Previously: The Immortal Plane

After Fairuz, the other first years each took a turn casting wards, but she wasn't paying attention. She felt different, light and heavy at the same time, strong yet weak and nauseous. Everything happening around her seemed to be from a distance. It wasn't until Tolfdir dismissed the class that she finally snapped back to here and now.

"You've all done very well today," he was saying. "Class is dismissed until the same time tomorrow. Remember to take advantage of this hall to practice your spells. Fairuz, please see Urag gro-Shub in the Arcanaeum this afternoon. I'll have a reading list prepared for you."

Class dispersed, with some students leaving right away while a few lingered.

"Fairuz, is it?" a pale young man with black hair asked. He had a brilliant smile, and was wearing the same blue silk robes as her. "I'm Onmund."

A Nord, Fairuz blinked, pleasantly surprised. "Hi. It's nice to meet you."

"And I'm Brelyna Maryon," a black-haired beauty cheerfully greeted. She was a tall Dunmeri girl in brown and yellow robes.

"Nice to meet you," Fairuz said again, still feeling shaky, but not nervous anymore. In fact, she was feeling pleasantly warm, safe, as though the worst had past.

"I'm from Raven Rock," Brelyna said. "Did you just arrive from Hammerfell?"

"Stros M'Kai," Fairuz nodded. It was the smallest island in Hammerfell, but quite famous.

"Stros M'Kai?" Onmund was visibly surprised. "Don't they make rum there?"

"My parents are in the rum business," Fairuz nodded. "Where are you from?"

"A tiny village in Skyrim," he laughed. He seemed like such a wholesome, easygoing young man. He was clearly strong, as Nords were often said to be, and looked as though he'd been raised on a farm or something. But at the same time, he seemed rather refined.

Fairuz noticed her heart beating fast again.

"Oh, please," Brelyna rolled her eyes. "He always says that. He's actually from Riverwood, which is just outside Whiterun. He's practically a city boy."

Fairuz tensed slightly, even as she maintained her smile. " two know each other?"

"We met on the first day," Brelyna nodded. "We all live on the same floor."

Oh, great, Fairuz sighed. She didn't want to be "that girl, but she really want things to work out here. She wanted to meet a nice boy just like Onmund and she didn't want to share his attention. She did enough of that with her sisters in Hammerfell.

"Brelyna here is what we call 'royally inbred'," Onmund smirked. "She's descended from a long line of Telvanni mages, unlike the rest of us peasants."

Fairuz blinked. I have no idea what that means.

"Stop!" Brelyna laughed, her voice high and sweet and starting to grate on Fairuz's nerves. "My family is insufferable. I get a letter almost every week asking about what I've learned."

"Meanwhile, my parents are the opposite," Onmund explained. "My father is still trying to talk me out of this."

"Oh?" Fairuz asked. "How come?"

His humor dimmed slightly. "Nords...don't have the most favorable view of magic. I started showing signs of magical ability when I was about nine, and my parents were not thrilled. They took me to the Temple of Kynareth in Whiterun to see if there was a way to get rid it."

"They sound like mine," Fairuz said, leaping at the opportunity. "My parents are both warriors and merchants. The whole reason they even had kids was to have someone to inherit their empire. Problem is, I'm not good at the whole warrior thing...or the business thing." Or boys, she didn't add. Fairuz had a terrible track record with boys. They found her awkward in conversation and graceless in combat.

But she'd experienced enough rejection by now not to make the mistakes before...or so she hoped.

Step One: don't be too eager, she coached herself. They can smell desperation. She'd have to remember to maintain a certain amount of distance from him.

"And your siblings?" Brelyna asked. "What are they like?"

Step Two: don't get insecure around the competition, Fairuz reminded herself, even when said competition is mind-numbingly pretty. In fact, find a way to make the competition your ally.

"My older sister, Muminah, was practically born with a scimitar in her hand," she told them, adding a touch of casual laughter to hide her discomfort. "She's an excellent warrior. My younger sister, Samia, is the businesswoman. She's only fifteen, but she's already arranged her own marriage to the son of a silk merchant. Calculated her dowry and everything. They even set their wedding date three years now."

"Wow," Brelyna said, eyes wide. "So you're a middle child, huh?"

Fairuz's face soured slightly. "Guilty." She turned to Onmund. "You?"

"Only child," he shrugged. "But I have a lot of cousins. Brelyna's the baby in her family, by the way," he added, smiling at the Dark Elf.

How lovely, Fairuz blinked. "So what's this I hear about us having our own kitchen?" she asked the Nord.

Brelyna's face lit up. "I can show you!"

Fairuz kept her smile frozen in place. "Great."


To be fair, the kitchen was fully stocked, including things like fish, potatoes, vegetables, cheese, and herbs for seasoning.

"Bread and butter are delivered every morning from the main kitchens," Brelyna explained. "We usually have them at breakfast after the morning lesson. Fruits and vegetables are delivered every other day. And since this is a coastal town, you can expect to eat a lot of fish."

"Makes sense," Fairuz shrugged, grabbing a carrot to snack on. "When you grow up on an island, you get used to eating fish almost every day."

"We don't eat a lot of sweets though," Brelyna warned. "We don't have our own oven.  So if you ever get a craving for pie or tarts, you'll have to go into the city." She led the Redguard into the adjoining dining room and took a seat, noting how Fairuz gave the wall a weird. "Yes," she chuckled. "You know you're Skyrim with all the dead animals on the walls."

"You know...I don't have a sweet tooth," Fairuz frowned, as though surprised by that tidbit of self-discovery. She didn't sit down; she was actually thinking of a reason to excuse herself so she could go literally anything else.

"Oh me, neither!" Brelyna explained. "But Onmund? That boy loves some sugar."

Step Three, Fairuz blinked, promptly taking a seat opposite the Dark Elf and giving her undivided attention. Get intel.

"Is that so?"


She knew she wasn't supposed to be desperate, but after spending the last hour listening to Brelyna talk about almost everything, Fairuz felt she'd earned a moment to see Onmund by himself.

"Keep it casual," she muttered to herself over and over again as she walked the dorms, hoping to run into him. "Keep it brief." As fate would have it, she met him just as he was leaving his room.

"And where are you headed?" she asked cheerily, noting her voice suddenly sounded higher, like Brelyna's.

"Back to the Hall of Elements to practice my spells," he replied.

"How many do you know?" she asked, despite not genuinely being curious. It was part of Step Four: appearing to be interested even you're not.

"A few," he shrugged. "But I am just a first year and I still have a long way to go."

"I actually feel a lot better hearing that," she laughed. "I was terrified when Tolfdir called on me this morning."

"We could tell," Onmund laughed. "But you did great for someone casting a ward for the very first time." Pause. "Where are you headed?"

"The Arcanaeum," she blinked, suddenly remembering she actually was supposed to go there. "I have to pick up my reading list. Say," she leaned in, lowering her voice. "Where do we bathe? I'm still sweaty and gross from being on the road."

"Oh, there's a bath house downstairs," he gestured towards the stairwell. "Just go straight down; you can't miss it."

"Thank you," she nodded, hiding her disappointment that he didn't offer to walk her. "I guess I'll see you around."

"Later, Fairuz," he waved, heading towards the main door.

Next: Step Five


Popular Posts