The Blood – Torin, Part II

by disperser

What went on before:

We are introduced to Torin, a young man just coming into his own.  He feels responsible for his friend’s death.  A death brought about by advanced age, even though he had seen the same number of winters as Torin.  Torin is recognized as being of The Blood, and is taken by the men of the region’s Ruler.  Though near the maximum age for training, Ledanai is charged with teaching him about the ways of The Blood.  He learns he was indeed responsible for the death of his friend, but in the process he learns he is something more than just part of The Blood, with abilities members of The Blood do not have.  He also learns of the history of The Blood, The Spirit, and The Elders The Blood defeated those of The Spirit in a war over the use of Magic, specifically the cost of using Magic, as it drained ordinary humans of their lifeforce.  His training now continues within the confines of the training room.

The Blood – Torin, Part II

by E. J. D’Alise (Disperser)
Copyright November, 2012

“Those of The Spirit were forbidden to congregate, and forbidden to exchange vows with their own kind.  They could, and did, exchange vows with humans.  Their bloodlines became diluted, and all descendants are now but shadows of their ancestors.”  Ledanai paused, waiting for Torin to ask any questions he might have.  She knew with near certainty what his next question would be, as nearly all her pupils asked it.

Still, the wording, and depth of implied understanding, of Torin’s question surprised her.

“The Blood and Spirit were both Elders; could they exchange vows?  Why dilute the Spirit bloodline?” Torin was careful of the phrasing, lest he gave anything away.

“It was forbidden even before The War.  The exact edict is lost, but what did survive clearly warns of the dangers of such a union.  The child would be a monster.  To this day, bloodlines are carefully monitored to avoid such possibilities.” Even before she finished, Torin realized he, in fact, was that monster.

I don’t feel like a monster!” A chill ran through him as his mind rebelled against the realization.  If Ledanai noticed anything, she did not let on, and continued.

“As for the dilution of the Spirit bloodline . . . they are very valuable to The Blood, so they could not be destroyed, but too powerful to leave in their pure form.  Though they do not use magic, their natural abilities are greater than those of humans.  They would have been a threat to The Blood.”   

Torin pondered briefly before asking “How can they be a threat if they don’t use Magic?”

Ledanai had a sudden urge to skirt the question, to move onto another topic.  Without knowing why, she felt uneasy sharing what everyone of The Blood already knew.  “They could shield themselves and humans from having their lifeforce used by us, those of The Blood.  Diluting their bloodline weakened that ability.  Today’s Descendants of The Spirits can shield themselves, but not others.”

Torin briefly wondered how he could test whether he possessed a similar ability without giving himself away.  Nothing came to mind.  

“What makes them valuable to The Blood?”  It was a logical question, but much more important to Torin than Ledanai could imagine.  It could be he, Torin, might be valuable to The Blood.  Valuable things were often stored away, and jealously guarded by those who owned them.  Not an attractive prospect for his future.

“Their lifeforce replenishes.  Their lifeforce is purer, more powerful, and used judiciously is a lasting source for using Magic.”  Ledanai knew what the next question would be, and this time she was not surprised.

“But you said they retain the ability to shield themselves.  How can they be of value to us?”  Torin phrased the question to purposefully use the word “us”.  He wanted no doubt in Ledanai’s mind that he considered himself part of The Blood.

In fact, Ledanai was waiting for just such a supposedly unconscious alliance of the pupil to The Blood.  Few ever rejected privilege, and except on very rare occasions, they were ended if they did.  Once a pupil learned the details of The Blood, his option to remain unaffiliated was gone.

“That knowledge is lost to them.  They don’t know.”  Ledanai raised a hand, palm up, and continued.  “Reach out . . . you should sense three sources that are stronger, clearer than the others.  Were they flames, they would be burning brighter than the others.  The descendants of The Spirits are carefully tracked, for they are as valuable as water in the desert.  Our Ruler merits three lesser Spirits.  Yet, their lifeforce is stronger than nearly all humans in the compound, combined.  Some Rulers have more descendants of The Spirit, a few Rulers have less.” Ledanai stopped to drink from her cup, giving her throat a rest.

“Often,” she continued, “ambitious Rulers wage wars to add to their Spirit stock.  Lesser Rulers band together in pacts of mutual defense, and in response stronger Rulers also form alliances.  Such are the Politics of The Blood.”

Torin considered what he had learned.  He needed some time to process it all, to understand both outright, and implied, what it meant to him.  He decided to alter the line of questioning, lest he stirred Ledanai’s suspicions.

“I notice the three of The Spirit are all women.  Are those of The Spirit all females?”

Ledanai was taken aback.  In all her winters, she had not stopped to consider the issue, but upon reflection, she could recall few men.

“Hmmm, that is a good question.  It would seem nearly all are.  I will have to consult the Library as to why.” She finally answered.

“The Library?”

“The Blood council has offices in all the regions, and there are Libraries in each of the offices.  The Library has written copies of recorded history, as well as the laws which arose from the unfolding of said history.”  A bit annoyed at accidentally mentioning the Library, Ledanai continued. “It is only for a few to visit, and usually only in pursuit of resolving conflicts, or answering questions regarding bloodlines.”

“Aren’t we all of the same bloodline?” Torin would have preferred to learn more of the Library, but opted to have his questions continue to be reactive as opposed to directed.  He had a general idea of the precarious situation he was in, and did not want to draw undue attention to himself or his interests.

“We too are less than we once were.  Natural abilities vary as do physical characteristics, and over time some of The Blood also exchanged vows with humans.  All of it is carefully documented, with some bloodlines stronger than others.”

“Are Rulers chosen based on bloodlines?”

“Mostly.  But anyone can put forth a challenge to be Ruler.” Ledanai ignored the early history of The Blood, when challenges were far more commons, and often resulted in large number of Blood and human casualties as individuals sought to gain and hold power.

Instead, she offered up the current status.  “In practicality, few Rulers are ever challenged.  Most are appointed, and are from the more powerful bloodlines.  Aside that, once someone Bows to a Ruler, a challenge would be a waste of time.”  Another sip of water, and she continued.  “On your 15th winter you will have the opportunity to Challenge or Bow.  You would be foolish to mount a Challenge, and by Bowing you give oath to the Ruler.  Once you do, twenty winters must pass before you can Challenge again. But more important, Bowing requires you to cede a part of your abilities to the Ruler.”  Ledanai paused, waiting for Torin to process the information.

After a short pause, Torin asked what every pupil always asked.  “Cede part of my abilities?  I thought no one could alter a Blood’s ability.”  Even as he asked the question, Torin’s mind was working on possible scenario, and none were playing out to a good conclusion.

“No one can take your ability, however, you may cede some or all through a Blood Ritual.  Each subsequent Bowing takes a bit more of your ability.  

“The old man in the village . . . is he what’s left after many Bowings?”  Torin almost asked, but Ledanai made a motion with her hand.

“That’s enough for today,” she said as the heavy door locks snapped open.  “We will continue this tomorrow.”

As the doors began to open, she picked up the focusing stone, now dull and ordinary-looking, and rose.  Torin did the same.  They waited in silence as the first set of doors fully opened.  They then waited for the outside guard to unlock the outer doors, and swing them open.  Torin was curious about this arrangement, but on glancing toward Ledanai, her straight-ahead gaze and demeanor dissuaded him from asking anything.

“You have sword training after your meal.”  Ledani offered no other instructions, and walked away before he had moved.

He followed, but as Ledanai turned the corner, a girl appeared at the door.  She bowed to him, thus embarrassing him, and gesturing away from the direction Ledanai had gone, asked Torin to follow her.  She walked off without waiting for an answer.  He followed.

– To Be Continued –

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9 Responses to “The Blood – Torin, Part II”

  1. You asked for feedback and, as you so kindly gave me some, I thought I would return the favour. 🙂
    It is certainly a fantasy story with some interesting elements, but I can’t help feeling you are rushing the reader through the background to get us to the conflict/narrative you want to tell. Personally I’d much prefer to learn about The Blood and their history through the story rather than having a lesson on it at the begining.
    I’m not a fantasy expert, however, so I may be giving duff advice for the genre, but I think I’d be more connected to the character if I learnt about about the world following him rather than being told about it by his teacher.
    There are some great ideas here, just don’t use them all up at once in the opening few chapters.

    • Fair enough. This is somewhat limited from the fact it started out as a short stand-alone story (the original The Blood post).

      The Torin part of the story was an offshoot based on a down-the-road idea I had, and it’s was also intended to be stand-alone. The problem was that the first story raised more questions about the setting/universe than it answered.

      With the Torin portion, the idea was to do exactly what you suggest, but this was not, and still is not, planned out as a sweeping saga. Consequently, you are correct . . . I need to move the story along to get Torin out of the situation he’s in, and onto the remainder of the world.

      The problem I faced was his age, and him not knowing who/what he was. Without him quickly finding out who/what he was, there would be no conflict/resolution/set-up.

      There’s also the fact I’m not a writer. These chapters are about an hour to an hour and a half of writing a week. Were I to assign more time to the task, I might try to make it a more intricate plot. As it is, Torin is being set up for a later portion of the arc. His story will likely end on the next segment, and yet be open ended for later interaction with other characters.

      Had I planned out the story from the beginning, it would have been set up a different way. As it is, it’s going to be a series of short stories, each introducing a character, eventually evolving into characters interacting, and hopefully being all tied together at the end.

      Still, that is a problem I have run into before. It’s one thing to pick up a book, and read portions of it as one’s interest flares and wanes. It’s another to do a serialized story that keeps readers interested. (Note: I read Analog, and I hate serialized stories. I let them be and read them when I have everything)

      The short story format was a compromise, but a short story has a different pace than a novel.

      The trick will be to ties them all together . . . we’ll see if I am up for it.

      Thanks for the feedback.

      • You’re writing, that qualifies you as a writer in my eyes. 😉 I understand the issues with writing a serialised story without planning (as my own posts displayed!) but I wouldn’t worry about taking your time, as long as your characters are interesting and the world is interesting, the readers will keep coming back for more, and smaller conflicts can keep us all gripped while the bigger conflict builds in the background.
        Keep up the good work, I’ll be reading the next one for sure.

        • Well, I appreciate that. Still, I am a guy who writes. It may be subtle, but there is a difference between me and a writer who happens to be a guy. Same with photography; I’m a guy who takes photos. I would not call myself a photographer.

          About the only thing I can make claim to is being a husband. That’s 365-24-7. Hobbies does not a professional make. You need commitment, goals, dedication, passion, etc. Like I said; husband.

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