed and refined from the master fighters from a hundred different worlds.

And as Reinald moved to the front of their group, the sword in his hand held with ease and familiarity, the force that carried Colletta's body forced her into the drills as though she'd been performing the movements for years. Her muscles screamed in pain as they were forced into unfamiliar positions while holding up an unfamiliar weight, but Colletta didn't dare try and break out of the flow.

She could only imagine that this was expected, another part of the pain brought down on newcomers forced to help them adjust to the strange new reality of Nowhere. Worse, she didn't know what the consequences would be for trying to defy.

It was a relief when the drills came to an end, and she was finally able to allow the spear to slip weakly from her grip. Her arms hung limply by her side, and as she took a step forward, her legs caved slightly from the pain of her muscles, before her brain was able to reengage and hold up her body weight once more. With a suppressed groan, Colletta bent over to pick up her spear once more, before carrying the weapon forward to where Reinald was waiting with the weapons rack.

"You did well today," the gruff man praised, clapping her heavily on the shoulder. Colletta had to resist the urge to wince. "Looks like you've had some weapons training before, which means you'll be able to get used to training soon."

"No, I don't think so..." Colletta mumbled quietly, thinking back to the unfamiliarity of the weapons the first time they'd entered her hands.

"Hey," Reinald barked, a frown crossing his face. "You won't last long with that kind of attitude. This training will serve you well when you get to the battlefield. Don't look down on it, and do your best."

Before Colletta had a chance to correct his misunderstanding, Reinald raised his hand in a salute, and Colletta found herself mirroring him unconsciously.

"Keishara will be here to collect you shortly," Reinald continued. "She'll teach you the basics of magic, so that we can get your aptitudes recorded as well."
There was not a better swordsman or woman among the ranks of Vaius than Keishara. At least, not individually. Though gear was never standardized among the ranks of the God of Ambition's soldiers, the conventions of the war the gods waged dictated that only a handful of various classifications of weapons could be used. Some men fought with spear and shield, others two-handed axes, others yet fought alongside their more deft comrades with bow and arrow. Keishara used swords. One-handed, two-handed. Thin as a razor, wide as a post it did not matter. So it was no surprise that shortly after her arrival to Nowhere, after her mind had cleared and her wits had returned about her, she was in charge of the sword drills.

As the day progressed, Keishara sparred with the more talented soldiers and oversaw the sparring of the less-inclined ones. Though all men in service to Vaius favored one weapon over the other, unless you were a Quartermaster, you never got away with focusing on one specific tool of the trade. Keishara's arms were just beginning to feel sore and tired as the sword drills ended. She lowered herself down, aided her sparring partner off his feet, and pat him on the shoulder to usher him off.

"Next time, Markus," she consoled him. "See to it that your welt is healed before tomorrow."

Keishara had undergone seeing to her favorite sword - a bastard sword with a plain square crossguard and a double-edged blade that came to about her hip - as Reinald hailed her from across the proving grounds. Making one more pass with her oiled cloth, Keishara stood, stretched to a satisfying pop of her shoulder muscles and sheathed the blade, carrying it with her as she approached Reinald.

"Colletta," he stated. "You're going to show her the ropes with magic."

"Why me?" The lieutenant questioned, cocking an eyebrow.

"She knows you the most," Reinald replied. "You were with her from the start weren't you? It should be you."

Magic was something Keishara certainly was not adept at. Give her a sword and an enemy and she would never complain, but something about the vagueness and non-concrete nature of manipulating reality with her mind felt elusive, like water attempting to grip to glass.

"Understood," came Keishara's reply after a brief delay. "Where is she?"

"Waiting for you by her barracks."

Keishara made her way over to Colletta, taking her to the side as men and women began to come in and out of the barracks, taking advantage of the brief break between drills and the rest of training to change into fresher garments or swap out weapons.

"Glad to see you're alive, ready?"
  • Like
Reactions: Peregrine
Colletta still felt unfamiliar muscles in her body aching, complaining at the strain of wielding a weapon in unfamiliar motions for hours without rest. Right now, she wanted nothing more than to return to her bed, fall over, and rest until her headache went away and her body stopped complaining. Instead, she was left standing in parade rest in front of the barracks. She was sweaty and tired, but moved her reluctant arms into a salute as Keishara approached.

"Alive," Colletta agreed, falling into step behind the other woman. She didn't know where exactly they were going, but doubted that magic training would take place in front of the barracks.

The thought sparked a sense of wrongness inside her, one unfamiliar and unexpected, echoed by an equally painful stab of her head. Colletta knew about the existence of magic full well. Knowledge of the forms and types of magic favored by the Lord of Ambition had been crammed into her head along with everything else. She knew it existed.

Yet, something inside her said the complete opposite. Colletta didn't believe in magic. It didn't exist.

She tried to stop thinking about it as the contradiction sent pain stabbed through her temple, causing her to wince unconsciously, eyes narrowing before she was able to relax.

"You're... going to be teaching me magic?"
"That's right," Keishara replied as confidently as she could. "Come, I'll show you where we practice - it isn't the best idea to do it here, too many distractions, and distractions can be destructive as we've come to find out."

Keishara beckoned for Colletta to follow and guided the woman to the fringe of the encampment. Here, the encampment's walls extended down a brief corridor and out into an oval shape. There, pairs of soldiers stood or knelt practicing with one another. Only, to Colletta it did not look as if anything was happening.

The two cleared the corridor into the second training grounds, passing a pair of men intently focusing on one another, sweat beading down their foreheads from the exertion of their concentration.

"Like I said," Keishara remarked as Colletta glanced over. "Distractions aren't productive."

The pair seated themselves opposite one another by a small square slat of stone. Keishara sat cross-legged, feet perfectly in line with a strip of stone and she gestured for Colletta to do the same. Once she did, Keishara reached out and patted the stone slat, fingers scraping against the rough stone as she withdrew her hand and held it up to Colletta. It was covered in a layer of dust, her palm grey.

"You would agree this is stone, correct?" Keishara asked, tapping the stone with her knuckles.

Tap. Tap.

When Colletta nodded, Keishara smiled as softly as she could and tapped the stone again. Only, now it collapsed in on itself and crumpled like paper at her touch. Keishara scooped the "stone" up in her hands and blew into it, sending sparkling dust to collect again where the stone had once been. With one more touch, it was back to its original shape and thudded once more when she rapped it with her knuckle.

"All beings carry with them a certain essence," Keishara explained, struggling for the right word. "We tend to call it mana, but think of it like an innate energy just for having a soul. We can invest that energy into objects and manipulate them in the astral plane, which ripples out and alters them in the physical plane."

The lieutenant gestured to the two men from earlier still locked in their apparent bout.

"Only, the harder you fight to keep the object the same, the less likely it is it will take the shape the person wants," she continued. "Think of it like a debate about what it actually is. I might think the sky is blue, but if I don't fight you on it and you say it's red, then it will look red as long as the connection is maintained. But here, let's practice."
If Colletta had tried to guess what a magic training area would look like, before actually going there to see it, she would have imagined fireballs flying around, sharp wind blades that would cut into stone, or waves of glowing light with mysterious effects. These images formed almost unbidden in her mind, vivid and lifelike, without much concern for the vague knowledge of magic she'd gathered from her passage through Vaius' Gate.

That sparkling bubble burst almost the instant Colletta walked into the training area. She did her best to not let the disappointment show on her face, but to her, the group of people doing "magic practice" looked far more constipated than they did mystical. Covertly, she observed the space, looking for anything that could be described as magic. However, the closest thing to an abnormality was the faint traces of heat distortion that shimmered between two people.

Slightly nonplussed, Colletta seated herself down opposite Keishara, playing along with the woman's guidance. However, a moment later, and her jaw dropped open in awe, faint traces of excitement gleaming in her eye, even as she felt her entire body shiver due to an uncontrollable sense of wrongness that spread over her. Colletta disregarded the sensation, immediately turning her gaze back to the reformed stone.

Colletta nodded in response to Keishara's request for her to practice, and her hand reached out to touch the stone. Some, slightly childish part of her expected the stone to immediately crumple under her touch just like it had for Keishara, but all that met her fingers was hard, slightly dusty stone. She glanced up, eyes blinking and bewildered.

"How… exactly am I supposed to do that?"