zweihander: (go and make your own faction)
celene ([personal profile] zweihander) wrote2015-05-02 11:13 pm
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caroline's summer

It had been a long few weeks. With everybody else grounded halfway to eternity, Caroline had managed to get off easy—even though she probably shouldn't have. But she would tell her dad about the barbarian at some other point. Maybe when she was older. Maybe when she stopped having nightmares about it, or when she got tired of lying about what those nightmares were about.

The only person in the village, other than her friends, who knew what happened was Father Boivin. She'd made a point of that. One night, only a handful of days after they'd all returned from their audience with the Fae Lord, Caroline approached the Father after evening mass. She'd made another point to be the only one around, and it may have involved sneaking out, but she'd done it with the intent to confess. Her father would forgive her.

"Bless me, Father, for I have sinned," she remembered herself saying in a much more confident voice than anything else she would say that night. She waited for the man behind the grate to prompt her answer. Of course, there was no anonymity there.

"I have ended the life of a fellow man."

It had felt less real then than when it had happened. She'd never actually said it out loud until then. It had felt like an actual confession, one that would send her to the stocks or the gallows if she'd said it to anyone else. But she could trust Father Boivin. And she remembered him telling her how to repent after one of his heavier sighs that somehow never seemed to sound condescending or exasperated. And when she had left the confessional and spent almost too much time repenting in the pews, she found the Father again.

She'd asked him if there were any advice he had for her. She knew that this would probably not be the last time it happened, if they were being tasked to do favors for the Fae Lord and who realistically knew who else in the future. And if this was how she reacted every time it happened, she would be nothing but a hindrance. But she didn't want to stop adventuring with her friends, because she was on the fringe of discovering that all her stories and all her songs were real and to stop here would seal off her life just before she started living and however much of that she actually said to Father Boivin she didn't remember. The point was that he knew exactly where to send her to learn about how to cope with the necessity of killing.

The next morning, she went to the hunter's guild to speak with its leader, Mr. Herne. Father Boivin had called him Liam, but Caroline was nowhere near that level of comfortable yet with the adults of the town. As the head of the hunter's guild, Mr. Herne had more than a few things to tell her about the proper way to handle exactly this kind of thing. (She still has a feeling that Father Boivin let Mr. Herne know about what she'd told him, but she's okay with that.) Self-defense is a perfectly valid reason to kill, if necessary, and that sense of self-defense can also extend to your hunting party if they can't defend themselves. It's a fact of life, he had said to her, and it was not a pleasant one, but if the day came when she had to defend herself with lethal force again, she had to be prepared mentally and physically.

He helped her from there in more ways than one. An iron dagger, practical as a sidearm though it was, would only go so far in the battlefield—Caroline needed a proper weapon, and Mr. Herne was happy to provide. She went through several options, but a straight sword proved too heavy; a battle axe, not quick enough; a spear, almost entirely unusable. Only when she saw other hunters sparring with more lightweight blades did Caroline find a weapon she could actually use. The hand guard of fencing swords protected her from enemies who would play dirty while the length and accuracy of the blade gave her an advantage at striking critical areas.

She had begun training with a standard rapier, but at Mr. Herde's recommendation switched to the lighter, shorter blade of the colichemarde to give herself more control. Maybe when she grew up she'd be able to use a full-length rapier, or maybe she'd stick with it; she did sort of like the way that it felt in her hand. Once she'd settled on a weapon, she began spending her days in training, waking early and finding sparring partners and practicing until she felt confident in her own skills with the blade. (Her free time was spent trying to write new songs for everyone to hear once they were allowed to play together again.)

By the time autumn came around, she hadn't yet mastered the colichemarde, but she was much further along the path than when the Great Grounding had started. The important thing was not that she knew how to use it, but that she knew when. Discretion was the only thing standing between her and losing her humanity, in her mind. She could still be a good person and know how to kill someone. It would just have to be knowledge she kept at bay, as another tool in her increasingly large bag of tricks.

Maybe next she could figure out what's going on with that runestone...