Salis' Story

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: The Imaginarium


Helnion gets her own chapter/arc!

Chapter 16 (v.1) - A new quest, hope for finding a friend

Submitted: September 07, 2019

Reads: 16

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Submitted: September 07, 2019

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Helnion was once again sitting in the center garden watching the birds. As she had been unable to move very much because of her broken ankle she often found herself here, watching the animals, maids, and concubines as they went along with their days.

Thankfully, she often thought, she did not get bored easily and liked to take in everything going on around her. Salis would have gone crazy by now.

The birds had not held her attention for long and she was watching squirrels chasing each other through the trees. Then she saw some butterflies float past her and she lifted her hand out in hopes one would land on her finger. It did not. They never had and it made her a little sad.

Helnion's stomach rumbled. She could have called one of the servants over and asked them to get her food like she had been but today was the first day she had been allowed to walk, even if she had to use a crutch, and she wanted to go to the kitchens herself and watch the cooks prepare food while she ate.

She stood up, grabbed her crutch, and slowly made her way around the palace made of plants. She had no idea where the kitchen was in Usui's palace but she had wanted to explore the place and see what happened inside, her hunger could wait.

"Lady Helnion." One of the ageless and beautiful maids said, stopping her. "Do you need help back to your room?"

Helnion shook her head and continued walking. The maid bowed and continued on her way.

Several more times she was stopped by servants or maids and each time she declined their help.

She found the rest of the palace boring by comparison to the garden. Most of the rooms she had seen were simply empty rooms or servant quarters. She had not even seen a wash room or any kind of work room.

It was not long before her ankle could take no more walking she decided that it was time to give up. When the next maid came to her, interrupting her thoughts of how to ask for help, she finally asked for food.

Not only did the maid leave to get her food another came and helped her back to her room. There she found the food already waiting for her.

Helnion had been starting to get sick of the food she was being served. Nobody here ate meat and she had not had any since she had left Kein. She had been wanting to ask for some but did not know the best way to ask. If Salis were here she would know.



 

* * *


 

"Lady Helnion… Lady Helnion…" someone said, shaking her.

She had fallen asleep again after a meal. She had had no energy since she had gotten her injury and, while she liked sleep, she had been doing it so much lately that it had become too much even for her.

Helnion sat up slowly and yawned.

Standing beside her bed was the maid, a short ageless woman with long light brown hair that was always pulled over her left shoulder and was the woman Usui had assigned to take care of her. Helnion simply looked at her, wondering what she wanted.

"Lady Helnion, you have some visitors." The maid, Uyae said.

Helnion tilted her head and wondered who was coming to visit her. Had Usui allowed her family to come see her, or had he found Salis and brought her back.

Uyae had grown accustomed to Helnion's lack of words and simply left the room when she saw Helnion understood what was going on.

A moment later two women entered the room. Uyae did not return.

"So you are one of the children my idiot brother sent to Korron? You have my sympathies. To be stuck with those disgusting creatures called men for so long…" Said one of the women.

Helnion had never seen anyone like this woman. She was wearing a form fitting yet somehow modest set of clothes made from what could only be described as crystal thread, or so Helnion thought. The clothes even glowed gently, changing colors at random. Her golden hair was long, very long and was adorned with various jewels, pins, and other adornments of a quality Helnion had never seen before. Her skin was a spotless light pink, as if it had never seen the sun or been scarred in any way.

"If I had known your plight I would have come to your aide but I prefer to stay away from this place as much as possible." The woman said.

The second women, shorter with clothes that covered most of her features including most of her face, whispered to the first woman.

"I must apologize, I often forget that most of the children do not recognise me by sight. I am Melche and this is one of my servants, Triosa." The woman, Melche, said.

Helnion fell off her bed, hitting her bad ankle hard on the floor causing her to gasp in pain.

Few things surprised Helnion, especially after all that had happened to her after meeting Salis, but never had she expected one of the Deity to come visit her personally. Maybe Salis but not her.

When Triosa had helped Helnion back into her bed Melche resumed speaking. "Yes, you should feel honored to meet me. I like to keep out of the business of mortals so I rarely visit Calorin, which makes you one of the rare mortals to have had the privelege of meeting me."

"Why would one of such great position speak to one such as me?" Helnion said, her polite upbringing kicking in for once. It felt awkard saying it and a bit too serious for her tastes but how else was she to speak to a Deity?

"I have a request to make of you, Child. I also plan to reward you for your efforts by helping you search for your lost friend." Melche said.

"Deal!" Helnion said excitedly, and not caring to speak politely…

"Do you not want to hear my request before accepting?"

Helnion did not say anything.

"After my brother recovered you from Korron I had some of my servants investigate what happened." Melche looked at my ankle. "Some of the men said how well you fought against those foul mad men with your magic and it was that strength, despite not being born under my name, that made me interested in you. I realise you still have much to learn but it should not be a problem.

"As I said before I do not like to venture to Calorin. Which is why I am asking for your help as you are not associated with me. It also relates to your home country of Kein as well."

Melche paused and stepped next to the side of the bed.

"I want you to track down some thieves for me. Several of my temples in Koa Flaer and now Kein have been ransacked and in some cases vandalised. Many of my followers have been killed as well."

Helnion was unsure of what to do. Sure she wanted Melche's help finding Salis but what could she do to stop people that had been able to kill fully trained magic users.

"I know this is asking much for one with skills unpolished as yours but I would not ask you if I did not think you could do it. You will also not be going without aide."

Melche motioned to her servant… whose name Helnion had already forgotten.

"Triosa here will be accompanying you as well as training you. She will also be keeping me informed of anything you might find out and will also recieve any information that any of my other servants will find out. I will also be strengthening some of your potential, specifically a new kind of magic as you will need it for a later task I have planned.

"If you do these things for me I will instruct all of my servants on Calorin to keep an eye out for your friend."

Helnion agreed to help Melche a second time.

"Good." Melche said and then disappeared.

"Helnion." Triosa said. "We will be leaving immediately.

Helnion nodded, grabbed her crutches and stood up. Triosa her by the arm, helping to support her, and the two left Usui's palace.

When the two had gone Melche left as well. Usui had not known of her coming and did not want to be here when he found out. She would get an earful later but she had expected as much.



 

* * *


 

The first thing Helnion noticed when she appeared at their new place was that they were inside a poorly lit room. There were two windows in the room but each had large, thick drapes covering them. The room also had a single bed, a simple desk and chair.

"This is where you will be staying for the moment." Triosa said to Helnion. "I will be training you here until I am satisfied you are able to handle some of the more advanced lessons in magic Melche has instructed me to teach you."

Helnion was curious what kind of training she was going to receive, especially the new kind of magic Melche had mentioned. She was even more curious as to where she was at the moment and began heading towards the nearest window to see outside.

Triosa stepped in front of Helnion, blocking her. "The windows are covered as part of your training. I have heard how easily you are distracted and I plan to fix that. So, for now, you will not be leaving this room or be able to see what lies outside."

Triosa walked over to the bed and pulled off a cushion from on top of it. She then placed it in the middle of the floor.

"Sit." She said to Helnion.

Helnion was not sure what was going on, and taking one last look at the window she groaned and sat down.

"Good." Triosa said. "Now make a ball of light in front of you."

Helnion was happy she had been told to make something so easy. Making magical light was so easy it was one of the magics she could keep using even if something distracted her.

When the room lit up from Helnion's light Triosa told her something that made her groan again. "Your first lesson will be to keep the light going as long as possible. I will also be watching its intensity. If it wavers I will know your concentration is wavering and I will punish you whenever that happens."

Triosa walked to the wall next to the door and picked up a long, thin stick. She then walked over to Helnion and struck Helnion's left wrist with it, making Helnion yelp.

"Do not watch me. Only see the light and keep it steady. I will let you know when it is time to quit." Triosa said.

Helnion sighed. She did not want to do this lesson. She was more than happy with who she was and did not care that others saw her as she was. The only reason she had even tried to improve her concentration on Korron was because she there was nothing to do and nothing to see there aside from training. Now that she was away from that she just wanted to enjoy the world.

Helnion felt a sting on her wrist. Triosa had struck her again. "Your mind is wandering." She said. "Keep your mind on the light and only the light."

Helnion wondered if she could back out of this agreement. If she had known she was going to have to go through this kind of training would she be here? Yes, she would have. Salis was her friend and she wanted to find her even if she had to do this.

Helnion was stuck again.

The vicious cycle continued for five more hours. Helnion had managed to keep the light going the whole time but her attention wandered so much that her wrists were raw and Triosa had even drawn some blood.

"It is time for evening meal." Triosa said at long last. Immediately after Helnion heard a knock on the door and it was soon answered by Triosa.

Helnion had been unable to see who had brought the food and tried her best to see around Triosa but the woman seemed to know what she was trying to do and blocked her view.

"Eat." Triosa said, setting a plate on the small desk.

Helnion nodded and groaned as her aching muscles protested to her as she stood. She even fell twice because her legs had lost their feeling.

Helnion sighed with relief as she sat down on the chair and began to eat. None of her training had ever tired her this much. Sure she had had harder physical training but never had her head felt this tired, except after using Concentration Mode.

"Sit." Triosa said, pointing to the cushion, as soon as Helnion had finished eating. "We will continue our exercise until it is time to retire for the night.

Helnion fell out of her chair on purpose upon hearing this and did not move. She did not want to move and hoped that Triosa would eventually give up.

Instead Helnion felt herself being lifted into the air. She was then set upright and her legs were forcibly crossed and she was put into a sitting position. She was then placed squarly on the cushion.

"You agreed to this training and I will see that you do everything." Triosa said.

Helnion groaned again and was soon hit, this time higher up her wrist.

"Any more complaining will not be tolerated. You agreed to this and were given the opportunity to decline."

Helnion almost groaned again but caught herself. She did not want to be struck again if she could manage it.

The rest of the night ended up the same as the afternoon had. No matter how hard she tried to concentrate on the light something always made her mind wander. Even thinking about the light made her mind go into a cycle about thinking about the light and she eventually would be struck by Triosa.

Eventually Helnion became so tired that she passed out right on the cushion.



 

* * *


 

"This stage of training is now over." Triosa said after torturing Helnion for a week. "I admit I have rarely come across someone such as you."

Triosa was not looking at Helnion with admiration but with wonderment. "To think that after a week of training and with such a simple exercise we would end in failure.

Helnion rubbed her arms from the memories of that week. She had been struck so many times that Triosa had to keep moving up her arms to keep from drawing blood. As such her arms were now covered in swollen red stripes all the way up to her shoulders.

"Because this technique has been shown ineffective Lady Melche has told me to train you with a different approach."

Helnion wondered what kind of torture she would be going through next.

"Seeing that even the slightest thing distracts you, instead of fighting it, we will be working around the problem." By this time Triosa had come to expect for Helnion to not ask questions so she did not wait for her to ask any. "I will be attempting to teach you how to use the more advanced magics without requiring your full attention."

Triosa opened the door to the room and motioned for Helnion to exit. "I do not wish to damage the building so your training from now on will be outside, even though there will be many more distractions."

Helnion was excited to finally leave the room and almost ran out of it. It had been so long since she had been on Calorin and she had been itching to get outside and see everything again. She hoped it was spring because that was when the world was at its best in her opinion.

Helnion, practically not noticing the small antechamber, burst outside the small house and looked at the sight in front of her. She saw she was in the mountains near a small village. There were no people or houses nearby but saw that a village was not too far. Immediately around the house, save in the direction of the village, was forest.

Helnion wondered what interesting things she could see in the village and the forest. What were people doing in a place so high in the mountains? What kind of animals live up here? Where was this place?

Then Helnion remembered. Salis had lived in a village like this. What was its name? She wondered if this was that very village and if Salis might have come back here. No, Salis' village was too obvious of a place for her to hide in so she would probably not be there..

"Where are we?" Helnion said to Triosa after a minute.

Triosa, who was nowing wearing a veil that covered every part of her face but her eyes, said, "Al-kel, one of the many iron mining villages in the Flaern Mountains."

Helnion tried to remember if that was the name of the village Salis was from but it did not seem right so she decided it was not. Then she remembered that the name of Salis' village started with a "P." and did end with the "-kel" but all mining villages ended with the "-kel" or so she remembered.

"Is there one that starts with a "P"? Helnion asked.

Triosa thought for a minute. "I am not very familiar with Flaern but I believe there is one called Porra-kel not far to the east."

Porra-kel! That was it! Helnion was sure Salis would not have gone back there but she wanted to see the place her friend had lived for so long. She wanted to visit Salis' adopted family, see the place she slept and to see the place she had worked. Helnion could just imagine all of the stories Salis' family and neighbors had to tell.

"Come." Triosa said, heading behind the house in the opposite way from the village.

Helnion looked from Triosa and back to the village but hurried to catch up to the woman before she was forcefully levitated into following. Thankfully her leg had healed enough not to use the crutches anymore so keeping up with the woman was easy.

The two did not walk long before they came to a stop in a seemingly random place in the forest.

"Sit." Triosa said, pulling out a blanket and setting it on the ground.

Helnion sat down on the blanket and looked around, wondering what was so special about this spot.

"How much experience do you have with the methods of making ice with magic?" Triosa said.

Helnion thought for a second. As far as she could remember she had only ever trained in two ways of making ice. These were simply using magic to cause cold or using magic to transfer heat from one place to another. Still, she thought, had she been taught about other ways? There was a more advanced method which collected water from the area and freezing, but she had never been good at that.

"I want you to use the method of converting magical energy directly into cold. You can do this can you not?" Triosa said.

Helnion nodded.

The next thing Triosa did took Helnion by surprise. The veiled woman was staring at a spot just in front of Helnion. Within seconds something began to form. It was crystal and in a flash it formed into a large jar.

Helnion marveled at the jar. Never before had she seen this kind of magic. She had never heard of anything like it either. If Triosa had not been a servant directly under Melche she would not have known to make of what had happened. Actually, she still did not know what to make of it.

Helnion then noticed a mist forming rapidly in the area and in moments the mist had collapsed into the jar, leaving it nearly filled with water. Since Helnion had seen this done before, she was not taken by surprise like the making of the jar had. The only thing that impressed her about the act was how fast it had been done. She had only seen master Priests of Melche do it so fast.

"Freeze the water." Triosa said.

Helnion looked at the water and focused her magic. Nothing noticable happened at first. Helnion had never practiced this method much because it made her use her magical energy faster than the heat transfer method despite requiring less concentration.

The water froze and soon after quickly thawed. Helnion was confused at how it could have melted so fast.

"Good." Triosa said. "As expected you can do something as simple as freezing. I also see that you noticed that it melted almost immediately.

"Your training will be to keep the water frozen for as long as possible. Since I will be applying a constant heat to the bottom of the jar you will have to overpower me. If it melts all the way to the top you will fail the test."

Helnion looked at the water. This test actually did not seem too much different from what she had been doing for the last week except that it would drain her much more quickly.

Helnion looked back at the water and sighed.



 

* * *


 

For the next three days Helnion kept up this training and each day she became better at it. Unlike the first training she had done Triosa had actually tried to keep her distracted. What surprised her was that Triosa seemed to know how to keep the distractions just enough that the water would almost melt but never all the way. The only reason Helnion ever lost to Triosa was because she would become too tired.

"Get up." Triosa said.

Helnion sat up in her bed slowly.

Triosa handed Helnion a plate of food and then left the room. Helnion took the simple meal of oatmeal and milk, which she stirred together, and ate lazily. Morning had been the only time she had had to herself so she liked to take things slowly.

Triosa came back about half an hour later and took Helnion's empty bowl and cup.

"I have decided to give you the day off. Any further training in your condition will only be detrimental." Triosa said.

Helnion looked at Triosa. She had wondered when the woman would give her a break from the mental torture. Helnion's head had been aching non-stop for the last two days. She actually wished the aching had come earlier because she might have been given time off earlier,

Helnion picked herself up from the bed and went to the door.

"The Summer Sulstice Festival is tonight." Triosa said before Helnion had opened the door. "I recommend staying away from the villagers, especially the men, as they will be full of drink."

Helnion opened the door and the two women exited the house. Now that she was free for the day she was not sure what exactly to do next. Of course she would be doing plenty of exploration around the village, the only question was where she would start. She had never been in any town smaller than Kein as her parents did not want her to be in such dirty places so she was excited.

Until now she had only seen the village, Al-kel she remember Triosa calling it, from afar and was getting more excited with each step. She hoped the people were as interesting as she imagined them to be. From what she had learned from Salis most families would have animals, which she was planning on petting and getting to know, had small gardens and lots of kids.

When she stepped off the small dirt path that led from her small home to the larger dirt street at the edge of the city Helnion began to make out some of the sounds and smells of the village. While none of the smells were terribly pleasant the growing sound of people made Helnion feel a little more nervous than she had in a while. Still, despite her love for nature seeing normal people again would be nice despite her nervousness.

As she looked at the still sparse houses around her she saw few people. The few people that she did see, mostly women and children, rushed out of sight when they saw Helnion and Triosa. Helnion was not sure why they would do that but guessed that it might have something to do with Triosa and her funny looking veil.

Helnion saw her first animal. It was a goat standing not far off the side of the road. When Helnion approached it it simply looked at her as it chewed on some weeds. It did not even flinch when she touched its head. It did react when Helnion tried to hug it and it jumped back a few steps.

"Aww." Helnion said in disappointment when it jumped away.

"You should be more careful with animals." Triosa said. "Even tame ones can be dangerous."

Helnion turned back to the goat. It had not moved since she had tried to hug it so she thought it still might be alright to just pet it and for the next few minutes she did. She even tried to imitate the sounds it made.

After the goat Helnion found herself wandering every which way. She looked at several gardens that were behind all of the houses and looked at the plants, trying to guess what was being grown. She also found dozens of chickens, several more goats, a few stray and tame dogs and even a cow. The dogs she avoided as Salis had told her she could catch things from them and she did not want to get bitten.

Along the way several children had started following the two. They were mostly interested in Triosa and her veil but they also started teaching Helnion a few games after they had gotten used to them. Helnion soon found herself running around and generally having fun.

An hour had passed by the time they reached the center of town. By now there were plenty of people. Helnion soon forgot about the children and rushed from place to place. Since it was a festival day there was much to see.

A stage had been set up and some men were playing some instruments. The men often switched off with others so she got to hear many different things. Her favorite had been the man that had played the hand harp because it reminder her of Ferra even if the man was not as good.

Elsewhere Helnion saw a lot of other fun things. Just next to the music there was a place where the villagers were dancing, which she avoided because she new she would trip if she joined in. Farther off, in the center of town, was the Deity shrine where people were placing offerings. After that she saw a large place where women were preparing food and a place where men were butchering several goats and chickens.

Finally Helnion came to a track where the men ran around naked doing things like sprints and throwing dangerous objects, among other things. She soon found herself staring at a large, heavy looking ball that the men had been throwing. When she tried to pick it up it would not budge. Several of the men laughed.

The rest of the day passed quickly as Helnion bounced from place to place. Some of the villagers had even started to warm up to her, ignoring the ever silent Triosa, and invited her to help with various things, including gutting a chicken.

With nightfall not far off several men began to make a large pile of wood in a large open spot in the town square. Helnion soon got to see possibly the largest fire she had seen since she had left her family estate. She even tried dancing a bit but found her ankle was still not strong, making her fall several times before giving up.

"We should go, you are looking very tired." Triosa said after Helnion sat down on a chair the villagers had placed for her near the fire.

Helnion nodded. She hadn't felt this tired since she had trained with Salis back on Korron. On top of this her ankle throbbed and it now hurt when she put too much weight on it.

"I fear today was not the best day to let you visit the town." Triosa said, helping Helnion to her feet.

Helnion gave Triosa an angry look.

"Do not give me that look. I say this because I noticed several men giving us undue attention." Triosa said, Helnion hearing worry in her voice.

Neither made a noise as they made their way home and immediately after they arrived Helnion dropped straight into her bed and went to sleep.



 

* * *


 

The next morning Triosa woke Helnion up as usual and after another simple breakfast the two left for the forest.

"Today you will be practicing pulling water out of the air." Triosa told Helnion after she had taken her usual spot. Triosa then made another crystal jar, this time with a small hole in it. "You will put the water you make into this jar. Your task is to put water into the jar fast enough that it does not become empty in the time limit I have chosen."

Helnion looked at the jar then looked at Triosa. She had never liked using this kind of magic because it was one of the kind that required lots of concentration, though it was not the worst.

Triosa stared at Helnion, as if expecting blood, but instead of doing anything to Helnion she instead filled the jar partway with water and said, "Hurry before it all leaks out."

Helnion looked at the jar again. She could not remember very well how to do this and it was actually one of the few magics that Salis could do better than her, even if it was sporadic when she could do it. Still, the water in the jar was going down and she had managed to recieve only a few lashes from Triosa the last few days and she wanted to keep it that way.

An hour later Helnion had failed three times. Triosa had seemed neither angry nor disapointed and merely refilled the jar after giving her a lashing across her arm.

On her fifth try Helnion got her first mist to form. While it was soon easily blown away by the gentle breeze passing through the forest it was a victory to her. Triosa still lashed her when the jar emptied despite this.

By the time noon came Helnion was practically falling asleep. If she had thought the training before this had been tiring this had been almost torturously exhausting.

About an hour and a half after lunch her training was interrupted.

"Stand." Triosa commanded to Helnion.

Helnion stood up and wondered what was happening. Triosa had never interrupted training like this before but with the way the woman was scanning the area in the direction of the village made her wonder if someone was coming this way.

Soon enough three men wearing light armor with red markings and a man in a red robe pushed through some thick bushes. The men looked at the two and then wispered amongst themselves for a moment before the man in the robe spoke.

"Are you Helnion Usui Kein, daughter of Jefis Turrel Kein Patricius?"

Helnion nodded.

"And who are you?" The man said, turning to Triosa.

Triosa said nothing and did not move. The men in armor drew their swords. The man in the robe held out his hand to hold them back.

"Are you responsible for the dissapearance of this child and another, a Terran, named Salis? We have been sent to retrieve them and return them to their lives."

Triosa turned to Helnion and whispered in her ear. "This is an opportune time for you to return to your family. I will expect you to continue your training, if possible, and I will be keeping an eye on you to make sure of this. I will return for you in a week so if you want to do anything with your family use your time wisely. I would also like you to tell them as little as possibe of what has happened to you in the past year."

Triosa looked at the men then turned her back to them. The men tensed up but before they could do anything there was a burst of wind and the woman took off through the tops of the trees.

Two of the men tried to chase after her but were called back by the oldest man in the group.

"I see your friend did not want anything to do with us." The man in the robe said with a laugh. "I am Loih Sorris Stutra. I have been sent from the Temple of Sorris in Stutra after we recieved word that you might be found here in Al-kel. Your family has been notified and your brother and fiance will be meeting us in Stutra to take you home."

How long had it been since Helnion had been home? Not since the day before she and Salis had gone on their adventure almost a year ago. She was happy for the opportunity to see her family again but it was one more week Salis would be on her own.

Helnion looked back at the spot she had been sitting. Only the blanket she had been sitting on remained. There was no sign that the jar had been there other than a wet spot from the water that had drained from it.

Helnion looked back to the men and then back to her blanket. She had grown fond of the blanket. It had done a very good job at keeping her bottom comfortable so she decided to reward it for its job and bring it with her.

When she had retrieved the blanket she headed towards the village with the men.



 

* * *


 

Helnion found a carriage waiting for her and the men next to the small house she and Triosa had been staying in. She had hoped for a levitating carriage but they could not make it up steep slopes. If it were not for her blanket she imagined the ride down would be very rough. At least she had gotten an opportunity to pet the horses that pulled the carriage.

"Lady Helnion." The man in the robe said. "We have already retrieved your belongings from the house so there is no need to go back inside." He then opened the door to the carriage for her. Helnion did not really care if she had brought the clothes Triosa had given her, despite their high quality, but it was too late to worry about it now anyways.

Helnion stepped inside the carriage with the man close behind, the other men climbed onto the seats to the front and back of the carriage.

Not long after the carriage began to move.

"As we will be unable to reach Stutra by nightfall we will be lodging in an inn near the base of the mountains. We will then leave first thing in the morning by levitating carriage and hopefully be to Stutra before nightfall. The next day you will be taken to Kein and be reunited with your family." The man said, sounding pleased.

The man's tone then changed. "I know it is not my place to ask but could I ask where you have been for the last year?"

Helnion could easily tell this man… Fiodh?… this man where she had been but Triosa had told her not to so Helnion shook her head.

"Do you not remember or is there a reason you cannot say?"

Triosa had said nothing about not saying why she could not say where she had been so, "Triosa told me not to say." Helnion said.

"Is Triosa the woman you were with?"

Helnion nodded.

"Was she the one that abducted you?"

Helnion shook her head.

"Can you tell me who abducted you?"

"No one did." Helnion said, hoping she was not giving too much information.

"If no one abducted you then why did you leave?"

"Some bad men attacked Salis. I took a levitating carriage and took her away from them but they followed us."

"Ah Salis…" the man said as if remembering something fun.

Helnion was a bit confused. Did this man know Salis?

The man laughed. "Did Salis ever tell you about her stay in Stutra?"

Helnion nodded.

"Did she ever mention the priest that gave her food?"

Helnion's eyes opened wide. This was the priest that was in Salis' story!

The man laughed again. "I see from your response that you have heard about me. I am glad that I made a big enough impression on her to mention me."

Helnion looked more closely at the priest. Salis had not given a description of him so she wanted to take a good look herself.

"I feel like a precious heirloom." The priest said laughing yet again.

"Fioh?" Helnion said, trying to remember his name.

"Fioh?" The man said a bit confused before brightening back up. "My name is Lioh. Did Salis never mention my name?"

Helnion shook her head. Salis never had cared much for names.

"Wait… Did I even tell her?" He laughed. "Now that I think about it I did not."

Helnion smiled. It was just like Salis to not ask for someone's name.

"So what happened after the bad men started chasing you?" Lioh said, getting back on track.

Helnion decided that now was a good time to stop talking about their adventure and shook her head.

"You cannot say anymore?" Lioh said with a sigh. "Is this Triosa that scary?"

Helnion rubbed her arms. She did not find Triosa scary but she had agreed to help her and she did not want to risk losing an opportunity to find Salis.



 

* * *


 

Not far into the trip Helnion found herself drifting to sleep. She was glad Lioh figured out quickly that she was not terribly interested in long conversations or else her headache would have gotten worse. The next time he spoke it was to wake her up to let her know they had arrived at the inn and as she was still tired so she went back to sleep as soon as she settled into her room.

The next morning she awoke to Triosa's voice.

"Wake up. I will be resuming your training today even if I cannot be right there with you. Now eat your breakfast and get ready to go. You can train in the carriage." Helnion grudgingly got out of her bed, dressed, and then went to get her breakfast.

Helnion had eaten her breakfast quickly and soon found herself in a levitating carriage with the men that were accompanying her. Lioh had tried to talk with her more but she was not in the mood. She also was worried about Triosa and decided she would focus on training.

Helnion looked around the inside of the carriage as if expecting to find a leaking crystal jar but found none. She was actually glad it was not there because it only distracted her as well as reminding her that she was horrible at this kind of magic unless she was in Concentration Mode.

To her surprise she quickly created a small cloud of fog in the middle of the carriage. She was not sure why it had been easier for her to do it today but she did not care.

"What are you doing?" Lioh said when he noticed the fog.

"Practice."

"Strange place to practice."



 

* * *


 

Helnion's cough started not long after the levitating carriage left the inn. It was not a bad cough so she thought nothing of it and continued her practice despite Lioh's concern.

In spite of her cough her training went rather well. To Lioh's dismay the carriage had eventually become filled with fog. She was still having trouble turning the fog into water but she was happy with just this. She was also proud because she had also been able to enjoy the view outside of the window the entire time. She wondered if she could master any kind of magic like this if she just practiced enough.

By the time the carriage arrived at the Temple of Sorris in Stutra Lioh looked like he was relieved he could finally get out of the thick fog that Helnion had made. Even after Helnion had given him a few laughs after she had begun to make weird shapes in the fog he had eventually succumbed.

As soon as Helnion stepped out of the carriage, letting the fog out with her, her cough became worse. She also realized she had begun to feel hot. Was she becoming sick?

"Are you sure you are fine?" Lioh said, putting his hand on her forehead.

Helnion did not like people touching her but she did have to admit that she was not feeling the greatest so she let him check.

"You feel a bit hot. I think it would be a good idea to let you get some rest." Lioh said and then spoke to one of the armored men. "I will take you to one of the guest rooms. Your brother and fiance will meet you there."

Helnion nodded and followed Lioh and as she did she made a special effort to take in the entire building. This was where one of Salis' adventures had taken place and she wanted to take in as much as she could.



 

* * *


 

Helnion lay on the bed in the room Lioh took her to as soon as she could. The ride from the inn to Stutra had taken nearly the entire day and on top of it her headache had become even worse after that and the training. Her throat also hurt now, especially after she had left the fog. She almost decided to make some more fog if that would help her feel better but her headache was much worse than her throat and she did not want to make it worse.

Helnion heard a knock on her door. "Helny, are you awake?"

Helnion immediately recognized the voice of her second oldest brother, Nie.

"NiNi?" She said, using the nickname she had used for him for as long as she could remember.

The door opened and Nie entered, followed by another man. Nie was holding a plate of food. They both walked up to her bed. Nie sat down while the other stayed standing.

"I am glad to see you have arrived safely." The other man, her fiance Etam, said.

"You do not know how worried everyone has been for the last year." Nie said.

"The Defenders of Sorris said you would not tell them where you have been." Etam said. "Could you tell us why?"

"I promised." Helnion said.

"You promised someone not to tell?" Nie said. "Can you at least tell us why?"

Helnion thought. Why had she promised? Helnion was just helping Melche so that she would get her help finding Salis.

"Did you promise without knowing why?" Etam said with a sigh. "Could you at least tell us who that woman you were found with was and if you have been safe?"

"Her name is Triosa." Helnion said, thinking it would not hurt to give a name. "Before I met her Salis kept me safe."

"Did this Triosa hurt you in any way?" Nie said.

Helnion rubbed her arms. Nie saw this and pulled back the long sleeves Triosa had made her wear to soften the blows of the stick when Helnion ran out of arm space.

Nie nearly gasped when he saw Helnion's arms and looked angry. Etam looked less concerned but was angry as well.

"Were you being tortured?" Nie said.

Helnion shook her head.

"If she was not torturing you then why would she do this?"

Helnion was not sure if she should answer when a voice came to her. Tell them. It will save us trouble, but be vague and do not mention Melche. It was Triosa. Helnion nodded.

"Why did you nod?" Nie said.

"Triosa just said I could tell you NiNi."

The two men jumped up, Etam heading to the small window and Nie to the door.

"Telepathy!?" Etam said. "If it is this Triosa must be close."

"I will let the Defenders know." Nie said.

Nie came back to the bed after speaking with someone outside. "What does this Triosa want with you?"

"Triosa is training me so I can help her." Helnion said.

"Help her with what?"

"Some bad people are stealing some things and I am going to help find them."

"Why would she ask for your help?" Etam said, returning to the bedside. "You have yet to even become a woman."

Helnion shrugged. She was still not sure why Melche had asked her. Even though she was good at magic despite not being Melche born there were plenty of people that were stronger than her. All she knew was that it was to find Salis and that was all that mattered.

Helnion began coughing again. The two men said nothing until she stopped.

"I think we should let her rest." Etam said.

Nie nodded and stood up. "Before I go." He said. "I wanted to know what happened to the other girl, Salis. You said she protected you but mentioned nothing else."

Helnion shook her head. "Salis saved me from some scary men but she was taken. Triosa said she would help find her if I helped her."

The two men looked at each other.

"Get some rest Helny, now that you are back we will have plenty of time to catch up." Nie said.

"We will also make sure to find this Triosa. She has no business taking you into a potenially dangerous situation as young as you are." Etam said. "I am not letting my wife die before we even have been married."

Helnion sighed. If only they had known what she had already been through.

Helnion rubbed her temples. All of this talking and thinking had only made her headache worse. She wanted to go to sleep but the meal that Nie had left was too tempting and she decided to stay awake just long enough to satisfy her stomach.



 

* * *


 

The next morning Helnion awoke to a knock on the door.

"Helny? Are you awake?" It was Nie.

"NiNi." Helnion replied.

Nie opened the door. He was followed in by Etam, Lioh, and a woman Helnion had not seen before.

"Creese is one of our doctors." Lioh said, gesturing to the woman. "We wanted her to look at you last night but she was out delivering a baby."

"Greetings Lady Helnion." The woman said. She then turned to the men. "If you would not mind."

The men nodded and left the room.

"How are you feeling?" Creese said.

"My head and throat hurts."

Creese sat on the edge of Helnion's bed and reached for Helnion's forehead.

"Did you wash your hands?" Helnion said. Salis had told her that she should insist on her doctors washing their hands because they could give her things they had gotten from other sick people.

"Of course." Creese said. "Sometime last year it became mandatory to wash hands between visits."

Creese once again reached for Helnion's forehead.

"You do seem to have a fever but it is not terrible." Creese said before beginning to check other parts of her body.

Helnion did not feel comfortable with having a stranger touch her like this, but she did not like being sick either so she did her best to endure it.

"What happened to your leg?" Creese said as soon as she saw the bruise around her ankle.

Helnion was not sure how much Triosa would let her say about the scary man that had broken her ankle.

"I fell." Helnion said. Grabbed and thrown was what had really happened but she did not want to have to explain that.

"You fell?"

"Off of a tall rock."

"What were you doing on this rock?"

"Practicing levitating rocks." More like attacking with rocks… Helnion hated lying like this.

"Why would you practice in such a dangerous place?"

"To get a good view."

"I see."

Creese checked Helnion over one more time quickly.

"Other than your fever, headache, and bruises you are fine. I will send some herbs to help with your headache and fever with your breakfast. Make sure to drink them." Creese said and left the room.

A few minutes later Nie knocked on her door and brought Helnion her breakfast.

"Creese said we can leave as soon as you finish breakfast." Nie said, placing the plate of food on the bed and the cup of milk on the small nightstand next to the bed. "I will be outside the door so call me when you finish."

Nie left the room.

Helnion looked at her meal. Aside from the normal stuff peasants ate there were two small bowls filled with powder. This was the medicine. She had had it plenty of times before growing up so she knew how bitter it was going to be and that she should eat it first so the food would cover up the taste.

Helnion gagged down the medicine by mixing it in her milk.

"NiNi." Helnion said as soon as she had finished.

"A quick eater as always Helny." Nie said, entering the room with Etam and Lioh.

"Are you ready to go?" Etam said. "Getting you home will make me much more at ease."

"I am still worried about this Triosa." Lioh said.

"Yes, but the Defenders should be more than enough protection." Etam said.

"Perhaps, but she appeared to be a capable mage." Lioh said and turned to Helnion. "Are you sure you will not tell us anything?"

Helnion shook her head.

"It is pointless to keep asking." Nie said. "If she was going to say anything she would have."

"Yes." said Etam. "She always has been like that."

"Can we go?" Helnion said. The conversation was only making her headache worse.

"We can discuss this at the Kein Patricius Estate." Etam said. "Maybe Lord Kein Patricius will be able to change her mind."

The men nodded in agreement.

"Come Helny." Nie said. "Can you stand?"

Helnion got out of bed. While she was not feeling good she had no problem standing or walking. The only thing she worried about was what her father would do. He was not a mean man and Helnion did love him but he was intimidating.



 

* * *


 

After a long ride by levitating carriage the group finally arrived at the Kein Patricius Estate, her home. Helnion had never been attached to the place but she had many enjoyable memories here from before she was sent off to school.

The estate, being the home to the man that owned much of the land in and around Kein, was large. Since the place was located A fair ways away from Kein itself it was quiet. The distance also made riding from here to the school too long to be worthwhile, hence her boarding a| the school.

Seeing her home Helnion remembered playing in the small forest ôhat surrounded the sprawling house. She also had spent lots of time in the courtyard in tHe center of the main house playing with dogs or watching the birds. She hoped she would get to cpend more time in these two places while she was here.

"Wow." Lioh said. "I knew the Estate was large but I never expected it to be larger than Stutra's Temple of Sorris."

Nobody said anything in reply to Lioh and simply got out of the carriage when it settled down on the ground in front of the main house.

"Lady Helnion." Said a maid standing outside the carriage. The maid bowed and then offered her hand to Helnion. Helnion took the maid's hand and stepped out of the carriage.

Something caught Helnion's attention as soon as she was out of the carriage. Off to her left and right were two of the Defenders that had accompanied her group. Since they had been riding on the outside of the carriage the whole time she had not yet gotten a good look at them but now that she could they piqued her curiousity. What interested her was their shields and weapons. They were crystal forged.

"There she goes again." Nie said when he saw Helnion was fixated on the Defender. Lioh laughed.

Helnion soon found herself standing in front of the man she had seen to her right. She bent down and looked at the shield and sword and as she looked she was reminded of Salis. The sword was not as well made nor as beautiful as Salis' but that was all it took to remind her of her friend and she started crying.

"What is wrong Helny?" Nie said, coming up behind Helnion and giving her a hug.

"I miss Salis."

"Do not worry Helny we found you so we can find her."

"But she was taken by someone."

"Who?"

Helnion shook her head. "I was asleep when they took her."

"And you have no idea where he might have taken her?"

Helnion shook her head again.

"Where were you when she was taken?"

Helnion shook her head.

"You do not know or cannot say?"

Helnion shook her head. She had promised not to talk about the last year.

"Lady Helnion." Said one of the maids that had come to greet the group. It was Karsa, the maid that had taken care of her since she was a baby. "You look exhausted and dirty. Let us take you to the bath and then get you rested. You can talk to your father tomorrow."

Helnion nodded and then stood up. She hadn't bathed since she had been at Usui's and was happy for the chance.

"I will see you again tomorrow Helny." Nie said.

"Rest well." Lioh said.

Etam merely nodded at her.

"This way." Karsa said and she and Helnion headed into the house.



 

* * *


 

The next day Helnion finally found herself on the way to see her father.

"The Lady Helnion Usui Kein is here to see you Lord Kein Patricius." The aide of Helnion's father said, announcing her arrival.

"Send her in." Her father, the Lord Kein Patricius, said.

Helnion entered her father's study. It was a large room filled with books, scrolls and all sorts of other manuscripts he needed for the running of his vast lands and his government of the city of Kein itself.

Her mother was standing behind him.

"Sit, Daughter." Her father said, gesturing to a chair near his writing table. "I understand you are still ill. I would not be happy if your visit with me made your condition any worse."

"Let us know if you begin to feel worse." Her mother said. "Your health is much more important to us than anything."

"I am better than I was, Mother, Father." Helnion said. "Karsa gave me some things that helped."

"Good." Her father said. "I am certain Karsa will do everything she can to bring you back to health."

Her father's expression grew more serious. "In consideration of your health I will only ask the most important questions for now."

Helnion thought about the best way to tell her father and mother about the past year. Unlike Nie and Etam she did not want to test her father's patience so she decided just to omit the names of the places and people that she thought would get her in trouble with Triosa and tell everything else.

"Is it alright if I start from the beginning Father?" Her father nodded. "I cannot give you all of the names but I will give you what I can."

Helnion's father nodded again. "Go ahead. If I have questions I will ask them later. For now knowing what happened to you will be enough."

Helnion began with the day Salis had gotten attacked and with the chase down the river. She then told how they were taken in by some of Usui's followers and that one of their leaders had taken an interest in Salis. When Salis declined that she had been forced to do a favor for the leader before he would release them. They had then been taken to a penel colony of sorts.

"Why would sommone send children to such a dangerous place." Her mother said angrily.

"Hush dearest. Let her finish." Her father said, although Helnion could see concern on his face too.

Helnion continued with how another group had shown up and captured Salis. The group then attacked her group and had injured Helnion. She then explained that Salis had been taken and the other girl in their group had been killed.

She finally came to the part where she had been approached by Triosa and her master after having rested for a month at the house of the leader that had sent them to the penal colony. She had then been training with Triosa for the week and a half before she had been found.

"If what you have said is true than I will have to find this man that took advantage of you." Her father said. "I will not allow such a man to live free."

"Calm down Husband. I also wish to see this man punished but we must…"

Helnion began coughing. Her throat had become dry during her explanation and it had been all she could do to hold it off.

"We will discuss this later Dearest." Her father said to her mother.

Her mother nodded. "Please get some rest Helnion."

Helnion stood up and began to turn to leave.

"Take this." Her father said, handing her some sheets of paper he had been writing on as she had spoken. "These are some questions I have. I want you to look at them and have some answers ready for the next time we meet."

Helnion took the papers and left the room.

 



 

* * *


 

Later that night as Helnion lay in her bed Triosa came. Helnion had been having difficulty falling asleep but the woman's sudden appearance at the foot of her bed startled any tiredness she had had out of her.

"Helnion." Triosa said in a whisper after she had walked to Helnion's bedside. "I have some things to discuss with you."

Helnion sat up in her bed and looked at the woman.

"The men we are looking for have been nearly found." Triosa said. "But with your training incomplete and your poor health you are in no condition to help right now."

Helnion thought she never had been in any condition to help. Killing those things on Korron would probably be nothing compared to fighting men that could steal from Melche's followers.

"Because of this I think it prudent that we enlist some help from those around you."

Helnion thought for a minute when a thought passed through her mind.

"Did you want this the whole time?" Helnion said. Had Melche come to her knowing she would be able get some help from trained fighters because of her family's wealth and position?

"Want to use you family's influence to help find the thieves? Yes and no. While it is true that part of the reason we came to you was because of this it is not the main reason."

Helnion thought. If her family was not the reason what was? She still found it hard to believe that there were no others that were more qualified than she was.

"Lady Melche is interested in how far a non Melche born can be taken with their magic training and, considering your young age, it will be easier to train you even with your handicap."

Triosa looked as if she were ready to leave but said one more thing. "I want you to think of two or three others that could help us retrieve the stolen items. I would prefere women."

Triosa vanished leaving Helnion slightly confused and usure of what to take of the visit. In any case she hoped that this task she had agreed to would be over and she would get a clue to where Salis was. Now all she had to do was get over this fever.


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