Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Red in Tooth and Flame 2

Aseka's mother is a druid, a speaker with plants and animals and elements and balancer of their forces and advocate for their interests. Aseka has learned much from Mother, but when she brings home an octopus she calls Beatrix her education begins in earnest. She learns quickly, very quickly, and nature opens up to her and bends and stretches her sense into new, bigger shapes. Her father, a sorcerer who channels his innate power through fire and steel, cannot teach Aseka anything of his magic, and this frustrates her. Though he says it can't be helped and it's something one is either born to or not, it seems like a wall builds up between them.

This impression isn't helped by the days Father comes home from the forge smelling like iron and being in the same room as him makes Aseka weak and nauseous and she wonders how Mother can be so close to him.

'It doesn't get easier', she says, embracing Aseka, stinking of iron herself from touching Father several hours ago. 'One just gets stronger.'

The laws of the druids prohibit "carrying" iron, as Aseka learns when she wears a ringed shirt and loses the little magic she has for a whole day. But she learns to stand straight and hug Father with all her might.

And to watch him work all day without flinching. She loves it. To see him tame the fire and fold it into the metal until it bursts with magic (lessons she turn into ways she can train Beatrix), and his easy laugh when he goes too far, ruins a week's work and throws it aside and starts again. He fails more often than not, but when he gets it right and a farmer pays him more coins than their family can use in a year for a slender axe blade that took him five tries and two months to make she learns a lesson of patience, and power, and the power her parents have over the rest of the village.

Mother doesn't even take any coin to make the farmers' crops grow bigger or healing their sheep and deer or pointing the fishers to prosperous directions. But they all come to her home far outside the village to give her the finest berries from the harvest, and precious gems, books, clothes and seemingly everything good they can get their hands on from the trade ships or who knows where – on one occasion twelve men come dragging a cart with an iron stove of a size and quality beyond even Father's craft. And so Aseka learns a lesson of pride.

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