When you fail the one, don’t fail the other.
Tara woke with a start.
The dream. The premonition. Rigmor.
How many times had it repeated last night? Too many.
Tara yawned and rubbed her eyes. Was there anything new in it? Any new hint to what, when, how, who, with this Rigmor?
She thought on it. Swords clashing. Yelling and battle cries all around her. Was one of the voices an orc? Maybe that was new.
Tara looked to her side. Katla was still sleeping. She looked peaceful.
How to tell her? Should she tell her today?
Be honest. Stay with her.
Tara carefully slipped out of bed. Katla grumbled and rolled over, still asleep.
Tara looked out the high window of their rented room at the inn. Still dark.
Good. Maybe she could return the “borrowed” book before anyone noticed.
The Arcanaeum was silent when she slipped inside. The candles on the reading tables were low, bathing the library in deep shadow. Urag gro-Shub was nowhere in sight.
Tara set Necromancy in Modern Tamriel on the return section of the main counter. She needed to find another book. Modern hadn’t told her enough.
When she’d seen the name, Geonette, she’d kept the book and reread it.
It almost exclusively discussed the Order of the Black Worm, the most infamous necromancy cult in history. It’d been led by Mannimarco, the King of Worms, one of the earliest liches, and most dangerous.
Other cults had been mentioned, though.
Her ancestors, on her mom’s side, were the Geonette’s. Mom was a Geonette, before she’d married Tara’s father and her name had become Blaton.
Why was the ancestor she was named after in the book?
You know why.
Why had she been named after such an ancestor?
That was easy. The painting that hung in the living area while growing up made it obvious.
Tara Geonette had dark red hair and green eyes.
Redheads didn’t happen too often in the family, so Tara had been named after one of the few.
Why did they even have a painting of her hanging in the house? That, perhaps, was the real question.
Tara moved along the bookcases quickly. She needed to find the other book, Orders of Necromancy.
Modern had only mentioned a few other cults. Most had failed, felled by the famous knights, the Lion Guard. Tara remembered some of the history from her education. Most of the events she’d read about were from the Second Era, around the year 2E 582. The same time period Tara Geonette lived.
Mom had said Tara Geonette was part of a witch coven, the Glenmoril Witches. She’d never mentioned a necromancy cult.
The book was in the fifth bookcase she checked.
Tara sat at a reading table and lit more candles, brightening the area.
She looked up to the grand, arch window, near the entrance to the Arcanaeum. Dawn was breaking, tendrils of pale light touching the glass. She should get back to Katla.
She needed to read the book. She needed to understand more before she talked to Katla.
You should read it with her.
No. She’d read it first. Understand as much as possible. Then, talk to Katla.
“Are you Tara Blaton?”
Tara looked up from the book to see Mirabelle Ervine, the Master Wizard of the College looking at her. Faralda had told her Mirabelle handled the day to day operations. She was who Tara was supposed to talk to if she was interested in joining the College.
Of course she was interested. But, she needed to talk to Katla first.
Talk to her about attending the college. And what you’re finding in this book.
“Uh, yes. How did you know?” Tara asked.
Mirabelle gave a quick, curt smile. “You exactly match the description your sister, Mira, gave me of you. Also, one of the mages overheard you and your companion talking yesterday. I didn’t think there were too many redheaded Tara’s around.”
Mirabelle looked to be Tara’s height. She was in Mira’s age range, and, like Mira, seemed to carry a serious wisdom about her. She was otherwise indistinct. Round face, brown hair and eyes. Another person to think of as serious.
“Did Mira write you?” Tara asked. Might as well find out if Mirabelle and the whole College had been warned.
“Oh no. We haven’t been in contact for years. I hope she’s well.” Mirabelle’s eyes drifted to the book Tara was reading.
“Studying some history,” Tara said. She hoped that answer would suffice.
“Please let me know if you’re interested in studying magic here,” Mirabelle said. “Pleasure to meet you.”
Tara couldn’t resist.
“I am!” She found herself standing. “I…that’s one of the reasons I came to the College. Besides some research for my companion,” she added.
“Splendid. Welcome to the College. When you’re finished here, you can find me for a set of robes, a tour, and I’ll get you started on your first class.”
Tara watched Mirabelle leave, then sat back down and looked at the book.
What had she just done? How was she going to tell Katla?
You don’t belong here.
Katla would have to accept it, Tara decided. She’d never said she wasn’t going to study magic here. She wasn’t giving that up. She’d stick with her plan. They could stay here, continue learning about the soul gem while Tara learned magic. Katla would be safe.
She’d learn magic and protect Katla at the same time. This would work.
You’re not a mage, Tara.
Now, she just needed to finish reading this book and figure out how to tell Katla about it. About Tara Geonette.