Chapter 9 – The Awakening
Part 3: The Test

It wasn’t long until Ienarath got into a rhythm at Fellglow, and before she knew it, she was celebrating her 16th birthday. By then, a year since her admittance, her alchemy skills had improved more than 10 fold and she was casting simple spells without hesitation. Celeste had proved to be an excellent mentor in conjuration, while Sifkni’s alchemy talents were beyond anything that her aunt had ever shown her. 

And, as she had promised The Caller her first night, she was ever cognizant of everything everyone was doing and never passed up a chance to learn something new. Like water poured over a bed of sand, she absorbed everything and her thirst for knowledge never seemed to be sated. Even in her downtime Ienarath would spend hours reading and taking notes about the properties of various alchemy ingredients or about spell casting techniques. And so she continued this way into, and past, her 17th year. Halfway into her 18th year The Caller approached her.

“Ienarath,” came The Callers voice. Ienarath looked up from her book, and quickly set it down, standing up in the process. “Yes, Caller,” she answered.

“Come with me,” was all she said. Without hesitation, Ienarath followed her. They ascended the keep without a word until they reached a room that Ienarath had never been in. It was The Caller’s private study. They walked in, and as Ienarath passed over the threshold, The Caller instructed her to close the door.

It was large round room where the floor stepped down in concentric circles a couple of times. In the center of the room stood a lone podium. As she looked around, Ienarath could see alcoves opposite of where she was; they were currently empty.

“Tell me, young Ienarath, how are your lessons coming?” Asked The Caller.

“Well, Caller. I’ve learned a great deal over the past three and a half years,” Ienarath replied.

“We shall see.” And with that, The Caller began what Ienarath recognized as a conjuration spell. Instantly fearing the worst, Ienarath quickly cast a shield, concentrating on it until she knew The Caller’s intentions.

In the blink of an eye an atronach of dust and stone hovered before her. Lightning crackled all about it as it’s base revolved in a slow undulating motion. And then it attacked.

Her shield took most of the attack, but Ienarath was still pushed back by the partial electrical current that passed through. Feeling a noticeable drain in her connection to aetherius, she focused all the more on keeping her shield up. Then, diving to one side, she let her shield drop and then cast a lightning bolt of her own. “Damn!” She blurted out. “Ice. Ice. Not electricity!” At this time, her lessons from the bandits took over. She had not had to use her combat training in long time, but it came back to her almost immediately. She continued to move about, able to avoid the atronach’s attacks. 

She positioned herself between the podium and the atronach, crouching down to reduce her profile, then with a good deal of dexterity, she stepped out to one side, then back, drawing the atronach’s attack, and with the atronach casting to her left, she quickly dove right, casting a frost spell. Maintaining the spell, she continued to run a full circle around the creature until she was once again behind the podium.

At that point, the atronach had sustained a noticeable amount of damage, but was not yet defeated. It rushed the podium and then smashed it into pieces. Barely able to get out of the way, Ienarath was left vulnerable. The atronach then hit her with a bolt that sent her flying across the room and up onto the top tier. She landed with a grunt, but had no time to lick her wounds. She thought quickly, assessing the strength of her aetherial connection. It was weak, but she had to take a gamble, so she mustered up all the strength she had and cast an ice spike from each hand. The action completely severed her connection, but it worked. The spikes hurtled towards the atronach, each one hit the creature square in the torso, and with a blinding light it exploded in a shower of pebbles.

“Good,” said The Caller, as Ienarath stood in place panting, feeling herself slowly reconnect with aetherius. “But, you have failed the test. Can you tell me why? If so, we can continue.”

Ienarath stood there a moment, not quite comprehending what she was being asked, then it came to her, “Caller,” she began, bowing slightly as she did, “I failed to eliminate the source of the conjuration.”

“That is correct,” was all The Caller said.

“But Caller, in order to do that, I would have had to defeat you!”

“That is correct,” The Caller replied, once again.

“But!”

“But nothing! Now, shall we continue, or do you feel you are not ready?” Snapped The Caller.

Looking down, and bowing slightly once again, Ienarath replied, “I am ready.”

“Good.”

The Caller spent the next several hours testing Ienarath’s knowledge of spells and spell theory, alchemy, and necromancy. Ienarath, having recomposed herself, performed flawlessly throughout the remainder of the test. Upon being dismissed, Ienarath paused at the door, and without turning asked, “Caller? If I hadn’t defeated the atronach?”

“The test would’ve been over,” was all The Caller said in return. And with that Ienarath went to her quarters and went to sleep.

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