Some time had passed since the day they had met the Homin handing out pamphlets in the town.

The evening had brought a somewhat reflective mood since there were now serious matters to discuss.

Initially, Limeh had refused to even listen to the pleading of Feier'an and even Feuor. She considered that it was dangerous to have the children to walk around the town alone and Feier'an had agreed but had gently pointed out that this was not the subject of the discussion. After a few moments however, she had regained her composure and listened to what they both had to say; becoming gradually convinced that in these dire times it might indeed be essential for Homins to be able to defend and protect themselves and their loved ones. The security and safety of the Defencia Academia was appealing and she finally agreed to let Feuor apply for training there. When hearing that Chao-Li held the same thoughts for Nih'na, she became increasingly convinced that they had all made the right decision.

For Nih'na it had been easier, as her father, Chao-Li, had embraced the idea of his child as a scholar and when he spoke to Naom'Chi he had such calm and confidence in his manner that she was convinced instantly. He had told her that not only had Nih'na inherited her mother beauty, but also her skill in the magical area. When he explained how their daughter had healed Feuor's wound earlier that day and that not even a scratch was left, Naom'Chi had smiled at her and nodded. She had been delighted when both her parents had agreed to allow her to join the Academia together with Feuor. She had happily studied the books that her mother had fetched from the small library, just one precious shelf in the larger living quarters, and she had instantly taken the book in which she found the healing spell.

In the days that followed, the parents had not seen much of their children as they had been busy with their chores while Feuor had been given an old dagger, a sword and a pike that Feier'an had purchased a long time ago when they had just started to settle in. He had used them to rid the area of the dangerous animals that roamed there in that time. With these old weapons Feuor spent as much time as he could in training. Since he knew what was awaiting him, he practiced harder, reminding himself of the accident that day they had spoken to the tall pale man. Feier'an had shown him the standard stanza from which to begin the wielding, and had made sure that he had grasped it before teaching any other moves. "Basics are basic" he had stated when Feuor had complained about the monotonous training, and after learning it he had understood what his father had meant. The more he trained, the easier it was to wield the weapons and soon he was practicing switching between them as fast as he could in case it was ever needed.

Nih'na had studied most of the books her mother had handed her, devouring their contents with a raw hunger for the knowledge they contained. There were not only books about how to cure wounds in battle, but also how one should focus the energy in order to extract stamina and increase the sap flowing in Homins. A few of the books she was given later on in her training spoke of the other kind of magical skills to learn; the destructive ones. Her parents had told her that she should study them equally so as to know how and what kind of damage they would inflict on their target. It was good to understand this since some animals could easily resist some sorts of magic yet be vulnerable to other kinds, and it was also very useful information when one was healing. At first she had been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information, but after a week she had read most of the books containing basic knowledge and becoming tired of her own room, had taken to sitting outside with her books, choosing a spot near to where Feuor was training. At times, with his consent, she had tried the heal spell on him. It had been small bursts of magic, but he had felt the difference that they made.

One day her Chao-Li and Feier'an had come to them as they were training. Chao-Li had extended two large glove-like things to Nih'na. She had looked at them strangely, recognizing them as they appeared to be similar to the old ones her father had lying on the shelf with all the books. She had never asked about them, not deeming them to be important. When he asked her to put them on she was surprised; why wear gloves on such warm day? As she had put them on, however, she felt that they were not warm at all, in fact they seemed altogether lighter than their appearance suggested. Chao-Li had told her that they were magical amplifiers which he had crafted for her. She was stunned as she had never known that her father was able to make such things She tried them on Feuor with no warning and the sudden rush that went through his body as Nih'na levitated, turned in the air and shot a larger blue bolt right on him, made him almost stumble and fall Chao-Li had smiled while Feier'an had laughed and thrown something to him with a "Here, better use this to support yourself my boy".

Feuor had grabbed the stick but as soon as he regained the balance he had seen what it really was. It was a well crafted pike, a thing of both function and beauty. He looked at it in awe and then at his father who just nodded and said, "Yes, it is yours, my son."

Examining it further, the materials seemed to be of some special variety that Feuor had never seen around their home. As he studied the fine weapon he found the inscription,

"A pike as mighty as its user!"

Nih'na looked at her amps as she removed them and she also noted that they were also inscribed

"To cure and give strength is to care".

They had both wondered what these inscriptions meant but their fathers' had just shaken their heads telling them that in time they would know their meaning. Their mothers joined the group, bringing more items; Naom'Chi had secretly worked hard to find materials and craft two sets of jewels in which she had set sap crystals that gave their bearer the ability to receive more hits.

Now Limeh approached and unfolded a light armour made with the softest of cloth and hardest of threads. She had also used sap crystals so that the armour held the same ability as the jewels. When Feuor had changed into his armour, she had turned to Nih'na with a smile handing her another set of armour, crafted for a girl and a Zorai. Feuor's eyes widened when he saw his friend stand tall and proud in her new identity.

Today marked the day that their practice had ended with this small ceremony, it was a brief time to enjoy the feast that all had made and to look forward to the future and all it might bring

The last lazy afternoon passed at the table, eating and talking. As evening stole the colour from the skies, the adults started to clear the table and prepare for the night, while Nih'na and Feuor, still clutching their armour and jewels, wandered off to a spot where they used to sit when both were reading. They lay in the grass for a moment and looked at the brightening stars.

"So, tomorrow it is then, when it begins" Feuor said.

"Yes, tomorrow all will change." Nih'na replied.

The following day they stood before the Defencia Academia looking at the high gate in the grey dawn light, wondering what their futures behind it would hold.

This was two years ago.


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