The Faerie Blade: Chapter 18

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Chapter 18: Kaelyn’s First Steps

Kaelyn was just trying to fill her belly, but she got a lot more than she bargained for when she decided to save the life of a Faerie.

 

“Feel the song in my heart…” I trailed off with a sigh. Aishlin had told me something similar but I was not certain that I would ever be able to truly grasp what either of them meant.

 


 
Author's Note: I would have liked to post this on Sunday, but I was crazy busy with work all weekend and didn't get home until late. Then I spent most of Christmas recovering and writing. Anyway, here's chapter 18 of The Faerie Blade. Further chapters are available on Patreon.~Amethyst.
 


 Chapter 18: Kaelyn’s First Steps

The night was cool with summer yet on the horizon and my sparse outfit, if indeed such a lack of clothing could be called such, provided no protection against the cool night air. I resorted to summoning a pair of rose-hued faerie fires to provide warmth as I dashed across the camp. My heart was still fluttering in my chest at the thought of being so exposed as I found Selice waiting by the wagon that she and Daivin shared with their two children; seven-year-old Torin, and my fellow Bardic apprentice, Korine.

The dancer was waiting for me, sitting upon a wooden bench that had likely been brought out from their wagon, and I stopped in my tracks as she looked up at my approach and seemed to assess both my sparse clothing and the body that it failed to properly cover. My cheeks flushed red in response and I looked down at the floor as I awkwardly attempted to cover myself with my hands. “I… umm… Zenna said that you wished to start my lessons? Should I… go put my Tien’jin on?” I inquired hesitantly.

Selice shook her head and smiled. “No, dear, you won’t be needing them tonight. Wear them tomorrow night though, so we can get an idea of what movements will cause them to make sounds. Tonight I will just be running you through some basic stretches and exercises so I can get a feel for what you are capable of and what we will need to work on going forward.”

With that, Selice stood up and began stretching her limber body in various ways, which she had me copy to the best of my ability. I was surprised at my ability to move my body, she had to correct me on the precise way to place my limbs occasionally, but my Faerie body was already very flexible and my sword practice with Sharai had helped with that. I was not quite able to contort my body in some of the ways that my new teacher could, but she believed that it would not take me long to get to that point. As long as we did those stretches every day at the start of our practice, I would be able to focus on learning the various movements and timing them with the music.

Learning new ways to move my body was something that I was getting used to from learning to use my sword, but while I was starting to get a feel for the sword technique and feeling Neva’kul as part of myself, this was different. Selice was teaching me to be aware of my body; how to move it gracefully, fluidly, and with a smooth subtlety not needed with my sword lessons. It was not just my arms and legs either. There was the tilt of my head, the expression on my face, and the positioning of my fingers when I reached out my hand. Everything was purposeful and meant to be visually captivating to those watching, with an exacting precision that had to appear as if it took little or no thought or effort.

It was much harder than she made it look, though she assured me that, in time and with constant practice, it would come as naturally as breathing. I sighed but nodded as she made that claim since Sharai had told me much the same about learning to use the sword and felt that these dance lessons would help with that. I found that Voyager dancing was not like the simple jigs that I has been picturing in my mind, it was delicate sweeping movements, keeping one’s body in constant motion, and even interacting with one’s environment as if planned without faltering and making it all seem intended and natural.

“Worry not, Kaelyn, much like your sword practice; we will get you used to the flow of your body and the ways to express it,” she assured me as we took a brief break. “These movements are just to get you aware of your body; how it moves, and how to express yourself with that movement, much like how you smile when happy or frown when deep in thought. It is a stepping-stone. Voyagers do not choreograph our movements because each dance is unique to the moment. We do not just move our bodies to the music; we feel the music, we embody it.”

“How do we embody the music?” I inquired as I tried to understand what she was saying.

“A song can change in subtle ways with each playing; the tempo, the way that the environment carries the sound, the mood of the musicians, and even the audience can contribute to this. Don’t think about how your body should move to the music, let each note guide you to become the music as it is in the moment and show that through your movements, the expression on your face, and the way that you carry yourself,” she replied.

“But to use the Tien’jin, will I not have to move the same way each time I play a song?”

“Change can be subtle, Kaelyn. Even if the general movements of the body are the same the nuances of those motions can change, as can a smile when you are truly happy or just attempting to appear so. I believe that the path to learning to make music through dance is to become one with the music. Once you can feel the music as it is in the moment and make others see it, you should be able to feel the songs in your heart as well and play them through your dance.”

“Feel the song in my heart…” I trailed off with a sigh. Aishlin had told me something similar but I was not certain that I would ever be able to truly grasp what either of them meant.

Selice offered a patient smile as she placed a hand reassuringly on my bare shoulder. “I do not expect you to find it quickly, or easily, Kaelyn. Every dance begins with but a single step, as does the journey to finding oneself, and you are here taking that step. Other steps invariably follow that first one and become easier to feel as the dance progresses. Do not overthink the motion, feel it, and allow it to take you to your destination.”

“How did someone who looks so young get to be so wise?” I wondered to myself. It was easy to forget sometimes that she had a daughter who was almost as old as me and Vesha. But then, my grandparents looked as young as she did.

-Remember that she, and most of the other members of your troupe, is a Changeling, Kaelyn. Fae do not show physical signs of aging once we reach maturity. She could very well be hundreds or even thousands of years old or not much older than she looks, the only way to be sure would be for her to offer that information. She likely learned these lessons once, just as you are now. True wisdom is knowing that you are not wise, and accepting the wisdom offered to you,- Sharai chided me from within my mind.

“Aye,” I responded to both of them after a moment of thought. Then I turned to Selice and inquired, “What is the next step then?”

The dancer laughed and smiled patiently. “The next step will be as much work for me as it will be for you, but I must admit that I am looking forward to the challenge. I can help you to become comfortable and natural in the movements of most of your body, but I do not possess wings. You and Sharai will need to teach me so I can help you to properly exercise them and master their movements in your dance as well. May I have a strand of your hair, Kaelyn?”

I managed to shake off my surprise enough to nod and plucked a single lavender hair to hand to Selice. She took it carefully and pondered it with a pensive expression before shrugging and removing her clothing as she explained. “You Faerie are quite tall and I would probably damage my clothes if I shifted with them on.”

She was right; most of the Voyager women in the troupe were at least half a head shorter than me, and even many of the men of the troupe were not quite at eye level with me. I was only now starting to get used to my change in height by having to look down at nearly everyone but Vesha. I tried to concentrate on that thought and not on her now naked body as my cheeks flushed. She was naked, and I was not far off either in my dancing ‘clothes’. Oh look, she is shifting; I should watch that, preferably her face.

I tried to do just that and it was not hard to focus on. The change was somewhat drastic in appearance, much as it had been with me, though she just seemed to flow from one form to the other and thankfully avoided the extremely painful transformation that I had gone through. I guess that was because she was only really shifting to appear as a Faerie on the surface and not changing completely as I had.

I had seen others shifting before, of course, but usually they were shifting into an animal or bird and the changes were more obvious and jarring that way. The shift did not take but a moment, and in that time, her face changed its features as if a master sculptor was working with clay, her skin became paler, she grew taller and her eyes and hair shifted to match my own. Then it was like looking at a living mirror.

She had become my duplicate in every way and it was somewhat shocking to hear my own voice say, “Hmmm, perhaps I should get Zenna to make a second outfit like the one you’re wearing. She already has the measurements and we could do some very captivating paired dancing together like this. I know of some wealthy men who would pay well to see twins dancing together, especially Faerie twins.”

She looked like me, and she was standing there naked where anyone that might walk by could see. “Yes! Please get her to do that if you plan on using my body often for these lessons!” I blurted out, my face bright red. “W-why do you look like me anyway?! I did not look anything like Sharai when I became a Faerie!”

My copy sighed but told me patiently, “You need to get used to casual nudity, Kaelyn. It will be difficult to avoid with our troupe and, believe me; you have nothing to be ashamed of. As for why I look like you, I used your hair for my shift and that means I copy you, not just some generic Faerie. With a permanent shift, like what you went through, it works differently; the blood provides the template of the species that you copy and the physical changes that go with it, but you become who would have been if born to that species. You are still yourself at your core though, and still have the blood and soul of a Changeling, so the surface changes reflect that and not the person whose blood you used. It is why your face still resembles your mother’s and grandparents’ so much.”

“S-sorry, it was just a bit startling. I have never seen any of you copy another person before,” I said as I looked away and tried to stop blushing.

“We do not copy people often,” she admitted. “As you can see, it is an ability that could easily be abused, so we try not to do so without good reason. In this case, it will be useful for your training.”

“And how would pretending to be my twin for the humans be useful?” I mumbled as I thought of her errant comment earlier.

“Oh, that’s easy,” she replied with a mischievous grin. “It would be fun, of course, and a good bit of mischief. I wasn’t lying about the money that we could make doing that occasionally either. I’m not talking about mere coppers or even silvers. We could get paid in gold if we played our cards right.”

I had to admit that it was tempting when she put it like that. Having some gold set aside would make things a lot easier if the troupe hit hard times for some reason down the road, and then there was the allure of mischief. Like any self-respecting Fae, Changelings love pranks and fun little deceptions from time to time, it was part of why the Voyager ruse and hiding their Fae heritage held enough interest for them to try to blend in as mere eccentric and mysterious traveling humans. I was no different. Despite the tension at the time, I had greatly enjoyed making fools of the priest and the two guards that I had fought in Majair.

Despite my current embarrassment, I found a smile twitching at my lips at the thought of pulling one over some rich and self-important humans with my ‘twin’. “I shall consider it,” I told her, not bothering to hide the smile that had now fully formed at the thought.

“Excellent,” she replied with a gleeful cackle. It took us both a moment to compose ourselves so we could get back to the serious work of training. “Now, tell me, Kaelyn. Does Sharai have any useful information on how I can get used to having wings, and any exercises for them?”

Sharai didn’t seem to have much that would help. As she had told me after I first changed, all Faerie are born with natural instincts for using their wings and flying. She did have some exercises for wing control that would help us learn to move each of our four wings independently, but Selice would have to get a feel for having them first. Sharai decided that the best way, since she wouldn’t be able to fly without a permanent shift, was to have me stand behind her and move her wings for her so she could get used to the sensations.

It was late and we were both getting very tired when Selice finally had us stop for the night. We had gotten far enough that she had a good idea of what she would need to do to practice working with wings a bit during the day inside her wagon while we were on the road, and she had my strand of hair in a safe place so that she could shift when she had the time to practice. Before I left to return to my wagon, she reminded me to wear my Tien’jin when I came to her the next night after dinner to continue my training.

© 2022 - 2023 Amethyst Gibbs
All Rights Reserved

Further chapters are available to the public on my Patreon page.

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Comments

Muscle Memory

joannebarbarella's picture

It works exactly the same for humans. Practice, practice, practice, and then you don't even think about it when you have to do whatever-it-is for real.

Yup

Amethyst's picture

Repetition is the key to mastering any skill.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

It would for most people

Amethyst's picture

It would for most people raised with the belief that nudity is taboo and that our bodies are supposed to be covered. The Fae and Voyagers just don't think that way though.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

Kaylin

Wendy Jean's picture

Is going to be spectacular when she gets full control of her body.

Yup

Amethyst's picture

She's already used to general everyday movements, but she still has a way to go before her body feels completely natural and she has a good base to build her swordsmanship on.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3