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WRITING CHALLENGE #7, MAY 30 - JUNE 12
Posted: May 30 2016, 03:53 PM
Writing Challenge #7
Welcome to another of our bi-weekly writing challenges here on unbound. Let's all please pretend this isn't a day late, all right? If you have any questions about the changes or the challenge generally, feel free to PM me on this staff account.
Prompt: Teachers, mentors, whatever your word, they present a formative influence in everyone's life. Write about the mentor that's had the greatest influence on your character thus far - either as a flashback scene, or reminiscence, or meeting up again in the present timeline. How did they shape your character's outlook on the world? And how have those lessons held up since?
Submissions should be at least 400 words, but more is always welcome if inspiration strikes. Write from any format or POV of your choosing! This challenge will end June 12 at 11:59pm and will have an award of 200 sovereigns.
Reply below with your challenge submission to earn credit for this challenge!
Posted: May 31 2016, 10:17 AM
Kinloch Hold--Cecelia Amell--Some many years prior
“Ow! Cece that hurt.” Jowan mumbled as he was pushed back by the force of her magic. Cecelia’s gaze shifted to the First Enchanter, the old man was trying to hide evidence of amusement though it shown clearly in his eyes. Cecelia grinned as she jogged over to Jowan’s side of the small practice arena, holding out her hand in an offer to pull him up.
“You were supposed to counter it Jowan.” She answered, the mischief in her tone hard to mask. She was the gentle sort, but during practice Cecelia had never been one to hold back, and she’d give the fight as much as she was allowed to. Of course these were the only lessons that showed them how to use barriers to counter oncoming attacks from other forms of magic.
“You didn’t give me any time!”
“I gave you a minute to get ready! You know, when I said ‘Jowan, incoming’? That was what I meant.” The grin remained although Jowan was leering at her, and each apprentice felt a hand on their shoulder as he had come to address them directly. He had been paying visits to different areas of the Circle today, observing the lessons as they were given.
“You’re becoming better it seems, Cecelia. Your fire spells are developing wonderfully.” The praise made her cheeks flush slightly, and though she tried to hide it, she was pleased that he of all mages had noticed. After all, he was the one who ran things around here, at least…when it came to the mages.
“Yeah, I really felt that.” There was laughter as soon as Jowan had said it, and she placed a hand on his free shoulder.
“I said I was sorry! I’ll make it up to you, promise!”
“You said that last time then spent an entire day in the Library—“
“It was a good book!” There was hearty laughter from Irving at the innocent look that Cecelia gave to her friend, and she promised to find a way to make it up to him properly, before Jowan mentioned that he had another lesson and he promised to force her to make good on her promise later, even it was just a few tips on how to improve a spell. It was when Jowan left that Cecelia’s smile faded, and Irving took quick notice.
“Worry not for Jowan child, he’s a little slower at learning than the rest of you but his day will come soon enough, as will yours.” It was no secret that Cecelia was constantly worrying for Jowan, to everyone except for Jowan himself. He was like a brother to her, and she really didn’t want him falling too far behind, before he was stuck in the apprentice quarters with the rest of the new apprentices, or worse, if the Knight Commander was to have his way.
“I just…First Enchanter how long do you think it will be? Before we can be counted as members of the Circle?” Irving hummed thought fully as he thought about it, and his kindly face made it hard for her not to relax. Irving was their teacher, their protector, the only one who could go head to head with the Knight Commander and actually manage to win.
Cecelia herself didn’t mind all of the Templars, and in fact a few of them were even nice, though Templars and Mages usually avoided talking, not that they didn’t at all, it was just easier to respect each other’s space in that way…however much a Templar would respect their space anyway. “Patience is a hard thing to learn Cecelia, but the reward at the end is always so much sweeter. You and Jowan work harder together than a lot of apprentices I’ve seen, you work day in and day out, both of you will make it soon, and it will be a prideful day for all of the mages here in our Circle, just as the others have been.”
“Do you think that means that Wynne will finally knit me that shawl?” The Elder mage was one that Cecelia didn’t know too well, but she had conversations with her from time to time, and Irving knew the woman very well. In one such conversation, Wynne had mentioned a dislike of knitting, and every request for a shawl from that point on had been denied with vigor.
“No.” it was a simple, playful response, but it made her laugh…. even if it was true. And it was moments like this among her own in the Circle that made it bearable, knowing she had family outside of this place that she was taken from, that there were reaches beyond these walls that she was even slightly curious about. Teachers, mentors, fellow apprentices, they all made up a family of sorts.
And she was so glad to be a part of it.
Somewhere in Ferelden-- 9:40 Dragon
Irving’s lessons had always been the ones she remembered the most, and it was once what made her strive to better herself despite the mistakes she had made in life. But it was also what made her miss the past so sorely. Once, Cecelia Amell would have held those lessons to her morals, but today that was a much different story. A different time and place and now she was set to do what she needed to in order to survive. She never wanted to hurt anyone, but it was what all of this had come down to since the day that she had been dragged from the Ferelden Circle by the man she once called her best friend. And now he was nothing, he was nowhere, and she was alone. That family was gone, and she soon would fade too.
It was a pity, really.
Posted: Jun 2 2016, 11:31 AM
ARX INGRESSUS, CAIMEN BREA, 9:33 DRAGON
The long and wearying journey south from Minrathous had been something of a cleansing, cathartic trial for Eliel- shod of his old master, Lord Mirathene Calficio, the cruel man that had branded his back like livestock, and his vicious sons, the future seemed suddenly less of a hellscape. He didn't mind the physical labor so much, despite the balmy heat, and everyone he could recognize as part of the parcel of slaves sold off to the disgraced magister seemed to be mildly upbeat. Organized water breaks and regular meals had been provided. It wasn't freedom, and his hands were sore and blistered from the work of carrying the front half of a pallet of his new master's tomes and manuscripts, but after what he'd seen of hell as a boy, spending a week working outdoors felt a bit like a rebirth, even if his oversensitive long ears had caught a lion's share of sunburn.
And for all the imposing, dark stone he'd lived among at House Calficio, what his new master was calling a keep was more of a lazy-looking white-stone villa on a breezy hillside. While all the slaves and servants knew the magister had been cast from the capital city for a treacherous crime (although the details were closely guarded), they were also more than happy to accept the story they had been supplied: Master Ingressus was weary in his old age, and his health dictated the need to remove himself from the stresses of the city and the Magisterium and indulge himself in his well-earned respite.
The slaves and servants had been bustling about the villa for three days moving in all the trunks and wagons of the master's possessions, and with linen bandages wrapping his slender hands tightly to staunch the worst of the weeping from his blisters, Eliel had quietly slotted himself in as being in charge of hanging Lord Ingressus's clothing in his sprawling chambers, the double doors of which he'd thrown open to invite the warm breeze from the north. The job was easy on his fingers, and he secretly enjoyed the feeling of privilege it had given him. As an able-bodied young man, it should have been his moral duty to work at the heavy lifting or the hard scrubbing and make sure one of his elders had the nice, quiet, gentle work he was keeping for himself... but another part of him, the louder part, insisted that if they had wanted to work the bedchambers they should have run their old asses in there faster.
"Stop fingering that material as though you're pricing it out, child," a voice behind him sounded suddenly, causing Eliel to jump nearly out of his skin.
Dropping the cloak in a rush of fabric on the floor, Eliel turned to meet his new master's eyes. Your plan to endear yourself to this one is going well, isn't it? he thought before he could force his mouth to keep up. A tiny rush of panic shot through his ribcage. He'd blurted out a lot of things at House Calficio that had earned him brutal punishment, even as a young child, and even despite this fact he had never learned to keep his trap shut. It was compulsive. Desperate. Grasping for recognition, even the unfavorable recognition he'd gotten from their Keeper, Yevrand, who had fully no sense of humor, but was still his grandfather for all intents and purposes.
"Sorry, master," he managed to spit out, trying to keep his voice from cracking the way it had been so often lately. "I can't resist a good ol' bit of eveningwear." Shit. It had been going so well. He clenched his eyes shut as the ex-magister strolled towards him, bracing for a blow to his body. The man's hands gripping his chin to examine his face made him open his eyes in confusion. He didn't dare make eye contact, however, so he fixed his gaze to the man's opulent, fantastic shoes. You'd never know the man had been moving house for so long. Not a scuff on them.
"Say that word again," Alvarius demanded. "The last one."
Eliel's attempt to avoid his master's eyes was foiled at that. He knit his brows in confusion, squinting to try and find a trace of emotion on Lord Ingressus's face. He failed. "E...eveningwear, my lord?" he offered.
The blank expression on his master's face flickered with something the boy could not identify. Leaning in, the magister turned Eliel's jaw in his weathered fingers to examine the crawling and picking paths of scars across his young skin. "E-ven-ing-wear," the man repeated, drawing out the word as though he were spinning gold. "You're Dalish, are you not? It's hard to tell you apart from the city elves without all that nonsense carved into your faces. Say it again. Say it properly, as I've said it."
Was he about to be struck? Or worse, kissed? Eliel tried miserably to brace himself for either. "Master?" he asked, desperately hoping for a hint of what in hell was happening. The man only squeezed his jaw tighter, causing him to bite his tongue. "I'm sorry I made a joke, master. Please don't send me back to Minrathous."
"Don't be absurd. I've bought and paid for you. That cretin has no claim to you anymore. Come, now. Go on," Alvarius prodded, almost encouragingly. "Say it."
After a pause that sat in Eliel's chest like a pile of cold slush, he mimicked the magister's delicate Tevene accent, "Eveningwear."
With a smile, his master released his chin and patted it approvingly. "Much better. We'll work on carving that Dalish lilt out of your voice, child. I might even be able to laugh next time you forget your place."
With that, Alvarius Ingressus turned and strode calmly out of his chambers, leaving Eliel rubbing at his jaw and trying to steady his breathing. "Eveningwear," he repeated, scrambling to pick his master's cloak up from the floor. "Eveningwear. Eveningwear."
Posted: Jun 2 2016, 06:23 PM
What's Yours is Mine(and My Friends)
The First Jenny:
She is seven years old.
Bored,curious, fearless, she slips from the watchful care of her oldest sister and father into the crowds of the marketplace.Young Bedelia is able to slip between and through the legs of the adults who towered over her, most of them hurrying about their business. Once or twice, she might have stomped on person's foot, which earned her nothing but passing ire. Headless, she charged onward into the crowd, dark eyes lingering on fat coin purses hanging from the lords and ladies waists. They are dressed in fine, soft silks- only the best from Orlais would do.But they are not foolish enough to walk without some sort of protection, and their minders are obvious even to a small child like herself; their guards swords and daggers are kept close, like a secret near and ear to their hearts.So she tails a target she thinks will be easier, whose gait speaks of easy confidence. But more importantly, the coin purse at his waist is quite fat;fat enough to get me some sweets.
Quiet as a mouse, she moved to snatch the coin purse from right under his nose.Her fingers graze the soft fabric, before Bedelia finds her small wrist grasped by much larger hands.A yelp escapes her, and she scratches at the man's hand to no avail."Lemme go, you blighter!"It was an insult she had heard her father mutter often under his breath, when he thought his daughters were not within earshot. Somehow, rather than angering the man, the curse earned her a laugh."Don't you laugh at me, you nob! I'll have you know my father is the captain of the city watch!"It was a lie, but one that had served her well in the past when her thievery had not gone unnoticed; often, the bluff was more than enough to get her off the hook just long enough for her to run back home.The man guffawed again, this time letting go of her.
"You got guts, kid. Pickpocketin' in broad daylight, then lyin' to my face."She was about to open her mouth again, to exclaim that it wasn't a lie. Instead he kept talking- his accent was that of a local from Starkhaven, though if she listened hard enough there was a bit of Orlesian in there peppered in."I know the captain of the city watch, and you ain't no brat of his. But I can respect your thievin', even if it were for naught."He paused, a thoughtful look on his face as he hand a hand through his neat beard."Tell me brat, what's yer name?"If she wanted, she could lose him in the crowd easy enough- no doubt mother and her sisters were wondering where she had gotten off to this time. Instead she stayed, and wondered if she ought to tell the truth this time.
"Bedelia."As she spoke, the would-be thief fiddling with her long curly hair.
"Well, Bedelia, it's good to meet a fellow sneak-thief."He gave her a fond pat on the head before dropping his voice to a whisper."Lesson one: don't let yourself get caught in a lie. The more confident you are, the more likely people are to believe you."With a smile, he turned on his heel and all but vanished into the crowd. Left with that bit of advice, she reasoned then was as good a time as any to find her family in the wandering throngs of nobles and small folk alike.
The Second Jenny:
She is thirteen years old.
The bearded man from all those years ago had not one brother, but two. Together, the three of them made a killing in the Maker-fearing city-state of Starkhaven. Little by little, Bedelia managed to wriggle her way into the Friends of Red Jenny. It started off with a note slipped to an elf in a musty tavern, about a rumor concerning one Lord Becker.From the rumors she gathered from the few clients that wandered into her father's shop, she had heard he was a callous man; he treated his servants poorly, like a spoiled child wrecking their playthings. Someone ought to remind him that we are not mere toys, muttered one angry servant to another on their way from her father's shop. Bedelia had scribbled down everything she thought was relevant onto a scrap of paper with a chunk of worn down charcoal.With the rolled up note clutched in her sweaty hand, she had slipped out into the evening in order to pass along the rumors.
The more rumors she passed along, she more she found herself getting sucked into the shadowed world of the three Jennies. Each brother ran a part of the operation. Kinnard, the oldest, dealt with the information passed along to them and doled out 'favors' through the long chain of Friends at his command.Though she only ever caught glimpses of him through locks and ajar doors, she gathered he was the oldest of the brothers. Just like the brother she had met years ago, he was dark of hair and possessed a beard large enough to put a bear to shame.With an ear pressed to the thin wall of a neighboring tavern room, she listened to the hushed tones of the eldest Jenny.
"...weren't for the fool guardsmen, she might've made it out of the place in one piece."Unlike his younger brother, Kinnard's voice was measured, each word spoken with intent."Mayhaps another Friend can visit the mansion, get a better feel for it. In time, of course."There was hushed assent, followed by the shuffling of many pieces of parchment."With so many new Friends runnin' 'round our heels, I suppose it's best they learn now rather than later to cover their arses better."More hushed agreement, followed by the scraping of a chair against the old wooden floors.Given the age of the tavern, Bedelia is surprised that the floorboards don't squeak more as one of the occupants of the room begins to pace."Quiet mice underfoot don't get crushed."
It was a piece of unknowingly given advice that she kept to heart, as her thievery continued to grow in terms of profit and scope.
The Third Jenny:
She is twenty years old.
Archery and thievery come as easily to her as breathing now.Gone is the small child of yore, who couldn't draw a bow even if her life depended on it. In her place is a slight figure clothed in dark leathers, her face obscured by a shred of black cloth she'd snatched from a discarded sack. She lurks in the shadows, awaiting the signal from the servant out for revenge. Sure enough, a candlelight flickers into life in the window of the stately manor in Starkhaven's uptown.While most Friends of Red Jenny worked alone, she was accompanied by the youngest of the brothers. Just like herself, he was too was clothed such that he blended in with the darkness.He nodded at her, gesturing for her to take point.Though this was not the first favor she had done for the Jennies, Bedelia still felt her heart beating fast against her ribs; in the back of her mind she knew this was a test of sorts.
Sneaking ahead, she drew back an arrow in case they met any resistance on their way to the back entrance.Unlike many of the manors she had broken into in the past, this one had a basement with an external entrance. Her fingers twitched as she watched her partner's back, eyes narrowed for any guard-shaped shadows moving onto their position.Soon the telltale 'click' of a picked lock reached her ears, and Lennox was the first to slip into the basement. Just as expected, it was dank and dark. If she squinted hard enough she could make out the indistinct shapes of what appeared to be wine bottles. Although the note passed on to them assured the Jennies that there would be no resistance as they sneaked through the manor, Lennox still drew a blade anyway.Better to be safe than end up with a slit throat.Both of them moved with the ease of a seasoned thief, movements silent in the night.
"Up the stairs, second door on the right."She whispered, and Lennox grunted in understanding; on the job, he was a man of few words save a whispered warning every now and then.Once again taking point, she kept an arrow notched, her right arm used to being under tension for long periods of time. Glancing around a corner, she checked that there were no stray guardsmen wandering the halls. Satisfied that there would be no one to stop their progress, Bedelia hurried to the second door on the right and opened it with a gentle nudge.She let Lennox go in first, before she went after him and closed the door behind her. Putting her arrow back in her quiver, she pulled off the scrap of cloth covering her lower face."Maker's balls, I don't know how you manage not to sweat when you're in this get-up."
"It's all in the attitude, my dear Bedelia."He chuckled, keeping his voice low even as he pulled out his lockpicking equipment; now that they were certain there were no guards, they could chance a few words as he broke into the safe."The attitude being patience, and perseverance."She let out a quiet snort of laughter at his lecturing; the two of them were only separated by a few years, yet somehow he always managed to give her lecture after lecture as if he were the older brother she never had.
"Aye? Well, patience and perseverance never put any mead in my cup."There came his chuckle again, this time warm as honey.Just as quickly as he'd made short work of the basement lock, the same happened with the safe. Grabbing the ornate necklaces and shoving them into one of the many pockets scattered about his person, Lennox gestured that the ought to beat a hasty retreat back into the dark. Bedelia was quick to put her makeshift mask back on before the exited the manor; underneath, she was smiling to herself. After dropping off the necklaces, and changing out of her dark leathers, she and that youngest Jenny shared a bottle of Antivan port between the two of them.
"Remember, Bedelia- patience and perseverance."As he spoke, she couldn't shake the feeling he looking through her rather than at her. His eyes were distant, staring at some unseen horizon."You did well, Freckles."The nickname that so often vexed her brought nothing but a wide grin to her face; if there was something she enjoyed more than pilfered jewelry, it was praised well earned.
Perhaps, had she known it would be the last time she saw any of the brothers, she might have thanked him.
The Fourth Jenny:
She is twenty-two years old.
Two years have passed since the brothers vanished, and she has taken up the name of Red Jenny. It is no small task, maintaining the chain of favors and rumors that makes up the Friends. Oftentimes she finds herself staying up well into the night organizing and sorting the dozens of notes that find their way into her clever hands.On those late nights, which have become more and more frequent with the passing of the months, she thinks back on those ears spent scampering after the brothers.Although faded with time, she still smiles thinking back on how clumsy and foolish she'd been; such was youth.But soon her thoughts turn from that past and instead focus on the present, and the favors that need her attention most.
Posted: Jun 12 2016, 10:11 PM
Thank you to Loot, Brightly, and Hecate for sharing these stories of mentors and learning! It was fun reading along with these three very different Thedosian backgrounds.
If you haven't yet, don't forget to claim your points in the moderation thread.
This challenge is now closed!
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