Bloodlines, Chapter 1

Helena, Montana
Tamara woke up with a start. She had been dreaming again. Whenever she was at her aunt’s home, she would dream of her parents. They had died in an automobile accident when she was eight. Her aunt Trudy, her mother’s sister, had taken her in and raised her as her own.
Her aunt was a strange woman. She had never married and locals considered her odd. She was a known psychic and medium, and most suspected her of being a witch. A hard thing for Tamara to deal with growing up. Teased unmercifully at school, and called a witch; she had been ostracized for her aunt’s vocation. It had been a hard childhood. When she won a scholarship to the University of Montana, everyone in her class was amazed. She had studied hard, got good grades and when she went to the University, she majored in archeology.
Today, she was in her old room, taking a short vacation before going to the dig-site she had gotten in to finish her thesis on Native American Tribes in Montana. She was half Dakota Sioux, her mother and aunt had lived on the reservation until her mother and father married. He had bought this house, a grand old stone house built in the late nineteenth century, once the headquarters of a large cattle ranch, and turned it into their family home. It was forty miles to Helena and she had a breathtaking view of the local mountains. The Ranch was between Helena and Missoula; it was a beautiful place if only her aunt was less strange.
She had returned home to gather some of her research papers, archeologists’ toolkit, and her gear for the dig site. She decided to stay for a couple of weeks to visit with her aunt before heading to the dig site. Today was her last day before leaving. She dreaded the day because her aunt was going to want her to go into a sweat lodge and then she would pray over her and burn fresh sage to ward off any evil spirits. She was not a believer in the old ways; she was an educated woman of twenty-nine, who believed in academics. The spirit world her Aunt Trudy believed in was hokum to her. She was going to be an archaeologist with a Ph.D. soon.
She came down stairs, dressed in jeans, a tank top, and had a flannel shirt over that, unbuttoned, it was a little warm outside. Fall was coming; then you wore as many layers of clothes and insulated jeans as you could. It got bitter cold here at times and she hated being cold.
Trudy was fixing breakfast. They had ham and eggs, fresh pancakes, and hot coffee. Trudy was an amazing cook and could have worked in any restaurant in the area if she had wanted too. She would rather spend her days in the nearby mountains, and occasionally give someone a reading or channel some lost soul for a loved one. She believed in what she did.
“Tamara, I see you made it down in time for breakfast.”
Her aunt said in her soft voice. Tamara smiled,
“Yeah, it’s hard to rise when your bed is so comfortable. I missed my room when I was at the University. The beds in the dorms are uncomfortable.”
They laughed together. As they ate, Trudy kept a light and easy conversation going.
“What are you going to be doing at the dig that you are going to?” Tamara was surprised, Trudy rarely asked about her academics.
“I am going to be searching for artifacts in the area that James Rollins found on his last dig. It seems promising to yield up artifacts that are pre-expansion and will give a real look into what plains tribes used in their everyday lives. I am also hoping to find some actual spearheads, arrowheads, and possibly war clubs. It promises to be a real treasure trove. It will help me finish my thesis and get it submitted for review. I am looking forward to finishing this and getting my doctorate.”
Trudy unusually moved by Tamara’s talks about education, was smiling, she asked,
“Have you considered adding our spiritual beliefs into your thesis? It is as important as any other thing of our past?”
Tamara would usually be annoyed by now but Trudy had kept it professional.
“I have and I am going to, part of the reason I came home before leaving. I would like it if you would write down all you know about the beliefs and religion our ancestors practiced.”
She slid a notebook over to her, and she smiled and took it, then said,
“I would be glad to add that for you.”
After breakfast was done and they cleaned the kitchen, Trudy asked her to come into the den. She wanted to talk.
“Tamara, we have been at odds lately, and I wanted to clear the air before you leave. I know you do not believe in the old ways, and I am not going to force you to endure a sweat lodge this time. I do want you to know that the spirits have been busy. The trip you’re taking is going to change your life in ways you could never imagine. Be open and do not fear what you do not understand.”
This was better; at least she was talking to her instead of insisting on the rituals.
“I will Aunt Trudy, I promise. This is the final step in the process of me receiving my doctorate. Then I intend to do research for a few years and find a University to gain tenure. It is all part of my plan.”
Trudy held her words. She did not want Tamara leaving angry again. After she made this trip, she knew that much in Tamara’s life would change. Not in the way, she planned though.
“I will let you pack and get your stuff loaded into the car, we can go into Helena for dinner if you would like, or stay here and fix dinner, your choice?”
Tamara thought about it for a few moments, and then said,
“We can fix dinner here and enjoy the evening as the stars come out. I would love to just build a fire, have some nice hot coffee, and sit watching the sky.”
That pleased Trudy. They would stay at the ranch. Tamara went upstairs to start packing for her trip. She put all of her notes together, packed her clothes, and put everything in her jeep. She was going to enjoy this trip. She could drive to the dig site from here. It was only one hundred and fifty miles away, a three-hour trip, and she could return to the ranch if the weather got too bad. She had finished packing and decided to take a shower. It might be weeks before she had a shower again, and in the camp, it would be sponge baths. That part she hated. She liked being clean. She spent a good hour in the shower. The water was hot and she steamed up the bathroom in the process.
She got out of the shower and wiped off the full-length mirror. Looking at herself in the mirror, she saw a young woman of twenty-nine; with long black hair, with a slight reddish cast, it hung to her waist. She was five foot five, had an athletic build, and was on the busty side. She got that from her father. She was a virgin. She had decided that she would save that part of herself until she found the right man, then, and only then, would she relinquish herself to a man. So far, none had shown up in her life.
She had many offers, she was a strikingly beautiful woman, but she was busy getting her education, and the university party scene was something she never participated in. she wanted to finish her education and like her parents, be settled into a good career before taking time for herself and a family.
Her father, Tom Jenkins, was a pipeline engineer for a major oil company, and her mother, Joanna, was a medical examiner with Lewis and Clark County. They were on a Sunday drive, the one time they had left her home. A rockslide had knocked their vehicle off the road in the mountains. Killed instantly, a local rancher found the car and when the Sheriff’s Deputy came to the house, everything changed. Trudy was depressed for weeks. Tamara was eight years old and did not understand what happened. Even after the funeral, she was still in shock. She had withdrawn into herself and stayed that way until she entered high school.
There with the help of a science teacher, Mister Lassiter, she had found her love of Archeology. He took her under his wing, tutored and mentored her. He had nominated her for a science scholarship to the University, which she won. She had spent the last ten years in college. When she finished this field study, she would receive her Doctorate and go on to a career she loved.
That night as they sat around the fire, Trudy decided to tell a story.
“The Stars tell the story of creation, the Great Spirit moved on them and breathed life into the plains. From the ground sprang up the children of the moon, our ancestors. We gazed in wonderment at all he had created. We knew the bear, the wolverine, the eagle and the wolf. The mighty herds of buffalo he put here to feed and clothe us. The grass was to help them grow and replenish. We were a pure tribe until the coming of the Europeans. Then our lives were changed forever.”
She did not go on and on about the badger and bear being soul mates and the wolf and the eagle being the spirit of the people. It was refreshing for a change.
“Aunt Trudy, will you put all the lore and legends in your notes? I want it to be as complete as I can make it. I think it is important for posterity’s sake that they know what we believe and not receive a watered down version.”
Trudy smiled, her niece was asking for a complete history, but not told to her, she wanted it written down, that was the academic in her, much like her parents in that way. Her aunt had come to Helena with her mom when she was a young girl. She was an exceptional student and had fallen in love with the lore of the locals. She spent so much time with them that they accepted her and she found herself believing in their religion and made it her own.
When she was away at university, she had met a young man, Clyde Barnwell. He pursued her relentlessly, and after two years, she agreed to go on a date. It was a good date, but she had no interest in a relationship and he was not as understanding of her desire to finish her education as she would have liked. He had come from Boston to study the occult and mysticism in Europe. He was a good-looking man, tall, over six feet, with curly black hair, blues eyes, a sharp wit, and was well spoken. He had left the University to continue his studies. He went to Cambridge and was hurt when she refused to go with him and finish her studies in England. They had parted on bad terms.
After a few hours of reminiscing by the campfire, Tamara excused herself and went to bed. She was tired and the campfire had been the medicine she needed. It was soothing to her soul to sit and contemplate experiences she had in her life, understanding that they made her who she was today. She snuggled into her blankets and drifted off to sleep.
She was dreaming, she saw herself inside a huge library and all the books were in a language she could not comprehend. Then a flash of light opened her eyes and she could read all that books in the library. They were all about sorcery. She never dreamed of magic. She did not believe in it. She saw the articles left behind in the library, swords, armor, books, scrolls, staffs and other things. Everything was about the use of magic. She woke with a start. It had unnerved her it seemed so real. Afterward, she had a hard time going back to sleep.
She rose at daylight. She wanted to make an early start and get to camp before noon, the professor, with his students should arrive at the same time. She would be there to help set the camp and get all the research teams in place. She was in charge of the dig, the professor was coming to take notes and write her a recommendation for receiving her doctorate.
The drive was quiet, she enjoyed the cool mountain air, driving with her windows, down she could hear the wildlife calling and chatter in the forest, and the smell of pine needles permeated the air. She had chosen the site based on the research and a dig conducted ten years earlier by Professor James Rollins at the University. He had found some interesting artifacts and prior to his death, had planned to return to the site and explore a cave that he found. She had all of his research and his paper on the dig. She was excited about the dig site. Rollins had been the only one to dig there and he brought back pottery shards, arrowheads, spearheads, and some great pieces of native basket weaving.
She arrived at camp by ten in the morning and no one was here yet. She took out the dig-site map and cordoned off areas with stakes and twine, she wanted the excavation to be exciting for the students. She had set her tent up, it was on that you only had to pop up and it was set. She staked it down and put on the rain fly. You could never be over prepared in these mountains. It would blow up a thunderstorm and the most inconvenient times, or get cold and snow in September.
The others arrived closer to two in the afternoon. Professor Cromwell was the first one out of the vehicles. He was an elderly man, in his mid-sixties, tall and lean. The epitome of a scholar. He greeted her,
“Hi, Tamara, this is the Rollins dig site I presume?”
She smiled, he was always formal in his greetings, but once you have gotten to know him, he was an excellent archeologist and had agreed to come saying,
“This could be my last opportunity to go into the field. I am getting up in years and will soon be too old to do anything but teach.”
She had laughed at the time. Now he was here and he was dressed and ready to go.
The students, four undergraduates, were unloading the gear and setting tents and gear up where she had indicated. Professor Cromwell walked over to the dig site, he was as curious as she was to see what they could find what remained after the Rollins dig. It was important to finish that research. He was also a good friend and Cromwell, saddened by his loss. After a few minutes of reminiscing, he got down to business.
Tamara gave him her thesis, which he would read while they were on the dig. They had agreed that if the excavation provided the samples she expected to find, he would sign her application and approve her nomination to the doctorate committee. Then it would be a matter of the reviewing board to approve her application, and she would receive her doctorate in Archeology.
They settled into camp on day one. The excavation would start the next day. They were looking for specific artifacts as laid out in her thesis. Arrowheads and spearheads that would identify the tribe, any personal artifacts they could find, as well as baskets, pottery shards, etc…, they would need examination, identification, and documentation.
They walked over the site grounds and selected the four sites on the grid they wanted to start with. The dig planned to last for two weeks. That should be enough time to verify her thesis. If they found anything more interesting, they would set up a secondary dig to follow up after she received her doctorate. All was very academic.
The next day after breakfast, the dig started. They hit artifacts a foot down from the surface. They were the artifacts she was looking for. They had sifted the artifacts and logged them. This was Assiniboine. They had found what she was after, evidence that the tribe had ventured into these mountains. She had verified her thesis on the first day. Professor Cromwell signed and dated her thesis and decided she was more than qualified to run the dig, and he returned to the University with examples and her application. Received warmly; he presented her materials to the review committee. They reviewed her application, documentation, and her thesis. They took a week. He was called to a meeting on the desk in front of them was the official doctorate, with the university seal and all the necessary signatures. They gladly gave him her doctorate and congratulated him on sponsoring an exceptional candidate.
He had it framed and decided to return to the dig. When he arrived, they were four days away from finishing the dig. They had so many artifacts to take to the University and catalog for their Native American Display in the anthropology department. She was excited. He waited until dinner, and while everyone was seated,
“Tamara, it is my great pleasure to present you with your Doctorate in Archeology, with your minor in Anthropology. I also have an offer from the University. Will you to join the staff and accept a fellowship as a professor?”
She was stunned, she said, “I will join the University Staff.”
The group cheered. She had finished her plan. Tamara Jenkins Ph.D., she liked the sound of that, Professor of Archeology.
After dinner, they toasted her with champagne and sang songs around the fire. The students would be heading back with Professor Cromwell in three days and she would follow the day after. She had found a cave that she wanted to explore and document before she left for home, and then her apartment in Helena.
Everyone else had left the dig site. It was the Rollins/Jenkins sight now. She had made her mark. She hiked a hundred yards up to the cave mouth she had seen and with her flashlight, entered the cave. The entrance was unremarkable. She found nothing of interest. As she went deeper into the cave system, she found paintings of animals, teepees, and everyday life on the walls. She was able to identify the paintings as Assiniboine. She photographed and documented the paintings. As she was turning to leave, something glinted in the back of the cave. She went to investigate it. As she went deeper into the cave, she saw strange symbols on the walls and unusual writing that she could not identify.
She came to what looked like a door. It was dark and felt like metal. In the center of the door was an odd-looking symbol. It resembled images she had seen of archaic sigils. She asked herself,
“Why would there be a sigil here. This was relatively unexplored until the nineteenth century?”
She was nervous. She reached out her hand and touched the dark wall. It was cool to the touch and felt like metal. She said to herself,
“Could this actually be a door?”
She reached out and touched the door. Power surged through her hand and up her arm. It was like electricity. She grasped the center of the symbol tried to turn it. It would not turn; she grabbed it with both hands and tried again. This time she turned it to the right instead of the left and it spun, then she saw it slide into place and she heard it click. The door swung inwards, and after waiting for the air to exchange, she entered with her flashlight and camera. She had to document this. It looked like she had found a much greater wealth of knowledge that the dig site had yielded.
A bright blue light filled the room. She saw that it filled with books and artifacts and in the center of the room was a pedestal with a book on it. She stepped up to the book and looked at it.
It was an odd book. On the cover were unrecognizable symbols. Bound in leather and buckled shut. She placed her hand over the symbol on the front cover. It was a circle filled with symbols and a seven-pointed star. In the center of the star was the symbol of a hand. She placed her hand over the hand, and the power shot through her body. Frozen in place for an eternity it seemed; she finally felt a release. She was amazed. She could understand the writing on the books. All of the items in the room made sense to her.
As she stood in the center of the room, a face formed on the floor in front of her. It spoke,
“Welcome Tamara Jenkins, you have opened the Vault of Sorcerers. The amassed knowledge of every sorcerer who has ever lived is now yours to wield.”
She was dumbfounded. She did not believe in any of this, yet here she stood in the center of the wealth of knowledge that so many sought.
She stayed for another two days, absorbing all she could learn. She would be starting her Fellowship in six months at the University. That gave her six months to learn as much of this as she could. The face spoke to her again.
“I was known as Vasarion, Sorcerer, and Keeper of the Vault. I will teach you all you need to know to take your rightful place as the Sorcerer’s Heir.”
She wanted to run. Trudy could appreciate this place, she believed. She had learned more about sorcery in two days than most people learned about magic in a lifetime. She decided that she must bring Trudy here to see and hear Vasarion.
“Vasarion, I need you to excuse me for a day. I am going to bring my aunt, Trudy, she believes with her whole heart, I am skeptical, however, she will appreciate this place and will help me learn what you have asked me to learn.”
He looked at her and said,
“Go, return tomorrow with your aunt.”
She made her way down from the cave loaded her gear and drove to the ranch. Trudy was there on the porch with a large glass of iced tea, rocking in her favorite chair. Trudy saw her face. She was surprised. She thought she was crazy, but Trudy would explain it to her. She climbed the steps slowly. She felt as if she would explode.
“Aunt Trudy, I need your help. I finished the dig, received my doctorate, and after the rest left, I found a cave and went in to investigate, hoping to find more artifacts. What I found is the greatest treasure ever seen. I need you to come back with me and see what I have found.”
Trudy stopped rocking,
“What did you find Tamara?”
“I found a place called the Vault of the Sorcerers, it is filled with all kinds of magical things and I am having a hard time believing what the spirit of the Vault is saying to me. I really need your help.”
Trudy looked at her niece and said, “Let’s eat, then we will get a good nights’ sleep, and return to this vault you found in the morning.” That eased her mind.
They went into the house and she started asking questions about magic, spirits, sorcerers, witches, and others who claimed them being gifted. Trudy looked at her and said,
“Some of them are real, some are fakirs, what you must learn is how to tell the difference.”
She thought about what Trudy said and asked,
“How do you know all this? Mother and Father never spoke of it.” Trudy saw that she was confused. “When your mom went to college, and then medical school, I stayed behind. We lived north of here and she had not met your father. I found what I believe in a dream dance, and when I came out of it, I had become a witch, a medium, and a user of magic.”
Tamara was stunned; all that time in school, when the kids had tormented her and said she was a witch raised by a witch was true. She looked at Trudy and said,
“I feel betrayed. All those years being tormented and called a witch was true, and you never said anything.”
Trudy looked at her niece and with a sigh, said, “Child, I never betrayed you, I could not tell you, it is hard enough for you to accept now as an adult. How would your child’s mind have accepted it at all? The torment and bullying would have been worse, so I withheld the knowledge and allowed you to grow up and find out for yourself.”
She fell silent. There was no way to argue with her logic. She had been protecting her, not abandoning her. Trudy said,
“If we are going to get an early start of it, we should go to bed.”
Tamara agreed and said goodnight. As she lay in her bed, the thoughts of the day’s events were going through her mind. She had seen things she would never have believed to be real. Today she was here, getting her Aunt Trudy, and going back tomorrow to learn of her inheritance. If that was what you could call it.
She looked in the mirror and said to herself,
“Tamara, you have spent your whole life denying the world of Magic, and now, for whatever reason, you are the heir apparent to all the mystical knowledge in the world.”
She shook her head. How was she going to explain this? She was an archeologist, not a sorcerer. Tomorrow would bring more answers.
She settled into bed the covers pulled up tight under her chin. She hoped she had no dreams this night, the last one was still running through her mind. She fell asleep with the face of Vasarion and his words going through her thoughts. She woke with a start, it was morning already and she could here Trudy downstairs.
“Trudy, how do I juggle this new part of my life? I have to start teaching at the university in six months, I received a fellowship and if it works well, I will gain tenure. However, the whole sorcerer’s heir is scary. What should I expect to learn from this?”
Trudy looked at her and said,
“How to live, and what your destiny is Tamara.”
That silenced her. She ate breakfast and helped Trudy load her things into the jeep, and they headed back to the cave.
When they found themselves at the dig site, Trudy exclaimed,
“My word, you archeologist dig a lot of big holes.”
Tamara laughed, a real laugh, something Trudy had not heard in years. Tamara said,
“It is this way, a hundred yards up the side of the mountain.”
It was steep but was climbable. Tamara went first with Trudy behind her. Trudy was only ten years older than Tamara was; she was younger than her sister was by fifteen years. She climbed the incline with ease, and when she got to the cave entrance, told Tamara,
“If we are going to be coming here often, we need to build a stair up to this cave.”
Tamara agreed, and they entered the cave.
She took Trudy to the back of the cave and told her how she had opened the door. Trudy placed her hand on the lock and turned it exactly as Tamara had done. She felt the power that Tamara had, and turned and looked at her in surprise. The door swung in and Vasarion appeared. She looked at Trudy, She and Tamara bore a striking resemblance to each other. Vasarion saw them together and spoke,
“Welcome Tamara Jenkins and Trudy Stonehouse, this is the Vault of Sorcerers, and all the knowledge ever amassed by every sorcerer of the light is in this vault. It is here for the two of you to learn and to go and find others of your abilities and teach them. Darkness is coming; I have waited centuries for Tamara to unlock the vault.”
They looked at each other completely stunned. Go and teach others of their kind? What kind of nonsense was this? Tamara was going to teach at the University of Montana, and when would she be teaching magic to someone else? Vasarion spoke again,
“Your place at the University is ideal for you to use as a way to recruit and reveal the true magic to those who are worthy. Your staff will identify the true believers, and you will be able to teach them.”
Trudy looked at Vasarion and thought to herself. This must be the spirit of a Wizard. Vasarion answered her,
“I am the Guardian of the Vault, but in my lifetime, I was a sorcerer, and I protected the innocent from all who would hurt them.”
She was shocked Vasarion had read her thoughts.
“What is my purpose here Vasarion?”
He looked at her and the visage smiled,
“To assist Tamara in the quest to gather the users of magic and teach them the real magic of course.”
That answered her question for the moment. She was about to ask Tamara what they should do, and Vasarion answered her,
“On the pedestal is a grimoire, my grimoire. It contains all the knowledge of magic that I personally amassed. Once you have learned how to move an object through time and space with magic, we will move the Vault to your home. There you will protect it Trudy Steinhouse, and each of the new apprentices Tamara Jenkins finds, will come to you and train with me.”
Now she was going to be a teacher. She had left the world for the most part. She only went to town when she had to. It was as difficult on her as on Tamara with the whole town calling her a witch, or speaking behind their hands. She turned to Vasarion and said,
“Let the training begin them. I want to learn all I can so that Tamara and I can move this vault to the protection of our house.”
The training started immediately. First, they learned how to make a ball of magic on their hands. That was important for any sorcerer to achieve. They were both adept pupils. As they worked their way through the lessons, Tamara asked Vasarion, “How was I chosen to be your heir?”
Vasarion replied, “All of us are appointed a destiny at birth. Yours is to be the new face of True Magic. Trudy’s is to become my counterpart in training new sorcerers. It is important that you understand what lies ahead of you, Tamara. You will battle the forces of Darkness when they reveal themselves, and hopefully, we find enough apprentices to train so that when someone opens the Well of Darkness we are prepared to stop the advancement of the evil that will follow.”
Tamara and Trudy both looked at Vasarion, and Trudy said,
“You mean we are going to have to fight?”
“Yes Trudy, you will have to fight. The forces of Darkness will come. All that will stand between them and dominance is the Sorcerer’s we train. There are many who call themselves witches, mystics, mediums, and a host of other names, some will fall to the darkness the others we must find and train. Understand this, when you fight your enemies, it must never be in the presence of people. Except for other Adepts. Too many questions are asked when they see a display of magic.”
“How do we fight them if we have to make sure we are not in some public place? What if they attack us?”
“They do not want to be found out any more than you do. They will wait and attack in secret. You must learn how to keep yourselves safe from their attacks while trying to locate them first. Beware they have allies in this world. They are the vampires, werewolves, and other creatures of the night. These are their chosen vessels. Those you will have to learn to defeat as well. Your allies will be the Sorcerers and Enchanters that you train and recruit, as well as your enchantments and weapons. We will study how to defeat them once we move the Vault. Your work as an archeologist will be of a great aid to you in the future.”
She had no idea how much Vasarion knew about them, he kept surprising them with what he knew.
“Vasarion, what is needed to move the Vault?”
“You must master the technique of displacement. The vault measures forty feet by sixty feet, you will need to remove the earth under your house with magic, and then move the vault into space. Once you master the technique for moving the earth, we will work on the technique to move the Vault. First, however, we are going to teach you to create a portal to travel back and forth between your house and here until we move the Vault.”
Travel without a vehicle, plane, or other means to move. Tamara was shocked, and asked,
“You mean we can move ourselves and objects from one place to another without having to travel?”
Vasarion laughed,
“Yes, Tamara that is what I mean. You are going to learn much that you deem impossible.”
Every day they worked hard to learn the lessons he had for them. After a week, they could go between the house and the vault without using the Jeep. It took moments to travel between them, and they had gotten down to making the transfer instantaneously. When they had, Vasarion said,
“Now, I shall teach you how to move the earth you need to move to make room for the vault.”
He told them to consult the large tome on the stand. Tamara opened it by placing her hand over the seal, and the tome opened.
“Now, turn to the transmutation spell. It will show you the way to weave a spell that will allow you to move the earth and move the vault into its place.”
They practiced in the forest outside the cave, it took them several attempts to get the enchantment working, they started out thinking a shovel would have been faster until they move the whole block of earth at once.
They went back to the vault. Vasarion seemed pleased with their progress.
“The way you will move the Vault is in the exact same way you move the dirt and move through a portal. The mechanics are the same. You just need to visualize it, and you can do it.”
They worked on it for another day, and when they had gotten the technique down, they moved the dirt and brought the vault to the house. It would speed their training up. Vasarion became relentless with the lessons. They were outside day and night, learning to hurl magic, energy balls, and move instantly with their magic. They had begun to master magic.
Vasarion said they were adept apprentices. That hurt their feelings they thought they had come far in the month they had been training.
“Ladies, you must understand, it usually takes ten years to train an apprentice in the arcane arts. You are trying to accomplish a feat that is nigh on to impossible. We must work hard to get you prepared.”
They were looking forward to a day of rest but Vasarion said their time was short. They started working even harder, and with the vault below the house, Vasarion was able to project beyond the vault. Trudy noticed he had been a handsome man, even if his clothes were outdated. He was over six feet tall, had brown hair and green eyes when he projected, he always had his staff and wore a hooded cloak. Under the cloak, he wore a green jerkin, brown leather pants, knee high soft-soled boots, and wore a belt with pouches and a dagger. He was a striking figure. He had a square, clean-shaven face, with deep-set eyes; his nose was proportionate to his face. He had large, strong, hands the kind that comes from doing. He had been more than a scholar; he had the look of a fighting man.
“Vasarion, what happened to you that caused you to be connected to the vault?”
He had a sad look on his face, and then he replied,
“The forces of Darkness had come against the last sorcerer stronghold. There were ten of us left. Commanded to enter the vault and seal the door. I argued that it would be their death. They sent me anyway and said to enchant the vault and preserve my spirit to become the Guardian of the Vault. When I did, my body dissolved and the vault became my home. I have been here ever since.”
“Is it possible to restore your body? You did not die you were changed into a spirit?”
He thought on what she asked, and said,
“It could become possible. The magic to reverse the spell is dangerous; however, restoration is possible. The danger would come if my body restored but the years I have been in the vault left me with a deceased body. I would disappear forever.”
That was a challenge. A problem to work through later. He ended their instruction for the day and returned to the vault. They entered the house and had dinner. To practice their magic, they had started using magic to prepare meals occasionally, but not this night. Trudy wanted a cooked meal, one that her hands touched. She made an incredible dinner for them, pasta and sauce, salad, bread and nice thick steak. It was food for the soul. They talked about the day’s lessons, the pang of sorrow they felt for Vasarion, and the talk of restoring his body. That would take them studying the spells in the vault and making sure the enchantment they used, would not kill him. First, though, they needed to become exceptional users of magic. They were going to have to practice more and learn more. The time for Tamara to return to Helena was coming. Once she left, Trudy would be on her own until they began recruiting others for teaching.
The next morning, they went to the vault and Vasarion was there, his form sitting on a chair. He looked up when they came in and smiled.
“Vasarion, what are we going to learn today?”
“Fencing. You are going to need to become masters of the blade. Short and long, as well as daggers. I have taken the liberty of making you appropriate wear for the future. You will need to learn how to move in it. It is not heavy, or cumbersome, just awkward at first.”
They dressed in the clothes he provided. They were similar to what he wore, the style updated though. The boots were different, they would be comfortable anywhere. Once they had the clothes on, he provided them their weapons. They were carrying rapiers, silver hilted, in a fanciful basket pattern, with smooth handles and long blades. The blades were not dull; they would cut deep.
He told them to retrieve a fencing tree from the rear of the vault. Once they had, he started the training.
“You must train your bodies as well as your minds. A sword or dagger made of silver is the weapon of the sorcerer. It is how you will overcome many of your foes. Never use magic to kill. It is only used to overcome an opponent the death stroke needs to come from your blades.”
He had them doing exercises that were designed to strengthen their wrists and arms to handle the weight of the sword in a duel. They had a heavy stone tied to a stick. They would roll it up then down one hundred times or until their forearms cramped. After a week, he increased it to two hundred and doubled the weight.
Another month had passed and they were capable swordsmen. They were adept at using magic and had learned many things about magic. They were able to manipulate metals, and water could start fires and put them out. They had accomplished more than they thought possible in two months. He told them they had come far, but they needed to continue every day, magic was like a muscle, it needed exercise to get stronger.
They would practice, and he would guide them, once they had reached a certain level of competence, he sent them on missions. They would envision somewhere they had been before, and transport there using magic. Then they would transport back. It was important that they learn this, it could be there own life they saved. They had been at it for five months when Vasarion stated,
“You have come far enough to be called a sorcerer. You are still novices, but you have all you need to go into the battle and win. Be careful of those who practice the black arts. You will have to face them, and you must recruit those who are gifted with a natural ability to use the arcane arts.”
After that, they practiced but it was less aggressive and more about knowledge. Spells, enchantments, forming magic from the air, protection spells, and magic shields. When the six months had come, Tamara loaded the Jeep and went into Helena. She arrived at her apartment. She had bought it several years earlier when she received her inheritance. She had grown fond of the ranch and her aunt. She no longer had the hard feeling of the past to deal with. She knew that her aunt had suffered the same as she had. She was eighteen when her parents died, and had an eight-year-old girl to raise with no idea how.


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