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Canon Part 71

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#1 Silrana

Posted 09 March 2019 - 07:25 PM

Long time Atticers will know that I have been struggling for years with health issues.  I've been going through a particularly awful period, but a few months ago my doctor made some changes to my meds that have helped a lot.  I realized that I had quite a few unpublished chapters of Canon waiting to be posted, and now I feel well enough to put them out here.  Enjoy!




Part 71


“You have been doing well,” Anomen said. “Your strategies are still evolving, but I have been pleased with your progress. This session Imoen and I will be introducing a new element.”


Imoen grinned. “Yep. Whenever one of you takes a bad hit, we are going to declare you dead or unconscious. You will be out of the fight.”


A worried murmur ran through the class. Trace said, “But that will throw our strategies off.”


“Exactly,” Anomen said with a nod. “In battle you cannot be certain that all will remain standing at its end. Death is a reality. Others can be injured so badly that they can no longer fight. In the future I will expect you to develop plans for examining and, if possible, healing fallen comrades, but for now I will pull the person to the side so we can discuss how they fell.”


The first to be removed from battle was Kirian. She sighed dejectedly. “I knew I’d be first.”


“I am curious as to why you put yourself near the front of the conflict if you do not feel capable of handling battle.”


She wiped the sweat from her forehead as she stared at him in surprise. “What do you mean?”


“You have been less than enthusiastic in the past. Your work on the practice dummies was lacking, and when you spar with your classmates, you seem afraid to use force.”


“Well... I really don’t want to hurt one of them.”


“Yet in this class, you do not hesitate.”


“It feels more real here.”


“Hmm, yes. I think it would benefit you to think about what fighting style would serve best. I think you are underestimating your abilities.”


Before he could discuss it with her further, Imoen signaled to him. Kirian went back to the battle, and Nordale came to the side of the room.


The young nobleman grinned. “Entirely my fault, Watcher. I don’t know why it seems such a struggle to use a mace after all this time. You would think I would be used to it by now.”


“Is the difficulty a lack of weapon training, or that you have trained in something else?”


“My father believed that all the men of our family should be taught to fight. But our trainer only taught the use of swords.”


“Ah. Yes, they handle in an entirely different manner. I had noticed you seemed to use the mace a bit slowly, but did not realize it was because you were more familiar with swords. I will show you some techniques for overcoming that in your regular class.”


“Thank you, sir.”


“For now, watch the others while they fight. Perhaps it will help you with developing fighting strategies.”


While Nordale watched the battle, Anomen surreptitiously watched his student for his reactions. Before long he realized that Nordale’s attention was less on the combat and more on one of his classmates. He watched the younger priest’s face and noted the soft smile, the pleasure when Kirian landed a blow, the concern when she needed to fall back. In a low voice, he said, “You have feelings for her.”


“Sir? No, sir, of course not.”


“There is no need to attempt to deceive me, lad.”


The novice gave him a long look, then sighed. “What does it matter? I am not the one she wants.”


“Have you shown her your interest?”


“When we were assigned to the same training group, I tried to befriend her, but… she does not see me, Watcher. She sees wealth, she sees noble blood, but she does not see the person. I am just a symbol of the nobility to her.”


“Still, you seem to have surrendered rather easily.”


“Why try to come between her and Clahn? When they look at each other, a light comes into their eyes that I have no desire to extinguish.”


“Oh, I understand you in that regard. I am just surprised you did not pursue her more ardently earlier, before they had formed an attachment.”


Nordale gave him an amused glance. “Because when I first made overtures, she gave me that look that is impossible to overcome. The one that said she was firmly convinced that I was merely slumming, that I would discard her the instant that I was through with her. Mothers in the poorer classes warn their daughters about noblemen’s sons, after all.”


“Hmm, there is that.”


“And in all honesty, though I find her interesting and pleasant, I have not fallen head over heels in love. So I am not mooning over her, just... wondering what might have been.”


“Life is full of might-have-beens, lad. The best you can do is go forward and find new opportunities.”


“Like you, sir? If that isn’t too personal to ask.”


“My history is no secret in the temple. I might have been a knight in the Order. I might have traveled with Tendel and seen wonders beyond imagining. I might even have someday followed Sir Donalus as Knight-Guardian. But those chances are gone, destroyed by my own foolish acts.”


“Still, you found a way back into the priesthood. I suppose that means you did go forward.”


“I cannot truly say that I found a way. After I sinned greatly, I was too cowardly to receive the rebuke from Helm that I very much deserved. I did not pray for a very long time. When I finally did, the Great Watcher, in his wondrous mercy, saw that my soul was still his, and that my regret was true. Every day I thank him for allowing me to serve him.”


“What would you have done if he hadn’t?”


“That is difficult to say. I believe much would have depended on whether Helm damned me as a false priest, or if he allowed me to atone as a normal worshiper. In any case, I would have had to choose between several possibilities. Ah, but I see that you are to return to the group. It is Jules turn to leave the fight.”


Jules stomped over to Anomen, giving Nordale a short nod as they passed one another.


“So, lad, what do you feel was most responsible for your supposed death?”






“I am not joking, Watcher, and I’m not blaming her because I don’t like her, or because she’s a woman. She deliberately moved to let that creature have a clear path to me.”


“Perhaps she was trying to move into a better position to attack.”


“I could believe that if she actually had tried to strike it. But she didn’t.” Jules turned to face his teacher. Anomen could see that there was more bewilderment in his eyes than rage. “We’re supposed to treat this as real. You have told us over and over to behave as though we are in an actual battle. Bardola let me die.”


Anomen frowned. “I find it hard to believe that a fellow priest would let another fall in battle deliberately. Perhaps she is not taking this exercise as seriously as you obviously do.”


“I hope so, sir. I will confess that if we were on a true battlefield and Bardola fell, I would not shed a tear. But I would never do anything to endanger her.” Jules scowled. “I suppose I should not be surprised that she is as vicious in battle as she is with her words.”


“Perhaps a bit of, shall we say, mercy is in order. Is it possible that what you are ascribing to malice was due to an error in assessing the flow of the battle?”


“You mean that maybe she made a mistake?” Jules snorted in amusement. “The all-knowing, fully trained before she came to the temple Bardola do something wrong? That is a wonderful thought.”


In our counseling sessions, I have to work feverishly to drag more than one syllable at a time from him. Perhaps this experience has shaken him more than either of us realize.


In a low tone, Anomen asked, “Let us leave the issue of Bardola’s actions for another time. What of you, lad? What has this taught you?”


“Besides not to trust Bardola to defend me? I... am not sure.”


“Please, speak freely.”


Jules looked uncomfortable. “It felt strange. To be declared dead, I mean. I suppose I never really thought about how a battle could end for me.”


“That is an important realization that all who enter combat, be they priest, wizard or swordsman, must experience. No matter how skilled or talented you may be, death is never impossible.”


To his surprised, Jules scowled and crossed his arms. The younger priest made it obvious that he did not wish to continue the conversation. Anomen made a few attempts to engage him once more, but Jules barely replied.


When the class ended, he dismissed his students to the changing rooms. Imoen trotted over to him and said, “That was interesting. I think some of them took things more seriously today.”


“Yes, I agree.


“I should get back to the house. Saravok is in Athkatla, and has been sharing the latest gossip about Tendel and Nalia. Have you heard that she’s expecting?”


“No. No, I had not.” He winced slightly.


“Hey, don’t look like that. You and Surayah will be there yourselves soon enough.”


“Soon enough? Not for Surayah. She wishes she could have been with child a week after we returned to the city.”


“Just wait. Oooh, I have to tell you what Nalia sent Tendel out to hunt for in the middle of the night.”


They laughed and chatted companionably. Anomen enjoyed hearing about Tendel’s latest foibles as prospective father and awkward ruler.


“Anomen, I have a question.”




“Why do your students stare at us every time I laugh? When we’re talking and joking together, they look at me as if we’re doing something, oh, immoral. Like we’re plotting a crime.”


He turned slightly and looked towards the changing rooms out of the corner of his eye. Several of his students were gathered, heads together and whispering. “In truth, I have no idea. But it can probably be ascribed to my reputation. I believe that some of them have been watching me for signs of evil.”


“That... that’s pretty terrible. Doesn’t it bother you?” Imoen frowned, her brow drawn down over eyes more sad than outraged.


“When I was a novice myself, such behavior made me bitterly angry because the evil they were waiting to see was my father’s. But now I cannot deny that they are at least in some part justified. I am capable of terrible sins.”


“But you’ve changed, haven’t you?”


“I certainly hope so. Some of my students would not agree.”


“So it’s once a bad person, always a bad person? That doesn’t seem fair.”


“It is not that simple, I feel. Consider that I have killed innocents. Can you imagine Sir Keldorn doing the same?”


“Keldorn? He would never... oh.”


He gave her a melancholy smile. “You see now? No one can look upon me and say that I would never commit that sin because I have already done so. How then can they be certain that I will never repeat such an act?”


“Still, I don’t think I could be that calm about it.”


“Oh, I would not have you think that it never rankles. I will confess to the occasional urge to seize them by the shoulders and shake something approaching sense into their heads. But as a teacher, I must resist such impulses.”


“Better you than me. But then, your impulses don’t include illusions of fire-breathing dragons.”


#2 grayswandir

Posted 13 March 2019 - 03:37 PM

Hi Silrana--congratulations on your recovery. Very nice to see more chapters of "Canon".

A mature Anomen trains the next generation, plus Imoen-antics--fun!

#3 Silrana

Posted 13 March 2019 - 10:18 PM

Hi Silrana--congratulations on your recovery. Very nice to see more chapters of "Canon".

A mature Anomen trains the next generation, plus Imoen-antics--fun!



Thanks!  I wouldn't call it a recovery, because my ailments are permanent, but it helps to feel better.  I'm glad you enjoyed the chapter!

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