"Father, this is dull." A single brown eyebrow arched itself above a straight nose and high cheekbones, the man's visage gazing curiously at the young girl before him.
"Dull, pet? You are learning the core of power, lessons that will stay with you until the day you draw your last breath. How is that dull?" Ketani pouted, copper eyes flickering with annoyance and lips petulant.
"This is bookwork! I'm not a baby anymore, but you won't let me cast anything!" Her father laid down his book and looked straight at her, nut-colored hair falling down around his shoulders.
"You are not ready." The simple statement caused the girl to scowl.
"I am too!" The man chuckled, causing her to scowl even deeper. "What's so funny?!"
"You're just like your mother," he said with another small laugh. "She acts just the same when she doesn't get her way. No, my dear. You are not ready for the castings."
"But why not?" Childish anger colored her words, impotent under the weight of her young age. "I've studied so much, Father."
"And continue to study you will, until I say otherwise." Her scowl turned into a glare.
"But why?" The man sighed, shifting in his seat to better face his daughter. He waved her forward, and she obeyed without a word. Already, her steps held a hint of the grace she inherited from both parents.
"Do you want power, Ketani?" She nodded, stance firm even as her father met her at eye level like he did when he was about to make a point she wouldn't like. "Power is only for the strong. It is meant to be taken, my little love, but only by those who are able to do so." She opened her mouth to protest that she could take it, that she would--but she was silenced by her father's long-fingered hand cupping her cheek. "And you will be strong enough--but not yet. You are not strong enough to take this power without it consuming you. And so--" He patted her cheek lovingly and allowed his pale hand to fall away. "We must make you strong. Do you understand?"
"Yes." The single syllable held some lingering petulance, but the man seemed to accept it.
"Good girl," he murmured. "Your mother would kill me if I let you begin before ensuring you are prepared. Just be patient, little one, and we will prepare you together." Ketani sighed, nodding her small face in acknowledgement, and went back to her desk and her books and her quills.
Her father did not see the look she cast at her left hand, remembering the shadowy energy she had summoned forth not a week prior...nor did Ketani see the look her father cast at her, knowledge of his only child's burgeoning power--and her active seeking of it--burning a hole in his heart.
"Auntie Ket, this is boring." Ketani raised a red eyebrow at her "nephew," sitting back in her seat and placing a bookmark in the tome she had been purusing.
"Boring? You've never complained about bookwork before, Marzano. What's boring about it?" The young boy shrugged, flicking his quill back and forth.
"I dunno. I just can't focus on it right now. And we used to work with spells, do you remember? Not lately though. This is just...dull." Ketani sighed softly, and her full lips curved into a gentle smile.
"We'll take a break, then. Come here, child." Marzano stepped forward without hesitation, climbing onto the loveseat next to his aunt and leaning against her side. The woman wrapped an arm about his shoulders and bent down to kiss his bright copper hair.
"Do you know why I have you study so much, Marzano?" She felt his disgruntled sigh before she heard it.
"Because this power is dangerous to people who don't know how to use it." Ketani squeezed his shoulder gently.
"But it is also dangerous to those who do know how to use it, and that is why we must all strive to maintain our knowledge of core lessons. I was made to study just like you, dear one, and I still do today. Without that foundation, I may have been consumed a long time ago." Marzano shifted slightly and looked up at her.
"But we used to cast. Why did we stop?" Ketani smiled ruefully, running her long fingers through the boy's hair affectionately.
"Because you learned some things from your parents that you did not know how to control, Marzano. What happens if we cannot control our power?" Both knew that "parents" did not refer to Katelle and Zakarnas, but rather the boy's birth parents. Ketani knew they had been powerful warlocks before their death during the Cataclysm. She was unsure if an aptitude for nethermancy was passed through the blood--her own father was one, but her interests had been initially fostered elsewhere--and yet by all accounts, Marzano's parents had fused a part of their souls with the gem the boy carried in his late father's staff. She strongly suspected this was the source of his abilities, unnaturally strong for one of such a tender age.
"We risk being overpowered by it, and that can hurt ourselves and the people we love." Ketani nodded approvingly.
"When you are ready, we will begin practicing again. We will start with basic magics, those that stem from the Arcane; these will help you more than you realize now. Power must be earned, dear one; those who take it without having earned the right to do so will suffer the consequences. But you must be patient. Do you promise, Marzano?" Copper eyes met violet ones as the boy considered the request. Ketani knew he understood the trust implicit in a promise, and knew he would take it seriously.
If she could just keep him from the temptations of the Fel, his life would be vastly improved. He had already been looked down upon by many of his mother's comrades. One had called for his death some years ago. He was a boy of not even ten summers, and already he was feeling the pressures of society, being punished for the lives of his birth parents and his inheritance from them.
It sickened her. They all sickened her.
"I promise, Auntie Ket." She smiled softly, and bent to kiss her nephew's hair once more. A bit later, when Marzano went back to his studies, Ketani retrieved her journal and quill.
Wednesday, August 26th
This week has proven to be uneventful after my return from the Citadel. I am taking care of Katelle’s two children, overseeing Marzano’s theoretical studies as normal and attempting to keep little Sophie happy. I am unsure when I will return to my normal routine--such depends on if the newlyweds return to theirs at the appointed time or not.