CHAPTER 5: The Apprenticeship
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Most of the creatures running around the castle appeared to be humans, a mix of about fifty-fifty men and women. One thing they all had in common was they all wore grey robes, tied around the waist with a rope. Another was the same beaten down look upon their faces, each and every one of them terrified for their lives every moment they dared to steal a glance at Treynor.
“Come, girl.”, he said as he walked towards the main front steps, leading up into a long hallway that stretched deeper into the mountain. As they climbed, Jessica realized that the entirety of the layout was much deeper than the outside façade belied. From the exterior, she might have surmised the square footage to be no bigger than a large hotel; once inside, she realized she could walk for hours through these side passages and be lost for hours. (description; add doors, sconces, people passing by)
As they walked, she tried to keep track of the twists and turns they took, but her sense of direction was quickly disoriented, especially since she wasn’t even sure North was where she thought it was in the first place. A while later, they arrived at a wooden door with a knocker on the front of it. Treynor pointed to the door.
“This is your room.”, he said. “Sleep here tonite. I will fetch for you in the morning.”
Treynor turned around, and started to walk down the hall back the way they came.
“Hey, wait just a minute. I don’t even know your name…” Jessica said. She was confused, and part of her wanted to follow him and get some answers to his questions here and now, but another part of her understood clearly the concept of “room”, and knew there would be a desperately needed bed inside.
He did not turn around as he answered, “My name is Treynor.”
“I’m…”, she started as he turned a corner. “…Jessica.”
She shrugged, still very unsure what to make of the whole situation. She hoped the next morning would bring a few answers. She opened the door to the bedroom, and looked around to see what she had to work with.
The room itself was a decent size, as she imagined most rooms in the castle would be, since there was near unlimited space to work with (as long as the support structures held, that is.) The room was about twenty feet by twenty feet, with a wash basin in one corner and a king size bed in the other. The bed was covered with a black blanket, which felt like velvet under her fingers. Right in the middle of the room was a large table, and a single chair at it. Placed on the table were a few pages of paper and what appeared to be an inkwell and a quill.
Jessica sat on the edge of the bed, put her hands to her face, and cried. She wept for how lost she was. She wept for her own weaknesses, her own ineptitude. She wept for wonder at why she didn’t just walk past that alley just that afternoon. Or was it? Jess had lost track of time, and really had no clue how long she had been awake, or asleep, or even what day it was. She flopped backwards onto the bed, wiped the tears from her eyes, and fell asleep into a quiet dreamless oblivion.
The next morning she was awoken by a young girl, nearly her own age. With long brown hair and dark brown eyes, the girl looked scared as she awoke Jessica. When Jess gave a little jump as she woke up, the girl skittered backwards to avoid the oncoming blow. With none forthcoming, she tilted her head quizzically at Jessica, and stepped forward again. The girl raised one finger, pointed to herself and said “Tabby”.
“I’m Jessica”,the other girl said.
“You come.”, said Tabby.
“umm..sure. But first, you have a toilet around here?”, Jess asked.
Tabby pointed in the corner next to the wash basin, there was a medium size bowl sitting on the floor. Jessica sighed, shook her head a bit and headed over to the bowl. Moments later, after she finished up, she washed her hands in the washbasin. She looked at Tabby and said, “I’m ready. Lead on.”
Tabby nodded, and walked out of the room with Jessica by her side. During the walk, Jessica kept asking Tabby questions about where they were and where they were going, but Tabby refused to say any other words. (re-write? Add details?)
After about ten minutes more of walking, they entered a large library. Each wall of the great room was filled with books from floor to ceiling, with many tables and couches scattered throughout the room for studying. Tabby led Jessica into the room and towards Treynor, who sat on a couch reading a book. He clasped it shut with a snap as they approached. He stood, and replaced the book on one of the shelves before he turned to the girls and looked at them both.
“What are you still doing here?”, he asked, clearly towards Tabby.
Without any more words, Tabby moved backwards hastily and ran out the door at the back of the room. Jessica looked at Treynor, trying to figure out what his next move would be. She knew this would be a game of chess, and she had to be as ready as she could for him.
“I should kill her, you know.”, Treynor said casually. “She really is rather stupid. But she is attractive, and I think I may move her from serving wench over to the concubine station. That should take care of a few problems all in one move.”
Jessica raised an eyebrow. “Concubine station?”, she asked. “Really, Treynor. Are you that hard up you have to force women to do your bidding?”
Treynors hand was across her face before she even realized he had moved. Jessica fell backwards, falling with a heavy thud into a sitting position on one of the couches.
Treynor looked at her and said, “Listen, little girl. I saved your life out there from the frozen cold and those creatures. You would do well to treat me with a little more respect. Are we clear?”
Jessica smirked, remembering a line from A Few Good Men, “Crystal, sir.”
“Good.”, said Treynor, “Now listen closely, because I hate lecturing, and I hate teaching, and I hate having to repeat myself.” He paused to move around the room, pacing around a couch as he talked. “I will try to answer as many of your multitudinous questions as I can. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Myself and Malteus were having a gentlemans disagreement over the future of your world, and you got in the way.
Treynor stopped for a moment, and turned to look at Jessica, eyeing her up and down. “He seemed to think you had some special amazing quality that could help him in his hour of need.” The man walked over to her and leaned over, looking her directly in the eyes.
“But you don’t, do you?” he said. “You’re not some amazing special girl sent out to save him.” Treynor started to laugh, a throaty chuckle that reverberated throughout the room. “You’re just a nobody. A childish waif caught into something much larger than she could ever be.”
Jessica felt a tear start to well up in one eye, but the comments said by this man felt too similar to the comments she’d been dealt with her entire life. She took a deep breath, looked him back in the eye and said simply, “Fuck you.”
Treynor laughed again, straightening up. “Ah, see what I mean? Swear words a re the first refuge of the uneducated mind which can think of nothing better to say.”, said Treynor as he resumed his pacing.
“Since Malteus gave you this power, let me explain in as simple of words as I can for your benefit. Firstly, the only reason you are still here is because I can find use for you. If not, I would have you shackled, bound, and sent to the dungeons as a worker.” He stopped and looked her over once again, this time in a different light. “Yes, definitely as a worker. You would never make it in the concubine conclave.”
Jessica’s jaw dropped at that comment, feeling this insult would be the last one should could take from this man….until she remembered the ease with which he destroyed those creatures. She said quickly to distract him, “Tell me about those balls of light.”
“Those ‘balls of light’, as you call them”, he began, “are pieces of pure energy. There is a better word for it, ‘m’chal’, but in your tongue and your limited brainpower, the word magick would be best suited.”
Treynor stopped and stood straight up. He let both hands fall to his sides, and then drew his right fist up to his heart. He held it there a moment, and then slowly held his fist out in front of him. Pointing the palm upwards, he opened his fist to reveal a glowing ball of energy.
“This is energy. But it is not just energy. It is magick. It is power. It is a part of YOU. Did you feel yourself get tired when you used it? Each time you do so you will drain your own energy a little bit. It is the price we pay to do this.” He gave his hand a little push upwards, and the ball of energy dissipated in the air.
“With enough practice, you will not feel the loss of energy for a few simple energy balls.”, he said. “And you will probably be amazed at the potential to what you can actually accomplish with the m’chal….although your limited imagination will probably never give you much creativity beyond what I choose to teach you.”
“Now. Empty your mind. We will begin some simple lessons.”, he said. Jessica closed her eyes, but she could not empty her mind the way she was told to. She still felt anger towards Treynor for the contemptuous way her talked to her. She felt anger towards Malteus for putting her in this position. She felt anger towards all of existence for simply being unfair to her.
“Next”, he said, “Touch one finger to your heart, and draw it away slowly.”
Jessica, still seated on the couch, touched one finger as told and pulled it away. As she did so, a thin piece of energy, pure white connected her finger to her heart. It hung there, not tight, but loose like a piece of drool she often found on her desk during math class. She could feel the connection, energy flowing through and forming a direct connection between her heart and her fingertip. Jessica blinked a few times, and shook her hand like she was trying to shake real drool from it. The energy vaporized and was gone.
“No, girl.”, Treynor shouted at her. “Are you stupid? Did I tell you to do that? Do it again, and keep it held there this time.”
Jessica did as told, and this time held it there waiting for his next instructions. Treynor stood there, though, simply watching her. It was after about two minutes of this, that she started to feel her arm falter from holding it in position so long. She could also feel the energy start to drain from her, into the line, but it wasn’t completely going up into her finger…it was going off into the air somehow. Another ninety seconds in, and her arm was about to fall on its own. Jessica took a deep breath and stared at the string, using it as a focus point. She didn’t want to feel inferior to this man, and she would hold it for as long as she could. Moments later, though, her energy collapsed and her hand fell, breaking the strand.
“Not bad.”, he said, “I wanted to see how your stamina was. Better than I expected, but not nearly good enough for the tasks I have in mind for you.” He walked over to one of the desks in the middle of the room, and came back with a glass.
“Drink this. It will help restore your energy.” , he said.
As Jessica sat there, sipping the lightly fruit-flavored drink, she pondered everything that was going on, still trying to wrap her head around it all.
“Treynor, may I ask a question?”, she asked.
“Why am I here?”, she asked.
“I told you. Wrong place, wrong time.”, he said.
“That’s it? No cosmic reason? There’s no prophecy about a girl from another land come to save or destroy this one? There’s no long-lost heir to the throne which is probably me?”
Jessica threw her cup against the wall. “DAMMIT.”, she shouted. “Damn the stupid fat wizard dude who did this to me. I’m going to find him, and I’m going to get revenge for his messing with my life like this.”
She walked up to Treynor and snarled in his face. “Let’s get these lessons started. I have work to do.”
Treynor smiled, one side curling up higher than the other. His bright eyes flashed. He thought to himself, “Ah, perfect. This is where I need her. She may not have any cosmic destiny, but she certainly fits into my plans quite nicely….quite nicely indeed….”
"Let us begin.", he said.