Chapter 9 – The Awakening
Part 1: Assessment

The Caller stood over Ienarath, patiently waiting for her to wake up fully, staring at her intently as she did. When Ienarath regained her senses and was awake, she sat up and looked at The Caller.

Looming over her was a stern looking hooded figure. The woman was definitely elven, and an Altmer by the looks of it. She wore dark grey robes, trimmed in an off-white color. Her robes were tied at the waist with a simple rope and had a matching cowl that wrapped around her shoulders and draped down behind her. She was staring at Ienarath with a look of such intensity that it forced Ienarath to look away. After an uncomfortably long time, The Caller spoke.

“You have made quite a stir, young lady. What is your name?”

“Ienarath, ma'am,” Ienarath replied meekly. There was an air about this woman that did not simply require respect, but demanded it. Ienarath was always confident and unafraid to speak, but here and now, with this woman, she was reduced to feeling like a small child lost in a marketplace.

“Tell me, Ienarath. Why are you here, and why should we allow you to stay?” Ienarath fell silent. She was simply, and suddenly, at a loss for words.

“Well?” Prompted The Caller.

“I’m here,” started Ienarath, “because I have nowhere else.”

“Is that so,” replied The Caller, her expressionless gaze boring into Ienarath.

“Yes, ma’am,” Ienarath said once again. “I will not be sold, like a piece of meat,” she continued, a bit more harshly than she intended, but she was still angry with Baldr; with all of them.

“Continue,” was all The Caller said.

“I will not be sold, and I will not go back.” Ienarath reiterated.

“Back to Valtheim?” The Caller asked.

“No, not there either, but that’s not what I meant. I will not go back...home.”

“And where is home?” Asked The Caller.

After a long pause, Ienarath looked away and replied quietly, “Nowhere.”

“I see,” said The Caller. “So, I now know why you are here. You seek refuge; asylum, if you will. Very well. We are in a position to grant you such a thing, but you must answer me this:” and in a low, but sharp tone, she leaned in towards Ienarath and asked very slowly and deliberately, “Why?”

“I..I..,” and then with a sigh of defeat, Ienarath's shoulders sank  and she answered, “I don’t know.”

“Wrong. Try again. Why should we take you in?” Asked The Caller.

“I don’t know,” answered Ienarath a second time.

“Yes you do, child! Now tell me, why should we take you in?!” The Caller asked for a third time, her lip curled in anger.

Afraid, but now on the defensive, Ienarath spat back at her, “Because I’m asking you to, OK?! Because I have nowhere to go! Because I have abilities that I cannot teach myself!” By the time she was finished, she was upright, breathing heavily and kneeling on the  bed with her fists clenched.

The Caller stood tall and smiled. “Sit down child. That’s better. 

“Ienarath, you are correct, you have magic in you, and it desperately wants to get out. We can help you with that. We can also help you grow as an alchemist, too.” Then, without warning, The Caller moved the conversation in a whole new direction.

“Tell me,” she started as she began walking around the room, “did you know that magic follows a mother’s line?” She smiled at Ienarath’s questioning look, “I can see by your expression that you did not. It’s true, though, no matter what the men want you to believe. Magic is strongest when passed from mother to daughter, plain and simple. So, in order to best help you, I need to know more about your mother.”

“I can’t,” said Ienarath, flatly. “She died when I was born. I never knew her.”

“I see,” said The Caller, in sudden contemplation, and then she turned to Celeste, who was still sitting quietly at the table. Celeste stood up as The Caller approached her. Then The Caller whispered, “she is life from death. She was destined to find us. Her tutelage begins tomorrow.”

“Yes, Caller,” replied Celeste quietly. And with a faint smile on her face she added, “I will begin preparations immediately.”

Turning back to Ienarath, The Caller spoke again. “Ienarath, you must listen, and listen carefully, for I shan't repeat myself. You are now part of this family and I expect you to behave as such. 

“I am The Caller, and you will address me as ‘Caller’ and refer to me as ‘The Caller’. Is that understood?”

“Yes, ma’am.” There was silence.

“Yes, Caller.”

"Good. Since Celeste had the foresight to lead you here, she will be your mentor, but we are all your teachers, so I expect that you will be attentive at all times. Is that understood?" 

“Yes, Caller.”

“Good. And finally,” and with a pause, she looked directly into Ienarath’s eyes and asked, “does the art of necromancy disturb you?”

“No, Caller,” replied Ienarath for a third time, in all sincerity.


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