39 - Study

Brelyna wanted to study the books before she took them back to the College. If for no other reason than to determine why Orthorn chose these three in particular. They all had some connection with "the elves" but it looked like they were all written by men, and ones that didn't make any distinction between Altmer, and Bosmer, and Dunmer. Of course, some of it was historical, and those divisions hadn't been quite the same in those days. The Dunmer were Chimer then, and the Ayleids were still around.

Elven history may just have been Othorn's own area of study, rather than anything else. It could also, of course, have been what brought him into contact with the Caller in the first place, and if he was as infatuated with her as Brelyna presumed, then he'd expect her to have an interest in the same books.

"We did find them all in her chamber," Zahra pointed out. "He got that much right, at least."

We ended up back at our tower. That was the place Zahra and I felt most comfortable, and it was secluded enough for Brelyna to study in peace. When we arrived, Zahra and I changed into our usual house-robes, and turned to see Brelyna rummaging in her satchel for a change of clothes.

She pulled a five-foot staff out of the ten-inch square satchel and peered into its depths. then she reached deep down into it and pulled out a piece of soft, but wrinkled silk.

Zahra was looking on incredulously. "You're a conjurer, and you still do that by hand?"

It seemed she was just as surprised that Brelyna let her clothes get all messed up at the bottom of the bag, too.

Brelyna explained that she'd put all her effort into summoning atronachs as allies. "They can buy me the time to find the right staff for the circumstances, so it's more effective that way."

Zahra wasn't convinced. The little magic it took to swap your equipment, whether that was your outfit, or your weapons, was always worth spending first, before you started summoning allies, or casting fireballs. "Do you at least know the spells to do that?"

Brelyna admitted she'd never learned them, because others had taken priority.

"Then we should do something about that. A conjurer will find these easy to learn."

It appeared that Brelyna wasn't easily trained. She had a good understanding of magical principles, but needed to practice a lot before spells went according to plan.

"So what exactly did you just do?" Zahra asked her.

"I took off my College robes, put them in the bag, pulled out the silk one, and put it on." Brelyna answered. "What did I do wrong?"

"Those were all the right steps, but in the wrong order," Zahra explained. "Even with magic, it takes time for it all to happen, so between taking off the one set of clothes, and putting on the other, you're not wearing anything. And I mean nothing. Don't you have any underwear? Or are you just doing that to tease Kothet?"

I didn't mind being teased like that. Really. But I didn't say anything. Apparently I didn't have to.

"Look what you've done to him already," Zahra said, pointing at me.

If i'd still been wearing my armour, they wouldn't have noticed, although it would have been rather uncomfortable in that rigid shell.

"First, you're going to get that spell right, and then you're going to do something about Kothet," Zahra told her, in a stern voice that I knew she was using to avoid laughing out loud. "Now, first you summon out the replacement outfit .. go on, do it ... then you swap what you're wearing .. now do that ... and then you put the other one away again."

It took quite a few minutes of practice before Brelyna did it consistently right. So I got teased a few more times, and by the time Zahra decided she'd done enough spell-casting, I was ready for something else.

"Now you should see to Kothet," Zahra told Brelyna.

"Should 1? I mean, may I? What about you?"

"Just get on with it before I change my mind."

Perhaps it was being back at our tower that gave Zahra the idea. "You remember the book you found here; the one that taught you to summon me?"

How could I forget? That was the best thing that ever happened to me, or at least the means to get it.

"Well, you may also remember that you had alternatives, and obviously chose the right one for you. But the others were real options, and there are two other dremora that were ready to come here if you made the wrong choice."

I think I detected a slight bias in the way she was describing it, but she was right.

"Let me try something," Zahra said, and began to concentrate. "There, back on the side-table."

I looked over, and saw what looked like the same book, back where I'd found it.

"It won't work for you again. You already read it, so you can't learn the spell twice. But Brelyna hasn't read it ... She'll have a different perspective when she chooses, too."

Brelyna didn't quite understand. She didn't know what the book was about, after all, but she was at least familar with the way spell-tomes worked.

"Oh wow! A new summoning spell! And I get a choice, too."

"Before you do, indulge my curiosity," I asked her. "I got three options, and chose Zahra. What choices are you getting?"

"Just two. Male, or Female. What would a third option have been?"

"Well when I had the choice, there were two female options: ally or companion. I was confident enough in my combat abilities to know which would be preferable."

"Does that mean that the male option might be a bit ... er ... unsuited to my tastes?"

"Just that he'd be primarily a fighter, and you'll have to train him yourself for anything else," Zahra assured her.

"You'll have no difficulty with that," I added. "but I do need to expand on that point. When you summon him, you won't be getting a fully-trained Valkynaz, encased in a complete set of daedric armour, like the summoning spell you've been aspiring to. He'll be a lesser rank, and ready to grow with you. When I summoned Zahra the first time, she didn't know a fraction of the spells she does now."

We'd obviously convinced her, as the book disappeared, and she eagerly cast her new spell.

We hadn't yet mentioned that where you cast it was important, so we had to deal with his initial disorientation. He - his name was Ranyu - was expecting to defend his new mistress from some imminent danger, and was not ready to find himself naked in someone's bedroom. At least everyone else was naked, too, and apparently not hostile.

I must say he handled it rather well. Especially as he had the further complication of being in the presence of a higher-ranking member of the Kyn, and having to reconcile his duties to his mistress with deference to me, and Zahra, as my companion. Still, I wish my introduction to Tamriel had been anything like this!